Full summary: Princess Hanae Ouma always knew deep down that she would be queen one day. What she didn't know, though, was what it would mean for her, and her mother. When humanity suddenly starts a genocide against the Genesis of the world, a tragedy that was meant to only happen in the far future is suddenly pushed forward in time, and Hanae, the Ouma family's precious little wildflower, is forced to show the world that she can grow thorns as well.
A dark alternative universe for Reclaiming the Throne in which Shu and Inori decided to abandon Tokyo after Argo`'s and Juan's betrayal and go into exile in France where they marry and give birth to Hanae Ouma, their adorable little daughter. Things go well at first until the past they had tried to leave behind eventually catches up to them and turns their idyllic life upside down, forcing Hanae to grow up way sooner than her parents would have wanted her to. Having to witness the world's ugliness firsthand, princess Hanae Ouma's pure heart slowly gets tainted as well. And crystals that used to be so colorful and pretty eventually become dark and deadly. WARNING: This will be really dark!
Author's notes: So, this has been a long term project for me for a while now, even though i never thought it would become such a thing. Back when I started this, it was meant to be a mere oneshot depicting events of an alternate timeline of Reclaiming the Throne. I never would have imagined it would become so long that I would eventually have to split it up and post it as a separate story. It was originally meant to be part of the Reclaiming the deleted scenes until I noticed that it really broke the general mood of that fanfic that had merely been meant to be a collection of funny and cute oneshots. So, instead I have chosen to post it a standalone fic, even though "standalone" doesn't really apply since it requires knowledge of Reclaiming the Throne and Hanae's character, so...
Well, as you can see, my universe has become rather big and I don't even know where to put this fic anymore. I hope putting it as a standalone story is the right decision and that people who don't know my main work will check that one out first. However, if you don't want to, I will provide you with a spoilery summary so that you can quickly jump into this fic without having to work your way through my 450k+ word fanfic...so, here goes:
First off: What is this?
This is a story depicting an alternative timeline for my main work Reclaiming the Throne which I will be calling the Exile universe. In it, a certain event from the main story will not trigger, thus causing the story to go into a completely different direction. In a way, you could say this is a "what if" version that shows us what could have happened it things had gone slightly differently. Needless to say, this makes it non-canon.
So, what changed?
To put it simply, this is a universe that assumes that Shu and Inori hadn't been found by Da'ath after Argo's betrayal and instead managed to go back to their hideout, free all Genesis and flee with them, thus abandoning the war and going into exile in Europe where they give birth to their daughter Hanae whoch some of you may already know from "Reclaiming the deleted scenes". The young girl is meant to be their pride and joy, being a cute whirlwind of energy,full of kindness and happiness. However, in this universe, Hanae's innocence may not last due to her parents' past eventually catching up to them.
"I don't understand jack shit, man. What is this Reclaiming the Throne bullshit and how does this fit into it?"
Reclaiming the Throne is my personal take on a sequel for Guilty Crown that currently spans 450k+ words. You can either find it on my profile and read it from there or, if you can't be bothered because that's too much to read, I can give you a spoilery summary here:
5 years after the fall of GHQ, Shu ends up getting plagued by visions of the deceased telling him that they were still alive, but trapped in a different realm in which they are forced to wage an endless war against Mana. Setting out to save them, Shu ventures into said realm and undergoes evolution by doing so. He reunites with his old friends he had believed to be dead (Including Inori) and helps them defeating his mad sister, thus ending the war. He then aids them with finding a way back into the realm of the living only to get caught in a trap of Da'ath. He gets critically wounded while Yuu sets out into the void realm himself to set Mana free. While Shu recovers from his injuries, Da'ath successfully sets him up as a bio terrorist who supposedly brought the apocalypse virus back. Forced to protect the evolved humans (calling themselves Genesis) as well as his friends from Funeral parlor from the common enemy that is Da'ath, he decides to revive the formerly disbanded Undertakers to combat Da'ath, the hostile Japanese self defense force and the forces of his evil sister brought back from the void realm. After a fierce battle between him and his sister, the latter eventually succumbs to after effects of Da'ath's betrayal. Using an underhanded method of transferring the title of Eve over from Mana to Inori, the shady organization caused Shu and Inori quite a lot of trouble since all of a sudden, the human portion of the Undertakers grow afraid of Inori who, as Eve, had become the number one enemy of humanity. Despite Shu and Inori trying to make clear that they have no intentions of bringing the apocalypse, the human faction of the group, led by Argo, staged a coup against the two monarchs which ended in them having to flee from their own hideout.
Having lost their base, allies and suddenly being forced to fend against Da'ath on their own, Shu and Inori eventually decide that fighting for the world isn't worth their trouble. If humanity would decide to abandon them, they would respect that wish and abandon it as well. And thus, they gather all their followers around them and break them out of Tokyo which had been locked down. From there on out, the Genesis scatter alla round the world and decide to live life as they see fit. Shu and Inori in particular settle for Europe, buying a small house in some distant village in France, hoping they could live in peace there. After all, it's supposed to be far away enough from Japan, Da'ath and Argo, right?
They would soon realize how wrong they were.
Written from Hanae's point of view. Shu and Inori's daughter.
I sing for my people, I sing for my friends
I sing for justice, so that the world finally ends
I sing for my father who rests high above
and also for my mother who I deeply love
But as I sing I wonder, what is it for?
When there is no one who sings for me anymore...
-Princess Hanae Ouma
When I was but a child, youthful and innocent, my parents used to teach me how to be a good monarch. They said a good queen was to be kind and just, protecting the weak and guiding them onto a better future. I loved them with all my heart.
Never would I have dreamt of the day I would eventually come to lose them both forever.
You see, there was a time before I was even born where my parents supposedly led a terrorist group called Funeral Parlor consisting of humans and Genesis rallied together to battle a common foe.
Humans and Genesis together, huh. It had sounded ridiculous to me for quite some time now. The ones who were hunting us down and putting us into facilities of which no one returned from ever again, standing side by side with us to fight a war as allies? Unbelievable. I would have never bought it if it hadn't been for the fact that uncle Jun and auntie Hare had sounded so dead serious when they had told me about it.
However, what hadn't surprised me in the least was what had happened afterwards, according to them. After becoming Eve, my mother and father were betrayed by their human comrade Argo Tsukishima who had attempted to kill mother and seal her away in the void realm. His plan ended in failure, though, as father took mother into his arms and fled the scene, stealing her from right under Argo's nose. I used to smile at that part of the story as a kid, being so proud of my father for achieving that. To me, he seemed to be like these heroes in those comic books I liked to read back then.
But anyway, while my father hid himself away in the city to rest from his injuries, mother had secretly returned at night, sneaked into their former base and assassinated the guards holding the Genesis prisoners. Then she had helped them all escape from there by killing anyone who had been foolish enough to stand in her way. Hare and Jun's eyes would always sparkle at that part as they remembered mother's bravery. I couldn't help but admire my mother for it as well.
However, what was meant to be our people's liberation had only been the spark that would lead to their doom. For Argo Tsukishima had survived that night, probably because my mother had chosen to show mercy on him and spare his life. A mistake she would undoubtedly come to regret later, even if not immediately.
The Genesis returned to father and, after boarding his void arm once more, left Tokyo together with my parents. Happy to taste freedom at last, they soon dispersed into all directions afterwards, deeming the war to be over and considered themselves free to return to their families, or what had remained of them at least. That was to say, apart from a few selected individuals who chose to stay with my parents regardless, since they had been friends. Auntie Hare and uncle Jun were two of them, and there was also granny Haruka and grumpy gramps Shuichiro. There used to be more, too, but I never got to know them, sadly. I am sure they had been good people if they had been close to my parents before. Even to this day, I do not know what has happened to them and no one would tell me, either. All I know is that they aren't here anymore. Whether they live somewhere else or are dead, I do not know. But I at least know that Jun's expression would become really sorrowful whenever his brother would be mentioned.
Well, going on with the story, my parents and their friends ran away to Europe, feeling that would be far away enough from Japan and the shit that was going on there. There, they settled down in a small village in France, surrounded by nothing but nature and only very few people. It was there that they got married and gave birth to me. We used to be such a happy family once, so carefree and peaceful. Sometimes I wonder if it had all been a dream all along, for I haven't felt like this again in many, many years.
That was because, back in Japan, Argo had managed to warn the government from the supposed threat that was my parents in the meantime. He had told them everything. Of the apocalypse, of the Genesis, of Adam and Eve, and of the role the apocalypse virus was to play in all of it. Needless to say, the Japanese government hadn't been in need for some serious convincing. No, the ill-fated country of Japan had already seen enough apocalypses in the past for them to be reasonably afraid of facing yet another. And when Argo had been able to give them a face to put alongside the terror, the people of Japan had been all the more eager to fight for their survival.
You would not believe how quickly the flame of hatred spread across the world from there. It was been hardly surprising, too, since it might be scary to face a virus that supposedly stood at a risk of driving mankind to the brink of extinction, but it was an entirely other thing if the same thing could be said about two people instead. An incurable virus was terrifying, but people? People could be killed. Even quite easily so. With their sights set on my parents, the fight against the Genesis was on, with my parents none the wiser.
