Rias was acutely aware of the tendril of guilt, worming itself into her heart as she watched the poor perverted boy, walking around with his date. His face was alight with excitement, contrasting with Rias' expression. Not surprising, as he didn't know his date was a supernatural being in disguise, or that she was leading him deeper into the park just to have a more convenient spot for his assassination.
Rias was burning with a desire to erase that arrogant fallen angel from the face of the Earth. The sheer gall she had, thinking that she could just stroll in the middle of her territory and assassinate a Sacred Gear holder, one Rias had marked as a future member of her peerage. Power of destruction was crackling on her fingertips, begging to be unleashed. Normally, Rias wouldn't have waited a second before lashing out, burning that arrogant crow into cinders, but the circumstances held her hand. She was desperate, desperate enough to allow the assassination of an innocent boy for her own benefit.
If only she didn't have that damnable betrothal hanging on her head, threatening to bound her to a pathetic man for eternity. It wasn't that she would be happy with the idea of an arranged marriage even if her betrothed was a nice man, the idea of being married just for politics was anathema to her romantic perception. But the fact that her betrothed was a pig brought her situation to a point of desperation. She was willing to do almost everything to get free of her engagement. She had no intention of living the rest of her life as a spineless man's conquest.
But canceling her betrothal was no simple issue. Without her family's support, her options were limited. Her parents were the biggest supporter of the marriage, and while her brother was against it, ironically, his position as the strongest devil prevented him from weighing in an inter-family matter without raising the question of favoritism. There were some political ploys she had employed, and small victories she accumulated, but she had no illusion about how it would end. A rating game, a naked contest of power and strategy between her and her betrothed.
And unfortunately, that was the biggest problem. He might be a pathetic man in terms of personality, but Riser Phoenix was the rising star of the rating games. With his full peerage, he had managed to accumulate a string of victories in the short time he had joined the competition. He had just two losses in more than a dozen battles he had been through, and even those two were more of a thorn on her side rather than beacons of hope. Riser had forfeited those two for political favors. Favors that he had no complication employing against her, destroying most of the political capital Rias managed to accumulate.
While neither Riser nor her family could object to a rating game as the final arbiter, that would be only comforting if Rias had a reasonable chance for victory. And, as much as it hurt her pride to admit, in her current state, her chances against him was practically nil. She had the vaunted Power of Destruction, but she wasn't her brother, she couldn't singlehandedly win against a full-peerage. She didn't even know whether she could win against Riser himself in a fair match-up, with his regeneration ability perfectly countering hers.
Her peerage was not ready for such a battle despite their powerful abilities and their unparalleled loyalty. She only had four pieces compared to Riser's fifteen, and to make things even worse, her bishop was still unable to control his power, making her situation even worse. No matter how unique her peerage members were, they wouldn't be able to stand against the opposition.
The solution was simple. She needed to recruit. But simple wasn't the same as easy. The most logical front of recruitment, the Underground, was effectively barred for her, with Riser using his family's considerable political power and his status as a rising star to hamper her recruitment effort. Her family was stronger than Riser's, but that meant nothing when her parents were actively supporting the marriage, and happy with Riser's attempts.
Her only option was to recruit from the human world. Normally, that would be an amazing opportunity, as she was fascinated by the human world and their incredible ability for growth. Some humans were strong enough to win against the devils even without any extraordinary enhancements. With the boost they would receive from the Evil Pieces, they could be the key for her victory.
But once again, Rias was restricted, this time by the strict conditions for her presence on Earth. She was not allowed to step outside Kuoh, significantly limiting her pool of candidates. Some of the citizens had amazing potential, as Sona proved with her own peerage, collected from students with no previous combat experience, but showing amazing progress. Rias was sure that, with the growth they were showing, Sona's peerage was going to be a deadly force in the Arena in a decade or two. Nothing more than a blink.
But Rias didn't have a decade. She wasn't sure whether she even had a year, with both her family and Riser trying to push the fated day even closer. Expanding her peerage was her biggest priority, enough to make her betray her principles, making her watch helplessly as a student under her protection was about to be assassinated. His unknown but potentially powerful sacred gear should have been immaterial, but this time, fear for her future managed to beat her principles. She let it happen because she couldn't risk him rejecting her offer, no matter how small the chances. But if he was already dead, he had no choice, and Rias could swoop in as the savior…
But all that reasoning didn't make it any easier to watch as the fallen angel stabbed him while laughing mercilessly, stretching his death for the sole purpose of insulting him… It was a struggle for her to keep control, not just stepping forward to erase that smug bitch from the face of the Earth.
Only after the fallen angel had disappeared Rias started walking towards the bloodied body that was lying on the ground, struggling to breathe. Rias hadn't wasted any time before conjuring her pawns, knowing it was would be harder to resurrect him if he was actually dead. She placed a pawn on his body and then reached to her power, focused through her king piece, trying to activate the ritual. It didn't work, not that Rias was surprised about it. She still didn't know which sacred gear he was holding, but it was strong enough to be noticed even its sealed state. One pawn would never be enough to turn him into a devil unless it was her brother that was resurrecting.
