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The Smallest Things [S-Rank]

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Shiruko Makoto
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The Smallest Things [S-Rank]

Postby Shiruko Makoto Sun Jun 18, 2017 11:11 am

"So let me get this straight," Sheimi said, staring at Makoto in disbelief while a small blue-haired girl enthusiastically attacked an ice cream cone. "You went on a trip out to a radio tower in the middle of nowhere to shut down a numbers station, and found a little not-human girl there and decided to rescue her?"

"You think I should have left her there?" he asked incredulously.

"Well, no." She glanced back at Miki for a second, then to him again. "But why did you bring her back here? Why not just...let Sand take responsibility for her? This happened in their country, after all. This isn't even our jurisdiction."

He shrugged loosely, uncomfortable. "I found her. That kind of makes it my jurisdiction. Besides, I don't specifically know any seal experts in Sand I could ask to help her."

Plus he wasn't exactly comfortably leaving unattended or in the hands of a stranger a small child who really had no means of defending herself, and who seemed to have latched onto if not him, at least the phoenix, for the moment. Even if she wasn't human. Who knew what would happen if she was hurt while still sealed?


"Get the walking portal to nothingness to help her. He's supposed to be good with seals." She shrugged. "He fixes her, she goes back to doing whatever it is non-human spirits that age do. Float around aimlessly, probably."

"And if he can't fix it?" Which Makoto rather suspected he couldn't, freaky void canceling powers included into the bargain. "You just want to leave a child here?"

"I'm not saying dump her on the streets in a gutter," Sheimi said, clearly exasperated. "Obviously we'd find someone willing to take her in and look into her problem. But we didn't come here to...I don't know, adopt a child. We have enough to do without factoring her in."

He looked at Miki, then at Sheimi again, and raised an eyebrow, waiting. She scowled at him, as if already knowing what he was going to say.

"I can't," he said. "And I know from a logical standpoint, you're right. Just...a lot happens here, okay? This is one of those crazy ninja villages, and they have sandworms and necromancers and who knows what else wandering around here. I'm not just going to leave a child here when she can't even take care of herself and has already been kidnapped once. Not even with her not being human."


Sheimi rubbed her forehead. He wasn't sure whether her demon was yelling at her or he was giving her a headache. "Fine," she said after a moment. "But if Mister Void doesn't want to help, she's your responsibility. All right?"

"All right," he said. "But um. It might be better if she slept in your room."

"Does she sleep?" she asked doubtfully, and they both looked at Miki now, who had finished her ice cream and was licking her fingers.

"What's sleep?" Miki asked curiously, proving she could hear them the whole time.

"That's also a problem, if she doesn't," he pointed out. "Though...I guess the phoenix doesn't have to either; it can watch her." No objections were forthcoming, so he counted that as assent.

~

Tatsuya wasn't in his room and had likely taken to exploring the area himself, so Makoto took it on himself to carefully show Miki around town, keeping an eye out for trouble while he did. He had had to tell her she ought to blink every now and again so as not to appear too creepy to people, and she couldn't seem to do anything about generating a shadow, but overall it seemed to be going all right.

"So this really used to be all underground?" Miki demanded, peering at every new building they passed like she had never seen anything like it. Maybe she hadn't.

"Last time I was here, it was," he confirmed. "They've been slowly moving it up since the Maelstrom stopped. Most of it is up here now."

"Wowwww."

And that was even leaving out his involvement in getting the storm to stop, which he had yet to enlighten his teammates on. It didn't seem like a thing to brag about, even if they did know he had helped take down that giant undead sandworm some time back.


There is someone following us, Makoto.

He did not react to that statement outwardly. Shit. Uh. Would getting into cover help, or can you not see them?

I would have to become visible to go look for them, which would not exactly help us right now, so I cannot say.

Crap.

"Hey Miki," he said casually, "did you want to check out the bazaar? It's a sort of open air market. Lots of people, lots of things."

She squinted up at him, as if something in his tone was off enough to make her suspect something. The fact that a child-spirit who had been isolated her whole short life had a better read on emotional cues than he did was depressing.

She did, however, go along with him when he started tugging her around and down winding paths, taking a circuitous path toward the bazaar, occasionally checking over his shoulder. It seemed like too much of a coincidence to think that someone would be following them, not particularly long after he rescued her, and be after him and not her.

And even if they were for whatever reason after him, despite the low profile he'd kept, he wasn't putting a child in the line of fire.

He was debating the merits of throwing stealth to the wind and just scooping Miki up and running (despite his own size, if he picked her up and bolted it was an awful lot faster than trying to break into a run and drag her along) when just as he turned down another back lane, a hail of arrows shot down right at his feet.

Miki shrieked and jumped behind him to cower. He flipped out and deployed his parasol behind her, shielding her from anyone who would try and sneak up on them.

Three men and a woman, all masked, two holding bows, dropped down in front of him, landing among the arrows embedded into the sand.

"Why don't you just hand over the kid, and no one will get hurt," one of the men said. "No point in defending one that's not even human, you know? She goes back in her box and we forget about this whole thing."

They weren't ninja, he could tell that much. He could probably take four of them, but he also really didn't want to blow his cover on the whole 'spirit-possessed' thing in the middle of (okay, outskirts of by this point) a city.

"I was aware of that, thanks," he said evenly. "Now how about you leave before I have to hurt you?"

"Even if you're a ninja, one hand behind your back isn't going to do you any favours in a fight," the woman said, as if trying to sound reasonable. "There's no point in getting violent."

Even before merging with the phoenix he could cast with one hand, but they didn't know that. He could feel Miki pressed up against his back, trembling. No question that these people were involved with the ones who had taken her.

He needed something he could catch them all in briefly, so he could get Miki secured somewhere safe before he went after these people--maybe Sheimi would watch her? He should have known better than to think that it would take them very long to find her...

Just then, another hail of projectiles came from above. These ones looked much larger. One went right through one of the men's chest, another into another's leg at the knee straight through to the ground. The last man and the woman darted off and away as two more came down where they had been standing.

A brown blur landed in the spot where they had been, just as the man with the javelin through his leg collapsed, the tip of it protruding from the bottom of his boot.


"Tell me," Tatsuya said mildly, "can anyone go a single week without getting into some kind of trouble here, or is it just you?"
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