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"Okay," I say, already regretting my choice even as the words leave my mouth. "Koa? I- I think we're going with your plan."
The reactions are instantaneous.
"Ffffffffffffffffffffff-" Nia sputters, her face turning an intriguing shade of Patchouli-purple.
"Eeeeeeeeeeeee-" Koa squeals, hanging off my neck in a bone-crushing hug.
"Aaaaaaaaargh-" I wheeze, unable to breath beneath Koa's grip. My vision's going black around the edges when she lets go, and I stagger back, gulping in air.
"Yes yes yes yes-" Koa chatters, clapping her hands together gleefully as she bounces up and down like an overwound jack-in-the-box. "Oh, this'll be perfect!"
Nia's twitching uncontrollably now, packing all of her hate into the glare she's aiming at me. "-ffffffffffffffffffffffff-"
"Nia?" I say hoarsely, rubbing my neck. "Shut up."
There's a pained grunt from the fairy after she stops sputtering. When she speaks again, she drops each word with the grim certainty of experience. "If we do this, we are going to die."
"Oh, don't be silly!" Koa says, flapping a hand carelessly at her. "Once I'm done with Sakuya, everything'll be just great!"
"I know you already said you had ideas, but do you mind sharing them with us?" I ask. If I'm being honest with myself, half the reason I'm going along with her plan is because I want to see just what the hell she's got in mind.
At my question, Koa merely smiles brighter, pressing her forefingers together. "Let's just say it's a hobby of mine."
"What is?"" Nia growls, only to get an worryingly cheeful giggle from the demon.
I'm starting to think Sakuya might not deserve what we're about to do to her, before I remember the threats and the attitude when I did nothing wrong, and my sympathy suffers an abrupt heart-attack.
"All right, let's go!" I declare, marching to where the towering doors meet and giving them both a good shove; they swing open with magical ease, exposing the hallway outside the library. I stride through, followed by an enthusiastic Koa and a fuming Nia, but the moment we're out I realize that I still don't have a plan for finding Sakuya in the first place. Nia, however, does, so I turn to the scowling fairy, grab her by the shoulder and shake her about, heedless of her catlike hissing. "Nia, I hereby order you to mingle with everyone else and find out where Sakuya's at. Then I'll have Koa help me grab her."
That last sentence kills her desire to claw loose. "...I don't have to show my face to Sakuya?" she asks, quiet and thoughtful.
"Guaranteed," I say; now, whether any of the other maids will tattle on her is a different problem, and one she thankfully isn't asking about.
"Well," she says, expression troubled. "This plan is still... incredibly stupid, but okay."
"Knew I could count on you," I say, smiling for real this time. If I've got to do this, the least I can hope for is competent help.
She pulls free, frowning as she looks between us. "Okay, you two'll have to let me work alone for a bit. If you're tagging along, everybody'll just nope right on out of there, so- so go do something else while I handle things."
"Kariiiiiin~" Koakuma trills, and I flinch as she grabs my shoulder. "If that's the case, I've got just the place in mind for us!"
"Oh"-godsno-"kay," I say as I turn to her, forcing my smile to hold position on pain of death. "What's the plan, Koa?"
"Nia?" Koa says, eyes flicking to the girl in question. "We'll be at Karin's room. You know where that is?"
"Yup!" Nia says, all too cheerfully. "I'll get to work!" She takes off, leaving Koa with an unhealthy gleam in her eyes as she grins toothily at me.
"Now," says the succubus, pressing her nose against mine as I struggle to maintain my composure. "Let's go have... fun."
As it turns out, Koa's idea of fun is less horrible sexual assault and more... intensely frilly.
"Wear iiiiiiiiiiiit," she whines, shoving a fluffy pink bundle into my arms with enough force that I pitch backward onto my bed. I scowl up at her, but turn my attentions to the dress in hand.
"Okay, first off?" I say, unfolding the garment and looking it over with a critical eye. The material is good, and it's a cute enough design, but- "When did you hide it in here?"
Koa taps a pinky to her lips, smiling impishly. "I have ways!"
I glare her way. "Of breaking into my room?!"
"Yes!" she says without shame or remorse as I screech internally. "Now come on and take your suit off so you can wear it!"
I defensively fold my arms, dress and all, over my chest. "No! And I don't care for your trespassing, you know!"
Koakuma starts agitatedly bouncing on her heels, wringing her hands together. "Aw, come on, it'll be a perfect fit! I made it myself! I even got your measurements right!"
I freeze as I try to process this latest, greatest invasion of privacy. It takes a few seconds for me to force the words out, my fingers twitching. "...How?"
She guilelessly cocks her head to the side. "I got them while you slept, silly!"
With her hands all over me.
While I was unconscious.
Oh, that is it.
