Years ago I started this story as a oneshot, loosely based upon Steven Sherill's book The Minotaur takes a Cigarette Break. Since then, as you can see from the number chapters after this one, it has gotten a bit out of hand since then. :) So, I figured it was time for a new disclaimer.
For returning readers: Couple of things.
1. Because this was started as a oneshot, I rated it as T and promptly forgot to ever change it until a reader pointed out that it was still rated T, despite the mature content later on. This is fixed now and the story is rated M.
2. I tended to use three dashes as chapters breaks in earlier chapter and FF was nice enough to remove these. I still have to restore the chapter breaks and I can hopefully do that on a short term.
3. This is a question I get often: Is the character of Joost a self-insertion since he's dutch and you're dutch? Well, no. He is actually based on a friend of mine who took to travel after graduation, found himself on a sheep farm in Australia in a relationship with a woman who was much older than him. So yeah, Joost is based on a real life person and no, that person is not me. :)
For new readers: It was pointed out to me that some things might be confusing for new readers and would need some clarification.
1. Femme-slash ahead! Fair warning.
2. This story started a long time ago, in 2008. The manga wasn't quite as far back then as it is now. As the story progressed, I did borrow a couple of characters from the manga that were cool or interesting, but it doesn't follow the storyline of the manga. Also, there are a lot of Claymores still alive which were supposed to be dead according to the manga/anime storyline. Reason for this is that this story is basically a divergent history, which would hopefully become clear from the story itself at which point it diverged. Basically, it's all Ophelia's fault. It always is Ophelia's fault. :P
3. If this story seems at any point, silly, campy, loopy or otherwise out there. Yep, working as intended. Comedy is a big part of the story, mixed with a little drama to keep it interesting. Imagine being immortal and living for much longer than is intended. I think I'd be a bit loopy too.
4. Originally, it didn't seem to be clear in which world the Claymores actually lived (or it was, but I didn't see it), so I had the entire thing take place in our world instead. It's funnier that way too and more recognisable.
Without further ado, I hope you'll enjoy the story.
Isley of the North. Isley, the scourge of the South. Isley, the White Silver King. Isley, slayer of thousands...
Now he was Isley, filing clerk.
Isley sat behind his desk peering intently at the clock and waiting for it to strike five. Seeing the coveted end of the work day was still twenty minutes away, he picked up a few reports and flipped through them, pretending to be actually reading.
His desk was an unmitigated mess of knick-knacks, paper, paper clips, dozens of half-filled pens and the mandatory Dilbert coffee-mug half filled with ice-cold coffee from his noon coffee break. All around him, colleagues were bustling about with their mundane tasks, calling home or just chatting randomly.
Isley himself had just gotten out of a six-hour long meeting with about a dozen other people concerning the color of the new file-wrappers for the personnel archive. Initially the choice had fallen on a deep red color. However, the opponents claimed this color was too agressive and suggested chamaux colored file-wrapping, which would be easier on the eyes. Yet another group had wanted to give a more environmentally friendly impression by making the file-wrappings deep green. When Isley had carefully suggested that the same amount of trees would be slaughtered for both a red and a green set of file-wrappings, he was attacked by all three groups for 'spreading negative vibes'. Consequently, he had spent the rest of the meeting not listening and making doodles of his colleagues getting viciously murdered in plenty of hilarious ways.
Isley dumped the reports in his drawer and peered outside. It was raining and the roads outside were already starting to clog with cars. On the clock, the small hand had clawed another minute towards release.
Isley sighed heavily. This was no way for an Abyssal One to live.
But that was the past, he considered bitterly. Youma? No longer around. Awakened Beings? Gone. Claymores? Nobody knows what those are anymore. Abyssal Ones? He was the last. The Organization? If they were still around, he certainly hadn't noticed their activities. Isley was a relic of a long forgotten past. Youma, Claymores... they had become nothing more than legends, stories, folklore.
Or worse: popular entertainment.
On TV, 'Power Claymores' was king of prime-time. Teenage girls with implants wearing loudly colored costumes and driving plastic robots fighting 'youma' which were obviously people in poorly designed rubber costumes. The same story over and over again: girls in school see monster. Girls turn into Super Sentai Power Claymores. Monster grows in size. Girls fight giant monster in giant robot. The End.
This bastardized version of history wasn't merely annoying to watch: it was an insult.
The beep from his computer brought him back to the present. In his inbox was a mail from his colleague Ruud, one of the few sane people at the office. The mail contained a small movie of a guy getting in the way of a racing car while watching a rally. It was a cheap laugh and it killed a few minutes.
And then finally, finally, it was time to leave. Isley pulled the plug from the back of his computer, shoved all the papers on his desk into the drawer, said a hurried goodbye to some of his annoying colleagues and rushed out of the door, grabbing his coat on the way to the elevator and freedom for the rest of the day.
On the way down, he closed his eyes and willed all the events of the dreary office life to be banished from his mind. With a resounding 'ting', the elevator announced the end of the ride. Before leaving, however, he suddenly had a craving for a can of cola. He headed for the soda-machine in the lobby near the exit and fished a coin from his pocket. He inserted the coin and picked the soda he wanted. He watched the metal curl push the can forward... until it tipped forward and got caught between the clear plastic and the metal curl.
