Content Warning: Depictions of child abuse and descriptions of gore.
Carol stood up, before wincing as she held her chest. She fell to one knee.
"Master." Leiur said in concern.
"Is your spare body malfunctioning?" Phara asked.
"The high-speed installation of my memories puts great stress on the body." Carol said. "Furthermore, the memory of my suicide is causing a rejection."
"What shall we do?" Leiur asked.
"Proceed with the plan, of course." Carol said. "All the pieces are in place, we cannot allow this chance to pass us by."
"I can't see a thing! There's nothing but darkness ahead of me!" Hibiki groaned.
"Okay. Now hold up your arms, all right? Nice and high!" Miku instructed.
Miku pulled the hospital gown over Hibiki, letting her head poke through.
"How is it?" Miku asked.
"Jeez, why are you fussing so much over a single checkup?" Hibiki asked, as she moved her arms.
"You can thank yourself for that." Miku said, fixing Hibiki's hair.
The two heard Hibiki's phone ring. She saw the caller ID was her father. A small frown made its way to Hibiki's face before she picked up. "Dad?"
"Hey, Hibiki." Her father said. "How's Rui?"
Hibiki tightened the grip on her hospital gown. "Not too good, Dad. She still-"
"Blames herself for me leaving?"
Hibiki nodded, even though he couldn't see her.
"Even though it's my fault, she still can't help but think she's responsible…"
Hibiki didn't say anything, remembering how Rui had acted a while ago when talking to Kirika and Shirabe.
"I'm available whenever. If Rui decides she wants to talk to me again, just let me know."
"Love you, Hibiki."
"You too, Dad." Hibiki said as she hung up.
"What is it?" Miku asked.
"It was Dad." Hibiki said. "He said that he'll be able to talk to Oneesan whenever she wants to."
"That's good, isn't it?" Miku said.
"Maybe… but Oneesan has to be the one to agree." Hibiki said. "But…"
She started to cry, as Miku pulled her into a hug.
Rui was leaning against the door outside, eyes shadowed by her hair.
"Alright, thank you."
Akira hung up on the call, before walking into the living room. There, a nine year old Rui was sitting on the floor, watching television.
"Rui, I just got another call from school." He told her.
Rui's shoulders stiffened up, but she didn't turn around.
"Rui, you can't just hurt other kids because they were annoying." He told her.
His older daughter didn't say anything, trying her best to focus on the TV program. Akira's eyes widened when he saw the show that was on.
"Ore, sanjou! From start to finish, I'm always at a climax! Ikuze, ikuze, ikuze!"
"Oh wow, I remember watching that as a kid." Akira said, watching Kamen Rider Den-O fight. "Guess they're doing reruns of it now."
Rui's eyes were glued to the screen. Thinking for a bit, Akira smiled before clearing his throat.
Rui whipped her head around, seeing her father strike a pose with a perfect imitation of Den-O's voice.
"Heh, surprised you, huh?" Akira grinned. "I could do the voice pretty well when I was younger. Guess I still got it."
Akira sat down next to Rui, as the girl was still impressed by his voice impression.
"I watched these shows as a kid, and you know something, Rui?" Akira asked. "They taught me that you shouldn't use violence to solve problems."
"...but they beat up monsters all the time." Rui said.
"But monsters tried to hurt other people, didn't they?" Akira said, causing Rui to nod. "Can you make a promise with me, Rui?"
"I know you're probably going to get in another fight, but I want you to think first; is it worth it?" Akira said.
"So you're saying I should fight people that really deserve it?" Rui asked.
"Well, I'd prefer it if you don't fight in the first place, but I know that's not the type of person you are." Akira said, patting her on the head.
"Dear? What are you telling Rui?" Asuna called from the other room.
"Nothing!" Akira called back, before holding up his pinky finger to Rui. "Promise?"
Rui looked at his hand, before asking. "If I do, can you tell me more about that TV show?"
"Oh, there is a LOT more than just that one." Akira chuckled. "That's just the surface."
"Okay!" Rui smiled, making the promise with her father.
The older Tachibana heard her sister's tears, before walking down the hall, completely silent.
Before she slammed her fist into the wall.
She kept the promise. She only fought people that really deserved it. Her father even said he was proud of her.
So why… why couldn't she forgive herself…?
A black car drove to a halt on the side of the road.
"Where is this?" Maria asked, as the car stopped.
"Ah, look!" Shuri said, pointing out the window.
Maria looked outside as well, seeing a set of stairs that led up to a rather traditional gate and wall.
"Yatsuhiro Kazanari's mansion, and Tsubasa-san and Maia-san's childhood home." Ogawa explained, as they stepped out with said twins.
Tsubasa stared up the steps at the familiar sight. "It's been ten years. I never thought I'd return in this fashion."
"And thirteen years for me." Maia spat on the ground, not even bothering with looking.
Everyone, with the exception of the Tachibana twins, had gathered in the main room to hear the report.
"I'll put the results on screen." Aoi said, pressing a few keys.
The screen lit up to show a map with several yellow lines and spots.
"Here are the locations to which we're routing additional power." Fujitaka said.
"That's a lot more than I thought, dess!" Kirika said.
Shirabe saw a spot larger than the others. "And that one there seems to be the top priority."
"Neptune's Palace." Genjuro said. "It's a maximum-security area where dangerous heretical technology and other unanalyzed materials are locked away. It's so highly classified that even we don't have access to the details. The most secret of bases."
"If the Autoscorers' aim was to locate it…" Tsubasa said.
"...then they must be after the dangerous items held there." Maria finished.
"So we should cancel their Christmas shopping plans." Maia said.
"Yeah." Chris agreed. "All we gotta do is get in there first and wait for them. I'm tired of being ambushed, so it's our turn now!"
