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You don't have much time to waste here, but you can spare time for a good cause.
Besides, you did say you'd help get Mystia out.
"Give me room, please." You say, crouching next to the quivering wreck of a girl. Kyouko hesitantly backs up as your eyes wander over Mystia's shredded back, and you find the problem nigh-instantly. Jagged gashes have been torn into both wings at the base, and the left one just cracked in half. It's little wonder she reacted so badly when they opened up.
"Oh, that's uncalled for." You mutter, pointing the wounds out. Kyouko leans in to take a closer look, her face twisting up in revulsion.
"I am gonna kill a bitch." She says, voice low.
Mystia shivers, silent now save for ragged snatches of breath.
"How you doing?" You ask. She painstakingly cranes her neck to look up, ashen-faced.
"What do you think?" She wipes a sleeve across her face, smearing tears and blood and grime over the torn garment.
"Perhaps that was a bad question." You admit. "I know it hurts, but we have to get moving before someone else arrives."
Anything further is cut off by a sharp whistling from above and behind you. A fairy guard hovers in the hole leading to the library, frantically waving to whoever's behind her.
"For example." You add, taking aim.
"Guys, I found 'em! Over here!" She calls, right before a burst of red energy smashes into her face and knocks her spiraling down. You glance at Kyouko, her arm outstretched and her open palm coated with rapidly-fading crimson magic. A look of intense satisfaction is spread across her face.
"Bitch status equals killed." She jerks a thumb down the hall. "Now let's move before the rest of them show up."
"This is a good plan." Mystia weakly agrees. "Please go with it."
"Gladly." You effortlessly sweep the girl up in a bridal carry and she tightly wraps her arms around your neck. It takes some effort to get your rifle ready as well, but you manage to hold it in your off-hand. "I'll cover the rear, you take point."
"You got it." Kyouko nods, taking the lead as you back up after her. You hardly make it halfway down the hall before more fairies start to pour out of the hole.
"On second thought, run!" You amend, spinning around and launching into a sprint. You quickly pass Kyouko up, but she puts on a burst of speed and matches you. Mystia shrinks against you as the air is filled with wordless shouting from the guards.
"Grab a flashbang, toss it back!" You order.
"Why don't you?!" Kyouko bites out, running pell-mell to keep pace.
"Not sure if you've noticed, but my hands are full!" You snap back. "Get the tube-shaped one!"
She reaches over, wrenches a grenade off your belt, fumbles with the pin, and lobs it over her shoulder.
"Cover your ears!" You say; both girls obediently follow the order just as the flash goes off. The horde's shouting turns into a bevy of anguished cries along the lines of "MY EYES", "AAAAAARGH", and "WHY DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING TO ME."
"Go! Go!" You urge, hanging a left at the next intersection and blitzing down the hall.
"Dress it up all you want, but there's only so much detail you can put into running away." Remilia states, slouching down in her chair. "Skip ahead?"
"Sounds good to me." You reply.
"Right, I think we've lost them." You say, taking a moment to pause and let Kyouko catch her breath. She's bent double, hand on the wall to support her. Mystia is too busy hugging you very, very tightly to pay much attention to the world around her.
"About time." Kyouko pants, rising back up and wiping a hand across her forehead. "Thought they'd never give up."
"T-they're gone?" Mystia pipes in, finally relaxing her hold on you.
The door you're resting in front of opens, revealing a trio of fairy guardswomen on their way out. The entire crew double-takes as they take you in.
"Sup." Kyouko smoothly greets, throwing them off even more. Their golden-haired leader peers at your passenger, looking faintly horror-struck.
"Oh my." She says.
Mystia offers up a sad little wave. "Hi." She says, smile strained.
"I don't feel like dealing with you right now." You gruffly say. "Go away."
"I- yes." The fairy says, drawing back. Her subordinates share worried looks as they follow suit. "We'll, uh, we'll just show ourselves out."