Japan had been quick to spread the news, letting its fear of another apocalypse ooze onto other countries of the globe as well. Russia didn't need much convincing to accept the claims of the Japanese and immediately began shutting down its borders to prevent Genesis from entering or leaving. Then they simply started systematically searching for them inside the country, separating Genesis from humans and deporting them to god knows where. Rumors were soon spread that the Genesis had been used as specimens to create "measures" against them, in other words, Russia was researching ways to kill Genesis, undoubtedly having planned to wage war right from the moment they had heard of them being a possible threat.
Other countries played their cards more safely in the meantime, merely accepting the fact that Genesis existed, but not openly declaring them a threat. However, after some unrest, it eventually became mandatory to state one's race in passports and IDs so everyone could know who was a Genesis or not. Conspiracy theorists claimed the governments would gather the data to prepare for another holocaust, but most people merely waved them off as simple lunatics. No way would something like that ever happen again. Humanity learned from its mistakes, right?
It was around then that my parents eventually came to notice that something was going on. When we were asked to participate in a state-wide "health checkup", my parents were trying to avoid it by opting out at first, only to realize that said "health-checkup" would soon after become mandatory and opting out was no longer an option. I remember mother being slightly worried about this but father only reassured her that it would be fine. There was no way to tell a Genesis apart from a human physically aside from seeing if they were infected with the virus or not. However, in Europe, barely anyone had been infected from the start, so not being infected would not have sparked any suspicion in the first place.
We went to take part in that checkup as a family and my parents had been relieved to see that it merely turned out to be what they had hoped it to be. We were checked for infection by them taking a blood sample from us, followed by them asking us a few questions I barely even remember at this point. Then we were allowed to leave again. Just like that. My parents had thought it to be over with this, however, when our new IDs eventually came with the mail, they had been shocked to see that "GENESIS" could have been read on each one of them. We had been found out. Hare, Jun and Keido as well.
It became apparent that something must have gone on behind the scenes, so my parents started to investigate in secret. Using the crystal network to connect with other Genesis, they found out that the Russians had found a way to identify a Genesis by looking for a certain string of their DNA which wasn't present in any human being. Supposedly, said knowledge had been used to identify Genesis in that checkup, too.
Mom, Dad and their friends were alarmed by this, yet despite their worries, nothing drastic happened afterwards. The government remained quiet after the handout of their IDs. While the grown-ups found that to be weird, no one dared to question this, knowing that if they did, it might ignite the fire of another human-Genesis conflict where there might not have been one yet. No one had wanted to be the one to start a fight.
But the changes were happening all along, just not where my parents were looking. All around us, people started to become wary of Genesis. Parents told their children to not play with children of confirmed Genesis origin and some taverns began denying Genesis entry. Those were minor things that didn't bother a lot of Genesis at the time, but it only got worse from there.
On the crystal network, reports of family members and friends suddenly vanishing without a trace eventually started popping up. People began growing more and more restless to the point that my parents forbid me to use the crystal network so that I wouldn't become afraid. They wanted to keep their child in the illusion that everything was alright, but I hadn't been stupid. I knew something had been up and no one had wanted to tell me what it was. Not even Shuichiro, who would usually be eager to help me break rules and share secrets with me he knew my parents didn't want me to know. I could tell something serious was happening around me simply by the way everyone else was acting around me and so, I, too, became restless.
What we all were failing to notice was that the trap had already been set around us. Japan had secretly shared all the information on my parents they had managed to gather, which, admittedly, hadn't been much, but at least covered a photograph and our names. Now, my parents had naturally been smart enough to use pseudonyms when they chose to settle in Europe, but their faces hadn't changed. What originally hadn't been much of an issue because neither Mom nor Dad had been well known international criminals and because most Europeans couldn't tell Asians apart anyway, suddenly had become a great problem. During the health-checkup they had previously been forced to participate in, they had been identified in secret without realizing it themselves.
The government had then lulled them into false safety by not doing anything for years, but in actuality, France had told Japan of their find and, working together with them, had set into motion a great plan to subdue Mom and Dad.
While my parents had begun gathering the Genesis in case they needed to defend themselves, the world had chosen to do the same, training a special force that was meant to deal with Adam and Eve specifically.
I was at Granny Haruka's house for safety reasons when it eventually happened. Out of nowhere on the middle of the day, armored trucks drove through the streets of our sleepy village, which suddenly felt deserted, almost as if the inhabitants had known this would happen. The trucks came to a halt in front of our house and out of them, countless men in an unknown uniform stormed out, some forming a defensive perimeter around the building, while yet another group of them began storming the house itself, not caring whether they smashed windows or kicked in doors.
They used some kind of gas in hope of knocking my parents out, never realizing that they weren't at home from the start, instead, they had hidden in a net of crystal roots that had been dug underground. In it, my parents had waited for this to happen and, together with the small amount of warriors they had managed to gather, they had counter-ambushed their attackers.
They would have never thought they would lose.
They had had it all. The element of surprise, the combat strength of Genesis, Eve's as well as Adam's power and yet…
They had fallen.
After an enormous battle that left the neighborhood in ruins, they eventually were overwhelmed by the trickery of the United Nations. Using Russian technology to paralyze Genesis by overstimulating their increased senses, they had simply defeated my parents and captured them to put onto display a week later in the Stade de Paris, to be seen live on TV in the whole world to announce their victory against the Genesis through the capture of their king and queen. Adam and Eve.
That day, we, meaning me, Jun, Hare, Haruka and Shuichiro, secretly snuck into the stadium to hide amongst the countless cheering humans as my father was seen kneeling in the middle of the field, hands bound together in front of him while his feet had been put in shackles. Some distance apart from him was my mother, with even more and thicker chains hanging from every limb of her body. A bandage was wrapped around her neck where her vocal cord had been severed so she couldn't sing anymore. As if that hadn't already been barbaric enough, next to her, two humans in white held an IV tube that kept injecting some kind of sedative into her body constantly, making her head hang weirdly as her gaze became distant and unfocused, as if barely even conscious despite being actually awake. I still remember how the sight of her in that state had sent shivers down my spine. I clung to Hare in fear, who could do little but quietly whisper comforting words to me. It didn't help.
I was worried for my parents. I wanted them to suddenly be next to me so that we could just leave, but naturally, none of these childish fantasies became reality. We had come to that place in hope of finding a way to bust my parents out, but now that we had actually been there, we had found that doing so might have been impossible from the start. Down on the field, dozens of the secret service agents stood guard and outside, even more waited. Suddenly it wasn't even clear if we ourselves would be able to even leave this place again undetected, let alone saving my parents.
I still remember how my small body shook in auntie Hare's arms, but the humans around us? They cheered. Laughed at my parents in arrogance.
I hated them for it. I would have liked nothing more but to bite and kick every single one of them as I had stared at them with hateful, albeit teary eyes. However, Jun was the one to calm me down, holding me back with one hand gently, not knowing that from the corner of my eyes, I was able to see how he had just ruined the steel armrest of his seat angrily by forming a trembling fist with his other hand.
In all my life, I had never seen Jun-sensei so furious before. Eyes which had normally been filled with kindness and intelligence suddenly only radiated contempt and hatred for the people around him in that moment. Hare would later tell me that it had reminded her so much of how Jun's brother had used to look when he had been angry. Intimidating, scary.
And then, he suddenly entered the stage, walking up to my father while getting hailed as some kind of hero. Everyone cheered, everyone applauded. We? We cursed this man, for he had been the source of it all.
I will never forget how he had had the nerve to confidently raise his arms at the people, to bathe in their admiration and cheers, walking around in his prestigious uniform that came with this ridiculous cape which was supposed to make him appear more important since he had been a key figure in the Genesis genocide.
They called him a hero.
He was nothing more but a monster!
"People of the world!" He addressed the audience, having multiple camera drones flying all around him as he spoke into the microphone his headset provided him with.
"Today humanity has achieved a decisive victory! For we, the Humanity Preservation Army, have managed to successfully subdue both Adam and Eve of the Apocalypse!"
He received a wave of cheers and applause for that line in response. I, on the other hand, felt so sick that I felt like throwing up. These…these so called people…did they really rejoice over such a barbaric thing? Was this even freaking real?
His pointless speech went on for a while. Phrases and words I couldn't possibly remember, for they had neither been interesting to me, nor could I even focus on him. All I could do at the time was look at my parents in fear, desperately wishing for them to break free. To punch that man in his ugly face, grab us and just run away, never to be seen again.
Of course, things hadn't been that easy.
Eventually, though, he directed his words at my father.
"So, Ouma Shu, now that you have been defeated, will you admit your crimes against humanity and accept your punishment with dignity?"
The crowd grew dead silent as they awaited my father's response with quite the suspense. Suddenly, it had become so quiet, you would have been able to hear a pin drop.
Then my father's voice could be heard as he began chuckling slowly at Argo while shaking his head in what seemed to be amusement as he answered in Japanese, refusing to be part of Argo's little freak show.
"Well now, Argo. Tell me, are you having fun?" He looked around the stadium with a grin. "All these people here cheering for you. Do you feel heroic yet? Feels great, doesn't it?"
"What are you talking about?" The traitor replied with furrowed brows.
Father's grin became a smirk, derisively laughing at his former friend as he said: "I am just curios, is all. You know, whether or not all this idiocy you are showing the world today was worth selling your soul for."
Argo merely sighed at that, unimpressed. "It saddens me that you never understood what this is really about. Back then and even now you still don't."
"Oh?" Father's brow rose up in feigned surprise. "So what is this circus about then, Argo? Please do enlighten me."
"It's to save humanity of course."
