"Ah, it feels good to be back on the open sea again, doesn't it?" The Captain said rhetorically, gazing out over the currently peaceful waters of the Shipping Sea.
"I guess…" The First Mate sighed dejectedly, idly picking at the number of pips on his collar.
"Of course it does." The Captain continued as he adjusted his paper hat, not really listening anyway. "Course after all that down time, I'm rarin' for some action!" He turned his head this way and that, glancing out over the waters to find a foe worthy of his (recommissioned) ship. Naturally, everything was silent for a few moments before he yelled. "Now where the hell is everyone!?"
"Sir, do you even read the mission dossiers?"
"Of course I don't! Got no working eyes, remember?" The man said, taping his glass eye and pointing at the eye patch.
The First Mate blinked in confusion. He began to wonder how the man seemed to have no problems doing anything else sight related, but stopped himself. Down that path lay naught but madness. "So, how do you get the mission briefings?"
The man pointed at his makeshift headgear. "I got to do something with those things. I use my captainyness to absorb the knowledge straight into my brainpan."
The other man was stunned silent for a moment before a weary sigh overcame him. Then with unfortunately practiced ease, the First Mate started explaining things to him. "There really isn't anyone left. Most of the good shipping plans have come and gone. There are plans for one or two ships, but no one's got the time or effort for that anymore. This is mostly just a parade run."
"Damnation, lad! That's even worse than last time!" The Captain exclaimed. "And just why the hell is the engine on this thing so damn slow now?" He banged the hull for emphasis. "Last time Satire banged out six chapters in a couple o' weeks!"
"That's when he was unemployed." The First Mate Said evenly. "Furthermore, he has a number of other fics he's working on, pretty much all of them more popular than this one."
The Captain then began to grumble. "Hardly the sendoff the old girl deserves." He then sighed and walked back to the helm. "Oh well. At least I managed to grab something before I left to make this more interesting."
The other man became wary. "Wait, what are you talking about?"
"It was thinkin' that it was kinda lame that even though there was an epilogue, Satire ain't showing what happened after Rin and Saber found him. So before we left I rooted around the R&D department and got this installed!" He pointed to a lever next to the throttle. "It's a Chrono- uh, thingamajig! Now I can jump the ship to whatever point in the story I want!"
The First Mate became alarmed. "Won't that horribly destabilize the narrative and ruin any sense of chronological order-"
"Too late this is more fun!" The Captain yelled before pulling the lever and-
"So…" Rin said slowly, glaring at Uzume as the lot of them sat in the yard outside the inn. The Sekirei of course returned the glare with a coy smile, causing Rin's voice to be laced with irritation as she said "When you said that you wanted in…"
"I meant exactly what you thought I meant." Uzume replied. She felt both amused and kind of bad at how Chiho was shifting uncomfortably next to her as they talked about this. Still, he Ashikabi wasn't actually protesting anything, so Uzume saw no reason to back out now.
"I think the reason we would like to know is why." Saber said pointedly, her expression not a glare exactly but no less intense than the dark haired woman's. After the two of them had pummeled Shirou to their satisfaction, it was made clear that that nothing inappropriate had yet occurred between The man and Uzume, which was why the lot of them were able to sit calmly and discuss the situation.
Well, some of them were anyway. "If I may-" a somewhat bruised Shirou began.
"You may not." Rin said primly. "I would like to hear why this creature who has supposedly found her bonded mate has such an interest in you from herself."
Uzume shrugged. "It's not that hard to understand. Shirou saved both of our lives at one point or another, not to mention the fact that he's always been there for us since we meet him. He's done more for me and Chiho than I ever thought possible, so yeah, we fell for him. I mean, what else were we supposed to do with the guy?"
"… She has a point." Everyone looked at Saber whose mouth was twisted into a cross between a grimace and a rueful smile.
Rin just sighed in exasperation before looking at Shirou. "Of course you start doing that again. I can't let you out of my sight for even a second, can I? I shudder to think what would have happened if you had actually been able to attract these Sekirei."
"Probably something a lot more awkward and uncomfortable than this." The man said.
Rin grunted before glancing back at Uzume and Chiho. "Well, I suppose that this is not the worst way things could have turned out, but I'm still not accepting it. Besides, it's a moot point in the end, because Shirou doesn't share your feelings." There was a long expectant pause, which Shirou did not opt to fill. Rin's head slowly turned in his direction, and her voice became flat. "I said, that Shirou doesn't return your feelings."
Shirou opened his mouth, but then he paused and looked off to the side awkwardly. Unfortunately for him, that pause caused Rin's eyebrow to twitch and she lashed out her hand, pointing it at him in the shape of a gun. There was a bang and a black projectile shot towards Shirou's head.