She quickly added several more until five pawns were resting on his chest, repeating the trigger, but no reaction. She placed the sixth one, her heart beating in excitement. There were very few sacred gears that would resist resurrection by her six pawns, especially the holder was just a boy with no training and no magical potential.
She added the seventh. Still no reaction. She could feel her palms getting sweaty, with fear joining her excitement as she reached for her last pawn. The doubt assaulted her mind. Maybe she wasn't strong enough… Maybe she deserved to be sold into a marriage like a cattle…
When she placed the eighth pawn, it was the confirmation of all of her fears. They stayed inert, failing to react, no matter how many times she tried to trigger the ritual. Rias closed her eyes, trying to stand on her feet in the rush of a sudden vertigo, tears pricking her eyes. She just complicity allowed a student under her protection to be murdered, and it was turned out to be nothing. She was too weak to resurrect him. Maybe it was a divine punishment, nothing less than she deserved…
With her eyes closed, she hadn't seen how, but she was distracted by a sudden rush of energy, like a point-blank shout to her magical senses. Her eyes popped open, only to see her pawns burning bright with a deep crimson light, brighter than any other piece Rias had seen. Why, she didn't know. Maybe it was some kind of weird result of using all eight pawns, or maybe it was her desperation unlocking their full capability. But Rias didn't care about the reason. All that mattered was her pawns disappearing into his body, transforming his flesh to supernatural kind.
Rias didn't waste any time before creating a teleportation circle, carrying the poor boy to his own bed, giving him the opportunity for a comfortable rest. One more spell, and he was changed into his pajamas, his blood cleaned. Rias let him sleep, wanting to give him a couple of days to adapt before talking with him about the changes in his life. It would also give the pieces the opportunity to settle into his body.
While she teleported to her room, her mind was already busy about how to greet him. He was a famous pervert. Maybe she should step out of the shower to greet him. He certainly deserved a treat like that, after the choice she had forced on him. And tantalizing the idea of sexual reward would no doubt incentives a famous pervert like him.
Distracted with her plans, she failed to notice that Issei Hyodou lay with his eyes open, watching her disappear with an amused smirk on his lips.
'And that's another stage of the plan, completed without a hitch, partner,' Issei thought as he watched the red-haired beauty disappear in a rush of crimson light. Despite his desires, he was limiting himself to watch the sway of the spectacular hips that was in front of him. Meanwhile, an alien sensation was spreading to his body, transforming it irrevocably.
'A plan that I hate!' rose the voice of an ancient dragon rose from Issei's soul. Or more accurately, from a container right next to his soul, where it was imprisoned. An inescapable prison called Sacred Gear. 'We shouldn't be bothering with all those subterfuge. We are the Sekiryuutei. Nothing can stand against us! We should-'
'Really, even Ophis,' said Issei, cutting Ddraig's tirade halfway. 'We have talked about it hundreds of times, buddy. No matter how hard I work, the limitations of a human body are too hard to suppress. Even against the Albion's Wielder, I'm not willing to bet on my chances before a decade of training, and I'm known for betting on some really long shots.'
'Not if you use the Juggernaut Drive-' Ddraig tried to say, only for Issei to cut him halfway.
'And like I said before, I have no intention of sacrificing my life just that you can win another point in your eternal grudge match. Like we agreed before, I will make sure to make us strong enough to stand against those threats, but you need to ignore your blind pride for a few months.'
'If only we had time. With all the inventive methods you have developed, it wouldn't take long before your own power was enough to beat that brat carrying Albion's pathetic leeching power.'
Issei sighed tiredly. 'I would have preferred that as well, but we simply don't have time. Khaos Brigade starting to act out, they will find us sooner or later. And I'm not willing to take my chances against that asshole Cao Cao again without stacking the deck. The first time was enough. And even if could somehow win against him, there is still Ophis to consider… No, integrating ourself to one of the major factions is our best bet. Devil's body will give me the edge I need, while the name Gremory would be enough to shield me until I'm strong enough. After all, dear Lucifer would never allow harm coming on his precious sister.'
'Enough talk, I'm bored,' Ddraig said before cutting off the connection, but Issei smirked, knowing that his partner was too distracted by modifying transformation activities going on his body to continue talking. He could feel the foreign energies in his body multiplying again and again, accelerating the maturity of his Devil form by decades. The energy provided by the pawns supposed to be just an anchor for the energies a low-class devil would collect through contracts. But the Boosted Gear was not a simple toy, allowing him to bypass all those steps instead.
Still, it was just pure luck that the plan worked. Issei had expected Rias to be strong enough to convert him into the devil, and when it failed, he had to rely on his boosting ability to make up the difference, an untested plan with a significant possibility of failure. He wouldn't die of course, as he could have easily used his powers to boost his regenerative capabilities instead, but it would still ruin the plan.
If Gremory would have witnessed him curing himself, it would have blown the cover he had been using for the last year. After all, it would be difficult to explain to Rias why the pathetic pervert of the school was suddenly able to use his sacred gear for a delicate healing operation.
He shrugged as he threw himself into his bed. It all worked well, and there was no need to worry anymore. Sleep would be nice. Tomorrow, he had a lot of things to do.
