Dust has settled in the ruins beyond the second wall of Castellan. A handful of small fires remained, living only on the wooden frames that haven't been reduced to ashes yet. The crackling of wood and sizzling of corpses was all that remained beyond, save for a few Nortestran patrols. Nortestra was a fraction of its former glory, and the relentless empire of Mollug was confident in the destruction of Nortestra's capital, Castellan.
"All of them: dead or imprisoned... Saving a kingdom... Only to betray it?"
Not even the recently summoned seemed to phase their arrogance; most had gone into hiding, or hunted down by the assassins after their bounties. The first Siege of Castellan would have been a surefire victory for the Mollug if the Summoned hadn't intervened. Aiding the Nortestrans, they helped slay one of the highest ranking generals of Mollug, and forced their army into a retreat. Nortestra celebrated the victory, and welcomed the Summoned with open arms, drinks, and celebration... Only for four Nortestran knights to be smited before everyone; the Princess just narrowly escaping injury. The citizens screamed and ran, and the forces surrounded the certain Summoned responsible. The others lept to its defense, but for what? To be dragged away in magic-dampening shackles, while the rest ran away from the heat? None of them understood the Summoned's reasoning, and they did not wish to try.
"Bringing in revolutionaries to overthrow an empire... Even though they're already running themselves down to the ground?"
In Mollug lands, one of the Summoned has rallied the attention of many citizens, abused and spat upon by the high-class of the empire in their capital of Verruk. Another revolt with yet another unique set of ideals, and a wish for the High Council to follow them. Each member of the High Council thinks the same, but all are self-serving. This Summoned, on the other hand, has won the hearts of Mollug soldiers and citizens alike, even the aid of other Summoned. Perhaps this one knows what it is doing?
"And what is there to conquer if your subjects are of no mind?"
In one valley of the world is an ever-expanding area of crimson meat and marrow. It latches onto passing creatures, infecting them; evolving them. They become "adept" at the costs of their minds and defining characteristics of life. It spreads. It hungers. It desires for evolution. Any being with the least bit of thought would turn away from the thing in the ground.
"One out of all your Summoned is capable of conquering... This is why you should have obeyed the rules..."
Now, the Mollug army has returned to Castellan to continue their invasion on the weakened kingdom. This time, they have double the number of soldiers, and a gift given by an organization to aid in their invasion. With the Summoned in Castellan dead or imprisoned, certain doom is spelled out for Nortestra.
"This is why you should have left things to me, SIN..."
In the silent ruins between the decimated third wall and the perseverant second, a marvelous ball of light rose from the wreckage of a Nortestran cathedral. Its brightness flickered, emitting a low hum. Then, it collapsed in on itself. The sphere imploded in a ring of light, clearing the cathedral floor of the splintered, charred wooden beams and grinded brick to a smooth, paved stone. From where the altar once laid, a tall horned figure stood. The light of the sphere now emanates from behind her as she looks around... and is displeased. She then turns to the cathedral grounds, where the stone floor of soot and ash is now dotted with a crowd—warriors, all shapes and sizes; cultures and technologies—all awakening to the smell of burning. With a wave of her hand, the blinding light vanished.
"Greetings, all." Her voice echoed throughout the area. "Welcome to Valucia." She extended an arm to the side, presenting the scenery. Everywhere they looked would be miles of destruction and burning-out flames. "Your new home."
She shot a smile, forced and cold, to the group. "I am called Virtue, the Goddess who has rescued you from the sorrowful pits of your worlds; summoned you all here for one purpose: to bring harmony and prosperity to Valucia. To repair the damage he and his summoned have done. Do it through any means necessary; extinguishing fires to pave way for new peace, when all citizens share your same thoughts, and there is no such thing as a conflicting faction. Conquer this world. Instill unity. Know that even if one of you don't take over, someone else here will."
Virtue walked to the side, looking towards the looming second wall and its castle in the center of the once glamorous city. "You are in the capital of the Nortestran kingdom, known as Castellan. A week ago, the Mollug empire launched a deadly siege here, and some previous summoned gleefully took to the kingdom's defense. In a few hours, they will be returning for a second try. It is through this you can make a name for yourself. Whichever side you choose, I care not. Be grateful that I both gave your life a better purpose and a stepping stone."
She turned back to the summoned. "I hope you all understand your situation, now. But in case there are some who haven't fathomed it all yet, and because I am generous, I shall remain for a short while to answer whatever questions you may have." With that, one of Virtue's orbs melted and grew, morphing into a chair of spruce wood and red cushioning, and she took her seat while watching over her summoned.
SIN watched from high above, seated in a nice leather recliner, a small table with a platter of cinnamon rolls floating next to the deity high above the world of Valucia. He had watched like this for eons and eons, taking interest in the lives of the people who lived in the world very seldomly. Then he had started summoning beings to the world of Valucia, all sorts of magics and technologies, all coming together and colliding on the surface below. The Summoned had proved to be quite amusing, everytime he brought them forth, things in the world changed hectically and significantly. The Summoned were catalysts for change in fact and this was what SIN loved about them. He would save them from their ruined worlds and in return they simply entertained the slightly-mad God.
He hadn't summoned for a thousand years on the world, simply watching as nations formed and empires fell, admiring the effects of the previous summoning for as long as he could manage. Then he had decided enough time had passed and subsequently brought forth more beings. They had all appeared in the fabled Ebon Shrine, on the border of Nortestra and Mollug, right as two forces of the nations collided. The Summoned seemed quite interesting, many engaging in combat in this battle mere moments after being brought forth. One named Orobo took it upon himself to in fact, kill one of the enemy generals right there in the middle of the battle. Another named Skathi then proceeded to destroy a twisted raging demon of sorts, which had in fact been summoned by the very aforementioned Orobo. The robot barber Charon had proceeded to befriend a witch named Delilah and then frighten some Mollug soldiers. The Summoned had been carnage incarnate and he loved watching them work their chaos infused magic.
One named Kezathal even managed, using an excessive amount of charisma, to convince a force of Mollug soldiers to break away from their commander and join under him. Soldiers from both sides came together underneath his banner and left the battleground of the Ebon Shrine. Their plan was the overthrowing of the Mollug banner in search of a more peaceful and democratic nation. Others left for the capital of Nortestra, Castellan, having befriended a Nortestran general during the battle. These very same summoned then proceeded to take part in the siege of Castellan, joining the losing side unsurprisingly. This had set the god roaring with laughter and he had recorded the moment in order to watch it again later. These summoned, who fought for the Nortestrans, then proceeded to betray the city they had defended on account of the horse god Wakinyan. The minor god had sensed evil within the minds of the leading officers of the Nortestrans, who of course didn't trust the Summoned even before they had arrived.
The Summoned were then arrested and taken into prison. As this was happening a second summoning occurred also on the border about a week after the first. This summoning was significantly less chaotic than the first, but still interesting with plenty of funny and unique characters, all headed off in dramatically different directions. Happening at the same time as all of this, incredibly was another adventure in the northern regions of the world. In the frozen tundra of Czarsnikei, Orobo, Ullis and Skathi had ventured fighting off the resident demon hordes of the region while searching for civilization. They found it in the cold fortresses of the northernmost regions, havens and oasises for the common folk. Before entering however SIN took it upon himself to introduce an entirely new variable in the form of Khaoul, twisting one of Orobo’s summonings to bring forth a demon lord.
Now SIN simply watched, wondering what would happen next.
Sakujo stepped into the open field, treading the long stalks of grass in his way over as he made his way towards the ruins of the abandoned house. He was on the outskirts of a massive city, surrounded by walls with housing on either side of them. The buildings outside the walls had been utterly thrashed in the wake of the siege that was currently taking place. Burnt siege towers jutted into the air around the outer wall. The sky was overcast and filled with clouds, though Sakujo had no idea if it would be raining anytime soon. He wandered around the side of the house he had approached and gazed at it in slight awe, marveling at the strange magical damage it had obtained. It appeared to have been melted and also hit with an onslaught of earth magic, spikes jutting from the earth right through the windows. He stepped gingerly over a charred skeleton, careful not to crush any bones as he did so. There weren't as many houses on the outskirts and many of them were in poor condition obviously having been disheveled even before the war. Destroyed defences littered the area and it looked like the area had been abandoned after a significant battle.
Sakujo placed a hand on the sheath of one of his blades and raised the other appendage to his lips, musing on what had occurred in the area’s past. There were more bodies the further he went down the road and arrows studded the ground wherever a body lay. He continued walking down the road, lowering his hand to match his stride, stepping over bodies when necessary as he surveyed the scene. The walls themselves were still fairly distant from Sakujo and he marveled at the scale of the massive battle that had taken place in this city. Thousands upon thousands must have fallen outside the walls of the massive city. Magic damage was also quite extensive, scorch marks charring the walls of many buildings, spikes of earth and metal jutting out of the ground at wild angles all about the road, bodies still impaled on the magic attacks.There were even several beasts of war and giants strewn about the old scene of carnage. He stopped for a moment marveling at the size of one of the beasts of war, some variant of an elephant from what he could guess.
He continued on his trek down the road for a fairly decent amount of time before he finally reached the wall, finding the original gate town off its hinges. Behind the wall was several miles of city before another wall rose up into the sky. Sakujo was impressed with how massive the city was, which he judged to be named Castellan by the name right above the torn open gate. The samurai was surprised he could understand the language of the world, but he assumed it had something to do with the strange magic flowing through the new tattoo he had received from SIN. As he wandered down the road, he let his mind slip back a little bit as he recalled his time in his old world.
Suddenly, he was on Shogun again, the northern continent to be exact and to be even more so, in the city of Osako, the capital of the North. His men were behind him, blades drawn as they stared down the city guard. The rebels had fought bitterly and with honor, but the end was drawing near and these ones had been found trying to escape the city. Energy crackled from the Mk-2 Plasma katanas that were standard issue for a samurai warrior in the Shogun military, and in the dark the lights from the blades highlighted the sinister black armor of Sakujo’s retinue. There was no honor in running away into the hills, it lowered these men to the level of pigs, and the black-clad samurai general intended to treat them as such. They were pigs, and pigs were to be slaughtered. He raised his own katana, a new variant meant for commanding officers in the Shogun armed forces. His men rushed forward wordlessly, cutting down the city guard soldiers with ease, blood splattering the city streets. Some tried to fight and others tried to run, guns blazing as they rushed down the street from the elite warriors. An average looking man fell to his knees on the floor in front of Sakujo, blade stuck through his back, blood gurgling from the wound through his chest. The retinue member placed a hand on the dying body and ripped his sword out, blood spurting slightly from the wound as the man fell wordlessly to his face in the dust. Suddenly Sakujo was back in Castellan, looking at the many corpses, cut down from behind, retreating obviously.