That's when father's mocking laugh began echoing through the whole stadium. It was loud and full of spite, earning him many frowns from the people watching him.
"Save humanity, he says. Whew, that is a good one. Let me tell you a joke as well, alright? Wouldn't be fair if I was the only one laughing now, would it?"
Argo was seen eying father disapprovingly, but he didn't stop him from talking regardless.
"You see, my people, the ones you hunt and kill, they call me a king." Father said, still chuckling ever so slightly. "However, and that's the funny thing, I may be a king, but in the end it is this so called humanity which decides that a public execution like this would be appropriate. That's funny, right? I mean, Inori and I revived the ideas of kingdoms and thrones, but in the end it is humanity which decides to go back to the middle ages, not the Genesis. That's the point where you are supposed to laugh, by the way. You missed it." It was a side of father I had never seen before. A smile adorned his face, yet his eyes were cold, almost piercing even. Those were the eyes of someone who looked at someone but could only see dirt. And as the audience saw him being displayed on the big screen in front of them, I could feel them shudder in unison.
Argo, however, had never flinched. Narrowing his eyes on my father, he merely replied.
"It doesn't have to be an execution, you know."
"Oh really now?" Papa said as he closed his eyes and shook his head in a slightly amused manner, clearly not buying any of this. "So is this the part in which you lie to me and tell me how you would spare my life if I fought for you again? 'Cause that had worked so well the last time you had raised the offer, right?"
"No, Shu. I won't lie to you. You will never be free again. I will take your king's power today and use it to protect humanity from the Genesis, but that doesn't mean you have to die. If you agree to cooperate, I could at least offer you to live on in custody."
"This son of a…how dare he…!" I heard uncle Jun mutter next to me, gritting his teeth in anger. The rest of us shared his anger, including me.
But father? He didn't seem to let it get to him. Offering Argo yet another snicker, he responded with:
"A life sentence, huh. Wow, you really spared no expense for me on this one, eh? Enjoying the high life behind bars, living the dream of eating crappy food in which my warders may or may not spit into occasionally while I watch my people die under your tyranny. I must say, Argo, you are a tough business associate, but I am afraid I must decline still."
"I had hoped you would have matured a bit over the years." Argo had the nerve to belittle father with another sigh. "However, I see that you are still the same as you had been the day I last saw you. Apparently, having become a father has done little to make you more responsible."
That was when Dad's smirk finally dropped, being replaced by a frown as he listened to what Argo was trying to imply.
"I feel sorry for poor little Hanae, having to live the life of an orphan, being hunted by the HPA until she is eventually found and put down."
My eyes opened wide in shock as I had heard those words. Orphan? Hunted down? Put down? This couldn't be happening. Tears started forming themselves at the corner of my eyes. I grew scared of this man down there.
"Shhh, don't listen to him, Hanae. He is a liar. Nothing will happen to you." Came Auntie Hare's response to this. To reassure me, she even began holding me closer in her arms, all while looking down at Argo with nothing but contempt. "I will never let him have you, honey."
I felt safer in her arms, but the fear, unfortunately, never fully subsided.
In the meantime, father glared at Argo, his eyes glowing in a bright red for a brief moment, making the audience gasp.
"How dare you speak my daughter's name, you…" In response to father's sudden hostility, the guards positioned all around him began aiming their weapons at him. Something he didn't care about even in the slightest.
"Now, there won't be a need for this. I could spare your daughter a lot of suffering if you could just tell me where you hid her. If you do so, I promise I won't kill her and instead will try my hardest to merely remove her Eve mutations. If we succeed in doing that, I might even release her into freedom." The madman told my father with a serious expression, apparently really meaning what he said. "Surely you must understand that we can't have someone walking around with the same powers as Inori, don't you?"
"That moron is out of his damn mind." Shuichiro mumbled into the hand he held in front of his mouth due to his bafflement. "Removing the Eve mutation…he is delusional."
"A psychopath is what he is." Granny Haruka whispered next to him with quite some venom in her voice. "We need to get Shu and Inori out of there."
"Don't be foolish. How would we…" Shuichiro argued back, but both got shushed by Jun who warned them of their surroundings by gesturing at the people around them with his eyes. We were surrounded by humans. If anyone would hear their talk, it would be over for us all.
"So…if I told you where my daughter is, you would promise to spare her?" We suddenly heard father ask, sounding as if he was actually considering it. I felt my throat clenching up in fear. I did not want to be found by that man. What was my father thinking?
"Yes. I'll give you my word." Argo nodded at his question.
"…." My father's gaze went down as he fell into a deep silence. Moments passed which felt like eternity to me, but eventually his lips moved. His words inaudible to all of us.
This, apparently, had included Argo as well, as he leaned in closer to make out what my father was trying to tell him. However, he was soon to realize that the message he was about to receive was not the one he had hoped for, as my father had used the opportunity to head butt him with enough force to break this hateful man's nose.
While Argo was busy holding his nose and stepping away from Dad, the latter merely sent a glare full of hatred and contempt the traitor's way. His eyes where shining so red, you could mistakenly believe they were actually on fire for a second.
"Let me get this straight, Argo. You hunt down my people, you invade and wreck my home, you mutilate my beloved wife, try to make a sport of our execution…and then you actually have the nerve to threaten my daughter? To even expect my cooperation?" His expression become stone cold as he uttered his next words slowly: "If I weren't in chains right now, I would proceed to break every single bone in your body. One. By. One. Until you finally begged for me to stop. And then I would get Hare's void and heal you up, only to start right from the beginning."
"….good thing you are chained up then, huh?" Argo replied, still holding his nose, removing his hand only briefly to look at the blood. "It`s a shame it has to end this way, Shu. You could have been the hero humanity needs, but instead you decided to lay with monsters, breeding with them. You have abandoned humanity for a pair of beautiful eyes. You have become weak, Shu."
"So you claim, but I have not failed to notice that it is not I who is afraid here, Argo. Funny, isn't it? I am the one in chains, the one who is aimed at by your goons' rifles, and yet it is you who is afraid. Of me. Of Inori. Of Hanae, a mere child. You can call me weak all you want, but it is you who is truly pathetic, Argo. Never forget that."
"If you say so…" The traitor responded dismissively while stepping away from father, addressing the humans yet again. Explaining how my father had refused to admit his crimes against humanity and thus was unworthy of mercy. That he left humanity no choice but to put him down in order to protect itself. His spewed bullshit was accompanied by playbacks of father's statements earlier, now subtitled in English and French for people to understand. How he had promised to endlessly torture Argo if he would ever be allowed to walk free again.
It did little to put father into a better light in the eyes of the humans, not that such a thing had been possible from the start. They had come here in hopes of ending this once and for all right from the get-go. Hearing his words merely served as further encouragements in their desire to give him the death penalty. And so Argo stepped back and gave the order for the firing squad to take aim.
"Any last words, Ouma Shu?"
From the smirk I could briefly see on father's face, I was under the impression he would say something of the likes of: "Go to hell."
But then his smirk vanished as he looked down for a second, gathering his thoughts before taking a deep breath. And then he spoke, loud and clearly:
"If any Genesis can hear this, I would like you all to hear my last request as your king. That is to not seek vengeance for me, or Inori. We, as your king and queen, have the duty to protect you. We failed you, and for that I am sorry, but just because my reign may end today, it doesn't mean that my duty ends as well. I do not wish for my people to endanger themselves in order to avenge me. Instead, live on. Endure these hard times ahead of you and prevail! For one day, you will be able to rise again in all your glory to show the world that you are proud, that you are strong. That you are Genesis!"
Argo was seen rolling his eyes in annoyance, but he let father speak out of respect. He did grant him one last speech, after all.
"I won't doubt that in the coming days, you will feel hopeless, maybe even alone, but don't be afraid. Know that, from the moment you emerged from that crystal cocoon in the void realm, you have become part of something greater. We all share a bond with each other only we can understand, connected by the crystals and through them, to our queen. No matter what will happen to her, she will come back for you, so never lose hope. Eve protects you, so please…"
Father looked down with a sad smile. "Once I am gone, protect her in my stead. Take care of my girls for me. That's all I ask of you."
"Shu…" Next to me, auntie Hare started to cry silently, unable to contain her sadness any longer. Jun and the others were shaken as well, but I? I think I still didn't really understand what was going on. I just kept watching the scene with a mixture of fear and confusion. This had all been so surreal to me. It was like a dream. A terrible, terrible nightmare. I was wondering when I would finally wake up already, although part of me knew I was just being in denial of the whole situation.
Deciding that it was finally enough, Argo eventually got the firing squad's attention by raising his hand.
"Now, comrades! The moment we have been waiting for! It is time to erase the root of all evil from this world. For humanity! For our future! Fire!" He yelled while bringing down his hand. Following his command, the people around father began unloading a volley of bullets as if to make absolutely sure he wouldn't survive all this.
For a short while, time seemed as if it was frozen. The sound of gunshots ringing in my ears while tears started to blur my eyes which were now open wide from shock. I raised a hand as if to reach for my father, wishing for me to save him somehow, but I was powerless.
I was weak.
And so, once time eventually flowed normally for me again, all I could do was cry: "Papa!" before Hare eventually hugged me and forced me to look away.
"Don't look, Hanae!"
I knew she just wanted to protect me, but I fought against her embrace, trying to break free and run to my father who undoubtedly needed me. Or was it I who needed him? I wasn't sure. All I knew at that time was that I wanted to be by his side.
