This won't make any sense to any Ga-Rei fan unless you follow the Society. Don't read if you're gonna be clueless.
It had been completely unexpected.
"I don't understand why his signal suddenly appeared out of nowhere. It just started up. Just now."
Harriet leaned in, curious.
Kate turned around. "That's the strange part. There is no fandom. His signal turns up in the same location, in all of the fandoms."
"Which means he's in the middle of nowhere."
The members turned around to see a familiar face.
"Hey," said Tash, wagging her finger. "It's you again - "
" - yes, Aster's author, that's me."
A few members gasped a bit. The author approached the computer.
"おねえちゃん - " said Aster tenatively, but the author raised her hand to silence her.
The author touched the spot on the computer. "If I continually switch fandoms I will find this same spot to have Kyle's signal. However, if I go to any fandom, to that spot, I will not find him. He is everywhere and nowhere. Make sense?"
She stopped straight in her speech and giggled. "Well, I might be hitting the wrong tone. He's not dead. Or God."
No one laughed.
"As for the reason I'm here," said the author, "I'm interfering in my story. I'm breaking the First Law of Writing."
"First Law of Writing?" said Drake.
"No author shall interfere in the course of the written story he or she has written. The characters are to play out the story on their own," quoted Adrian.
Aster's author nodded.
"I'm writing this story. But even though I'm writing it, you'll never make it without my help. Which is why I'm interfering in this story. I have details about what's happening elsewhere and what's happening in the future that no one else does."
The other members noted that the fourth wall was not breaking.
"My objective here is to help you rescue Kyle. You may not know it, but I've had a few chats with him a while ago. I have sufficient information to help you. The unfortunate fact is that I'm inserting myself as an author, not as a self-insert, so while I can take you there I am going to have to disappear when things get dangerous or I'll be killed and banned from the Fictional World forever. I don't have magical and/or superhuman powers like the rest of you."
Aster raised her hand like a timid schoolgirl. "おねえちゃん, I'm confused."
The author laughed.
"You're always confused," she said, and patted Aster's head (which Aster didn't like), leaving the other Agents shocked and confused at this Author's sudden appearance, and the fact that an Author emitting such a dark aura was patting the head of one of the most naïve girls in existence.
"Kyle's not dead."
The author said this matter-of-factly to a frowning Harriet.
"He's not dead. And now that Runoa's leader - "
A score of chattering came up among the Agents. Runoa's leader? What happened? What's going on?
Tash glared at the others and they all fell silent.
" - she's set a very obvious trap to lead us in. But here's the catch. She knows it's an obvious trap. And she knows we have no choice but to walk into the obvious trap."
"So what do we do?" said Harriet.
"I'll bet my money Runoa has a little Sue waiting for us near the appointed spot. But that signal is definitely Kyle's signal."
She took her finger off the computer and pulled out a casket.
"I blackmailed this out of a certain character from Aster's fandom. If you ask her, she won't like to talk about it, but she'll know. It contains life energy. We can get Kyle back up and running - it's not something Runoa expects us to have. But the problem is finding where to start with Kyle."
"You said he's in any fandom."
"And none at all. But there is usually one fandom where the concept allows a bridge to the Middle of Nowhere. The Endless Abyss of the Night Sky - Kyle had his own entrance, but we have to take the old-fashioned way."
"So how do we find the fandom?"
Aster's author put on a rueful face.
"Oh, I know how to find out."
The author had required all of the Agents (bar Emily) to follow her to the basement. Aster was up front next to her author, but she was unable to engage in any small talk with her "onee-chan" at the moment.
The author eventually led the others to the cell at the faraway end of the room, and it was clear where she was leading them.
"Sues always happen to know for some strange reason what their bosses are doing. They have some telepathic communication or secret messaging system. You just have to pick the right one to blackmail. And I happen to have a lot of blackmailing power over this one here."
Cassie looked truly pathetic; it was hard to believe she once had the glory and power of thousands of Sues. She was languishing in a dark corner of the cell all the way at the end, ignoring the begging and pleading of the Sues nearby, reaching out for her help.
The author walked up to the cell...
...and opened the door.
She pulled out a nearby chair and tossed it into the cell. Aster waved her hand and ropes made of ice bound themselves around Cassie. Cassie twirled her hands around as if they would cause the ropes to shatter, but they did not.
"You're not a fae anymore, Cassie," said the author coldly.
It was with such a deep and dark tone that several Agents jumped.
"At least I haven't succumbed to emotion like you have."
"Emotion is overrated," said the author, "but it's necessary. And you honestly shouldn't be talking about 'succumbing to emotion'. I never created you to get lost in your own arrogance."
"You're still feral," said the author. "But never mind that. You have information I require."
Cassie scoffed. "How ironic."
"The Endless Abyss of the Night Sky was cut off from the Library thanks to your servant Kaylee. There are still ways to access it. Certain fandoms still have the connection. Name one."
Cassie smirked. "You know I won't help you without incentive."
"Of course I do."
"Fine, then, I will - wait, gimme a second..." For some strange reason, the author sprang randomly after a beetle on the wall. After imprisoning it in a jar, she went back to yelling at Cassie.
