Disclaimer: Angelic Layer is the creation of CLAMP. Any non-canon characters belong to me. Got that? ;o)
Dedicated to Firebird and Phoenix from CCU, who never did get back to his AL fic :o) This is for you, guys.
At this point, Angelic Layer Neo will be told in two stories. One is set in Tokyo and will chronicle Misaki's interaction with new Deuses and Angels. The other is set in Toronto and will contain original characters. To understand what's going on, read the Introduction to AL Neo.
Now, to address any comments from the Introduction:
Shutsumon (FB): Thanks for pointing out the typos. I'm so into my writing that I rush things.
Your feedback's been interesting, and you'll see more of Commander Dragon and the mysterious group as AL Neo progresses. May you some day get AL in anime and manga form.
DayDreamer9: You'll see those bad people in action very soon. Sadly, Misaki and Hikaru won't be entering the World Championship or any other AL competition. Instead, they'll be the prize Fight for the World Champion, whoever he or she is. They'll still play a big role in the Tokyo arc, though.
Heekun, Li'ain, and Shatterstorm (Phoenix): Thanks for the positive comments. I'll keep writing more of this anime fic world until I'm dead.
Angelic Layer Neo: Tokyo
Chapter 1: The Bold Newbie! Misaki and Hikaru Challenged!!!
"My Angel has rocket wings, see?" a boy said as he showed off the jet wings on his Angel.
"Yeah, but my Angel has dual laser sabers built into his arms, see?" another boy said, pointing to the grooves where the sabers would shoot out of during combat.
This was the scene Misaki and her friends found when they stepped into their classroom Monday. People were showing their newly purchased Angels off to each other, and some of the new owners were boys. Misaki noticed how different the new Angels were from the ones she was used to. They sported different body shapes, and they reminded her of the humanoid robots she occasionally saw on TV. Boxes, domes, triangles, and cylinders with sensor plates replaced humans heads on some of them. One had the dome-shaped variation of the new hover part instead of legs. She saw the new headsets. Not only were they cordless, but the earpieces folded inward like the stems of glasses, the colors varied, and a few sported the custom variants, especially the different shaped wings on the earpieces. Misaki had Hikaru and her new headset in her backpack. It became a habit for her to bring her to school. It started after she defeated the Deus calling himself Commander Dragon. Her classmates had congratulated her, and some of the boys said they'd get their own Angels. Misaki recognized some of them among the owners of new Angels.
"Things sure have changed," Tamayo said as she spotted an Angel built like a tank.
"That's what Hatoko said," Koutarou said. "She said some Deuses don't like what's happening to Angelic Layer."
"Really?" Misaki said.
"She said they said if Deuses start using these new parts, they'll depend too much on them instead of their own skills."
"Commander Dragon seemed skilled."
"I have to agree, Koutarou-chan," Tamayo said as she threw her arm over Koutarou's shoulder. "He definitely knew what he was doing during that Fight."
Misaki recalled the Fight between Hikaru and Drago, the green armored Angel controlled by Commander Dragon. He was definitely the most unusual Deus she ever encountered in the Layer. Besides wearing a superhero costume, he kept posing and speaking in a loud manly voice. Drago had given Hikaru a hard time, but she triumphed in the end.
"Misaki?" Koutarou said.
Misaki snapped out of her thoughts. "Huh?"
"What were you thinking of?" Koutarou asked.
Misaki blushed. "Oh, I was thinking of Commander Dragon, and..."
"Oh ho, Commander Dragon?" Tamayo's arm wrapped around Koutarou's neck, and the poor boy's eyes nearly popped out. "Looks like you have a new rival for Misakichi's affection, Koutarou-chan!"
"Gah," he gasped, his limbs waving weakly.
"Naaa!" Misaki exclaimed. The focus in the room shifted from the Angels to Tamayo choking the life out of her friend, who was turning red.
"Kizaki-san, if you would let go of Kobayashi-san, we can begin class," someone said from behind her.
Tamayo let go of Koutarou, who slumped to the ground. Misaki went to his side immediately. The homeroom teacher, a man in a brown suit, passed by them with his hands behind his back. "Everyone take your seats and put away your Angels," he said as he made his way to the front of the classroom.
As Misaki helped Koutarou up, she noticed the tall, gangly girl walking behind the teacher. Dressed in the blue-and-white Eriol Academy uniform, she walked in a regal way. Her long brown hair hung past her shoulders. A new student? she thought as she helped Koutarou to his seat.
When everyone was seated, the teacher and the girl stood before the class. The teacher wrote a name on the board. "Everyone, this is Toriyama Chiaki," he said, motioning to the girl and what he wrote. "She just transferred here to Eriol, and I hope you'll make her feel welcome."
