Mayumi watched the giant centipede marched onward. With Keiko and Mrs. Saito beside her, the monster roared aloud. Keiko reached into her pocket removing a small pin with a blue jewel on the end. Mayumi stepped back as Keiko raised it over her head, but Mrs. Saito grabbed her wrist.
“No you don't.”
“I have to go out and fight.”
“Let us handle this.” Mrs. Saito grabbed her phone and touched the screen. A man spoke on the other end through speaker mode.
“We have a rampant Mukado, building sized, near my home. Scramble a squad right away.”
Mrs. Saito fixed her hair into a tail and hurried out the door.
“Stay here where it's safe.”
Once the door closed, Keiko immediately tapped the blue stone on her pin and a light flickered. It made Mayumi awe.
“It doubles as a communicator. Goro?”
“Yes Keiko.” He said through the stone.
“Is that Mayumi I hear?”
“She's fine, but right now we need help.”
“A large Mukado is attacking the city.”
“We're on our way.” The stone stopped flickering and Mayumi stepped back. Keiko raised the pin in the air. “SHINE ILLUMINATE!”
Mayumi covered her eyes from the sudden flash of light. Her body would not move for a moment. Once the light died down, she was able move again and saw Keiko with pink hair and white dog-ears, wearing her usual one-piece white and blue skirt with armor throughout her body and a tiara across her forehead. Her pin had turned into a blue and white staff with a blue jewel on the end.
“Shining Star?” Mayumi said. “What's our plan?”
“Our plan is that you stay here and wait for Natsume is finished. If we're lucky we'll be done before you get to see the fight.”
“But what if my sister shows up?”
“I doubt she would. She probably has minions who'll fight for her and… oh sorry.”
Mayumi watched the giant centipede move along. The monster roared again, this time the windows shook. It was getting worse when a bus lifted up into the air and flew over a roof. Mayumi saw a person fall out of the bus' window before it disappeared behind the building. A plume of flames rose up. Mayumi's hands shook and the sound of the door closing behind her made her jump. She was alone and when she turned back to the outside, there was Shining Star jumping building to building heading towards the giant centipede.
Shining Star hopped from rooftop to rooftop, watching lightning bolts shoot out from the streets below. Helicopters flew over her head and fireballs shot out from the open sides. The monster roared from the impact, slamming its body onto the building, raining debris below. She looked up at another helicopter nearby, with the emblem J9 News on the side. There, a cameraman leaned out filming the incident.
“No. We're going to be exposed.” Shining Star headed toward the news copter. Just as she reached the helicopter and aimed her staff, a flaming car struck the back propeller. The flying vehicle spun around towards her and she ran as fast as she could. It crashed on the roof exploding on impact. The heat of the flames brushed her back. The force of the destruction pushed her over the roof. Her hands caught the edge. The pain in her shoulder ran up her neck. She hung there struggling to keep her staff in hand and her feet planted on the wall. Shining Star felt her fingers slipping, but a pair of white gloved hands grabbed her wrists. She pulled herself up and sat on her knees. Her heart pounded against her chest from the near death experience.
“Are you okay?” A girl's voice said and Shining Star's eyes grew wide.
“Emi?” She lifted her head and saw Emi in her battle outfit standing over her. The orichalcum floating behind Emi glowed purple. “Why? I thought…”
“You don't know me or how I feel.” Emi helped Shining Star to her feet. She winced in pain and gripped her left arm. Blood trickled a little, and Shining Star reached out to look, but Emi stepped back with her arm up waving her away. “This Mukado went crazy. It said ‘This is not right, we are Mukado.' Grew to this size and went rampant. I tried to stop it but it attacked me.”
“I thought you were in control as their Priestess.”
“I am, but something happened outside the city where we were… gathering Mana so we wouldn't hurt anyone.” Emi looked at the helicopter and saw the arm of the cameraman hang off the ligaments in the wreckage. No one came out. Emi let out a light gulp. She turned her head, but Shining Star grabbed her shoulders and made her face the wreckage.
“Take a look Emi.” Shining Star lifted Emi's head up. “This is the real Mukado. Destruction. Death. They don't care about you as a priestess. They're just using you.”
“No.” Emi turned around. “You're wrong. I'm trying to get them to stop hurting people. To get Mana from other sources other than people. To eat animals and plants.”
“Don't be naïve. They're monsters.”
“If the Karasu Clan can do it, why not them?”
“What are you saying?”
“The Mukado Clan will change to help everyone.”
The roar of the giant centipede softened and the explosions weakened from the distance. With the combat zone further away, Shining Star and Emi were alone. Quiet, amidst the flaming helicopter. The dead ignored over this revelation from the priestess.
Back at the apartment, Mayumi heard the door open. She hurried to the hallway and saw Natsume struggle to stand up. Her face flushed, and her eyes barely opened. Mayumi took her arm and slung it over her shoulder. She guided her to the couch, causing Natsume's prosthetic leg to fall off.
“I'm sorry.” Mayumi said looking back.
