A Return Trip Home

The four teenagers and one tired and injured Nekomata demoness were still in the sewers beneath the Lunarvale subway station. Janet made her way across the catwalk to rejoin Tammy, Tad and Yuki. Tad was attending to the worn out demoness at the moment, while both Tammy and Yuki stood on guard.

"Well... That's the fourth shard..." Janet said as she ejected the empty magazine from her Beretta. "Now... does anyone know how to get out of here?" The Windian asked as she slapped a fresh clip into the butt of her handgun.

Yuki looked up, and noticed a manhole high above them, leading back into the subway station. "Well... there's the manhole up there... but... we've got a problem..."

"Ladon... if it's not one thing, then it's another. What's the problem, Yuki?" Janet asked after shaking her head slightly.

"Well... the lid is closed... and to top it off, the ladder is up." The Persona User explained before crossing her arms and leaning back slightly.

Janet looked up, and sure enough, the way out was blocked out. However, she noticed something that Yuki did not.

"Hey..." Janet started. "What's that? A blinking green light?"

"What? Where?" Tammy said as she stood beside the Windian. The Persona User turned her gaze to the pipe work above them.

"There... See it? Near that manhole..." Janet said as she pointed up. Tammy followed the direction with her eyes, and sure enough, she saw the green light, along with a button beside it.

"There's a button beside it..." Tammy started. Tad interrupted her.

"That button will probably lower the ladder... But how to reach it..." Tad said quietly.

"Meow? Tammy? Tad? I'm tired... how..." The Nekomata started. In a few seconds, both members of the St. Hermelin fencing club were comforting her.

"Hey... take it easy... save your strength..." Tad said quietly as he stroked the demoness's hair.

"We'll get you back to St. Hermelin... and you can sleep in the infirmary, okay?" Tammy said as she crouched down beside the catgirl and Tad.

"Myah... Tad... Tammy... thank you..." The Nekomata said, before leaning against Tad once again, letting out a light purr.

Janet noticed the entire scene unfold in front of her. She turned to Yuki, who was still staring at the button up in the pipes.

"Yuki... We need to get out of here... Frank's worried about us, and the Nekomata is in dire need of rest, anywhere but here... You've got those throwing razors, right?"

Yuki looked at the Windian, then at Tad, Tammy and the resting Nekomata. The Japanese teenager turned back to her friend.

"Yeah... Infinity? Why?" Yuki pulled her jet-black throwing razors from her jacket and showed them to Janet.

"Do you think you could hit the switch up there? It's the only way out."

"Up there???" Yuki said as she gazed upward. "I could give it a shot."

Yuki closed one eye and aimed at the switch. With a grunt, the Persona User let a razor blade fly.

Amazingly, the blade flew true. The jet black knife flew in between the pipes and struck the button. As the knife fell into the water below, the light turned from green to red. Instantly, the Infinity throwing razor returned to her hand, dry as a bone.

Janet looked up and noticed that the ladder was descending, accompanied by a loud grinding sound. For everything that she was worth, she could not figure out how the thing worked.

Finally, the bottom of the ladder hit the metal grating with a loud clang, waking the Nekomata from her light sleep.

"Well..." Tammy said as she looked up the ladder. "We can get out, but someone has to go up there and remove the manhole cover..."

All eyes, save for a demoness's, immediately turned to Tad.

"What?" Tad said as he looked back at the others.

"You're going up there to remove that manhole cover." Tammy replied, non-chalantly.

"Whoa! Wait a minute! Why me??? I'm busy taking care of her!" Tad said in defense before he pushed his glasses back up on his face.

"Well..." Tammy started. "For starters, I know your tastes in posters... and I don't trust you climbing up behind ANY of us!"

Tad remained silent as he remembered the posters he had of his "goddesses" hanging up all over the Fencing Club's room. If one could see him, he had an enormous sweatdrop hanging from his head.

"All right... all right... I'll do it. I may as well take Nekomata with me... " Tad said as he got up. Before anyone could say anything, he was soon talking to the demoness softly.

