• Published 28th May 2023
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A Certain Scientific Twilight - Babroniedad

Sunset and Twilight's Continuing Adventures in Academy City. A crossover with A Certain Magical Index / A Certain Scientific Railgun.

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06 - Sunset - The Goddess of the Hunt (Day 3)

Friday, September 12, 8:00 AM Tokyo time.

Twilight woke to the alarm; rolling over she shut it off. With a stretch and a grin she turned to Sunset at her side, who was facing her while a smile graced her sleeping features. Looking over Sunset’s shoulder, she saw Kuroko also grinning happily in her sleep snuggled up tightly to Sunset, her big sissy, with her arms wrapped around her sissy tightly.

“That girl,” thought Twilight with a wry smirk. “I need to keep an eye on her. And do I even want to know what she’s dreaming?”

“Probably not,” yawned Sunset with a smirk, eyes still shut. She opened them slowly and smiled at her BFF. “Good morning, Sparky. Have I told you how beautiful you are?”

“Only every chance you get, flatterer,” grinned Twilight. “Back at you. And good morning to you too.” She leaned forward and planted a kiss on her friend's cheek. “You look pretty cute yourself, Sunny. First dibs on the shower!” She laughed as she rolled off the bed and grabbed her school uniform, leaving the room to take her shower.

“You dork,” teased Sunset back. “Way to volunteer me for herd patrol and breakfast.” She extracted herself from Kuroko’s grasp and sat up on the bed by her chair. Kuroko reached out in her sleep, wiggling towards the center of the bed until she felt Mikoto, who was still snoring, sound asleep. She wrapped her arms around Mikoto and snuggled into her, smiling in her sleep.

Feeling herself being pulled into the embrace, Mikoto woke. She looked over to see who was hugging her so tightly. Seeing the happy face of her roommate, she raised an eyebrow then turned to Sunset.

“Uh, what is going on here?” she asked in confused concern.

“Friendship, I think,” smirked Sunset in reply. “Though, with your sissy, you never can really tell.”

“She’s not my sissy!” insisted Mikoto, looking askance at her roommate. “She’s your sissy.”

“Nah. I hear her call you sissy too all the time,” smiled Sunset.

“You do know what the little pervert means by that, don’t you?” asked Mikoto, looking at Sunset confused.

“Well duh. Sissy is short for sister,” replied Sunset, still smiling.

“No. With my roommate, the pint sized pervert, sissy is what she calls any girl she has fallen in love with. Which it seems is now both of us,” replied Mikoto.

“Fallen in love? Like sisters, right?” confirmed Sunset, now looking confused.

“No, like concubines,” snarked Mikoto, grinning at Sunset’s confusion.

“Ah. Wait! No no no. That can’t be right, can it?,” Sunset replied. She blanched. “She thinks of both of us like that?”

“That’s why she has the nickname The Pint Sized Pervert,” confirmed Mikoto with a straight face.

Sunset pulled Kuroko off of Mikoto and over to her, setting her in her lap. Kuroko woke, and seeing herself in her sissy’s lap, threw her arms around her in an embrace, snuggling tightly. “Good morning, sissy!” she called out happily.

Taking Kuroko’s head gently in her hands, she kissed her forehead. “Good morning to you too, little sister.” She faced her little sister, looking into her eyes. “We need to have a serious talk.”

Sunset woke the rest of the girls, sending them to get ready in the other room while she had a chat with their little friend. They gathered their clothes and moved out to the bathroom. Twilight was just stepping out, fully dressed and ready for the day.

“Good morning, girls!” greeted Twilight as they smiled, bowed, and rushed into the bathroom behind her. “Where is Sunset? I thought she was making breakfast. And where is Kuroko?” she asked in confusion.

“Sunset said she had to have a serious talk with her, and told us to get ready without her,” stated Mikoto. She leaned in and whispered to Twilight, “I told Sunset what sissy means to Kuroko. It means concubine,” she stated sagely.

Twilight grinned in response. “I take it she didn’t realize that. So I can imagine that’s what their talk will be about, not that it’s any of our business. Right?”

“Right,” agreed Mikoto, following the other two into the bathroom. They shut the door and started getting ready for the day.

“Guess I’ll start breakfast myself then,” mused Twilight. She headed into the kitchen. She put a pot on the stove and started the porridge. Grabbing herself some coffee while she waited for it to boil, she reviewed the data from the drone on her phone. The blooms were continuing to grow and multiply.

The water started boiling, so she put in the mix and set the table then returned to her coffee and data.

A short while later the girls emerged from the bathroom dressed and ready for the day. Twilight served up the porridge to the girls, who pulled the toppings and juice from the refrigerator. They served themselves and started eating.

“Girls, I’m going to go check on Sunset and Kuroko. Be right back,” Twilight informed them. She left her coffee at the table and walked over to their bedroom. She could hear Sunset talking from behind the door.

Twilight knocked twice gently on the door then opened it just a bit. She poked her head in. Sunset was just finishing her discussion with Kuroko, who was now crying and sitting on her lap looking sorrowfully and intently into her big sister’s eyes.

“And that’s why you need to stop. Mikoto loves you, Twilight loves you, and I love you. Dearly. With all our hearts. But not like that. You need to stop trying to force others to love you that way. When the time comes, and the relationship is right, you will find the love you are looking for. But right now, trying to force us into something we are not ready for and not comfortable with is just hurting everyone. It’s also hurting you, and we love you so much! We don’t want you hurt and we don’t want you hurting yourself. Do you understand?” Sunset asked.

Kuroko nodded sadly. Sunset pulled her into a hug and a kiss.

Twilight felt a tear roll down her cheek. She opened the door fully and sat down on the bed beside them and pulled them both into her embrace.

“Sunset is absolutely right, Kuroko. We love you with all our hearts! I never want to see you or any of you hurt!” Twilight kissed Kuroko’s cheek. “Please don’t be sad! You are a beautiful young girl! And someday, someone will be so lucky to have you. For now, though, we have you and love you so much we never want you not to be a part of our lives!”

Kuroko sobbed and smiled, held tightly by the girls. Sunset and Twilight held her in a loving, tight embrace. Even Sunset was crying at this point. After a few minutes, Kuroko stopped sobbing. Twilight gently rubbed her back while Sunset stroked the back of her head. Both of them snuggled her tightly. Eventually Kuroko looked up at them, smiling through her tear stained face. “Thank you. Thank you both. I love you both so much!” she exclaimed.

Sunset kissed her cheek. “We love you too, little sister!”

Twilight kissed her other cheek, “Yes we do, and always will. You are and will forever be our little sis.”

Pulling Kuroko gently off of Sunset, Twilight set her down and instructed her, “Go get your stuff to get ready for school. I’m taking you out for breakfast. My treat. Come on.”

Kuroko rushed over to grab her bag and clothes then went back to Twilight’s side.

“Be right back, Sunny,” smiled Twilight as she dried her tears. She kissed Sunset on the cheek then took Kuroko’s hand. “Ready Freddy?” she asked.

“Ready Freddy,” smiled Kuroko at Twilight.

“Back in a flash, Sunny!” called out Twilight happily. They disappeared in a flash of magenta.

“Literally,” smiled Sunset as they disappeared. She dried her tears as well then gathered up her things for the bathroom in order to get dressed for the day. She rolled out into the main room.

“Girls, Twilight and Kuroko had to go out for a bit. They’ll be back. I’m going to get ready for the day. Save me some breakfast, please?” Sunset asked.

“Sure thing!” agreed Mikoto. “I didn’t get Kuroko in trouble, did I? You’re not getting rid of her, are you?” she asked, starting to look alarmed.

“No, we’re not getting rid of anyone,” assured Sunset. Mikoto looked relieved. “Twilight is just helping Kuroko get ready. We’re running a bit behind, so she took her to another shower to get cleaned up for the day while I use this one. And to breakfast so she can have a chance to talk with her I would imagine.

“But no, no one is getting tossed out.

“I’ve said it before. So has Twilight and we meant it. We love you girls. We consider you family. Family is forever. Even if you make a mistake. Actually, especially if you make a mistake, because that’s when you need your friends and family the most.”