“It's… okay. Just get me to the couch.”
Mayumi laid her on the sofa and poured her some tea. Just as she handed the cup to her, Natsume held up a bracelet. Mayumi stared at the smooth light green gem embedded in it. She could see her reflection on it. She took the jewelry and her Mana reacted to it. She felt her Mana actively warm. It was as though she held her own hand. Mayumi shook her head and went back for Natsume's leg. She rested it on the table and Natsume smiled.
“Are you going to be okay Natsume?”
“I will Mayumi.” Natsume took her leg and placed it on her chest. “I wish I could go with you and fight.”
“You did enough. Thank you very much.”
“Listen, that outfit is not indestructible. All it will do is turn most impact damage you take will feel like a punch. You will be cut if you get stab, your body will shatter into pieces if an explosion hits you. Please, be careful.”
“I will.” Mayumi stood to her feet and slipped the bracelet over her wrist. The light green gem glowed bright.
“Ready.” Mayumi raised her hand into the air and her magic circle appeared over her palm. “WINDS OF CHANGE!”
Mayumi threw arm down forcing the circle to slide over body replacing her clothes with her combat outfit instantly. A gust of wind flew around her yellow boot and white knee length socks. The wind brushed over her white shorts covering her green and yellow long sleeved leotard. The gust flipped under her white short-sleeved jacket and slipped between her small yellow gloves. The wind pushed her hair and twisted it into a tail bound by a yellow and green ribbon. Once her hair rested, Mayumi stumbled a little on her feet. She regained her bearings and stretched around in her outfit.
“Wow. This feels good. And it's not so tacky.”
“Heh… I'm not sure green and yellow suits you though.”
“We'll walk about it later. Go.”
“Right.” Mayumi ran out the door. She made her way outside and wondered which way everyone went. She looked up at the roof of the building and remembered that was how Shining Star moved around. First, she jumped up, but it was normal and not very high. Mayumi felt the wind around her body and focused her thoughts. The air gathered around her feet. Her Mana built up pressure. She bent her knees and pushed off the ground. “WHOOOOOAAA!”
Mayumi saw the ground move further away from her, then the rooftops. Her eyes grew wide and shed a smile. She did not want to go back to the ground, but gravity begged to differ. Out of natural thought, Mayumi spread her arms outward and her body moved closer to the roof.
“I'm flying.” Mayumi said, but found all she did was land on the ground. She tried again to fly, but her Mana was not producing enough energy to do it. However, she thought of what she just did with the wind to land on the roof and ran to the next building. Her foot planted on the edge and she pushed herself off. She concentrated her Mana around her wrists and ankles. Her body shook, but she controlled the wind enough to glide to the next roof and landed on her feet. Mayumi stumbled a bit on the landing, but she got the idea. Looking around she saw where the combat zone moved to and ran in that direction.
As Mayumi ran toward the battle, she watched helicopters over the giant centipede explode and rain down on the street below. Lightning bolts, fireballs, and water balls that burst into rain, littered the skies. The monster roared from each attack, as she got closer. The sight of the battle made her heart beat faster than before. Her feet would not stop despite her thoughts question why they were moving her there. She slowed down to catch her breath and noticed her sister was with Shining Heart heading toward the monster. Mayumi felt relieved seeing her sister and summoned a second breath, but just as she took one-step, a metal star landed right before her foot. She stepped back and looked around her surroundings. There was no one. More metal stars landed around Mayumi's feet, each missing her toe. It made no sense as to why this person was missing her.
Suddenly Mayumi felt a shift in the wind coming from behind. She spun herself around and grabbed a knife with a circle at the end on the hilt. It looked like a keychain. She let out her breath and her hand shook holding the weapon. She dropped it right away and stepped back.
“Not bad.” A young girl said behind Mayumi, startling her. “It seems I have the wrong Akamatsu. Mayumi I presume.”
“Y…yes.” Mayumi turned around saw a teenage girl with tanned skin wearing a ninja skirt, with her mouth covered by cloth and purple scarf flapping by the wind. “How did you know?”
“You're a Wind Magi. Only Magi with your skills could dodge and grab a knife. You're very high skilled.”
“I wouldn't say that. I've just started wearing this outfit now.”
“I see. Then you have potential.”
“Who are you?”
“You're a foreigner.”
“No. I was born and raised here. My father is from America. He's in the Navy. My mother is a Kunoichi as am I. I come from the Higurashi Clan. I am here to help you and your sister.”
“I don't know if I can trust any of you. I don't want anybody hurting my sister.”
“I am aware of the situation and the elders told me you overheard them. I want you to know, they did not vote for your sister's Purge.”
“I want to believe that, but…”
“We'll discuss this later.” Rumiko led Mayumi toward the giant centipede. “Right now we have to stop the Mukado. Our Clans will be her shortly. We can slow it down until they arrive, then fall back to safety.”
“Why did you attack me?”
“I thought you were your sister.”
“You intended to kill her.”
