If you haven't already, start reading from Part 1 here.
The stories and images here belong to Compile Heart, and you can view the original on their website here: https://www.compileheart.com/mary-skelter/tuu/special/ss/index5.php
At the back of an orphanage that had become known as the 'Order of the Sun', Thumbelina's voice rang out in anger.
The target of her anger, Chiaki, answered with a cold demeanor the likes of which they'd never seen from him before.
"I meant exactly what I said. Don't come here so much anymore. Also, from now on, you're to call me 'Hitsuka', not 'Chiaki'"
"'Hitsuka...?' What's that even all about!?"
"There's no need for you to understand. Also, make sure to call my sister 'Lady Oohime', too."
"Michiru is her name! Chii, you've been acting weird recently!"
"Big sis, please calm down..."
Snow White and Sleeping Beauty worked to calm down their older sister Thumbelina, who was giving Chiaki a piece of her mind. But inside, they felt the same frustration as Thumbelina.
Soon after the three sisters had started living there, the orphanage had suddenly transformed into a religious organization called the 'Order of the Sun'. The kind boy named Chiaki who had always played with them had at some point started wearing white and blue robes and being called 'Hitsuka' by the adults around him. For adults to pay such deference and obedience to a boy who was under 14 years old was weird to the three sisters.
Even weirder than that, though, was his older sister Michiru.
She was being called 'Lady Oohime' and worshipped with even more intensity than Chiaki. She had always had a dreamy way of saying weird things, but now those were being taken as 'prophecies', and she had become the founder figure of the Order of the Sun.
For about a year after the Order of the Sun was founded, things stayed mostly the same. Michiru and Chiaki would play with them whenever they came over, and Chiaki wouldn't fuss too much about their positions in the church. But as time went on, Chiaki changed. Michiru was the same as always, but Chiaki started treating her as more and more of a sacred figure, and keeping her away from normal people, including the three sisters.
And so finally, today, when the three sisters came to play, Chiaki's change in attitude was complete.
'Stop coming here so casually.' 'Don't act so close to Michiru.' 'Don't call us by our names.'
In addition to the three sisters, starting with Miko, the members of Dawn had started to become suspicious of the Order of the Sun as well. It soured relations further, leading up to this final rejection today from Chiaki.
"Enough, call Michiru over here! She'll get mad at you for saying stuff like this, Chi!"
"Lady Oohime, you mean. Don't make me say it again."
As strong-headed as Thumbelina was, she was a small girl who was younger than Chiaki. When scolded so harshly, she couldn't help but be afraid.
And as Chiaki looked her in the eyes, tears began to fall from Thumbelina's face.
"Why...? Chi, what happened? Do you hate us now...?"
Snow White and Sleeping Beauty felt the same pain as Thumbelina, and they too turned to look at Chiaki with tears in their eyes. For just a moment, a pained expression fell over Chiaki's face.
"...there's no way I could hate you."
Sensing weakness in Chiaki's resolve, Thumbelina leapt in to grab hold of the conversation flow and press him, but she was stopped by the kind Mermaid, who had come along with them.
"Thumbelina...that's enough, isn't it? We can't cause too much trouble for them."
"It's okay. He said that he doesn't hate you, right? I'm sure that he has his reasons for doing this. Isn't that right, Chiaki?"
"...Yes. Of course I do."
"Well then, can you explain? It's too sad for everyone like this."
Tsuu pressed him for an explanation, and Chiaki let out a small sigh before beginning to speak.
"The same as us...?"
"Yes. Unlike you, we can't fight. But, there are things that only we...only my sister can do. I'm just helping with that. While Dawn protects our town's safety, we protect the townspeople's hearts. We're really busy with it, and we won't have time to meet you much anymore, that's all."
"Protecting everyone's hearts..."
"It's our turn to support all the people who have supported us for so long."
Thumbelina's expression softened a bit as she saw a bit of the old look on Chiaki's face come back.
"...When you're not busy, can we still play together, then?"
"...I'm not sure if we can play, but if you have any business, come by any time. It might be hard to meet with my sister, but if it's just meeting with me, I can probably work something out."
Hearing that, the three sisters calmed down a bit. One by one, Mermaid patted their heads, and Tsuu gave them pats on the back.
"Well then...we'll go home for today. See you later, Chiaki."
"Right. And...don't forget to call me Hitsuka from now on."
"Yeah yeah, got it, oh great Hitsuka."
Thumbelina responded in a joking manner and as the group starting to leave, Tsuu turned around for a moment and winked at Chiaki. He nodded in response.
A year earlier, Tsuu had confided in Chiaki about how the feeling she got during the blood experiment was the same as when Michiru had hugged her. Since then, without telling anyone, Chiaki had started investigating both Michiru and Dawn.
Even in his high position in the Order of the Sun, there were a lot of things Chiaki didn't know. The church first started when Michiru suddenly suggested forming it one day.
