Disclaimer: I do not own any of the aforementioned characters or their stories, I am simply borrowing them for a purpose of telling my own.
It is curious how a story begins.
Sometimes it is with a birth. Sometimes it is with a death. Sometimes a meeting of two people, sometimes a falling out of two others. Some are born from love, some from hate, others from sorrow, others from joy and rapture. Sometimes they are real, other times they are false, born from dreams and imaginations, the desires of men and women, of children, made real in their minds.
Sometimes stories begin, and continue to their end, self-enclosed in their own world, in their own devices and thoughts and the dreams and themes that guide them are self-contained. Other times, these stories have themes that are great and can be expounded to a larger world.
Sometimes a story is lonely.
Sometimes a story is not. Sometimes it connects with other stories, and these are the stories that are worth following to their continuation.
But sometimes, a story is interrupted.
Sometimes many of them are.
Sometimes, with a single event, a million stories can end.
But a new one can begin.
That is the most beautiful thing with some stories. No matter what happens to them, they will continue on, until they see fit to end. Some say they are not paths, but great oceans of possibilities, swept by storms, ever changing, never static—that's not in their nature. This will not be a simple path, but one such sea, a thousand stories all in one, all joining together; diverging and separating at times, but always cohesive, always one. It will never be easy, because stories are not meant to be.
So listen, just a little, and hear these stories about to be told. I guarantee, you'll enjoy it.
Unless you're not into that kind of thing. But hey. I'm not writing fan-fiction for the masses, now am I?
There was no real way to describe the feeling; like being spun around for a few minutes, then stopped and turned upside down, and then thrown into a raging ocean, and then being punched in the mouth and stomach until you landed from falling off a skyscraper.
The ground was hard, leaf-covered, a little wet and smelling strongly of the ancient forest. Someone—a dark-skinned boy wearing garments of blue—sat up suddenly, gagging, having landed on a slug roughly enough to blow it apart into his mouth, filling it with a sickening taste and a sticky slime. As everyone else began to move, recovering from the jolting world, he was busy vomiting up the taste and what remained of his meager breakfast.
"What's goin' on…?" somebody muttered, a female with black hair, thick, square-glasses, wearing a sailor school outfit of Japanese origin.
Nobody answered, too busy trying to answer that question for themselves. Their minds spun, the world seemed unformed and hazy, like a mist around them. There were no sounds, save for the boy's retching and a collective groaning and wheezing. As the world began to right itself, the haze slowly materialized into form—they were in a forest. When the world returned, so did the sound, it rushed like a passing train, filling their ears with odd bird-calls and buzzing insects and the distant snapping of twigs of little critters pattering through the forest floor. Then came the color—the murky browns and dark greens, mixed oddly with blues and purples in places they shouldn't have been—on vines and small shrubs and mushrooms and even the leaves of the surrounding trees, all embossed by a faintly shining sun from somewhere above.
At first, there was a collective feeling of unreality. The colors cinched this feeling, and for a moment, everyone felt like they were dreaming.
"Hah!" someone said, a boy with unruly blonde hair and a frighteningly loud, orange outfit. "Trees aren't that color! Where's the ramen truck and Sakura-chan in a thong?"
"Dunno," another blonde boy, dressed in outlandish trousers and a black shirt said, clutching the hand of a thin, white-robed girl. "But that sounds pretty good. I'll take one of those too…"
They all began to look around. It wasn't as if they saw each other. The haze was still there, mostly around their forms, slowly defining them as they watched. It must be a dream, seeing as how they didn't recognize anybody and it all seemed so vague.
Someone even thought about going back to sleep—another boy, with untidy black hair wearing a strange, Shinto-shrine outfit with peculiar markings on the back and front, who thought he must've fallen asleep in class again. He could see Tokine vaguely somewhere next to him. It had to be a dream, he'd never sleep anywhere near her…
There was a loud clapping, then. It came from everywhere at first, as indistinct as everyone else, but solidified, and finally focused, on somebody standing in their midst. It was with his voice that reality hit them full force, that any thoughts of a dream were dispelled. It was just his voice, solid, defined, powerful—reaching into every part of them, not a dream-voice, but a real one.
"Alright, everyone, wakey, wakey! Time to rise, we have much to discuss, and many people to meet, so I suggest you up and at them!"