When I finally managed to get out of auntie's grip, however, I froze.
Before us, down there, where my father had used to be was now something. But it wasn't my father.
It was something that looked roughly like a person, yet covered in holes and leaking this unbelievable amount of red liquid…
It took me a while to realize, though, that this horribly deformed and lifeless thing.
It was my father, after all.
I felt the strength in my body leaving me, and so I just sat there, not even trying to hold back those tears in my eyes any longer. Heck, I hadn't even noticed them starting to flow. My body had become numb, my ears deaf. All I could do at the time was stare at my father's corpse while letting the tears flow. I didn't even have the strength to scream, unlike granny Haruka, who had struggled so hard to reach her adoptive son that it had left Shuichiro no other choice but to knock her out to make her settle down before she blew their cover. You could tell how serious the situation was by seeing that even he had been deeply worried by all this. Shuichiro. The grumpy uncle who never seemed to care about anything. Worried. Such a sign could never have been a good thing.
"I'll kill him…." I heard Jun-sensei mutter in utter hatred as he reached for a firearm he had hidden under his coat. "I will make him pay!" He hissed under his breath and with tears barely held back in his eyes, only to be stopped by auntie Hare who tried to calm him down.
"You can't! Didn't you hear Shu just now! He said to not avenge him!"
"How could I not? Argo keeps taking away from me what is most important to me! First my brother, now my king, I will not wait for him to take my queen and princess away as well! Not while I still breathe!"
"Stop being so emotional, you damn brats!" Shuichiro tried to hush them with a strict voice. "I know this was a harsh sight for all of us, but we need to remain calm and collected about this. Do not forget where we are. One wrong move and we will all die."
"I am ready to give my life for the kingdom…" Jun grumbled in defiance, only to be met by the dark haired man's narrowed eyes.
"You may be, but is the princess as well`" Gesturing into my direction with his eyes, he asked this of Jun who was forced to admit his fault regarding his previous stance.
"I-I-I am n-not a-afraid!" I tried to sound brave for them, but failed utterly, causing Hare to merely stroke my hair gently.
"We know you aren't, sweet-pea. You are the bravest of us all." I knew she was merely patronizing me, but it still made me feel better about myself. Her calm and gentle smile could do that to anyone she looked upon. A true marvel in itself. She was an angel among men.
You would assume the crowd around us would have noticed our conversation in the meantime, but it had been far too absorbed with witnessing yet an entirely different marvel. For father's guilty crown that had rested inside his right hand had left its shell and become visible to them in all its glory. It just floated there, dozens of silver threats whirling through the air, aimlessly looking for a new vessel, preferably the one who had stuck the former wearer down. Clearly a task which was hard to accomplish for the mindless entity, as determining the killer under all the soldiers who had shot father at the same time had indeed been quite difficult. Luckily for it, Argo did it the favor of stepping forward, raising his right arm and wordlessly calling it to him.
The crown seemed to notice that movement and flew over to him, wrapped itself around his arm and stung him in the process, as he couldn't hold back a pained grunt during the fusion process.
"I hope the crown will utterly reject that bastard for the scum he is." I heard Keido grumble to himself.
"There is no way it would accept him as king. Not him." Jun seemed to agree.
Hare hadn't said anything. Instead, she had merely held me closer.
Against my family's hopes, though, the crown's silver sheen eventually faded inside him and he merely lifted a first in victory, claiming he had conquered the crown. It resulted in more cheers from the crowd. Or at least initially. For shortly after, it had been silenced by the sudden and rapid growth of several crystals all around the stadium. Contrary to the audience, however, I immediately rejoiced over seeing them, instantly recognizing them for my mother's beautiful handiwork. Although the dark and gloomy color was so very unlike her. Her crystals were usually pretty and colorful. To see these dark purple ones which seemed to glow in an ominous pink was something quite surreal in comparison. Not to mention the voice that began echoing throughout the whole building shortly after.
"….Shu…Dear, where are you…? Why can I no longer feel you around? Please answer me."
It was my mother's. I didn't need long to notice that, yet the way she sounded was so uncommon for her. There was sadness in it, but also fear, a glimmer of wavering hope.
Yet, nothing of that had been particularly weird to hear. I had heard her sad and fearful voices already, and even though hopelessness had been a first at the time, it hadn't been all that weird to hear her voice like that. It had been something else, something I hadn't been able to quite put my finger on.
I quickly disregarded the matter, though, not even caring in the slightest. Looking over to my mother, I saw her beginning to move again, for the first time since coming here. The doctors next to her appeared to be confused as they attempted to increase the dosage of the sedative that had been pumped into her, but mother would have none of that. Holding her head as if in pain, she merely groaned through her crystals and tried looking around in confusion, clearly not recognizing where she was.
"Where…?" Her crystals conveyed her thoughts since she herself could no longer speak. Now finally noticing the people in white trying to sedate her, she quickly grew out a crystal blade out of her elbow and rammed it into the first guy's chest. Letting the blade shatter shortly after, she then proceeded to let a new one grow out of her hand and rammed it right into the other one's face with an angry yell. With the immediate threat disabled, she then proceeded to destroy the chains binding her with one swift strike of her crystal blade. Thick iron not even standing a chance against the sharpness of my mother's craftsmanship.
"Why does my throat hurt…? What have these people done to us? Where is Shu?" She asked again with more emphasis, now looking slightly frustrated at all the people around her, clearly demanding an answer.
Naturally, she received none. The civilians around her were just looking at her in shock while Argo was shouting out orders to subdue her. They were all useless, it seemed, as everyone was far too dumbstruck and scared of her to make a move. Eventually, though, her eyes found what she had been looking for, lying in the middle of the field. A bloody mess which had still been chained to a stage.
"….." At first, there was nothing but shock and disbelief visible on my mother's face. Shaking her head repeatedly, she refused to acknowledge that what her now teary eyes showed her. "No….this is a lie!" Using a crystal to propel herself upwards, she quickly lunged into the direction of where my father had just been executed. Landing right next to him, she fell to her knees immediately, embracing the bloody corpse riddled with bullet holes.
"No! Shu! This can't be real! Tell me this is a lie! Shu!" She now cried in utter grief, still holding father's remains close, refusing to let him go. And as she lamented, the crystals lamented with her, making her wailing audible to the audience. It broke our hearts hearing her grief-filled cries and Hare even broke out into tears with her. Me? I couldn't even bring myself to feel anything. I had become numb. Not hearing, not feeling anything. Seeing my mother like this had confirmed what I had hoped to be a mere lie.
That my father really had died.
I suddenly felt too powerless to even cry. And so I just sat there, watching with those empty eyes of mine as Argo's goons eventually managed to overcome their shock and began surrounding my mother to undoubtedly shoot her just like they had done with my father earlier.
Curse them all for what they had done!
The sound of rifle safeties being unlocked eventually made my mother snap out of it. Still sobbing and holding father close, she turned halfway around to look at them. But just as they were aiming at her, she just averted her gaze again as if deciding that they weren't even worth her time. As if she had been looking at nothing but trash. With her sad eyes directed into the empty skies, she just sadly told them:
"Be gone from my sight." And with a mere click of her fingers, all their heads suddenly exploded as spiky crystals appeared to have manifested from inside their brains. Blood cells, previously infected by the apocalypse virus, having acted as the seed my mother merely had had to make grow. And just like that, the now headless dolls fell over like domino pieces. Mother, in the meantime, just kept staring into the sky blankly, not even registering the sound of bodies hitting the floor and people gasping in shock. That was until a certain man's voice found its way into her ears, causing her to wake from her trance-like state.
"Impossible! I made sure you couldn't sing…how did you-….!" Argo couldn't help but scream out in shock. That's when something inside mother changed. The part of her I couldn't recognize earlier finally showing that side of my mother I had never gotten to see before. With eyes flashing up in a bright red, the crystals all around us only roared:
Hatred. Her voice was full of it. Like thunder it loomed over us so loudly, the crystals which conveyed her words for us to hear even vibrated and made the ground shake ever so slightly. Something black had begun growing on my mother's back, ripping her prisoner's garments open as she barred her teeth at that hateful man who had dared tearing her family apart. After gently placing father's corpse down and embracing it in crystals so it wouldn't get destroyed further, my mother summoned two blades into her hands and stormed forward with a vicious growl.
"Murderer! Give me back my husband! Give me back my Shu!"
"You know that's impossible." He grumbled as he reached behind him to grab some kind of rocket launcher, putting it on his shoulder and firing a barrage of those explosive projectiles at her. My mother, however, did little to dodge them. No, she faced them head-on. By transforming one of her blades into a huge shield which she held in front of her, she actually embraced them. When the dust caused by the blast eventually settled, she was revealed to be unharmed, merely dropping her crumbling shield to her side to make a new blade grow in its stead.
"How could you! How could you!?" Mother's voice roared throughout the whole stadium as she resumed her assault, now being close enough to swing at him. The traitor managed to lunge away in just the right second to avoid her swing, quickly drawing his own void while rolling off on the ground.
"This power!" Mother growled as she regarded him with wide open eyes for a second before reverting back to their hateful ones. "It isn't yours! You have no right to hold it! Give it back!" Following that demand, she chased after him one more, only to be greeted by his void's strange glow of anti-light. A strange phenomenon which actually absorbed all light around it to make its surroundings darker. Blinded by it, Argo used the chance to smack my mother down with his fist, followed by taking out his holstered pistol, emptying its magazine into her.