Sakujo’s own opinion on retreat and surrender had changed since Osako, but that didn't change the fact he had killed them there, and at many other points in his life. After the river world of Amaterasu, Sakujo had undergone a significant shift in his personality, taking significantly less pleasure in the slaughter of his enemies. He still enjoyed the process, just not as much as he used to. And when they couldn't or just didn't fight back, he actually felt guilt nowadays. Back in the day they’d called him a butcher, basking in the bloodshed like a star early on, later feeling like it was a chore. He continued to walk, continuing to reminisce, the memories of his many deployments trickling into his brain like a leaky spigot. Scenes of carnage flashed across his vision as he wandered down the street, significantly more corpses appearing along the way. The bodies got fresher the further he went, the smells bringing back even more vivid memories as the warrior plodded along. He pushed the thoughts from his head as he continued to analyze his surroundings. He figured the city was still under siege for the most part, given the occasional sounds of violence he heard off in the distance. But so far, he had met no one, and as a result, had no real idea of what was going on with Castellan. The few people he had witnessed had been too distant to interact with, had run away on sight or been obviously very hostile.
As he pushed into Castellan, Sakujo began to get the idea he was being watched. The feeling was strong and as he continued over the rubble and the past carnage, he began to hear telltale soft footsteps behind him. Sakujo glanced over his shoulders, sighting several short figures crouching behind an overturned war cart. They were dressed in dark clothes and that was all Sakujo saw with his quick glance. The samurai quickened his pace as the footsteps behind him began to increase in number and volume. Glancing a second time, Sakujo saw that the figures were no longer really trying to hide. They were dressed in dark shirts and mail along with plate adornments, gloves and shinguards. Leather accoutrements adorned many of the others as well, signaling to Sakujo that this was a scouting party of some sort. Rogues perhaps? Sakujo was now obviously glaring over his shoulder at his followers and as they took notice of his noticing them, a leader-like figure stepped to the front. “Halt, this is a battleground between the Mollug empire and Nortestran remnants, State your business. And remember his is Mollug ground, we’ve earned it through flesh and blood and we’ll keep it the same.”
Sakujo flashed a grin and said, “OH, Pardon me, I just felt a certain allure in this battleground, I have no affiliation with either side, simply looking to watch things unfold.” One of the Mollug soldiers whispered to the others behind them and the leader said, “Thats a strange way of saying you're sightseeing, you ought to come with us, I don't like the looks of some strange, foreign looking warrior surveying our backlines.” Sakujo frowned and said, “Is that how its going to be? And what if I said no?” The leader of the rogues snarled and near shouting now, said, “We’ll cut you to ribbons as a spy for the Nortestran Kingdom.” Sakujo did not like to hear this, and did not like the way the spys were beginning to fan out around him, coming closer step by step with seasoned precision and stealth. “We’ll also be taking your weapons and valuables off your hands stranger, and don't bother fighting back, there are dozens more of us nearby.” The samurai turned fully to face the oncoming rogues and then took a step to the side, followed by one forward, placing one hand on a katana as he drew closer. “Well, why didn't you say you were gonna be trying to take my stuff earlier, woulda made my decision a lot easier. I hope you catch my drift cuz you aint laying a finger on my shit.” Sakujo drew his blade and flashed it to the right, decapitating one of the rogues in an instant, before using his immense, enhanced strength to leap to the left side where the surprised rogue, fumbling with his blade at the sudden movements dropped to his knees, pulling a dagger to shove into Sakujo’s ribs. The samurai simply decapitated this soldier with a single strike, blood splattering Sakujo as he turned to face the leader, who was busy moving his men forward in front of him.
The rogues rushed forward in a group, forcing Sakujo to leap back, pulling his pistol from his belt with a single fluid motion. He began blasting at the incoming light troops, going for headshots when possible and using his blade to ward off any other oncoming soldiers. The rogue leader began snarling and one of them threw what looked like a grenade in front of all of them, in Sakujo’s path. The cartridge of the thrown object clicked and hissed and then exploded into smoke. Sakujo then realized men were behind him too, as he glanced over his shoulder while backpedaling. Sakujo then switched to running straight as the rogues behind him followed, They were yelling and pursuing with bravado and a lust for vengeance. The samurai saw men were now appearing from the smoke and buildings ahead. Sakujo immediately turned and rushed to another building kicking the door down with a single enhanced kick. The door splintered and flew off the hinges as Sakujo fumbled for the stairs. He rushed up them, going as many floors as he dared before finding a window and leaping for the roof. Sakujo then followed the roofline, sighting men were already up here both ahead of and behind the fleeing warrior. He flashed his pistol and fired off several more shots, the energy shells booming with power and intensity, ripping through several troops with learned precision. Limbs flew off and bodies popped like ripe fruit smashed in the summer. Even though Sakujo was on the run, his aim stayed true.
Men were rushing on all sides, magic projectiles and crossbow bolts, now hurtling from all directions. Sakujo ducked and weaved avoiding the enemy’s onslaught. He had a vague idea of where each of the projectiles were coming from making it so he could track every individual there. His mind raced with enhanced visions of the area, stats rolling along his sight with information on the situation appearing right next to it. The situation was becoming increasingly manageable with each moment. Sakujo let off several more shots before reloading his weapon and leaping into the the fray. The enemy soldiers were advancing with weapons drawn and magic about to be cast. They were still caught off guard by the ferocity of Sakujo’s attack, blasting and cutting through the soldiers on the roof near Sakujo. The samurai then flashing through the midst of the surviving soldiers, leaped off the edge of the building to the street below, ducking into an alley to escape the Mollug scouts. The classic maneuver worked marvellously and Sakujo managed to avoid sight for the time.
He ran from the area, heading deeper into the massive citadel, passing glimpses now of more darkly clad warriors. These were the Mollugs he assumed, and the Nortestrans had to be deeper within, protecting further elements of the fortress. He sheathed his katana in typical samurai fashion, a clacking sound echoing from the blade in the ruined streets. Not loud enough for notice but enough to remind Sakujo that stealth was still an option at this point. He continued to flee, passing less bodies now but more carnage and signs of earlier struggle. Sakujo passed through the next wall with ease, going through a massive hole in the side. Traversing the ruined city terrain proved itself to be not as bad as one might have thought.
This sucks… this was the first thing that came to mind. Here I am, one sentence away from summoning… It and bringing the end to my world… around me are 8 other cultists all chanting with their arms raised up… gosh they look creepy. I just had to become the herald after being some fucking edgy youngster… The god is so fucking obssessive, gives me so many blessing to the point in which I can’t just get drunk or high and have to stop thinking of all this stupid shit, instead I am perfectly sane and had to sit through with so many meetings and rituals… I really didn’t get to enjoy much… well might as well just end it not like I have a choice.
I say the final words and the sky above me begins to crack, with It crawling through fragile reality, soon everything begins to break and swirl and suddenly everything becomes Dark.
Well that’s anticlimactic and rather boring… but I was “blessed” to feel that way anyways… wait why can I still think, aren’t I supposed to be dead? What’s that smell? Smells like burnt wood and flesh… what.
I quickly notice that I have a body and that I still exist, I slowly realize I can open my eyes and I do… I’m very confused… what is this environment and who are these people around me… I look and finally notice the powerful figure… She must be eldritch or something… I think.
I quickly go into the back corners of my mind in which I would normally be able to talk to the God I pledged my entire existence upon… it’s silent… It is no longer there anymore… Does that mean my blessings are gone?
I quickly check my own mind further and I still sense the blessings… this is very weird… I quickly turned to the being, she was explaining something… I didn’t catch much of it. I did hear some weird names that I couldn’t recognize… ok so I’m in a different world… shiiiiiiiiiiiiit?
I look around me and begin looking at the others around me more closely… some seem futuristic… some magical… magical… magic? … wait… it quickly dawned upon me that the useless book I was given might actually be of use… I also couldn't sense It which made me realize I might also be free.
I was careful nonetheless, I was in an unknown environment… I would needed and wanted to check as much as I could… maybe actually use the book… how does it work… shit.
For now I remained still, looking around me and avoiding eye contact… hoping my lack of focus wouldn’t screw me over again from missing possibly important info...
Darkness and silence, the light flickers out... From her eternal prison in the emptiness she observed existence after existence evaporating away. There was no external way to keep time here but she still knew that it had only been a mere century. Ernhardur had intended for her to remain trapped here for all of time and beyond. Ernhardur had not accounted for this catastrophe. So much that was beautiful would be lost.
Hoarfrost laces across the shattered stone of the cathedral floor as a hulking form of icy scales and black horns raises to it's full height and stretches out great scaled wings. It towers over the other summoned save for one - the metal juggernaut - and there is a decided chill to the air around it. It's eyes are glaciers of blue ice, marred by darkness and shadow.
The dragon listened to the deity's words of welcome. Unify. Conquer. Warring kingdoms. A single world. Such mild ambition. Voorjaar tilted her great scaly head and folded her wings behind her, scratching a long groove in the stone of the cathedral with a claw - already beginning to test the rules of nature in this realm. I will stop at nothing less than preserving creation. I will deliver perfect peace. An end to all conflict, suffering, and decay. Her strength seemed the same here, she'd test her magic next but first... It would be foolhardy to waste this opportunity.
"Virtue..." Globs of frost fall from the dragon's great maw as she speaks, the two glacier blue eyes turning towards the deity that had summoned them. She sits back on her hind legs, raising even taller, "Who is HE whose damage we are to...repair?" The air she breaths out as she speaks is white with cold, quite different from the smoke that clouds the air around the city.
The Great Advancement had been well into phase two in this new dimension. The great enemy was nearly vanquished and the Great Society had spread across the world. It would not be long now until phase three would bring the subjugation of the barbarians and then eternal peace and prosperity. It was always satisfying to see the first generation to join the Great Society. They had such enthusiasm and passion for the cause.
As he hurried down the hall to the command center, Skat patted a youngling studying magical tablets on the head. She looked up and gasped at seeing the Consul. He smiles, wrinkling his whiskers, "Keep it up. Together we'll make a world worth living in."
Entering the command center, he's surprised to see fear on the faces of the officers there. Several officers scurry over to him, one of them falling back to crawling on two legs. Skat made a mental note to check on that one's advancement.
"The barbarians on the western continent..." "They launched the doomsday weapons!" "Two hours!" "Targeting the eastern continent!" The officers erupts in a panic, interrupting each other as they scramble to update the situation.
Skat silently cursed. This shouldn't be happening. Phase one was complete. The doomsday weapons should have been disabled by now. Had a barbarian noticed and repaired them? That could explain the sudden attack. On the surface, he showed only calm confidence as he stated, "Pull it together. You're citizens now. These people depend on you." He pointed to the consoles, "Quickly. Open as many portals as you can, evacuate the younglings first."The first generation of a new world... They couldn't be lost."Send delta and lambda teams to destroy the doomsday weapons in fly. Have beta and gamma hack the network and disable future launches." He knew it was probably too late, The other barbarians would be launching their doomsday weapons soon but it would mobilize the command unit and get them focused on task completion. A slim chance was better than no chance."Send shelter orders for citizens who can't make it to a portal." He knew that it wasn't enough, The bunkers weren't complete yet.
