Saito's Dream

Saito's Dream

A Fanfic by Jemu Nekketsu

DISCLAIMER: I do not own the copyrighted characters that appear in this work.

Chapter 12 – Visitors from a Grim Future

THE STORY SO FAR: The Interdimensional Fortress SpaceBar successfully weathered a raid by the Time Space Administration, thanks to the efforts of the ultimate hired help, Maid Guy Kogarashi. Commander Jemu is now in the midst of negotiations with representatives from the TSA. Meanwhile, Kurou and Al have joined up with Evang, and with the help of Tristain's denizens have stored Demonbane in Lake Lagdorian to hide it from prying eyes.

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In a makeshift 'War Room' borrowed from the Tristain palace a meeting was taking place.

"I just received word from my comrade in space that they've been attacked, but fortunately they've managed to defeat the attackers and take them prisoner. It was a close call, though," Evang addressed his ragtag army. "We'll be borrowing a page from their playbook – we're going to assign roles and group you into squads for easy management and control. Listen up!

Obviously, Astral has enough members to form 2 squads. Itsuki will be team lead and forward attacker, as well as overall leader of Astral's attacker and stationary support teams. He will also be forward commander for Saito, Louise, Yuji, and Shana, to be known from this point onward as the Love-Love team. Any questions?"

"Why are we the Love-Love team?" Saito and Yuji protested. "We demand a name change!"

"You want a name change? Fine! Choose then, between Love-Love Team and Easily-Beaten-By-Girlfriend Team!" Evang roared.

"That's no choice at all!" both boys protested again.

Ignoring the protests, Evang pushed on. "I will now explain about team positions. There are four positions: forward, center, back, and wing. Let me give you a brief description of what each entails. Forwards' jobs are to approach the enemy, draw enemy fire, and ideally destroy all hostiles without relying on the other team members. In cases when this cannot be done, forwards will buy time for the rest of the specialist members to get into position to deploy their abilities. Itsuki, given his martial arts training combined with his ability to see magic makes an ideal forward. Shana can also fulfill this role."

"Centers' jobs include protecting their other team members and harassing enemies from various effective ranges. Centers are traditionally ranged direct attackers capable of high rates of fire – this is necessary to counter enemy ranged attacks, but I've seen area-effect centers covering their teammates' advance. Centers must also be mobile to be where they are needed most, or have an outstanding range coupled with rate of fire. Honami, and Nekoyashiki will be our centers. Nekoyashiki has range and multiple actions thanks to his cats, while Honami is highly mobile, and has an impressive arsenal."

"Those in the back positions are specialists not suited to direct combat. Mikan is in this position, because she really doesn't attack run of the mill opponents, Addy needs to stay focused to use her summons effectively, Kuroha's Poltergeist skills take a while to start up but are very useful once they get going plus she gets to fly around saving people with barriers and pulling them out of harm's way, and Louise, well Louise, how should I say this…" Evang faltered.

"If Louise finishes her incantation, the fight is pretty much over. Her long spell has the destructive power of a modern nuclear weapon," Saito explained.

"Excellent, Saito, which brings us to you and Yuji's position, wing guards. Yuji really shouldn't be used in frontline combat, but his Blutsauger is still pretty effective – it should be used with precision. He can also double as a ranged attacker, with a great degree of control over his silver fireballs. He's also resistant to flames, thanks to his Azur. Saito, on the other hand, becomes a superhuman sword monster who is only limited by the fact that he needs to keep an eye on Louise all the time. Still he can move very quickly whenever he sees danger to Louise, so expect to see him dashing like lighting from the frontlines back to her. So, for a special reward, can someone describe a wing guard's position?" Evang asked.

"A wing guard supports the frontline attackers by hitting the enemy while they're pre-occupied with the forwards," Itsuki suggested.

"By my definition, wing guards typically hang back, protecting the support teams and striking a decisive blow when opportunity arises," Saito answered.

"My answer's the same as Saito's," Yuji replied.

"Good answers. Now, for your rewards, here are some nude photos of your love interests-"

Evang was not able to finish his sentence due to all the hating and direct damage hitting him faster than one could say "shitty old man."

Outside, Kurou and Al were wondering where Evang was when they heard an explosion from deep inside the castle. "Five will get you ten Evang's no more than ten meters from ground zero of that explosion," Kurou suggested.