Groaning, a few people staggered to their feet—a black-haired girl in a Japanese school uniform clinging loosely to a large sword and a tall, gaunt man in a blue outfit with a firm grip on another. Then came a very well-proportioned young woman with brown hair dressed in a black leather dress and boots, and a young man with platinum blonde hair dressed in a silver, form-hugging suit. The others lay on their backs or stomachs, unwilling to make the effort.
"Up!" the voice called again, "Up now, some of you have it, come on!" the speaker was a giant man, giant in every fashion. He stood at least seven feet tall and probably three-quarters as much wide, with flapping jowls and a sweaty, soft-looking face with intensely bright green eyes. He looked as jolly as a fourth-grader on Christmas, rosy-cheeked and beaming like a saint, looking as much in the long, silvery robes decked in flowers that he was dressed in, so long that they pooled at his feet in a silvery, lily-covered swamp.
"Are you alright there, Sokka?" the man said, addressing the boy who had just finished throwing up.
"F-fine," he mumbled, gasping. "One more minute, mommy…"
"Can't do that, I'm afraid, we have much to do, you see."
The tall, gaunt man stared at him. "Who are you?" he said it reasonably enough, but his words were laced with enough poison to kill everyone present.
"I'll get to that, Saito-kun," the man said, waving a bit. "I'm no enemy, so please put that away, Setsuna-chan." He addressed the black-haired girl, who had regained her senses enough to half-draw her sword and stand protectively over the girl beside her, who was still trying to get up.
"I apologize," the man said, wringing his hands, "for the method of transportation. A bit disorienting, I know, but you'll recover, I promise. Naruto-kun, this is no dream, so please get up, will you? You too, Yoshimori-kun!"
"I dunno what's going on," said a white-eyed (obviously blind) girl dressed in green and white sitting near the edge of the clearing. "But I'm annoyed by it. Where the hell are we? Twinkle-toes, Sugar-Queen, you still there? I can hear Sokka but—"
"I'm here," a bald boy in orange and yellow Buddhist monk garments mumbled.
"Same," said a pretty, dark-skinned girl in a blue dress of similar style to the dark-skinned boy's clothes.
"Yo, Akane, you okay?" A black-haired, pig-tailed boy in Chinese clothes stood over a hunched girl wearing a conservative dress, who looked ready to hurl.
"I-I'll be fine, soon," she mumbled. "Help me up."
"Negi, you okay?" A red-haired, pig-tailed girl—another of the school children—said to a short, auburn-haired boy in a white robe and Chinese clothes trying to stand up, and failing generally.
"Fine," the boy said, his attention fixated on the fat man in the middle. "What's going on?"
"A few minutes before I explain, let everyone get up," the man said, cheerily. "We do have a schedule to keep, however, or at least I do…"
The minutes rolled by, as everyone attempted to placate their roiling stomachs and regain some sense of equilibrium. Meanwhile, the man stood waiting in the middle, wringing his hands and looking occasionally at the sky, attempting to avoid the gaunt man's glare and to keep his eyes off the busty woman's chest.
"Are we all ready? All good?" Nobody answered, but he seemed to think there needed to be none. "Very well then, let's get started, shall we?"
He looked around, smiling. "Good morning to you all! I would ask how you are, but the obvious answer at this point is that you're quite confused and more than a little sick, perhaps jet-lagged in a sense. You'll get over it, jumping space and time is not something that is easy on the stomach or the senses, but you humans have a remarkable recovery rate, so you should be fine by the time I've finished speaking." He paused, and gazed around again.
"Well, I suppose I'll introduce myself. I am Benas the Good, a pleasure to you all.
"And I am a god."
Somebody near the back blew a raspberry of disbelief. "What?" Sokka barked, "that's cute, a god? Of what? All You Can Eat Buffets?"
Some of the younger people snickered. The older ones seemed too confused to do anything else.
"Yes, well," the man said, frowning, "I am large because I am generous, like Buddha, if you know who that is—I suspect half of you do…" he waved. "But nonetheless, I am a god, and I'll prove it."
He waved a hand. The trees dissolved, replaced by hot desert, then by a rolling sea, then by high mountains and bitter cold. With them came the searing heat and dry breeze, the spray of salty water and the cruel, snowy winds and feeling of vertigo. They happened so quickly, yet were so real, so defined that there was no doubt of their authenticity. The forest returned, and most of the people present were no lying down again, frightened that they would never be able to walk again for fear of being transported to other worlds spontaneously.