"Hey... I'm going to get you out of here... but I'll need your help... I can't carry you, so I need to you to ride piggyback as I climb, okay?"

"Meow..." The demoness said with a yawn. "You don't have to treat me like I'm a kitten..."

Tad chuckled at that remark. "Look... you're hurt, and tired... How are we supposed to treat you?"

"Myah..." The catgirl said thoughtfully. "Purr... you're right..."

With Tad's help, the Nekomata was soon hanging onto his back tightly. The Persona User looked up the ladder, and took a deep breath before beginning his ascent.

Tad took the ladder rung by rung, stopping every so often to make sure that the demoness on his back was not losing her grip. The Persona User chuckled as the catgirl tightened her grip and let out a low, throaty purr.

After a couple of minutes, Tad and the Nekomata made it to the top. With his left arm, Tad pushed the manhole cover up and out, and climbed back into the subway. The only noise that could be heard was the echoing of his footsteps and the constant beeping coming from the radio Janet had dropped earlier. Tad noticed that the radio was on its side atop a metal girder, close to the edge of the giant hole in the middle of the floor

"Hey... are you awake?" Tad asked the catgirl that was currently riding on his back.

"Myah... Tad?" The Nekomata asked sleepily. She curled both her tails around his waist for security.

"We're out... we've got to wait for the others now..." Tad said quietly. All the demoness did was nod and leaned her head against the Persona User quietly.

"It's safe up here!!!" Tad called down to the rest of the party. "Come on up!"

Tad took the time to move over to one of the pillars in the station. He gently removed the catgirl from his back and layed her down, letting her rest her head in his lap. He could hear a light snoring, punctuated by purrs coming from the Nekomata.

After a couple of minutes, Tammy emerged from the manhole, followed by Yuki, then finally Janet.

"Ladon..." Janet muttered after she pulled herself up and out of the sewer entrance. "Am I ever so glad to be out of there!!!"

"I'll say!" Yuki said as she stretched her arms. "That was one of the SMELLIEST places I have EVER been in!!!"

Tammy laughed. "You mean, there have been worse?"

"Have you seen the bathrooms in the Burger King near St. Hermelin???" Yuki said with a grin.

All the Devil Summoner/Persona User did was laugh at the Japanese teenager. Janet, however, had a look of confusion on her face. The Windian noticed the beeping in the room, and made her way back to the source. She noticed the radio atop the girder, and picked it up before backing away from the hole. Remembering what Tammy had told her earlier, she clicked the button on the side of the device.

"Hello? Who's there???" Janet said into the radio. There was a burst of static, before she earned a response from Frank.

"JANET!!! Oh, thank God you're okay!!! What happened? Are the others..."

Janet rolled her eyes before clicking the button and responding to her concerned friend.

"Oh, we're fine... All of us just decided to take a tour of your sewer system... You know, take in the sights and the smells..."

Another burst of static, then a response.

"Yep, she's okay." Frank said with a chuckle.

"Honestly?" Janet said as she looked around. "We had to fight... something. It was a large reptile... Our Nekomata here was injured, but Tammy and Tad are taking care of her. We did find the shard, though... Oh, and Frank?"

"Yes Janet?" Frank replied after a burst of static.

"You've got a lot of explaining to do... about Fusion Spells and such... Tammy explained a bit, but..."

"I'll try, but it's not so easy to do so... Later though. Can you guys meet us somewhere?"

Janet clicked the button on the radio again. "Sure... where are you guys? Still at the school?"

There was another burst of static, before Frank's voice came from the radio's speaker.

"We're on our way out through the back... can we meet at the Sun Mall, in front of the ice cream shop?"

"That's good. We're on our way. See you soon." Janet said as she cut her radio off.

"Okay..." The Windian said as she turned around. "Frank's going to meet us at Sun Mall, in front of the ice cream shop."

"Bruster's???" Tammy asked. "While we're there, I'll treat if the store is open!"

"All right then... let's get going. The sooner we meet up with Frank, the better. We've got one more shard left."

With those words, Tad picked up the sleeping catgirl and followed Janet out, along with Tammy and Yuki.

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