"I'm betting he's no more than two meters away," Al replied.

"You're on."

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Meanwhile, far from the castle, a siege was taking place. Albion's forces decided to take a stab at claiming the tower, and they were surprised when their probing cannonade was responded to with highly accurate lightning bolts from the tower itself. A sound like the rushing of a thousand wings could be heard by the Albion Navy and dragon riders, who immediately scrambled into attack positions as man-bat hybrids made of living stone swarmed toward them. The dragon riders fought back with magic, theirs and their mounts', and the flying warships' cannons fired until the midday sun no longer shone on the blackened earth, courtesy of the smoke.

Dragon-human combined arms tactics against a fortification basically say 'Let the beasts do the work for you.' Traditionally this meant having them land and blast the base of the target with their breath weapons, to clear the way for the human attackers. Those who have reached their breath weapon limit would circle the target, wearing the opponents down psychologically through fear, magical or otherwise. That, at least, was the theory. Following theory, the remaining Albion dragon troops landed at the tower's base and were about to barrage it with their breath weapons when they found themselves beset by white wolves and black ravens from all sides. Lightning flew without pause from the tower's pinnacle toward the airships, and the ground split open as long green vines erupted from the ground, sprouting spikes as they grew long, menacing, and tall.

"Sir, our troops are getting massacred on the ground," an Albion sailor reported to his captain. "What are your orders?"

Before the captain could reply, the tower unleashed a massive storm of energy that engulfed the unfortunate ship, cutting it up and burning the pieces at the same time.

"Sir, our last escort vessel has been destroyed, and our troops are getting massacred on the ground! What do we do now, captain?"

"Order all our remaining forces back! It is madness to stay here!"

The tower's lightning stopped flashing out, thus the surviving dragon knights were able to return to their carrier.

"All surviving dragon knights have alighted, sir!" a crewman reported.

The tower's topmost spire gleamed with gathering electricity.

NNNNNNNNNNNNN

"As you can see, that's what happened," Jemu narrated the feed that he was showing Evang's lakeside party. "Albion got its ass handed to it."

"That was mean. It seems that whoever was orchestrating the tower's defenses waited until the last moment so it could destroy the attackers in one fell swoop," Saito noted.

"It's a threat to the whole continent, and not just Tristain, isn't it?" Henrietta asked.

"If we don't do something about it, Henrietta-sama will be in trouble if something worse comes along. We have to do something!" Louise declared.

"We will, which is why I have assembled this team. Although seeing that carnage, I wonder if we should just have Demonbane use Lemuria Impact on it," Evang mused.

"If so, why have you assembled us, if you're just going to rely on the giant robot to destroy it?" Yuji asked.

"That would be cool if the intent was to destroy the tower. However, our goal, that is, Pan-Samun's and my Order's, is to secure it for the greater good – at least, prevent it from being misused, and to negate its disruptive effects to magic everywhere. To do the latter part, the tower itself must be studied, and for that to occur, it is critical that we gain control of its location. Demonbane is our ace in the hole, or perhaps the reset button, that I hope we never have to bring into play," Evang replied.

"If you could explain to us how we could even approach the tower, what with those defenders and traps around it, we would appreciate it," Shana said.

"Do you even have a game plan?" Saito asked.

Evang obliged. "Astral has that covered – they've got a full complement of area effect magic-users, plus Itsuki's eye, if used sparingly, should allow them to keep the area free of nasty surprises. All that will need to be taken care of will be the monsters and assorted mobile guardians - that's Team Love-Love's job. The idea is to have both teams move as one, with one team suppressing the terrain while the other clears the path of defenders."

"We just waltz in after the kids make their way through, eh?" Kurou asked.

"What? Hey, how come I didn't notice your approach?" Evang directed his question to Kurou and Al-Azif.

"Well, duh, Elder God innate ability in a material plane - does that ring a bell?" Al retorted.

"Speaking of gods, there might be an anti-god barrier around the place. Well, maybe not a barrier, but do you really think something created by a major god would allow itself to be approached so easily by other divinities?"

"Listen, you, and I hope your space-bound twin is listening as well, you promised to use that tower to help me and Al search for our children. Are you saying you can't do it?!" Kurou bellowed.

