Fate Rewritten by Wordsworthy
Disclaimer: I obviously do not own The Shin Megami Tensei series since obviously Atlas does. This is, after all, just a fanfiction written for the sole purpose of entertainment and no profit motive whatsoever. So please just enjoy the story and do not sue me for this. If you wish to know more about the series, please support the companies producing them directly and purchase their merchandise if you like.
Chapter 35: New Game Plus
"An end lies in wait for every beginning."
"Where have I heard that before."
"Be mindful of your manners, young one."
"Just reminiscing about the past, it has been a long wait."
"He will come to us soon; and with him the beginning of the end."
Old habits die hard. The world had ended, that much was certain. Yet familiarity attempts to bleed its way through the disbelieving eye, as it seeks some semblance using the logic of the world it once knew. A sky and earth appeared to divide the transpired world, but in truth there was no way to discern which was which with horizons that spanned, overlapped and melded. The fabric of reality was as distended as it was twisted; it was as though the canvas where the sky and earth existed was crushed into a spherical ball, and they existed on the inverse of it. The only fixture of certainty was the white moon that radiated the energy of Creation, hanging at the centre of this enclosed world, perfectly equidistant from every point in this inverse spherical world, perfectly out of reach of anyone who lusted for it.
Then again, the same can be said of salvation.
Yet within this final arena-scape, within the singular city surrounded by boundless void, there are those who still yet make a hopeless clamour for it. Within a ambiguous section of this alien metropolis, harsh rasps of claws and thundering footsteps echoed unbidden down the callously deserted streets, drowning out the quiet flutter of minute wings that trailed.
"Move it, you Rakshasas! We'll get Hell if we lose her!" squeaked a tiny high-pitched voice that was dripping with self-importance.
Not that the pack of Rakshasas heeded nor acknowledged her call. In fact, the impassive violet demons were preoccupied with their sole prey, a luminous maroon shadow that loomed just ahead of them. That was, until the street winded down into a dead corner, flanked on three sides by the walls of buildings, leaving their prey with no way out. The violet demons brandished the twin scimitars strapped on their backs and advanced slowly towards their target, their dark eyes narrowing down while their jagged teeth began to show.
The object of their hunt turned left and right haplessly before backing gradually into the dead corner, snarling and shrieking with small, muted cries. It was as this point that the tiny blue fairy trailing after the hunt
"There she is! Go get her- "
Before the minute fairy could finish her words, the Rakshasas surged forward for the kill, uninterested in whatever the tiny blue fairy had to say. Yet, it might have been better for them to show just the barest hint of restraint as the quicker of the pack found themselves cut down in a blur of fuschia and blue as two women in black descended from the top of the buildings.
"Hyah! Shame on you! And so many yous ganging up on a poor and defenseless… watchamacallit…" started the dark-haired, scythe-wielding girl in a highly excitable state. "What is that anyway?"
"Metis…" sighed the blonde other, the blade attachment on her arm still humming with a soft blue light, a little wary of just how long the pack of demons would remain stunned. "Focus."
The scythe-wielder barely had time to finish her pout before moving to intercept two of the Rakshasas pressing forward with their attacks, parrying the blades of one with the nook of her scythe while her sister took out another directly with a thunderous slash. Spinning her scythe together with her body, the younger sister freed up enough space and gathered the desired momentum to unleash a hefty sideway slash that blew her demon away headlong into the next building.
Upon seeing the grunt-like demon soldiers roughed up as easily as rag dolls, the tiny blue fairy started to flutter about more agitatedly, shrieking out directions in that shrill voice.
"W-what the heck is happening? How can you let yourselves be bossed around like that? Hey you two, go help out those other two who look just like you! In fact, what are all of you waiting for? You can take them if you go at them at once! Go on! Get a move on it!"
The diminutive blue fairy got decidedly more hysterical when the violet demons she was supposed to be "overseeing" snubbed her once more and reformed their pack's formation, with equal numbers facing the front and back.
"Ugh! Why are you not attacking! Wuss! Wimps! Are you scary faces just for appearances? With all those fancy white tattoos and stigmas and what not!"
