Mako ran back to her room, closing the door tight as she leaned against it. Nana’s words were racing around inside her head, making her mind buzz.
But what shocked her most was that Nana was going to try and bite her. She was going to steal her Initiative; her will. Was she really willing to commit such a taboo? Just who was Nana?
She then heard a knock on the door, making her jump away.
“Leave me alone!” she said in a raised voice.
Mako recognized the voice. It was Nao. She opened the door and saw her standing confused.
“Everything okay? You seem tense.”
“Uh, yeah… J-just had a nightmare,” Mako made up an excuse. It was hard for vampires to lie; they could see and hear through everything. She just hoped Nao wouldn’t notice. “I’m still a bit shaken from it.”
“So, uh, what’s wrong?”
“Natsuki-san wanted us to meet in the main lobby.”
The two made their way down to the lobby, where everyone else was already waiting. Mako didn’t see Nana present, so she sighed out as she felt slightly less tense.
“Everyone, I’m sure you’re wondering why I wanted to talk with you all,” Natsuki started. “Recently, it seems the hunters have been targeting us and we have to be extra cautious. If the situation becomes dire, we might have to change location.”
“Change location?!” Manatsu’s eyes widened.
“Yes. We’ll have to if it gets worse.”
“I’m sure you all know of a certain school that’s used to train vampire hunters.”
“Magnolia Hunters’ Academy…” Nao said. “Do you mean their old school building?”
“Yes. Since they made the new school, no one uses that old building anymore. They were even planning to tear it down, at first, but the demolition was cancelled and eventually, the humans forgot about it all together.”
“So, if push comes to shove, we’re going to need a new home..?” Natsumi asked.
“This place is starting to break down, anyways,” Tomu said. “The walls are chipping and I’m afraid the roof is eventually going to collapse on us.”
“For now, we should take caution. Especially with Nana still recovering.”
Mako stood silent at the mention of Nana, holding her arms. Yuka seemed to notice her becoming tense, glancing over to her. She tapped her shoulders a bit.
“Alright, that’s all,” Natsuki said.
The group broke as everyone returned to whatever they were previously doing. Mako went back to her room, still thinking about what had happened between her and Nana.
She touched her neck, imagining what might of happened if Nana had bitten her. Would it have hurt? Or would she lose all feeling as her Initiative was taken away? Would she even be able to think at all after that, or turn into a hollow husk of her former self?
Such thoughts scared her. She wanted to block them all out, so she ran to her bed, covering her head with a pillow.
“Mou, just what is with that girl?!”
Natsuki found Nana searching through the abandoned cafeteria. She must’ve been looking for food, or maybe she smelled the blood packs that were kept in the kitchen freezer. She walked towards the girl and saw she was knelt down on the floor, looking at something.
Natsuki walked quietly, trying to see what she was looking at. When she looked, she saw a trio of grey rats huddled in front of the vampire as she fed them bread. Seeing the rats, Natsuki held back a shriek.
“Eh?” Nana spoke, looking at one of the rats. “Eating for several?”
Natsuki raised a brow. “Is she… talking to it?”
“Ah, I see. Congratulations on becoming a mom. Here, for the babies,” she handed the rat a bigger portion of bread, which it gobbled up.
Natsuki was… appalled to say the least. There were indeed several vampires capable of talking to animals, so it wasn’t that much of a shock. Just the fact that the animal the millennia-old vampire was talking to was a rat made her stomach churn a bit.
“Poor things…” She then picked up one and started petting it. “You’re only trying to survive… Yet the world is so cruel to you. You’re almost like me.”
“Huh? What is she saying..?”
“Natsuki-nee-chan, don’t you agree?” she then said, making the girl tense up.
“...W-what do you mean?”
“We are only trying to survive in the world. But the humans do not want to reason with us because we’re different from them. They only want our kind dead.”
“Well… that’s true.”
“We’re just like these little ones. They fight to live in such harsh environments, but humans get in their way and kill them. They’re such pitiful beings…”
She then put the rat down and they left through a hole that was dug in the corner of the wall.