"I didn't say that, elder god. Speaking of which, hey, Jemu, are your guests from the Time Space Administration listening in on this?"

"Yup. They saw the Albion task force's massacre too," Jemu replied, throwing a glance at Fate, Teana, Shari, Ginga,and her students. "I've yet to wrangle out from them why they attacked the SpaceBar initially – I'm guessing it has got something to do with a 'shoot first, ask questions later' policy for suspicious characters orbiting certain types of worlds, but like I said, that's just a guess."

Evang grunted in acknowledgment. "Well, elder gods, we won't be finding anything out until we ourselves attempt to reach the tower. Astral, Love-Love, are you ready?"

"Astral is ready to rock and roll!" Itsuki replied.

"Can we have a name change for our team?" Yuji requested.

"Do we even have a team leader?" Saito countered.

That drew everyone up short.

"Yuji will lead his team, and it will be his to name. Any opposition?" Jemu asked.

"Hold on! Don't just decide things arbitrarily!" Yuji protested.

"It's not arbitrary. Among you four loose cannons, you have the best ability to size up the situation and come up with daring and effective plans. Granted, we could have had Louise as the leader, so that the rest of you three can just rush into combat while she remains safely in the back court, but is she up for the responsibility of two other lives besides hers and her familiar's? Is she even aware of what it might be like to command?"

"No to both," Louise replied in a sing-song manner. "Besides, if I knew I was being commander just for that reason, I wouldn't accept it. I have my pride, you know. While I might accept that commission if I'm just listening to my pride as a noble, my pride as Louise de la Valliere will not allow me to do so."

"Well said, Mlle. De la Valliere. So, are there any dissenting opinions to my appointment of Yuji Sakai as captain of his team?" Jemu asked.

"None," Saito, Louise, and Shana chorused. Yuji was unable to protest as Shana had clamped her hand over his mouth.

"Very good! Now, then, Yuji, please name your team," Evang prodded.

"I suppose it can't be helped. I am naming my team, 'Seekers,' short for 'seekers of the way home.' Any objections?" Yuji asked. "Since there are none, Seekers, ready to move!"

"Just one moment! You're all forgetting something here!" Henrietta reminded them. "Which team do I go with? I assume I'll be going with Louise's team with my familiar Shirou, right?"

"Well, the truth of the matter is…" Evang began.

"Oh, no, don't tell me you were planning to send me back to the palace and just watch from there! Well?" Henrietta demanded.

"It is safer in the palace, Your Highness…"

"I see. Shirou?"

"Yes, Henrietta-san?"

"A sword, please."

"I beg your pardon?" Shirou was not sure if he heard it right.

"Please create a sword for me, one that will flatten to the ground whoever I hit with it. Something that can fell even the mighty Evang, here."

"Well, Henrietta-san, something like that will require quite a lot of mana, much more than I have right now."

"Can nothing be done to increase your current amount?" Henrietta asked.

"Now, now, Your Highness," Evang pleaded, "Please be reasonable about this. Think of your position."

"Screw my position! Well, Shirou?"

Shirou knew were his loyalties lay – besides, Henrietta sounded a lot like a certain beloved blonde of his back then. "Hold my hand, Henrietta-sama, and let your mana flow into me."

Henrietta didn't hesitate. She would show them that she was not useless! She took Shirou's left hand in her right, and held it tightly.

"Visualizing… the sword that promises victory… Trace! On!" Shirou shouted, buoyed up by the torrent of mana flowing through him. Light began to gather and take shape between his and Henrietta's joined hands, quickly materializing into a perfect replica of Caliburn. Despite this, Shirou still felt that he was going to drown in all the mana Henrietta was providing him. What do I do? Ah, I know – armor to protect a monarch in battle! This is not my specialty, but with this much mana, I have enough leeway. Once he had decided, his magic made it reality – blue battle dress with armor plates over critical locations, and gauntlets that would allow her to wield the sword she asked for without his aid. Reluctantly, he pried her now-gauntleted fingers open – he was not used to processing this much mana, this quickly, let alone hold this much. "It's a success, Henrietta-san. You look… smashing."

Henrietta marveled at her attire. Her scepter/wand was hanging from a short chain attached to her belt, and she took an experimental swing with the sword in her hand.