The girls all smiled in relief. Sunset continued. “So I’m going to get ready then grab a quick bite to eat. We will head out for school after that. Get your things ready. We’re going to have to roll quickly to stay on schedule.” She rolled into the bathroom to start getting ready for the day.

The girls finished up their breakfasts and coffees then rinsed their dishes and put them in the dishwasher. They left out the covered pot of porridge and Sunset’s setting as well as the condiments. After that, they rushed into the room and grabbed their backpacks, then waited at the table for Sunset to finish her shower.

Sunset rolled out of the bathroom a few minutes later, cleaned, dressed, and ready for the day. She rolled up to the table and served herself a portion of the porridge with some tasty toppings. She quickly drank the coffee one of the girls handed her.

While Sunset scarfed down her breakfast, the girls put the porridge and the rest of the food in the refrigerator, then rinsed the serving dishes and placed them in the dishwasher. Sunset finished up then rinsed her own dishes, adding them to the washer. The girls dropped in the pellet and turned on the machine. While they finished that, Sunset rolled into the room and traded her bathroom bag for her daypack.

Rolling back out, she called out to the girls, “Ready Freddy?”

“Ready Freddy!” they called back, racing over to join her.

“Shortcuts today. Everyone hold on to me,” Sunset called out. Once everyone had a hand on her, they disappeared in a flash of Teal.

They appeared in front of Ruiko and Kazari’s school and she dropped them off. They waved, hurrying off to their classes as Sunset took Mikoto by the hand.

“Okay, our turn,” Sunset grinned. In a flash of Teal they disappeared.

And reappeared in front of the Tokiwadai gates. The student on duty looked up from the textbook she was studying. Seeing who it was she waved them in, lifting the barrier from her booth.

Sunset and Mikoto bowed in thanks to her as they rushed through the gate and to their classes. “See you at lunch, Mikoto!” called out Sunset as they headed their different ways. Mikoto waved as she entered her classroom building.

Sunset rolled quickly over to her own class building and entered with a few other girls who were running late, then she made her way down the halls towards her homeroom class.

As she did a magenta flash brightened the hall and Twilight appeared beside her.

“There you are!” called out Twilight happily as she took her handles and pushed her quickly towards their homeroom.

“Where’s Kuroko?” asked Sunset over her shoulder.

“Just dropped her off at her homeroom. She just joined Mikoto,” informed Twilight as she wheeled them into their homeroom and towards their desks.

“Ah. Makes sense,” nodded Sunset as she got out her books and settled into her desk.

“Yeah. We were running late getting back so we weren't sure where you’d be. I was surprised to find you here already,” continued Twilight.

“Used the pendant?” asked Sunset as she pulled out a textbook in front of her in order to prepare to study.

“I used the pendant to track you and the girls, yes,” confirmed Twilight, at her desk and now ready for homeroom with a book in hand.

“That makes sense,” agreed Sunset. “So where did you guys go?”

“Stole a page from your playbook,” snarked Twilight. “I took her to the bunker. We took a quick shower and bath then dried off. After that we dressed then ate leftover pancakes from the fridge along with more coffee.” She grinned. “Can’t forget coffee.”

Sunset laughed at that. “No. You can’t have a happy Sparky without coffee. Does not compute,” she snarked.

Twilight lightly punched her in the arm. “Dork. Don’t be knocking my coffee.”

“Never, Sparky,” teased Sunset. She gave her friend a quick shoulder squeeze then turned back to her book. At that moment the bell rang and the teacher started taking attendance.

As usual Twilight and Sunset met Mikoto and Kuroko for lunch. They sat at their customary table and ate their Bento box lunches.

While they were together discussing and laughing over some of the events of the previous day, the monitors around the room went blank then filled with static.

“That can’t be good,” noted Twilight. She looked around the room at the surprised faces of the other students.

Sunset also looked around as she said, “Something is taking out our electronics.”

“Yes! We’ve noticed that, Marconi,” snarked Twilight.

Sunset laughed and gave her BFF a light smack on the arm. “Thank you Einstein. So, what’s happening? Is it something we need to be concerned about?” Sunset asked.

“I don’t know, but I’ll find out,” answered Kuroko. She promptly grabbed Mikoto and teleported away.

“Damn it, little sis. That’s not what I meant,” growled Sunset as she tracked her little sister through her fob. Sunset sighed.

Several minutes later Kuroko returned, teleporting next to Sunset.

“Mikoto is working on it with Kazari,” Kuroko reported. “She’ll give me a call when they figure it out.”

“Won’t the phones have the same issue as the other electronics?” Sunset checked. “You know we can use the fobs to bypass that.”

Kuroko facepalmed. “Yeah. Didn't think of that,” she groaned. “I’ll teleport back and tell Mikoko.”

Sunset reached over and stopped her. “No. Don’t worry about it. If she can’t get a hold of us, we’ll know. Just in case, I’ll teleport us both over and she can explain that way. No sense in popping off on your own again,” Sunset added protectively.

“Fine,” agreed Kuroko, sitting back down. “So how will we know if she can’t get a hold of us?”

“Her frustration will spike,” answered Sunset. “Biometrics. It’s on the fob.”

“Wow, you’re a little stalker,” teased Kuroko just like a little sister. “I like it.”

Sunset wrapped Kuroko up in a hug, mussing up her hair. “Way to make it weird, little sis,” she laughed. Kuroko grinned, smoothing her hair back as they waited to hear from Mikoto. A bit later Sunset sensed that spike of frustration from her, so she teleported them both to Mikoto.

Mikoto looked up from her phone, hanging up as she watched Sunset and Kuroko materialize beside her in a flash of Teal. Seeing Kuroko sitting in Sunset’s lap without her phone out, she frowned.

“So I take it you didn’t just get my phone call,” Mikoto sighed. “I thought I heard someone, but there was so much interference I couldn’t tell if it was you or not.”

“Not,” answered Kuroko as she hopped down from Sunset to stand next to her friend.

“Okay. Well then, I’ll try again,” smiled Mikoto. She explained what she found about the Debris Storm and how it had been triggered as part of a test, which was now causing the interference they were experiencing.

Sunset then showed both girls how to pair their phones to their fobs so they would not be as critically affected by the interference, though normal phone functions were still scrambled due to the larger issue with electronics throughout Academy City and beyond. Point to point apps worked so they agreed to use them while the outage was ongoing. Thanking her and Kazari for finding the information, Sunset teleported Mikoto, Kuroko, and herself back to their school so they could rejoin their classes.

When they returned Mikoto explained to Twilight what they had found. When she finished, Twilight explained to everyone the importance of keeping their phones paired up with their fobs, especially given what was currently happening. Twilight and Sunset already always kept their phones paired up to their fobs to run the biometrics app.

Lunch over, they went to their afternoon classes then gathered together at the District 3 Judgment offices for their afternoon work. Ruiko and Kazari met them there. Kazari had already started on her paperwork while they waited for them, while Ruiko was in the corner studying one of her textbooks.

Mikoto laughed when they entered the office then went to sit by her friend.

“Ruiko, studying? That’s so unlike you!” Mikoto teased as she sat down with her own textbook in hand.

Ruiko looked up at her over her textbook, one eyebrow cocked. “I can study! What are you implying, hum?”

“I never said you couldn’t study,” Mikoto smirked. “Just that I think I can count the number of times I’ve seen you actually do it on one hand.”

“I study when it’s important,” answered Ruiko, returning to her book.

“On one hand, and still holding my soft drink,” teased Mikoto with emphasis. “Without dropping it. Or unwrapping my thumb from the can.”

“I’m ignoring you now,” smirked Ruiko, still reading her book.

Mikoto shoulder checked her. “Then I’ll join you,” Mkoto decided with a grin. She leaned up against her friend and started reading, smiling the whole time.

“Fine, whatever,” grinned Ruiko back, still reading.

Watching them, Twilight turned to Sunset with a grin. “I really love our girls, but they can be so weird sometimes.”

“Yup. They fit right in,” agreed Sunset with a grin of her own. “Shall we?”

“Let’s!” nodded Twilight.

The girls took their seats at the terminal next to Kazari. Twilight opened her hand, and with a magenta pop, a usb drive fell into her hand. Kazari looked up at the pop, watching her.

