"So, you and Miranda have been close lately, huh?" Millie said.
"No more than usual," Courtney said.
"So, you haven't been going on dates?" Millie asked. "Having romantic evenings?"
"Millie, this isn't the time," Jean said. "We should get to class before..."
"Dates? Romance?" Courtney asked. Her cheeks reddened. "If only."
"What's up with that?" Millie asked. "Shouldn't you be getting all defensive and saying 'aahhh, it's not like that at all' or something?"
"Should I?" Courtney asked. "But it really would be like that if only..." her voice trailed off.
"Does Miranda not feel the same way?" Jean asked.
"I don't know," Courtney admitted.
"Then you have to ask her," Millie said. "It's carpe diem, baby!"
"But I..." Courtney began. She was interrupted by the bell ringing. The three looked at each other and ran to class.
Millie waited until lunch to bring the subject up again. "I'll tell her for you," she said.
"You can't!" Jean said. "Courtney has to say it herself."
Courtney nodded. "Yeah, but what if she thinks I'm gross or starts hating me? At least right now I can be by her side."
"Courtney..." Jean said.
"Rubbish!" Millie cried. "You may be strange, but so what? That doesn't make you gross or anything. If anyone says otherwise I'll beat them up!"
"Guys..." Courtney began. Miranda walked over and grabbed her shoulder.
"We're getting a response from the compasses," she whispered. "We've gotta go." She raised her head and stood up straight.
"Something's come up," Courtney said. "We'll talk later, okay?" She hurriedly packed what was left of her lunch and followed Miranda out.
"A confession?" Jean asked. "Did Miranda confess?"
"Go for it, Girl!" Millie called after them.
Miranda, Courtney and Sam all snuck out of school and went towards the signal.
"I can't believe I'm missing afternoon classes, again," Courtney said.
"It can't be helped," Miranda said. "This is more important."
"Still," Sam said. "Isn't it strange that they'd attack again so soon after we beat one of their bigwigs?"
"Could he be back?" Courtney asked. "He did swear revenge, so..."
"It's not the same one," Miranda said. "A general who goes himself in lieu of his subordinates has to be desperate. Especially when there are so few Celestials. That was probably his last chance."
The three transformed in an alley when they were close. They followed the signal to see a masked woman finishing a boar monster with a spiked whip.
"You must be the other clerics," she said, taking off her mask. "I'm Mina Murray. And you are?" She extended a hand.
"I'm..." Courtney began but Miranda blocked her outstretched hand and held up a hand to signal quiet.
"She's not one of us," Miranda said.
"What do you mean?" Courtney asked. "She beat a monster, didn't she?"
"How did the dog recognise that you were a cleric?" Miranda asked.
"I saw who you were and..." Courtney trailed off.
"She took off her mask," Sam said, quietly.
"Exactly!" Miranda said. "We couldn't see through her mask and she can't see through ours. That can only mean one thing."
"It's a trick!" Courtney said.
Mina snarled. "Impudent brats!" A swirl of white feathers gathered around her, transforming her into a creature with bat wings, fangs and claws. She opened her mouth and screeched. The soundwaves sent the three girls reeling.
"Love's Divine Protection!" Sam cried, a barrier formed to block the screech attack.
"Will you shut up?" Courtney asked. She fired several arrows that arced over Sam's wall at Mina, who stopped her attack and flew above them.
Courtney fired several more arrows. Mina swooped down at her, claws stretched. Miranda's shield came between them and her sword thrust into Mina's abdomen.
The bat woman shrunk into a plastic figure, which Miranda crushed beneath her boot.
"I almost fell for it," Courtney said.
"Don't worry about it," Miranda said. "It's easy to forget that little detail." She put her hand on Courtney's shoulder. "Come on, let's go back."
"You would fail me as well?"
"It was a slight miscalculation," Raziel said. "I didn't know that they could see through each others' disguises. Next time, I will surely finish them."
"Very well," the figure said. "I will look forward to it."