"Enough to prove?" he asked.
"Hardly," the gaunt man said, unaffected by the words.
"Your sarcasm is quite bitter, Saito-kun! I'll take that as a yes." He attempted to continue, but the short, blind girl said angrily—
"What the hell did you do? I can't see, ya moron!"
"Ah, yes, well perhaps this might demonstrate it?" he waved his hands. The girl stopped, her eyes widening.
"What, what the hell? Where—how—?"
"You can see, can you not? For just a little, I can make this happen, but unfortunately I cannot do it for long—it goes against the natural order of things." He waved his hand again, and the girl's eyes grew leaden and she stopped smiling almost immediately.
"As I was saying, I am a god, and I've brought you here today for a reason, which I don't expect you to agree with, but I ask you to hear me out until the end before you curse me out, I do not like to be interrupted." He cleared his throat.
"Before you begin," the woman with brown hair and prominent bust said, "why did you give that girl sight for such a short time? That's cruel. If you are a god, could you not do it forever—"
"Perhaps," he said. "But as you'll find out, it runs contrary to all of our benefits, but I'll explain later. She'll not want it, in the days ahead, for practical purposes." He smiled sympathetically at the blind girl, who looked dazed, and seemed unable to even move. "I'll make you forget by the end of this, I promise. It was in bad taste to give you such a glimpse into something that you will likely never have…"
There was silence. The girl's friends had crowded almost protectively around her, and the dark-skinned girl was giving the fat man a glare that almost matched the gaunt man, Saito's.
"I apologize," he said, wringing his hands a bit more. "But it was merely a demonstration. She has already forgotten I have done anything."
The girl did seem to have. Her melancholy was gone, and she was freshly confused and annoyed, though no more disbelieving than all the rest now.
"As I've said," he said, calmly, "I am a god, the God of Light, of Goodness, the Shine in the Dark, the Peaceful Giant, I have many names. I am the God of the World that is in the light." His mood had changed. He stopped wringing his hands, he now stood more impressive than before, towering over all of them, a god in every way, save for his corpulent shape.
"I have brought you here to help me, because I sorely need it."
"But you're a god," the blonde boy in orange said, annoyed. "Solve it yourself."
There was a murmuring of agreement.
The god shook his head, very slowly. "I'm afraid that is not possible. I cannot."
"Because the one I seek help against is also a god, a God of Evil, of Darkness—the Shadow Himself, Malenas, the Trader of Sin."
He cleared his throat, and said, very calmly, "Now, before I explain all else, I must say that this shape you see is only one that I have sought to make reasonable to you. This is not my true shape, nor if you saw it would you be able to comprehend it. My power is infinite, but so is His. Malenas and I have existed since the very birth of the worlds, the very birth of the concept of time—and we have been enemies as long as that, too.
"We shaped the worlds in this universe, and in many others, with our wills. But since the beginning, we have been in competition—we have fought bitterly for supremacy over our dominions, the right to rule unquestionably over what we have created, because we both believe in our capability and our right to do so. I will not justify it to you, for I cannot put it in words—our conflict is not reasoned, no, nothing of that sort. There is no reason for it, other than we were born to do it, other than that it was in our very existences to do all of this, to fight so bitterly against one another against all reason. I would go so far as to say it transcends reason, so I please ask you not to question my reasons for it, for I cannot explain it in human terms to you. It is quite impossible."
He paused, and watched them all. They were silent, some interested, others disgusted. He seemed satisfied. He continued.
"We have fought in every way you can imagine—every game that was born in this world or another we used as a means to test ourselves, every battle formation ever conceived we used against each other, every weapon, every spell! But nothing has ever come to fruition, there has never been a clear winner. We have made even on each battle we have undertaken, and even is not something that can satisfy him, nor, I confess, myself. So we thought, and planned—and decided on a solution."
"Which," the busty woman said, "involves us, no?"
"Quite right," he said, attempting to look sympathetic. "Thus, I come to your reason for being here, your purpose and place in this world.
"You are here to fight for me. You are here to settle this dispute once and for all, you are here to do what it takes to ruin Malenas' army and to preserve victory for the Light."
He settled for a smile, having finished his explanation. He looked around.
"That's a shitty explanation," grunted the red-haired girl in the back. "You want us to what?"