Twilight inserted the usb drive into the terminal and started reviewing the information they had found yesterday. Sunset read it with her silently. After a few minutes, Twilight sighed, turned to Sunset and said, “Well, you know what this means.”

“Sadly, yes,” Sunset agreed. “They’ve started it back up again. Damn it.”

Hearing the words ‘started it back up’, Mikoto looked up from her book. “Started what back up again?” she asked with a scowl. Hearing her friend’s tone, Ruiko looked up in concern too.

“It looks like it’s a project called Level 6 shift,” supplied Sunset.

“I swear by the Maker, if those shits are coming after my sisters again, their heads will roll!“ Mikoto swore with a growl. Her scowl darkened.

“No. It’s worse, I think. Accelerator has no part in this. He would be right by your side slaying anyone who even thought of harming your sisters. This is something else. It seems they are coming directly after you this time,” amended Twilight.

“What?” Kuroko called out in surprise, looking over from her terminal. “Who in their right mind would come after Mikoto now?”

“Yes, who?” growled Mikoto, her eyes darkening.

“Not certain yet,” answered Sunset as she continued to scan the data with Twilight.

“I’m not sure who, but I am fairly sure at this point about what,” supplied Twilight, still reading. “Short answer, whoever it is, they plan to force your ascension to Level 6, though it is clear from the data here you would not survive the ascension and they know that. It looks like they plan on using you for the brief time you are ascended as a weapon, then letting you fade out. You will then basically die of madness.”

Mikoto blanched. Sunset turned to Twilight. “Blunt much?” she asked.

“Sorry. It is what it is,” replied Twilight sadly. She looked over to Mikoto. “You know your friends, Sunset and I, we won’t let that happen,” she comforted. Mikoto nodded, still pale.

“Between two goddesses, Toma, Index, the mages and the rest of your friends, we will keep you safe and sane,” promised Sunset. “Mikoto, we have your back. Try not to worry.”

Still pale, Mikoto had growled at the mention of Toma. “Why Toma? How is that jerk supposed to help me?” she asked.

“Yeah, why Toma of all people,” snarled Kuroko.

“Think about it,” answered Sunset, rolling over to Mikoto and taking her hands. “You know he cares about you, deeply.”

“He has a lame way of showing it,” groused Mikoto. “He calls me bug-zapper. And Bzzt Bzzt! He just mocks me! How is that caring?”

“He’s just teasing you, like you’re his little sister,” smiled Sunset, holding her hands firmly. “Brothers always tease their little sisters. It’s a brother thing,” she assured her.

“Well it’s a damned annoying brother thing!” scowled Mikoto. “And how is he supposed to help anyway? He’s a level 0! Level 0 for pity's sake! That’s nothing. Beyond nothing. It means he has no psychic talent. At all! How is that supposed to help in any way?!”

“You know he’s not a real Level 0, right?” responded Sunset kindly. “He has talent. It’s just the Academy won’t validate it because it has a magical component. How else do you think he can stand there and talk to you while you are throwing everything you have at him to shut him down? He just cancels all your attacks, right?”

Mikoto scowled and pouted. “That’s true,” she acknowledged. “Level 0 my dimpled butt.”

Sunset bowed her head as she giggled. “I really didn’t need to know about your butt dimples, honey.”

Mikoto blushed, still scowling. “Whatever. It’s not like you haven’t seen them already anyways.”

“That’s true,” agreed Kuroko with a grin. “And I, for one, think they are adorable!”

Both Twilight and Sunset turned to look at Kuroko. “Boundaries, Kuroko,” they both said sternly at the same time. Kuroko blushed and bowed her head.

“Sorry, Mikoto, but you do have a cute butt. Just saying,” she apologized then wisely remained silent. Twilight lifted an eyebrow at her while Sunset rolled her eyes and smirked.

Adorable butt aside,” Sunset continued, causing Mikoto to blush even more fiercely. “He can help, and he cares about you deeply. We want him there if anything happens to you. And if he weren’t there to help you, I don’t think he would be able to live with himself. We need him. This is also for the same reason we need Index and the mages. If anyone else is trying something, they should be able to help us shut them down.”

“Fine. Whatever,” grumbled Mikoto. Kuroko continued her glower.

Twilight resumed reviewing the data on the Level 6 shift. The further she read, the more fiercely she scowled. Finishing up, they closed up all the files and purged the workstation.

“We need to plan carefully on this,” Twilight growled. “There are so many ways this could go wrong and permanently hurt you. If I knew more I would just shut them down and never allow it to happen, but whoever planned this was skilled enough to keep their dirty fingerprints off of it, so we’ll just have to prepare and be ready to counter them when they rear their ugly head.”

“When they rear their ugly head, I intend to chop it off,” growled Sunset. “No one threatens one of my friends.” Her eyes glowed bright white while she said this. Everyone backed up a few steps in concern.

Twilight pulled the usb drive out of the terminal. It disappeared from her hand in a flash of magenta.

Twilight turned to the girls. “Come on, girls. It’s time to head to the apartment. I think we have had enough of this for one day.” She turned to Kuroko. “Please go tell Miia that we are calling it a day and are all heading to our apartment. I’m sure she will understand.”

Kuroko ran down the hall to let their supervisor know they were done for the day.

While she did, Twilight walked over to Sunset and pulled her into a hug, then said, “That was a pretty powerful oath there, Sunny. I completely agree as well. We have your and Mikoto's backs. She’ll get through this. I promise.” She stepped back then stepped behind Sunset taking the handles to her chair. “I’ll drive, Sunny.” She turned to the girls, including Kuroko who had just returned. “Okay, everyone, let’s go. Place a hand on me and we’re going.”

“Place a hand on you? Aren’t we walking?” asked Kuroko, confused.

Twilight just turned and looked at her. Kuroko scampered over and placed her hand on Twilight along with the rest of the girls. When they were all holding on, there was a flash of magenta and they all disappeared.

They appeared in Twilight and Sunset’s apartment. The girls all let go and ran to the couch to sit down. Twilight bent over and whispered into Sunset’s ear.

“You okay, Sunny?” she asked.

Sunset turned to her and nodded. “I’ll be fine. I meant what I said. I will slay whoever is behind this if I catch them.”

“I know you will,” agreed Twilight. “And I’ll be right there with you if that happens. No one hurts our friends.” Looking into Twilight’s eyes, Sunset nodded with a brief tight lipped smile.

“Okay. I am going to take the girls to the base. Can you stay here and get some dinner? Maybe invite Kaori and Stiyl to join us? I think we could all use a break for now,” requested Twilight.

“You got it, babe,” Sunset smiled back. Twilight hugged her tightly then stood up and turned to the girls.

“Okay, slight change of plans. Let’s all head to the bunker for some fun. Sunset is going to wait for our friends and dinner. Come on girls. One more time. Grab hold. Hands on me.” Twilight stood in the middle of the room, her arms outstretched inviting the girls to join her. They ran and took her hands and arms.

“Okay, on three! Off we go. And, three!” With two squeals and a pop, they disappeared in a magenta flash.

Sunset pulled out her phone and called Kaori.

“Kaori here. What’s up Sunset?” Kaori asked on the other end of the line.

“We’re still on for the expedition tomorrow, right? You know you and Stiyl are invited to go with us?” asked Sunset.

“Wouldn’t miss it for anything,” confirmed Kaori.

“Are you two doing anything tonight? Want to join our sleepover and have some fun before we head out?”, asked Sunset.

“Stiyl is busy right now, but maybe when he is finished,” Kaori answered.

Just then there was a huge flash outside her window as Sunset felt a surge of concern from Index.

“Something just happened! Gotta go!” Sunset called out urgently before hanging up the phone. She teleported directly to the location of Index’s fob, coming out next to Index and Stiyl. Looking over she saw Toma fighting with another powerful magical user.

“We have to go help him!” said Sunset, rolling towards their battle. Stiyl grabbed her chair, stopping her.

“No, we don’t. Sunset, he’s fine. He’s got this. He convinced her to just attack him instead of the rest of the world. Don’t mess this up. Let him finish this.”

Sunset turned, scowling at Stiyl. “Look, I know you don’t like him, but I made a promise and I keep my promises. I have to protect him and Index.”

“And you are, and you will, but not right now. Sunset, let him end this. He can do this. As much as it pains me to admit, he’s doing a good job of it,” answered Stiyl while still holding her chair. “Trust him.”