"Hmm… I would say they got it right though."
The tiny blue fairy turned at the snide tone that rang out from behind her. A single black-haired man stood there with a devious smile and eyes that gleamed with both mischief and relish while the ends of his long white scarf billowed out dramatically behind him. A dangerous aura exuded from his being, one that the more battle-hardened Rakshasa recognized far more readily than the fairy, along with the heady scent of Death. He advanced slowly upon the pack of demons, drawing the blade out of his cane in the meanwhile.
"Since I am rather good at killing, if I do say so myself."
Moments later, the carcasses of the entire pack of malevolent spirits, as ironic as that may sound, littered the streets in the bloody aftermath of the short-lived battle. Many questions were running through the finely combed head of the former herald of Nyx, the appriser of the end. For instance, what was going on, who was the enemy… and more recently, what was he going to do with…
"L-let go of me! How dare you treat a general of Antithesis like this! You'll pay dearly for this!"
Dangling the wretched-looking thing by her wings, Ryoji observed the noisy but otherwise inane display with marked interest. Watching the small fairy squeal and struggle about haplessly in such an animated manner was hitting switches he never knew he had… dangerous switches. He had half a mind to be concerned about it, but the greater part of it delighted in seeing something so dastardly cute about whippersnapping, trashtalking fairy. It had potential…
"Yo." uttered a deep, calm voice behind him. It would seem that the friend he left behind in search of a nice stress-busting fight had finally caught up. "Found anything useful?"
"Yeah… This!" the dark-haired man turned around and practically shoved his newfound catch in front of the newcomer's face. "Can I keep her?"
A navy eyebrow went up skeptically as steel-blue eyes centered onto his friend's would-be new pet. However, before he could respond, the little blue fairy gaped in such an exaggerated manner that Minato was certain it would either start hyperventilating or burst like a balloon.
"Bossu! Help! Save me!"
Ryoji and Minato looked at each other blankly.
"Bossu?" repeated Ryoji dumbly. Minato just shrugged.
"BOSSU! I know it's you! Please save me! I know I haven't been the most capable servant and all, and that all the other demons don't really want to admit that I exist, but I…"
The small blue fairy launched into a surprisingly long tirade of loyalties, pleas and why she should be saved before Minato hushed the chatterbox up by covering the miniature fairy's mouth with his finger.
"It's annoying. If it's not useful, get rid of it, okay?"
The navy-haired man shot the little fairy an atypically deathly look, his glare intense, his pupils narrowing into vertical slits for a moment, effectively scaring the fairy shitless.
"That's… something new…" murmured Ryoji off-handedly, making a mental note of the slight changes that were surfacing in his old friend. Having done so, he turned his attention back to the stunned little one. "Oh well, you heard the man. Are you going to be helpful, or not?"
The fairy seemed to regain part of her wits at the sing-song tone of the more easygoing man and the departure of the scary one, the latter having been gestured over to the two women.
"Huh… Oh, no way! I'm a proud general of Antithesis! I will not give in to our enemies! You can forget about… wait-erm… what are you doing…?"
Ryoji had by this time moved the fairy slightly above his head, a creepy smile plastered on his highly mobile mug.
"Fufufu… I just remembered… I hadn't eaten for three days. I… could use a snack."
A dark flame erupted from the base of the man as the second form of the Appriser switched with his human guise in a flash. The tiny fairy blinked twice before staring blankly at the metallic sheen of the draconic skull. The corner of her lips started to twitch when she discovered that the lower jaw of that silver skull was able to unhinge itself, allowing those steel jaws to open at a hundred and eighty degree angle. Looking down at the abject darkness that lurked beneath the serrated silver teeth, the two antennae-like fringe atop her forehead began to wither and droop.
Ignoring the renewed pleading, sobbing and general melodramatics from Ryoji's location, the navy-haired leader of the pack made his way towards the other two girls, although Aigis seemed to have sent Metis over to get him as well.