But it never connected, as in the same instant a bolt of white cloth flashed between the two, and the black bolt dispersed as it was struck. "Shirou was right. You do jump to anger first." Uzume remarked with amusement, her arm extended and the cloth still hanging between the once separated lovers.
Rin glared at the woman. "Hmp. I see that your kind has some interesting tricks. And judging by your reaction, I'm guessing that Shirou taught you a thing or two about magic."
Uzume chuckled at this. "Oh, bro here taught me a little more than that…" she said as she twisted the cloth in mid-air, and a sharp gasp came from Rin at the sight of runes glowing brightly on the cloth.
-The First Mate threw the lever back to its original position, the world righting itself once again. "Damn it sir! We can't just go making big reveals like that out of context!"
"Well how do we know if we're ever actually gonna get to that context in the first place! We're moving at a snail's pace here man!" The Captain retorted.
The other man glared at him. "Let's just do this the normal way for now, alright?"
The Captain gave a theatrical sigh. "Ah, fine. We'll do it your way." He watched the other man nod and wander off. "… for now."
Uzume and Shirou watched the streets from a nearby rooftop, taking a break from their patrol. It was still during the day, which was unusual for the two as they typically didn't don their costumes until nightfall. Really the pair of them were supposed to be training some more, but Uzume was feeling restless and decided that she wanted to go roof hoping. Shirou resisted until she pointed out how plenty of Sekirei battles took place during the day as well as the night, at which he relented.
"Is this always what it's like for you Sekirei?" He asked out of the blue, looking down at the various people going about their business.
"What'da mean?" She asked.
"Standing above and separate from humans." He said. "The lot of you favor rooftops a great deal. Does it ever make you feel… removed from everyone else?"
Uzume raise an eyebrow at this. "Well, I guess it kinda did at first… but that was before I met Chiho. I wouldn't be surprised if others felt the same way. The unwinged are trying to find the way down from the roofs."
Shirou simply gave a contemplative hum and kept looking down. The woman regarded him curiously for a moment before she had a small flash of insight. "You're thinking about yourself, aren't you?"
"I haven't really thought about it before now, but yeah." He admitted. "I never really noticed it back in London because I lived and worked with other mages, but here I'm… singular. I know it's not the same, and I can hardly call myself special with you lot running around, but it's still a new experience for me. Never thought as a kid this would be one of the things I'd have to deal with if I became a superher-" He gave a start and cut himself off. "Uh, never mind."
Uzume blinked. "You wanted to be a superhero as a kid?"
"Uh, no?" Shirou blatantly lie.
A Cheshire grin split her face. "That is so you. And adorable." She looked him up and down. "You know, if you find your current outfit to be too drab, I could totally make a cape for you. Something that'll look good when you pose dramatically in the breeze."
Shirou shifted in embarrassment. "W-We should get moving. We're close to the East's territory."
Uzume gave a small chuckle at him changing the subject, but nodded in agreement. However, before the two of them could move, Shirou stiffened, and Uzume saw him take a deep breath through his nose. He had told her how he could pick up the 'scent' of Sekirei through his nose (a little weird if you asked her), and that seemed to be what was happening now. "Something up?" She asked.
"Three Sekirei just converged on one spot. I think there's a fight going down."
"Well then, let's go save the day, hero."
Shirou let out an exasperated sigh before turning and jumping to the next roof, Uzume following close behind. A few more and a short time later, the two found themselves looking down at a different sidewalk with group of people fighting. They didn't jump down immediately, instead gauging the situation first. While most did not, some members of the Sekirei Plan actually like the idea of a death match, and those tended to get cranky if their fights were interrupted.
That didn't look to be the case here though, and the scene before her was unusual. There was a pair of Sekirei, a woman in a sleeveless kimono and a woman with tonfas, standing over a young man who was currently on his knees. He looked battered and Uzume at first glance assumed that he was another hapless Ashikabi that Higa's goons were capturing. She realized this was wrong when she noticed a short distance away a man holding and young woman from behind, a knife in his hand and poking at her side. The young woman tickled something in Uzume's memory and with a start she realized that she had seen this girl before. She had been that target she had been hunting the night before she and Kazehana ended up in Shirou's room. The young woman was the Ashikabi, not the guy. Either way, things didn't look particularly good for either of them.
"If you don't want your Sekirei to get hurt, I suggest that you come with me." The man said. "My employer has had an interest in you for quite some time."
"Shiina…" the girl said as she looked helplessly at the young man.
Shirou shifted, his stance telling Uzume just what he thought of the situation. "I think this requires intervention. You engage the two Sekirei and distract them. I'll take out the man with the knife."