"Fight?" the thin, waif-like girl clutching the hand of the other blonde boy said. "But how can you expect us to fight for something like…that?"
"That's true," the busty woman said. "You might fight without a reason, but that isn't good enough for us. How could you expect a few random strangers to do battle against your enemy?"
"Not my enemy," he corrected, with a shake of his head. "Our enemy."
They regarded him blankly.
"…The hell you mean?" the pig-tailed boy said.
"I have summoned you here, yes, but that is not to say that it is without total reason. Whoever wins this coming battle will be declared victor, and we both do not wish to lose. Thus, we have drawn up contest rules, an agreement that follows in line with exactly the laws that govern this universe, or more specifically—for every force, there must be an equal and opposite force. In essence, I have brought you here, but Malenas has formed his own army, consisting of a combination of groups that you will all, doubtlessly, be familiar with part of."
"Speak clearly," Saito grunted.
"Yes," Benas said, smiling demurely. "In basest essence—I have summoned you, and Malenas has summoned your greatest foes, those you have been struggling in your own ways in your own times against, desperately and viciously, in your own world."
"Our enemies?" the girl, Akane, said, frowning. "What do you mean—?"
Clearly, she was the only one who needed an explanation. A darkness had descended on a few of those present. A fear was palpable, all for different reasons.
"Can you be more specific, please?"
"I'm afraid not," Benas said. "One of the agreements we came to was not to reveal the identities of our army to the other side. But I'm sure most of you have an idea."
It was clear that some did, but still others didn't.
"Well," Benas said. "You'll find out, soon enough."
"I am still having trouble finding out what exactly is happening," the platinum-blonde man in silver said, his voice cold, almost metallic. "You have torn us away from our very realities to do battle for you? Against enemies that surely most of us do not even want to fight?"
Benas nodded, very slowly. "In that light, it sounds horrible, I know, but please bear with me. You see, there is a little thing called Fate—"
"And if this little thing we should happen not to take much stock in?" Saito said, now lighting up a cigarette, his eyes never blinking and never leaving the man, a predator's glare.
"Whether you have faith in it or not is irrelevant, but it exists," Benas said. "And this force, inevitably, would have thrown you in combat against these enemies of yours; they are your greatest struggle in this world, in some cases, and in others they are but one of the many challenges that life will bring you. You might not want to fight them, but they care nothing for you wants—they will be receiving this same talk from Malenas, and to be sure, they will not have any reservations in defeating you, killing you, especially when the reward is at stake…"
"Reward?" the unruly black-haired boy said, his eyes lighting up.
"Yes, a simple reward, but effective. To return to your home, safe and sound, to the exact moment you left it."
Everyone stared at him. "You mean…?" a few said.
"At this moment, I have stopped the flow of time in your worlds. Nothing will be occurring, nobody has even noticed that you have disappeared. Time will remain frozen until you have defeated Malenas' forces and destroyed your own enemies…and when you have done that, all that knowledge you have acquire here, all that power, will be sent back with you to your world and time will begin again. But it will be different this time, very different—"
"How so?" a girl said near the back, who was impressively short with hair bushy and long enough to flow past her buttocks.
"Your enemies will be gone. If they lose, they will never bother you again, and you may live your lives peacefully. What you have been given is help against your greatest enemies and a battlefield totally neutral to both of you. They will possess no advantages over yourself, and you none over them. You must strive and work hard, and fight harder than they, and if you do it, all of you will return home."
"All of us?" the blonde in orange said.
"All of you, Naruto-kun," the man said, with a wide smile.
There was silence again, but this time it was softer and more contemplative. They were thinking. Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad…perhaps there was something to this god's words.
"And we have no choice, then?" the busty woman said, disliking the sound of her own question.
The god gave a very slow shake of his head. "Unless there has been an agreement on both sides, I cannot justify sending one of you away, for your enemy might linger here and then the sides would be unbalanced…"
"That's your reason?" Saito said.
"Yes, I apologize, but you may not leave…" he swallowed. "I urge you to give this some thought. Treat this not as a bad thing—you have been given a chance to defeat your enemies with so much collective help, on a world that they possess no advantages over you, with people who can teach you things that you would have never learned. Think also of the nature of your opponents—loners and exclusive organizations who will bicker and fight amongst themselves, when you have a natural tendency to hold fast together. Power in numbers, among friends, is infinitely superior to any raw power that they might possess, and in your hearts, you all know this.