In less than two hours terrible destruction power ripped across the world and obliterated two globe spanning societies. The first was the barbarians and the second...had come close to achieving peace. In the seconds before he was disintegrated, Skat thought, It's a good death.
Barbarians! They towered around him on all sides. Then there were the great reptile and the construct towering even above them. Skat ran claws through the fur on his head and exhaled as he processed the words of the deity. He wrinkled his whiskers as he thought back to the many worlds he had conquered and unified. He could understand why he'd been summoned here. Did these barbarians have similar experience? He doubted that their 'ideal societies' included any hope for his people. He had a plan for them too. An idyllic existence that served the Great Society and benefitted them.
Pulling his cloak tighter as cold radiates across the stone floor, Skat glances at the towering reptile as it speaks and then calmly slips closer to the goddess. He wanted to make sure that he didn't miss her answers.
"I can't...save you from...yourselves.... You have to...live with your...decisions now." Lukas sputters as the 'treatment' takes full effect, his breath was coming in a frantic gasps as his body began to collapse in on itself. It was working. He could finally escape this cruel world. Tears streamed down his face as he wondered, for what he thought would be the last time, why his mother had abandoned him to the self-destructive people of this world.
He hadn't known that hallucinations would be part of the 'treatment' but, as his vision blurred, Lukas saw strange things. Birds falling from a darkening sky. Leaves falling from the trees. He let out a final rasp and then the implosion took him away from this cruel world. In that final moment, he heard a powerful female voice that he instinctively recognized as his mother's proclaim, "What have I done?"
I never meant...to hurt anyone... Lukas thinks in reply as his consciousness evaporates, My existence...enables harm...
Unify. Conquer. Lukas fought back the tears. He was surrounded by terrible beings. Godlike warriors. Dragons. Warmachines. He couldn't show weakness in front of them, they'd just use his power to cause more suffering. Some of them radiated malicious intent. It was palpable. These were not good people. Was there such a thing? A good person? Or was that just another myth. Deep inside, his heart ached at the cruel irony of this...rescue.
It was a jarring experience, suddenly being ripped from one's current place in existence. Poma had gone through similar warps many times over the course of her job, yet had always had sufficient preparation. Not this time, not here. Suddenly the endless maze of Purgatory's Reincarnation Factory had been replaced with something far more...
A cathedral to be exact, its medieval style of construction causing her to tilt her head as she recognized that she was not the only one in attendance. She stood amongst numerous individuals all ranging in styles and appearance, immediately cluing her in that she'd gotten wrapped up in what seemed to be a mass warp initiative. Any further questions went unasked as a floating being of indeterminate origin issued forth several revelations and explanations that Poma found herself humming at with dissatisfaction. She considered her occupation a sorrowful pit? Well rudeness of that caliber wasn't making Poma anymore keen on aiding in her proposed decree for them to conquer and unify whatever planet she'd brought them to. It wasn't as if Poma was going to do such a thing anyway, seeing as she had a very important job to get back to.
She folded her arms, one hand casually twirling her wand about as a draconic being loomed over and requested more information from the Goddess. If Poma had a mouth, she'd definitely be pouting right about now. Instead she merely hovered up from the crowd and raised a hand as she casually hovered between the Dragon and the deity.
"While I'm sure such information is necessary for their quest," she gestured to the assembled group before turning to Virtue and giving a small giggle "I do believe it was a mistake for me to have been brought here, Miss. I oversee reincarnation, and I don't want to sound ungrateful for being considered capable of this great Conquer and Unite plan you're setting up, but I should really be getting back to it as quickly as pos-"
A booming roar cut Poma off, prompting the android to look back over the crowd as a hulking armored figured stomped over whilst leaning a tower over his shoulder.
Once he was close enough he pointed to Poma,"OUT OF THE WAY AUTOMATON, A ROOK HEARS HIS QUEEN'S PLEA!" He bellowed before pounding his metal chest and dropping to one knee in a move that shook the floor "Drawing me from the din of battle right after my moment of glory, she seeks to reward my carnage with further battles in her name!"
Poma tilted her head, "What? But didn't you hear what she just said about-"
"SILENCE!" He roared once again before lowering his head in Virtue's presence "Point me in the direction of those which you wish eradicated, my monarch! The Rook shall not hesitate in his fulfillment of your decree!"
Poma found herself folding her arms again, almost tempted to shake her head at his immediate submission if not for the fact that she didn't have time for that. She really needed to get back to work or else she'd end up overwhelmed with backlogged numbers later on. It wouldn't be a good look for the company, who had contingencies for this kind of thing. But oddly enough, she hadn't been contacted by anyone from Noxco yet, an unusual occurrence that only grew more unusual when she realized she couldn't tap in to the factory's diagnostics system.
That shouldn't be possible.
Poma put a finger to right about where her mouth was as she tried not to think about it, just something else to go over after getting Virtue to return her.
"Death is not a hunter unbeknownst to its prey."
Beyond the unified main state. Beyond liberation, beyond the flames was soot. Soot hard as bedrock lay at the exit of the second cycle; promptly beginning the third. A contrast to all he knew, it was dark, cold, and the sloping, descending landscape that had no interest in narration. No, like most things in Nega, he hadn't even scratched the surface. The depths of the underworld was a lonely place no one came back from or ventured too; likewise, he went with his dead dogs, murdered best friend, and an entity that may have been evil incarnate (at one point). To the underhand's dismay, there, like the rest of the layers, was something abstract standing between him and the others. A creature that stood out from the pitch-black surrounding them, boldly giving off a golden glow and floating off the ground.
"Here we go again~"
The closer they got, the closer it came, and that feeling in his chest returned to remind him of his mortality. Death is not a...
No, he shook the doubt from his head and hardened his glare, even when those red eyes allotted on every portion of that hovering wheel looked through him. Into him at times. Four wheels? Five wheels? Rings of gold that rotated just short of touch one another; a mangled face settled in the middle. They protected it, it's own misshaped and displaced eyes closed, making it evident they'd open at one point...and that it was sleeping.
"Alright," The fallen angel pointed, " Fetch"
_______________________________ One in midst of many, Adam stood there with his clothes in perfect order, his insides arranged in proper order, and his eyes cleanly fixed in their sockets...in amazement. Never had his reincarnation been this clean, though, he had a feeling this wasn't typical rebirth. Dorsi... He couldn't feel his presence, or pal, or amigos, or anyone. Where? Where was he? More importantly, did he want to know?
His mind was too unfocused to catch important information, and the reasoning behind his summon, or the possibility he could be made no sense to him. He didn't know how to comprehend it. There was so much information, things in his own reality, out of his control. That thought left a sunken pit in his chest. A fruitless feeling for a false ruler. Whatever that creature was, it had to do something with him being he--Ump!
He pressed his hand to his throat, clasped it, and rubbed it slowly. His eyes entered a trance-like narrowing when fixed on the...deity. There was only one way this could've been different from every other time his body failed him and that meant he had no choice, but to hurry back to Nega. That thing could destroy souls. Consume them to do whatever its purpose was meant as it wandered aimlessly asleep. The garbage disposal of hell and a potential weapon to someone strong enough. He hung his head and held a curse. Prove themselves... This was all some cruel joke. Then again, life behaved the same.
Reincarnation. What a waste of energy. The dragon thinks as the little construct floats between her and the goddess, interrupting with a demand that it be returned to it's task. Such arrogance was to be expected of an automaton but, still, there was a certain elegance to the construct. Voorjaar decides that she'll keep it in the end as it is pleasing to the eye. But that line of thought was interrupted by the colossal construct stomping forward to pledge its allegiance. Another automaton...and with such simple programming.
Voorjaar was long suffering. She'd take her time but before the end that little construct would be mounted in her sanctum. First she'd need a sanctum on this little world.
Beyond the boundary, 'hell' was collapsing in on itself as the power that had sustained it was shattered. The same was happening in 'reality' as stars winked out of existence one by one. If this continued soon there would be nothing left except the Deceiver. The lone survivor of two dimensions who would serve as the god of this non-existence.
But there was one last living being. His body was shattered. Nearly every bone broken. Far beyond healing. Only the crystalline construct's life support kept him alive, painful breath by painful breath. His mind was stretched far beyond the limit, consumed by the thousand consciousnesses of his slain siblings. He was only acting on collective instinct now. Any sense of individuality had long since been obliterated. The psionic amplifier, pushed to the limit, only provided a 14.5 second window to change things.
A spark of psionic power flickered in the void. Then it flashed into an Astral Construct the size of the moon. The battle was swift and decisive, wielding the last power of slain existence the Astral Construct defeated the would be god. The Deceiver of Fools was no more. There was no one left to possess. No more masks to hide behind. No power to usurp. This reality was over.
As the last living being perished, a concert of a thousand psyche thought in unison, We won. It was a very nice thought to die on.
We won. Caedmon thought with a rush of elation as he appeared in the broken cathedral. He stood there silently with a scowl on his face, ignoring even the goddess, as he giddily thought victorious thoughts. He would have been better serve paying attention to the others, especially Virtue, but victory was sweet. His side had the last survivor so they won.
Caedmon was roused back to reality when his danger sense suddenly alerted him to a risk of great bodily harm. Pulling himself to the side with telekinesis, he blinks as a massive construct stomps through the space where he had been a moment ago. Okay. Massive was an exaggeration. It was just a large construct. It wasn't the size of a moon or anything. He adjusts his glasses as he looks over the others in this broken building, wondering to himself, What is going on here?
Curious. Caedmon places his hands on his hips and begins to hover along among the others. He floats close to peer at one of them, a ruggedly handsome man, and squints as he murmurs, "Hmmm."
Then he drifts back and pivots to look at young man with blond hair that almost glows. He again drifts in close and murmurs, "Hmmm.... Don't be so glum. You're killing the mood."
Then he continues to float back among the summoned, away from the goddess at the front of the assemble. He gives a stern look at each person he passes, peering over his glasses at a few of them, and muttering things like, "Mmm... Oh really." and "Uhhh... That won't do at all." and "Oh! Is that how that works?"
Auron listened with mild interest at the concept of conquering the world. It wasn't something he'd find too interesting considering his past. He floated above the rest of the summoned, keeping a keen watch of them and the goddess.
A variety of magic and technology were scattered around, each clearly from different universes. Not his first time having to work with such a diverse group, but clearly, the end goal was to conquer and unite. From his experience, there will clearly be factions forming once the god lets them loose into the world. He'll need to assess this from a more controlled perspective. A base, however temporary, would be needed so he could properly examine what he was going to be working with. On the other hand, he could simply overrun the entire population with undead until it became the second coming of his home world.