"However, there is another potential target." Genjuro said.
The map zoomed into a spot on the map; one Tsubasa and Maia recognized.
"That's…!" Tsubasa stepped forward.
"You've got to be fucking kidding me." Maia said, gritting her teeth.
"I had the intelligence division look into something that had been bothering me for a while." Ogawa said. "There have been multiple reports of temples and shrines being destroyed in various incidents."
"Why target them?" Shuri asked.
"Each one was part of a spiritual safety net installed by the Meiji government a century ago, placed at vital points for controlling the city's ley lines." Jeanne explained.
"Alchemy and the ley lines must be two fundamental pillars of the enemy's plan." Genjuro said.
"There is a keystone on the Kazanari mansion premises." Tsubasa said. "It's quite possible they'll target it as well."
"Although Hibiki-kun and Rui-kun are in the hospital for a medical exam, this might be our best chance to strike." Genjuro said, briefly turning to Elfnein.
Elfnein herself nodded. "Please, put an end to Carol's vengeance."
They all responded with nods, except Maia who was staring at the spot on the map.
"Alright. You will be split into two teams!" Genjuro said.
"Understood." Ogawa said, putting his hand down from the comm link before turning to the girls as they stood outside the gate. "Chris-san's team will soon arrive at Neptune's Palace."
Tsubasa looked at the doors, taking a deep breath. "Let us hope we do not stride into pandemonium ourselves."
Maia laughed without amusement. "Fat chance of that not happening here."
Shuri frowned, before taking Maia's hand into hers. The older Kazanari didn't protest as the doors opened. They all walked into the courtyard. Partway on the grass was a tall stone monolith, decorated with sacred ropes.
"The keystone." Tsubasa said.
"Is that it?" Maria asked.
"Yup. Just as I remember." Maia said.
"So they haven't attacked yet." Shuri said. "That's a relief."
They turned to see several people approaching them. It was a man in a gray robe, with two agents at his side. Maria and Shuri widened their eyes, as the man's hair had the exact same style of bangs as Tsubasa and Maia.
"Father…" Tsubasa said.
Shuri could feel Maia's grip tighten in her hand.
"Thank you for your hard work, Shinji." Yatsuhiro said to the man, who nodded. He then turned to Maria. "I've heard that you have accomplished much since joining SONG as well."
"Th-Thank you." Maria said.
"And you've led SOUL well, even before SONG was formed." Yatsuhiro said to Shuri.
"I-It was nothing really!" Shuri said, waving her free hand.
"I received a report on the Alca-Noise from the Ahnenerbe's mysticism department." Yatsuhiro said to Ogawa. "Let us review it later."
"Of course, sir." Ogawa said.
With that, he turned and started to walk back. Despite being silent during the conversation and not being acknowledged at all, Tsubasa spoke up.
"Father!" She said.
Yatsuhiro stopped walking.
"I'm sorry for not keeping in touch." Tsubasa said.
The man only barely turned his head. "Even without you, the house of Kazanari stands firm. You shall return to the battlefield once your duty here is done."
Shuri couldn't help but be shocked by those words, and would've said something herself if Maria hadn't beaten her to the punch.
"Hold it right there!" Maria shouted. "You're Tsubasa's father, aren't you?! Don't you have any-?"
"Maria, it's fine." Tsubasa cut in, to try and calm her down.
"It's fine." Maia said, stepping forward and pulling her hand out of Shuri's. "The old man never fucking cared, so why should he start now?"
Yatsuhiro did not move, nor say anything.
"Well? You got something to say?" Maia asked.
He started to walk back again.
"Don't walk away from me!" Maia shouted. "Say something, dammit!"
Before Maia could say any more curse words, Ogawa pulled out his gun and shot at an odd shimmering spot in the area. The bullets were knocked away by a burst of wind.
"How barbaric." Phara said, as the wind died down to reveal her. "I had no intention of interrupting that touching family reunion."
"You're that Autoscorer!" Tsubasa said, recognizing the one that had damaged her Gear.
"Now, I'll be releasing the ley line here, if you'll excuse me." Phara said.
"So you are after the keystone!" Maria said.
"I'll excuse you to hell!" Maia shouted at Phara, holding up her blade and inserting her Proto-Gear.
Phara pulled out several capsules between her fingers. "Danse Macabre."
She threw them to the ground, as they shattered to summon the Alca-Noise.
Tsubasa surprisingly smirked, before holding up her pendant. "We'll accept your challenge!"
RELIC BATTLE MODE; READY
"Imyuteus Ame no Habakiri tron~"
(Insert Beyond the BLADE by Nana Mizuki)
TAKEMIKAZUCHI: HABAKIRI MODE
The Kazanari twins had transformed, along with Maria and Shuri. Tsubasa rushed forward, slashing apart the Alca-Noise with little issue. Maia was right alongside her, with heavy strikes that tore them apart. Maria fired an array of daggers to pierce them, before ripping them to shreds with her whip-sword. The whole while, Shuri stayed at a distance, picking off any stragglers.
"We'll handle this!" Tsubasa shouted, turning to her father.
"Fulfill your role!" He said, before turning.
Tsubasa's expression faltered as her father was escorted by the two agents.
Maia shouted as she brought her blade down, creating a shockwave that blasted apart the Alca-Noise. Tsubasa followed her, cutting away any Alca-Noise that got in too close.
"Well, catch me if you can!" Phara taunted.
She flew forward on a gust of wind that slashed through the ground. Tsubasa barely dodged the attacks, though Maia was knocked back. Drawing her weapon behind her, the sword increased in size. She brought down the blade, shooting a beam of energy at Phara.
