Whatever energy had driven Seryu and company before they set out to kill the witch was gone now. The party was travelling through a thick forest, and the sun had begun to set. To Seryu and her friends, every tree looked just like the ones around it, making the scenery indistinguishable. It felt like they were just walking in place, making no progress with no end to their dark tunnel in sight. The dangerous nature of their quest combined with the haunting atmosphere of their surroundings wreaked havoc on the group's morale.
"Are you sure we had to go through these creepy woods?" asked Doll.
"The only path to the witch's lair that I know of goes through this forest. Trust me, if there was another way I wouldn't have led you here," replied Statue.
Bean Bag Man spoke up, "You know, it's getting kinda dark. Maybe we should set up a shelter for the night."
"Justice never rests, and neither will we!" replied a determined Seryu.
"I don't think people are the same as abstract philosophical concepts," muttered Doll.
Bean Bag Man, tired of looking at nothing but trees, glanced up at the darkening sky. He then noticed that there were several small black dots flying in the sky, and they appeared to be getting bigger. He asked his companions, "Hey guys, do you see those birds up there? I didn't think it was migration season. Wait, what the hell?"
As the "birds" came into focus, it became clear that they weren't birds at all. Seryu tensed up, seeing that an uncountable number of winged monkeys were now flying right at them.
"Koro, deploy number nine: Justice City Detector!"
The little dog obeyed, coughing up an arm-sized radar. To the group's horror, it showed countless red blips coming at them from every direction.
"Don't worry comrades, I'll protect you!" shouted Seryu. "Koro, numbers two, seven, and eight!"
Koro's mouth proceeded to engulf his master, leaving her with four missile turrets on her back, an anti-tank rifle on one arm, and a smaller rocket launcher on her other arm.
"JUSTICE VOLLEY FIRE!" screamed the Jaeger as she fired her payload at the nearest cluster of winged monkeys.
The darkened sky was illuminated with the fire from several explosions. The flames swallowed many of the monkeys as Seryu continued shooting everything she had. After a few minutes of the constant barrage, Seryu ran out of munitions. The sky was now choked with smoke, and not a single enemy was in sight.
"I did it! I vanquished the evil!" squealed Seryu. "Daddy, do you see me? I. . . oh no."
As Seryu looked up, she saw that as the smoke dissipated, more winged monkeys filled the space her weapons had created.
"How many of these things are there?" asked a bewildered Statue.
"That was everything I had," whispered Seryu in a disheartened voice. Then she perked up again and put on a bloodthirsty grin. "It doesn't matter, because justice never surrenders! We'll just have to fight them up close! Koro, numbers one and three!"
Before the teigu could obey, one of the monkeys dropped an electrified net on him. Seryu watched helplessly as her pet was incapacitated. Within moments, the monkeys had swarmed the group. Two of the beasts managed to tear off the Jaeger's mechanical arms. They monkeys were shocked to see that in place of her arms were two small guns.
"JUSTICE EXECUTION!" she shouted before a third gun poked out of her mouth. She began blasting away at the monkeys. After the ones closest to her had their brains blown out, the rest tried to keep their distance. However, Seryu soon found herself out of ammo, and no where near out of enemies. Sensing the Jaeger was out of tricks, the monkeys resumed their attack. Four took hold of Seryu, restraining her. She began screaming various phrases related to justice at the beasts, to the point where one of the winged monkeys tore cloth from his own shirt to gag her.
"I'll save you Seryu!" cried a voice. Seryu and her attackers turned to see Bean Bag Man charging towards them. He let out a loud cry and threw a punch at one of the monkeys grappling Seryu. The polyester fist collided with the monkey's face, but had no impact. "Uh oh," sheepishly muttered the blue man before being dogpiled by a group of monkeys. "Curse my plush softness!" he cried as the monkeys tore into his polyester skin.