But this group of summoned were clearly in another league to his home world's forces, just from the construct and dragon. No, his undead would clearly meet their match with them, not to mention the already summoned in this world. They were another batch to join in a world wide war for domination. And judging by what the goddess said, the war is already in full swing. There'll clearly be those who would rush to defend the city, but without any form of context, he couldn't be rash. Yes, he'll observe and wait, assess the powers of everyone around, and come up with methods to deal with them one after the other.
But the overarching goal was still to further his research magic and its secrets. With a new world to explore, he'll be able to gain insight on new ways to increase his magical prowess. And these other summoned will clearly be a magnificent stepping stone.
"Varium, standby for now. Watch and wait."
Varium heard her master's words through her thoughts. Truly a cautious being. Hadn't it been for their contract, she'd have launched herself into the incoming siege and fight till either she was destroyed or the enemies were. Well, she didn't exactly know what the troops would look like. But fighting on two different fronts was just another flavor of excitement for the divine spirit. But right now, she had to restrain her urge for battle and watch. Auron always stressed that examining the situation before fighting was the majority of the work behind his plans while she dealt with the last few percentage.
But with her height almost rivaling the golem that strode forward towards the goddess, she took the chance to record every single person's face with the Dragon's sensors. Good to reference should they meet in the battlefield, be it in her current form or the Iron Maiden.
"Shall I prepare the necessary spells for an escape route? Or perhaps my master is thinking about joining the siege?"
Auron considered the suggestion, but held back any response until the goddess answered the dragon's question. They'll need all the information they can get before doing anything.
For the first time since his creation, Zane could not utter a single word regarding anything. His voice modulator was perfectly functional; all his optimal systems were at full capacity, hell he hadn't felt this complete for nearly a decade. A strange new world, colorful new creatures, beings that were considered myths now stood before him. No matter how many times he scanned his surroundings, Zane could not believe what had been laid out before him. A city being on fire was just a Tuesday for him, but this was a true once in a lifetime opportunity. His past world's work only seemed like the beginning now; his past endgame was so small now that he was here. These beings would genuinely be the mightiest enemies Zane will ever have to face in his lifetime. The excitement inside Zane's circuits could only bear so much as he felt his body shake as he was able to finally muster out his first words in this new life. "This. Is. So. Freaking. Awesome." If Zane were to have possessed a heart, it would probably have ceased all functions after being overloaded with so much giddiness. He would need to go sightseeing, try out the new cuisine, raise an army, and, most importantly, find love and companionship among the thing he cherishes the most. Weapons.
With Zane's constant state of joy, he couldn't help but realize how much valuable time he was continually wasting. There were places to be, people to kill, and friendships to be made in his new project. However, Zane needed to complete something he just recently added to his bucket list. Zane ran his fingers through his hair as an attempt to fix it attempting to at least seem more professional than with his usual messy look. Zane walked beside the enormous kneeling automaton that had labeled the summoner as his new queen. He was overall quite adorable, but Zane sadly needed to interrupt his pledge of allegiance. Zane approached the Goddess with only the cheekiest of smiles he could muster. "I do, have a few things to discuss with you, Miss Goddess.....or perhaps it's Mrs. Goddess? Oh, with someone with your divine looks certainly suitors from all over have come wisp you away in a dream full of nothing but happiness." Zane chuckled to himself as his posture straightened perfectly. Simply folding his hands behind his back as a sign of respect to his new employer, even if what they both wanted, were complete opposites. "Although I'm aware you didn't summon me here for my charming ways. My grace, I must sadly announce that I will not be participating in this upcoming battle. To realize your dreams, I require a more....subtle approach. There are undoubtedly straggling citizens and numerous villages and innocent people that require my hand to guide them, but to do that, I do require one thing from you."
Zane slowly pulled one hand from behind his back as he gripped it into a fist. Holding it steadily out so that the Goddess could obviously see it. "If you summoned me, then you should know that contracts given to me are started only when a fist bump has been performed. I do humbly apologize for this, my grace, but my systems won't allow me to follow such orders until this condition is met." Zane wasn't completely lying about the fist bump. He made everyone do it whenever they wanted something from him. However, it certainly didn't stop him from performing specific orders or tasks. In truth, he just wanted a fist bump from the Goddess mostly to feel cool. I mean, he would tell his fellow soldiers about this one day, and he was NOT gonna pass up an opportunity like this.
Interactions: Virtue StaidFoal
Mentions: @ Pretty much everyone who would be listening
Estrid had trouble listening to the Goddess, with her eyes constantly darting around at the new beings that surrounded her. Some were similar to her, filled with muscle and magic. Others possessed advanced technology, and her instincts almost made her cause a brawl the moment her cold eyes laid upon them. She was in immense discomfort as they all surrounded her. These beings, this Goddess, their mission, it all meant nothing to her. For whatever road they chose and whatever path they would follow, nothing would change her own agenda. When her head turned to meet the view of the city, Estrid's eyes couldn't help but tear up as the sight of her old city clouded her vision. The smell of smoke and the imagery of fire engulfing her citizens, all with a picture of her father spouting his last words to a younger her. Her fist squeezed tightly as the muscles in her arms bulged with ferocity. She could fight back her watery eyes, but what she could not tolerate was this so-called diety. Whether or not she was at fault for the destruction mattered not. To sit idly by and allow others to take the hits for you? No. Not again. As in her old world, this sort of behavior and chaos must be corrected.
"Let me say this once." Despite being one of the quiet ones, Estrid allowed her words to carry with her voice. "I do not take orders from those unworthy to rule others. Especially those that let others take care of their dirty work for them." Her icy glare turned towards the Goddess as she felt a similar feeling like her old councilman. To allow atrocities like these to happen? And expect everyone to just clean up the mess? Whether or not this Goddess was responsible for this bloodshed mattered not. The very thought of allowing it to happen and doing nothing to stop it? That was a sin in itself. "These lands are now under the protection of my Galarain heritage. If you seek to bring peace to these lands, then you have found yourself nothing more than a friend." Estrid's eyes continued to wander among her fellow summoned beings as she began walking towards the edge of the Cathedral. Her mighty Warhammer gripped tightly in her hands as she stood on the edge. She would start to speak once more though her voice carried a more threatening tune to it than previously.
"Those that seek otherwise to continue the corruption of this land. Or those that would abuse their abilities to create any sort of disorder. Will. Be. Crushed." With those final words, Estrid bent slightly down as she launched herself off the Cathedral with her powerful legs before landing deeper into the city. The smell of burning corpses and wood caused her to frown immensely. Causing her to fold her hands together as a sign of respect for those who lost their lives. "May you forever find peace in the afterworld you sought for." Her mission was evident as the day she overthrew her dictators. She would seek an army of warriors bent on bringing prosperity over the lands. Weakness would not be tolerated. And this second battle that would soon arrive at her feet. It would be the last this city would have to suffer. Preparations were to be made. None of these heathens would escape her. And they would know no merciful death.
Orson flipped through the stacks of paper Berles, filling the leather briefcase full of the currency and locking it shut. He fumbled the cigar around in his mouth, grabbing his cane and forcing himself out of the chair. "Sierra!" he yelled, stepping out onto the launchpad. "Is the flying machine ready, yet?" An answer came with the throttling of an engine and the spiral of its Da Vinci style propeller. From the steering wheel, his dutiful assistant gave a thumbs up, earning a smug grin from the man. Orson trudged over to the machine, lugging the briefcase of Berles on board along with his disabled leg.
"I found him!"
Orson rolled his eyes. "Damn insurgents," he muttered, adjusting his monocle before turning to look at the voice. In the entrance was a mob of rebels, all staring bitterly at him. It's not my fault you guys fell for the oldest trick in the book! Despite this, he sent them a charming smile; the same one he used while robbing billions from the same citizens. "Nice of you all to join me out here! There's a wonderful view of the kingdom from here—oh wait, you guys are destroying it!" He slapped his knee with mocking laughter.
From behind the group, someone pushed and shoved. They dove out in the open, gun in hand. He glared at Orson with red, hate-filled eyes. "I finally caught up to you, you bag of scum."
Orson's laughter ended, his jovial demeanor replaced with a glint of recognition. Then he bent his head back with remembrance. "Davis... my boy!" he remarked.
Davis raised the gun up at him, rubbing his finger on the trigger. "Don't call me that!" he cried, almost trembling. "When Mom died, you conned me out of everything! All the stuff she wanted to pass down to me, you took! I had to spend the rest of my life on the streets, thanks to you!"
Orson maintained his calm smile, listening as Sierra exited the flying machine from the opposite side. "Children aren't equipped to handle money at that age, son, more or less have it given to them for free."
Davis kept the gun trained on Orson, his face full of anguish and spite. "Any last words?"
Orson only laughed, slamming his hand on the side of the flying machine. "This is the first time you are wielding a Lestrade Mk. IV, right?" he said between cackles. "For one, I manufactured those. For two, the safety's on. For three," he adjusted his monocle, "you should've shot as soon as you saw me."
A shot ran out, a body slumping to the floor. Davis lowered his gun, falling to his knees out of shock. Then, forward, flat on the ground. Smoke rising from the barrel of Sierra's pistol, she slid over in front of Orson, firing off another three rounds into the dispersing crowd. Before they organized themselves, Sierra dragged Orson behind the flying machine, where a bigger briefcase laid open. Orson grinned at its contents, tossing his cane and hat aside while Sierra peeked out of cover to fire back at the rebels."Where would I be without you, Sierra..."
An ear-piercing roar vastly overshadowed the hum of the flying machine's engine. The wings of tin and iron spread, and its thrusters activated. Orson rose above the flying machine, revealing himself fully adorned in his one and only war suit. The rebels gawked at it for a few seconds before one of them yelled, "Shoot that thing!"
Orson weaved to the side, swirling around in the air before the rebels had a chance to line up their shots. With one spin around, a missile flew from Orson's wrist, crashing into a squad of insurgents taking cover behind crates. The explosion launched debris and smoke everywhere, and the shockwave sent a few rebels stumbling back. One of their riflemen recovered quickly and took aim... only to have his head blown off by Sierra's flintlock. Orson flew over them, diving into their field and kicking up clouds of dust. With a flick of a switch, a burst of fire came out, scorching them in the ensuing blaze. The amount of gunshots lessened, and the pained yells grew.
"Retreat! Ret—" A shot from Sierra ended her words.
"Sierra! Is the flying machine still operational?"
She wiped her sweat with her wrist. Panting, her expressioned was grim. "Barely. It's riddled with holes. Who knows if—"
"Barely means it can still work! I'm a lucky guy, Sierra, it'll be enough! Besides, it's getting hot in here..." With that, Orson sat back down and unlatched the set of armor.