Phara swung her sword, shooting her own beam of wind that canceled out Tsubasa's attack. Tsubasa threw her sword skyward, where it enlarged to a massive scale, aimed towards Phara. Tsubasa outstretched her leg, kicking the blade at her enemy.
"What's this?" Phara asked, before she simply thrust her sword at the massive blade… turning it to rust.
"What?!" Tsubasa shouted. My sword is… breaking apart…
Phara unleashed a massive beam of green energy that blasted Tsubasa out of the air. The Wielder crashed painfully onto the grass, her armor cracked.
"Tsubasa!" Maria shouted.
"Tsubasa-san!" Shuri yelled.
"My Sword Breaker is a conceptual weapon that breaks down anything defined as a sword, regardless of its qualities or powers." Phara said. "Now, what will your next move be?"
"Not even her enhanced Symphogear could stand against it…?" Ogawa said.
Maria swung her weapon with a shout, unleashing an array of daggers at Phara.
"A useless effort." Phara said, swinging her sword and unleashing a beam of energy. It disintegrated Maria's daggers, before blowing up the stone monolith.
"Oh? Could it be that the Airgetlám is defined as a sword too?" Phara asked.
"A conceptual weapon?" Maria said, looking at the destruction before turning back to Phara. "A weapon that cuts away at concepts themselves, similar to curses or geasa?"
"Then I won't miss." Shuri said, taking aim. But before she could, she had to roll out of the way to dodge another burst of wind.
The Autoscorer chuckled as she lowered her hand. "Pardon me, but I have no interest in your song."
"Then I'll MAKE you interested!"
Phara looked up to block an aerial strike from Maia, who's massive blade clashed against hers. Phara narrowed her eyes. "Now, your sword is one that I cannot break. Why is that?"
"Because this isn't a sword!" Maia declared, as the sparks flew. "It's all of my anger… towards YOU!"
Phara widened her eyes, as in a split second, Maia created a small dagger and slashed downwards. The deadlock broke, and the two were standing apart. Phara looked down at her left hand, which was missing her ring and pinky fingers. The severed appendages landed on the grass between them.
"Hmm, you're more interesting than I thought." Phara said.
"Glad to please you." Maia said, letting the knife grow into a sword. "Now come on, I'll take a lot more than just two fingers."
"Perhaps, but I think a duet will be nice to hear later, no?" Phara said, before twirling and creating a whirlwind that hid her from view. "Tell Little Miss Sword that when she wakes up, I will return to hear her song once again."
"Don't you run!" Maia shouted, jumping into the air with her swords raised and diving at Phara. Only for the wind to disperse, causing Maia to slash at nothing but the ground.
"She's gone." Maria said, as it started to rain. Shuri sadly looked back at the destroyed keystone.
"Dammit…" Maia stabbed her swords into the dirt. "DAMMIT!"
The SONG submarine was cruising under the water when Ogawa relayed the news.
"We failed to protect the keystone." Ogawa reported. "I can't apologize enough."
"So they attacked both locations at the same time." Genjuro said.
"Both?" Ogawa asked. "Do you mean…?"
"Yes. They infiltrated Neptune's Palace." Genjuro said. "We can see them on the security cameras."
The camera feed showed Leiur blasting through a door with a coin, with none other than Carol herself walking behind her, alive again.
"Carol…" Elfnein said.
Chris scoffed. "Did begging the devil for mercy actually work?"
"They are undoubtedly laying a trap for us, but we can't afford to ignore them." Genjuro said. "Chris-kun, please head to the location with Jeanne-kun, Shirabe-kun and Kirika-kun."
"Roger that!" Chris said.
The four of them had reached their destination via a smaller submersible.
"Is this Neptune's Palace?" Shirabe asked.
"It's huge, dess!" Kirika commented.
"We're not here to sightsee." Chris sighed. "Get going."
"Yes Ma'am, dess!" Kirika said as they followed her
"This appears to be the lowest dock." Jeanne said, looking around, before putting a hand to her ear. "Can we get a map of the place?"
"We've got the structural data for the facility." Fujitaka said, typing away. "I've sent the schemanics to your phone, Jeanne."
"...ah, I got it." Jeanne said, before asking. "Wait, how does a storage unit several hundreds of feet below the ocean's surface have an internet connection?"
"Hurry up and destroy the intruders!" Genjuro commanded.
"Alright, don't answer my question. N'importe quoi." Jeanne said, before she hung up.
"Carol wants to destroy the world. She must be after the relics or other, similarly dangerous items stored there." Elfnein deduced.
Genjuro frowned at the words, hoping that the girls he had sent would be able to stop it.
Tsubasa opened her eyes, looking around to see that she was in one of the rooms of the mansion. She turned her head, noticing a tray with a water jug and towel. Sitting down and leaning against the wall was Maia. Her hair was draping over her face, so she couldn't tell if she was sleeping or not. Tsubasa sat up, recalling what had happened.
"I see… I fought Phara…" She realized. I abandoned a dream too great for me, and yet I couldn't stand my ground.
"Oh, she's awake now!"
"Are you okay, Tsubasa?"
Tsubasa turned to see Shuri and Maria's silhouettes through the shoji.
"Sorry, I let my guard down." Tsubasa apologized.
"If you can walk, come with me." Maria said. "Your father sent for the two of you."
Maia opened the sliding paper door, surprising the three with her sudden movement. Either she had been feigning sleep, or just woke up. She wordlessly pushed past Maria and Shuri to her father's office.
"Maia-san…" Shuri said softly.
They had gathered in Yatsuhiro's office, where he and Ogawa were waiting for them.
"What is this?" Maria asked, looking at a binder full of files with the others.
"We asked Ahnenerbe to analyze the red particles generated when the Alca-Noise strike." Ogawa explained. "This is the report of the results."