"Look out, people!" Evang shouted, raising a wall of force to intercept the crescent of magical energy that flew along Henrietta's swing direction. The attack smashed the wall and plowed into the Order mage, creating a furrow as it drove the unfortunate man into Lake Lagdorian's waters.

"He can swim, can't he?" Itsuki asked no one in particular.

"We can't," Jemu replied flatly.

With that, Jemu had no choice but to concede to Henrietta's wishes on Evang's behalf. Only then did Henrietta allow the boys to fish Evang out of the water.

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"Now that was some scary shit," Jemu mused aloud. "Tracing Caliburn, and the King of Knight's armor as well? Those guys might actually be aided with the presence of the Queen and her familiar." Facing his 'guests' he asked Fate, "So, what's it going to be, Agent? You've ascertained our purpose, which is to study the tower to somehow negate its effects on the various dimensions, and for that we need to make sure our researchers are not disturbed. If we let you walk out of here, back to your assault transport, which is at the moment being repaired as best as we can manage, can we expect no interference from your side? Heck, I'm a generous guy, I'll even overlook the fact that you shot us first."

"Because you have little to no hope of surviving a firefight with an actual TSA Navy fleet, right?" Fate guessed.

"Like I said, I'm willing to overlook certain things. So, will you let us do our thing?" Jemu pressed.

"Unfortunately, I'm not a high profile or influential person in the Administration. Even if you use all of us here as hostages, you still won't have enough pressure," Fate replied.

"I'm not taking anyone hostage – the mere mention of the act leaves a foul taste in my mouth. Still, perception weighs more than truth, right? Say we're willing to look like bad guys, your brother's highly influential nowadays, isn't he? Will he listen to our request, and see what can be done about it?"

"Knowing him, he's more likely to round up the ex-members of Riot Force Six and try to rescue us." At Fate's mention of her old unit, her companions' heads rose.

"I think we can stave off an assault team or another boarding attempt. I mean, as long as we have our secret weapon, The Masked Maid Guy, we can get the drop on any party that tries to land. Besides, you only got in because your transport was designed for breakthrough operations. If we can keep your landing parties from actually getting inside the station, we win, simple as that."

"What we actually want is for hostilities to cease so we can discuss policies regarding the tower, and to see if we can come to an agreement that is mutually beneficial to both sides," BOS chimed in, not bothering with a screen or a construct body. "A prolonged period of fighting between our sides – nothing good will come of it. If we unlock our hypertech weapons, we can wipe out your reinforcement waves as they come, given the slow rate of arrival. We are hoping it will not come to that – our hammerspace technology is misunderstood and feared enough as it is, and fighting the Time Space Administration will just vilify us."

"If we let you go, will you please not attack us on the way out, and send word to your superiors that we're not the bad guys, and that we can work together with the TSA if the terms are fair?" Jemu asked Fate.

"I can't promise you anything, but I'll tell them that you could be negotiated with."

Jemu sighed. "BOS? How are the repairs to their APC coming along?"

"It's almost done, master. You can hand them the keys and point them to the hangar, and by the time they arrive my little nanobots would have finished with their task," the AI replied.

"Splendid. Here," Jemu reached into his pocket and slid the Thunderhead's keys across the table toward Fate's side. "You're free to go, unless you ladies want to have one of my house specials for the road? It's no Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster, but at least in won't leave you with a week-long headache."

"Thanks, but no thanks. I do have a minor under my wing, and Ginga has a lot of them."

"Alright, I understand, truly. I don't want to add 'corruption of a minor' to my list of sins I'll be hanged for one day."

Teana pouted. "How long till I can officially do things on my own, Fate?"

"One more year, Teana, and you can get drunk, go wild, strip you and your friends naked while in a bar and see the photos on the Interdimensional Net the next day."

"Wha-? Fate-san?" Ginga asked, shocked.

"Let's just say Nanoha and I learned the hard way that the only way to get a Cloud Knight drunk is to get their master drunk first," Fate smiled at the memory. "Oh my! I can believe I just blurted that out!"

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"Is this mode of transport really the best way to get to the target?" Itsuki asked for the umpteenth time.