“No, I took the element of surprise so I could subdue and take her back to your shrine. Isn't that what you wanted?”
“Yes but…” Mayumi said jumping to the next roof alongside Rumiko.
“I have no intention of killing your sister, unless you want me to.”
“No you will not.”
“Then I will subdue her.”
“You sound so cold.”
The Mukado's legs stabbed a building at the corner and pulled the walls down, raining it on the men below, dressed in Kevlar armor with the tags Society on their sleeves. One of them jumped aside and threw a fireball at it in the face. The monster roared from the flames and its body pushed parked cars aside.
On the roof above, Shining Star and Emi made it to the combat zone. They looked down at the monster, grabbing members of the Society below by the teeth. It lifted its head up to their screams and it suck the people inside its mouth.
“Stop this!” Emi said and got its attention. “You don't kill people. The Mukado Clan does not kill anymore.”
It just stood there watching her as more spells strike it. The giant centipede brushed the pain aside, then leaned closer. A large tank arrived and Mana gathered around the cannon. It fired a burst of energy, making the monster stumble onto the ground.
“Emi we have to fall back.” Shining Star pulled Emi by the arm.
“Please give me a chance to make this right.”
“Forget it. It didn't listen to you.” Shining Star got Emi to run away despite her tears.
“Why did it get like this? We were making progress.”
“EMI!” Mayumi's voice reached her sister's ears.
Mayumi and Rumiko met the girls halfway and they watched another building fall over. Emi took a step forward with her hands clasped to her chest. Her head tilted down when the monster's head lifted up over the roof. She turned her back on it shaking her head. The monster roared spewing black mist at them when Mayumi's magic circle appeared behind Emi.
“REFLECT!” A burst of wind pushed. The mist went back to the giant centipede blinding it.
Emi looked up and saw Mayumi's hand raised at her chest. Their eyes shivered to each other. So much said but no words spoken. Shining Star and Rumiko ran past Emi casting spells and throwing weapons at it. She felt Mayumi's hand on her shoulder. A soft wind rubbed her injury.
“Mayumi I'm sorry.” Emi leaned her head on her sister's shoulder. “Nobody should have died. It's my fault for not keeping it in line. But I'll make the Mukado better. I'll make them behave.”
“You can't. Emi I don't know what you're trying to accomplish, but these are genuine monsters. They don't care about you. They'll hurt you. Listen, we need to leave the Magi. Walk away from this.”
The screams from Shining Star and Rumiko interrupted their conversation. The sisters saw the girls roll off to the side and lay injured. Emi walked toward the centipede but felt Mayumi's hand hold her back. Emi gently removed her sister's hand and charged the floating orichalcum on her back.
“Emi.” Mayumi said reaching out to her sister running at the creature. “EMI!”
With a leap at the monster's head, Emi pulled the impure Mana from the metal bars and formed a large dark sphere.
“NIGHT SHADE!” Emi threw the ball right between the eyes of the centipede. Its head exploded and the carcass collapsed to the street. Emi found herself falling off the building, but she felt a pair of arms wrap around her waist. She opened her eyes and saw Mayumi in tears. She smiled hugging her sister waiting to die, but her descent slowed. The burst of wind and Mayumi's control allowed them to land on their feet.
“I'm scared Emi.” Mayumi said as Mrs. Saito approached them. “I don't want to lose you. I don't want the Clans to Purge you.”
“Purge?” Emi said and Mrs. Saito grabbed Mayumi by the arms.
“The Clans are going to Purge your sister?”
“Yes I heard the Elders from the Kitsune, Inu and Higurashi Clans said they voted on it and passed.”
“What is Purge? And why me?” Emi said and saw Nina and Goro arrived accompanied by foxes, dogs, and flying cicadas. She stepped back, with Mayumi pushing Mrs. Saito off to stand next to her sister.
“Let's go Emi.”
“Wait.” Nina said.
“No.” Mayumi said. “You leave my sister alone. Leave us both alone.”
“Let's go home. Please” Emi grabbed Mayumi by the arm and nodded. Together they ran off leaving everyone behind, running as fast as they could with tears in their eyes, unaware of a crow flying above them to their destination.
That night Mayumi guided Emi back to their home. They jumped up to Emi's window and secretly slipped inside. They collapsed on floor, still dressed in their combat outfits. Their faces soaked in tears. Emi learned everything from Mayumi what she heard from Ren, Natsume and Keiko, and the conversation she overheard from the Elders. It was overwhelming. All Emi could do was stare at herself. Looking at her outfit. The thought of becoming a priestess to do good, came crashing down. She wiped away her tears and held onto Mayumi's hand tight. Her shivering grip only tightened firmly by her sister. Emi leaned her head on Mayumi's shoulders and all they could do, was stay quiet. Never letting go.
“I'm scared.” Emi said.”
“So am I.” Mayumi hugged her sister and looked her in the eyes. “Tomorrow. We decide what we're going to do, as Magi.”
“Yes. We're going to be Magi, and we'll do this our way.”