As he left the school after a full day of class, Issei could feel the marvelous increase of strength in his body. But somehow, it wasn't enough to prevent him from feeling annoyed. The reason, a small, but obviously magical, bat following him. He suppressed his desire to squash it with a blast of energy, no matter how annoying was its presence, preventing him from testing his new abilities. It carried the magical signature of Rias, his new 'king'. He didn't want to start the relationship by killing a familiar of hers.
The logic of his inaction wasn't enough to cure his annoyance. Even casting a small obstruction spell to get away was not an option, as it would reveal not only he knew that he was being followed, but was also he was magically competent enough to cast a spell. And that would ruin his cover story. A pointless risk at this stage.
But soon, he felt another signature of energy closing to his location, an unappetizing mixture of light and darkness. A male fallen angel, he realized, his hand itching to punch through its chest. He had a little grudge for their kind he needed to detach, and his gender made it even more convenient. He never liked hurting females, especially sexy ones like the one responsible for his bogus assassination. He would still punish her for her daring of course, but he had more inventive ways for that.
The fallen angel's presence was convenient. He could easily ensure the familiar meeting its end in 'stray fire'. Fallen angels were not the most conservative when it came to throwing their toy flashlights around. He changed his direction towards the fallen angel, trying to continue his role until he started throwing his spears around.
But his annoyance jumped up to a new level when the fallen angel, instead of trying to kill him, launched a rather lengthy monologue about his supposed superiority, and just in how many ways Issei resembled a cockroach. Issei wanted nothing more than to use rusty needles to teach the arrogant asshole the error of his ways. No matter was, he was a dragon in his soul, and had a low threshold against insults, but the presence of the familiar bound his hand.
Then, a flare of teleportation magic popped in his senses, ruining the opportunity completely. Only then, the fallen angel attacked Issei, realizing he had lost his opportunity. "Fucking lazy vulture," Issei murmured, trying to make it convincing as he tried to jump away from the light spear, only to fail. With Rias present, retaliating, or even dodging well, was not an option.
He lay on the ground in a fake display of agony while Rias and the fallen angel had a heated argument. The spear hurt more than it did the day before, his new devil body not playing well with its weakness to the light element, but still, it was little more than a momentary distraction. He ignored Ddraig's shouts of annoyance, demanding him to rip the wings of the fallen angel for his insolence. It was hard to resist since it was the exact thing Issei wanted.
Thankfully, the fallen angel chose to retreat rather than to battle. A wise choice on the surface, as Rias was the stronger of the pair. Not so much in reality, as it gave Issei the opportunity to track him later on, and extract his retribution.
"Oh my poor pawn," Rias murmured in an obvious concern as she looked at his bleeding body. Issei barely held back a snort, amused by her display of concern, as just yesterday, she did nothing to prevent his assassination. "Let's get you cured," said Rias. Issei didn't answer as he felt a pair of soft arms wrapping around before the world disappeared into a crimson flare. When the light subsided, they were back in his room, which surprised Issei a bit. He would have expected her to bring him to a healer instead. But the mystery was resolved when she quickly removed all of her clothing, his clothes subjected to the same treatment a moment later.
It took a considerable amount of willpower to keep himself from just pushing her down and teach why it was a bad idea to tease an unfamiliar man. The facade he had been using in the school, the pathetic pervert, was only half fake. He was a pervert indeed, just not pathetic. He was more than capable of seducing a woman -or three- into his bed whenever he desired. He only stopped it during the last few months to maintain his cover.
And, that same fact was making things more difficult under the circumstances. His backed up desires, multiplied by his transformation, was begging him to take Rias. The soft touch of her skin against his wasn't making control any easier. Her purpose was clear, she was using skin contact to maximize energy transfer. It would not only heal him, but would also speed up the settling of the pawn pieces into his body. A poor replica of the trick Ddraig used. Issei knew that it was a risky procedure for a normal reincarnated piece, carrying a significant risk of side effects. But clearly, Rias was desperate enough to risk it.
Luckily, risks hadn't applied to Issei. Ddraig had already used his boosting capabilities to mature his devil body, and Rias' procedure amounted to nothing more than a light snack. He still added it to the list of things he would make her pay, of course. Even better, he decided to start right now. Continuing to act like he was asleep, he brought his hands on Rias' spectacular chest, and his fingers sank into its soft expanse without a warning.
Rias tried to jump away, startled, but he hooked his leg 'accidentally', preventing her from doing so. With his eyes closed, he wasn't able to see her expression, but the way she stiffened was clue enough. She was considering the merits of teleporting away, but the same desperation that made him target her at the first place prevented her from running away. For her, speeding up his development was too important, not to mention he wasn't fully healed.
Her uncomfortable deliberation took almost a minute, but in the end, she uncomfortably settled in his embrace, her skin feeling even hotter to touch, cluing him to the fact that, if he had opened his eyes, he would see a blush deep enough to match her hair.
He smirked. The night was shaping to be fun.
Author notes: Hello everyone. I know it's not the best practice to put a new story with the others still begging for an update, but this idea was torturing me for the last two month, begging to be released. Today is the day I surrender. I hope it was enjoyable.