"M-Minato-san, Nee-san needs you over where she is… it doesn't look good…"
"Hmm… thanks Metis-chan." hummed Minato stoically as he strode by the dark-haired girl, although the girl herself looked rather pleased at the fleeting pat she received on her head.
However, the steady beat of his footsteps faltered briefly once Aigis and the object of her attention came into view, before they quickened in apparent and abject urgency.
"Aigis… is that…"
The blonde turned towards Minato, her face a maze of questions and confusion as well. However, her optical sensors and supercomputer memory could not be wrong after several dozen rounds of cross-comparisons, her unwillingness to believe being the only reason for her uncertainty. After all, the red, ethereal entity she helped saved from the pack of demons, or rather the image within the mass of glowing ectoplasmic mass, had a ninety-six percent match with…
"Mitsuru?" Minato wagered speculatively. He promptly wished thereafter that he was never right all the time, for the visage within the red entity decided to respond with an explosive shriek when he came near it, stilling his outreached hand with an expression of outright hysteria.
"Mitsuru, what's wrong? What happened to you?" tried Minato once again. However, the hysterical response to his approach actually escalated as the red spectre entity bolted towards the streets in a frenzied dash for escape.
His friend's frightful reaction to his presence stunned Minato for several moments before the man fought down the various emotions and sentiments enough for his rationality to kick in. He had to keep her here, even if it was against her will. There were just too many questions, and too much at stake.
Minato reached his left hand out towards the fleeing red entity and focused his powers on the space just before it. In a faint flash of white and blue, the red entity found itself translocated back before the navy-haired ability user.
Shrieking once more, the red entity that bore Mitsuru's image attempted to flee once more in another direction, but no matter which way it tried, it returned to its previous position. Top, down, left, right… it made no difference with the space-time fabric remoulded into cubic loop. With escape proving near impossible, the reddened soul within the spatial trap simply became more and more hysterical, its screaming raising to maniac tones.
Steeling his heart once more against the plaintive cries, Minato extended his left hand once more, moving freely through his own spatial spell with little resistance. His initial attempt to touch the red entity passed right through it, confirming the man's suspicion of not just its intangibility, but also of its damaged nature. He winced inwardly at the painful howl coming from the reddened soul, the fact that his touch alone was causing hurt to his longtime friend not lost upon him.
Despite the growing pangs gnawing at his insides, he reached deep into himself and allowed the World Arcana to resonate inwardly, intent on pulling out a new power that he desired. A few moments later, a pulsating sensation began to emanate from his left hand, signaling his relative success in allowing part of his self to phase through several dimensions at once. He kept up this phasing in and out with the persistence of a frazzled channel-surfer until he finally settled on the right dimensional frequency.
Stowing his apprehension away as best he could, he reached out and did what he most wanted to do.
The wailing soul flickered several times after the navy-haired man's palm made contact with her cheek, before the image of the said friend gradually became sharper and more defined. The damaged aspects of her soul were being forcefully restored by the man's ability to rewrite what had happened unnaturally, along with her consciousness and personality. It did not take long before recognition returned to translucent amber eyes.
"M-Minato…? The real-"
A weary smile greeted the cautious greeting, putting an end to the confusion in the soul of the scarlet-haired heiress. However, that confusion was quickly replaced by poignant concern when those familiar eyes closed, their owner keeling over with little warning.
Translucent arms reached out for the falling friend, but to no avail as the material body passed right through her, the previous effect brought about by the blue-haired man having ceased when he lost consciousness.
Frantic cries by several female voices made the ears of the Appriser prick up with interest, specifically since they were calling the M-name. Deciding that he had enough of his new pet's waterworks, and since he had something more pressing to attend to now, he switched back to his human guise and brought the distraught fairy back on eye level.
"So do we understand each other?"
"Huh?" sniffed the badly shaken fairy.
"Oh, so you really rather be eaten instead of giving in to us. Oh wow, I respect you. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Then again, this is it then. Bon appetit."
"Oh no, no, no, no!" stammered the fairy hurriedly. "I mean, I'll be useful! Super useful! Super duper useful! I, Pixie of the Fairy Clan, swear my loyalty to you! Please take care of me… New Bossu!"