"Sorry...money-making opportunity...long story..."
"Anyway. Cassie. You used to be a protagonist. Whatever happened to the goodness of your heart?"
"It went away," said Cassie, "when you decided not to make me a protagonist anymore. I have no reason to help you, given what you did to me...but I'll make you an offer."
Cassie gave a mischevious grin.
"You remove this Prohibitor."
"Can't do that."
"I thought as much."
"No," said the author. "I literally can't do that. Use of a Society device with an Author's Blessing is basically a vow taken by the Author to disassociate him/herself from the character. It can't be revoked. If that Prohibitor is removed, you'll have no authoral attachments, and you'll be gone." She opened her hands in demonstration. "Poof. Dead."
Cassie turned a few shades paler. The author was winning.
"And besides." The author raised an eyebrow. "What about your friends in your world? You abandoned them to escape me."
"They're not your characters. I will join them again someday."
"You would think. But they were partially not mine. I cut my ties from your friends. They were forced to return to the authors they came from. Your best friend Puyo," she continued, "was retired and replaced by a new character."
Cassie's eyes were getting bigger...
"Yes." The author was on a roll. "Most of my friends whom your friends were based on were not writers, and equally retired the characters...including of course..." The author paused.
"Not him. Not him. Not him."
"He's dead. As is your sister, who was still mine."
"You are lying!" Cassie shrieked, incensed. "I can see it in your face, you're lying, you can't get past my intellectual barriers, you're just a pathetic coward who can't stand up to me, you..."
The author appraised Cassie. Her face was blank.
And she slapped Cassie in the face.
"How dare you."
Cassie held her fingers to her face. Her author had never, ever slapped any of her characters. Except now.
"Your arrogance really has gotten the better of you. I am disappointed."
"You're just trying to...act...superior..."
Aster's author brought up her foot and slammed it into Cassie's face. Several Society agents gasped. Cassie emerged with blood on her face.
"It will not do, Cassie, to be a whiny bratty fifteen-year-old who thinks herself superior to all. I can't believe you are accusing me of lying about all that pain you made me go through. I swear on the very instruments on writing that I use that I am not lying. And all that pain you'll be going through about the death of your little friends - remember, it's your fault."
Aster released the ice bounds. Cassie fell to the floor. She did not move.
There was a sniffling, and the Society Agents watched the pathetic form of the former, great, last Lieutenant Mary Sue crying.
"Ga-Rei." The Sue's voice was in a slow mutter. "Ga-Rei."
"That's sufficient." The author turned to the others. "We'll leave her."
And the Agents (still stunned) left.
Cassie looked up. A small voice left her throat.
The author looked back.
"You put yourself beyond it."
And as they left, the fallen Sue lay there. Water leaked from her eyes, intermingling with the blood and accentuating the pain. But what was worse was the sinking feeling of what she had done to herself.
"I want Tash, Harriet, Adrian, and Aster."
The author pointed at the four.
She pointed to the list of fandoms infected by Sues.
"And ironically, the fandom's on this list. She knew we'd go. And the pseudo-Tash is waiting for us."
The author smiled.
"I already knew these facts. But I have to make it believeable - I can't just feed you information. But I will tell you. I am the author of this story. By the end of it, Kyle will be rescued by any way necessary, and I will even stoop as low as to make you OOC to do it. However, I wish to make a coherent story and it will be difficult."
As the Agents and Author walked through the lonely Ga-Rei fandom to find a certain subway station, Adrian turned to the author.
"You were too cruel to Cassie back there."
The author sighed.
"You may think it's inhumane, but...Cassie haunted me after I became the Lieutenant. She visited my friends and caused them to tease me about her creation. And other things too, things I can't tell you." She sighed. "Cassie deserved everything she got there, no doubt, and I'm actually being benevolent...If she ever decides to reform, I'll re-seal her into a pocket fandom, but...
"I've made failures before. My first creation, Arinaia, died in her fic to begin with, so I couldn't do anything. Then there was Cassie. I realized she was a Sue, however, and offered to seal her...that is, place her eternally in her own world where she could live happily. Most authors take this path.
"But Cassie resisted. She would not have anything to do with that. She wanted to be free. And I told her she'd have to go into the Vault of Abandoned Ideas then. But she resisted again, and escaped...
"My third creation, Ness Trunor, was different. She allowed herself and her siblings and friends to be sealed. She now lives happily in her own world.
"And now there's Aster."
The author let out a melancholy sigh.
"I also had to show Aster what not to be. I have faith in her."
Before the Agents could reach the subway station, however, they were stopped by a huge battle mid-town. A strange monster was attacking things. And finally, there were three figures...named Tsuchimiya Kagura, Nimura Kensuke, and Isayama Yomi.
Wait, not three.
The fourth was Natasha Marquand, AKA the pseudo-Tash.
Natasha had done quite a few things. She was an exorcist from America, descended from a line of prestigious exorcists, and had a Ga-Rei of her own. She'd moved to Japan to help out with the Naraku issues. She managed, with her power, to separate Isoyama Izumi and Isayama Yomi from their bodies, and helped Izumi go back to her school life. She also removed all traces of the former-corrupting sesshouseki from Yomi and made her an exorcist, as well as restoring her old Ga-Rei, Ranguren, into her body. (Kagura still had full control of her Ga-Rei, Byaukei.)