Sunset scowled, turning to Index. “Do you agree with him?” she asked. Index nodded, watching the battle intently. Sunset sighed and sat back in her chair, watching the end of the battle with them.

Toma stood and raised his right hand as a tornado of magic rained down upon him. When it was all over he was still standing though clearly exhausted and shaking. The magician he was battling was gone as well as the young girl who was watching while standing off to the side of the battle earlier.

Index rushed over to Toma, with Stiyl and Sunset behind her at a slightly slower pace.

Toma stood exhausted, staring at the towering structure before him. Index grabbed him.

“Toma, you’re staring at that tower. Did something happen to it?” she asked in concern.

“No,” answered Toma as Sunset and Stiyl caught up. “But if anything tries something, I will take them on too.”

Rolling over, Sunset grabbed them both pulling them into a hug. “And you won’t be doing it alone. We have your back,” she agreed. She turned to Stiyl. “Are you going to join us?” she asked.

“Yes, but I still have a few things to take care of. I’ll call you when I’m ready,” he answered walking away.

Sunset released her hug captives, taking their hands. “Okay. I know the perfect place for you two to recover. Let’s go.” With a flash of teal they disappeared.

Sunset, Toma and Index appeared in Kaori’s room as was packing her bag for the trip. She looked up in surprise at the pop and flash of Sunset’s teleport when it went off next to her.

“Kaori, I am so sorry for violating your privacy,” Sunset bowed, still holding Toma and Index’s hands. “These two and Stiyl just finished dealing with the rouge hindi mages. I’m taking them to the Bunker, and I’ll take you too if you’re ready.”

“No worries, Sunset,” smiled Kaori as she finished packing. “I was just about to call you. I’m just finishing getting my bag ready for the trip.” She put the last item into the bag then shut it. She stood behind Sunset and placed her hands on Sunset’s wheelchair handles. “What’s that phrase you always say?” she smirked.

“Ready Freddy?” Sunset asked.

“Ready Freddy!” agreed Kaori, Index, and Toma. In a teal flash they disappeared.

They appeared in the Bunker control room next to the TACIT receiver.

“Go ahead and join everyone,” said Sunset, letting go of their hands. “I have to head back to wait for Stiyl and arrange our dinner. I’ll be back then.”

Kaori nodded with a smile, leading Index and Toma out to the main room while Sunset flashed away again.

She appeared in their apartment and immediately phoned the concierge to arrange dinner for her hungry herd. That settled, she waited for Stiyl to call and let her know he’d finished his business and was ready to join them.

The concierge eventually brought in two carts filled with food, drink and snacks. Thanking her, Sunset texted Twilight then teleported with both carts into the control room where Twilight met her. Taking the carts, she gave Sunset a quick hug and wheeled them into the main room.

“I’ll be back as soon as I have Stiyl,” said Sunset as she teleported back away.

In the main room, Twilight set out the dinner trays and pizza boxes on the main conference table, setting out drinks, plates and utensils with them. “Dinner is here if anyone is hungry!” she called out.

Kaori came into the room followed by the rest of the herd.

“Good thing we ordered several pizzas. Index can have quite an appetite,” laughed Twilight. “I don’t know where she puts it.”

“It’s magic,” laughed Kaori.

“I know, right? She never gains an ounce. I admit I’m a little bit jealous of her sometimes. A bit,” Twilight teased. “It sure seems like magic to me.”

“No, really, it’s magic,” said Kaori.

“Huh?” responded Twilight, confused.

“All the magic spells she uses, including the autonomic and automatic ones, burn off a huge number of calories so she literally burns off more calories a day than anyone else I know. It’s magic. That's simple,” explained Kaori.

“That actually makes so much sense,” Twilight mused. “Wow. That girl is more of a mage than I thought. Pretty impressive.”

“Yeah. It’s easy to underestimate her with how childish she acts sometimes, but she can pack a punch when she has to,” agreed Kaori. “I’m still very glad that you two and Toma are looking out for her. She could use the help.”

“And happy to do it. Anything else you need?” Twilight asked.

Twilight passed out plates of food while Kuroko helped with the drinks. “Thank you, Kuroko! That was very helpful,” Twilight complimented.

Kuroko beamed. “You’re welcome!” she said happily. She took her seat as Twilight passed her a plate of food.

“Okay everyone! A quick prayer of gratitude, then let’s dig in!” called out Twilight. She led them in Harmonic Grace, then everyone tucked into the meal before them.

There was a flash of teal from the control room then Stiyl and Sunset rolled out and joined them at the table.

“Sorry we’re late!” Sunset grinned. “What did we miss?”

“We already said grace. Dig on in,” laughed Twilight. Grinning, Stiyl grabbed a plate loading it up with food. Sunset was right behind him doing the same. They grabbed a drink and some utensils then sat at the table. Sunset sat next to Twilight while Stiyl next to Kaori.

Twilight turned to her guests, especially Toma and Stiyl. “I was thinking we could take turns playing a game of something, and take turns in the spa. Last time we had the ladies go first, and frankly we took a rather long time, so I think our guy friends got a bit short changed. This time, the guys can go in first, while us girls play video games for a bit and you clean up. Then, after you've had a decent soak, us girls can have a turn and you can play video games or watch a movie.”

Twilight asked Stiyl and Toma. “Does that sound okay to you two? You are the only guys in this crew,” she grinned.

Stiyl nodded. “Sure. Fine by me,” he agreed. Toma just nodded while pushing Index back away from his plate with his index finger. He served her more food instead from the serving platter in front of them. Index sat back happily and resumed her eating.

“That settles it then. Okay guys, you get the spa after dinner. Just let us know when you’re done and we will take our turn,” Twilight offered. She grinned mischievously, “Unless you would rather go in with us?”

Across the table, Mikoto choked on the food she was swallowing. Kuroko patted her on the back, glaring furiously at Twilight. Ruiko looked up, thought for a second, and stated, ‘I’m okay with that.” She then resumed eating.

Kazari looked at her friend with an askance expression on her face. “I’m sure not!” she stated in disbelief. Mikoto nodded her head vigorously in agreement, blushing hard. Index looked up from her food, shrugged, and went back to eating.

Toma looked around at everyone. “Uh, don’t take this the wrong way. I love you all dearly,” he looked over to Kuroko, “some more than others,” he snarked. “But I really don’t feel comfortable with that. If it’s all the same with you, I would rather just keep doing guys, then girls.”

Kuroko burst out laughing at that. “So you do both?” she teased with a mean grin.

“Huh?” asked Toma, “I’m lost. I don’t get it. I do what now?” He took another bite of his dinner as the girls started giggling.

Sunset leaned across the table and put a hand on Toma’s arm. “Ignore them,” she stage-whispered to him. “They are being juvenile.” She glared at Kuroko. “Some more than others.”

Kuroko gave Sunset a mischievous grin. “Who? Me? Sissy, are you calling me juvenile?” she teased.

“More like calling you out, missy. Behave!” Sunset grinned. “Good one though. He did walk right into that.”

“Yes he did,” agreed Kuroko, grinning. “And it couldn’t have happened to a nicer person.” She glared at Toma.

Sunset smiled at her little sister. “Behave, Kuroko. Toma is our friend. Yours too. So behave and be nice,” she scolded playfully.

“Sissy, I’m always nice!” grinned Kuroko.

“No, you’re always good. Not the same thing,” teased Sunset.

Stiyl looked at the two of them as he ate his pasta. “Do you two need a room?” he snarked. Kaori punched him lightly in the arm.

“Don’t encourage them,” Kaori joked.

“Tell me about it,” Stiyl shot back, still grinning. “I swear sometimes the two of you really are related.” He smiled, shook his head, and went back to eating his dinner.

“Sisters from another mister,” agreed Sunset, smiling at Kuroko, who grinned and nodded happily.

‘So, all kidding aside then. I was just teasing. Yes, Toma, just you guys, and you can start as soon as you're finished with dinner. Just let us know when you come out so we can switch,” explained Twilight.

Toma nodded, smiled and went back to eating. Everyone had a good laugh at the exchange.

