The campus guards made their sweep across the academy. In groups of three, they focused entirely along the outside wall past the trees. The birds chirped on the branches and the insects crawled on the grass. One security guard stopped by a tree and leaned on the bark. As two of his comrades went further ahead, he took out a radio to call Madam Mayweather.
“This is Group D. We haven't found anyone here in the western side of campus.”
“Stay alert.” Madam Mayweather said over the radio. “He could be using some kind of stealth spell.”
“Understood.” The bushes shook from behind the tree and the guard walked around the trunk to see what that was. A rabbit emerged, wearing a collar with a purple gem, looking up at the guard. He relaxed and tossed a pebble to scare it away. The rabbit scurried off, leaving him behind. “Damn creatures.”
The rabbit hopped up to the top of the wall and walked toward a nearby corner. Looking down, Jean-Pierre sat on the bench talking on the phone. The rabbit jumped down to the sound of a passing car, and approached him.
“I know mother.” He said in French over the phone, waving the rabbit onto the seat of the bench. "Ciel made some new friends. One of them is chimera and the other is a golem summoner.”
“Irrelevant.” Jean-Pierre's mother said over the phone. “You got careless and now you work is made more difficult.”
“I thought if I talked to her first, we could avoid all of this.” Jean-Pierre moved aside, to make room for the rabbit when it jumped on.
“You idiot, you have diplomatic immunity. You can just take her and no one will stop you. And why didn't you use Hitomi? It's why I sent her with you in the first place. Now chances are the school called your father and he could be on his way.”
“I think we should retreat for now.” Jean Pierre leaned his head back, watching the clouds in the sky hide the sun. “Let everything calm down and think of a new plan.”
“Be a man and go get your sister!”
The phone cut off and left Jean-Pierre pressing his hands on his face. He did not know what to do. With the school aware of his presence and the pressure from his mother, left his thoughts jumbled. If only his sister have not made friends, it would have been easy to take her home. Instead, he had to deal with the school faculty or worse, his father. He sat up and turned to the rabbit, who just sat there waiting for him to say something.
“How does it look Hitomi?”
“Security is everywhere. I was able to eavesdrop on the dean of the academy. She sent Ciel and one of her friends to detention.”
“One of her friends?” Jean-Pierre leaned closer to Hitomi giving her his attention.
“Yes. The chimera was sent to the nurse's office.” Her eyes turned away from Jean-Pierre and trembled.
“What is it?”
“It's the dean.” She planted her paws on the back of the bench, standing on her hind legs. “It felt like she was watching me.”
“Did she spot you?”
“No… but it's like she knows I'm with you. She's scary.”
Jean-Pierre stood to his feet sticking his hands into his pocket. He walked along the wall with Hitomi walking beside him. Jean-Pierre looked up at the wall of the academy and an image of Azure flashed in his mind. He shook his head and patted his cheeks focusing on the situation at hand.
“I have an idea on how to lure Ciel out of detention. I hope you have enough Mana to the cast the spell I need.”
Azure arrived at the detention room where students lounged around waiting for the disciplinarian to arrive. She saw Sora sitting behind the desk opening her textbooks preparing for homework. Azure approached her wiping some sweat off her forehead. She shocked Sora with her presence and took a chair to sit on.
“Azure what are you doing here? If Madam Mayweather finds out…”
“I know. The nurse called my parents and they'll be here in an hour to take me home. I just wanted know if we have homework.”
“Yeah.” Sora took out a notepad and handed it to her. “We have math and chemistry.”
“Chemistry? Science or Sorcery?”
“Great.” Azure rested her head on the desk to relax. “Would you mind coming over on Saturday and tutor me on Chemistry?”
“Sorry. Saturday is locked up. I have to meet up with my brothers to help buy anniversary gifts for our parents. I can come by Sunday.”
“Alright. We have ourselves a plan.” Azure noticed Ciel entering the room and she sat up. With Sora looking, they realized they caught her attention, but Ciel just turned away. Azure wanted to talk to her and let a few things off her chest. She figured they both could settle this without fighting and move forward from there. Azure got up, taking one-step, but Sora tugged her skirt. “Why?”