Uzume nodded, and a moment later she jumped down from the roof, cloth spear already forming in her hand. However, a Sekirei's natural instincts are not to be underestimated, as even as she was about to strike the tonfa user, the woman spun in alarm and knocked the spear to the side. She only had time to let out a brief cry before Uzume landed next to the two, quickly lashing out with whips of cloth. In truth, she was not trying to terminate them; she had done enough of that already that she didn't want to do it unless she had to. He goal was to simply push the two away from the male Sekirei, which she accomplished as the two enemy Sekirei were force to leap away to avoid her attack.
"You!" Uzume heard the man yelled. Placed as she was between the Sekirei and him, she spared a glance behind her to see that that thug had a mix of contempt and greed on his face. "I can't believe you're sticking your neck out after defying Higa. He's going to pay me a small fortune when I bring your hide back! Get her!"
She turned back in time to avoid the fist of the one in the sleeveless kimono, slipping past her to keep the other one from boxing her in. The male Sekirei seemed to have ducked to the side, so Uzume had no problem cutting loose a bit. "White Lotus Dervish!" she called out as she spun, and her cloth billowed out from her, making her the center of a maelstrom of white. It had none of the force of her usual attacks, but it confused and disoriented the two Sekirei trying to get close to her. They would catch glimpses of her through the cloth, but she was never quite where she seemed to be when they tried to strike at her. Uzume's arms and legs lashed out, using what Shirou had taught her to strike the other two women in the blind spots created by her technique.
Through the cries of pain and frustration around her, she managed to hear a new voice, likely the male Sekirei, shout "Let go of mistress Yukari!"
"Stay back! Unless you want your precious tart to have one more hole in- Wha-!" The thug was suddenly cut off, and there was a loud snapping noise. "GRAAAH!"
"Shit!" The woman with the tonfas yelled, and she and her partner jumped away from Uzume, who stopped her dance. Now that she had stopped spinning, she could see Shirou standing behind the thug, that man's arm bend at a sickening angle as Shriou held on to him with one hand. The other held a black saber across the man's throat. When he saw that he held everyone's attention, he jerked his head to the side, clearly indicating that he wanted the offending party to leave.
"T-that's the guy that took out Toyotama and Ichima." The one in the sleeveless kimono said, more than a little panic in her voice. "I don't want to fight him alone, let alone the two of them!"
Her partner grimaced, but nodded. Shirou then threw the thug of to the side. The grabbed him and ran, the man spouting curses as they faded into the distance. Uzume scowled after them. She would have hoped that Higa would have been doing his own dirty work now, but today proved that he was being cautious now, and not without cause. She also knew that this latest incident would probably not make things any better for her, but she could worry about that later.
She turned back to the other three and found to her mild surprise that the young woman was gushing over her new savoir. "Ohmygod ohmygod you're the Kensei Sekirei! I've been reading all about you on the forums! How you saved all those people who didn't want to fight! I bet that you keep all this a secret from your Ashikabi, because you know she'll worry about you if she knew, but the call to justice is too strong and so you must defend the innocent from evil!"
Shirou shifted uncomfortably at this, but said nothing. As a general rule, he didn't speak while he was in his outfit. Thankfully, the other male came to his rescue "Mistress… " Shiina fretted, looking the girl over. "Are you alright? Are you injured?"
"I'm fine, fine." She waved him off as she turned to him. "Well, maybe I'm a little shook up, but-" she cut herself off as her eyes drifted past him to lock onto Uzume, who was walking towards the group. Her eyes widened and she pointed at her. "Look out, Kensei! It's your arch-nemesis the Veiled Sekirei! "
Uzume paused, her head tilting to the side in confusion. Did the girl seriously not just see Uzume save her Sekirei? Maybe she had just convinced herself that Uzume was bad news no matter what she did. Still, the comment about her being Shirou's arch-nemesis amused her somewhat (partly because it had a hint of truth in it a while ago).
Yukari continued, settling into an aggressive stance. "Let's do this, Kensei! Shiina and I will help you in defeating this most notorious fiend!"
"Uh, actually, I think the two are working together." Shiina said.
Yukari looked at Shriou in alarm, who simply nodded before walking over to stand next to Uzume. Yukari looked uncertain. "Wait… so that means… the two of you…"
At this point Uzume decided to help the girl's brain along a little. She proceeded to lean on Shirou causally, and her hand drifted down to give his rear a solid smack. Shirou jumped a little and gave off a squeak before he turned to glare at her. Even with the hood and face mask she could tell that he was blushing furiously.
However, Yukari took this display of affection a little differently than she intended. Her glare returned and she pointed at Uzume. "You, you harlot! So you have seduced and corrupted a hero of justice into doing your wicked bidding! Well, don't worry Kensei! Shiina and I will beat this witch and free you from the spell she's cast on you!"
Uzume's shoulder's shook as she tried to contain her laugher at this development. Shirou merely buried his face in his hands, and she could hear him mutter "You're going to pay for this later."