"Um, what is Ahnenerbe?" Shuri asked.
"Ahnenerbe is a German government research organization that was closely involved in the development of the Symphogear." Tsubasa answered her.
"According to this report, the red particles are prima materia, the elementary material created when matter is decomposed by alcahest, the universal solvent." Yatsuhiro said.
"Elemental material?" Maria asked. "Created through decomposition?"
"Alchemy is a branch of heretical technology that studies the theory of decomposition, analysis, and reconstruction." Maia explained, nonchalantly flipping through the pages.
"How do you-?" Maria started to ask.
"Elfnein makes good conversation on this stuff." Maia said.
"What does Carol want to reconstruct the world into once she's decomposed it?" Shuri asked.
"Tsubasa." Yatsuhiro said.
"How are your injuries?" He asked her.
Tsubasa looked briefly surprised, but it didn't stay on her face too long. "I can deal with the pain."
"Then leave this place and analyze the data at a more suitable facility." He told her. "The keystone you came to protect is no more."
Tsubasa said nothing, as Maia's knuckles grew white as she gripped the binder.
"Though that may be the most logical course of action, should you really be addressing your wounded daughter so coldly?" Maria spoke up, a bit of anger in her voice.
"It's fine, Maria." Tsubasa said.
"Tsubasa!" Maria said.
"No, I agree." Shuri said with a frown as she stepped up herself. "The entire time, not once has he treated one of his daughters with nothing but harsh words, he seemingly refuses to acknowledge his other daughter as well."
"Shuri." Maia said quietly.
"Will you not at least answer her?" Shuri asked, her own voice raising as she stood next to Maria. "She addressed you many times, but you respond with nothing?"
"I told you, it's because he doesn't care." Maia said softly.
The two of them turned to Maia, seeing the girl dropping the binder onto the desk, before briskly leaving.
"What was that supposed to be?!" Maria shouted.
She and Shuri practically stomped along the wooden deck, both quite irritated as Tsubasa followed them.
"He may be an expert when it comes to national security, but he has absolutely no idea how to interact with his family!" Maria yelled. "He addresses one without thought for her feelings, and he doesn't even acknowledge the other at all!"
Shuri herself wasn't yelling, but it was clear she herself was cross as well.
"Sorry." Tsubasa apologized. "This is how we are."
"You don't have to apologize for something like this, Tsubasa-san." Shuri said. "He should be the one apologizing."
"You're too kind, Shuri." Tsubasa said, before they stopped outside a door. "This used to be the room Neesama and I shared when we were little. We can talk in here."
Tsubasa slid open the door, only for Maria to put up her hands in a defensive stance. "Did the dolls do this?! Are we under attack?"
"Uh… no." Tsubasa said, slightly blushing in embarrassment. "This is due to my own imprudence." Tsubasa said.
Shuri stared into the room, before an expression of disgust formed on her face. There was a complete mess in the room, with clothes, toys, everything strewn about.
"I wasn't expecting him to leave it this way for ten years though." Tsubasa admitted.
"You can tell which part of the room was Maia-san's." Shuri said, noting that a good chunk of the room with another futon in the corner was spotless.
Maia walked along one of the decks of the Kazanari estate. She stopped outside a certain door, before sliding it open. It revealed the training room, with several wooden swords on the walls.
She stared at the polished wooden floor, her left hand twitching at the memory. She started to hyperventilate, and tried to calm herself down with deep breaths as she grasped her scarred arm.
She could still remember the sound of the wood snapping when her head was driven through it.
The room was now much cleaner, thanks to the three of them working together (or rather, mostly Shuri and Maria).
"I remember how I used to sing old pop songs to my father here." Tsubasa said, as Maria noticed a microphone stand and radio.
"But this room makes me wonder…" Maria said. "Have you always been like this?"
"You mean, have I always had a messy room?" Tsubasa asked, rather flustered.
"I don't think she'd ask what we already know, Tsubasa-san." Shuri said, as she folded some clothes.
"I meant your relationship with your father." Maria asked.
Tsubasa looked back at the shelves of clothes, before continuing to try and clean them. "My grandfather, Fudou Kazanari, the current head of the Kazanari family, started thinking about an heir once he felt the burden of his years. The candidates were his first son, Yatsuhiro, my father, and Genjuro, my uncle."
"The commander?" Maria said, surprised that Genjuro wouldn't be chosen despite how capable he had proven.
"However, my grandfather named neither of them his heir." Tsubasa said. "By the time I was three, he had chosen me."
"You?" Maria asked.
"What about Maia-san?" Shuri asked.
"Continuing on questions that we already have answers for." Tsubasa said. "Neesama was quite bright for her age, but deemed unfit due to her rather rebellious nature."
"But that doesn't explain why he chose you over your father or the commander." Maria said.
Tsubasa looked down. "He never told me why, but I've been able to pierce it together over the years. Not as fast as Neesama, who realized it when she was five, but I realized it soon after she had left. …we are not our father's daughters."
"What?" Maria said, shocked.
"To keep the blood as pure as possible, my grandfather made my mother bear his child. That was me." Tsubasa said. "No one expected twins, with my grandfather deeming Neesama a mistake."
"How could Fudou Kazanari still call himself human?!" Maria shouted, clenching her fists.
"Since then, I've always fought for my father to accept me, even if only a little. I forged myself into a sword, a tool, instead of a human being." Tsubasa said, staring at her hand. "But if this is all I have to show for it, he's only going to hate me more."
"Is…" Shuri was trying her best to keep herself from screaming in complete rage. "Is that why Maia-san…?"
"...my father told me that my mother committed suicide soon after we were born." Tsubasa said quietly. "All of that likely contributed to Neesama's rather rebellious and resentful nature… which all came to a breaking point when we were six."