Seryu looked to see that Doll and Statue were faring no better, being left to attempting to swat off the animals. Seryu felt herself take off as the monkeys hoisted her into the air. Another monkey retrieved the unconscious Koro. As the beasts carried her into the night sky, Seryu was resigned to helplessly watching as her struggling friends appeared to get smaller and smaller.
Before long, the winged monkeys had brought Seryu and Koro to the witch's castle. Seryu felt helpless as she was (literally) disarmed before the Wicked Witch of the West. The pink colored girl smirked as she held an unconscious Koro in her arms.
"What a nice little dog," the witch sneered, before putting him in a basket and handing it to a monkey. "And you, what an unexpected pleasure. How nice of you to drop in to visit me."
Although she was scared, the Jaeger refused to let it show. With a steady voice, she said, "I don't care what you do to me, villain. Just let Koro go!"
"I'd be happy to let both of you off the hook, just give me those glasses."
"Fine. This prescription has been killing me for hours anyways."
The witch excitedly reached towards Seryu's face, only for a bolt of electricity zap her fingers.
"Ow! Damn! I should have remembered. The spell prevents those glasses from being removed as long as the wearer lives. I can't just blow you away with Pumpkin, I might damage the glasses."
As the witch was thinking, Koro awoke and fled the room, still being too injured to transform into his fighting mode.
"Run, Koro, run!" cried Seryu.
"Get that mutt, you idiots!" the witch screamed at her minions.
But it was too late. The winged monkeys couldn't catch Koro, who leapt over the rising drawbridge and towards the woods. Seryu inwardly cheered as she watched her companion run to safety.
"Don't get too excited," growled the witch. "You're still here. I should begin the slow and agonizing process of killing you in a way that will let me take those glasses. . . but a new OVA of Seven Deadly Sins is about to air, and I'm not missing out on that hunk, Ban," the pink girl sighed as she had naughty thoughts about her fictional beefcake. Then the witch pulled out a large hourglass. "See this? When this runs out, I'll be ready to take care of you. Soon, you'll be dead and those magic glasses will be mine. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a date with an immortal thief," she said before charging out of the room, locking the door behind her.
As Seryu watched the sands fall, she couldn't help but wonder about her friends.
Meanwhile, back at the woods, Doll and Statue were tending to Bean Bag Man's wounds. Doll had spent the the greater part of the afternoon picking up clumps of beans and re-stuffing her blue friend. After she was finished, the statue pulled out a convenient sewing kit and went to work closing the tears in the polyester.
"I never would have guessed you were so good at domestic duties," wondered Bean Bag Man as his faceless companion finished. "Thank you both so much. If it wasn't for you guys, my insides would be all over the forest."
"That's what comrades are for," beamed Statue. "I just wish we could have protected Seryu and her dog."
The trio frowned (or in Statue's case, just looked down) thinking about their fight earlier. Then a bark caused all three of them to look up. They stared in joyous shock as Koro bounded towards them.
"Koro, you're alright! Where's Seryu? Is she safe?" asked Doll.
The dog responded by gesturing with his tiny arms in the direction he came from. Then he bolted off.
"I think he's trying to lead us to Seryu," guessed the Statue.
"We'd better hurry then. I'd hate to think of all the horrible things that witch is doing to her as we speak," said the blue man with a shudder.
It hadn't been long, but Seryu knew she was dying. Yes, she was dying of boredom. There was absolutely nothing to do as she waited for the witch to put her out of her misery. As if on cue, Seryu heard footsteps approaching her room.
"What an emotional payoff! And Ban had fifteen shirtless scenes! Oh, Elaine, you are one lucky fairy," came the witch's voice.
Seryu looked and saw that the hourglass was just about done. Thinking quickly, she grabbed it with her teeth and turned it over. No sooner had she sat back down then the Wicked Witch of the West burst in.
"Alright, Justice Girl, ready to. . ." her voice trailed off as she saw the hour glass. "That doesn't make sense. It should be done by now. Well, I guess I could rewatch a few episodes." With that, the witch left Seryu in her room again.
"Evil sure is stupid," the Jaeger muttered to herself.