The girl bowed. "I hope to make everyone's acquaintance," she said softly. Her eyes looked around the room, and they settled on Misaki. She smiled at her gently.
"Huh?" Misaki said, blinking.
"Ah, another school day over!" Tamayo shouted as she raised her fist towards the sky. Her friends gathered with her at the entrance to Eriol Academy.
"I'll say," Koutarou said. He turned to Misaki. "Are you doing something after school?"
Misaki stared into the street. The day proved to be another odd one. Everywhere she looked, Chiaki was there. She ended up sitting a seat away from her, but occasionally, she caught her looking at her. The newcomer's eyes had a serene quality that made Misaki nervous. During gym, while she rolled off the mat for the umpteenth time, she found Chiaki standing in front of her.
"Need a hand?" she asked softly while offering her hand.
Misaki took it and stood up. "Thank you."
Chiaki smiled at her. "Take good care of Hikaru." She walked away, leaving Misaki to scratch her head. After that, the watching continued.
Misaki found Koutarou standing before her. "Huh?" She blinked her eyes.
Koutarou gulped at their closeness. "Um, are you doing something after school?"
A foot connected with Koutarou's cheek, and the boy fell sideways. "Koutarou-chan!" Misaki exclaimed.
Tamayo appeared in front of Misaki. "Ooooooo, trying to get all kissyface with Misakichi, huh, Koutarou-chan?" she said to the fallen boy. "Not on my watch!" she said as her foot landed on his neck.
Misaki waved her arms in the air. "Koutarou-chan! Tamayo-chan!"
"Oh my." Kobayashi Hatoko appeared next to Misaki. "What happened now?" the first-grader asked as she scratched her head.
Tamayo lifted her foot off Koutarou's neck. "Oh, hello, Hatoko," she said with a little wave. Below her, Hatoko's big brother let out a groan.
After Koutarou recovered from his latest beating, the four kids left together. "Some kids are going to try out their Angels nearby," Hatoko said. "A store owner had a Layer installed outside his place."
"Really?" Misaki asked.
Hatoko nodded. "A few of my classmates said they'd be there."
"Some of ours are going too," Koutarou said, rubbing his neck.
"Well, let's go, then." Misaki smiled. "I'd like to see the new Angels in action."
The four arrived at the store and found a good-sized crowd outside. It was mostly made up of students just off from school, but a few adult passers-by joined the crowd out of interest. A few adults found themselves walking around it.
Misaki and her friends joined the crowd to watch. Through the forest of people, they saw a large Layer sat in front of the store. The owner, a man dressed in a white apron, watched as two Angels fought it out in the Layer. One resembled a medieval knight and attacked his opponent with an Impact Light ball-and-chain repeatedly. The other Angel, a very muscular barbarian with spiky hair, blocked the attacks with a Impact Light shield being emitted from his arm. Their Deuses looked like they were in Misaki's age group.
"Give up!" the knight's Deus, a lean-looking boy, said. "You can't keep blocking forever!"
The barbarian's Deus, a large boy with a bowl cut that almost covered his eyes and a noticeable gut, grinned. "Wanna bet?"
As the ball descended again, the barbarian shot out his free hand and grabbed it.
"Huh?" the first Deus exclaimed.
"Okay, do it now, Baraxus! Muscle Bomber!" the second Deus ordered.
The barbarian yanked on the ball and lifted the knight off the Layer. Everyone watched as the barbarian swung his opponent via its own weapon and leapt skyward to a great height.
"Uuuuuuuraaaaaaaa!" the second Deus shouted as he shook his fist vigorously. "Do it, Baraxus!"
Baraxus threw the knight to the Layer hard, and the ball landed on the knight's chest. Seconds later, Baraxus's elbow connected with the ball, driving it deeper into his opponent's chest. The Layer creaked with the blow, and everyone thought it would break. Baraxus stood up, and his opponent continued to lie on the Layer. The hanging display screen showed that the knight's power gauge was empty.
"Yes!" the second Deus said, raising his arms in victory. Baraxus did the same as the crowd applauded.
"Wow!" Misaki said from her spot among the crowd.
"Wasn't that amazing?" Hatoko said.
"It was!" Misaki said with a nod and smile.
A nearby girl gasped. "It's Suzuhara!" she said, pointing at her.
The crowd muttered, and Misaki and company found themselves being given space as everyone around them backed away. "It is her!" the first Deus said, his jaw almost dropping.
"The Queen of the Layer." The second Deus gasped and bowed his head. "It is an honor to be in your presence."