Toma and Stiyl finished. They cleared their spots, gathered up their things, then disappeared into the bathroom. MeanwhileTwilight looked around. “Almost done, girls?” she asked. “I only have four controllers, but I can get you started on Melee Battle mode, and Kaori and I can play something else.” She looked over to Index. “Do you want to play with us too, Index?” she asked.

Index, still eating, responded between bites. “Nope! I’m good.” She continued piling food onto her plate and powering through it.

“Okay, that’s fine. But if you change your mind, you are welcome to join us,” Twilight invited while giving Index a gentle side hug as they ate. Index just smiled and nodded while not stopping her feast.

“Okay then. Just let me know when you’re good, and we can start.” Twilight sipped her coffee while she waited.

A bit later, the girls all finished. They cleared their places then joined Twilight in the den where she was setting up the melee game in PVP deathmatch mode for the girls. As they came in, she handed each a controller. They took turns setting up their characters then launched into the death match with gleeful screams and shouting.

Index decided to take her snacks with her and watch them play.

Twilight shook her head, laughing. She turned to Kaori. “Want a laptop? I can set you up with a game on it if you want.”

Kaori laughed. She sat down on the couch next to Twilight. “Just the laptop is fine. I’m not really in the mood for battle games and there are a few things I wouldn’t mind taking the time to research,” she answered then sipped her soda.

“One laptop coming up then,” agreed Twilight. She got up and took the two laptops sitting on the counter in the main room. After that, sat down next to Kaori and handed her one.

“Do you have the password and login?” Twilight asked Kaori.

“Yeah. I’ll use the stuff you set up for me last time,” Kaori affirmed as she took the laptop.

“Just let me know if you need anything,” Twilight responded. She opened her laptop up and logged in. She immediately went to the data from the modified selfie-drone and reviewed the bloom growth.

Sunset cleared the dishes from the table and placed the leftovers into the fridge. She then loaded up the empty trays onto the carts and pushed them into the control room. On her way back to the kitchen, she stopped to knock on the door of the bathroom.

“What is it?” she heard Stiyl call out.

She opened the door a crack and leaned in. “It’s nothing. Just checking if you two need anything before I start the dishes. Everything okay?”

“Yup. We’re fine!” answered Toma, blushing a bit. Both of the boys were sitting in the spa, relaxing.

“Well, since you are offering, could we please have something to drink? I don’t know about my friend here, but I forgot to bring a drink in with me and would really appreciate it.” Stiyl turned to Toma. “Do you want one too, Toma?”

“Yes, please,” Toma nodded, still blushing madly.

Sunset couldn’t resist. “Coming right up. Toma, do you want me to come in and pour it for you?” she teased.

“No!” Toma answered immediately, face completely red. “I mean, no thank you. Just a drink, thanks. I can pour it myself.”

“If you're sure,” teased Sunset, smiling widely. “You are the guests here. We do want you to be happy!”

Toma’s face looked bright red, and his nose was starting to bleed. “Sunset,” he shot back. “I think you need to stop watching so many anime. That’s not how it works.”

Sunset laughed. “You are so easy to tease, Toma!” She smiled. “I know that’s not how it works. I was just kidding. I’ll be right back with your drinks.” She pulled back from the door and shut it.

Twilight looked up from the couch, spying on her BFF being a PITA to their friends. “Be good, Sunset!” she called out, grinning.

Sunset grinned back. “Girl, I’m always good.”

Twilight laughed, still looking at her laptop. “Girl, being good at is not the same as being good. Behave!”

Sunset laughed as she rolled into the kitchen and grabbed two cold sodas from the fridge. She rolled back over to the bathroom. Twilight looked up. “I’m watching you, girl!” she called out playfully from the couch.

Sunset grinned. “Good! Take notes!” She pulled the door open and rolled into the bathroom.

Toma looked up and sputtered. Stiyl just shook his head and laughed.

Sunset greeted the guys. “I have your drinks! Just a second while I open them for you,” she stated, then opened the cans. “Sure you don’t want me to pour it for you, Toma?” she offered sweetly, rolling towards the spa.

Toma leaned forward, curling into himself, arms wrapped around himself. “No! I’m fine. Thanks. No. Just put them there on the side!” He looked like he was ready to submerge himself at the bottom of the spa.

“I don’t mind, if you want. I can get in and help you with it,” snarked Sunset.

At this point, Stiyl was shaking with laughter. Toma looked over to him. Only his eyes were above the water line. “Not helping, Stiyl. Jerk,” he complained. Stiyl laughed even harder.

Sunset put the two drinks down by the side of the spa, smiling. “Okay. If that is what you really want. Here you go.” She grinned and winked at Stiyl who just laughed even harder, shaking his head. “Call me if you need anything. Okay?” she called back sweetly over her shoulder as she exited the bathroom.

Twilight called out to her friend as she shut the door. “Just couldn’t resist, could you?” she laughed.

“Would you have?” teased Sunset back.

“Yes, Sunset. I would have. I don’t have your pathological need to be a complete tease,” grinned Twilight at her BFF.

“And yet, you love me anyway,” Sunset grinned, heading back towards the kitchen.

“And darn lucky I do, girl!” called out Twilight with a chuckle. She went back to her data.

Still grinning, Sunset set to work cleaning the dinner dishes.

Grinning happily, Kuroko watched the whole exchange from her position on the couch over her joystick.

“Hey, Kuroko, head in the game, silly! You just got killed again while standing there like a loon,” teased Ruiko.

“Don’t care,” grinned Kuroko back. “Seeing something way more entertaining.”

Ruiko leaned out from the couch to see what her friend was looking at. She saw Sunset go into the bathroom.

“Uh, aren’t the guys in there? What’s she doing?” asked Ruiko in confusion, her controller held motionless before her.

“She’s being my delightful big sissy, that’s what she’s doing. She’s tormenting that dofus Toma,” Kuroko reported happily.

“No way! Wow, she has some brass, right?” grinned Ruiko.

“What about Toma?” asked Mikoto from down the couch, looking over annoyed. “Why are we talking about him?” She groused.

“Don’t pretend you don’t like him,” teased Kazari as her character swooped in and killed them all. “You know you do! Every time someone even mentions him, you go all tsundere.” She laughed. “And now you’re all dead. I am ahead!”

Kuroko turned back to the game and chased her friend down, killing her with a hail of machine gun fire. “Really? How about that huh? And no way my sissy Mikoto likes that dofus. She is into me!” she crowed.

Pausing in her battle, Mikoto looked over to her roommate. “I am not your sissy, you little pervert. Stop calling me that. I know what you really mean by that!”

Kuroko looked over at her roommate. “Your lips say no no no, but your cute dimpled butt says yes yes yes!” She laughed, slaying her friend's character again.

Mikoto’s scowled. “Why you little..”

Twilight looked up from her laptop. “Boundaries, Kuroko!” she reminded her. “Respect your friends.”

Kuroko rolled her eyes. “Yes ma’am,” she answered, turning back to her game. She saw Sunset roll out of the bathroom with a grin on her face and laughing to herself. Kuroko grinned again.

“I need to check something. I’ll be right back,” she said as she put her controller down and got up.

“Kuroko, remember what I said,” reminded Twilight without looking up from her laptop.

“Yes ma’am,” nodded Kuroko as she slipped out of the den. Seeing Sunset was looking the other direction and working on the dishes, she slipped over to the bathroom. She stripped down to her panties and trainers then entered the bathroom, sauntering over to the benches. She studiously ignored the two boys in the spa.

Hearing the door open Toma looked up from the seat he had resumed when Sunset left. Seeing Kuroko walking into the room in just her underwear his nose started bleeding. He immediately curled into a ball and ducked back under water with just his eyes above the water as he watched the little menace wander into the room.

Stiyl opened his eyes and noticed Kuroko putting her clothes into the hamper by one of the stools. She then dumped the bucket of water over herself and started scrubbing. Filling the bucket by the faucet she then dumped it over herself again to wash off the soap.

Toma was beet red at this point. He was up against the far corner of the spa and trying desperately to look invisible. Stiyl just rolled his eyes and laughed. He leaned back and shut his eyes again, completely relaxed.

“Hey Kuroko!” Stiyl called out cheerfully. “I thought you girls were going to wait until we were done. What’re you doing here?” he asked.

