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Messages - Cherry Lover

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1
Sakura and Shirou

The two of them looked at Breeze with utter bemusement, wondering what the hell she was talking about. Sakura, being good at hiding her feelings, was mostly able to avoid giving any indication of her thoughts, but the look on Shirou's face made it clear that he thought she was a moron.

Deciding to be polite, Sakura was about to answer her extremely-stupid question, only to be interrupted by the other girl who, to their astonishment, went on to actually claim that a "sakura" was, in fact, a species, of which the girl presumably thought she was a member. This time, even Sakura couldn't hide her astonishment, a look of surprise and confusion coming over her face. An entire species named after her, made up of people who, presumably, all looked similar to her? Was she in one of Rider's fantasies or something?

Before she could react, though, the girl contined to speak, giving her a funny look before questioning Sakura's decision to marry her beloved Senpai. Sakura gave the girl an annoyed look in response, unhappy at hearing anyone question her Senpai's suitability as a husband and confused as to why she would have an issue with the idea. Was it some weird cultural restriction where this "Mary" girl was from, perhaps?

"Why wouldn't I be?" she asked, obviously a little annoyed and very confused. "He's perfect in every way, why wouldn't I have married him? And what's wrong with marrying a senpai, anyway?"

"And what do you mean about Sakura being a species?" she added, even more confused. "Are there more of you? And do you all look like me?"

Shirou, meanwhile, turned to the other girl, now wedged into the alternate Sakura's thighs, a look of total bemusement on his face.

"Y..yes, there do seem to be a lot of girls who look like Sakura around", he said. "I bought a pet from one a few months ago. And Rider says that she's seen a few more Sakuras around, too", he replied.

2
Sakura and Shirou

To their surprise, the Sakura look-a-like turned to them and waved, calling them over enthusiastically. Sakura looked at her curiously, wondering what was going on and why she was dressed in such an unusual way.

"Senpai, she's waving at us", she said to Shirou, "I think we should go over and talk to her."

With that, the two of them headed towards the two girls, clearly confused.

"Hello", she said, politely, as she looked over the tall girl with confusion. "I'm Sakura, and this is my husband, Shirou."

3
Sakura and Shirou

Dressed in a summer dress and shorts and a T-shirt, respectively, Sakura and Shirou headed out to the supermarket. Over the last three months, they had found a new house, one with a room for their newly-adopted daughter, Red, as well as another room for Rider which Moko also sometimes slept in, so money was a little tight and they needed to shop at the cheaper supermarket for the ingredients for the delicious dinner they intended to make.

As they entered the shop, though, they saw something unusual. There was a rather oddly-dressed girl looking at a machine which made tags for collars but, even more weirdly, next to her was a girl who looked very similar to Sakura, only much taller and with her legs seemingly replaced by metal needles.

4
Sakura and Shirou

Sakura waited for her phone to stop ringing, before entering the girl's number into her phone book, using the name "Ellie" just as the girl had suggested.

"Sure, we'll ring you if anything comes up. And, please, feel free to ring us whenever you need help", she replied, before putting her phone back in her pocket.

"OK, we're going to go now", Shirou added. "Goodbye!"

With that, the two of them turned to walk away.

5
Sakura and Shirou

Smiling, Sakura took the phone and entered her number, along with the name "Sakura". Then, she handed it back.

"OK, can you ring me?" she said. "That way I can get your number as well."

6
Sakura and Shirou

Sakura looked at the girl with confusion.

"Don't you have a mobile phone?" she asked, getting out her phone as she spoke. "Or even a landline?"

"If not, then I'm not sure how we could contact you in a hurry. I suppose I could send a familiar to stay at yours and signal when I need to talk, or I could send Rider over with a message, she can move very fast and I can talk to her telepathically. Other than that I'm not really sure, we don't have any easy method of magical communication."

7
Sakura and Shirou

Sakura smiled back at the girl.