"Call me Aniki." decided Ryoji on a whim, releasing the wings of the Pixie.
"Alright, that's go check on my idiot other self."
"Minato! Minato! Wake up!"
"Hai hai hai, give the man some room to breathe there you three."
The dark-haired man finally sauntered his way over to where the three women were crowding over the unconscious other.
"Ryoji, what's wrong with him?" asked Aigis directly.
"The question should be 'what's not wrong with him?' Other than spending god knows how long training in a Twilight Zone, making long distance transfers to and fro halfway across the world and fighting with someone at least as powerful as himself, he hadn't had any time to heal or rest. He's past his limit. I would say 'he's only human', but… let's not kid ourselves."
Looking over at the ethereal version of Mitsuru, he continued as though in an afterthought.
"Hmm… plus it looks like he fixed and restored Mitsuru's soul as best he could. That's probably the knockout blow."
Noticing the guilty expression on the newly deceased heiress' face and the unsure ones on the sisters, the dark-haired man moved quickly to allay their fears and slipping spirits.
"That said, he should be fine after a nap though. He's too tough to die like this. Heck, he'll probably survive even if I poke him a little with my swor- Ouch!"
Aigis' hand had made contact with the back of Ryoji's head quite reflexively, although she looked plenty surprised at her own reaction. Underneath the exaggerated display of pain, Ryoji made a marked observation of her reaction as well.
"Nicely done Aigis. I would've done it myself, but… you know…" nodded Mitsuru in approval, although she had on a complicated expression as well.
A solid clap by the dark-haired man startled the two friends out of their short-lived melancholy as their gazes settled back on the usual attention-seeker.
"Hai hai… you can discuss various ways to smack my head in your own time, but I think it's more important that we know what happened to you guys while we were gone. Mitsuru, can you fill us in?"
The spectre of the Kirijo heiress sighed heavily before beginning with great and obvious reluctance.
"You're… not going to like this… Haiz… here goes…"
The tale was long, but when it ended, the party of friends was silent. Reliving the experience might have been too overwhelming for the redhead spectre, while Aigis and Metis looked thoroughly mortified at the sudden turn of events. The one that was uncharacteristically calm, eerily so even, was Ryoji. He just sat near the fire he randomly started to set the atmosphere, seemingly deep in thought.
"Ryoji…" ventured Aigis warily, having not seen the man sober since… well, their big confrontation all those years ago. "What are you thinking about?"
"Hmm… life really is unfair. He gets to be both the main character and bad guy this time, and I'm what, the supporting actor- OW! Aigis?"
The blonde's eye seem to be experiencing some form of mechanical failure as it twitched sporadically while an odd resounding vibration still echoed within her gloved fist.
"Why I oughta…"
"Nee-chan! Get a grip on yourself!" the younger sister sounded a little too happy as she glomped-wrapped herself around the back of the blonde who was going to repeat the hit with her blade attachment.
Ryoji though was not helping the situation much by keeping his Cheshire grin on outwardly despite reeling quite abit from the android's hefty clout to the back of his head. Inwardly however, his thoughts went off on a much more complex tangent, particularly on his observation of his friend's reactions.
The changes appear slight but... the rules of this world are definitely quite different... hmm... this might get a little tricky…
"Geez… you gotta learn how to hold back at times Aigis. So much for honesty being the best policy. That was just one thought you know, I had others."
"Hmm… for starters, where we are. I might not that familiar with Japan, but other than a kilometre radius from where we arrived, the rest of the city doesn't quite seem like part of Port Island."
"Come to think of it…" Aigis played back some of her optical files from her memory. "It looked more like Tokyo…"
"That's just it. Minato was transferring us back to Port Island, but it seemed that someone pre-empted him and forcefully joined his choice of destination to Tokyo, the arena where the right of Creation is to be contested. This is where it gets confusing. Why lure us away to Switzerland, and then go through all that trouble just to include us? If I was the bad guy here, I wouldn't want us here, if you know what I mean. Especially him…"
Ryoji allowed the women some time to nod and ruminate over his words before continuing.