Sierra frowned. "We can't risk you dying because of some flimsy machine, Orson. We should look for other means of escape. Perhaps one of the insurgent's buggies? I have seen those traveling at very high—" Once more, she was cut off; not by Orson, but by a blinding explosion of electricity. The two looked to where the Grand Cathedral lay under siege. "It can't be... They're destroying the core?" Sierra noticed Orson's countenance; for once, it was genuine concern. She unfolded her telescope, trying to peer at the scene. "That's... the Grand Inquisitor, Lord Nicholas. He's... He's destroying the barrier membrane and siphoning its energy!"
Orson then snatched the telescope from her hands. "My God, is he mad? He's going to kill us all!" The electric core erupted into an even brighter light, flashing across the entire kingdom. Everything rumbled, and the core unleashed itself upon the city which depended on it. The light engulfed the rebel forces and its leaders in the above airship. It razed the homes and castles. It reached Orson and his loyal assistant, who threw herself in front of him in a desperate attempt to save the man she admired.
"Ah! Oh God, my back..." When Orson opened his eyes, there was smoke and burning in the air and in his surroundings. The explosion must have thrown him into a lying position, and from the smell of things, he doubted the tower survived... Which meant he survived an electrical explosion that decimated his tower and sent him down to the ground. He couldn't help but chuckle. "What did I say? I'm a lucky man..."
He sat straight up from the ensuing shock. "Sierra? You're alive?" Her warm hug was enough of a confirmation. In the flesh. He couldn't help but muster a genuine smile... which dissipated as soon as he saw the crowd. "This... is not Kriznieg, is it?" he muttered. Another's voice then boomed throughout the area, drawing even Sierra's attention. She stood up with Orson, letting him lean on her for support. Sorrowful pits... summoned... conquer... A warm, fuzzy feeling grew inside him. It erupted into soft laughter, to which he lightly slapped his hand on Sierra's shoulder. "Do you know what this means, Sierra?"
She stood obviously stunned, flicking her hair back. All the slip-ups in the past did not affect them any longer. They knew better, now. "We get to do everything for a second time."
To the side, Orson noticed three things: his cane, hat, and the larger briefcase. While retrieving the items, the two looked at the other "victims." Different creatures of the like they'd see in works of fiction. People whose technology were vastly... different from theirs. Technology that glowed lights and produced no steam and used no cogs. Technology that was... better? No, no, no! Just different, it all was! Orson shook his head, focusing on the briefcase which, lo-and-behold, contained his prized war suit. He quietly locked it back up and signaled for Sierra to come by and hold it for him.
Good lord, is everything chaos! For a man of science and technology, this was a wet dream of his! Meeting with supposedly mythological beings that should have defied science, being presented with an ample opportunity that no ordinary man could experience, and witnessing a crowd of vastly different technology! It was too much for even him to handle as his eyes darted between everyone and everything. Incoherent, excited ramblings escaped his mouth in whispers. He then reached into his pocket, grabbing a cigar. Good, they're still here. Anyone got a light?
Virtue watched silently as her subjects awakened to this new world. They bantered. They bickered. Some could not understand their situation. As of now, unity and peace in Valucia seemed far off course. But, she would be patient. If she summoned any less chaotic beings, they'd only use words and rules in their attempts. Words cannot extinguish fires. Her line of thought was interrupted when one of the summoned inevitably raised a question.
If it weren't for her head covering, the summoned would have noticed a spiteful glare in her eye that would have forced any ordinary mortal's backs straight. She fearlessly stared up at the dragon, taking in a silent breath. "He, Mother Voorjaar, is a God who calls himself SIN. He dared to sow chaos on Valucia; have his own raze it to the ground and bring ruin. Some of his summoned are in this very city as of now."
Next in line. The Purgatory android by the name of Poma hovered between the two, still unknowing of her situation. Then interrupted by a stampeding Rook, shaking the ground with his very steps as he dropped to a knee. Swift and straight to the point. Always a pleasure. "It is as you say, warrior. I expect many things of you. However, I would wish you cease the need for a 'Queen's' order to determine your every action. Destroy whichever side you deem most beneficial." She looked back to Poma. "Do put some thought behind the reasoning for my actions, one called Poma. You are all hand-chosen for this duty. You are not returning to the pit that is your original world. You are no longer duty-bound by the business I pulled you from. Think about that, preferrably before what inevitably comes."
"Aye! Question, Goddess person!" Cane in hand and smoking cigar in the other, the Tin Man, Orson came into view, doing his hardest not to break out in excitement at the nearby clockworks and organisms. "You mentioned something about this other God's own set of summoned, yes? What do you want us to do about them?"
"Turn them to your side if you can. Should they refuse, you have authority to slay them."Now then, when is—
"Let me say this once."
Virtue's acute ear twitched at the ensuing statements. Ungrateful mortal. The audacity to speak against a Goddess so... Steady, Virtue. It would appear Estrid is vowing to bring peace. She has potential, despite the yapping tongue. She did not stick around for long, hopping deeper into Castellan. How in the world did SIN deal with these subjects? Not a moment later, before she pondered on anything else, another summoned came her way. Zane, if she recalled correctly; the young android she brought to help quell some of the older summoned's power. And the first thing said was... a complement? Not a bad change of pace. Not that she cared in the least.
It was then he held out his fist, mentioning something that cemented his contracts. "Fist... bump...?" Was this mortal mocking her? Or perhaps a tradition she was not aware of? Oh well; judging by its name, she had a guess what it was. "I see, then." Virtue dashed backward, reeling out her dominant hand—albeit covered by the long robe. She dashed forward again, connecting her fist to his. Zane would have felt his arm lurch backward in less than a second, followed by his whole body flying away. The surrounding dust and ash billowed into the air throughout the cathedral, creating an effective smoke screen. Immediately after came an echoing crash.
Depending on future events, Zane was lucky to have something cushion his liftoff, or severely unfortunate that said cushion was Mother Voorjaar, who just so happened to raise herself taller on her hind legs.
The great drake possessed immense physical strength and fortitude...but her reflexes were significantly less impressive. The overly friendly automaton turned missile crashed into her shoulder with enough force to knock the slow to react dragon completely off balance and send her tumbling back into the crowd of summoned. The long tail that might have stabilized her instead flailed around, striking anyone nearby, as she was several seconds too late to brace herself with it.
She catches herself after a few meters. Claws digging deep grooves into the cathedral floor as she rights herself with a flap of her wings, unleashing a blast of artic wind in the process. Her teeth bared menacingly as she looked around to see where the automaton had finally landed. She knew better than to take her wrath out on the deity but seeing the fool construct encased in ice would do much to sooth her wounded pride.
Don't be so glum. You're killing the mood. Lukas felt resentment swell towards the stranger who floated up to his face, passed casual judgement, and then floated away. There was a city burning. How many dead. But the priority to these psychopaths was...the mood. Even worse than on his homeworld. What a cruel joke.
As he stood there, thinking bitter thoughts, Lukas started as a powerful woman strode to the space before the goddess. She looked like a heroic deity herself, someone out of myth, fearless and bold. Her words struck him to his core. If you seek to bring peace to these lands, then you have found yourself nothing more than a friend. A friend. Lukas desperately needed a friend right now. He could follow her. Her conviction was so strong, she'd show him how to help... Lukas begins to mouth the words, "I seek to bri..."
Then, just as suddenly, she finished her speech by leaping away. Leaving him and the others behind. What was the point of her words? Just to feel self-righteous? He could feel the bitterness settling back in. She wasn't a friend. Certainly not a leader. Not someone who would show him how to make a difference in this hell. How to help in a world that twisted good into evil. She was just another braggard shouting about her superiority and then disappearing in a huff before someone could challenge her.
Lukas didn't want to be alone, not really, but it was clear that he needed to get away from these people. They were the worst of their worlds. Every last one of them. Why had he been summoned with them? A cruel cosmic joke. Just like his birth. He had to get away from here before they misused and abused him.
Then there was an eruption of dust and smoke as the android asked a goddess for a fistbump and was sent rocketing as a result. Lukas took advantage of the smokescreen to slip away from the cathedral. Running down the cobblestone street away from the cathedral, he abruptly stumbles to a stop as he looks out over the burning city. The acrid scent of burnt human flesh assaults his nostrils.
I can change this. I can make it whole. The thoughts come naturally to Lukas, his eyes glowing with golden light as he instinctively feels his power begin to resonate. He thinks the familiar mantra that he'd repeated to himself again and again. It will just take some of my life but they can live their whole lives. I can do it. I'm strong. I have enough to give. Enough to share. He could see it. Tens of thousands raising from their graves. Families reunited. Shattered bodies restored. Buildings could be rebuilt. Livelihoods revived. All it took was life and health. They just needed to live.
"No." The single word Lukas utters is harsh and cold. His power shrinks away from the declaration, the golden light vanishing as his hands curl into fists. He could see it. Tens of thousands raising from their graves...only to fall again as they scrambled to kill each other. Families reunited...only to be torn apart once more. Shattered bodies restored...only to be broken again by cruel hate. Buildings could be trusted. People spit on the precious gift of life. He was done giving it to them. He wouldn't make that mistake again.
His eyes narrowing, Lukas continues to walk slowly down the street away from the cathedral.
He came as a blot of gold upon the horizon, rising like the dawn upon the blue yonder. Dust flew up in his wake, stirred by speedy paw-paps. Floofy white fur swished against the wind that he had made, tugging at the flower held tightly in between little nommers. Four delicate petals, colored a pale cream speckled in red.
Beady eyes blinked at the smokey land. How strange. It smelled the same, underneath all that ash, but it looked so different. The wind was sour with a strange tang like pennies. It was exactly how Stupid Mutt had smelled like every time he came to visit. Pennies and smoke. He was always the saddest when he smelled like that, often lighting one of those smoke-sticks and looking into the nightsky. Sometimes he would shout or cry. Goodest Boi was always sure to follow him on those days. He was proud to know just when he was needed, back then and even today. Maybe, just maybe, Stupid Mutt would be here.
Goodest Boi leapt over a crumbled building, stubby ears perked up and alert, like a majestic, floofy wolf-sheep. Something had drawn him here, the same thing that he had followed a few days ago. It was an instinct, something the doggo could feel in the back of his noggin. It was a pull, and he knew he must follow it. Much like the scent of bread. Or the lovely aroma of cake.
He stopped in a charred clearing, looking up at the rain-bloated clouds. He tilted his head, suddenly realizing he could not fly or climb higher. Cats could do it all the time, but not Goodest Boi. These paws were good at digging, something that made the gardeners shout, but they could not climb tree nor wall. Nor could he fly. He whined, borked, but no solutions came into his little head. Goodest Boi sat there, looking up, sniffing. Why was he here again? Something was on the wind. Something familiar. Yes, somebody needed him. But whom? Where? The sky had a faint pull, but it was not THE pull. How strange. He tilted his head, confused. He waited, thought, then it finally clicked. He knew this scent! It was from Smoky Man!