"We can't help it – flying normally would take too long," Evang explained, coughing. "Getting catapulted into the tower's perimeter using an Atlantis Strike also has the advantage of killing whatever would be stupid enough not to get out of our way."

"There is that," Honami muttered, "But how are we going to ensure we don't pick ourselves up in pieces when we land?"

"I've got that covered too!" Evang snapped his fingers, and something that looked suspiciously like a medium-sized roller coaster car appeared in front of him. Restraint bars, foam padding, seatbelts, the works – it had everything. "Introducing, the Force Cage Crash Module Mk I. Big enough to seat two assault squads in power armor and still have room for life support. Mode of propulsion not included!"

"You want us to strap ourselves in that thing, and hold on while-" Adelicia sputtered, not able to continue her tirade with words, choosing to finish it instead with gestures that showed how she felt about that thing.

"It seems like fun," Kuroha mused. Mikan nodded. "It's a an amusement park ride! I wanna try it now!"

"My cats should be fine, pretty much like Kuroha-san would be," Nekoyashiki Ren noted. "I say we give it a go."

"This has got to be the dumbest thing I'm ever going to try," Saito whispered to Yuji.

"Why are we doing this again?" Yuji asked.

"For a chance to return to our proper universes, it seems," Shana replied.

"No, dammit! Saito, you're not going anywhere!" Louise cried.

"Have mercy on my parents, will you? They probably think I'm dead, or something!"

"But, but what if they see you and decide to detain you in a dungeon?"

"Thankfully, where I come from we ceased building dungeons as a necessary part of the home."

"I'm not letting you go and leave me alone!" Louise wailed.

"Then come with me! To my world!" Saito retorted in exasperation.

Silence.

"Isn't it a dangerous idea to have people capable of flinging spells and curses walking around in the twenty-first century?" Yuji asked.

"Speak for yourself," Honami snapped at him.

"Whoops. I guess I put my foot in my mouth back there, ehehe," Yuji chuckled sheepishly.

"How does foot taste like?" Louise asked.

"Needs more sugar," Yuji deadpanned.

"Hey, Saito, were you serious a while ago?" Louise asked.

"When I said I wanted you to go back with me so I can give you a taste of the culture shock and loneliness I experienced when I first arrived here? Oh yeah, baby, I was serious," Saito said with a grin.

"Look, can you idiots get a move on already? Are you going to come with us or not?" Al Azif demanded.

"People who call other people 'idiots' are the bigger idiots!" Yuji and Saito chorused.

It was quite a bit of time before the whole gang was airborne.

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And now, for some totally gratuitous breaking of the fourth wall...

"Hold up! You mean this whole work isn't breaking the fourth wall enough?" Teana demanded. "I mean look at all the VA jokes littered all over! It's like the author's deciding which series to mash up together based on which voices are in there and writing the plot on the fly!"

"That's a very arbitrary way of doing things," Fate noted. "Also I would like to protest that all of us here were defeated that quickly by some freak in a maid outfit and mask. I'm Class AA for crying out loud!"

"You guys wanna know why it took him so long to update between stories? I sure do!" Wendi declared. "Raise your hands if you wanna know why!"

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"With the thirty-seven keys of Tzeentch, we open the way for our brothers."

"With the thousand whispers of Slaanesh, we call to them."

"With the twelve plagues of Nurgle, we fell their enemies."

"And with the mighty axe of Khorne, we cut open the world for them!"

Four heavily armored Sorcerors finished chanting, floating north, south, east and west of the Dream King's tower as their allies struggled mightily on the ground.

"Yes. Come forth to bear the word of Chaos!" a Dark Apostle roared, and as if in response a pink rent in space and time appeared above the tower. Seeing this, the forces of the Warp Gods fought with renewed vigor, as horrors rained down from the fissure in the warp. In the face of the renewed assault, the tower's defenses would not last long. Squads of flamer-armed Raptors and fire-breathing Possessed Marines made short work of the lashing vines, leaving their "normal" brethren free to pound the ghostly defenders of the tower with unholy ammunition. Even when the tower began to pull on its last tricks, animating the corpses of the fallen attackers, the forces of Chaos kept on fighting. After all, the occasional clash, skirmish, and even total war between legions still sparked up from time to time, kept in check only when the Black Legion decided to lash out and 'discipline' them. This 'discipline' did not come often - despite being technically superhuman Chaos Lords still believed in survival of the fittest.

