Ikki turned to look at Sora who had departed from her side. “What’s your deal?”
Sora paused, glanced back at Ikki and looked at the display with annoyance in her voice, crossing her arms and puffing up her cheeks. “It’s not working.”
“Otou-sama. Is the Queen going to be upset?”
“Yes,” Sora said pointedly. “What else do you think could happen? This was the only way to win back the favour of the Queen.”
“Oh,” said Ikki. “Can we do nothing?”
“I don’t know,” replied Sora. It had been a long couple of weeks. They had thought that they were close. Each time. Each day. Each week. But it had been nothing but a string of constant failures.
I made many unhappy friends and even unhappier enemies. Sometimes, I think maybe it would have been better to cut all ties.
“Do you remember when I was banished?” Sora asked, more to herself than to Ikki. “I can’t help but recall that experience as a disgusting memory. It makes every inch of my skin crawl, the humiliation that I was made to suffer. Otou-sama! What I have been through since then hasn’t been pleasant either. I made many unhappy friends and even unhappier enemies. Sometimes, I think maybe it would have been better to cut all ties. But the thought that the Queen might forgive me at some point … “ Sora stopped speaking and looked back at the display.
The display was beeping loudly.
“What’s happening!” Ikki asked with nervous excitement in her voice. “Is it finally working?”
Sora quickly analysed the readings on the display. The crude oil in the hundreds of vats below the ground under their secret lab seemed to be stable. The radiochemical isotopes that they had added to them had were also above critical level, just as they had been for a few weeks now, long weeks in which nothing had appeared in the Summoning Circle. In the beginning they had thought that that should have been enough to summon the demon; until last month, when the archae-demonologists had found an ancient manuscript from a forgotten spell-book. It was incomplete and complete in tatters and in the ancient language of the techno-mancers but they had been able to interpret some of it. The summoning circle itself had to be made from a special kind of material but they didn’t know which. That’s when they had started to experiment with using different materials but none of it had worked. Chalk, paint, copper wiring, nothing.
Today was Day 76. And they were using the blood from high-school students.
The radio-isotope levels had remained above critical for the whole day but nothing had appeared in the Summoning Circle. Sora had been giving hope, when suddenly a bright dark light shown from the floor from inside the Summoning Circle.
Smoke started to fill within the Circle and with a loud flash and a bang that sounded like a gunshot, the demon was before them.
Sora looked up at the demon in front of her with awe. She looked at the orange skin, the windswept hair, the misshapen torso that made it look that the demon was on the verge of falling over. She looked with awe at the large, oversized coat that the demon wore. She shuddered at seeing the red, broad, long noose wrapped around the demon’s neck. Sora was wonderstruck. But also elated! The Queen would have to forgive her now. She had finally succeeded in summoning Usa.
And all it had taken was a whole lot of crude oil & some blood of high-school students.