"I can't do that. This power belongs into the hands of humanity. Not monsters."
The audience thought it to be over with that. Heck, he might have even thought so as well, but we all knew that Mom would never go out like that. When the strange light of his void eventually vanished, she was revealed to be lying on the ground covered in a scary looking armor made of black crystals that had wrapped around her while she had been grounded. And that wasn't even all. On the ground, lying next to her, six black wings could be seen, all growing out right from her back. With her eyes still glowing red, she used the set of wings on her right side to smack the shocked Argo with enough force to knock him several meters to the side. Then she simply levitated upwards and aligned herself properly before storming off after him without ever even touching the ground.
She was faster than anything I had ever seen. Fast enough to catch up to Argo as he was still rolling over the floor to grab him by his throat and lift him up. He struggled against her grip and tried to get away, yet his legs were merely kicking air. The few kicks that managed to hit mother's armor weren't even registered by the queen at all.
"Such insolence! Monsters! Me? Shu? What have we ever done to you? We were living peacefully until you came back! We even let you live after everything you did!" She threw him against the nearest wall with full force, making cracks appear where he had just hit it.
"That doesn't change anything." He told her after several coughs and groans. "In the end, you two remained to be nothing else but a time bomb. I mean, look at you now. What kind of abomination are you trying to mimic? Even if you try to assume the form of a seraph, the color of your wings show your real nature. They are as black as your soul turns out to be, monster!" Then he pointed at something to her feet and we were shocked to see that he had dropped a grenade there before mother had thrown him away.
I stood up in an attempt to yell for my mother to get away, but I was too late. The small canister exploded right next to my mother's feet and whirled up yet another cloud of dust. And yet, once it settled, my mother still stood, the crystal armor around her merely regenerating over her barely wounded flesh. Flying over to Argo with her rapid speed, she pinned him against the wall she had just thrown him and let a new blade appear in her right hand, holding its tip ready to shove it right through his head from below his jaw. All while staring at him with her fierce, yet cold eyes which had been narrowed down in disgust.
"Your words mean nothing to me, traitor. What you think of me is of little concern. Only Shu's words mattered. He helped me understand what I am. And so I know what I am. I am me. I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a queen. I am Eve of the apocalypse. And I shall be the judge of your sins as well."
"Heh, there you go again, thinking you have the right to judge anyone just because you have some abnormal power."
"As the queen of Genesis, I have every right to judge you who is hunting them. More right than you ever had when you began slaughtering them." She gritted her teeth. "When you slaughtered my Adam…"
"Do what you have to, Inori. Kill me for those supposed crimes of yours, but know well that humanity is watching you right now. And they will not forget yours. They will unite and bring justice to you. One way or another. Because humanity always prevails." He told her with a proud grin, absolutely fearless of the blade at his neck.
Mother lowered her weapon at that, eying him sharply.
"You wish for death…" She realized in astonishment, followed by shaking her head . "You seek to become a martyr to make humanity rally against the Genesis. You claim my soul to be dark, yet it is yours which sprouted this foul plan. Unforgivable."
"Say what you want. I know I am in the right. Humanity has to fight the Genesis together in order to survive the threat the apocalypse provides. Now finish it. My death will spark the beginning of the end."
"Very well. I shall bring the end, then." She told him coldly as she let crystals wrap themselves around him to bind him in place. Raising a brow at that, he had to ask:
"What strange execution is this supposed to be?"
"Not yours. You took from me what was most important to me. I once vowed that I would bring ten times as much pain to anyone who harmed Shu. But you don't care about your own well-being, so I will take that which you value most from you instead. You will watch as I will bring your beloved humanity to an end."
"Lies! You can't sing and you don't have an Adam anymore. The apocalypse is impossible for you." He told her defiantly, yet with fear in his voice for the very first time during their conversation.
"You are correct. And yet so wrong. I can't bring the apocalypse, but neither do I want to. Bringing the apocalypse would mean humanity would get to become Genesis. But why should such a rotten race who dared killing my Adam be rewarded with evolution? No. I will kill humanity the hard way. One human at a time. And you will watch as the beloved humanity of yours you so desperately wanted to unite will crumble apart at my hand. This shall be your punishment." She told him with no emotion whatsoever. At this point, humanity's fate no longer concerned my mother. They were a mere means to exact revenge for my father, nothing more, nothing less.
A cold shiver traveled down my spine upon seeing my mother acting like this, yet it wasn't fear I felt from her, it was amazement. Deep down, I knew she was doing the just thing. Humanity had ripped our family apart, ruined our peaceful lives. Now they had to be punished for it. They deserved it. If my caring and loving mother who always had tried her hardest o find a peaceful solution would go this far, then it simply had to be done. She was always right. Always just. She wasn't queen for nothing. And thus, from my spot in the now panicking audience, I watched with pride as Mom began flying upwards until everyone was forced to look up to her, levitating high above them with all six of her wings spread out wide.
"My name is Queen Ouma Inori. I am Eve of the apocalypse and queen of the Genesis. I hereby declare that I have found Tsukishima Argo guilty of murdering my people and my beloved king. The punishment of his crime is the complete eradication of humankind which I also found guilty of assisting Argo with his crimes. With the exception of minors, who I will allow to become Genesis, I will soon commence with eliminating every person who is not a Genesis. This sentence is final and shall be enforced immediately."
She had barely even finished her monotonous declaration when dozens of crystal feathers began falling off her wings. But instead of slowly floating down to the ground, they began levitating next to her before seemingly locking on to something on the ground and shooting forwards so swiftly, the people on the ground couldn't even see where they had gone. That was until they began seeing people dropping dead left and right with holes in their heads in which said crystals had dug themselves into. If the panic hadn't broken out before, it certainly broke out now with everyone screaming hysterically and trying to rush to the exits. But mother wasn't done with them, no. And so she sealed every single entrance by covering them with impassable crystals.
"Serves them right." Jun grumbled angrily as he watched them hitting the crystals with their fists helplessly.
Even Hare, who usually preached to me about the importance of life was seen nodding at uncle Jun's statement.
"It may be cruel, but so was what they did to Shu." She looked down at me and tried comforting me by placing a hand on my shoulder. "You don't have to look, Hanae."
I, however, could only shake my head at that. "No, I want to see this."
"Are you sure?"
I nodded. "This is justice." I told her as I looked up to mother determinedly.
She, for her part, merely regarded the scene from above with indifference. Feathers continued to regrow and come off her wings, then locking onto targets only to drop down on them with impunity. After all, it was the queen's wish to bring humanity's end. Yet it didn't really matter to her how many of them died. It didn't make her happy or sad either way. Rather than that, she watched Argo looking around him in horror as he was forced to witness genocide firsthand. And seeing his pain appeared to bring a strange form of satisfaction into Inori's heart. If this was the way to bring pain to the man who had killed her beloved husband, then this was the correct course of action to take.
"Such hypocrisy…" She accused them of as she watched them struggle in vain. "Now you cry and take action, but where was any of that when my people were being killed? Where were those cries when my king died! You are all worthless." She then raised both her arms provokingly as she looked down on them, still speaking through the crystals all around the stadium.
"You came to see an execution, now I am giving you dozens of them. Are you not entertained? Was this not what you came here for to see? I don't understand you." She shook her head slowly at the last part. "Perhaps it is not enough? Perhaps I need to kill more? Add some variance?"
After saying that, she took up arms once more, letting crystal blades adorn her hands like they did before. Then she commenced to fall from the sky like a hawk hunting for its prey, slashing up people with perfect precision before returning back to her original position in order to dive again. It didn't take long for her blades to turn red after having been drenched with the blood of her victims.
"Inori! Stop this at once, you lunatic!" Argo cried up to her, causing mother to point at him with her finger. Gesturing for him to come up to her, the crystals that bound him began lifting off the ground and flew up to their mistress, effectively carrying the hateful man up with them.
"Stop? Why? You asked for genocide, so I will give you genocide."
"I was trying to prevent this!"
"Then you have failed miserably like the fool you are. Now be quiet and witness the end of humanity firsthand. Bask in the fruit of your labor."
"You sick madwoman. You are enjoying this massacre, aren't you?" He now yelled at her in absolute anger, but mother remained calm, indifferent.
"Enjoyment? No, Argo." She shook her head slowly. "If anything, this is just sad. Humanity has lived for so long, experienced so many wars and cruelty, and yet it never learned anything from it. The Genesis may be a young people, but they already are so much more reasonable than humanity ever will be. If humanity cannot coexist with us, then it has to be removed. I will create a peaceful world in which my people can live in without having to run into people like you. I will not allow anyone to experience the same pain you have given me today."
Mother told him the last part with clenched fists, yet the traitor could only laugh at her worlds somehow, after he had looked down at the bloodbath below them for a while in silence.
"You are so naïve, Inori. Aren't the Genesis just evolved humans? If being human is such a horrible defect, then don't they all carry the same defect inside them from the start? Once humanity is gone, what guarantee do you have they won't just start fighting each other afterwards?"
"They won't." She merely told him coldly while staring him down with narrowed eyes. "Because I am their queen and I forbid it."
"So what will you do to Genesis who refuse to obey you? Will they be the next on the chopping board? Tell me, Inori, isn't this just a tyranny, after all? The same kind Shu had when he was still playing king in that stupid school of yours? Admit it, deep down, you know someone like you should not exist. No man or woman should hold so much power over people. Humanity deserves to be free!" His words were cut off by mother's crystals squeezing him until he screamed, mirroring the movement of Inori's right hand as she clenched it into a fist.