"Think also of how great it will be to return to your families and friends, unharmed, your enemies defeated, with no danger to them? They will be out of the way, never will they be harmed by your enemies seeking to harm you. This is between you and them, and no one else."
Benas smiled again, seeing that some people were coming around. All but the three adults, the blonde in orange—Naruto—the dark-skinned girl, and the red-haired girl with glasses holding fast to the other blond boy seemed convinced.
"If we have no choice…" muttered the unruly-haired boy. His companion, a girl dressed in a similar outfit, but white, seemed a little less sure of it, but didn't argue.
Saito's expression hadn't changed.
"Hmph. I'd figured this is what God would be like," he said, and shook his head. He turned away from the fat man. "I'd contest more, but there is no real point, is there? I have argued against fools like you before, and I don't feel much like fighting a god today."
"Excellent, Saito-kun!" he said, brightly. "Tifa-san, Jack-kun? Have I convinced you?"
"No," the man said. "And it's Raiden."
"Not as such," the busty woman said. "But I'll leave it. I share Saito-san's wish of not wanting to fight a god today, I've done enough of that for a lifetime."
"Good, good," he said. He glossed over the other's annoyed looks, and clapped his hands. "Very well! Since I seem to have at least you grudging cooperation, I will tell you a little about the world you are now in."
"It is the first world that we created, Malenas and I. It is immense, bigger than all of your worlds, vast and primitive. The continent you stand on is the largest of them, and there are four more. You lie just north of the great city, Gutyhyil, which I suggest would be your first stop—for provisions, money, and rest and the like. It is only about fifty kilometers before you reach it. From there, your journeys must take you across the world, towards the last continent, where Malenas' holds sway. There your enemies will likely lie, and your goal is not only to defeat or destroy them all, but to eliminate Malenas' container in this world—a great statue within the temple at the very end of the world…"
"This seems like a crappy fairytale," a girl with red hair and glasses said, standing in the group of girls crowded around the auburn-haired boy. "You sure you didn't steal this all from Tolkien?"
"Quite sure, Chisame-san," Benas said, amiably. "Sure it is a similar formula, but you may say that about any journey that must be made. In any case, your travels will take you quite far across this world, and no doubt your enemies will be waiting to meet you along the way. I have no advice other than what you already know, what is already quite obvious—work together, keep your eyes sharp, and remember what you are searching for…"
"So why'd you choose us?" Naruto said, crossing his arms and glaring at the man. "I mean, how come you chose like, ten people who know each other from one world, and then like just one person from another world?"
"Based on your skills and strengths, weighed against your enemies' strength…" Benas said. "The sides must be considered equal. You know perfectly well why I only chose you, Naruto-kun."
The boy fell silent, glaring at the ground, unsure whether he was proud of being selected as representative of his world, or angry for why he was chosen. Nobody paid it much thought, continuing to focus on the god.
"Any more questions?"
"How can we trust you…?" Raiden—or Jack—said this.
"How do you mean?"
"You have the power to bring us here against our will, and force us to fight in your little game, also against our wills, justifying it merely because we are to fight our enemies…but so far you have done nothing to show us that you are a man of your word, that we can trust you to send us back. It seems the gods are wont to ignore the plights and feelings of humans." His voice was a low growl.
Benas stared at him awhile, and then said: "You are correct. I must appear quite untrustworthy to you, but as it stands, you can only have my word, which is binding—I assure you. A god does not go back on his word. He cannot."
"Then, perhaps," the auburn-haired boy said, stepping forwards. "Could we see proof? A magical contract?"
A few turned to stare at the boy in disbelief, which made him shy away a little, but Benas clapped his hands happily.
"A grand idea! A magical contract will suit the situation perfectly. Negi-kun can attest to their weight. I cannot disobey one, even if I am a god."
The man clapped his hands twice. From his robes silvery cracks began to blossom across the forest floor, weaving into complicated forms and shapes, runes and writings that nobody—not even Negi—understood, eventually creating a circle underneath them all. He told them to hold up their hands.
"I swear that if you win this battle, if you complete this task I have set out for you, I will return all of you home, safe and alive, under pain of death, of destruction, or worse. Do you accept my terms?" He waited, until a few mumbling voices retorted yes, and the glowing circle turned gold—streams of light shot up into the air, coalescing around them in dancing sunbeam shapes, which faded into a mist and then into the petals of golden lilies, which floated away on a light breeze kicked up by the magic worked with tinkling sounds like bells, which gradually faded as the forest sounds returned.