The first Deus also bowed his head. "Welcome, Suzuhara."
Misaki sweatdropped and laughed nervously. "Wait, you don't have to..." she said, her arms waving frantically in the air.
"Well, you've definitely gotten more admirers, Suzuhara," a girl said coolly.
Misaki looked behind her and saw two familiar Deuses. Both were high school girls and past opponents of hers. The bespectacled girl with braids smiled at Misaki, and the girl next to her wore a cold look on her face.
"Good afternoon, Suzuhara-san," the bespectacled girl said with a smile.
"Good to see you again, Suzuhara," the cold girl said, her arms crossed over her chest.
"Good afternoon, Saitou-san, Jounouchi-san," Misaki greeted.
Saitou Kaede smiled at Misaki. Jounouchi Sai looked coolly at the two Deuses. "Not very impressive," she said.
Both Deuses said nothing for a moment. The first glared at Sai. "How dare you!" the second said. "It was a glorious fight!"
"You both used flashy gimmicks," Sai said, her eyes fixing an icy stare on the second Deus. "Take away those Impact Light Generators, and you'll probably do badly in the Layer." She turned away from them, and Misaki saw the scowl on her face. "I've seen enough." She nodded at Misaki. "Suzuhara," she said before taking a few steps away from the store.
"Hey, why don't you have your Angel come in here?" the second Deus shouted, pointing to the Layer. "I'm sure Baraxus can teach your Angel a lesson!"
Sai froze. The first Deus waved his arms and shushed his opponent. "Are you nuts, Basho? That's Jounouchi Sai, Shirihime's Deus! She's an Angelic Layer veteran!"
"I don't care who she is!" the second Deus roared. "Well, Miss Veteran? You wanna prove to me your old-fashioned Angel is better than my Baraxus?"
Sai stood in place. "I don't want to waste my time here anymore." She resumed walking away.
As Sai left, Misaki spoke to Kaede, who was following her out. "Is Jounouchi-san all right?"
"She's just upset about the new parts and abilities Angels can use now," Kaede answered. "She thinks new Deuses will depend on them too much, and their ability to fight will diminish."
"Do you agree with her?" Koutarou asked with Hatoko standing at his side.
"To be honest, I'd like to see..."
"Kaede, are you coming?"
Sai stood on the sidewalk. Her arms were still crossed over her chest.
"Coming." Kaede smiled at Misaki and her friends. "Hope to see you all later," she said, and she joined Sai. The two girls walked off together.
"What a snob," the Deus named Basho said. "Can't believe she said I'd do badly in the Layer."
Misaki stepped in front of Basho. "Actually, I think your Angel is great," she said.
Basho blinked at her. "You do?"
Misaki nodded. "Yes, I do."
Basho looked at Misaki for a moment, then threw his arms around her. "Thank you!" he said, tears streaming out of his eyes as he hugged her tightly.
"Naa!" Misaki exclaimed.
"You didn't have to be so rough on them," Kaede said to Sai as they continued on their way.
Sai kept facing forward. "Angels did well before Impact Light and the new parts. They don't need them. Not now, not ever."
"I think they'll make things interesting," Kaede said. "Before, Angels couldn't use weapons like projectiles, and now..."
"Dependence on these new things will make Deuses weaker," Sai said, her hand curling into a fist at her side. "It's not right, Kaede. It's not right."
Kaede looked at Sai. "How do you think she'd react to this change?"
Sai didn't return the look, and she looked skyward for a moment. "Let's keep going," she said finally.
The two schoolgirls kept walking while a pair of gentle eyes watched them. Its owner's mouth curled into a smile.
Hibiki Tora sighed as he looked through the crowd of kids gathered in front of the Layer. "Man, not one of them's a challenge," he said with his hands behind his head.
"How would you know? You haven't even been in a Fight yet," Yamaguchi Hikari said as she adjusted her glasses.
Tora frowned. "You always have to put me down, don't you?"
"Someone has to bring you back to reality," Hikari said, winking and sticking out her tongue.
Tora sighed as the well-dressed girl with short dark hair adjusted her glasses again. Ever since they were little, Hikari had always deflated his dreams. At the same time, she had always been there for him, whether he wanted her or not. "Why can't you let me dream?" he asked.
"It's okay to dream," Hikari said as she clutched the Angel in her arms close to her. "You need to work to make your dreams come true, though."
"Yeah, yeah." Tora surveyed the crowd, and he noticed the boy hugging the small girl. "Okay, I know Basho when I see him." He blinked when he saw who the girl was. "Whoa!" He dashed across the crosswalk with his backpack bouncing off his back.