"The only thing humanity deserves is to die for their sins. Your sins." She told him harshly.
"And when will you pay for yours, Inori?" He asked her with a painful grimace, trying to withstand the pain.
"I have already paid the price for my failure." She looked down in at my father's corpse in sadness. "Losing my Adam is worse than dying a thousand deaths."
"Then what about losing your daughter?" He said, now smirking at her all of a sudden. Before mother could ask what he was going on about, several fighter jets flew past her in perfect formation. She had to close her eyes momentarily to shield them from the wind that had followed after them.
"Took you long enough! Row 42, somewhere between seats 50-60. Fire all you have! Don't worry about casualties, just do it!"
Still confused, mother watched the fighter jets turning around to, presumably, fire at the specific location Argo had just provided to them by using the headset he still wore. Disregarding the man for now, she looked down at the scene below her to check out what Argo must have spotted down there for him to rather attack it than her. Her glowing red Genesis eyes didn't have to scan the area for long before she eventually spotted us.
We had just gotten up after Jun-sensei had yelled for us to do so, grabbing Hare by the arm and dragging her after him as he told her to hurry. Shuichiro had already grabbed granny Haruka and was right behind us as we ran for our lives, now that we had learned we had been spotted. I stopped paying attention to mom afterwards, as I was too busy running after auntie who refused to let go of my hand, but it was not too hard to imagine her being shocked about her discovery.
"Hanae!" I could hear her voice being yelled from every crystal around us shortly after the jets had begun shooting missiles at us. Full of shock, full of surprise.
Full of fear.
I remember turning around to her, looking up and stretching my hand out for her to grab. I wished for her to just take us all and fly away from there. Instead, I only saw the dangerous explosives approaching us. A barrage of missiles constantly being shot from the aircrafts above us. Everything happened so fast.
"We are not gonna make it!"
Everyone was screaming all at once, before Shuichiro eventually tackled me down and pressed me against the ground firmly, surely hoping that we would somehow avoid the most damage that way. I winced at the sudden contact with the ground and with how heavy everyone else was now that granny Haruka and Shuichiro were lying on top of me. Hare was thrown down by Jun not far from us as well. And thus we braced for the impact, which, somehow, never came.
"What are you doing here!" Mother's panicked voice instead reached us as she held down a wince for some reason.
Finally Shuichiro got off of me, allowing me to see the reason why we were still unharmed. Mom was kneeling next to us, letting her huge, black wings shield us from the attacks happening on the other side. She had created a small and cramped dome for us to be safe in, if only just for a moment.
"My queen!" Jun-sensei exclaimed in surprise, yet not without relief. We had been saved for now. The ground shook for a moment and mother winced once more.
"You should not have come here. It's too dangerous!" She scolded us and began growing out a crystal tendril from her hand that began drilling its way into the ground rapidly.
"We know, but we couldn't just let them kill you!" Hare explained in a rush, clearly still being affected by all the adrenaline inside her.
"I can't hold them off forever, we must escape." She decided for us in a fraction of a second.
I wanted to run to my mother and embrace her, yet Shuichiro held me back with a stern look that was supposedly meant to tell me that now hadn't been the time. I hadn't understood him back then, but in hindsight, I can see that he had been right. I would have only gotten in the way of mother creating an escape route for us.
"But Haruka won't be able to use it!" Jun pointed out the flaw in her plan. "She's human. She can't use crystals!"
Said woman's older brother looked down at her unconscious self bitterly for a while before he closed his eyes in determination. "She has an Eve blessing with her. We have to make the virus kill her. It's the only way."
"How can you say that!" Hare yelled at him in disbelief shortly before he yelled back at her in anger.
"Do you think I like that, either? I am not leaving her behind! Even if she were to survive, she would get captured by this idiot's men. You understand, don't you, Jun?"
The brunette man gritted his teeth in anger, but eventually nodded. "He's right. That's how they got big brother and who knows what they have done to him in Tartarus. Everyone who goes in there is never seen again."
Shuichiro nodded in agreement. "It's bad, but at least this way, Haruka would be safe in the void realm until we get her out again." He then addressed mother directly: "So please, Inori. Let Haruka be reborn as a Genesis with your help."
Another explosion from outside, cracks appeared on mother's wings and she looked as if she was really straining herself to keep them intact. They repaired themselves gradually, but seemed to receive damage quicker than she could rebuild them. A race against time.
"I…can't do it at the same time as building the escape route and keeping my wings intact." She then forced herself to give me an encouraging smile and ask: "Hanae, dear, I know this is a horrifying situation, but could you please help mommy out?"
"I…I am not sure what you are asking me to do, Mom." I responded with a nervous gulp, hands suddenly beginning to sweat horribly.
"You need to…" She groaned at another explosion rocked the ground before focusing back on me once more. "…to stimulate the virus inside your granny so that they become active. You know how to do it, right?"
"B-but that would…"
"It would kill her. We know. It's the only way, so please hurry up." Shuichiro said with impatience but got elbowed by Hare in response, whispering to him fiercely:
"Don't pressure her, dummy."
"I know, but we are kind of in a hurry here, so…" He groaned back.
"I…I don't want to, Mom. I love granny…!" I now began to cry with a shaky voice.
"I know, honey. We all love her. But it will be fine. Mommy gave her a blessing. She will revive for sure. She will be back in a short while, okay?" My mother tried to reassure me with her calm voice coming from her crystal wings.
"Princess, if you won't do it, your grandmother will surely be killed by Argo just like…" Jun looked down and stopped himself from talking, realizing that it wasn't something he wanted to say to the daughter of the king they had all just lost.
Strangely enough, that had been all that was needed to convince me. Just thinking back to the way my father had been executed by these soldiers was enough to let fear and sadness well up inside me. Alongside something else I have never felt before. At the time I couldn't figure out what it had been, but eventually I would. Either way, I knew I had to act if I wanted to save my loved ones from the same fate. I never wanted to experience something like that again.
And thus, with a determined nod, but still unable to stop the tears, I eventually nodded and crawled up to Haruka's unresponsive body, taking hold of the arm lying closer to me.
I took a deep breath and clenched her arm to stop mine from shaking. Then I began telling the virus to grow. Rapidly.
Crystal cancer began spreading on granny's skin and she began frowning in displeasure. I closed my eyes and kept going until she started hitting stage 2 at which point half her arm and several parts of her body were already cancerous. It was still fine, though. I could still undo it all with one click of my fingers. Part of me really wanted to, but when I opened my eyes to look at everyone around me, I knew I couldn't stop now. They way everyone was looking at me with those eyes filled with expectation…even Mom gave me a nod to tell me I was doing good.
But how could it be good when I was effectively harming granny? I didn't want to do this. I felt sick to the bone for going along with it. A voice inside me kept screaming at myself to stop, to just tell them that I couldn't do it and be done with it. But then images of my father's horrible execution filled my head and Haruka's body riddled with bullet holes began appearing next to him. I gasped and shook my head in denial. No, this was not allowed to happen. No more! Don't take more form me!
Haruka hit stage 3. The point of no return.
"I am sorry, granny. So sorry." I sobbed in utter despair, seeing as to how Shuichiro and Jun had to hold her limbs down now as she began shaking in shock. The virus was developing fast and beginning to shut down her body. It broke my heart to see her like this.
"Almost finished, Hanae, just a little more. " Hare told me, offering me a sad smile. "It's almost over.
"Please just finish it already…" Shuichiro said with eyes forced shut, wishing for it to be over as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, mother looked as if she was nearly collapsing form exhaustion. Her wings were barely regenerating in time anymore.
"We…must….hurry…" Her voice was barely audible. She appeared to be like in a trance. Her limit was near.
At last, Haruka's body was fully crystallized and shattering apart. I could do little but cry silently as I watched the body that was once my grandmother fall apart like broken glass.
"I am…sorry, Hanae. That you…had…to do…this…"
"Mom…" I didn't care anymore. I just wanted to go to her and embrace her.
However, fate would not be kind enough to let me. Before I could reach her, another explosion finally broke her defenses. As her wings shattered, we all got blown away by the blast. My vision spun uncontrollably until I finally got caught by Jun who had lunged in my direction in the last second to shield me from hitting the seats behind us.
"Princess, are you hurt?" He quickly asked me as he scanned me hastily for injuries. All while getting up and pulling me up with him.
"N-No, I think I am fine. But Mom…!"
We both turned our attention back to the fallen seraph whose wings had been shattered. She had become too weak to even stand. Behind her, we could see dozens of soldiers dropping down from helicopters with the help of ropes as well as Endlaves being dropped from above via huge carriers. But Jun only looked delighted about that. Like he had only waited for that to happen from the very beginning.
"All Endlave units, bail out your pilots and protect your former target." Was all he yelled into his void he had just drawn in the blink of an eye." Immediately, the heavy war machines began going limb for just a second before slowly rebooting again, now turning against the soldiers they had originally come to support.
Meanwhile, Argo and a couple of his goons had reached mother and attempted to subdue her, but Shuichiro, acting with the swiftness only a Genesis was capable of, quickly turned around and ripped out a bunch of the stadium seats to hurl them at his adversaries. The leap of junk hit a couple of soldiers like the trunk of a huge tree, knocking them back and undoubtedly even killing them with the force of impact alone. Argo, though, had managed to avoid the attack through sheer instinct and luck alone, deciding to duck at the right second to avoid a death by junk.