"There's more?" Maria shouted, unsure if her disgust and anger could reach a new height, but it soon would once Tsubasa spoke again.
"Because Neesama… she was almost killed by our grandfather."
The six year old Maia skipped into the training room, where her younger twin of a few seconds was holding one of the smaller practice swords.
"Oh, Neesama." Tsubasa said.
"How's my favorite little sis?" Maia asked, pulling her into a gentle headlock.
"I'm your only little sister, Neesama." Tsubasa said.
"Whatever. Whatcha up to?" Maia asked.
"I'm just waiting for Grandfather. We have training today."
"Pfft, that boring stuff again? Adult stuff, adult stuff, let's go have fun!" Maia said, grabbing Tsubasa's wrist.
"H-Hey! Neesama! We can't do that!" Tsubasa said.
"Says who?" Maia grinned. "Come on, Uncle came to visit. He's always cool! Let's go-!"
"You will do no such thing."
Tsubasa paled, as a tall, intimidating man walked into the room. His hair was white, showing his age, yet he seemed quite fit. The patriarch of the Kazanaris, Fudou Kazanari had arrived.
"Grandfather." Tsubasa said, bowing her head.
"Tsubasa, early as always." Fudou said. "Then you are ready to be taught."
"I understand." Tsubasa said.
"Hold on a second!" Maia said. "Tsubasa's coming with me today!"
"Are you deaf, girl?" Fudou said, narrowing his eyes.
"I wish I was so I didn't have to hear you talk, stupid old man!" Maia said, sticking out her tongue.
"Neesama!" Tsubasa said, shocked.
"Tsubasa doesn't have to listen to you! She doesn't want to do this, so why don't you go drown in a lake!"
Fudou didn't seem to react to the childish insults, keeping his arms crossed.
"Then why don't you do something?"
"If you want to make a change, do it yourself." Fudou said, going over to the wall and taking his personal practice sword. He took a smaller one and tossed it to Maia.
"What are you saying?" Maia asked when she caught it.
"If you can land a single hit on me, I will allow you to take Tsubasa whenever." Fudou said.
"One hit?" Maia scoffed, holding up her sword. "Easy!"
While Maia took up a stance, Fudou didn't even remove the training sword from his side.
Maia ran forward with the sword above her head. She swung it down at him, but her blade was deflected.
"Huh?" Maia tried swinging over and over again, only to be met with the same results every time.
"So fast… it looks like he isn't moving…" Tsubasa said quietly.
Maia didn't seem to give up, and kept trying to swing. After several more futile attempts, Fudou shot his arm out and grabbed Maia's left wrist. The tip of the sword handle was resting on Maia's shoulder. He squeezed her wrist, causing her to drop the practice sword.
"You lack the discipline, but it's what I've expected from a mistake." Fudou said, before tightening the grip on her wrist, and keeping the sword handle on her shoulder to keep her stationary.
"Who are you calling a mistaAAAAAAAAAAHHH!"
Tsubasa's eyes widened in horror as Maia screamed in pain. Blood dripped onto the floor from Maia's elbow. Fudou let go, letting her arm limp loosely to the side. Before she could scream even louder, he grabbed her by the face, lifting her up and slamming her into the floor so hard that it broke the wooden boards they stood on. Fudou stepped back, letting her arm and head stain the wood red.
"Neesama!" Tsubasa ran over and kneeled by her unconscious sister. "Neesama!"
"If you can hear me, let that be a lesson to you. You can't change anything, and a mistake like yourself will never learn how." Fudou said, as he left the room, not caring in the slightest.
"Neesama!" Tsubasa sobbed. "NEESAMA!"
"Thankfully, since Uncle was there that day, we managed to get her medical treatment. After that… Neesama wouldn't speak once she regained consciousness." Tsubasa said. "I tried my best to help, but I couldn't do anything. Then one day, she had just disappeared. My uncle told me about how she had left for the states to study without telling me, my sadness turned to resentment. I found out later that she had left because she didn't want to be leverage that our Grandfather could use on me, yet…"
Shuri barely managed to push down the horror in her voice. "Even though… Maia-san went through that, you-?"
"I know, Shuri. I'm not proud of how I reacted back then, but my resentment did not go well with Neesama. She blames herself for how I was raised, and how she wasn't strong enough to protect me and had to run. I don't think that's something she'll ever forgive herself for." Tsubasa said. "It's quite ironic, isn't it? We've forgiven each other, but not ourselves."
Maria's eyes were shadowed by her hair, before she went to the door.
"Maria?" Tsubasa asked.
"Sorry, but I need to go find Maia." She said, as she left.
Shuri stood up as well. "You can put the rest of your clothes back at least, can you?"
"Er, of course." Tsubasa said. "But where are you going?"
"I need to go talk to your father about something." Shuri said. "Something's been bothering me."
With that, she walked out as well. This left Tsubasa alone in her room, as she put away the last of her clothes, determined not to make a mess.
Maia was still standing, and her hyperventilating had only barely gotten better. She lost track of how long she had been staring into the room, not moving an inch from her spot.
She turned her head to see Maria running up towards her. She quickly took her hand off her scarred arm, and tried to act as casual as possible. "Oh, hey Maria. What's up?"
Maria looked into the training room, putting everything together. "Is this… where it happened?"
"Where what happened?" Maia said, feigning ignorance.
"...Tsubasa told us." Maria said, looking down.
"She did?" Maia said, sounding annoyed. "Ugh, sometimes she just doesn't know when to keep her mouth shut. I'd better go talk to-"
Maia was stopped, as Maria put a hand on her shoulder.
"Huh?" Maia turned her head. "What is it now?"
"You're shaking." Maria said.