"Oh, come on!" Isley huffed and pushed the machine a couple of times to try to dislodge it, but changed his mind when he noticed two of the security guards were starting to look at him in a funny way. Of course, with his Abyssal strength, he could have easily picked up the machine, smashed it through the wall and make off with all the cans... but it'd be more trouble than it was worth. This was the age of camera-phones, after all. And if he wasn't careful hiding his true nature, he was sure to find footage of himself on Youtube pretty soon afterward.
He sifted through his pockets, but found no more coins. He cursed under his breath and left the building unfulfilled.
And so Isley found himself on the subway station. If one thing was going right for him today, it was that the subway arrived just as he stepped onto the platform. Unfortunately, the tram was rather filled with people. Lucky for him, a person got up from his seat right next to where he was standing. Isley quickly made his way to the seat, only to be sniped by an old lady at the very last moment.
"Get a haircut, you filthy hippie," said the old lady as she glared at him. Isley sighed and resigned himself to grabbing on of the plastic loops and holding on as the tram sped home.
A rather uncomfortable ride later, after being elbowed several times, knocked over twice and after being 'accidentally' felt up by a man in a raincoat, he got out at his stop, but decided on a quick visit to the supermarket before going home.
Doing the groceries itself was easy enough. He walked through the isles and found today's dinner: three pounds of raw meat and a side-serving of giblets. That was one of the few advantages of the modern age for an Abyssal One: good availability of quality meat. Though it wasn't human flesh, it was the next best thing and it tended to raise fewer questions, especially considering human law enforcement wasn't nearly as incompetent as they had been a century ago. That is not to say he did not indulge himself when the occasion presented himself. The odd hobo or two wouldn't be missed, after all.
His other purchase was a bottle of bleach to clean out the sink. A somewhat odd combination of purchases, so he decided to bring a packet of gum balls with him as well, to even it all out.
Soon enough, Isley found himself waiting in line at the cash register. Much to his chagrin, he noticed that all the other lines were moving much faster than his. He considered it to be Murphy's Law in effect: the moment you leave your line for another, the one you were in would start moving really fast, while the one you'll be part of now will grind to a halt. So he decided to stay to the line he was in.
He soon came to regret that decision, however. The wait seemed to drag on and on and on. Looking at the lines left and right of him, he saw all new faces while he had barely moved two inches ahead. Agonizingly slowly, Isley pushed forward, until the line came to a stand-still again next to the magazine rack.
"So," Isley muttered to himself. "Britney's pregnant again, hm?"
Tictacs, tabloids and condoms. He found himself surrounded by tictacs, tabloids and condoms. And the occasional misplaced lime-green kiddie-snorkel.
To make matters worse, he was standing underneath a loudspeaker piping in atrocious muzak to keep the shopping public stupid and happy. Leaning to his left to look past the line made up of zombie-like people shuffling through the supermarket with their purchases, he noticed an old lady at the cash-register was trying pay for a pack of gum with pennies... but kept miscalculating and started to recount the pennies again and again and again.
He briefly toyed with the idea to power up to his fully awakened form, cut a swath through his fellow shoppers and present his purchases to the deathly frightened cashier with a grin on his face amidst the blood, guts and torn off limbs. Still, it'd be too much of a hassle.
The line suddenly moved and stopped again almost immediately, causing him to bump the front of his cart into the man in front of him.
"Sorry," Isley said as the man turned around. The man was a smelly broad shouldered biker with a bushy beard and many tattoos.
"It's okay, friend," the man smiled through his beard. "Don't worry. Of course, when I was younger, I would have pounded you into the ground for even looking at me funny. That was me... a wicked, evil boozer and bruiser, living by my own rules and travelling with my gang, doing Evil's work. But then, one day, I was saved... for I saw the light of Scientology. Would like me to tell you about it?"
"No," Isley replied coldly and grabbed one of the lime-colored snorkels. "Not unless you want me to ram this snorkel down your throat."
"That's alright, friend," the ex-biker grinned. "Let me tell you how I was cured of my violent impulses and..."
Isley realized the line had closed behind him. In front of him, at least four more people were waiting for the old lady to count her pennies. To his right were the tabloids. To his left: tictacs, condoms and the occasional misplaced lime-green kiddie-snorkel. And to viciously slaughter everyone was no solution. At least, not this time.
Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. The life of an Abyssal One in the modern age was a difficult one.
He was genuinely grateful to finally be home half an hour later. He lived in a rather nice apartment, which was reasonably large, well-furnished and had a nice view of the park on the other side of the street. He kicked off his shoes and plopped down on the couch.
"This is no way to live," he said to no one in particular.
As an Abyssal One who had lived for hundreds of years, he had to grow along with the times, he had learned. But as he was an unaging immortal, he was forced to keep cutting his ties every ten years or so and move on to a place where nobody knew him. He had lived and travelled all over the world the past few centuries and had seen and done much. His previous existence had been rather turbulent, living as he did in a 3rd world country right when a civil war broke out. Though there were plenty of opportunities to feed in secret while the chaos ruled all around him, even in his human form he had stood out like a sore thumb.