She revealed that Kagura and Yomi were not the White and Black Priestesses, but she herself was a balanced yin/yang priestess and she could save the world. Which she did.
In the process, she also caused Kagura and Kensuke to realize their true feelings for each other and brought Noriyuki Izuna and Yomi together (they were once again engaged).
And now, their only job left was to fight the occasional rogue spirit lying around.
Kagura surveyed the area and looked at Kensuke. "It's a toughie, eh, Kenちゃん?"
Kensuke only grunted in response.
Kagura put her fingers together. "Ga-Rei, release - Byaukei!"
The white spirit dragon emerged from Kagura's back, and rose up.
Yomi and Natasha similarly released their Ga-Rei, and Kensuke pulled out the Michael Revolution, his pneumatic exorcist sword.
The Society Agents present had all taken Oneshots to acquire the ability to see spirits (and none of them thankfully had gone through the painful process of acquiring Ga-Rei). They all lunged onto the huge spirit to get its attention.
It was difficult to avoid the lunges of Byaukei and Ranguren, as they were thrashing around like crazy, and Natasha's Ga-Rei wasn't helping either. But the Society plus the Countermeasures Department quieted the beast, and the Society was left to face the Sue.
"You," said Natasha menacingly.
"Natashaちん?" said Yomi (which she would never, EVER say had she not been under the influence of a Sue). "Are they enemies of yours?"
The Society would not have it and ran past her.
"No!" And the pseudo-Tash sent her Ga-Rei after them.
Aster summoned a huge wall of lunar energy mixed with a small amount of datic nuances to prevent the spiritual beast from going through, but the Ga-Rei simply went around. The author was nowhere to be seen and was probably hiding to prevent herself from getting killed.
Tash used Juari-Ken, but the flames bounced off.
Adrian's Boot to the Head left scarcely an imprint.
Finally Harriet became fed up and jumped far into the air...
...and cracked her cricket bat on the Ga-Rei's head.
The Ga-Rei shrieked and receded into a puppy, now harmless. Harriet grinned.
"Always trust the cricket bat."
Kagura and Yomi sent their Ga-Rei as well, but Harriet regressed Byaukei into Shiro and Ranguren into Nue.
"That's it, Hati!" called Tash.
Kensuke lunged at the members with his sword, but a sword was a sword and Tash melted the Michael Revolution into a puddle of molten metal.
"Michael's gonna be pissed..." said Kensuke. (Michael at that moment was working on Michael the 14th, so it didn't matter.)
The pseudo-Tash looked up and noticed the Agents were gone. They'd made it to the subway station.
"The bridge between worlds is very unstable here," said Aster's author, who had reappeared. "If you open a plothole here, you should be able to access the Abyss."
Harriet obliged, and the hole opened to a black emptiness.
"Go in," said the author, and the Agents slowly stepped in.
It wasn't long before they found Kyle. Aster had flown around the pit aimlessly until Harriet had picked up a signal (they were falling in the middle of nowhere).
"Kyle!" yelled Tash, running over.
Kyle was awake. He was staring at them. He didn't seem unnerved by the fact he was stuck inside an enormous abyss. Apparently he'd gotten over the initial shock and was waiting patiently.
"How long was I gone?" said Kyle mildly.
"Over two months."
"I see," he said. "Well, I'd better be going back, right?"
"Of course," said Aster. "We did come for you."
For the first time in a long, long while, Kyle smiled.
The pseudo-Tash delivered her report to the most powerful Sue.
"I...I failed..." stuttered the pseudo-Tash.
Runoa made a face as if she were flicking off an annoying fly. "It doesn't matter. I expected that."
"Yes. Especially since I sent the likes of you to guard it." She smiled. "I don't care if they get back that Agent or not. But while everyone was distracted on the Ga-Rei fandom, I used the small amount of power I acquired from Cassie Anora to destroy the Society parameter checks on the Twilight fandom. They can no longer detect activity in there."
"You don't mean to bail out Foxblade, do you?"
"Then are we leaving now?"
"Of course not. He who runs quickly trips and falls. We have time. Lots of time."
Runoa smirked. There was no need to hurry.
And the pseudo-Tash had her own private victory, too. Kyle Griswold, you may think you have the upper hand. But I have a certain something you may want...
I can see when you're destined to die...
The worst part was that the author knew all this - the trap, the Shinigami Eyes - and couldn't tell anyone.
Kyle had told the Agents that Kaylee had once had the Heaven and Earth, Worldly Secret Art, and thus would possibly have had given information to the Sues on certain Agents' past and secrets, but Adrian had told him they'd worry about it later.
Kyle was walking around the Library, taking in the sight again. It had been a while.
He'd just gotten acquainted with the Agents who had joined the Society in his absence when he remembered something.
The rations...I forgot about them...
Kyle duly went over to check the rations...and paled.
What happened to my rations?!? There were several tons when I left!