Chiaki thought hard about it. Michiru wasn't the type to think up something like that on her own. There was something fishy going on in this city.
As just a young boy, there wasn't much he could gather to form a satisfactory investigation. So, he used his position in the Order of the Sun and bought time to test and build theories. He would slowly get closer and eventually reach the truth of the matter - he was determined to figure this out.
It was possible that his investigation might become dangerous.
And that's why Chiaki had to cut ties with Thumbelina and the other sisters and keep them safe by pushing them away.
In the dressmaking room in Dawn headquarters, the Blood Maidens gathered up in their underwear to have their measurements taken by Miko.
"Come on, line up properly. Cinderella, stop hiding behind there."
"B, but...without proper clothes, I'm just a pile of unsightly ashes..."
"Uu...why do we have to get measured in the first place?"
"I've been thinking that it's about time we made you all some uniforms."
Miko said it casually, but it made all the girls suddenly fall silent for a moment, and then burst in excitement in unison. They were young but they were still girls, of course they would be happy about getting new clothes.
"Like the ones Red Riding Hood wears? I always thought her uniform was really cool!"
"Me too! Tsuu, I'm sure it'll look really good on you!"
"No no, it'll definitely look better on you!"
"It'll look cooler on you!"
"It'll look cuter on you!"
Red Riding Hood shrugged hopelessly as another pretty meaningless argument between those two started.
In that peaceful atmosphere, there was one person with a serious expression on her face - Thumbelina. Miko turned to her.
"Thumbelina, what is it? You're not interested in uniforms?"
"Ah..no, that's not it..."
Thumbelina stopped midway for a moment, but then gathered up her courage and continued.
"Can we have our uniform colors be blue and white?"
"Blue and White? That's..."
She understood immediately. Those were the colors that Michiru and Chiaki had taken up for their Order of the Sun garbs.
It was easy to understand why she would say something like that, too. She wanted to have something in common with her old friends that she didn't get to see that often anymore.
But, Miko creased her eyebrows and made a strained expression.
"...Uniforms are something that everyone has to match while wearing. Red Riding Hood's uniform is black and red, you see? For the rest of you to have different colors..."
She said that as an excuse, but the real reason deep down was that Miko didn't have a good impression of the Order of the Sun. Having the Blood Maidens wear the same colors as an organization as suspicious as that didn't sit well with her.
Seeing that Miko wasn't taking the suggestion very well, Thumbelina's expression became gloomy. Snow White and Sleeping Beauty had also liked the idea, and the three of them looked pretty disappointed.
Seeing them like that, Tsuu opened her mouth to speak without thinking.
"Ah, I think that white and blue are a good idea, too!"
Part of it was that Tsuu felt like she was partially responsible for the change in Chiaki's attitude that had gotten the three sisters so down lately. But she also just simply, really liked the color white.
"I mean, white is a pretty color, like the snow."
"Ah...in that case, I also like the idea. The color blue is lovely too, like the sea."
Mermaid agreed with Tsuu, and brought some hope to the eyes of the three sisters.
"Well, if everyone else thinks that's good, I think it's good too."
"Yeah, I'm everyone's big sister here, if my little sisters want it that badly then we should give them priority!"
Like that, in an instant all the Blood Maidens had become advocates of 'White and Blue'. With them united like this, there was no way Miko could reject them.
"....Well, I can just change the fabric, I guess...alright, we'll do a renewal of the Blood Maiden uniform."
The three sisters who had been so depressed lately smiled and hugged each other excitedly. Oh well, I guess this is fine, Miko thought with a wry smile.
After that, about three years passed without much happening.
The Blood Maidens laughed together, cried together, fought together, joined hands and quickly grew together.
At the same time, the experiments and research proceeded at a steady pace, and they came to understand more about their special abilities.
One of those important discoveries was the existence of their awakened 'Massacre Mode' ability.
When transformed in Massacre Mode, a Blood Maiden's hair would become white, their eyes would glow pink and their abilities would change and be boosted, but they'd retain their sanity and reason.
Massacre Mode wears off on its own after a while, so it was thought that when the real battle against Jail began, that this would be an important trump card, and it was studied with high priority.
The Blood Maidens grew up steadily.
If there was one element that seemed off, that would be Cinderella.
Maybe it was something about her negative nature, but among the Blood Maidens, she had the most difficulty producing useful results in the experiments.
Seeing Tsuu, Mermaid and the three sisters, all of them younger than her, producing better results than she could, Cinderella sat in her room alone. She hugged her knees close, filled with worries.
Then, one day -
Cinderella suddenly went missing.
Well, that's all for today! Only one part left. In Part 6 of 6, stuff gets dark fast, the real trauma begins, and we lead up to the start of the events in Mary Skelter 2. Thanks for reading!