November 14, 2015.
There had been no sign of the Fugitive all day.
Not even a glance of a sunglasses-wearing man who would have been lumbering around in a semi-panic with one fist clenched all the time.
For once, Mami was relieved.
She had been part of the Resurrection Movement's outing to The Castle last year, and would have expected him to send the team out on another
at this time of year. However, after Mami's last major confrontation with the Fugitive, there had been no word of an investigative mission to The Castle. Or at least nothing that
was broadcast through the walkie-talkie on her hip suggested that there would be one.
It didn't help that Mami had a good idea of the Fugitive's in-person identity for a year and a half.
Although Mami glimpsed a few of her old friends-- including Dell and Madoka-- in the halls throughout the day, they didn't seem to be under
the usual casually-given Fugitive orders. Mami even saw the other Nagisa, the swimmer boy, holding what seemed to be a plastic blue flame over his left eye for Serah, the girl who
had slapped her reluctant ally Homura in the face nearly two years ago.
But Mami didn't give any of those meetings a second thought, no matter how peculiar they were. She couldn't bring herself to confront any of
It was almost 7:00 pm. Mami had looked at a clock on her way into one of the twin stairwells that connected The Castle's central foyer to the
front hall. As she rounded the corner into the hall, Mami saw a group of people waiting outside one of the rooms. Among the group were Dell and Madoka.
Dell suddenly turned his hard-hatted head toward Mami and saw her through his goggles.
"Ma'am?" spoke Dell.
Mami quickly ducked back into the stairwell.
"Is something wrong?" asked Madoka.
"Nope. Nothing," muttered Dell.
As Mami overheard the brief conversation, her eyebrows scrunched into a glare at no one before resolving into a droop. She looked back into
the path leading into the central foyer, making sure no one else was in the area, before proceeding through.
* * *
Later, Mami returned to the stairwell, this time with Homura, who was in her magical girl outfit. Mami had made sure that Homura did not have
the particular sleek hair that shone a faint purple in the light; that was a sure indicator of the Second-Homura who had seen the Fugitive's suicide in an alternate future and was
more loyal to him.
But it had taken a while for Mami to even find the Homura she personally knew. It was never this hard for her to find Homura, as they spent
more time together than usual.
"What are you getting at?" grumbled Homura. She seemed annoyed at having been dragged into this.
Mami tapped a few buttons on her walkie-talkie. Just as she turned it on, she and Homura heard the authoritative yet soft voice of a young
woman being broadcast through it.
"I wouldn't say we're on good terms now, but..."
It was Kurisu, the woman who used one of Medic's mediguns and was one of the two anomalies who were affected by Stocking's swords. But it
sounded as though Kurisu wasn't in the room with them. Instead, her voice was being put through a video conference call probably being projected in the room.
"It'd be more fun if we all got along when we're together," continued Kurisu.
"You think so, huh?" asked Madoka.
Homura couldn't help but smile to herself upon hearing Madoka's voice over the walkie-talkie, despite the circumstances they were in. A glare
from Mami snapped Homura out of it.
"Okabe and I were saying earlier," continued Kurisu, "about how you probably see us with clearer eyes than we can."
Mami kept her eyebrows in a glare just as Homura tapped her in the shoulder. The both of them looked toward the main hall and saw two people
looking at them in surprise.
One of them, a girl with orange hair tied into a side ponytail, gasped loudly. The other was a blue-suited person whose blonde-haired head
had its forehead and mouth wrapped in bandages, leaving only the eyes visible.
Homura noticed that the girl's eyes were glowing a bright red. But before Mami could remember who that girl was, Homura grabbed Mami's hand
and placed it on her shoulder before turning the shield on her left forearm.
Mami and Homura vanished from the stairwell, leaving the two people to look at each other. Not a moment later, Madoka stepped out of the room
she was in and found herself staring at the two as well.