"I-I'm just a little cold-"
"Stop lying, Maia." Maria said.
"Listen, it's nothing-"
"I said it's nothing-"
Completely fed up, Maria pulled Maia into a hug.
"What are you-?"
"Just shut up for once, Maia." Maria said. "You're just as much of a handful as your sister."
Maia couldn't find it in herself to resist, letting Maria hug her.
She didn't realize until now just how much she needed this.
Yatsuhiro was going through the files again when he heard a knock on the door. "Come in."
Shuri stepped inside, as Yatsuhiro put down the binder.
"Can I help you, Shuri Yukine?" He asked her.
"I… I have a few questions, erm…"
"Yatsuhiro is fine." He said.
"Right." Shuri said, being relieved that Yatsuhiro seemed to share a few more things in common with Tsubasa and Maia, at least when it came to names. "I have a few questions, if that's alright, Yatsuhiro-san?"
"Of course." He said.
"Do you… do you really hate Tsubasa-san and Maia-san?"
Yatsuhiro was silent, but instead responded with a question of his own. "They mean a lot to you, don't they? I've seen the way you support them, especially Maia."
"Ah… yes." Shuri said, surprised since this was the first time Yatsuhiro had even acknowledged his other daughter, much less said her name.
"...then I will tell you something, as long as you promise me that it will not leave this room." Yatsuhiro said. "I've read the reports, and I believe you to be trustworthy."
"Why? What's so important that no one else should know?" Shuri asked.
Shuri's eyes widened as Yatsuhiro told her the confidential information.
"We've linked up with the control systems of the palace!" Fujitaka said.
"If we can narrow down what Carol is after, we might be able to find a way to stop her." Elfnein said. "Wait! That one!"
The screen had a scrolling list of relics, which stopped and highlighted a certain one Elfnein had spotted.
"The Yantra Sarvasva!" Elfnein said.
"What is that?" Genjuro asked.
"A tablet of condensed information that is capable of operating and controlling any machine or mechanism." Elfnein explained. "That's the trigger element Carol needs to complete the World Destructor at the Château de Tiffauges."
"We've located the Yantra Sarvasva." Aoi said, as she typed at her station.
"Have Chris's team proceed there without delay!" Genjuro ordered.
There was a loud explosion, as part of the Kazanari estate's roof had caved in. Standing atop the roof was Phara, clutching her blade, while holding her skirt with her three remaining fingers. Tsubasa ran out of her room, looking up towards Phara.
"You already destroyed the keystone! Why have you returned?!" Tsubasa asked as Maria and Maia joined her.
"I merely wish to hear your song." Phara said.
"Hope you paid for those front row seats." Maia said, holding up her swords.
RELIC BATTLE MODE; READY
"Seilien coffin Airgetlám tron~"
(Insert Ginwan Airgetlám by Yoko Hikasa)
TAKEMIKAZUCHI: HABAKIRI MODE
The three of them had transformed and dashed towards Phara. Both Maria and Maia threw daggers as they jumped, which Phara easily avoided. They landed on the roof, before Phara unleashed a twister of wind, forcing Tsubasa away from the other two as they landed back on the lawn.
Maria rushed forward and swung out her whip-sword.
But Phara answered it with another tornado, which shattered her blade and sent her flying.
"Maria!" Tsubasa called.
"I got her!" Maia shouted, rushing back to catch the girl. "Go, Tsubasa!"
Tsubasa nodded, turning back to Phara. "I am a sword. I'll cut you to pieces!"
"No, don't use that mindset-MPH!"
Maia was cut-off, as Maria crashed onto her, having made a misjudgement in the catching area.
"You say you' yourself are a sword?" Phara asked, seeing Tsubasa run at her. "Shall we test that concept?"
She swung her blade upwards, unleashing a wave of wind energy right at Tsubasa. Tsubasa grit her teeth, feeling her armor cracking.
"It's… breaking apart… the body I forged into a sword… and with it… my pride…"
"TSUBASA!" Maia shouted, hearing her sister scream as she was overwhelmed.
SONG had narrowed down the security cam feed, to see Carol was holding some sort of paper folded object.
Genjuro frowned. "That's…"
"...the Yantra Sarvaswa." Elfnein finished.
"Chris-chan's team has arrived!" Aoi reported.
On the screen, three Symphogear users arrived on the scene.
Tsubasa slowly pushed herself up, feeling the damage. Phara stood atop a wall, looking down at her.
"I gave up my dream, placing my pride in combat skills, but…" Tsubasa winced. "How utterly powerless can I be?"
"Tsubasa!" Maria and Maia shouted.
Another voice joined them. "Tsubasa!"
Tsubasa's eyes widened as she turned at the voice. "Father?"
Yatsuhiro was standing across the small lake, Shuri standing next to him.
"Your father has something to say, Tsubasa-san." Shuri said with a smile.
"Sing, Tsubasa!" Her father said.
Tsubasa looked down. "But if I can be neither tool or sword of the Kazanari, then I…"
"You needn't be either!"
Tsubasa looked back at him in surprise, as did Maia. Did they really just hear that?
"Father…?" Tsubasa said.
"Don't ever be afraid to hold onto your dreams!"
"Me…?" Tsubasa asked. "Dream?"
"What the…?" Maia was in shock.
"That's right!" Maria stood up. "He didn't just abandon your room for ten years! It was messy, but there wasn't a single speck of dust! He held onto your room so as to hold onto his memories of you! Both of you!"
"Old man…?" Maia said, as Tsubasa's eyes started to grow tearful.
"That's not something a father who hates his daughters would do!" Shuri declared. "Open your eyes, the both of you!"
"Did he distance the Kazanari family from me so that I could better follow my dreams?" Tsubasa realized.