"I suppose it is, sort-of", she said. "It's not the name she was born with, but it's the only name anyone other than me and Shirou know her by."

Sakura paused for a moment, wondering how to explain Rider's nature to the girl.

"Rider is what is known as a 'servant'", she added, finally. "She's a powerful spiritual being who was summoned to aid me. I provide her with the magical energy she needs to survive in this world and, in return, she protects me and Shirou."

8
Sakura and Shirou

The two of them listened to the girl's explanation with interest. It seemed like she was some kind of spiritual figure, a little like Rider had been in life, with the personality to match. Since they were allies, they saw no reason for her to lie, so they were happy to agree to her wish.

"It's fine, we don't need you to prove yourself, you have no reason to lie", Sakura said with a smile. "And you're right, I don't think rushing in and attacking this woman with brute force is likely to work. Fortunately, though, Senpai is good at sniping. And Rider is good at skirmishing, too, although she can hit very hard if she needs to."

9
Sakura and Shirou

The two of them pondered her question for a moment, before Shirou spoke up.

"Well, back home we dealt with whoever was necessary, so we could protect and save people", he said. "Here, though, the strongest supernaturals are simply too strong for us, so we've been bounty-hunting, and helping where we could", he said, clearly a little embarrassed and downbeat about his inability to deal with the most powerful enemies.

"Now that we have Rider, though, we can take on stronger targets. And Senpai's magic means that he can ambush people who are a lot stronger than we are in a straight fight", Sakura added, her admiration of Shirou clear.

"But, still, you're right, we need to be cautious. I'm not sure even Rider could defeat this woman", she finished. "We need to plan and see if we can find a weakness. And try to stop her killing anyone else, if we can."

10
Sakura and Shirou

Shirou sighed at the girl's reply. If the other woman had raised her sword, then their target's response could easily have been justified self-defence. Equally, though, it may not have been, especially if the woman was strong enough to just shrug off the attack. Without seeing what happened in more detail, they had no way of knowing, and he was certainly not willing to just assume the worst and kill someone who may be innocent. Besides, if she was as powerful as she seemed, it was unlikely that they could easily defeat her anyway. They needed to do more research before they could have any reasonable chance of victory.

"If she raised her weapon first, then are you sure the target's response wasn't self-defence?" Shirou asked, rather undiplomatically. "I don't want to rush in and attack someone who may be innocent, even if her behaviour so far has been suspicious."

Sighing, Sakura immediately added her part, covering-up for Shirou's bluntness.

"Besides, regardless of guilt, I do not think we would stand a chance if we went against her now. We know too little about her, and her magical signature suggests that she is extremely powerful. We do have a very strong ally of our own, who will support us without question, but even her magical energy pales in comparison to our target's", she replied.

"We need to observe her, find out more information and plan our attack", Sakura continued. "And, as you say, find some more allies. If there was someone else there then we should definitely try to find them. They could shed more light on what happened, and they may be willing to assist us. And, sorry, but if this 'Neptune' is as strong as you say, then we need her help too, or at least we need to try. We cannot afford to be ignoring potential allies."

Sakura pondered for a moment, considering other possible allies, before recalling the group she had fought alongside some time back.

"I do have a few other allies I could perhaps call on", she said. "We'll just have to see who we can find, and if she attracts any attention from others."

Shirou then spoke up.

"Yeah, there was a girl I fought alongside, too", he said. "I'm not sure she's too interested in fighting without a reward, though...."

11
Sakura and Shirou

The two of them looked up at the ship as they awaited the girl's answer, only to notice what looked like a comet fly off the ship and off into the distance. Wondering what it was, they waited for the girl to report what her spirits had seen, becoming somewhat concerned at the way the girl began to twitch with anger, before her report confirmed the worst.

Hearing her words, Shirou too began to tense up, a mixture of anger, horror and sadness gripping him at the revelation that an innocent person had just been murdered. Seeing his reaction, Sakura hugged him from behind, attempting to soothe him. Nevertheless, whilst she was less affected than him, she was still obviously upset at the news, a sad look coming over her face.