It's half a minute later when my door swings open and Nia steps in, triumphant expression giving way to shock as she takes in the sight of me straddling Koakuma atop my bed and throttling the damn woman.
"H'what?" Nia says, dumbfounded, and I pause mid-strangulation to glare at her.
"Where's our target?" I ask, deliberately calm, forcing my hands to unclench and allowing Koakuma to wheeze for air.
"Ah, one of the maids spilled cleaning material over Sakuya," Nia hesitantly says, edging back to the door. "Far as I heard, she went to her room to clean up."
"Karin's touching me~" Koakuma dazedly mutters, cheeks burning red, and I hurtle off her like someone just dumped a bucket of ice water down my suit.
Nia sniggers, taking far too much schadenfreude in my predicament for my liking. "I- I can come back later if you two got something to handle, you know? Don't let me stop you."
"Nia?" I say, stonily ignoring a red-faced Koakuma. "Shut up before I ram my boot up your ass."
"Yes, ma'am!" Nia says, saluting with commendably fake enthusiasm.
"I think I could get used to that," Koa mutters, rubbing her throat, and it takes all the self-control I can muster to not just slug her on the nose.
Once we head out, it's a scant five minutes later that we find ourselves in front of the white door to Sakuya's room. A quick check reveals the door to be locked, of course, so I step back, flanked by Nia and Koa.
"So, uh, how do we get in?" Nia asks, scratching her head.
I glance between maid and demon, shrug, and step up to the door. It's only a matter of bracing my shoulder against it and squaring my footing before I give it a nice, solid push, and there's a crack as the wood breaks off its hinges, swinging open with a minimum of noise. A quick peek inside reveals a modest bedroom decidely empty of Sakuya, but there's several more doors inside for her own little apartment.
"It's a good thing we're gonna be doing so much worse to her!" Koakuma says, jolly despite what we're about to do.
"By we," Nia says, already backing off, "you mean you two, of course."
"As agreed," I say, watching her from the corner of my eye. "Get some rope and take it to my room, okay? That's where we'll hold her."
"Got it, bosslady!" Nia says, throwing another salute before scurrying off.
"Koa," I say, already regretting this decision, "you're with me. And be quiet."
Koakuma claps her hands around her mouth, pre-empting a delighted cheer that would certainly have blown our cover. I step in first, fists clenched and ready for punching, but Sakuya doesn't materialize out of nothing to murder us just yet. The reason for that quickly becomes apparent when I pause to listen, the rushing of water drifting through the closest door on my right. That must be the suite's attached bathroom, which means-
I slowly, carefully, with all due caution and then some, slink over and test the knob. It turns silently, so I ease it back to its starting position.
"Koa?" I whisper, and she falls in on the opposite side of the door. "I'll go first. Get ready."
"Oh boy oh man oh boy oh man-" Koakuma continues that train of words as I clasp my hands together and shut my eyes, willing the tiniest sliver of magic into my fists, and the thrum of power throughout my fingers feels right. Preventative dampening in effect, I reach out, gingerly grabbing hold of the doorknob and twist it, pulling the door out to me. It opens silently, and the splashing of water against skin becomes clear.
I don't waste any time.
"STORM HER!" I bellow, barreling into the plush bathroom, the screened bathtub-slash-shower playing host to one astonished, outraged, and very much naked chief maid, who, with a shriek, reaches up, wrenches a knife from its tape on the ceiling, flings the curtain aside, and throws the knife directly into my FOREHEAD.
WHAT KIND OF PERSON KEEPS A KNIFE IN THE SHOWER
THAT IS INSANE
I trip over my own feet, all fine motor control lost due to the steel embedded in my brain, and as a result crash through the curtain, into Sakuya, and tackle her entirely by accident, the two of us going down in a pile of flailing limbs and terrified screaming (and the latter was all her, for the record). I end up on top of her, getting mighty soaked by the water streaming from the shower head, but I'm rather more preoccupied by the fact that I am on top of a naked Sakuya, pinning the thrashing woman down thanks to pure chance and little else.
Our eyes meet, mine glazed-over, hers quivering in incoherent terror and outrage, and her breath hitches.
"W-w-what the hell?!" she stammers, blushing furiously, before I faintly remember my goal in all of this, haul back, and punch her square on the nose. It connects with a satisfying thwap, her face crumpling beneath my magic-infused fist in an explosion of danmaku, sending water and spittle and energy flying.
Aaaaah, that felt good.
There was something that came after this, I'm pretty sure, but right now it's hard to think and my head really hurts. I do notice when the water falling on my head cuts off, and I blearily look up to see a sheepishly-grinning Koa with her hand on the faucet handle.
