Demon of Justice + Chapter 2 (cont)

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Wufei snarled in satisfaction as the robed man choked and died. One girl is there, by the altar. The other -- ah, over there; they left her when they ran, he thought as Nataku rose to her feet. Both are well clear of danger; and I think I can safely assume that everyone else here is guilty.

He thumbed a button on the control arm and smiled grimly as bullets spat from the ports on Nataku's head. The last soldier was cut down just meters away from the horses he had been trying to reach; it would have done him little good if he had made it, as the now-panicked beasts pulled free of their tethers and bolted.

Wufei sat back, wearing his 'Justice Has Been Served' expression.

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The priest had been only barely within reach of Nataku's dragon-arm, but there had been enough force in the 'punch' to fling him a considerable distance. Although Wufei took note of that with approval, he never did notice the odd thing that had happened.

His hands hadn't been on the controls when Nataku struck out.

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Naiya stared up at the huge demon. It had killed the priest and all his men, and now it was just... standing there. It seemed to be watching her, but nothing else.

Well. Standing here gaping at it won't do me any good... Naiya stood up, dusted off her skirt, scowled briefly at the bloodstains and went to look for Rami. She found the other girl huddled against a rock, weeping pathetically.

"Oh hush, Rami! What are you crying about now? I'll admit you had a reason before, when they were going to sacrifice us, but that's not how things turned out!"

Huge blue eyes, shimmering with unshed tears, looked up at her from beneath wavy golden bangs as she untied the human girl's hands. "B-but Naiya... the demon..."

"Killed the men who were going to kill us. This is a good thing, don't you think?"

"And now it's surely going to kill us! Oh Naiya, I'm scared!" Rami threw herself into Naiya's arms, sobbing theatrically.

"Rami! If it wanted to kill us, we'd already be dead!"

"Y-you mean... it wants us alive?! To-- to-- Oh noooo~! I'd rather die!"

Naiya rolled her eyes as she patted Rami's back mechanically. "Somehow I don't think we have to worry about that, dear."

Eventually, Naiya managed to calm Rami down and pry herself loose from the blonde girl's vice-like grip. She hadn't had to slap her to snap her out of hysteria, but it had been a near thing... and Naiya was keeping the option in mind.

Rami insisted on staying right behind Naiya as she moved around the canyon, stepping on the taller girl's heels a few times and clutching a fold of her dress; but she balked when Naiya started rifling through the baggage piled near where the horses had been.

"Naiya~! That's stealing!"

"They're dead, Rami, they don't need it any more. Besides, they stole most of this stuff in the first place -- some of it from us."

"But... but it's still..."

"Are you saying you don't want your necklace back?"

"No! That's -- that's different!"

Rami stayed quiet after that... at least, she did until Naiya started searching the bodies.

"Ewwwwww~! How CAN you?! That's disgusting, you haven't got any scruples at all!"

Naiya's temper snapped.

=SLAP!=

Wide blue eyes met furious brown as Rami cowered, hand pressed to her reddening cheek. When Naiya spoke, her voice was ice-cold. "No, Rami, I guess I don't have any scruples when it comes to the survival of my village."

"S-survival? I... I don't..."

"When these bastards attacked, they fired the grain fields as a distraction, remember? And they wounded a lot of the men. Some of them are dead. So we've lost a lot of the crop, and we may not have enough workers to plant a proper winter crop. We may not have enough fighters to protect what we've got left from bandits. And _that_ means we may not be able to pay our full taxes this year. We might have to choose between starving and being evicted. So if I have a chance to get some money, or something we can sell, I am going to take it even if it means going through a dead man's pockets.

"Now, if you aren't going to help, just shut up and let me work in peace."

Five minutes later, as Naiya was gingerly extracting a money pouch from inside a soldier's tunic, an extremely quiet voice spoke up behind her.

"Naiya?"

"...Yes?"

"...I'm sorry. I didn't... I... um..."

Naiya smiled slightly, not turning around. "It's all right."

"Um... I can't... um... I don't... there'ssomemorebaggageoverhereI'llsearchthatokay?" Quick footsteps pattered over to the canyon wall, away from the scattered bodies.

Naiya rolled her eyes, smile gone slightly twisted. She's not a bad person. She's just sheltered, and vain, and romantic, and spoilt, and... ugh! Gods save me from beauty, if that's what it does to you!

Well... that's not entirely fair. Mana's nearly as pretty as Rami, and she's sensible. Gods save me from over-indulgent parents, then.

At least she's forgotten to be afraid of the demon. Scatterbrain.