After following Koro for a while, the gang found themselves outside the castle, which was surrounded by guards.
"I have an idea for how we can get inside!" shouted Bean Bag Man, before getting shushed by his friends. Even Koro lifted his arm to his mouth in the "be quiet" gesture. "Sorry," he whispered, "I was thinking we could steal a few guard uniforms and sneak in."
"That's a decent plan, but how are we going to isolate three guards?" asked Doll.
"Hey, what are you three doing here?" asked a voice behind them.
The group turned around and saw precisely three guards, wearing full-body uniforms and helmets that covered their faces. Instead of giving a reply, Statue simply decked one guard, Doll incapacitated another with a hit below the belt, and Bean Bag Man tackled the last one. After equipping their uniforms, the three entered the castle, with Koro hidden underneath Doll's jacket. Once sure no one was watching, she let Koro out, who led them to the room where Seryu was being held.
"Stand back, everyone," said Statue. Drawing back his stone fists, he punched the weak door open. Doll was the first to enter, her eyes meeting Seryu's tired gaze.
"Aren't you a little short for a guard?" the Jaeger asked.
"Bite me," replied Doll, taking off her helmet. "Now let's get that broomstick."
Just as the group were leaving the room, a high pitched voice cried out, "Who's making all that noise! I'm in the middle of a binge!" They turned and saw the Wicked Witch of the West coming around the corner. "It's you! After them!"
Seryu and her friends charged downstairs as alarms sounded throughout the castle. They made it to the exit, but their hopes were dashed as soldiers rushed out from every direction, cutting off their only escape. As everyone realized they were surrounded, a shrill cackle sounded from behind.
"Thought you could checkout whenever you wanted, huh? Well now I've got you all in one place!" gloated the witch.
"Wait, Miss West. . ." stammered Bean Bag Man, causing the pink girl's face to twist with fury.
"I'm only half western! Why is my tribe such a big deal to you people anyways? You know what? Just for that, I'm getting rid of you first." Just as she finished, the broomstick Pumpkin ignited, causing Bean Bag Man to leap back in fright.
Seryu panicked, looking around frantically for anything that could save them. That's when she noticed a wooden bucket of water resting on the floor. Instinctively, she kicked the water bucket at Pumpkin, dousing both the broomstick and its owner.
"Argh! I'm melting! I'm melting! Oh, what a world, what a world! To think I would be stupid enough to leave my one mortal weakness just lying around like that! Oh, what a world!" screamed the witch as she melted away.
There was a moment of uncomfortable silence, before the guards cheered, "Hail Seryu! She has freed us from the witch!" One guard immediately went up to her and vigorously shook her stump arm. "Thank you, young hero. That witch forced us to be her servants for years. But now, we are free to return to our families."
"I'm afraid I can't let you all off the hook," replied the Jaeger darkly. The guards immediately stopped cheering. "Those who have served evil, no matter the reason why, must be punished. Koro, equip me with number three!" The dog obeyed, leaving a massive sword where Seryu's right arm was. "SUNG DYNASTY BLADE!" she shrieked, cleaving several guards in two. Koro quickly joined in, swallowing multiple men whole.
Bean Bag Man, Doll, and Statue watched with mouths agape as a girl and her dog massacred the screaming soldiers. After a couple terrifying minutes, Seryu approached her friends. Her once green clothes were now dyed red, and blood drenched her face and hair. "Don't worry guys, evil has been cleansed from this castle." Then she noticed Pumpkin on the ground. Picking it up, she exclaimed, "Look guys, we can show this to the wizard and get our wishes granted. Guys? Why are you staring like that?"
"Well, well, I see you have brought me the broom," bellowed the Wizard of Ur, his massive form looking down at the group of five.
"Yes, Sir," replied a jubilant Seryu. "And know, we'd like you to keep your promise."
"I'll give the matter a little thought. Come back tomorrow."
"Tomorrow! But my comrades need me now!"