"Hiiiiiiiiii," I say, smiling up at her. She reaches over, grabs the knife's handle, and jerks it free from my skull in an explosion of OW and WHY GODS WHY. It's only a few seconds later that I come to, breathing raggedly and entirely too aware of who I'm lying on top of and where my hands are, which are bad places for them to be if they want to stay attached to my body.
"You okay?" Koa asks, voice tinged with worry as I push myself onto my knees with the kind of urgency usually reserved for someone on fire. I'm still straddling (again, the incredibly naked) Sakuya, but at least now I'm not touching her inappropriately. Not that anything about this situation is appropriate, mind, but it's the thought that counts. I take a few more moments to catch my breath as I run my fingers across the narrow hole in my forehead, the wound already knitting back together; my healing does absolutely nothing for the newly-acquired headache, but I'll take what little favors I can get.
"I- I'm fine, I think," I say, keeping the shaking out of my voice as best I can. Triumph at what I just did outweighs the consequences I know are forthcoming, and I grin halfheartedly at Koa. "I got her. I got her."
"You did!" Koa says, clapping me on the shoulder and giving me an encouraging smile. "But now we have the problem of getting her back to your room!"
"I-" I blink. "That is actually a good point. If people see me walking around with her slung over my shoulder, there's no way they'll not tell the Mistress."
"We need-" Koa cuts off, rubbing her chin. "Well, I can't exactly figure out what kind of disguise would work for her. Any ideas?"
I frown, crunching my eyebrows together in thought, before something strikes. "Koa?" I ask. "I'm gonna need your help with a distraction."
She throws a snappy salute. "Anything for you!"
"Okay. Um." I take a deep breath before I speak again, because I am not looking forward to how I'll have to make this up to her. "You need to take your clothes off."
She goes stone-still, her previously cheerful smile taking a sickly edge. "...A-anything for you, Karin."
"Don't look at meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" Koa wails, arms and wings curled protectively around herself as she tears down the hallway in her lingerie, a gaggle of scandalized maids watching with boggling eyes. As the air fills with shouts of outrage and fairies start chasing after the streaker, I edge out of Sakuya's room, carrying the blanket-wrapped chief maid on my shoulder, and take flight.
"Nothing to see here," I mutter, gliding over a steadily-growing stream of fairies who want to know just what all the screaming is about. They're all too busy trying to catch up with the action to look up, and I'm grateful for that because I have no idea how I'd explain why Sakuya is rolled up in bedding like a cigar.
It's in short order than I touch down in front of my own door, the chaos in the background faint, and I give the door a solid thump with my boot. "Open up!"
Nia pulls it open, peeking around the frame. "Come on, come on!" she urges, motioning inside, and I'm only too happy to dart in. Nia shuts the door soon as I'm through. I dump the senseless maid on my bed, then turn to my accomplice.
"So," she says, suppressing a smirk. "What's with the hair?"
I brush a damp strand of hair out of my eyes, scowling at her. "Sakuya was showering. And thanks for your concern about the gaping knife wound."
"Ah, you'll live," she says, leaning against the door. "Where's your creepy friend, though?"
"Distracting everyone else so I could get Sakuya here," I say, sitting next to Sakuya. "You might've heard the shouting?"
Nia purses her lips. "Huh. So that's what that was about." She glances around my dwelling. "So why do you get your own room, anyway?"
I rap my knuckles against my breastplate. "I, as I have said many a time before, am your captain. This comes with perks." I pause in thought. "Also, the rest of you lot can't keep a room clean to save your lives."
Nia scowls, brows lifting in anger. "Implying fairies can't keep things tidy? You speciesist!"
I open my mouth, close it, open it again, and finally manage a response to that idiocy. "You do remember that I, too, am a fairy, right?"
Before she can reply, the door is shoved open, swinging all the way inside and carrying the girl directly into the wall, leaving the way clear for Koa to dive through, sobbing incoherently, and hit the carpet at my feet. The door slowly drifts back, revealing a flattened Nia standing on trembling legs.
"...Ow," she groans, and then topples onto her face.
"Um," I say, as Koa curls up on herself, her weeping leaving me decidedly uncomfortable. I get up, slip around her, and shut and lock my door before turning to take in the situation.
"Ooh..." Sakuya moans, stirring in her makeshift prison, and my fists clench on reflex.
[X] Koa's a weepy mess, Nia's been pancaked, and Sakuya is about to wake up. This is clearly the best time to jump on the chief maid, establish dominance, and engage in a bout of friendly persuasion.
[X] I've got to get my house in order before I can deal with Sakuya, so let's find where Nia put that rope and tie the angry knife-lady up and see to everyone else. Can't be that hard, right?
[X] I'd rather Sakuya stay unconscious a bit longer, so the plan goes as follows: PUNCH THE MAID, RESURRECT THE MINION, HUG THE DEMON. Good? Good.