He proceeded to go after Inori, who was still trying to get back on her feet, horribly out of breath.
"Get away from her!" auntie Hare yelled in fury as she let her void wrap itself around Argo's raised fist. The man was shocked initially, which was all she needed to pull him away from her with her Genesis's strength. Like a fisherman reeling in his catch. However, this only worked at first, as Argo quickly made use of the crown he had stolen from father to take possession of the void instead, making her look at him in utter disbelief as she was forced to see the control of her own void slipping away from her own hands.
"I'll be taking this!" He said as he quickly spun around with the void, using the momentum he gained to make it lash out against its own master, hitting her right in the face. The force alone knocked her to the side where she hit the ground. "Hah, so that's how this feels! No wonder Shu was always so tough to beat!"
I, who initially had been frozen in place out of fear and shock, felt something unfamiliar raise up inside me upon seeing all this happening.
How that man had dared to harm Hare in such a way.
How he dared to go after mother who was desperately trying to collect the last bit of her strength to protect us.
How he had dared to kill father…!
Something inside me had been born and was trying to break free. With clenching fists and gritted teeth I just stood there, unsure of whether I should let it out or keep it in. I knew it was a scary thing. Something which, once unleashed, could never be tamed again.
Even I as a small brat had understood that, and I grew even more afraid. I was paralyzed by my fear of becoming someone, something that wasn't me anymore.
I hadn't realized then, that I had already lost everything that had defined my old self at that point.
My childish innocence.
My youthful optimism.
The petals of my flower, once white, had already become red.
And the stem that carried it was already full of thorns.
I just hadn't realized it yet.
And so when Argo managed to avoid Shuichiro's fist through his sheer combat experience alone and stabbed him with his battle knife he had pulled out from his boot, I just stood there, letting the feeling I would soon learn to be hatred slowly take a firm grip of my heart.
With every hit against my family, with every attack against the people I loved, something inside me shattered apart to make room for something viler. Darker…
Mother had finally managed to get back on her feet again, using her powers to wrap crystal tendrils around Shuichiro to fling him behind her in order to get him out of Argo's reach, then doing the same for Hare, who was still trying to recover from the earlier blow she had Jun was quick to look for them after they had landed close to us. Especially Shuichiro's stab wound had looked horrible. There was so much blood coming out of his stomach…
"Run!" Mother ordered us, letting new blades grow out of her hands. Her whole stance was faulty, bearing testament of how little energy she had left. She was running on fumes, basically. The black stumps on her back, once glorious and breathtakingly beautiful wings, were nothing more but broken remnants. She didn't even have the power to make them grow back.
Argo could only sigh at her current state. "It's a shame it came down to this, Inori. You were always such a good soldier. If only you had never become Eve…" He dodged mother's uncharacteristically slow swings easily.
"My whole life I have never regretted anything, Argo. Whether it was meeting Gai, falling in love with Shu, dying in his arms during the fourth apocalypse, being reborn as a Genesis, becoming queen or even acquiring the title of Eve. I am proud of everything. Except the fact that I have let you live. I should have known you for the monster you turned out to be."
"Same goes for me, I suppose." He said somewhat sadly. "If I had known you would become the enemy of humankind, I could have saved so many people by just killing you right at the start. I wonder if this makes me partially responsible for all the deaths you have caused up until now." Before mother could try to attack him again, he pulled out a pistol from the holster he wore on his belt and simply unloaded on her. She instinctively blacked the first few rounds, but was too slow to block the ones going for her legs. Losing the strength to stay, she groaned and fell to her knees. Still, she never allowed her hateful gaze to stray from this despicable man.
"You are a sad man, Argo. I hope you know that."
"At least I am still a man, monster." With those cold words, he looked down on mother and plunged his hand deep into her chest, letting go of Hare's void in favor of grabbing something with more offensive power.
Mother immediately gritted her teeth and took hold of his arm, desperately trying to push him away from her. Something she no longer had the strength to.
"No…don't you dare…! That power…this void….is not yours!" She told him angrily, but he didn't budge.
With the white sheen reflecting on Argo's mad eyes, he could only stoically reply. "Shu has held the exclusivity of that power for long enough. It is time for humanity to get it back. In the first place, Dr. Kurosu Ouma created it in order to stop the apocalypse virus. This has been a tool to combat Eve right from the start." With one last jolt, he managed to rip the void blade out of her chest and swing it in front of him triumphantly. As he looked at it in a mixture of awe and confidence, he continued:
"Do you understand, Inori? Even Shu's father had the resolve to kill his daughter in order for humanity to live. This is why I will follow his example and do whatever it takes to make sure his resolve hadn't been for nothing. No matter how many Genesis women or children I have to kill, I will do it for humanity! And if I have to go to hell for it one day, so be it. All is fine as long as humanity prevails!"
And with that, he swung his blade around behind him without even turning back, effectively killing all Endlaves that had been controlled by Jun and were engaging the hostile soldiers until now.
"Tch, such a disgustingly overpowered weapon. No man should ever wield it, yet I must to protect the world. So be it, then. I shall become part monster so that humanity doesn't have to. I will bear the sins for everyone."
"I would love to see you try, Argo." Mother said to him mockingly as she began smirking at him. "I wonder how long it will take for you to see that you are nothing more but a delusional fool who tries to play the hero. The poor, fragile man who so desperately wished for a purpose to his pathetic existence that he created a problem just so that he would have something to fix."
"You are giving me far too much credit, Inori." Argo simply responded with an indifferent shrug. "From the very beginning, all I was, was a simple man. I never had the power to change anything, let alone start something. All I ever did was respond to the things caused by big players all around me. GHQ, Gai, Shu, you. I didn't start this war, but I will end it.
"Ah, of course. Every villain will always be the hero in their own stories." Mother said with a tired sigh.
"Any last words before I put you out of your misery?"
The queen closed her eyes and smiled amusedly.
"Who has given himself too much credit now, hm? We both know you can't truly kill me. As much as I hate to even think about it, I will be doomed to walk the rest of my life on this rotten planet without Shu at my side." That was when she suddenly opened her red eyes once more. Eyes which had lost their red glow soon after she had lost her wings, suddenly flared up for one last time as she put everything into her last attack.
"Still, even if I have lost him, I still have things to protect. My family…Hanae, I will never let you harm them! Die!" Crystals formed at my mother's feet, propelling her forward and making her launch her last counter attack. Swinging both her blades in an X fashion at her enemy, he couldn't react in time and was forced to receive it. A punishment for letting his guard down against Eve, the strongest woman on earth.
"Grmph!" He groaned as he looked down on his chest where lots of blood began dripping through the Teflon armor he wore. It had managed to prevent mortal wounds, but would certainly keep scars in the future. Not wasting a single second for his retaliation, he quickly swung mom's void at her and rammed it right through her heart. With wide open eyes, I merely watched as mother's body grew limp and slowly turned into crystals to shatter apart and be scattered around by the wind.
"Mooom!" I cried out in vain, tears obstructing my eyes as I finally was released from my self-inflicted paralysis. I fell to my knees and sobbed uncontrollably, letting all my emotions run rampant. There no longer was a need to hold back. No longer a need to care about anything anymore.
The hope I had held on to that everything would be alright…I let go of it.
The dreams of a happy future together with everyone…I abandoned them.
The burning hatred inside me that had kept begging for freedom…I unchained it.
The despair that tried taking a grip of my heart….I invited it.
And everything just turned dark.
Before I knew it, black crystals began sprouting around my hands and legs, forming gruesome and monstrous claws. At the same time, those dark, metallic crystals began forming themselves on my rear like some sort of tails. Three fully grown crystal tails swinging around wildly like the tentacles of a monster from the deep abyss, but only at the beginning, as I quickly began giving them direction. From one moment to the next, they all aligned themselves perfectly, aiming their sharp end at Argo like the poisonous stinger of a scorpion. Before I knew it, I was leaning forward on my hands, letting my new crystal claws dig through the concrete below me as if it was mere sand as I clenched my fists. All while growling at the hateful man in front of me with so much animosity that you would begin question whether I was still sentient at this point.
Heck, not even I myself was sure anymore.
All I wanted, all I could think about, was to rip that man to shreds.
I hated him.
I despised him.
For what he had done to my family. Taking away my parents. Forcing me to infect my grandmother. Harming my friends. I needed to kill him.
Funny if you considered how I never even once had considered killing anything or anyone up to this day, yet ending this man's existence had come to me as naturally as breathing air.
It was almost as if I didn't care anymore.
Or perhaps I didn't want to care about anything anymore.
As scary as the numbness of despair may have felt, I was grateful for it at the same time. It helped pushing the images of my parents and granny Haruka away for a short while to make room for more hatred. Fuel for more power. My growls had evolved into a full scale roar, twisting my voice until it could barely still be considered huma-
No. I was never human.
How could I ever have been something as vile and disgusting as a human?
I was a Genesis. We were different. We were noble. We were just. We knew kindness and mercy. My parents had known at least.
Me? I wasn't so sure about that anymore. Was there even any room for such things when it came to humans? Did they deserve forgiveness for all the cruel sins they committed?
