At an abandoned warehouse on the edge of town, surrounded by trees making their way to the base of Mount Atago, the pink-haired girl arrived, sidling around a partially open sliding metal door into the building itself. Cavernous and dark, lit in places by bright spots of white moonlight pouring through gaps in the broken roof, the warehouse had clearly not seen use in many years. Until now.
She shambled forward, reaching the centre of the structure where a threadbare sofa and several ancient armchairs, all in surgical pink, had been arranged to face each other. Between them, a rickety coffee table made from cheap pine, and a number of candles providing a gentle flickering light Meg would probably have found quite romantic.
Around the rest of the football-sized structure various debris was strewn; sheets of metal, old wooden crates and pallets, empty paint tins, a few errant tools, even a rusty old forklift missing its rear wheel. And permeating the air throughout the whole building, a musty smell of mould and dead rats.
The girl made her way to one of the armchairs and flopped down, putting her feet up on the table. “I’m back.”
Tear lay comfortably along the sofa reading a magazine. He tilted his head a little to stare at the new arrival. “You’re late, Kaba-nee. Problems?”
“Ran into your little friend.”
A wry smile appeared on Tear’s cold lips. “Which one?”
The girl addressed as Kaba-nee waved an irritable hand. “Ponytail? Seems to enjoy poking her nose into other people’s business?”
“Oh.” Tear went back to his magazine.
“Shouldn’t you do something about them before they get in our way any more?”
A third figure, silently relaxing in a chair out of the direct candlelight to one side, spoke in a soft voice. “Keep them away from the Loconds, but avoid harming them if possible. We’ve lost enough already, I won’t inflict the same on this world. Earth is already too far along that path without our interference.”
“Must we? Sounds like a pain.”
“We must. Our mission is more important than any of our individual lives, Kabane,” the figure said, using the lethargic girl’s real name instead of the more familiar form Tear preferred.
Tear sat upright and swung his legs off the sofa, tossing the magazine onto the table. “I dislike having the Loconds fight for me anyway. I’ll be interested to see how that girl handles herself in a real fight.”
Kabane shrugged. “Feel free, if it means I don’t need to exert myself.”
“Tear runs interference while Kabane collects, then,” the shadowy figure, who appeared to be their leader, said. “There are two of them now, be careful.”
The other two confirmed this – with fervour in Kabane’s case, less so in Tear’s – and made plans for their next excursion…