This all translated to the Chaos Marines being comfortable firing at armored forms who once fought beside them and stood in between them and their goal. The reanimated defenders were quickly cut down by bolter rounds and plasma bolts, and were immediately revived by the tower's profane power. The Chaos Marines quickly made a game of it, while their Khorne Berzerker companions were locked into a circle of mad killing. It went like this - a Berzerker strikes down a zombie in a fit of rage, the zombie gets back up, pissing of the Berzerker, which makes him lash out, killing the zombie anew. Of course the "regular" gun-wielding Marines found this rib-tickling funny. Their mirth was cut short when Obliterators, chaotic fusions of Space Marine and an entire armory that could morph their arms into the best weapon for any situation, teleported into the battle and began to vaporize the zombies with arm-mounted laser cannons. With no corpses to reanimate, the tower's defense worsened further. With the zombies gone, the Berzerkers roared at being deprived of things to kill and surged forward, Marines running after them brandishing their guns, leaving the Obliterators to shuffle along on their own pace, repeatedly calling out, "Must obliterate!"

Realizing that all will be lost if the Warp-touched step foot inside, the tower raised its final defense - a wall of souls. The Berzerkers charged headlong and had their souls added to the whirling barrier of moaning spirits, all of them dropping to the ground as lifeless shells. Possessed of more sense, the tactical Marine squads halted a fair distance from the wall, observing it warily. This allowed the Obliterators to reach their lines, and apprising the situation, morphed into multi-weaponed platforms and began to unload everything they got into the barrier. The Marines looked at them with a mix of envy and awe. Blessed by the Warp Gods, Obliterators never ran out of ammo, never felt the burn of overheating lascannons, and never had their plasma weapons blow up in their faces.

It was precisely because they were watching the Obliterators do their thing that they didn't notice the growing shadow until it was too late.

BOOM.

Demonbane, cradling the Force Cage to its chest, landed smack dab in the middle of the Chaos host, sending the gathered Marines flying. The Obliterators weren't so lucky – half of their number were crushed under the mecha's iron heels, and they had to unravel themselves slowly from the stationary firing configuration they had morphed into earlier.

With a wordless cry, Shana leaped forth and headed for the nearest Obliterator, spraying it with flame as it tried to bring its autocannon to bear. The flame didn't seem to faze the abomination, and the hail of bullets forced the Flame Haze to dance around. Suddenly the Obliterator found itself immolated in silver flames and sagged to the ground, all the life gone from it. Looking back, Shana saw Yuji drop to the ground by leaping from the kneeling Demonbane's arm to its knee, then finally down. He had Blutsauger out and was already running toward another Obliterator. Realizing that he could take care of himself, Shana focused on her own attacks.

"Let's go, Astral!" Itsuki yelled, unstrapping himself from the carrier as soon as Demonbane had let go of them and righted itself. "You all know your positions and roles! The objective right now is to break through!" Honami and Adelicia nodded, taking to the air and raining arrows and demons at all targets of opportunity. The remaining seven Obliterators weren't pushovers, though. Gunfire filled the air, and after a particularly nasty Obliterator death involving a lion-shaped demon, another Obliterator appeared behind the line of scrimmage, seemingly suffering no disorientation as it rumbled forward and began blasting the humans.

Kurou and Al watched the scene. "They can handle that much – their numbers are even overkill when you think about it," Al noted. "What are we needed here for?"

"Maybe for those?" Kurou pointed. Two of the four Sorcerors floating in mid-air around the tower suddenly began to spin rapidly. One plummeted to the ground, causing an impossibly large fountain of blood and gore to erupt, and from this spray a dog-faced, red-scaled horned demon with cloven hooves and draconian wings stepped forth, easily a match for Demonbane's height. It was clad in skull-emblazoned brass armor, and held a massive two-headed battle ax in one hand and a whip made of pure flame in the other. The other Sorceror was consumed in an explosion of rainbow hues, and when the glare subsided in his place was a giant, gnarled cross between human and a scavenging bird, wielding a staff that Kurou knew would rip through whatever it was used against, whether as a bludgeon or as a spell focus. Their massive shadows falling over the combatants below gave the humans pause.