Seeing and even feeling the girl's anger, Shirou could fully sympathise with her desire to punish the perpetrator. He was livid at the thought of someone murdering an innocent and getting away with it. Sakura, however, was a little more thoughtful. Whilst she too was concerned and upset, she felt they needed more information. For all they knew, perhaps the person who had been attacked had provoked her.

Before they could react, however, the girl spoke again, informing them that the person had not, in fact, died after all. Instantly, Shirou's body lost its tension, the horror and sadness he felt disappearing along with some of the anger. Nevertheless, he was still very concerned and a little angry at the manner in which their target had almost killed someone. Letting out a relieved sigh, he spoke.

"Well, I'm glad to hear that they survived but, nevertheless, our target's actions worry me. If she is left unchecked, she might kill more people", he said. "She needs to be stopped."

"Senpai", Sakura said, sighing, "shouldn't we find out a bit more first? We don't know her motives or reasoning at all. And, if we are going to attack her, we need to plan carefully, she seems like she is strong."

"Yes, you're right, Sakura", Shirou responded, before turning to their companion. "If what you are saying is correct, then we would be happy to help you, but we need to get more information first. Was the target provoked? And, if we do fight, we will need to know more about her abilities before we do, and perhaps gain more allies."

12
Sakura and Shirou

Sakura and Shirou listened to the girl's explanation with interest before watching her take out a chalk and begin what looked like a summoning ritual, using her earring as a catalyst. They had expected her to summon some kind of animal, like they had summoned their servants but, to their surprise, no spirit arrived, the only evidence that anything had occurred the disappearance of the earring.

"Did it work?" Shirou asked, curiously. "Where is the spirit?"

13
Sakura and Shirou

Neither Sakura nor Shirou fully understood what the girl was talking about but, nevertheless, they understood enough to realise what her plan was. And, whilst they didn't know whether it would work, they saw no real reason not to attempt it. Even if the spirits were detected, they likely couldn't be traced back to them.

"Yes, that would be fine", Shirou said with a smile. "What do you think, Sakura?"

"Yes, it seems like a good plan to me", she replied.

"Although, if she does detect the spirits, is there any way she could trace them back to you? If there is then it could be dangerous, otherwise the worst that can happen is the spirits get blown up", she added.

"Yes, I agree", Shirou replied. "If she can trace them then we need to consider it carefully, if not then I don't see any issue as long as you're fine with the possibility of her destroying the birds."

14
Sakura and Shirou

To Sakura's annoyance, just as she'd got the familiar in position, their target decided to make a move, but not before making a disturbing comment about preparing a "grand entrance". Fortunately, though, from their position Shirou had been able to follow her movement, seeing her head up in the sky towards a weird-looking pirate ship flying above them.

"Follow her, of course", Shirou said, pointing up at the ship. "She's the one with the mana signature, and the one who blew up Sakura's familiar. Not to mention the 'grand entrance'. I don't know what that means, but it doesn't sound good."

"Yes, same. I don't know what it is, but it's probably not going to be good for anyone in her vicinity. We have to find out what she's planning, and stop it if necessary", Sakura added.

Unfortunately, though, my familiars can't fly, so I can't get them up to that ship. Can you hear what they're saying?"

15
Sakura and Shirou

"Sorry, I thought you were talking about spirit familiars", Sakura responded.

"Also, what do you mean by 'native spirits'?" Sakura asked, curious. "Do you mean that you can talk to the spirits of animals that might be in the room? If so, that might  be useful."

As they were talking, they headed to the location, whilst Sakura made sure her stealthy familiar got into place, as far from the target as she could manage whilst still able to spy on her effectively. As they arrived, the girl began to focus, and so the two of them remained silent, Sakura spying on the target via her familiar whilst Shirou watched over the entrance with his reinforced eyes to see if he could see anything.

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