"Done!" Benas said, brightly. He clapped his hands again, this time with finality. "Very well then, I suppose there is little else I might do…are there any further questions?"
"How do we contact you?" Tifa asked.
"Just a whisper on the wind will do," he said, smiling. "I am everywhere in this land. I will not be but a few words away."
"Very well," he said, to all present. He smiled again. "I have high hopes for you all. I know you will be able to do this. Good will always triumph, in the end!" He waved. "Adieu!"
He vanished, jowls and all, in a swirl of lily petals and creamy light.
And then the world seemed so terribly real.
"So…" the dark-skinned boy who had vomited earlier said, smiling uneasily. "Hi…?"
"Great icebreaker, Sokka," the blind girl muttered.
"At least I'm trying!"
"This sucks," the red-haired girl with glasses said, taking a seat on a fallen log near the edge of the clearing.
"Completely," the brown-haired, Shinto maiden in white said, glancing at her companion, who was busy sizing up the three adults of the group—particularly the busty woman.
Said woman smiled a little. "It's a terrible situation, to be sure, but pessimism won't do much to bury it. Perhaps we should start by introducing ourselves?"
"Sounds like a plan," the red-haired girl with two ponytails said. "But who starts?"
Nobody said anything, too busy glancing around, wondering who these people were and how on earth they were going to get along with them, be forced to fight alongside them. A tension as thick as a glacier formed soon enough, until Tifa coughed and stepped forwards.
"Well, I suppose I'll start. My name is Tifa Lockhart. I'm a barmaid from Midgar."
"Midgar?" mumbled the red-haired girl with glasses, as if she'd heard it somewhere.
"Do you know it?"
There was silence again.
"How about we go in a circle?" Tifa said. She glanced to the girl and boy holding hands on her right. "Perhaps you two are next?"
They exchanged glances, but the boy shrugged and said. "Name's Kiri Luchile, just an artist."
"And my name is Sister Elraine Figarette," the girl said, giving a small boy and a polite smile. "A pleasure to meet all of you. Please just call me Elle, everyone does."
"Not to be rude, but," said the girl with square-rimmed glasses who had spoken first. "Why are you guys holding hands, you lovers or something?"
"No!" Elraine shouted.
The boy rubbed his ear from the force of the denial, and said, "Something like that."
Elle stared at him in horror, which made him wince a bit inwardly, but upon a hurried whisper she realized what he meant, and flushed and then nodded.
"We don't like to be apart much," Kiri said, with a shrug. "Also, she's got a curse that for some reason I can suppress with a power of mine, so it keeps her from dying. If you see us doing weird things, it's probably because of that…"
Elle nodded enthusiastically. "Uhm," she turned to the man next to her, the platinum blonde in the silver suit. "You next?"
The man said nothing for a moment. He stared at everyone, his eyes razor-sharp, like a raptor's.
"My name is Raiden," he said. He turned and looked at the group of girls and the boy next.
A few people seemed expecting more, but the boy decided to take the hint and began anyways. "Ah, I'm Negi Springfield, a magister magi in training. These are my students—"
"Asuna Kagurazaka," the red-haired girl with the ponytails said.
"Haruna Saotome," the square-glasses girl said.
"…Yue Ayase," the small, long-haired girl said, her mouth pinched in slight embarrassment.
"N-Nodoka Miyazaki," a girl, who had not spoken since the beginning, said standing next to Yue.
"Konoka Konoe!" the black-haired girl said, still standing behind the girl with the sword, who said, "Setsuna Sakurazaki," in a controlled, yet tense voice.
"Chisame Hasegawa," the red-haired girl with the glasses said in the back.
"Your students…?" Elle asked, blinking.
"Uhm, yes, I teach English at their junior high…" Negi said, a bit shyly.
"How old are you?" the brown-haired girl in white asked.
Nobody could really say anything to that. They moved on to the two standing next to the big group—the girl with short black hair and the pig-tailed boy.
"Akane Tendo," the girl said. "Successor to the Tendo School of Martial Arts."
"Ranma Saotome," the boy said, shrugging. "Successor to the Saotome School of Martial Arts. Sorry about this."
"Sorry about what?"