"She pushed Tsubasa away… just like how I left…" Maia was just as stunned. "He… Uncle said that he didn't pay for me staying overseas… then does that mean…?"
"If that's really what you want…" Tsubasa looked at her father tearfully. "May I dream once again?"
Her father simply nodded. Tsubasa could feel her resolve grow, but Phara was growing impatient.
"It's taking too long for the song." She said, before aiming her sword at Yatsuhiro. "Perhaps this will end the opening act."
"What?!" Maia shouted.
Phara swung her sword, unleashing a blade of wind at Tsubasa and Maia's father.
"Look out!" Shuri pushed Yatsuhiro out of the way, pulling out her Proto-Gear to transform-
Everyone's eyes widened in horror, as Shuri's Proto-Gear dropped to the ground… with her hand still gripping it tightly. Blood gushed from Shuri's wrist, now a stump. The blade of wind caused a huge burst of red as Shuri fell backwards at Yatsuhiro's feet, a massive gash across her chest.
"SHURI!" The girls all shouted.
Yatsuhiro leaned down, putting two fingers against her neck.
There was no pulse.
"Impossible…" He said. "She's…"
Phara effortlessly blocked a slash from an enraged Maia.
"Oh? So I attracted your attention instead?" Phara asked.
"HOW COULD YOOOOOOU?!" Maia screamed, increasing the strength on her blades, not realizing that cracks were forming.
"Hmm… all the interest I had for you is gone." Phara said.
"I'LL MAKE YOU EAT THOSE FUCKING WORD-!"
There was an explosion of wind, as Maia's sword cracked in half. She was sent crashing into a wooden support pillar. She tried to get up, but her body was refusing to cooperate with her.
"Neesama!" Tsubasa shouted.
"Damn it… damn it all…" Maia cursed, finally letting herself cry.
Maria had gone to Yatsuhiro, at Shuri's side. She was trembling, seeing the unmoving body of her friend.
"Oh Shuri…" Maria was holding Shuri's remaining hand, her own tears falling. "You can't… you can't be…"
Maria's hand shook as she closed Shuri's eyes.
Tsubasa turned back to Phara in rage, her tears gone. "This song… will be for her! Ignite Module! Bakken!"
She clicked the pendant and let it sharpen, piercing her chest. Tsubasa did not flinch, the pain from the Ignite Module was nothing compared to the pain of losing her friend. She finished the transformation, burning passion in her eyes, along with the flame to avenge Shuri.
"Listen to my song… Shuri!"
Who said that?"
Shuri opened her eyes to see herself in the darkness. The only thing in sight being a small light that grew brighter.
What happened…? What… is that…?
She felt herself being drawn to it, slowly stepping towards it. As she did, she could feel a familiar presence.
Mama…? Papa…? Is that you…? What is-?
Another step caused her leg to sink into some sort of viscous substance. The moment she did, the light was snuffed out, and the warm feeling of her parents disappeared. She panicked, looking around to see she was sinking in some black and red liquid, with eyes everywhere. Several dragon heads made of the same substance rose from the depths, roaring at her.
Shuri screamed as they all charged towards her, pushing her deep into the black and red substance. Shuri tried to swim up, but was feeling herself getting dragged down, her own willpower fading. Running out of breath, she opened her mouth on instinct, only for the shadows to flood down her throat, choking her.
Someone… help me… please…
The darkness was crushing her, as her vision started to completely blur.
She stopped struggling.
Her senses were dulled, but she could hear screams of pain and despair. She was flashes of what appeared to be her friends, suffering. She saw Hibiki trying to reach Miku, Tsubasa screaming with blood on her face, and Rui's eyes, completely lifeless...
And she couldn't do anything about it.
The darkness seemed to lighten its grip on her…
(Insert Beyond the BLADE (IGNITED arrangement) by Nana Mizuki)
Tsubasa dashed towards Phara, before jumping skyward.
"I'd be delighted to have a taste." Phara said, pointing her sword at Tsubasa.
Tsubasa brought her blade down, as the Autoscorer jumped out of the way. Tsubasa smashed down the top of the roof, before kicking off at Phara. Her sword glowing with power, Tsubasa swung, unleashing a massive beam of energy.
Phara blocked it with little struggle, before dispersing it with a slash. Tsubasa held out her blade, as the weapon increased in size until it was twice her height. She held it high above her as she shouted and swung down.
Chris unleashed a spread of missiles towards Carol, who brought up a hand and created a shield, protecting herself. Kirika took on Leiur, swinging her scythe several times as Leiur fired several coins. Shirabe was cutting apart the hordes of Alca-Noise, shredding through them with her buzzsaws.
Extreme Sigma Style: Forbidden Full Moon
Tearing through them, Shirabe jumped up before unleashing a hailstorm of saws at Carol. The shield deflected them for the most part, but Carol winced, faltering as her shields fell. She slowly dropped to one knee, as Shirabe knocked the relic out of her hand and cut it in two.
"The Yantra Sarvasva!" She shouted, before blocking several more of the sawblades.
Carol winced, noticing blood was dripping from her stomach. She fell to one knee. "How…?"
Jeanne came into view, having hid behind several cargo crates during all the fighting, waiting for the right opportunity. Her gun barrel was smoking.
"Jeanne!" Kirika shouted.
"It may leave a bitter taste in my mouth, but it's about time I got over this weakness." She said. "If blood needs to be spilled, I'll spill it for you two and Maria."
"Jeanne…" Shirabe said with a smile.
"Thanks for the opening!" Chris yelled, her leg armor opening up and unleashing four missiles from her shoulders.
MEGA DETH QUARTET
"Don't be subdued!" Leiur said.
She fired coin after coin, taking out several of Chris's projectiles, but she ran out of coins.