Kuroko turned to him, and grinned. “Hey Stiyl. I got tired of waiting, so figured I would just join you two for a bit. You don’t mind, do you?” She looked at Toma and grinned evilly. Toma gulped and pulled his head as low in the water as he could, still tracking the dreaded menace.

Finished with her rinse, Kuroko walked into the spa. She sat on the bench beside the not as invisible as he wished Toma. She leaned back in the seat, stretching out her arms and crossing them behind her head as she leaned back. “Now this is relaxing,” she grinned, closing her eyes. “Nothing like a warm spa to soak away all your aches and pains. Am I right?”

Still crouched down in front of the seat, Toma raised his head high enough above the water to reply. “It was, until a major pain showed up and pranced her backside into my spa. Why can’t you just leave already?!” he growled.

“Why? We’re all friends. Just relax and enjoy the soak,” answered Kuroko, head still back. She opened one eye and turned to Toma, then added with an evil grin, “And apparently enjoy the sights too, eh Toma? Can’t take your eyes off of me? Must really like what you see!” She leaned her head back again, eyes shut. “I always knew you had a thing for me,” she teased.

Toma sputtered. “As if! You’re a carpenter's dream, Kuroko!” he sputtered. “Whatever!” He sat back up in the seat beside her then leaned his head back and looked at the ceiling with his hands crossed over his lap. “You’re such a pain in the behind,” he growled at her from his seat.

“Whatever yourself, Toma,” teased Kuroko back. “Sorry. I’m just not that into you to notice. You’re not my type.”

“Yeah, we all know your type just fine, Kuroko,” Toma shot back, still looking at the ceiling. “And I thank the Maker I’m not your type. As if. Ever!”

Stiyl, eyes closed and hands crossed behind his head as well, was grinning at their exchange. The door opened a crack and Sunset peaked in. “Kuroko, are you in here?” she called out with a smile.

“Right here, sissy!” Kuroko waved. “We’re having a soak together.” She leaned back again, chest out and fully relaxed.

Toma looked briefly over to Sunset at the door. “Help me!” he mouthed, then quickly resumed looking at the ceiling.

Sunset laughed. “So, boys, you changed your minds and decided to have some company? I’m hurt that you didn’t invite me. We can’t have that. I am one of the hostesses after all!” She rolled into the room and over to her stool.

Toma’s eyes just about bugged out of his head. “Wha…” he said, looking over to Sunset. She undressed then transferred over to the stool, dumped the water over herself and started washing. Seeing this, Toma's nose started bleeding again and he quickly looked back up at the ceiling. “Sunset!” he called out in a panic. “What are you doing?”

Sunset rinsed off with a second bucket of water and smirked at Toma. “Uh, it’s called bathing, Toma. I know you’ve heard of it. Never seen someone bathe before?” she teased.

Toma shook his head, sighing. “Not like you, no,” he groaned. He looked over at Kuroko and growled. “At least, not before today.” Kuroko just stuck her tongue out at him. He turned back and looked at the ceiling, wiping off his face with a washcloth from the side of the spa. “I really hate you two right now,” he sighed.

Sunset transferred back over to her chair, wrapped herself with a towel, then rolled over to the spa and put on the harness. She pushed herself out over the spa seat then twisted the handle to release herself down into the water. When she was submerged and seated she removed the harness and placed it beside the spa.

Shimmying along the seat her towel accidentally slid off, prompting Toma to quickly avert his stare back at the ceiling. She casually fixed the towel then finished positioning herself beside Kuroko who was still sitting right next to Toma. Sunset reached out over Kuroko and took one of his hands. Toma immediately went beet red again as his nose again resumed bleeding. He reached out with his other hand and grabbed his washcloth using it to staunch the flow of blood as he crossed his legs. “Sunset!” he called out, staring at her with his mouth agape. “What the heck are you doing?” He was so red she he looked about to have a stroke.

Sunset pulled his hand to her lips and kissed it. “You really look like you need a friend right now, Toma. You know we all love you, right?” Sunset assured him, holding his hand tightly to her heart

Toma, eyes scrunched tightly shut now, nodded his head. Kuroko was still stuck between them with her big sissy leaning over her. She grinned as she watched Toma’s reaction.

Sunset scooted over a little more then pulled Kuroko over to her other side and into a side hug. “And you, little stinker. You know we all love you too, right?” Sunset smiled at her, still holding Toma’s hand with her other arm as she scooted over right up against him.

Toma was still looking up to the ceiling. HIs eyes were tightly shut, his embarrassment clearly evident. Stiyl still was grinning, his eyes shut, clearly enjoying the silliness going on around him.

Kuroko beamed in the grasp of her big sissy. She nodded happily. “I love you too, sissy,” she said happily.

“And all our friends?” asked Sunset, hugging her little sissy tighter.

Kuroko sighed. “And all our friends,” she agreed, still smiling.

“Including Toma, and Index?” smiled Sunset.

Kuroko frowned a bit. “Including Index,” she stated reluctantly.

Sunset gave her another squeeze. “And?” she asked.

Kuroko looked over at Toma, then rolled her eyes. “And all our friends.” She took a deep breath then turned to Toma. “Including Toma.”

Toma looked over in surprise. “What?” he asked, incredulous.

“Including you, Toma. I love all of you. Including you,” answered Kuoko. “I just wish you would stop trying to steal my roommate.”

Toma cocked his head to the side in confusion. “Huh? Steal what now? What are you talking about?” he asked.

“Nothing,” replied Kuoko. “Forget I said anything. It’s nothing.” She reached across Sunset and took Toma’s hand. Sunset reached across him and grabbed his other hand. His eyes went big when she took it and squeezed it tight.

Kuroko continued. “Friends, Toma. We both like Mikoto, and want to protect her. And we both want to protect our other friends as well. We’re friends. It’s what we do,” Kuroko squeezed his hand again, then let go.

Toma’s eyes went big. “You mean that, Kuroko? Friends?” he asked.

Kuroko turned back to her sister, leaning into the hug. “I sure do,” she promised. She grabbed Toma’s hand again as it headed back to its previous battlestation. She pulled it close to her heart, pulling Toma closer to her and Sunset in the process. “Friends,” she smiled.

Toma was pulled tightly against Sunset with his hand clasped in Kuroko’s against her chest held tightly to her bosom. He smiled though his eyes were still screwed shut.

“Friends. I like that,” Toma conceded. “Yes. We are definitely friends,” he agreed while holding tightly to the hands of his two friends. His head was leaned back and his eyes were still shut. But he was smiling. “We are friends.”

Stiyl turned to them, one eye open and grinning. “I think that was sweeter than even the dessert we had tonight. I may be a little sick from the overdose later,” he snarked.

Sunset, head back and eyes closed, enjoying the moment of peace with two of her dear friends, responded. “Shuddup you!”

They all laughed and enjoyed the moment.

The door propped open a crack, Twilight let out a little squee of delight. Behind her, the girls grinned happily. Index was smiling ear to ear. “I want in! Let’s go!” She started to slip out of her habit.

Twilight turned and pulled Index into her. She quietly closed the door. “Not yet, Index. Let’s let them have this moment. We can jump into the spa in a bit,” she answered. She led the girls back over to the den. They sat on the couch and waited.

A few minutes later, Toma and Stiyl appeared in the bathroom doorway, towels wrapped around their waist and clothes baskets in hand.

“What are you waiting for, girls? I thought you were all going to come in and join us?” Stiyl teased, holding the door open. The girls laughed and rushed into the bathroom past him.

“Thank you, Stiyl-san!” said Mikoto happily as she dashed past him and over to the stools. The girls started stripping down and washing so they could join their friends.

Stiyl grinned and turned away, “And that’s our queue to leave. Enjoy yourselves, girls,” he said as he let Twilight pass and moved to shut the door.

“Yeah. Some of us are not as, let’s call it adventurous? As adventurous as our friends,” grinned Twilight as they passed. “Thanks for thinking of us, though,” she snarked. She shut the door behind her. Stiyl grinned and followed Toma into the bedroom to get dressed.

Twilight stripped down and placed her clothes in the basket by her stool. She sat, rinsed, and began washing like the others. One final rinse later, she joined Sunset and the girls in the spa.