Forgiveness would mean to forgive their murder of my beloved parents. The gentle stroking of my hair my father would give me whenever I had looked for his attention. I would never feel it again. The lovely voice my mother had used to sing for me. I would never hear it again.
New tears formed in my eyes. Could I really forgive such a foul crime? The robbery of my happiness?
DON'T SCREW WITH ME!
My eyes began flickering red repeatedly as I tried following my instincts as the daughter of Eve, wishing, begging for the crystals to grant me the deeper, finer control my mother had had. But I wasn't Eve. Such control was not mine to have, and therefore, my eyes could not maintain the glow and flickered instead.
My whole form was faulty to begin with, to be honest. There were three tails, but they were all asymmetrically aligned and it looked like there should have been more of them which had stopped developing halfway through my transformation. Furthermore, the claws at my feet and hands appeared to be meant to grow further up to my upper arms and legs, yet only barely managed to reach my ankles and wrists.
"I am sorry, mother. I am a failure as your daughter." Was what I thought at the time.
Rather than a noble beast, I was more in relation to an abomination. A thought Argo of all things had the audacity to share.
"Like I thought. The spawn of monsters could always only be a monster, no matter how lovely they appear at first. Therefore, I must eradicate them all." The void blade in his hand had shattered together with mother's body, but he didn't seem to mind that at all. As reinforcements arrived next to him to take aim at me, so did he take an assault rifle from one of his subordinates to mirror their action.
"Monster?" My voice that was altered by the crystals growing on me into a scary and demonic one asked angrily. In a fracture of a second, my muscles contracted and pushed myself off the ground with a forward leap. So much force had been used that every time my hands or legs pushed themselves off the ground, a small crater was left behind. Ah, in a sense, it really was inhuman after all, but that was a good thing. Who wanted to be human anyway?
"The only monsters I see are you humans!" I growled at them as I raced towards them. They kept shooting at me, but couldn't keep up with my speed. As I approached them, I leapt into the air like a lioness would for her prey. Before I even reached them, I pulled back my right claw and struck the air, seemingly. That action would have made no sense normally, but mirroring my movement, crystal spikes began shooting out of the ground in the shape of a giant scratch mark as if my hit had cut right through the air and infected the ground underneath them.
Dozens of them were torn apart and a red mist caused by their blood was spread out which was both beautiful and disgusting at the same time. It smelt of rusting iron and nearly made me gag, but at the same time, it filled me with delight. Slaughtering these worthless humans was so satisfying. After all they had done, it was their just reward, after all. Even mother had said so! The part of me that would have normally appaled by this sight seemed to have retreated into the deeper parts of my conscience, lost in the darkness I have plunged myself into. But that was good. There was no room for hesitation. No room for weakness. I needed to be stronger than ever now. For mother. For father. For everyone.
I landed on top of Argo and pinned him against the ground. He, who was already wounded by mother's earlier attack, had no strength whatsoever to defend against me, even though I was still just a small kid.
My crystal claws dug deep into his flesh and made him cry out, but he soon met my hateful gaze with one of his own.
"Murderer! Give me back what you took from me! Give it back now!" I roared at him, not caring the slightest bit that tears, snot and spit was raining down on him. His allied soldiers who tried coming to his help were taken out by my tails which kept striking out at anyone coming near.
"How stupid." He somehow managed to laugh at me still. "Don't you see I am doing exactly that? If I kill you now, you will be reunited with your father in hell, so why do you struggle? Did you hate your father so much you don't even want to see him again?"
This rotten…! How dared he! I would show him, oh how I would show him!
Before he knew it, I opened my mouth and bit him right in the neck. Small, yet strong Genesis teeth ripping through the skin almost like through paper. I drew quite some blood, which eventually ended up in my mouth.
The taste was absolutely horrendous.
And yet I had tasted nothing sweeter ever before.
That was because it had been accompanied by the horrified scream of the traitorous scum that lied below me. Hah! Not so smug now, are you, huh? HUH?
I didn't think of this at the time, but thinking back now, I wonder how my parents would have reacted to seeing me like that. Heck, I wonder how I myself would have reacted upon seeing myself acting like this. It was such a surreal thing for me to do at the time. Prior to that day, the worst thing I had ever done to anyone had been to accidentally break a kid's leg during a friendly soccer game. Now? Now I was actively mauling a person.
But then again, that man beneath me had ceased to be registered as a person long ago. A monster, a demon…that was the closest thing he would ever be to me. A nightmarish fiend that had to be exterminated.
And I, who hadn't truly known the first thing about fighting, had chosen to follow my instincts alone.
Which was to bite him. And so I bit him good. It felt so satisfying to hear him scream in pain, make him feel the same kind of despair I was currently going through. However, in the end, I was still just a brat. Blessed with my parents' genes but still inexperienced in combat. I thought I had won, but the truth looked different.
I heard a gunshot. My eyes opened wide as I was thrown into a world of intense pain I had never felt before in all my life. Looking down, I saw that Argo had managed to grab the rifle that had landed next to him when I had pinned him down and had somehow aimed at me through all the pain I must have inflicted on him.
Ah, hadn't it been enough? Have I still been too weak?
I was a failure after all.
The blood that was dripping through my abdomen now was drenching my shirt and coat and as my eyes rolled back, I collapsed on top of him, feeling my life getting drained from me.
I couldn't protect anyone.
I couldn't avenge anyone.
I was nothing but a weak, worthless princess that would die a dog's death.
"Hanae!" With the last speck of my conscience, I noticed auntie Hare's voice and the feeling of something wrapping itself around me. Then everything went dark.
And once the hatred and anger finally subsided, I came to realize that there was just nothing left inside my heart anymore.
I had become empty, devoid of emotion. Everything that had ever defined me had been claimed by the darkness I had invited into my heart.
I had lost everything…my mother, my father, my granny, my home…and in the end, I had lost myself as well.
In a way, you could even say that a part of me had died that day as well.
However, another part of me also lived on. It may have been hurt and broken, but with time it would heal, grow new roots and recover from the trauma. Like a weed I would refuse to be killed like that, push on and grow back into the flower I had used to be…but this time, I would be ready to show the world my thorns.
Yes, as parts of me had died, certain new parts of me had been born. Like the apocalypse was meant to reshape humanity, I was reshaped into a new being as well. Survival of the fittest demanded change and if the world was saying there was no need for a princess of kindness, then I would have to become a different one instead.
This time, I hadn't been ready, but soon there would be a time in which the world would have to wonder if they would be ready for me.
I didn't know it back then, but this might have the moment in which I had become a new me.
The princess of thorns.
As you can tell, this is not the end of this story, but merely the first half. The second one will follow later, once I have the time to finish it. The first part is meant to show Hanae's descend into despar and the second one is meant to show her ascend into tyranny. As you cna tell, I meant to show how corrupted Hanae would become if she were to be ever born into the regular RtT universe which is full of war and conflict. It's supposed to show the stark contrast to the cute and innocent girl shown in the ceasefire universe in which there is peace. Also, I really love to corrupt pure characters so it's a lot of fun to write.
Another thing I like is Inori's despair-form. Readers of RtT will probably notice that every Eve has her own "final form" which consists of a transformation via black crystals. The forms themselves are meant to match each Eve resppectfully. So, Mana turned into a black widow due to her scary and brutal personality, thus becoming a merciless spider monster with scythe arms only interested in destroying everything once her Adam was killed.
Inori is different. Her fallen seraph form brings her back to the roots in a time during which she simply hadn't cared about anything. Remember back at the start of the anime when she didn't even know many of the basic emotions properly? It's somewhat like that. Inori loses all her sympathy for anyone unrelated to her. All those humans she slaughters? She doesn't care about them. Whether they live or die means nothing to her. The only reason she kills them is to get back on Argo whom she truly despises for killing Shu. In her desire to punish him, she is willing to kill all of humanity to take away from him what he values the most. Her detachment from humanity also fits perfectly into her angel form since angels look down on humans with mostly indifference anyway. Never really interfering with them unless they have to.
Sure, some religious people will claim that they follow god and that god loves humanity so his angels would too, but even so, Inori has black wings and is referred to as a fallen angel, so even if that was the case, it wouldn't apply to her anyway. She does not believe god exists and even if he did, she as a fallen angel would not be in his camp anyway.
And then there is Hanae whose form wasn't completed. Hanae is a free spirit, full of energy and taking full pride in the "wild" aspect of "wildflower". I'll agree that it's hard to see because there aren't many chapters for her yet so she didn't have much screentime in Reclaiming the deleted scenes, but her character is somewhat tomboyish and stubborn. She is smart and cute, but also headstrong and refuses to back down easily. In a sense, she is really like a cat. They have the same characteristics, I think, so it fits quite well all things considered. Of course a simple cat wouldn't do, so she is a bit different but you will see once she reaches her final form eventually.
I hope you enjoyed the first half of the story so far and look forward to the second part in which Hanae will begin her rebellion to avenge her family and to teach humanity a lesson.
I haven't really proofread this enough so I hope I didn't make too many mistakes. Truth to be told, I didn't particular like writing in first person, but I feel like I needed to for this story.
Please leave me a review and tell me what you think and if you are interested to see the rest or whether or not I shouldn't bother anymore because no one even cares about alternative timelines and outcomes. I like them, of course, but then again, it's my story and I like everything about it. Other's might not think so.
Also, feel free to check me out on my patr*on for more concepts and life drafts:
patr*on dot com /GKOS
Thanks for reading. I hope to hear from you all soon!