“Okay, you need to go wash your hands now,” Natsuki said firmly as she and Nana left the cafeteria.
“Natsuki-nee-chan,” Nana started conversation again. “If we do get a new home, what will happen to this place?”
“Who could say? Perhaps the hunters will destroy everything.”
Nana looked down at the ground sadly, her hand trailing against the wall.
“But this place has so many memories for us…” she muttered.
“Huh? Did you say something?” Natsuki asked.
“I’ll protect this place.”
“What?!” the younger vampire turned around to face the short girl in front of her. “Are you serious?”
“I can’t let this place be destroyed!”
“Nana, do you even hear yourself? The hunters have us outnumbered as we are. All we can do is--”
“You all don’t even realize your true potential,” Nana’s voice boomed. “All you do is run away… You don’t even see that you’re so much stronger than you think.”
Natsuki just stood confused as Nana stormed down the hall away from her.
“True potential..? What is she talking about?”
“Argh, so close!” Juri groaned as she had missed the target she was aiming at by just a hair. “One more!”
She cocked her gun before aiming it again, then shot another bullet.
“Hit,” a robotic voice spoke, calculating her score. “Accuracy: 80 points!”
“Yosh,” she grinned as she reloaded her gun. Beside her, Karen was staring at her target with a look of death.
She pointed her gun out straight and shot three bullets. They all hit the bullseye perfectly.
"Hit. Accuracy: 100 points!"
“Woah…” Juri blinked at the unwavering girl.
Karen then looked at Ryoka, who was lazily sitting in the back of the room.
“Oi, Oshima!” Karen approached the lazy girl, raising her voice slightly. “Quit lounging around! Get up and do your training.”
“Karen, dude, we’ve been training all day,” Ryoka said. “Give us a break.”
The girl punched the wall angrily, making her jolt up.
Ryoka rolled her eyes, eventually getting up. She loaded her gun before aiming at it. She shot it, hitting the target with the bullet not even reaching as close as the others.
“Hit. Accuracy: 65 points.”
“Oi, are you taking this seriously?!” Karen yelled again.
“Mou, just give her a break, Karen-chan,” Yukari said. “You can’t just blow up like that. Stay calm and--”
Karen shot another round at the target, ignoring the girl. Yukari frowned, seeing that she couldn’t reach the girl.
“Hey, think you could take a break?” A voice rose. The girls all turned and saw their boss staring at them.
“S-sorry, sir,” Karen apologized, her face still red from her fit of anger.
“You girls have a guest.”
The four stood as a lone figure walked in. The young woman had a long, black trenchcoat, with a familiar symbol on her chest that made Juri’s eyes widened.
“That crest… That’s..!”
“Yes. Magnolia,” the woman answered.
“You were a Magnolia alumni?” Ryoka asked.
“Top of her class,” the boss said. “She’ll be leading in your next mission, so be sure to follow her.”
“Yes, sir!” The four saluted him as he left.
“Alright, lemme see what you girls got,” the woman said before holding out her hand.
“Ah!” Juri instinctively grabbed it, shaking her hand. “I’ll be happy to work under y--”
She couldn’t finish, however, as she was suddenly flipped, finding herself lying on her back on the floor. She stared at the ceiling as the woman gave her a smirk.
“Rule 1 of a hunter, never let your guard down.”
“F-forgive me!” she quickly apologized, standing back up.
“If you don’t keep an eye out, the vampires can easily blind side you. You must train all your senses.”
“All?” Ryoka raised a brow.
“A close ear, agility, and most importantly…” the woman sniffed the air a bit. “A strong nose.”
Yukari blinked. “N-nose?”
“Where does the nose fit in?”
“Without the eyes or ears, the nose will become your greatest asset. That’s what I’m going to train you girls on.”
“Train.. Our noses?”
“Exactly.” She then pinched Ryoka’s nose, making her flinch slightly. “With a strong nose, even in darkness or the silence, you’ll find your target.”
“If you really think so…”
“I know so. The nose knows, after all.”
To Be Continued