“Leave her. She's nothing but trouble.”
“I can't sit on this.” Azure brushed Sora's hand off her skirt. When she turned around, Ciel stood before her. Azure was not sure what was going to happen. Were they going to fight again? She hoped not. Just in case though, Azure curled her hands into a fist.
“Look.” Ciel said. “I just want say I'm sorry about earlier. I just want to be left alone. That's all. So please, stay away from me.”
“Azure.” Sora said to keep her from making things worse.
“It's what I want.” Ciel walked away and Azure refused to accept that answer.
“It's sad to be alone Ciel.”
“How would you know?” She turned around and her eyes grew wide at Azure's clutching her shoulders. Ciel did not understand what was happening.
“I know enough that it hurts to be alone. It hurts to not have someone to be with you, talk to you, to have fun with.”
Ciel shook her arm, wanting to reach out, only to be greeted with a smile and welled up tears.
“Do you want to go to the movies with me and Sora next week?”
Ciel stepped back. She looked at Sora for a moment trying to figure out what just happened, and received no response. The sudden shift of emotion from Azure reminded Ciel why she wanted to stay away from her in the first place.
“I'll do just fine on my own.” Ciel went to the far side of the room and sat behind the desk, away from everyone.
“Azure let it go.” Sora said.
“It's okay. Everyone has to make their own decisions. Don't force her into something she doesn't want. Right now, you need to go back to the nurse's office and get ready for tomorrow.”
Azure stood for a moment. It was as though time slowed down. She took a deep breath and accepted Sora's advice. She waved goodbye without saying a word and took one-step forward. Suddenly the world around her turned grey. It was as though everyone and everything became statues, but no one was actually stone. Azure's shackles pulled her down to the floor. She struggled to get up and noticed underneath the desk that Ciel stumbled to her feet, knocking over the chair.
“Hitomi, what are you doing here?”
“I'm here to take you home Lady Ciel.”
“I'm not going home.”
Azure lifted her arms up and slapped the seat of the chair. She used it as leverage to lift her legs up. Azure stood up and pulled her head up, but the weight forced her to slump over the surface of the desk. Looking up she saw a young woman with rabbit ears and tail standing in front of Ciel. She wore a strange sleeveless one-piece dress, all black with a red tie around her neck and a red ribbon on the back. Accessorized with a visible garter belt on her thigh, gloves that stretched over her elbows, and unusual boots that looked like legwarmers. Azure's eyes gleamed at the outfit and with a long gasp, she forced herself to her feet.
“Who are you?” Hitomi said. “And how are you moving around in my Time Freeze?”
“That is so awesome.” Azure dragged her feet toward Hitomi. Her movements made the servant step back. She lifted up the young woman's arm to analyze the glove. Unaware that her glowing shackle on her arm exposed itself to Ciel. “Where did you buy this?”
“Buy? It… it was tailor made.”
“Really?” Azure pulled on the glove to feel the fabric but it was stuck on Hitomi's skin. She heard the servant scream and she stepped back bumping into the wall. “What?”
Azure noticed Hitomi nursing her arm and thought that her dragon claws may have hurt her. She reached to check on her unaware of Hitomi's glowing fingers.
“Look out!” Ciel said, but was too late.
Azure felt Hitomi's palm on her stomach and her muscles vibrated.
“FORCEBACK!” A sudden flash of purple light pushed Azure across the room just barely hitting two frozen students.
Azure screamed in pain, cradling her stomach. The pain from this morning re-emerged and she took short breaths. She opened one eye staring at Hitomi, who prepared for a second attack. Azure punched the floor.
“That was stupid Hitomi.” Ciel said and the servant looked back with the corner of her eyes.
“Why?” The sound of Azure's growl made Hitomi turned around. Her eyes grew wide, for Azure charged right at her with a teal magic circle on the palm of her left hand. She did not have time to defend herself when she felt Azure's hand slap her chest.
