Chapter 21

“Let's Dance”

Ran looked at the curvaceous figure of Hoshiko, who was standing on the emergency stairs outside her window, leaning on the windowsill and smiling.

“You know, Ran-chan, you should stop calling me that.”

“Ah, yes! Sorry, Nereida Aegea.”

Hoshiko shook her head, making her long golden braid dance on her back.

“That’s not what I mean. Just call me Hoshiko,” she winked at Ran, “except in school that is.”

“Eh-hehehe. I don’t know. It’s just… Hoshiko-san, it sounds so nice. Ah! Sorry, sorry, I’m…”

Hoshiko was looking at Ran and smiling. A very different smile, she seemed genuinely happy.

“There’s no need to apologize, I like it!”

“Really?”

“Uh-huh,” she nodded, and gestured with her head for Ran to approach. “Now, let’s go get the others.”

“Okay!”

“Your parents won’t come knocking?”

“No, I had early dinner and was sent to do my homework.”

Hoshiko looked at the empty sheet of paper and the closed book, and shook her head.

“I couldn’t concentrate!” Ran complained.

“Yeah, yeah. We’ll talk tomorrow,” she pointed at the bed, “put a decoy in and let’s go, I’ll carry you.”

Ran held on to Hoshiko’s back tightly as she jumped from rooftop to rooftop.

She smells so nice. Like a beautiful flower.

“The others are already waiting,” Hoshiko said.

“Have you found Nagataka-kun?”

“Yes. It’s a well guarded building, so there’s a chance we’ll have to put a good fight.”

“Is that what you meant with a statement.”

“Exactly.”

Ran stirred uncomfortably. “What’s the plan?”

“I make a big entrance and demand they let them go. When they say no, the fireworks start.”

“Will they say no?”

Hoshiko couldn’t stop herself from laughing at the question. “Really Ran-chan, I’d love it if they didn’t, but I don’t think it very likely at all.”

“Won’t that be dangerous?”

“Maybe. The reason they are holding Nagataka is to find out what he knows about us I presume. What did you tell him?”

“Well…”

Hoshiko let Ran put her thoughts in order, keeping silent as she fidgeted. She could feel her uneasiness by the way she held on to her. After a while, and seeing as Ran didn’t sound inclined to talk, she had to break the silence.

“Well?”

“Nagataka-kun knew it was me. He knew it right away, they took a picture of us in the train, and… Well…”

Ran felt her face heating up as she blushed, and Hoshiko smiled, even though she couldn’t see her face.

“And then?” Hoshiko prompted.

“He said he’d ask his dad for help. He said he wanted to help us, if we could learn about how our powers work, he could help against the aliens. That’s what he said.”

“I see.”

“Do you think he was wrong?”

“No, but it’ll take some convincing for the military to give him support and let him do as he pleases.”

“And that’s…” Ran started.

“… what we’re about to do,” Hoshiko finished with a grin.

She dropped Ran on top of a building and pointed ahead. There was a wide clear area and in the middle a low and fortified building, surrounded by a wire fence and soldiers all along it. Only a few, furtive lights broke the darkness, as was the norm in the hidden city.

“They can probably see us, so move around as soon as you fire anything, don’t stay put.”

“Sure.”

She grinned at Ran.

“Time to get the party started.”

Hoshiko leaped down and ran towards the military base at full speed. With a great leap, she jumped over the fence, and made towards the building. She was only halfway through when several beams of light started searching the yard, and soon they had all landed on her one by one. A loud voice called over a megaphone for her to stop.

She complied, skidding to a complete stop without hesitation. She stood tall and proud, holding her magical branch in one hand and looking around.

“Stay where you are, and put your hands up!”

Several soldiers approached her, holding their weapons at the ready.

“Ara, what a welcome party, were you waiting for me?”

“Hands up lady!” One of the soldiers called.

“Where are the two prisoners?”

“Hands up!!”

She complied.

“Drop your weapon first.”

“What, this?” Hoshiko shook the branch, and then dropped it, “sure. Now, my question, where are the two prisoners, Kokawa and his son?”

“You’re not asking the questions here. Who the hell are you?”

“Nereida Aegea. Pleasure to meet you, mister…”

“Take her.”

Before anyone could move, there was a loud cracking noise, and right behind Hoshiko a giant object dropped seemingly out of nowhere. The crashing sound was deafening, and it kicked up a tremendous cloud of dust that covered most of the yard for more than a few seconds. The soldiers quickly moved back a prudent distance, with their guns trained in the general direction where Hoshiko had been standing. The beams of light darted around frantically trying to discern what was happening.

As the cloud of dust settled, the image became more clear. The beams of light explored the object with such frantic movements that they managed to convey the confusion the operators felt.

“W-W-What the hell is that!!” One soldier shouted.

“It’s… a pirate ship??” A second one shouted back, in complete disbelief.

Hoshiko hadn’t moved one inch, she was standing on the same spot, and holding a spear taller than she was, with a leaf-shaped ornate head and a wooden shaft with intricate bronze accents. And at the bow of the ship, standing on the bowsprit and holding a dramatic pose with her arms crossed, was Isamu. Or rather, Nereida Caribea.

Several guns were trained in her direction, and at the same time the hatches on the sides of the ship opened, and the cannons reared their heads on both sides.

“Now,” Hoshiko called in a loud voice, “we can talk this over, or we can do this the hard way. Your choice.”

There were a couple of heartbeats before a loud voice responded, but not to her.

“Open fire!”

Hoshiko smirked.

Hard way it is!

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