A short while later, they had a respectable collection of coins and jewellery in a large pouch. None of it was particularly valuable, but it added up to a decent total in Naiya's mental tally. Well, our chances are a bit better now... hm. No more putting it off, I guess. "Rami, there was a blanket in that pile, wasn't there?"

"Yes, here--"

It's big enough. Good. "Thank you. You... don't have to help with this, all right? Just stay here."

"Huh? What are you... oh." Rami's eyes widened as she watched Naiya walk towards the altar, unfolding the blanket; then she swallowed hard and followed, clutching the pouch like a talisman.

Naiya blinked, surprised. "Really, it's okay--"

"No," Rami said, sounding surprisingly firm. "We... weren't friends, but... that could have been me. And we didn't hate each other. I -- I won't dishonour her memory by turning away from her body."

Together, they spread the blanket over the tattered remains, and carefully tucked and rolled until they had the woman's body wrapped up neatly. They stood silently for a moment, gazing solemnly down at the bundle.

"Um... now what do we do?"

Naiya sighed, looking around. "Well, since the horses are gone, we're walking back home..."

Rami drooped. "It took over a day to get here on horseback!"

"I know. Believe me, I know," Naiya groaned, rubbing her bottom. She'd never ridden a horse before, and she definitely didn't want to repeat the experience. At least, not tied to the saddle. She sighed again. "If we build a cairn of rocks over her, we can come back later to get--"

There was a low rumbling sound, and the ground shook as the giant demon stepped towards them. Rami screamed and clutched at Naiya as it reached out--

--and stopped, crouching, with its left hand lying on the ground, palm upwards.

The two girls stared at the huge hand, then up at the demon's impassive metal face... then back at the hand. Finally, Rami whispered, "What... what's it doing? What does it want?"

"I -- I think--"

The demon made another rumbling sound, as if impatient, and reached out with its right hand. Rami screamed again and hid behind Naiya; Naiya watched wide-eyed as it carefully scooped up the blanket-wrapped body, laid it in its left palm, then pushed the left hand a little closer to them as it made a beckoning motion with the right.

"I think it wants to carry us."

"What?! No! I can't -- it's--"

"It's that or walk."

"Naiya!"

Naiya grinned down at the smaller human. "Seriously, Rami, I think it just wants to help. It saved our lives! If it really wants to hurt us, what's taking it so long?"

"What if -- if -- if it's saving us for later?"

"Do you think we can outrun it?"

"No..."

"Then I say we do what it wants and hope for the best." She stepped cautiously onto the giant palm, sat down, and held her hand out to Rami. "Coming?"

"Well... I certainly don't want to stay here..." Rami shivered, looking around at the dead bodies and blood everywhere, then stepped forward determinedly. "All right... but I swear, Naiya, if it kills us I'm going to haunt you!"

Naiya laughed, helping Rami clamber onto the hand and settle herself. "Tell you what, if it kills us we'll both haunt it, okay? I'm sure we'll be able to think of lots of things to-- eeeeeep!" She grabbed wildly for support as the hand abruptly rose, quicker than a bird taking flight.

When the world steadied around her, she opened her eyes cautiously and looked around. Rami had her arms wrapped around her waist, face buried in her back, shivering; Naiya discovered that she was sprawled flat on her face, one hand clutching the blanket. Carefully, she unclenched her fist, and edged forwards to peer between the thumb and edge of the palm.

"Oooooh... Rami?"

"Yes?" came a terrified squeak from near her kidneys.

"Don't look down."

"All I plan to look at is the back of your dress, so I can't look down-- ew! Oh no, bloodstains -- oh--" Rami dithered, torn between clutching Naiya and pulling away from the dark stains on the back of her gown.

"Look, if you just sit quietly in the middle you should be okay. There's enough room for us to... to... oh my."

"What?!"

"Um... I just found out why we're up so high."

"Wh-what do you mean?" asked Rami tremulously, peering up at her."

Naiya pointed mutely to the huge metal face, calmly observing them from not very far away at ALL. There was a short pause before she found her voice again.

"I guess... he wanted a closer look."

* * * * *

-takatakatakatakatakatakataka-

"Heero."

-takatakatak-

"Yes?"

Trowa didn't look away from the television. "Your turn."

"...what?"

"I woke Duo up last time. It's your turn."

There was a long pause, then the sound of a chair scraping backwards. And another pause, before slow footsteps went upstairs.

Trowa's smirk widened.

Quatre would never forgive me if I disappointed Duo again.

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Upstairs:

...

...

...

'So, are you just going to stand here and watch Duo sleep?'

...

'It's not like you haven't done it before--'

SHUT UP.

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