"Ye-" Kyouko cuts herself off with a shake of the head. "Actually, would you mind pointing out the closest exit? We're on our way out and all that."
The blonde's brows rise up. "Seriously?"
The maid glances at you and Mystia, and her eyes shut tight as she pinches her nose.
"I wouldn't normally do this, you understand." She grudgingly says. "We've got the kitchen back through the dining room in there, and an exit outside for anyone who wants to enjoy the sun while they eat."
Everything grinds to a halt as all present turn to stare at her. She shifts uncomfortably.
"That was... surprisingly helpful." Mystia wonders.
"Don't mention it." The blonde frowns. "Seriously, don't. I like having my job."
One of the other fairies clears her throat. "Boss? I think I heard something from, say, that way?"
"Y'know, I think I did too." The leader agrees. "Let's go check it out."
Both fairies fall in step with their commander as she marches past you, and the one that had remained silent waves when the other two aren't looking. Kyouko releases a held breath once they're out of immediate earshot.
"So." She glances towards you, brow raised. "Did you know that they were just going to give in like that?"
"I was going to shoot them if they didn't." You admit.
"Huh." Mystia adds.
"Let's be off, then!" You say, walking in line with the maid's directions.
"Right, let me count this out." Remilia raises a hand and starts ticking off fingers. "You've met gate fairies that are bloodthirsty, interior guards that are cowards, Patchouli's über-fairy who was incompetent, and found the handiwork of some downright sadists. Finally, you cap it all off with a group that don't understand the meaning of guard duty." She sighs heavily. "Inconsistent bunch, aren't they?"
"Maybe I should review your hiring policies." You offer.
The vampire smirks. "Hire the rampaging assassin? That's a good one."
You step inside the kitchen, Kyouko taking point once again. It's a mess inside, all manners of cooking implements scattered around and the floor slick with spilled water. A door hangs open, the room it contains too dark to make anything out. A trail of blood winds into the kitchen from inside the blackness, and Mystia clutches you tightly at the sight.
"Please don't go in there." She pleads, burying her face against your chest. You share a look with Kyouko, who looks faintly ill.
"That sounds good." She agrees, edging away from the doorway. You take a wary look around for Flandre, but it seems she's either checked things out already or just hasn't shown up yet. Either way, you don't feel like lingering.
"What about there?" You suggest, pointing out the only other door.
"Lemme check, first." Kyouko says, and you stand back as she sticks her head out the doorway. She sidles out moments later, popping back in only to wave for you to follow. Sunlight streams down upon the gardens when you step outside, and you take a moment to admire the pleasing arrangement of the flowers before you move on.
"Are we heading out the gate?" Mystia asks, looking around cautiously.
"They'll be watching it." You reply. "You're going through the wall."
"What." She asks, giving you a blank look.
"Huh?" Kyouko echoes.
"The digger." You say, exasperated. The greenette 'ah's before snatching the tool from you.
You gently set your passenger down in a patch of grass by the wall. She lies down on her side, wrapping her arms around herself, and simply breathes in and out. Kyouko stops fiddling with the tool at the sight, her face drawing tight. She looks away after a few seconds, exhaling sharply.
"So." You begin. "Want me to show you how that thing works?"
"It's just point and shoot and don't let it melt my foot off, right?" She replies, lightening up somewhat.
"Pretty much, yes." You admit.
"Shouldn't be too hard, then." She says, heading over to the wall and setting to work. You start to patrol back and forth, keen eyes scanning for any movement. The only noise is from the rhythmic thrumming of the digger as it melts a path through the brick wall.
"Hey, AE?" Kyouko eventually asks, not taking her eyes off her work.
"Hm?" You respond, stopping.
"I wanted to say thanks." A pause. "Seriously."
"You asked so nicely when we met." You sardonically reply.
"I'm trying to pay you a compliment here, geez." She says, disgruntled. "Don't ruin it."