"BORK!"Goodest Boi barked up at the sky, jumping on his back legs. Was he up there? Did he have breads? Was he a bird in disguise? Was he hiding? How fun! Goodest Boi would find him! Yes he would!
He could also smell something sweet, stronger than any penny or smoke. What was that delightful smell? The excitement grew as his tummy growled. He began jumping up and down, his fur sparking with bright sunlight. Every jump became higher and higher, his bark louder and louder until finally in a poof of fluff and sunshine, Goodest Boi shot into the sky, glimmering brilliantly like a shooting star. He disappeared into the dark clouds, and a few seconds later he appeared beside SIN.
The floofy doggo barked with joy at seeing his old friend again, uncaring about the tiny speckles of frost gathering on his fur. His tail wagged uncontrollably. It was starting to stir up a gust of wind in fact. Goodest Boi whined happily and wiggled his tiny paws in the air as he slowly came to a stop. It was so very good to see Smoky Man again! Golden light shone from the dog, glowing through the clouds. Then the doggo remembered he was not a bird and gravity did its work.
Tail still wagging, Goodest Boi fell down from the sky. He gathered speed until golden sparkles and light trailed from him, gathering in flicks of flame as he shot back down the the earth. To all except perhaps SIN, he seemed like a fallen star streaking across the sky. He plummeted down, borking from the pure joy of wind rushing through his fur. Then his little noggin felt the pull again. This time below him. Did somebody need him? Did they have breads? Did they like hugs? It only made him glow brighter and brighter until finally, he collided with the ground.
Earth and clumps of stone shot up, mingling with rays of light. A small crater appeared, smoking and sparkling, with a floofy white doggo standing unharmed in the center. He shook out this coat and looked around, spotting a young boy walking alone through the streets. This was it. It had to be them! He knew the look of somebody who needed a cuddle.
"BORK!" The Goodest Boi did call, the first step of making a new friend. Somehow, the delicate flower was still in his mouth, and he held it proudly whilst looking at the young boy. He placed it down like a good doggo and watched the boy expectantly. At long last, he had found the person who needed him.
Virtue answered the Dragon's question about the one who'd apparently damaged the world before their arrival, Sin. But soon she turned back to Rook, the cosmic golem soldier lifting his head in fealty as she graced him with recognition. However, not too long after she turned her attention to him, she began saying things that just didn't make sense to Rook. The Queen wished him to renounce his need for her ever wise guidance in all that was? Such a thing was not possible nor plausible, and would probably have been discarded from Rook's memory if she hadn't continued something far more reasonable.
"I see, my Queen." he growled before immediately turning his gaze to the others in attendance"The heresy within this realm runs that deep, hm?"
As he began eyeing up the others with a surprising amount of righteous suspicion for someone wearing a helmet, Virtue turned her attention to Poma. Poma was notably displeased with her following response, and realized with a small amount of humored sadness that she'd been drawn by a deity uninformed of the sheer gravity of her position. Poma tilted her head into her palm while giving a hum of consideration, waving her wand around casually with her other hand as she did so. Once Virtue finished speaking, Poma could only shake her head.
"Though I can't hold it against you, I believe you sorely mistake my role in both my company and the wonderful work it does ensuring the processes of life and death." Poma put her hands on her hips as Rook began the process of turning towards her "No worries, I'll forgive this lack of insight as a show of good faith. Noxco thanks you for your interest in our line of products, and should you wish to order one not currently in use we'd be happy to-"
Poma's sales pitch was interrupted by a massive hand swinging forth and snatching her from the sky before planting her against the floor of the ruined cathedral. Poma's eyes blinked curiously as she followed the masisve hand up to Rook, trembling with holy fury that seemed to radiate off of him like excess heat.
"YOU DARE MAKE SUCH INSULTS IN THE FACE OF THE QUEEN?!?" He leaned down to her "INDIGNATION OF SUCH CALIBER DEMANDS CLEANSING OF THE HIGHEST ORDER. A HUNDRED DEATHS, A THOUSAND, MILLIONS SHALL NOT BE ENOUGH RETRIBUTION FOR YOUR HEATHEN WAYS KINGSPAWN!!!"
Poma fought the urge to roll her eyes, ever so subtly letting small tendrils emerge from the gaps in her chassis as she looked up to Rook, "Sorry sir, but company policy dictates that I simply cannot allow you to damage Noxco property."
"SO YOU INTEND TO FIGHT TO MAINTAIN YOUR SACRILIGE!?!" He demanded "IS THE CONCEPT OF SHAME LOST UPON YOU HEATHENS!?!"
Poma sighed, but whatever retribution Rook was talking about was put on hold as both of them were distracted by yet another one of the summoned. After the rather dapper fellow with the cane asked his question, a woman with a notably large hammer immediately denounced Virtue and staked a claim on the entire of the lands they'd been brought to. Poma waited for Rook to get on her case too, but found him looking to this one with more confusion than anything. As she issued forth an ultimatum of whether or not they could join her, Rook began looking between her and Virtue ever so slowly as he tried to piece things together. It was only after she'd taken her leave that he looked to where she'd last been and uttered, "Queen?" in a tone that suggested further confusion.
Poma didn't have time for his little crisis, she had work to get back to. So while he was distracted her tendrils quickly surged from her chassis and pried open his fingers just enough for her to slip out of his grasp. Her escape quickly drew his attention back, and and he responded appropriately by swinging that entire tower he was carrying down at her like a bat. It caved in the ground it had struck, but Poma had been quick enough to fly up into the air above as Rook snarled at her.
"I don't intend to get in the way of your cleansing or unification or whatever it is you wish to busy yourselves with." Poma stated, glowing eyes going from Rook to the others in assembly "As exciting as seeing all of you is, I really must get back to-"
"GET DOWN HERE AND RECIEVE YOUR PUNISHMENT, DEMON!!!" Rook roared, prompting Poma to sigh again even as she noticed Zane getting absolutely flung across the Cathedral with the force of an agitated Deity.
"Sir," she said with as much patience as possible whilst closing her eyes "if you'd like to file a complaint about my conduct, the company line is-"
Poma opened her eyes just in time to see the entire Aegis tower he was carrying spinning up towards her at rapid speeds. She gasped before darting to the side as the entire construct sped past her up into the sky beyond before disappearing from sight.
"Well alright, I can tell when I'm not wanted!" she folded her arms and looked away as she floated higher up into the sky "Don't worry, sir. As soon as I get in touch with Corporate I'll be out of your metaphorical hair for good!"
With that she casually floated up past the clouds, with Rook shaking his fist at her the entire time whilst yelling, "YOU CAN RUN, BUT THE STENCH OF YOUR HERESY ALWAYS LINGERS!!!"
Though he shouted that, his threat held far less weight as he was almost immediately given a coating of ice covering his one side courtesy of an irate dragon nearby. Of course, Rook couldn't see who had actually done it from where he was, and so began slowly turning in the direction of where the ice came from looking for whoever dared get in his path.
"Who?!?" he demanded while carefully looking over the summoned on that particular side of the cathedral, the ice on him shattering with his every move "Who dares forfeit the right to life by covering the escape of Kingspawn?!?"
This time I was paying attention, but I could feel as my eyes drifted to the others around me, I was excited yet scared, but I couldn’t really feel ecstatic or terrified…
So I was brought here, hand picked by this Virtue… ok… if I had a penny for everytime a godly being hand picked me for a purpose, I’d have two pennies, which isn’t much but it’s weird that it happened twice. I decided to step up for a bit after the Goddess decided to give the weird robot… cyborg… android? A powerful fist bump… that’s a strong fist bump, I bet I’d die from that…“Hey uhhh… Virtue was it? Uhh thanks for getting me out of my world, I appreciate that… sooo is there like cool magic I can find in this world because I would enjoy seeing it in action, knowing how boring my world was...” Jason said before looking at his surroundings again…
Why is there an oversized chess piece? Is that even a chess piece… what happens if I stand diagonally from it? I think I’d still die. Ok… and now the dragon is angry… or is it a drake? I can never tell… man I feel like I should know this… Oh… that kid left… is there any other individual I’m missing? Feels like I ignored a couple… what’s that smell? Smells like burnt wood… this cathedral has seen better days...
I begin walking away from the group and begin searching through the rubble, I notice a bloody hand poking out from a couple of stones… I head over there and begin lifting up some rocks and find a crushed corpse with robes… it’s impossible to determine how they looked or what they really were… “poor bastard” I whisper under my breath before reaching into the robes and finding a nice and intact knife… This should keep me safe… or at least give me the illusion… I search a bit more and find the sheath for the knife putting the knife on it and strapping the sheath around my belt.
A sound comes from the group I just left a while ago and tilt my head to see it… yeah that’s not going to end well… maybe I just get a head on… I fully leave the cathedral and make my way through the damaged streets of the city sticking near walls and giving me flashbacks of my teenage years…
Partician Skat Anotatos leapt onto a broken piece of stone and turned to face the assembled group. There was discord in the ranks and someone had must appeal to their better instincts. He held out a hand and began to speak...but his tiny voice, lost in the tumult, sounded to most only like a faint, "Squeak squeakity? Squeak squeak!".
Only the few with exceptionally sharp hearing, if they were even paying attention, could hear the patrician’s words appealing for unity and cooperation.
"Comrades! Friends! Please! Let us not fight between one another! " Skat appeals, opening both hands as he calls for reason to prevail over the outbreak of hostility, "Virtue has called us to bring peace and harmony to this world in need. As is befitting heroes of our rank let us not reduce ourselves to a condition unbecoming our birth, our manners, our destiny."
He points a clawed finger at the brawlers, his little voice raising in crescendo, "If one has done you wrong, proscribe to us the offense and let it be resolved by a council of peers." He waves his hands, "If we have not treated you as an enemy, have not torn down your houses, destroyed your army, or led another one against you… Then we are not foes! Let us join together in advancing Virtue’s noble cause and reject the tumult of SIN.”
Ashe Varsoli watched the interactions with the other summoned. Considering the chaos, he had half a mind to fire off a volley of his swords to stop their motivations to attack each other just so he could get some answers. But considering the large number of people with clearly different goals and motives, he needed to establish a foothold in this world instead of being caught in a fight between a dragon and golem. The golem was simple minded, but unparalleled in melee combat, something that shouldn't be taken too lightly when there's a crowd here. It would be better to go deeper into the city after that woman. He knows those types. The kind that want to establish order and protect others. Her method was a tad too barbaric for his taste, but he understood the motive well enough. Rather, when his eye scanned through the summoned, he found something about their mannerism and body language. That unmistakable feeling of having died, yet living. It was by no means an uncommon experience for the former conqueror, as he's felt the very same upon his victory over the Gods. To many of these summoned, it would be their first time to return from the dead.