"Do you dare back sass the great and powerful Ur!" boomed the wizard.
In spite of her trembling knees, Seryu didn't back down. "If you were really great and powerful, you'd keep your word!"
"Silence! Be grateful I am giving you an audience tomorrow instead of twenty years, especially after you broke down my door the last time you showed up!"
Just then, Koro looked over towards the corner of the room. A large drape hid something, and Koro wanted to know what. Running over, he pulled away the drapes, revealing a portly, old, man with long white hair and a beard. Upon seeing that he was exposed, he yelped and shouted into a microphone, "Get out, and don't pay attention to the man behind the curtain!"
Seryu and company curiously approached the old man anyways, causing him to shrink in embarrassment. "Who are you?" asked everyone at once.
"Well, my name is Truthful, but everyone else knows me as the Wizard of Ur."
"You fraud!" shouted a disgusted Statue.
"You're truly a bad man!" said Seryu, who began looking at Koro expectantly.
"No, no, no! I'm a good man, just a. . . just a really bad wizard."
"Does this mean you can't help us?" asked a discouraged Bean Bag Man.
"No, no. For example, you wanted something to make you strong enough to support your friends, right? Where I come from, we have these people called counselors. They sit around all day and listen to people's problems, and they're not any stronger than you are. But here's what they do have that you don't: a big comfy couch!" With that, Truthful went and pulled out a large comfortable looking piece of furniture. "Sometimes, being a supportive friend just means being there for them, and listening when they need you."
Bean Bag Man sat near the couch and said, "Hey, I think I help people no matter what troubles them! Mister Wizard, how can I ever thank you enough?"
"You can't," replied Truthful before turning to Statue. "And you there. You think that your appearance keeps people from getting close to you. The truth is, just being kind is more than enough to win over people, at least if they are people of quality. There are lots of funny looking people with friends, and they only have one thing on you: a smile." Truthful then pulled a comedy theatre mask from the wall, and handed it to Statue.
"I feel charming already," softly whispered Statue, who would be blushing if his face wasn't covered.
Then Truthful approached the Lonely Doll. "You, young lady, wish for a sister, is that right?"
"Yes, I've always wanted a family."
"Well, although I can't provide you with a sibling by blood, family can mean anyone who you care about enough to consider yourself related to. There are plenty of people who consider themselves related to those they share no blood with, and their families aren't any more real than yours, but what they have is legal documentation." Truthful proceeded to pull out several official looking sheets of paper. "Now, would any of you like to be apart of this girl's. . ."
Before the wizard could finish, a blue hand shot up followed by the cry of, "I would love to!" Everyone turned to Bean Bag Man, who shrinked in embarrassment.
"I would as well," said Statue.
"So would I" cheered Seryu.
"Alright then. Just sign here, here, and here."
After everyone had filled out the paperwork, Truthful announced, "Congratulations, you're all distant cousins now, or whatever."
As everyone gathered around and hugged Doll, Truthful explained, "In life, family can be the friends you make along the way."
"But wait, what about Seryu?" asked Doll.
"Yeah, aren't you going to help Seryu?" said Bean Bag Man.
"Seryu next," added Statue.
"Is there anything you have that can help me?" the Jaeger asked.
"Well, to get you back to the Empire, I'd have to take you back myself. Now come with me."
The wizard took everyone out the back door, where a hot air balloon was waiting. "I keep this around in case the city finds out I'm a fake, and I need to make a hasty exit," explained Truthful. He entered the balloon and began fiddling with the ropes. "Hold on while I get this thing ready. . . uh oh." Unexpectedly, the balloon began to take off without Seryu.
"Wait, come back!"
"I can't, I don't know how it works. Well, goodbye everyone."
Seryu's heart sank as she watched the balloon rise, until it was out of sight. Feeling utterly hopeless, she sank to her knees and wept.
Placing a reassuring hand on her shoulder, Bean Bag Man said, "Don't worry Seryu, you can stick with us. We're still your friends, and we look out for each other."