"Equally problematic is the other Minato that Mitsuru described. Even if appearances can be altered easily enough… he seemed to have the same abilities that our Minato had acquired… that shouldn't be possible since his powers are one of a kind…"
The dark-haired man cast a glance over at the unconscious other lying by the fire.
"Maa… that pretty much decides who's going to be fighting the final boss later on. More importantly, we will need to defeat the other factions that are vying for the right of Creation. Pixie!"
At the snap of his fingers, the tiny fairy suddenly perked up in attention, her little hands rubbing against each other in a gleeful, yet grubby manner.
"What is it, Aniki!"
"Tell us about the current situation in the war. How many factions are there left?"
"Hmmm… there are about three major factions left. To the west is the Mantra faction, based in Ikebukuro. They are made up of mostly of Bruiser-type demons who love strife and violence… if you ask me though, they're just a bunch of thugs, although from the rumours out there, things seem to be changing. They were led by the God Gozu-Tennou, but my old Bossu defeated him in the last battle we had. It seems like a new leader is calling the shots there."
"The other faction out there is Solus, though there's not much to say about them. They're one of the first factions crushed by my old Bossu before they could summon a proper patron God, although it was not as clean a victory as we would have liked. While the mainstay of their forces was thoroughly eradicated, their leader managed to escape and is now somewhere in hiding. However, my old Bossu still considers them as a significant force since their leader and some remnants of their demons are still out there."
"The largest and most powerful force now is my old faction, Antithesis. They are based in the Chiyoda region and their headquarters are located at the Diet building. The faction consists mostly of demons and beings that pursue destruction and ruin… along with many others that were intimated or awed into joining. Our Boss is incredibly powerful, undefeated and… well, looks just like him."
The little Pixie finished off her update by pointing hesitantly at the sleeping blue-haired man.
"Hmm… I suppose we can go after the Final Boss straight away, but… that won't feel quite right without the dungeon crawling and mid-bosses…"
"Ryoji… this isn't one of those RPG games you play you know…"
"Is it now? You'll be surprised." An ancient light seemed to shine within the mischievous grey eyes of the Nyx Avatar. "Maa... I suppose we should wait for our sleeping beauty here to have a say in this. The final boss is his after all, no matter how I see it."
The group of friends looked towards the blue-haired man, who happened to be turning in uneasy sleep. His burden was one beyond their wildest imagination, save one other.
"Sou… he will be the key… in so many different ways."
A/N: For my Nocturne arc, I have replaced the Hikawa's Assembly of Nihilo with the other Minato's Antithesis, as well as giving the Musubi Reason a faction name in Solus. Details will come later on when I write it.
As usual, please read and review.
Oh, last but not least, Merry Chistmas to all.
Omake 32: Pointing Fingers
"Penny for your thoughts?"
Ryoji looked up at the translucent woman before smirking.
"Kechi. I thought you're supposed to be rich."
The heiress smiled awkwardly before seating herself next to Ryoji, spending a while watching the swirling fire, before she mustered enough courage to try again.
"It's okay Mitsuru…"
"You tried your best, I'm sure Fuuka understands…"
Ryoji raised his hands up towards the unnatural sky, stretched before reclining fully, laying his head upon his folded hands.
"Pointing fingers won't bring Fuuka or anyone back. I'm counting on our hero here for that."
"Heh… you're quite the romantic, Ryoji."
"That includes you too you know." added the dark-haired man cheekily.
"Don't push it. I'll still execute you if I could."
"Glad to see you're still so spirited."
Both the ghost and Death smiled at the horrible pun before easing into a companionable silence, although that itself was broken by another sigh.
The two friends looked at their latest addition with raised brows.
"What is it Metis-chan?"
The dark-haired girl pouted and pointed towards Aigis, specifically Aigis' lap that now had a certain occupant laying on it, and whimpered with the forlorn yet adorable countenance of an abandoned puppy.
"That's my spot..."