“Well, aren’t we the adventurous ones,” she grinned at Sunset and Kuroko. She sat down next to them. Kuroko was still leaning back, snuggled into her big sister's hug, smiling contently.

Just then, Index dove across the spa, landing in Twilight’s lap. She wrapped her arms around Twilight and buried her face on her shoulder. “I love you guys!” Index laughed. Twilight grinned and pulled her into a hug.

“We love you too, Index!” she smiled, rubbing the girl’s back. Index just smiled and hugged her tighter.

Sunset smiled at her friend. “Looks like you have a fan,” she teased with a happy smile.

“Not a fan. She’s family. Just like you all are,” smiled Twilight, hugging Index tighter. She smiled and looked into Index’s eyes. “Isn’t that right, Index?” Twilight grinned. Index nodded happily, smiling adorably.

Sunset squeed quietly. “Sweet Celestia, you two are adorable!” Sunset chirped.

Twilight just smiled as she continued to gently rub Index’s back.

Kuroko beamed. She was still leaning into her sister and happily hanging onto her arm as she sat snuggled up against Sunset. Sunset looked over and saw the other girls looking at them with huge grins and wide eyes.

“Does that mean we are family too?” asked Mikoto hopefully.

“Absolutely, positively, 100%” agreed Sunset with a happy grin. “Always. You girls are forever a part of our family.

The door to the end stall opened and Kaori stepped out. She walked over to a stool, stripped and scrubbed, then entered the spa in order to join the girls. Smiling at her friends, she grinned. “Mama bears,” she smirked then leaned back to enjoy the warm water.

Sunset smiled. “Don’t you know it,” she grinned. “I wondered where you went. I didn’t see you come in.”

“Nature called. I answered,” Kaori answered simply. “Enough said.”

Sunset nodded. “Say no more. Glad you are here,” she agreed.

Twilight grinned. “And yes, you are family too.”

Kaori smiled back at her. “Likewise,” she answered. She closed her eyes. “It’s so nice to have somewhere to go where I can feel completely safe. Thank you,” she stated.

“Agreed!” nodded Sunset. “Thank you for inviting us into your life. None of this would have happened without you and Stiyl.”

“I should be thanking you,” nodded Kaori. “But, you're welcome. I’m happy we met.”

“Me too,” agreed Twilight, still rubbing Index’s back. Index had her eyes closed, happily basking in Twilight’s love.

The girls just sat there grinning, soaking in the moment. “Best friends ever!” sighed Mikoto. The other girls nodded in happy agreement.

An hour later, Sunset and Twilight led their now pruned friends out of the spa. They wrapped themselves up in towels, grabbed their clothes baskets, and moved en masse to the bedroom.

“Everyone, I kept the pajamas we used before in the middle drawer. Pick your’s out and get dressed, then we can join the boys for movie night,” Twilight informed them. Twilight tossed Sunset her PJs and grabbed her own. “Leave your clothes in the basket. We’ll wash them up for tomorrow.”

Sunset shimmied into her PJs, then grabbed her bathroom bag, rolling out the door. “Be right back!” she called out.

“Meet you in the den when you’re done!” called out Twilight as she left. Twilight finished adjusting the pull over shirt to her PJs and turned to the girls. “Ready Freddy?” she asked.

They were all dressed for bed and ready to go. “Ready Freddy!” they called out. Together they marched into the den, where the boys were waiting, already dressed in their bed clothes.

Toma smiled at Index, who had opted for a long white robe for her bed clothes. “It’s so you, Index,” he snarked. She punched his arm, laughed, and sat down between him and Stiyl. They put their arms around her, grinning.

Sunset rolled up to the door. “So, does anyone want a snack to start out? Drinks? And what movie are we watching?”

All the girls called out their snack preference, drink preference, and choice for movie. At the same time. Repeatedly. Sunset smiled, face in her hand, laughing. “Okay, that one’s on me. Not sure what else I expected with this crowd.”

She started over. “One at a time, please. Just tell me what you want to drink. Bear in mind we mostly just have sodas,” Sunset instructed.

Staring from the closest end of the couch, they took turns requesting their drinks. “Awesome. That was much better,” nodded Sunset. “Okay. I will go get those while Twilight helps you figure out what to watch.” She grinned at her BFF. “Good luck!”

Twilight smirked. “So that’s what the underside of a bus looks like!” she teased. “Thanks, Sunny!”

“Anytime, Sparky!” Sunset waved as she headed out to the kitchen to get the drinks.

“Alright everyone. One at a time, tell me the movie you want to see. When we’ve all made our suggestions, we will vote on them, and the winner will be what we watch. Kuroko, you start,” Twilight instructed.

While they sorted out the rest of the evening’s entertainment, Sunset started popping corn for them to munch on, as well as some bowls of chips and dips. She also included a box of cold pizza for Index, knowing exactly what she would be looking for. She gathered everyone’s drinks then placed them, and the snacks, into a large basket. When the last of the popcorn was finished, she added that to the pile as well and rolled back into the den. “Snacks and sodas. Special delivery!” she called out. Sunset put the snacks out on the coffee table in front of the couch then passed out the drinks to their requestors. As expected, Index pulled the box of cold pizza into her lab and started in on it. Several of the girls opened the popcorn bags. They ate them and shared them with those beside them.

“So, what movie are we watching?” Sunset asked, taking her place at the end of the couch next to Twilight.

Twilight entered the movie selection as she answered Sunset. “By the democratic process of nomination and election, we are watching StarWars The Phantom Menace. It was the only movie nominated to get more than two votes,” explained Twilight.

“Good choice,” agreed Sunset, moving one of the bowls of chips and a bowl of dip closer to her on the table. She dipped a chip in and ate it. She took a sip of her black cherry soda.

The movie started. Everyone was snacking and enjoying each other’s company.

Midway through the movie, Sunset started. “What in the name of harmony?” she muttered. She pulled out her phone and queued up the app that connected to the nanny cams in the girls’ apartment.

Twilight turned to her friend. “What’s up?” she whispered, trying not to interrupt the others watching the movie.

“I just got pinged by the sensors in the apartment. Someone entered and looked around. I would have just figured it was the concierge dropping something off, but I got a weird vibe at the same time. I don’t see anyone there now, so looking back through the recorded footage,” Sunset explained quietly.

In the girls apartment there was a flash of light. When the light faded, there was a hooded young woman crouched, a ceremonial sacrificial dagger grasped in each hand. Her eyes swept the dark room, searching for any sign of movement or life.

Seeing nothing, she quickly darted into the kitchen, then each of the bedrooms and the bathroom. Finding no one, she raised her wrist to her face. “There’s no one here. Looks like I missed them. Heading back now,” she hissed.

With a flash of light, she disappeared.

Watching the footage, Sunset’s face blanched. “Sonofabitch!” she swore softly. “How in the hell did she get past the wards? No one, besides us, should be able to teleport into our apartment!” she hissed. She turned towards Twilight, setting her almost empty soda down on the table in front of her. “I’ll be right back. I need to check our wards and see if our guest left any surprises,” she whispered to Twilight. Twilight nodded.

Sunset rolled quietly out of the den and into the control room. With a flash of Teal, she disappeared.

And reappeared in their apartment. She called out, “Lights on, please.” The apartment lights came on as she wheeled around, looking for anything suspicious. She shut her eyes, allowing her magical senses to permeate the apartment, scanning for anything suspicious or out of place. Sensing nothing, she turned her attention to the wards that were supposed to protect her and Twilight from exactly this kind of nonsense. The wards were all still in place and functioned perfectly.

“Son of a bitch! How the hell did she get in here then? All magical teleports in and out are blocked, except for Twilight and myself,” she groused to herself, looking around. Seeing nothing out of place, Sunset called the concierge on her phone.

“Pardon the late night request, but did you see anyone coming up to our floor or apartment out of the ordinary? I only ask because our security system just alerted me that someone broke in and I have video of a young woman in a robe skulking around our apartment,” explained Sunset.

“No. No one has come or gone on the penthouse floor since your guests arrived,” answered the concierge. “The only thing out of the ordinary is three guests arrived with arrangements for special accommodations on the floor below yours. They weren’t wearing robes or anything though. They just looked like a bunch of continental tourists.”

“Can you ring them up and see if they are still here? If they are, maybe I can ask them some questions. They might have seen something suspicious,” requested Sunset.