"Dunno," he said, with a shrug. "Just felt like saying it. I'll probably do something to deserve it soon enough, anyways…"
They all turned to the next two, the boy and girl dressed in the strange Shinto outfits carrying the long bladed staves.
"Yoshimori Sumimura," the boy said, shrugging. "Legitimate successor of the Hazama-Ryu style of kekkai jutsu. A kekkaishi." He shrugged again, for emphasis.
"Tokine Yukimura," the girl said, bowing politely. "Also a legitimate successor of the Hazama-Ryu style of kekkai jutsu."
"What's a kekkaishi?" the blonde in orange, Naruto, said.
"Easier to explain later," Yoshimori said, shrugging. "Who are you, anyways?"
Seeing as how he was next in line, the boy said, "Naruto Uzumaki. I'm the future Hokage of Konohagakure, the Village Hidden in the Leaves, definitely Konoha's Number One Most Surprising Ninja!" he nodded once, for emphasis and crossed his arms defiantly.
A few expressed surprise at this. Others did not show it, but were faintly surprised as well.
He certainly didn't look like a ninja…
"Guess we're next," the bald boy said, tracing one of the blue tattoos—an arrow, which went down both arms and over the top of his head. "My name is Aang. I'm the Avatar."
"That doesn't explain much, you know," Haruna said, raising an eyebrow.
"I'll get to it later," he said, shrugging.
The dark-skinned girl next to him smiled, and bowed as so many other of the politer girls had. "I'm Kitara, and this my brother," her voice fell a little as she turned to the boy, who was picking his nose, "Sokka."
"Charmed," Sokka said, trying to dispose of his nasal discharge discreetly.
"I'm Toph," the blind girl said. "An earthbender. And yeah, I am blind. So what?"
Nobody challenged her, and wisely so. She obviously didn't remember what had happened, but she still seemed annoyed by it.
"Guess you're the last one," Tifa said to the final man, the gaunt Saito, who stood propped against a tree, still smoking. He hadn't taken the initiative in introducing himself, preferring to stare hard at everyone, as if in hopes that they would forget he was there and give up the annoying name game. They didn't.
He finally said, "Hajime Saito."
Setsuna Sakurazaki's eyes lit up. "You're…Hajime Saito? Of the Shinsengumi?"
"No way!" Haruna bellowed, staring at the man with wide eyes. "He's the real thing?"
"Amazing…" both Nodoka and Yue breathed, staring at him.
"Wooahh," Yoshimori said. "Who thought we'd get a historical figure, eh?"
"Who the hell is he?" Naruto asked, squinting at the man. "Never heard of him in my life."
"Me neither," Kiri said.
"Or us," Aang said.
"Shut up," Saito said. He didn't seem to care whether he was famous or not. "I'm tired of this." He finished his cigarette and stamped it out on the ground, and then turned towards the shaded forest. He simply began to walk.
"Oi!" Naruto snapped. "What's the hurry, old man? We don't even know where we're going!"
"He's right," Yue said, a little louder than normal. "We don't even know if north and south are based on the same concept in our world, er—worlds…"
"I don't care," Saito's voice carried as if he were still amongst them, from somewhere within the thick undergrowth. "I don't want to spend any more time among children than necessary. I hate inaction."
The rest of the group floundered, looking at each other in mixtures of annoyance and sympathy and wondering what else they should do. Then, Raiden followed, and reluctantly the rest of them began to as well.
What else could they do? None of them possessed a compass, none of them felt like dealing with the god again. They were all shaken, all still bothered by this entire situation. What could they do, but follow?
They followed, but not without some fear. Still the question raged on in everyone's thoughts, as they went into the darkened forest—why them?
They had no idea what this world would bring them. They had no idea if they could trust this god, no idea if they could trust the ones among them. They had all been thrust into the same group, people from worlds apart, of all sorts, of all races, of all creeds. How was this going to work?
How were they going to survive?
The question did not dislodge their course, and before long, the morning sunlight they had seen through the tops of the trees in the clearing had all but vanished into shrouded blackness.
Yes, this is a new fic…it came to me a while ago, but it originally came in a really crappy form that I blush in shame even thinking about writing it. This one, I hope, is a bit different, a bit better and I hope that it'll catch your interests, even if it is a bit overdone in concept (I think…?)