"Master!" Leiur shouted in concern, as Carol's pupils shrank at the oncoming onslaught of missiles.
Tsubasa flew upwards, holding out her arms as a storm of blades rained down on the battlefield.
One Thousand Tears
"It matters not how far you increase your power." Phara said, swinging her blade. Several blades of wind shattered all of Tsubasa's blades. The wielder landed on the ground, looking up to see Phara standing atop a rock.
"As long as it manifests as a sword, you cannot so much as scratch me." Phara said, before pulling out a second blade. She swung them both, shooting two tornadoes to hide herself.
"Then answer me why my sister's blade defeated yours twice!" Tsubasa said.
There was no answer or warning, before Phara shot out of the wind and charged straight at her.
"I'm not a sword!" Tsubasa shouted, blades growing on her legs. She flipped over, swinging her ankle blades at Phara, clashing with her swords.
The Autoscorer jumped back, in shock that one of her blades was broken. "Impossible! How did you defeat my conceptual weapon?!"
"The same way my sister could." Tsubasa raised her arms, sword in each hand as her ankles unleashed flames. "Can you really call these swords? No! They are the wings which carry me toward my dreams!"
She shot off towards the sky with incredible speed, propelled by the flames.
"Your conceptual sword-breaker can never clip my wings!" Tsubasa declared.
The wielder's flames grew hotter on her ankles, before she brought her legs together to become a single blade. The two swords in her hands ignited as well, before she became a spinning hurricane of fire. Phara tried to defend herself, but Tsubasa tore straight through her, ripping her in two.
Rakshasa Stance Zero
Phara laughed with insanity in her voice, before she crashed into the ground below. Tsubasa herself made a graceful landing, as Maria ran towards her.
"...Maria." Tsubasa turned to her friend. "Is Shuri… has she…?"
Maria's eyes were shadowed by her hair, but that told Tsubasa everything. She didn't want to look towards the small lake, knowing that she'd see Shuri's body, staining the grass crimson.
Yatsuhiro walked over to Maia, who hadn't moved after crashing into the wooden support beam. He knelt down on one knee. "Are you alright?"
"...does it fucking look like I'm alright?" Maia asked, refusing to look him in the eye as tears fell down her face.
That got her attention, as she looked up at her father.
"You've grown up quite a bit, haven't you?" He said, with a small smile, before holding out his hand to his elder daughter.
"...shut up, old man." Maia said, wiping her eyes, but taking the hand as he helped her stand. "But since you also had to abandon Tsubasa to protect her, I guess that makes us even. …oh, and paying for me living overseas too I guess."
Her father simply nodded at her, while she awkwardly tapped the ground with her foot.
Unbeknownst to them, the gash on Shuri's chest was no longer there, and neither was the blood pouring from it.
The smoke was starting to clear, as Chris's group saw one of her missiles, stopped in its tracks.
"What's going on?" Chris said, as Kirika and Shirabe joined her and Jeanne.
"Ha ha ha ha ha… It's been so long since I tasted a relic!"
"No…" Jeanne recognized the voice.
The smoke cleared up, revealing a familiar man in white hair and lab coat, a monstrous arm absorbing Chris's missile. "I just can't get enough of this sweet, enhancing flavor!"
"Enculé de ta mere!" Jeanne cursed.
"No way!" Shirabe said.
"This can't be true!" Kirika said.
"Sure it can! I'm the man of truth…" He struck a pose, holding out his monstrous arm to point. His normal hand held onto some sort of metallic object. "Dr. Ver!"
"How are we going to tell Chris…?" Maria said, trying to keep her voice steady.
Tsubasa frowned, remembering how Rui had reacted several months ago regarding the condition of her sister. If her reaction was that violent, there was no doubt that Chris would be equally as-
The blue-haired wielder's eyes widened. Shuri slowly stood up, her eyes closed, and her Proto-Gear back around her neck. A few bloodstains were on the crystal.
"Shuri!" Tsubasa said, taking a few steps forward as everyone turned to look.
The younger Yukine held up her bloody stump. Everyone looked in shock as the severed hand on the ground turned into a misty red substance, before converging onto the stump. There were crunches of bones, before the mist faded away to reveal Shuri's hand was back to normal.
"What in the world…?" Maria said, eyes wide.
Shuri opened her eyes, but they weren't natural. They were glowing a completely pure red; just like when Hibiki and Maria went berserk.
"Shuri… how are you…?" Tsubasa muttered.
The only thing that came out of Shuri's mouth were raspy breaths, like knives carving on rocks.
"...get inside." Maia said, turning to Yatsuhiro. "It's not gonna be pretty."
Yatsuhiro looked at Tsubasa and Maria, who, while horrified, nodded at him. With a nod of his own, he went back to safety at their wishes.
Shuri's hands slowly sharpened into demonic claws. Her arms were turning red, before dozens of hellish eyes opened up on them.
Shuri fell to her knees, a dark red substance spilling out of her body as she screamed in pain. The others could only watch on in terror as they watched their friend's body was being consumed by the darkness.
A/N: …well, that's uh, something.
I know for a fact that all of you knew I was lying when I said Shuri would be completely fine. And this is just the start of things, which will be explained next chapter.
I originally wrote the end scene as a reference to Emu finding out he's patient zero of the Bugster Virus, but felt that changing it would be better for the tone.
As for the other end of the spectrum (that is also suffering), we get more into Maia's backstory.
It might be kinda fucked that I wrote that happening to a six year old, but Fudou himself is already a fucked up scumbag, so that doesn't seem too out of character for him.
With that said, there's quite a bit of foreshadowing here, as well as an important scene or two. So keep this chapter in your memory.
Feel free to leave a review. See you all next time.