Hikari sighed as Tora nearly got run over by a girl on a bicycle. With his arms waving in the air, he leapt onto the sidewalk in time, and the girl continued on her way. "Typical," she said, and she went after her friend.
Basho let go of Misaki, who gasped for air. "You don't know how happy you made me, Suzuhara," he said, wiping his moistened face.
"Hey!" Tamayo stepped forward. "If you're going to touch Misakichi without my approval, I'll--!"
"It is you!"
All eyes turned to a boy dressed in a red T-shirt and white vest and shorts. A white bandana with the Rising Sun was wrapped around his spiky dark hair, and his shoulders bore a red backpack. A confident grin crossed his face. A girl with short dark hair appeared behind him. She was dressed in a yellow blouse, blue vest and skirt, and white knee-length socks with her shoes. A pair of glasses sat on her nose, and she adjusted them with one hand as she joined the boy at his side. Misaki spotted the Angel in her arms. Attired in a pink and white nurse's outfit, she had long blond hair with a nurse's cap in it.
"Tora, Hikari-chan!" Basho said, his mouth forming a happy smile. "What are you doing here?"
"Why, to play Angelic Layer, of course," Tora answered, patting his backpack.
"You play Angelic Layer?" Hatoko asked.
Tora nodded. "Hikari and I got our Angels yesterday."
Misaki stepped up to Hikari and looked at her Angel. "Wow! What's her name?"
"Ririka," Hikari answered.
Misaki looked over the Angel, then stopped herself. "Oh, I forgot to introduce myself! My name is Suzuhara Misaki."
"My name is Yamaguchi Hikari," Hikari answered. She motioned towards Tora. "This is--"
"Hibiki Tora, future top Deus of the world!" Tora made the V-sign and laughed loudly, causing everyone present to stare at him and sweatdrop.
"Gotta actually fight someone first, Tora," Basho said.
"I know." Tora pointed at Misaki. "For my first Angelic Fight, I challenge you!"
The crowd gasped. Misaki pointed to herself. "M-m-me?"
"Yes, you!" Tora said, his eyes full of fire. "In order to be the best, I must beat the best, so I must defeat you in an Angelic Fight, Suzuhara!"
Basho leaned towards Misaki's ear. "Ignore my friend, Suzuhara. He's always like this," he whispered to her.
"Stay out of this, Basho! This is a talk between true Deuses!" Tora said.
Basho snorted. "Hey! I won my Fight!"
"Probably by luck," Tora said, his hands on his hips. "I'm amazed you could move your Angel during lunch today."
Steam shot out of Basho's ears, and his face became a crimson shade as he pointed towards the Layer. "Don't talk to me like that! Let's settle this in the Layer!"
Tora rubbed his chin and smirked. "Funny, I didn't challenge you, Basho." He looked at Misaki. "Well, Suzuhara? Care to face me in the Layer for one ten-minute round?"
Misaki stared at Tora. "Um, why?" she asked innocently.
Tora blinked. "Why? WHY?" He pointed at Misaki. "In order to be the best Deus in Japan, I must defeat you, and I will!" The fire in his eyes intensified. "You're going down, Suzuhara!"
"But I don't even know you," Misaki said.
Tora leaned towards Misaki. "Are you afraid?" He leapt back. "Bring out Hikaru!"
"Is he always like this?" Hatoko asked Hikari, who had joined her and the others.
Hikari and Basho sighed. "Unfortunately," they said together as they sweatdropped.
"Well, I don't see Hikaru," Tora said. "Maybe it's because you don't want her beaten up by the coolest Angel ever?"
Tamayo stepped out in front of Misaki and glared at Tora. "Are you saying Misakichi isn't a good Deus?"
"Well, she's not accepting my challenge," Tora said. "Was that win against Drago a fluke?"
"HOW DARE YOU MOCK MISAKICHI!" Tamayo grabbed Tora by his shirt and lifted him off the ground. The store owner got ready to move in, especially when Tamayo raised her fist towards the boy's face. "I should--"
"Tamayo-chan, please," Misaki said. "I'll be glad to fight Hibiki-san."
"Hmm?" Tamayo let go of Tora, who landed on his butt hard.
"If Hibiki-san wants to play Angelic Layer with me, then I'll do it," Misaki said.
Rubbing his behind, Tora got to his feet. "Yes! Now I'll show you who's the better Deus!" He pointed at Misaki. "Suzuhara, you and Hikaru are going down!!!"
"Naa!" Misaki exclaimed.
Hikari shook her head. "He's gonna get it."
"Definitely," Basho said.