Don't worry, I won't be abandoning Legend—I just need a little break from it to collect my thoughts. I realized that I was doing something a little wrong with it—a very stupid mistake that I only realized after recalling the feeling of writing earlier chapters…I was beginning to focus more on the style I wrote in, and less on the story and the plot. That's stupid, that's bad, and that doesn't make good writing—it makes okay looking writing, but there is little to the plot, little to the point of it.
I have half the next chapter of Legend done, and I'll be working on it as much as I can, but I want to get parts of this done. The concept sort of sprung from that whole—if so-and-so fought so-and-so, who would win? Only in this, instead of heroes fighting heroes, or villains villains, it's heroes fighting villains of all sorts. I'm excited…!
Okay, in case people don't know who the participants are, here's a short summary of who's who and why I chose them…I chose the particular group based on their characters and how they meshed together—I took care not to overdo one character type over the other, in a manner of speaking…there are only so many of one character type that you can have in one fic, I suppose.
I didn't include characters from Bleach or One Piece for several reasons—for one thing, they're power levels are so huge that they'd school any villain but their own, practically. That would suck, and besides, some of their main characters wouldn't be so good for this group…in my opinion at least.
Okay. Here's the roster—
Tifa Lockhart: You should know this one—Tifa Lockhart from Final Fantasy VII. I chose the Advent Children outfit in this one, and canon-wise, this is the Tifa from two years after FF7, but just before Advent Children. I chose her because I needed a mature woman to counterbalance all the teenage ones. I didn't choose Cloud because I liked Raiden better than him, and one emo-swordsman is enough.
Kiri Luchile and Sister Elraine Fugarette: From the Shonen Jump manga Double Arts, which is quite new. I chose them because the manga is fresh for a shonen manga, quite different from some of the others that are essentially copies off of Naruto/Dragonball Z/Bleach etc.
Raiden: or Jack, from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. This is the Raiden from somewhere in between the time-skip between MGS2 and MGS4, just before MGS4, I should think. I chose him because I loved MGS4, just played it, and thought Raiden redeemed himself in it from his annoying character in 2. Also, he's Cloud's semi-depressive replacement.
Negi Springfield, Asuna Kagurazaka, Yue Ayase, Nodoka Miyazaki, Setsuna Sakurazaki, Konoka Konoe, Haruna Saotome, Chisame Hasegawa: All from Mahou Sensei Negima, Ken Akamatsu's current work. I chose them because they added a shit load of teenage girls, all of those girls have personalities that are quite different from each other, and because I like Negi Springfield as a character, as well as the villain that accompanies them, who you'll soon find out… (next chapter…maybe?)
Ranma Saotome and Akane Tendo: From Ranma ½, and as for why I included them, it was at first for one reason—Ranma's character is very difficult to mesh with others, as he's quite arrogant, and I thought that'd be good for the team. But later, as the plot was forming in my mind…they became necessary for a very different reason, which I'm sure none of you guys who are fans of this character/manga will like, but I still think is good…you'll find out later…
Yoshimori Sumimura and Tokine Yukimura: from the manga Kekkaishi by Yellow Tanabe. I included them for similar reasons to Kiri and Elle—they're from a shonen manga which actually has a decent plot and isn't following the pointless battle-battle-battle that Naruto and Bleach are following…don't get me wrong, I love both those mangas, but I'm disappointed with where they are going and how they're structured…
Naruto Uzumaki: from Naruto, obviously. This is pre-timeskip Naruto—as in, loud and obnoxious and not yet semi-depressive and Sasuke-obsessed. I chose him because I like Naruto, he adds something to any fic, and I wanted to take mold his character and strengths/techniques in a different way from Legend.
Aang, Kitara, Sokka and Toph: From Nickelodeon's Avatar: The Last Airbender. I chose them because I really loved the character from this show, as I did the villains. Also, I was annoyed that Toph wasn't as featured as much as she could've been in the show, so she's going to be getting more screentime here.
Hajime Saito: of Rurouni Kenshin, included because I needed a badass, and Saito's a true badass, no matter what anyone else says. Also, his character is going to generate some supremely awesome conflicts later on, guaranteed!
Benas and Malenas: my own creations, who I hope to be more than the cookie-cutter cliches they seem to be from their names. They won't be, I promise.
Well that's it. Hope you guys enjoy this one, and don't worry, the next chapter will be out for Legend soon enough…
See ya soon!