It had been a few months since the last Tournament, and the last family reunion. Applejack's restaurant had made so much money that she'd had to hire a good portion of the Order of the Sword as staff just to keep up with demand. Not only that, but the Tournament and related events had drawn so much attention that a small city had sprung up around the Hellgate, where demons, humans, and everything in between interacted peacefully, living side by side. Surprisingly enough, there were quite a few demons who specialized in cooking, and were happy to learn her recipes under oath of sticking to the rules of peace she had established, and Applejack was now actually able to take time off from the restaurant and spend time with Dante again.
"Thought you'd forgotten about me," Dante joked as he ran his hand gently through her mane.
Applejack chuckled. "Knew chasing the dream would take a lot o' work...just never thought I'd have ta do so much of it."
"And now you know why I always take it easy," Dante teased.
At that moment, Nevan raced up the stairs from her position at the secretary's desk. "I've just received a report of a minor incursion," she told them. "Minor demons are converging on a museum. We've been called in to assist."
Applejack grinned. "We should be able to handle it ourselves, right Pa?"
Dante chuckled. "Should be easy."
Dante and Applejack crashed through the skylight of the ancient building right into a cloud of puias, bird like monsters that resembled a fusion of bald eagle and vulture. As Dante drew both his guns and began firing, Applejack pulled out Berial and began whipping their wings off with the fiery lash. After a time, the harpies were down.
Once there were no more harpies to fight, Applejack glanced around. She quickly noticed someone watching them carefully. She was a slim built, dark skinned woman with long red hair tied in a braid, piercing brown eyes, and dressed in form fitting battle attire. She held two long blades in her hands, ready for battle.
As a rune inscribed coin rolled to Dante, he picked it up and flipped it over to the woman. "You called?" he asked teasingly.
She caught the coin, watching them both coldly. After walking past them, she hurled a knife at a nearby wall, embedding it in a map of the area. "Til next time, Son of Sparda," she said coolly, turning to leave.
"...well, that was rude," Applejack commented dryly.
"I like her," Dante joked, grinning.
"I'm telling Ma you said that," Applejack countered.
"Hush you," Dante growled teasingly.
After resting up, the pair began exploring the new area the following morning. From what they could tell, it was an abandoned, mostly ruined city. At first it seemed like there wouldn't be any more demons to fight, until they came to a bridge from which three skeletons chained in thick metal hung. They swung in the breeze, creaking ominously.
Applejack stared at them. "...that's just creepy."
At that moment, blue fire erupted from the skeletons, and they fell to the ground, rising as metal clad skeletal warriors.
"...less so," Applejack pointed out, spinning Cerberus around her tail as she twirled Berial.
"Got a plan for this one?" Dante asked curiously.
"Thought I'd try some new techs I got recently along with my physics lessons," Applejack replied with a grin.
Spinning Berial like a lasso, she flicked the lash to send rings of fire at the three armored skeletons, super heating the metal holding them together. Once the metal was red hot, she flicked her tail, hurling Cerberus forward into the center.
"Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllllllll!!" Cerberus shouted as he spun, the three heads at the end of each nunchuck spewing intense cold in the form of an icy mist that covered the skeletons.
The armor - rather shoddily made to begin with - crumbled from the quick change of temperature from super heated to ice cold. As Cerberus spun back to Applejack, he smashed through the three skeletons, shattering them.
Whistling appreciatively, Dante applauded. "Nicely done!" he praised.
"Guess education did help me be a better Devil Hunter," Applejack teased, blushing in pleasure at the praise.
"Don't get cocky," Dante scolded. "I'm still in the lead from those puias."
Shortly down the path, several more Puias appeared out of the air. As Dante reached for his guns, though, energy arrows pierced each and every one of them, ripping them to bits. Applejack grinned as she blew non-existent smoke from Artemis' barrel. "Now who's in the lead?" she asked teasingly.
As they continued onward, they only encountered more of the same for a time as they leapt through the city, the buildings in progressively better condition as they continued. "So...who called us in, anyway?" Applejack asked.
"It was an unsigned letter," Nevan explained. "But I considered it relevant since it appeared in magical fire."
Applejack froze. Dante looked back at her. "You okay?"
She shook her head. "Ah'm fine," she insisted. "Just...somethin' about that delivery seems...awful familiar..." She shook her head again. "Can't fer the life o' me figure out why I'm picturing a belching dragon when ya mention it, though."
Dante shrugged. "Maybe it has something to do with stairs and Curry Cola?" he offered.
Applejack chuckled. "More extra-dimensional perception?"
"Or past life memories," Dante replied. "Virgil did say it was a possible interpretation."
"He said it was preferable to the conclusion that I was stark raving mad," Applejack corrected as they continued onward.
Further along, a pillar of red light became visible in the distance. As she saw it, Applejack sighed. "Some idjit human's tryin' to gain demonic power again," she groaned.
"How do you know it's human?" Dante asked.
"Cause it's thicker at the bottom than the top," Applejack pointed out. "If'n it were demon work, it'd be thicker at the top with clouds gathering around."
At that moment, several monsters that resembled shambling, undead monkey/dogs closed in on them. "Zombies!" Applejack shouted out, drawing Nevan in her scythe form.
"Actually," Dante pointed out, "I'm pretty sure they're called-"
"Ah know what they're called," Applejack interrupted. "But callin' 'em zombies is more fun."
Dante grinned as he drew Agni and Rudra. "Zombies!"
"We shall burn them!" Agni proclaimed.
"We shall blow them away!" Rudra added.
Despite their vast numbers, the monsters went down disappointingly quickly. Applejack wiped Nevan's blade before returning her to her back. "Ah hope there's more of a challenge later on."
Dante glanced over at her. "Applejack...Urameshi Yusuke is one of the most powerful demons of his mythology, and orders of magnitude stronger than most of what we've faced in the past. Rias Gremory is the Princess of Destruction, capable of firing blasts of demonic energy that can damage planets. Since the first Tournament, they've been your sparring partners. What, exactly, do you think is going to be a challenge on this trip?"
Applejack kicked her hoof. "One can hope?" she offered wistfully.