Hai! Give me a minute. I will check it out,” confirmed the concierge. Sunset thanked her and hung up.

A few minutes later, there was a knock at her door. “Who is it?” Sunset asked the intercom.

“It is me, the concierge,” came the answer. “You might want to see this. Can you come with me?”

Hai! Coming,” answered Sunset. She rolled to the door and opened it. The concierge led her back to the elevator. The door shut and locked behind Sunset as she followed.

“Dumb question,” asked Sunset. “Do you ever sleep? I swear you are here every time I call. I know about job loyalty, but dang!”

The concierge laughed. “You have no idea how often we get asked that question!” she grinned.

We?” questioned Sunset. The elevator door opened. The concierge led Sunset over to one of the apartment doors, and entered her combination on the keypad. The door opened, and they entered.

“My sisters and I,” she explained. “We’re triplets. We each work a shift so there is always someone on call if something is needed.”

Sunset laughed, groaned, and rolled her eyes. “I’m an idiot. Of course! Sorry for asking!” She apologized.

The concierge laughed. “No worries. Happy to explain it. I’m actually kind of impressed you took so long to ask. Most people blurt the question out within days of meeting us.” She moved into one of the bedrooms. Sunset rolling in behind her. “This is what I wanted to show you. What can you make of this? Clearly the girls are no longer here, and given that they never actually left, they must have made a hasty retreat some other way.”

Sunset looked around the room. Take out food boxes were thrown on the beds. Other than that, and the lingering magical stench of dark magic, there was no sign anyone had been here. “Yeah. I bet it was them. I sense dark magic here, and the lingering traces of a teleport. One sec. Let me see if I can trace it back.” She shut her eyes, following the trace of the teleport through the ether to its exit point. Projecting her senses past the exit, she came out of it in a field in front of a large manor. She could see the burned outline of a Phoenix surrounding the property.

Her eyes shot open, glowing completely white. “Son of a bitch!” she swore. “God help them if I get my hands on them!”

“Ms. Shimmer, are you alright?” asked the concierge in concern.

Sunset’s eyes returned to their normal color, and she turned to the concierge. “It was them. It was the same damned coven that tried to kill Twilight before. That’s why she had the knives in the video. Bitch was coming to finish the job they started before. This means war.”

“War, Ms. Shimmer? Now? Really? Should I alert the authorities?” asked the concierge in concern.

Sunset nodded. “Tell whomever you have to. No one threatens myself or my friends. They have signed their own death warrants.”

The concierge paled. “Certainly, Ms. Shimmer. Please let us know if you need anything. Meanwhile I will keep you apprised of the authorities' response.”

Sunset nodded. “Thank you! I think I’ve seen enough. I’m going to join Twilight and inform her of what we found.”

“Very good, Ms. Shimmer,” the concierge agreed. “Where shall I say you are going?”

Looking around, Sunset sighed. “Probably better if you don’t ask. Not feeling exactly safe saying anything around here. If you need me, call me. I will have my phone on me at all times.”

The concierge nodded. “As you wish, Ms. Shimmer.”

Sunset nodded her thanks, and disappeared in a flash of Teal.

And reappeared in the bunker control room. She wheeled out to Twilight, who was waiting for her at the table. Index sounded asleep in her arms.

“So what did you find out?” asked Twilight quietly as Sunset rolled up next to her.

“It was that damned coven again. They came back to finish the job. They used a psychic teleport to get into the apartment from the floor below. They must have used charms similar to the ones we found in the assassins office to use both psychic powers and magical powers without killing themselves.” She turned to Twilight. “The bitch had two sacrificial daggers with her. Clearly she intended to finish what they started,” she growled. “I know it was them because they used a magical teleport from the bedroom of the apartment they were in below us. I tracked it back to their damned coven.”

Twilight blanched. “Damn. So good thing we got to the bunker.”

“Yeah. Very good thing,” agreed Sunset. “I hesitate to think what she might have done to the girls or mages, or Toma, once she realized she was outmatched against us.”

Twilight gulped. “Yeah. Very good thing,” she agreed. “So, next step?”

“Next step, we stay here and enjoy the rest of our weekend. No way in hell they have the power to track us here. Here we are safe,” sighed Sunset. “Don’t tell the girls. It would just freak them out. We can fill in Kaori and Stiyl later.”

Twilight nodded. “Good plan. Okay, let's head back in and watch the rest of the movie. Don’t want to seem too suspicious.”

Sunset nodded and followed Twilight back into the den where they took their places and watched the end of the movie.

“Did you see her? Were you able to track where she came from?” asked a very nervous witch, looking over her associate’s shoulder into the scrying portal she was maintaining.

“Ssh! Trying to concentrate!” growled her fellow witch in frustration. She muttered an incantation. Her eyes went milky white, as she mumbled, staring into the portal. With a snap, she closed her eyes. When they were opened, they were normal again. She turned to her fellow witch with a grin.

“Found them!” she cackled. “She apparated out right in front of the portal. I was able to track her back to her destination. They’re on Mars!”

Movie ended, Sunset and Twilight moved the girls into the extra bedroom, tucking the still sleeping Index into bed with them.

“Ah. I want to sleep with you guys,” whined Kuroko. “I love it when we all snuggle together.”

“Not tonight girls, Twilight and I need some alone time,” answered Sunset honestly. “Maybe another night.”

“Ah man. Now I really want to be with you guys!” complained Kuroko.

At the same time, both Twilight and Sunset looked at Kuroko askance. “Boundaries, Kuroko!” they both said at the same time. They looked at each other, then both shrugged.

Still grumbling, Kuroko climbed into bed with her friends. Twilight and Sunset left, closing the door. They entered their bedroom to find Toma, Kaori, and Stiyl sitting on their bed waiting.

“Okay. Spill. What’s up?” asked Karoi in concern.

“Noticed, did you?” commented Sunset. The mages and Toma all nodded their ascent.

“An assassin from the same coven that tried to kill Twilight last time teleported into the apartment. She had two knives, and looked pretty intent on finishing what they had started. When she didn’t find us, she teleported out,” informed Sunset.

“I thought you used the spells we taught you to ward the apartment! There’s no way they should have been able to get in,” commented Kaori.

“We did. They didn’t apparate. They used psychic teleportation,” answered Twilight. “Apparently they were staying in the apartment below us so range would not be an issue.”

“How?” asked Stiyl, confused. “Any mage trying to use psychic powers like that should drop dead from the effects.”

“Apparently, they used charms like the ones we originally found in the assassin’s apartment. Charms that negate the negative effects of psychic power on magical users,” continued Sunset.

“Holy hell! That’s a thing? I thought you said those were experimental and didn’t work right?” blanched Stiyl.

“Apparently they figured it out,” Sunset confirmed. “She clearly used one, and didn’t seem to be suffering any ill effects from using a psychic teleport. She was clearly using scrying magic while she searched the apartment. I think we have to assume those are a thing now.”

“Damn. That complicates things considerably,” noted Kaori. “So what are your plans for now?”

“There’s no way they can follow us here. We stay put, and follow our original plans for the weekend. We get some rest, go on with our exploration tomorrow, and wait for the authorities to contact us. We can go over whatever footage of the assassin group they find and make plans from there,” answered Sunset.

“Okay. There it is then. I’m heading to bed. I want to be rested for tomorrow,” Kaori stretched.

Stiyl nodded. “Ditto,” he said. “Come on, Toma. Let’s get some sleep.” The two of them left to return to their room.

Kaori moved over to the second bed in the room, and hopped into it, pulling the covers up. “You don’t mind if I stay with you tonight, do you? I told the guys they could have the room.”

Sunset smirked. “No, Kaori. We don’t mind. Good night.” She wheeled over to her side of the bed, and transferred in. Twilight climbed into her side of the bed and snuggled up with her BFF. Sunset turned the lights off from her phone.

“Hey, you two aren’t going to keep me up all night with your, um… passion, are you?” teased Kaori in the dark from her bed.

Good night, Kaori!” Sunset growled from her bed. Twilight laughed. Everyone drifted off to sleep.

Author's Note:

And the plot thickens. So the coven now knows where the girls are hidden. I don’t see this going well for the girls.
And Sunset is a stinker.