This Virtue was powerful. A chief god by any other name if she lived in his universe, one that would need billions of bodies to even touch, let alone kill. No, right now, he needed to reel back such thoughts. Every war begins with a catalyst and a leader to rise from the disaster. There needs to be a motive behind conquering this world. For all the summoned and their power, the natives and locals provide the best tools to start a war. Their knowledge, their lives, and their losses could be manipulated and molded into the relentless desire to destroy and conquer. He may be an outsider, but all it takes was a hand of mercy and promise of a brighter future to convince the lower class to fight and die for him. What was it they desired? A future for their bloodline? Riches and women? Glory and fame? Such base desires clearly span beyond the barriers of the universe, judging by how everyone present had such desires, no matter how deeply they hid it. Weaknesses that could exploited when the time came for such a confrontation, but for now, he needed to find willing, even temporary, allies to establish the beginning of his campaign.
His eyes glanced to the shorter woman with the rabbit ears next to him, looking extremely irritated. HIs eye immediately sent information to him. Wanted to be dead. Killed a sibling, no, sister. Confused. Irritated. Hasn't slept in a week.
"Unfortunate is it not?" Ashe said, keeping his eyes at the stand off. "From what I can understand, we should all be dead. Yet here we are, standing before a god. A bit droll to be honest. What about you child, how did it feel to live when you were supposed to die?"
Zasha bristled and shot the older man a venomous stare. She was already irritated and trigger happy. If something like this bastard was gonna push her buttons, she wasn't about take that shit and fire off enough missiles right now to erase the city twenty times over. No, that would be stupid. She... she needed to think and watch, not get pissed at everything being so fucking loud. God, they need to shut up and let her think instead of fighting. Fuck, she could already feel several missiles prime themselves to fire and all it would take was a mental trigger to send them all flying. "Just shut the fu-"
The older man placed a hand on her shoulder and the haze of fire and brimstone in her mind cleared. Everything seemed so much clearer, like she just took the week long nap and came out of it feeling great. Hell, she could actually take inventory of her fortress instead of getting pissed off over something that she should be recording and laughing at. Her eyes whirled at the old man that retracted his hand from her shoulder. Those red eyes were filled with curiosity and suspicion, but even she had to admit that because of what he did, she could actually believe the possibility of being in another world, if the dragon and massive construct didn't.
"Why? Shouldn't decide to help people all willy nilly old man. Ya never know when they'll decide to bite back once they get their powers back." Zasha warned, testing the waters for a response. Indignation, disappointment, annoyance, anything to show that the man before her was anything but benevolent. Everyone had ulterior motives, it was just a matter of figuring out what it was.
"I suppose you can call it a peace offering," Ashe replied calmly as his eyes flickered to the ice dragon and construct. "Right now is a time of tension, even more with those two getting ready to attack each other. It would be wise to... temporarily ally ourselves. This city is clearly in the brink of war and that one young lady has already taken action rather than assess the situation. Others," he glanced at the mechanized dragon and robed skeleton in the air, "clearly have begun plans to take advantage of the chaos once fighting breaks out. It would be prudent of us to do the same and gather like-minded individuals.
Zasha held a sour face. She honestly didn't like it when people could convince her when she hasn't even gave her side of the argument. He reminded her too much of her late sister, who's personality was just like his. Confident, calm, and logical. It irritated her, but at the same time, she had enough humility to acknowledge his reasoning, just that she hated the feeling. Between a dragon and that massive fuck off bastard with the tower, she wasn't confident a barrage of her entire arsenal could scratch either. For now, she'll play along, only because he actually did her a solid and get rid of her massive headaches.
"Urgh, ya got a point. You're not exactly my type, but I can get behind trying to figure whatever shit we got dropped into. Goddess over there ain't exactly all that humble about saving us from death either. And judgin' from the guy that got his face caved in, it ain't a good idea to piss her off. Should we go after the chick that said some cringy ass shit and meet up with her?"
Ashe shook his head. "Not just yet, it seems we have a few people who are quite similar to our goals. Ready yourself when the chaos begins and escape. I'm quite confident in my abilities to escape. For now, I'll begin gathering a few individuals into our temporary alliance. Be prepared when the chaos begins. Ashe von Alexei, at your service." He held out his hand.
Zasha stared at the offered hand with some hesitation. There clearly would be magic involved, but she wasn't sure if this guy was about to steal her soul if she did shake his hand.
"I've no such ability, but I'm quite adept at reading expressions if that's anything to go by."
The heiress' eyes widened slightly. How the hell did he-? No, magic bullshit. That's what it is, but he wasn't lying. Her HUD had pretty much showed her that she was nervous and unsure of her actions. Hormones that needed to be regulated if she wanted to keep her guard up against powers her tech couldn't see or comprehend.. If he actually does help her escape the impending shit show, then she'll put up with the unexplained phenomena until she can properly recreate it.
"Zasha van Alexei. Pleasure to work with ya." She said, shaking the offered hand. It was for only the briefest of moments that Ashe was reminded of the Alexei Family of his world, but this child, with her dangerous eyes and malicious grin, reminded him of his younger, rasher self. He returned a small smile before walking off.
The demigod approached the massive dragon silently watching the impending fight. Constructs were harder to read, and the undead were near impossible, but it was still possible for his eye to connect pieces. These types are harder to manipulate. How would someone convince an immortal pair to follow him? The dragon clearly followed him as the master, so engaging an exchange with the mage would be the best. From his brief encounters with necromancers, they were a selfish bunch. Unshackled by the morality of life and death, there is nothing they can't achieve with time and patience. But this one was more than just some simple necromancer, no this was a lich that had transcended mortality itself. It was only time and knowledge that limited their powers, but even he knew to tread carefully around these masters of necromancy. Just having his eye try and find any expression or body language to bounce off information was impossible in this angle. But every sentient being had their vices and virtues, it was only a matter of grasping that weakness and exploiting it. There exists no perfect being, not even he was a flawless mold. And he excelled in finding that chip in their armor. It would only take specifically placed words and glimpses of progress that he could control their actions under the guise of free will; a conscious thought that drove them forward without influence or manipulation. it was a thing to behold, to watch puppets foolishly gain the thoughts of independence when they continue to be hung by strings.
"Young dragon, would your master be willing to exchange a few words with an old king? I'm sure I can provide some insight in our current situation that the Goddess has gleamed over, if he's so willing." Ashe was careful in his tone. There was no telling what the lich would do if he disrespected him, so keeping a respectful tone was the best course of action. The servant was the gateway to their master, an extension of their will. Disrespect the favored servant is to disrespect their master. It was a practice he employed during his reign to see who truly respected him and those who gave false pleasantries.
Varium gave the man a sidelong glance. An old king indeed, but it was a servant's duty to accommodate and serve, especially if someone of his age approached them in these tense situations. Rather than reply, she dipped her snout briefly before sending a wave of intention to Auron. The necromancer turned regarded Ashe with those empty, burning eyes. As if he was being peeled back and studied not as person but as a specimen to be dissected and resurrected for his personal use. Yet the necromancer did no such thing and floated down to the ground.
"Speak old king. I can see that you've experience in these situations from your posture, so I'm sure you have your reason to approach my servant and I. Enlighten me of such." Auron's response was quick and curt, filled with the indifference of emotion Ashe expected of an undead. When his monocle attempted to read his mind, he received no response. Antimagic then.
"Thank you for considering my offer, Lord-"
"Auron is sufficient."
"A pleasure," he inclined his head in response. "I am Ashe, and the young child with the vibrant hair over there is my most recent ally in these tense times. Tell me Auron, should those two come to blows, would you be willing to join me in rallying this kingdom's population to push back the siege? Surely, it would benefit both of us to assist in their defense. The state is rather weak to fall against a siege of this magnitude. Plenty of troops to spare as we continue to fight."
Auron stared at him with an unreadable look. "You seek to usurp the current ruling class then? Ambitious, but I doubt they would be so willing. And we have to account the others here. Some may not be so keen in the idea of you ruling over them. Human emotion has the tendency to run wild in such stressful situations. Are you confident in reigning in their instinctive response to lash out?"
"That is why I ask for your assistance. We who are summoned were chosen for the purpose of uniting this world under a single banner. Something about everyone here had Virtue take them from their world at their time of death for such a purpose. Born leaders, successful conquerors, charismatic idealists, or deceptive strategists. I've met many such leaders in my long life and have crushed them under my heel or fought together as allied leaders. I've come to extend you a mutually beneficial partnership that furthers my goal to rule this world and your pursuit for knowledge."
Auron didn't show it, but he was fairly curious on how he managed to add in that last part of his offer. Rather, he was sure that he didn't show any explicit interest in this plan to see what benefits he could squeeze from this man. Varium's mirth from watching Auron being read like a book, even for the briefest moment, was annoying, but that was par for the course in this vast multiverse. He would eventually meet beings who were far more experienced and powerful than the relatively young undead lich. While it would hamper some freedoms, having an experienced conqueror to explain their reasoning and decisions would be a different kind of knowledge to have, but welcome nonetheless.
"Varium, treat them well," Auron messaged the Divine Spirit through their personal magic channel.
"Of course, my master. I'm truly pleased of your ability to gain allies so quickly after centuries of solitude." Varium respectfully answered, though she added a snicker or two at the end.
Ashe went his own way back to Zasha, where she sat on the broken wall and waited for something to happen. Idly polishing the revolver she came with, she gave Ashe a grunt of acknowledgement. Neither said much as they waited for a signal. Should a fight not break out, Varium would do something about it.
This would truly be a challenging campaign. To start at the worst stage with several unknown factors to consider, Ashe kept a steady gaze at Virtue then to the orange fires in that coursed deep in the city. An outsider could do so much to the established core of royalty. In such a compromised state, turning the people to his side would give him significant influence over their perspective over those that turned their home into a burning ruin. It would only be a matter of time before he would crush this kingdom's inept ruling class and establish his own. The peasantry and military were woefully simple beings. Their material and worldly vices were the easiest to provide and manipulate, giving him plenty of willing bodies to work and die for the sake of their future. Those drunk of power fail to see these pitifully ordinary puppets. They believe they are the master of their fates; a being of free will and choice that fights for what is right when they are simply ignorant and blind of the strings that bind them. It's what made his armies so resilient. They truly believed a bright future for their empire, willing to sacrifice themselves for that ideal. The people are the blood that sustains an empire and it is through strict law and regulation can something as widespread as world domination be successful.
With every campaign, he would start small and uplift these barbarians to the standard of his armies. This time though, he had truly useful allies by his side to expedite the process. It would only be a matter of time before he brought this world into its knees, just like the rest. This will be an amusing war campaign.
Shouting and loud booms continued from the broken cathedral as Lukas walked away. He winces when there was a crash behind him but swallowed and just kept walking at the same pace. Don't turn. Don't run. Don't draw their attention. They were probably ripping each other apart, trying to decide who was most important, then they'd unleash their ambition on this world. A world already being torn apart by war.