So for his current existance, he had opted to try life as a common office drone. It had seemed like a good idea at the time: nobody noticed office drones and he had had a wish for a more anonymous existance for a change. To hide in plain sight, as it were. So, he arranged for false papers, false diploma's and false references and the rest was history. Usually, he arranged a new life for himself every 10 years or so, but after barely 2 years of being an office drone in a big urban center, he was already 100 percent completely bloody sick of it.
"How can people live like this for 48 years straight?" he wondered aloud. Of course, the people living this life didn't have the experience of an ancient Abyssal ex-warlord who had travelled the world. They simply didn't know any better.
Isley knew he wasn't the last of the 'relics'. Though he was the last living Abyssal One, there were others. A few awakened beings and a few ex-Claymores from the old days. All trying to get by in a world where they no longer belonged. He even kept in contact with few of them. A private forum on the Internet was good for that: another advantage of the modern age. A good way to relive old memories and old rivalries, getting some support from people in the same boat and, of course, some random pointless chatting.
He glanced to his side, where a small mirror stood on the coffee-table. "Isley T. Kirk," he chuckled briefly. "Soon, you will no longer exist."
Indeed. For Isley T. Kirk, an alias which he had chosen after coming across an episode from an old space travel show, would be suffering a rather tragic, fatal and violently successful accident. As soon as he'd figure out where he'd be moving next. After this dreary life, a warzone sounded like quite a nice change of pace. He'd only needed to find a good role to play.
He glanced at his groceries on the kitchen block near the couch. That slab or raw meat started to look pretty good right about now. But just as he was about to stroll over and consume his food, the doorbell rang.
Opening the door revealed his next door neighbor: a cheery woman in pink with a smile that was way too broad to fit on a human face. Within a second, Isley was holding the woman's baby in one hand and a pack of diapers in the other.
"Oh, mister Kirk, can I ask you a favor? I was just called by my mom and wouldn't you know, she just a visit from my aunt and her friends, and they are having an impromptu tupperware party. And you know how much I love tupperware."
"So I really need someone to look after Lucy. Lucy's dad won't be home for another week or so and missus Cobble from down the hall is such a bitch so I don't want to leave her there. Man, did you hear her shouting at her husband last night? You could hear it right through the wall! At least try to act like normal people, is what I always say, mister Kirk."
"So thank you for watching Lucy for me. It should only be a couple of hours or so, since mom and I want to catch some dinner afterwards too. We'll be going to the new fancy restaurant in town that just opened. It's supposed to have a really good Parisian chef."
"There's plenty of diapers and here's some formula for her. Just slide the bottle into the heating unit here and feed her when she gets hungry. Thanks again, mister Kirk. Bye! Bye Lucy. Bye! Mommy's going now. Bye! Bye!"
And so a flabbergasted Isley ended up staring at a closed door while suddenly holding a happy burbling baby girl.
He sighed and put the baby on the couch. "You're damn lucky, Lucy," he said. "If you'd met me in any other life, you'd be a quick snack right about now."
He tossed the diapers in a corner and at that moment, he truly lamented the death of his age. In the past, he could run free. Wage war whenever he wanted, kill whenever he wanted, go wherever he wanted to go, run across the plains in his true Awakened form whenever he desired. The world was his and his alone. Now, it belonged to them. Those humans outside, with their dreary little lives and their pointless existence. Those humans who multiplied like rabbits... They could use a few good predators preying on them. What this age needed was Youma and Awakened beings, to cull the herds, remove the sickness and make sure that the humans wouldn't grow too numerous. But he knew that was wishful thinking. Nothing more, nothing less.
He took his mobile phone from his pocket and typed in a text message: 'Life sucks - Isley'.
He then he walked over the meat, tore off a great chunk and bit down on it, only to be interrupted by the sound of a text message arriving at his mobile.
'Tell me about it :( - Clare', it read.
Seconds later, a two more text messages appeared.
'How the hell did you get my new number? Did Clare give it to you? - Ophelia' read one of them. Though it was always fun to spar with Ophelia in an hour-long belligerent exchange of progressingly insulting texted barbs, he wasn't really in the mood right now and decided to quickly move on to the second one. 'Could be worse. At least you're not bald - Helen', it read.
He was about to text back to enquire about Deneve when he heard a distressing wail coming from baby Lucy. Which was also accompanied by a rather pungent smell.
"Indignity upon indignity," Isley sighed and reached for the diapers.
One thing he knew for certain: Isley T. Kirk, filing clerk extra ordinaire, would not exist for much longer.
One more thing. Though I wish it wasn't, the part of the office sketch where they were having a meeting to pick the color of the file-wrappers is actually true. I should know, I was in it, to my eternal dismay. In the story, Isley got off easy because the meeting only lasted six hours. In RL, the meeting lasted five days. And, for the record, the color chosen in the end was Chamaux.