Chapter 33:

The Princess' Assignment - Part 3


“An army, ay? Now that’s interestin’, fox lady.” Anna smirked dangerously at the proposal she was almost charging at. “Is it an army of dolls by any chance? We had a small encounter with some of 'em a while back...”

“It's possible, but I'm unsure yet. I know that there’s a huge group of enemies somewhere and that we have to find them.” Minako continued without reacting to the inquisitor’s hook. “I also know your help will be paramount to our success.”

“Are you sure about that, Ms. Chiron? These two seem much more useful AFTER we find this army of yours...” Karim intervened in a worried tone that wanted to avoid blowing up the city if possible.

“Hey! I’ll have ya know that my investigation skills are top-notch, ay?! I’m not some loose cannon or somethin’…”

“That's exactly what you fucking are though,” Col said in between her sips of tea. “A bloody loose cannon with enough punch to level a blocker or two.”

“I’m talking about you both, by the way.”

“And I agree with you. We THREE are fucking useless as investigators if you consider everything.”

“That’s…! That’s true too…” Karim sucked up her complaints as she too wasn’t that useful at finding things. “A negotiator, a brawler, and a ticking time bomb aren’t the best team possible for this, right?”

“I understand your worry, but it’s not needed." Minako cut the two other girls with a sure note in her voice. "What if we say that I got less help than I expected and any extra support will be helpful? Would that be enough to avoid your worries?”


“There’s no still, partner! This job seems interestin’, so we doin’ it, ‘kay?” Annabeth cut her partner’s words short and went directly to closing the deal. “Any leads fer us? I ain't sure yer other foxes got somethin' after all this while.”

The blondie by Anna’s side seemed very unhappy with the situation while the brunette didn’t care anymore, or seemed to not at least. How the five-tailed fox could keep her cool against the trio's chaos was more interesting anyway.

Be it they playing around or straight-up fighting, she wouldn’t bat an eye on them at all. Annabeth was even starting to consider that this kitsune had some way to know that they were just trying to keep their real interest hidden.

The redhead wasn’t that sure if the others were playing along, but it would work for her either way.

Playing in a serious situation and seeing how the host would react could make wonders when trying to gather information. Minako seemed invulnerable to that though. All she did after hearing all that was finish her tea, set the cup aside, and then continue as if nothing had happened.

“I won’t bother to explain what we’re doing since you left the meeting for no reason, but I guess you already understood what is happening, right?”

“Yer right on that. Seein’ a bunch of foxes workin’ with the grunts brought some suspicion, and then we found those two fightin’ later, so...” Anna explained in a nonchalant way. “Ain't sure if they were lookin’ fer somethin’ or sealin’ somethin’, but it’s sure they found what they shouldn’t. It’s either that or someone was tryin’ to test me and the gals ‘ere.”

This question was half to show what she knew and half to test out what Minako would and wouldn’t disclose. Anna was getting suspicious of something about this kitsune, but she needed more to be sure. She also had to gather clues about their main job, so talking like this would help too.

"Listenin' yer li'l ideas would be real helpful fer us. We in the same side, ain't we?" She continued asking with the same kind of tone. The wild glint in her golden eye could hardly be called something more than an invitation to a brawl, so there was that too.

“I do have a theory about what happened there, but we can’t be sure before the two wake up.”

“Would you care about sharing? Annabeth would surely exchange what she knows for what you do...” Karim suddenly added to the talk even if the person who should pay said agreement was yet to answer. "We also have an artifact you would be interested in."

Talking like this awarded the petite negotiator a glare that was answered by some nods and a silent discussion. It eventually ended with Anna sighing at the situation and resigning to going with her partner’s plan for now.

“She’s right. We can share a li'l bit if ya wanna. A fair exchange, by my honor even.”

“In this case… Let me explain to you a little about our coming ‘festival’...” The shrine maiden opened her speech before starting her long explanation.

Enough time for the slow drinker known as Colette to ask for seconds passed after this with Minako going through many pieces of information.

No exact numbers and no locations were given to them, but the whole of the operation was explained.

It started with how shrine maidens from the main temple were called under the pretense of a new national festival. Only the ones with fighting skills were around, but their main objective was sealing or collecting the artifacts.

Some of them were left patrolling the main streets and keeping the temple safe though. It was why the whole area was devoid of civilians and full of pressure.

She also explained that all this was being done behind the scenes only with limited help from Louise to not cause much trouble. Dealing with the storing of the stone pieces seemed to be troublesome, but they were safe for now.

And finally, how the five-tailed kitsune herself was the one who got the tip about the big something hidden in the city. Something that would soon start its own attack in search of whatever her maidens were looking for even.

“It’ll be another Aurora’s Day if we let it start, but I don’t have the right information or the manpower to deal with it.” She concluded with a heavier tone in her voice. “And that’s where the irregulars like you three enter.”

"So that’s what they decided back there...” Karim commented while still digesting everything. “I’ll ask a summary for auntie later.”

“Pretty sure ya should’ve done so right after the thingy, but who am I to say somethin’, ‘aight?”

“Maybe you three should try to stay around next time.” The dark-haired kitsune continued with a fed-up tone this time. “I could’ve talked with you earlier if it wasn’t for that and it would be easier to pass information around too. Having to report this conversation later will be very time-consuming.”

“Ya don’t need to worry ‘bout that, y'know? Shorty ‘ere can do it fer ya when she visits there, can't ya, shorty?”

“Yes, I can do it…” Karim answered while slightly bothered by the extra work. “The meetings will be harder with these two though.”

“I’ll leave it to you then. Do what you have to and don’t worry about the priests, got it? As far as I’m concerned, you three will have full authority to investigate.” Minako nodded in agreement but rapidly changed her expression to a more serious one. “Now, about your side…”

She was clearly talking about the information sharing now and it was almost amusing how she had trusted Anna’s words enough to tell them all that before receiving anything. And that was without even talking about the blank order she gave them.

Luckily for the fox girl, this one inquisitor would never tarnish her honor for something minor like this.

“Oh, ‘aight, my side…” She said before rummaging around her shoulder bag for a while. “’Ere, take it.”

And then, while collecting, to Col’s dismal, all cups around the trio and moving them closer to their owner Annabeth, she threw the stone gear she had retrieved to the chief maiden. It just went past her position and through the paper wall though as Minako was unable to react in time.

The only reaction to it was to have everyone else stare in confusion at her.

“What was that?”

“That was one of the artifacts yer lookin' fer.”

“And why you threw it?”

“Because I was sure ya would take it.”

“That was a stupid idea.”

”Yes, that was.” Anna continued while moving to fix the tools in their places and keeping her gaze locked on the shrine maiden. “I’ll leave this ‘ere and go away now…”

And with a last small nod at the now awkward room, Anna turned around and fled through the stairs.

Her fleeing was very slow though, so her two companions didn’t have much of a hard time following.