Seryu looked into the polyester man's eyes, replying, "Thank you, but my comrades back home need me. They could be hurt, or killed by those villains in Night Raid, and I can't do anything to help them!"
Just then, Seryu noticed something flying towards her out of the corner of her eye. As it got nearer, she noticed it was a cube. Then she gasped upon realizing what it was. Or rather, who it was. As the ice cube approached, it transformed into a familiar woman.
"Esudesu! Did you come here to help me?"
"You don't need my help, you had the power to go home whenever you wanted!"
". . . what?"
"I knew you wouldn't believe me, so I sent you on a wild adventure to teach you a lesson."
"What. . . the hell. . . IS WRONG WITH YOU!" screamed Seryu.
"Huh? I don't see why you're so upset."
"Why am I upset? My friend's lives were at stake, and instead of telling me what I needed to know, you lie and send me on a wild goose chase with a killer witch out for me!"
"Well, there is that, but didn't you learn an important moral?"
"What moral? That there's no place like home? I've wanted to do nothing but go home since I came to this place! And as for me not believing it, consider this: I got transported to a magical world with singing dwarves, witches, and talking inanimate objects. My suspension of disbelief is pretty high right now."
"Well if you're going to be such a poor sport, then I'll tell you how to get home. Push the magic glasses up the bridge of your nose, and say 'There's no place like home,' three times."
Turning away from the "good" witch, Seryu went to her friends. "I'll miss you all so much. Remember to stay on the path of justice. Goodbye." With that, Seryu pushed up the glasses, said the phrase thrice, and everything went black.
When Seryu opened her eyes again, she was lying in bed, surrounded by the faces of her fellow Jaegers. "Comrades! You're all here! Does this mean we beat Night Raid?"
"Not quite," explained Run. "I found Wave injured, lying far away from the battle. He informed me of the ambush, and I was able to retrieve Esdeath, Stylish, and his experiments. By the time we found you all, Night Raid had surrounded Bols and Kurome. They were both fighting hard to protect you as you lay incapacitated, and the rest of us were able to drive Night Raid away. The doctor fixed you up, and here we are."
"You are very fortunate. For a moment, we were all concerned you had left this world," added Esdeath.
"But I did leave you! That Night Raid sniper sent me to another place," Seryu exclaimed, pointing at Wave, Korome, then Bols. "You, and you, and you were all there! Oh, and the prime minister was there too!"
"Honest?" asked a confused Bols.
"Sounds like you had a wild dream while you were out," replied Wave.
"No, no. You don't understand. This was a real, truly live place. And I remember that some of it wasn't very nice, but most of it was beautiful, and you were all there. You were too soft, you had a sister complex, and you didn't have a face. Doesn't anybody believe me?" asked Seryu, who was starting to get agitated.
Instead of answering, the Jaegers all looked at each other. Kurome turned to Doctor Stylish and asked, "She's not going to be like this forever, right?"
"Well, this sort of thing is normal for people who experience head trauma. She should be over it in a few days."
Just then, Koro woke up and jumped into Seryu's arms. "Koro, we're both safe. And we're home. Home! And you're all here. And I'm not going to leave here ever, ever again, because I love you all. And... Oh Captain Esdeath, there really is no place like home!"
Seryu's friends looked confused, unsure of how to react to their comrade's sentimental outburst. Esdeath was the first to say something. Turning around, she announced, "All this sappiness is getting on my nerves. I think I'll spend some time in my torture chamber if anyone needs me."
One by one, the other Jaegers filed out until it was just Seryu, Koro, and Stylish. "Oh, good doctor, you believe me, don't you?"
Stylish flashed a warm smile and said, "Of course I do, Dear. Now get some rest. Doctor's orders." The doctor then left, turning out the lights, leaving Seryu alone with her dog.
AN: Big thanks to everyone who took the time to read this story. It was a lot of fun to write, even if life made it hard to update as quickly. If you enjoyed this story, check out some of my other Akame ga Kill works. Thank you for reading!