His eyes water as he sees a pile of half burnt corpses on the side of the road ahead. He could... Just them. Not the whole city. Just them. His eyes flicker with golden light as he instinctively calls on his power. It felt right. He envisions a family restored to life, fleeing from this hell to start life anew somewhere far away from this war. He slowly stops, blinking back the tears. No. No. No. He grits his teeth. That's not what would happen. Parents abandoning each other and their children to take up arms in this war. Children who starved, were taken as slaves, or who were just killed again by the invading soldiers. That was if these corpses were a family, they could be soldiers who would hurry off to kill, plunder, and oppress some more. The golden light fades from his eyes as he...
Lukas starts at the unexpected sound coming from close behind him, glancing back despite himself and seeing a fluffy white dog. Where did it come from? He turns fully and looks down at the dog. It was adorable. Friendly, clean, and healthy. Someone must have loved it very much before the war... Did it even have a home now? The dog set a flower down between them and looked at him expectantly.
"Is...that...for me?" Lukas begins uncertainly, looking around to see if there was anyone else around. No. There was no sign of the dog's family. He drops down on one knee and starts to reach for the flower, then pulls his hand back and reaches into a pocket to get a handkerchief first. He didn't recognize the flower from the gardening he'd done. It looked too large to be brassicas? Maybe a crucifer? Or dogwood? A dog bearing dogwood? That was a thought. Lukas didn't know why the tree was called that. Did canines like it? He'd never seen a four petaled flower quite this color. It reminded him of how little he actually knew about this world.
A sad look in his eyes, Lukas picks up the flower in a handkerchief wrapped hand and reached out with his other hand to touch the dog's head. He smiles as he rubs it's ears, "Thanks Fido." The tears welled again. This canine was first friendly being he'd met in a long time. He tilts his head at the dog, a few tears running down his cheeks, as he asks with a wry but friendly smile, "Can dogs here speak human? Where's your family? What's your name?"
In the midst of the manipulation, rivalry, and vile heresies towards da queen, a young witch seemed to have awoken into a dream. Not a dreadful memory lingered in her mind, nor the painful stab of losing a world. Call it childish ignorance, but she had seen this before, many times, but never to herself. For all the magic in the world, this sort of thing was only seen or heard of in the realm of fantasy. Until now.
"Wait where am I..? The love potion... huh...Whoa... did I just get... isekaied?!" Nemu placed her hands on either side of her face, eyes wide, "No way... this is... this is AMAZING! Don't worry, Virtue, I know the drill! I'll complete your quests then go home~!"
She snagged Gloop from off the ground and spun around with it, its form stretching and bouncing from the movement. Laughing, she kissed its slimy head "Gloop! I can't believe it! This means we're totally heroes now! Where do we even start? Where even are we? Does it matter ha! We just need to complete some quests! OooooooOOOH!? Is that a robot man (omg he's so cool... do you think I could get a picture with him)? A talking skeleton! Look at the size of that golem! It's just like the one from Mega-Brawl 3!"
With Gloop dangling in her arm, Nemu scurried up to the group gathered around the Goddess. "Wait hold on, I need a picture!"
She took off her hat and dug into the center, pulling out a small instant camera covered in various stickers. Holding Gloop up to her face, she positioned herself in front of the others and turned the camera backwards, capturing the others in the background. There was a click and a flash, and a soft hiss as the blank photo came out. Nemu plucked it out and shook it until the magical photo developed. "Hehe, I can't believe this is happening!"
Gloop slunk out of her arms, falling to the ground in an amorphous mass before bouncing back up into its semi-animal form. It stuck out its tongue and picked up some charred object on the ground, turning around to face Nemu. It wiggled its tail, seeming happy, then was immediately crushed by a gigantic foot. With a wet splat, the creature was reduced to a slimy pancake.
"Ah! Gloop!" Nemu said, watching the slime reform a moment later. She held it up and laughed, "You need to be more careful! But come to think of it, maybe we should follow that guy's lead and get the main que- IS THAT A DRAGON! AND A MECHA DRAGON!?"Nemu aimed her camera up at the giant ice dragon and took a picture, then did the same with the robotic one.
"N-nice. They say ice d-dragons are the most wise. Or w-were they the most mean?" she commented through chattering teeth, wrapping her jacket more tightly around her. Her breath froze in the air before her, and she soon regretted her choice of shorts. Gloop, on the otherhand, seemed to be enjoying it. When the wave of frost shot out from the dragon, Gloop's form began to expand with the magic until it was the size of a large dog. Tiny pseudo-wings sprouted from its back and it took on a white-blue appearance. Small flecks of snow drifted from it.
Nemu cupped her hands, shouting to the large dragon. "HEY DRAGON! GLOOP SAYS THANK YOU! ALSO, CAN I PET YOU!? I LIKE YOUR PRETTY SCALES!" she paused and blinked, "Is that ok for dragons? Eh, whatever! Wait... should I give it food first?"
She was easliy distracted by the sight of the robotic man. She bounced up, waving a hand in the air, "Robo-guy! After that can I get a picture with you? Please, please, please!"
Meanwhile, Gloop tilted its head when it heard the tiny rat's speech. It waddled over to the creature and sat beside him, chilling the air and spreading small tendrils of frost where it sat. It didn't seem to understand any of the speech, but simply blepped out its tongue.
Blue eyes watched the holographic display that showed the various space ships flying about and the defense stations in orbit above the planet Neilgo, the place that had been her home for the last few months. Yunica was sad to leave, even if it was temporary, but at the same time she was excited to go somewhere new. The freighter she was getting a ride on, with her AA in storage, was on its way to a planet that was home to a joint Alliance training facility and it was there she would spend the next few months learning the finer details of combat from some of the best. Perhaps the hardest part was being separated from Dana, but at the same time she couldn't just stay cooped up in the royal palace for the rest of her life. The clone knew that she needed to get out there and actually experience different things if she wanted to be her own person. With a small sigh of apprehension at what the future might hold, the blue haired woman leaned back into her seat to wait for the inter-dimensional jump.
The lurch of the jump drive activating jerk Yunica back to consciousness and she realized with a start that she must have dozed off there for a bit. Rubbing the sleep out of her eyes, she dimly realized that the screen showed other ships also jumping in, but it wasn't until the alarm sounded that she realized that something was wrong. Startled, it takes her a few crucial moments to figure out what she should do, during which the clone was finally able to identify the invading ships as Ecnal vessels, a race that had waged war against the Alliance four decades ago and had been defeated, their military shattered and hunted down across many multiverses. For any of them to show up here was a surprise, and a good sign that she would be safer in her Assault Armor.
Naturally as soon as Yunica goes to jump from her seat and leave her tiny cabin, her leg gives out and she falls to the floor. It took several precious moments before the now panicking woman was able to get it cooperate, allowing her to slap the door controls and start sprinting for where the war machine was stored. Thankfully there were not many passengers and didn't have much in the way of crew, giving her free run of the halls as she made her way to the cargo bays. Thankfully the AA was still there and as she drew closer to it it sensed her presence and its armored belly started to open up, metal plating sliding out of the way while a rod to help her pull herself into the machine lowered into position. As Yunica reaches for the bar the vessel suddenly shakes from weapon impacts, the lights flickering as the artificial gravity fails. Even so, the clone's left hand is able to grasp the bar, but the shaking right hand bounces out, causing to to shriek "NO!" in terror before trying again, the rebellious limb failing to cooperate for a second time, leaving her flopping around in the air like a fish as the damaged ship plummeted towards the planet's surface. Mustering all of her strength, the desperate woman goes to try for a third time, hopefully...
With a gasp she awoke in darkness, curled into a fetal position. After several moments of panic Yunica heard a familiar thrum from above her head and she realized that she was somehow inside her Assault Armor, the war machine's systems slowly powering up. As more and more systems were activated, the green glow of active nano-bots covered her head, forming a compact helmet that had would display the AA's information and everything its sensors could detect in front of her vision, letting her see the world through its eyes. But to her surprise a message loaded before that could happen, the video showing her genetic original, Dana, sitting on a bench in one of the many gardens on Neilgo, her purple hair hanging loose and framing her face as she looked at the camera with a gentle smile.
"Hey sis, figured I'd record this just in case you end up being not one for long good-byes. Or dad is there and ends up being a sourpuss." Dana chuckles for a moment, the laughter bringing a small smile to Yunica's face, before resuming. "Look, I know you have a lot of concerns but I know you can do this. And if you end up changing your mind part way through, that's fine too. Giving different things a try is really all we can ask of you right now. Either way I just wanted to make sure you know that I'm going to miss you while you are training. Yeah, we'll be able to exchange messages, but its just not the same, you know?" There is a pause as the purple haired woman searches for what to say next, a sigh escaping her lips. "Look, I'm really bad at this, so I'm just to say that I love you sis and I'll see you as soon as possible." The video ends end Dana waving at the camera.
Tears fall from the clone's eyes, her mind and heart reeling from the message, as the war machine finishes coming to life and the HUD finally displays the world outside. With a gasp she realized that something was very, very wrong. All the various entities around where the AA had been crouched made it painfully obvious that she was not where she was supposed to be, a fact confirmed when the Armor's computers failed to identify her location or even the precise time of day. While Yunica heard the words that Virtue was saying, her mind struggled to process the implications and what it could all mean. It didn't help that many of the other Summoned sprung into action at once, several of them even looking like they were coming to blows. The chaos of the situation was overwhelming, she had to get out. Reacting to her thoughts, the Assault Armor rose to its feet before stumbling out of the ruined cathedral for several meters before stopping, its pilot finally seeing all the destruction littering the area. "Oh Light, what is all this?" she murmured to herself, eyes wide open as she tried to figure out what the hell she should do, and what Dana would do in this situation.
Clementine woke with a start, flailing out to protect herself from a blast. Her face contorted in confusion as she felt a soft breeze hit her skin. Was she dread? Was this witch heaven or something? She lowered her hands, eyes wide as she winced at the sun. She then looked down at her hands. No blood coated them. No red liquid had seeped into the cracks of her hands or got caught under her nails. Her breathing calmed for a moment as she tried to think.
Had it been a dream? No, the world around her was not one she knew let alone her bed. She ran a shaky hand through her hair before placing her hat back on her head neatly. She stood herself up, whipping the dirt off her skirt, flinching as she brushed the hilt on her hip. As she stood her eyes locked onto a figure. A familiar. one. One who shouldn't be here. Her eyes widened as she froze.
She couldn't feel anything, her mouth bone dry as she looked at the smiling face. Okay, maybe she was dead after all. With shaky steps, she decided to do something with minimal thought. Approaching the girl she nervously tapped her shoulder. "I-uh... do you know me?" she spoke, instant regret filling her as she did that. Sure she had killed the other girl in her sleep, but that didn't mean she couldn't remember her. Juju