"Where did you find this guy, anyway?" Mystia asks, sitting up a little.
"Ran into her on my way past the gatekeeper." You say, starting back up. "She decided to lend me a hand in exchange for my help in getting you out."
"Oh." The sparrow falls quiet. "That's... thank you."
Your reply is cut off by a flash of movement from one of the upper mansion windows. You snap your rifle towards it, but the shadow ducks away before you ventilate it.
"How're you doing back there?" You ask, dropping to one knee.
"I can see out the other side!" Kyouko calls back. "This thing's pretty awesome!"
"Well, that's great, but we're going to have company soon, so hurry up."
"Oh no." Mystia says, pulling herself to her knees.
It's a tense wait as you watch intently, ready to blast anyone stupid enough to show themselves.
"Got it!" Kyouko exclaims, popping back out of the hole. She lobs the digger your way, and you snatch it out of the air as she hauls Mystia back to her feet.
Then every single window is flung open at once, guards leaping out and charging towards you. You immediately open fire, snapping from fairy to fairy with each shot.
"BONZAIIIIIIIII!" They scream, swarming out at an alarming rate.
"Oh my god." Mystia croaks, aghast.
"Aw, hell." Kyouko agrees.
"I'll hold them! Go!" You order, unloading more and more fire into the oncoming horde. There has to be at least a hundred of them soaring at you now, the air filled with a cacophony of wordless shouting.
"There's an assload of them!" Your erstwhile companion points out, no small amount of panic in her voice.
"Go!" You repeat.
She hesitates only a moment longer before wordlessly lurching through the hole.
Your rifle clicks dry.
You've hardly cast the weapon aside before the tide of bodies rolls over you, hacking and bashing and cutting away with manic fury. Even with your digger melting whoever falls into its path, there's still so many swarming around that the sheer weight of their assault drives you down to your knees. A lucky strike knocks the digger loose from your grip as they keep pounding away at you.
"Get off!" You snarl, pulling a pair of incendiary grenades loose. A flick of the thumbs send pins flying loose, and with a sound like glass crashing the grenades ignite, white-hot fire spreading over your entire body in an instant. As they recoil back, you surge to your feet and crush one's skull with a burning fist. Fairies are shattered irrevocably with every subsequent blow, their warcries turning to screams of terror and panic at this sudden reversal. They're packed so tightly together from their charge that the flames spread through the crowd rapidly, everyone pushing and shoving and tripping over themselves in a desperate bid to get away.
Once they're all off, you take a moment to pat out the fires engulfing you. The gardens themselves are alight as well, burning up at a rapid clip and sending smoke trailing into the sky. A good chunk of the fairies are now alight, the air filled with their cries of pain and the soft noise of their death explosions. As this chaos reigns, a scarce handful have rallied and now stand before you.
"Halt!" Their leader tremulously orders, spear levied at you in a white-knuckle grip.
You pause, turn around, and walk away.
"What." She says, dumbfounded, as you retrieve the digger and rifle, reloading the latter before returning to where you were.
"You were saying?" You ask, resting the gun on your shoulder.
"Um, halt?" She says, clearly thrown off.
You take exactly one step ahead.
"Nuts." Another fairy curses.
"Yep, we're boned." A third conversationally adds.
The head of the pack takes a sharp, deep breath before she launches herself ahead, but you twist out of the way of her thrust and smash her down with an overhead hammer-blow; she crashes into the tiled pathway with enough force to send bits of pavement flying. The rest of the fairies stare blankly, first at you, then at the new hole at their feet.
"Welp." One remarks, before spinning on a heel and walking away. The rest quickly follow her, all too eager to avoid being the subjects of a repeat performance.
There's a rush of air behind you, and you twist out of the way just in time to avoid a knife to the back of the head. That only leaves you with the literal wave of knives flying at you. You hurl yourself out of the way with all the grace of a buffalo, smashing into the ground hard as the steel whirlwind rages overhead. There's a sound of rending metal near your right arm, and a quick glance reveals a horrid gash across the armor.