"Damn. A Bloodthirster and a Lord of Change. I never thought I'd live to see these Greater Daemons fighting in unison," Evang noted. "Well, good luck, Kurou, Al!"

With a bellow, the Bloodthirster spread its wings and soared toward Demonbane. Uttering totally inhuman words in its avian throat, the Lord of Change began to gather energy at the tip of its ornate staff. Praying that the Daemons had at least a semblance of aversion to friendly fire, Kurou pulled out Barzai's Scimitar and closed in with the Bloodthirster. The fire whip wrapped around the mecha's blade, and Kurou was forced to defend with his free hand against the arm swinging the massive battle ax with negligent ease, mainly by blocking the enemy's wrist movement. Suddenly, the Greater Daemon of Khorne twisted, and pulled its arm back, the one with the whip. Not wanting to be left weaponless against this particular foe, Kurou gripped the hilt tightly, despite Al's protest, and was sent hurtling straight into the Lord of Change's Warp-charged staff, which the Lord had thrust forward after completing a rather complicated kata. The unholy weapon pierced through Demonbane's back armor and through its front plating, and the avian Daemon squawked evilly, letting loose a blast of Warp energy through the staff and sending the God-Slaying Sword into a crater. The Bloodthirster flew up to the Lord of Change, and in a manner totally out of character for their kind, exchanged high-fives – well a high-five and a high-four, since the bird only had taloned four fingers.

"Aren't we going to help Kurou and Al?" Shirou asked.

"Are you nuts? We are but gnats against those Greater Daemons! Don't worry, though – it will take much more than that poke to the chest to bring Demonbane down." Evang pointed. "See, he rises again – OH! That was FANTASTIC! BOOT TO THE HEAD!" the old man cheered as Demonbane landed an Atlantis Strike on the Bloodthirster's ugly mug, sending it tumbling to the earth. "We must press on! Those Obliterators certainly won't be giving us a break!" Indeed, the Obliterators had managed to find a couple of defensible firing places and began to rain anti-personnel munitions on them. Only Kuroha's and Mikan's barriers were protecting Louise, Saito, Henrietta, and Shirou – Nekoyashiki was playing hit and run against the Obliterators with some degree of success – while Evang was erecting high and low walls made of earth for the attackers to hide behind if the dodging gets a bit dicey. Of course, his main purpose was to stop the bullets from reaching him.

NNNNNNNNNNNNN

Inside the tower itself...

"I feel their presence. Mother, and father is with her. Another Blood, they've found us," Kuzaku whispered to to the girl. "We should go and meet up with them."

"That would not be wise. Your Deus Machina is still not fully restored. To have us go out there, where a battle is raging, would be death," the girl known as Another Blood replied. "Besides, I kind of like it here, and I like those two little dolls with the odd red and green eyes. True, they're not here much, but when they are, they're quite attentive to me."

The boy sighed. Girls and dolls, wherever you go, they're all the same. "You don't seem to be surprised that they could move, talk, and think on their own."

"Should I be? As one created from a thing which was originally not alive, as one that was granted life only after creation, I feel a kinship with those two girls. I wonder where they are all this time though, aren't they worried about the fighting outside?"

"They've retreated to their garden, to their precious Slumbering Sapling." Another Blood's eyes widened a bit.

"How do you know this?"

"I overheard them whispering about it when they thought I was asleep. Sound carries very well within this tower's walls. Anyway, this tower is but a protective shell for the Sapling. The Sapling itself is a part of a vast network that links all dreams, dreamers, and dreamworlds together. Do you realize what this means?"

"You could travel anywhere from this tower, as long as there is a dreamer from that place you wish to go, and you know certain spells of dream-magic. It's wonderful."

"Which is why I the fighting is so intense outside. In short, every conqueror wants, or will want this tower." But what are mom and dad doing, fighting outside? Surely they aren't after this tower as well?

"I see you've discovered the secret of this tower," a new voice said. Turning, the boy and girl saw a doll with red and green eyes, the one dressed as a boy, holding a pair of gardening shears as tall as she was. "You do realize that now, surely we cannot let you go."

"She's right, desu!" another voice said, this one belonging to the doll that was sister to the shears-wielding one. Her next words made Another Blood reconsider her opinion on living dolls.

"At least not alive, desu!"