“ROCK SLAM!” Azure's shackles glowed purple when her spell activated. The impact knocked Hitomi down to the ground and made her scream. Azure stepped back, nursing her left hand. She leaned on the wall with teeth clamped shut, trying to overcome the pain. Azure slid down toward the floor but felt a pair of hands pull her up. She looked up and it was Ciel. Color returned to the room and everything returned to normal. Being in each others' arms, they caught everyone's attention and they questioned what was going on. As Sora approached the girls, Hitomi in her rabbit form scurried past them out the room. Before Sora asked any questions, Azure and Ciel ran after Hitomi and she followed them right past the disciplinarian, a tall man with a briefcase.
“Where are you three going?” He said watching the trio turn a corner and he took out a radio. "Madam Mayweather come in."
As the students and teachers watched the girls run by each room, Sora kept up with Azure and Ciel. She got to ask her question.
“What just happened?” Sora said.
“One of my mother's servants attacked us.”
“She transformed into a rabbit.” Azure said.
“Why is the rabbit limping?” Sora said pushing a student aside.
“Your friend here used a spell on Hitomi to knock her down. For some reason it hurt her when she cast it.”
“You used a high level spell?!” Sora and the girls followed Hitomi down a flight of stairs to the next floor. “Are you crazy?!”
“The rabbit girl used a pretty heavy spell on me. So yeah.”
“You know you don't have much Mana left. If they find out your sick and struggling, they'll kill you.”
“Are you two in love with each other?”
“No we're not!” They said in unison.
Ciel saw Hitomi heading for the open window at the end of the hallway. She raised her arm up channeling her Mana but Azure and Sora ran past her. Ciel kept up with both of them and did not know why they were helping her. All she knew was that she had to stop Hitomi by whatever means, or else her mother would never leave her alone. However, jumping out of the window was not one of those means. As Hitomi jumped out of the window, Sora stretched out her fingers.
“Azure!” Sora said expanding her blue magic circle, tapping on the surface without looking, and launching it outside the window. “AEROS!”
Just as Azure jumped, the robot bird flew out of the circle. She landed on the golem's back and looked back to Sora and Ciel jumping out of the window. She caught them with both arms and Aeros maintained balanced. With all her strength, she lifted them up with ease. Unfortunately, Aeros descended due to the overcapacity of the riders.
“There's too many of us on her.” Sora said.
“That's because Ciel is fat.”
“What?!” Ciel pushed Azure forward. “Who're you calling fat?”
“Admit it.” Azure said and Aeros landed on the ground. “You're overweight. That's why Aeros can't stay in the air.”
“Really? It sounds like you're jealous of my figure.” Ciel said getting off the golem with Azure and Sora. “You wish you had a body like mine.”
“You wish you had boobs like mine.” Azure raised her arms up with a smile of victory. “Plus, you're probably one of those models that puke after eating.”
“Would you two shut up?!” Sora said standing in between them and the sound of clapping quieted them. All three looked over to Jean-Pierre standing next to Hitomi in her human form nursing her injured chest. The girls did not know what to expect and took a defensive stance.
“We don't have time Hitomi, Madam Mayweather is getting suspicious. Sever the spell so I can concentrate.”
“What's he talking about?” Azure said looking at Ciel.
“Hitomi's Copy Spell.” Ciel said stepping forward. “It would seem she made a copy of my brother to lead Madam Mayweather and security away from us.”
“So he wants a fight.” Azure stepped forward flexing her fingers, smiling at the idea that she gets use her spells. Looking at her clothes she a took a deep breath.
“What's wrong?” Hitomi said. “Scared?”
“No. I'm just sad that I'm not wearing one of my battle costumes to fight you in. I would have looked awesome.”
Jean-Pierre and Hitomi looked at each other wondering what Azure was talking about, and Ciel looked back at Sora receiving her smile.
“Is she always this strange?”
“If you're going to hang with us Ciel, you better get us to it.”
To Be Continued...