"Anti-tank knives?" You wonder. "That's a hell of a thing."
"And that's just one of my tricks." A new voice calmly notes, and you immediately jump back to your feet to see a woman leaning up next to the hole in the wall.
White hair and a matching headdress, blue eyes, blue dress, no wings, a knife clutched firmly in one hand, a golden pocketwatch in the other. She holds herself with perfect confidence, her gaze on you serene and unwavering.
"Miss Izayoi, I assume." You greet. She smiles faintly at your recognition.
"The one and only." She replies. "You would be AE, correct?"
"Tack a five-one-two-six-two to the end and you've got it, yes. How'd you learn it?"
"Oh, I've been watching ever since you came outside. You almost shot me, remember?"
"That was you in the window?" You ask, and she nods. "Well, that would explain how all the guards knew where to go running."
"I thought I'd let the footsloggers have a go at it first." She explains, idly inspecting her fingernails. "They get so antsy if I deal with an intruder before they take a crack at it."
"It was also a convenient way to see how good I was, I assume?"
"Naturally. The way you dealt with them was... interesting, to be sure." She casts a worried look at the smoldering gardens. "Although Meiling is going to end you for it when she gets back up."
"It seemed the best option at the time." You helplessly spread your arms. "Anyway, she'll have to get in line."
"Patchouli's going to end you too, yes." She notes. "Tell me, do you always wreck everything when you do this?"
"Usually." You shrug. "Now, I really hope you let the two young ladies get away."
"Do I really seem the type of person to go around stabbing people on their way out?" She asks, brow arched.
She rolls her eyes theatrically. "Fine, your two little friends are perfectly unharmed. I have standards, after all."
"Just wondering." You raise your rifle, finger on the trigger. Her eyes narrow. "Ready?" You prompt.
"Always." She flings herself sideways just as you open fire, hand clamping down on her watch, and the woman literally blinks out of existence. Bullets smash against brick, and the air whistles with the sound of flying metal. You look up to see a bevy of knives heading your way, and you hurl yourself out of the way just in time to avoid them.
She reappears behind you, then above, then to your side, more and more and more knives surrounding you with every moment.
"This doesn't seem a little unfair to you?" You ask, sizing up the loose dome of deadly blades now surrounding you.
"Not in the least." She replies, once again reappearing ahead of you.
"I don't suppose we could call this a draw?" You hopefully ask.
The knives all inch closer.
"Suppose not." You sigh.
You squeeze a quick burst of fire out as you charge ahead, but once again the maid blinks out of sight, and all the blades fly towards you as one. You leap, pulling the digger out and sweeping it across a wave of knives to annihilate them, and you twist mid-flight to squeeze through the newfound gap. The sound of rending metal tells you your dodge wasn't entirely successful. You spin around and fire away at the woman floating above you. She blinks out of the way yet again, and windows shatter from stray gunfire. More knives rain down on you, but this time you're ready to dance out of the way. One last burst of lead flies out of your rifle before it clicks dry, the bullets finding a home in masonry and little else. She phases out of the last volley and reappears directly in front of you.
"My goodness, but you're a terrible shot." She taunts, twirling a jagged blade in her off hand. "Is that really the best you can do?"
"Why don't you come over here and find out?" You challenge, levelling the digger at her.
"And get in range of that?" She looks vaguely disgusted. "Do you take me for a fool?"
"I was hoping you were." You admit.
[ ] If ever there was a time to go all-out, this was it.
[ ] Maids can't catch you if you're on fire.
[ ] To win, you first have to lose. Make it convincing and, when she lets her guard down, commence electroshock therapy.
[ ] There comes a time where a man must admit he is outgunned. Fortunately, this is where close air support comes into play.
[ ] SUDDENLY, FLANDRE
[ ] [WRITE-IN]