Disclaimer: I do not own Shakugan no Shana. If I did, we'd be seeing Hecate a lot more often.
Note: It'll take quite some while until I sort out the plot for the next installment of the Eternity series. But one thing's for sure, it'll have so much plot that there won't be much room for fillers. So I'll be putting most of the fillers in here. Hope you enjoy your appetisers!
Note: The following oneshots won't be in any particular chronological order. This first oneshot takes place between the victory against the Mouth of Power and Mastan and the epilogue of Eternal Alliance.
Note: Sorry if this first oneshot seems a bit rushed, because it is. XD
Please review! And Merry Christmas!! This is my gift to you this year.
For Sydonay, it was just another week, but to everyone else in Misaki City, it was Christmas time.
The Crimson Lord strolled through the streets with a lit cigarette in his mouth. Snow fell like light rain. Cheery decorations hung everywhere. All around him people greeted one another with genuine happiness and joy. Men and women, young and old, ran around town hunting for gifts. Families walked hand in hand together with big smiles on their faces. Once, he even encountered a small group of singing carolers all dressed up in cheery holiday outfits.
Despite all the mirth around him, Sydonay just put his hands in his pockets with a smirk as he continued walking onwards.
An All Too Familiar Tale
Inside Sereiden, most of the humans, Flame Haze, Denizens and Rinne within bustled around, rushing to prepare food and place decorations for a Christmas party they would be having later that week. Wilhelmina, Chigusa and Pheles worked in the kitchen along with some other humans. Margery, Keisaku, Eita and Ogata helped out with the Denizens and Flame Haze with their decorations. Johan, Kantaro and Ike, who although was not part of the Alliance yet, supervised everything. And Shana, Yuji, Hecate, Dantalion and several others worked on the largest hall in the palace.
"Will you just look around you?" Alastor said while Shana took a melonbread break. "I never thought a place like this could be so filled with warmth and cheer."
"To think we'll be celebrating in the base of the organization that ruined our last two Christmases," Shana said.
Yuji chuckled. "Kinda makes you wonder how Bal Masque spent holidays like this in the past," he said.
"We didn't," Hecate told him as she picked up a large gold star and flew up to the top of a massive Christmas tree in the center of the hall. "This is the first real Christmas in Sereiden."
"Then you must be really happy," Yuji said.
A faint smile appeared on Hecate's lips.
Yuji glanced at Shana, who stood beside him. She, as well as Hecate, were dressed in cute bright red Santa suits.
"Did I mention how cute the two of you look in those costumes?" said the Mystes.
"Only around five times," said Alastor. "But I have to agree with you."
Shana blushed as red as a tomato.
"Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!"
As Hecate placed the final decoration to the tree, the star, and descended, Yuji rubbed his hands together.
"Try not to charge up too much electricity, or the tree will burn down," Shana advised the Mystes.
"Don't worry, I've been practicing my control with Hecate," Yuji responded as he generated a calculated amount of voltage in one hand. "Around 0.00001% of my power should be enough to keep this lit for a while."
The Mystes approached a metallic box--which was some sort of battery and adapter of Dantalion's design--beneath the tree and carefully chanelled the electricity into it. As he did, the tree lit up with an array of bright lights, completely illuminating the room and filling the people around with even more warmth.
"It's great, isn't it?" Yuji said as he wrapped an arm around Shana.
"And best of all, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO ELECTRIC BILLLLLLLL!" Dantalion yell as he suddenly appeared behind Shana. His overactive scream was quickly followed by a backhanded punch over Shana's shoulder into his face.
"Yes, it is," said the Flame Haze.
A moment later, Sydonay entered the hall. Rather than being touched by the cheer, he made a solemn expression and turned to leave. Hecate stopped him.
"Is something wrong?" she asked.
"I still have some work to do," Sydonay replied.
"C'mon Sydonay, lend a hand," Yuji said cheerfully. "Besides, my mom took all the keys to the council chamber and record rooms. This is the time of year to enjoy and have fun."
"How can I possibly enjoy it?" Sydonay said as he turned back to the Mystes. "Every single year I'm stuck 'celebrating' Christmas with that freak."
He pointed to Dantalion, who hung from the ceiling with several mechanical arms which hung decorations in various places, although some of the décor he had placed were also upside-down. The Seeking Researcher was also singing a Christmas tune with horrible tone.
"At least he knows how to have fun," Shana said with a light frown.
"But this year isn't like all the others," Yuji reasoned. "For one thing, you're not going to be fighting anyone. And you have a lot of real friends to celebrate with, like my dad."
Sydonay shook his head. "Thanks for the offer, but I still don't feel any reason to celebrate," he said before leaving.
As he left, Hecate watched him, the closest person she ever had to a father-figure, with concern. "He needs help," she said as she looked to Yuji and Shana.
Later that day, Sydonay leaned back on the rail of one of Sereiden's many high balconies. Three cigarette butts lay on the floor beneath him.
Before taking another cigarette from his pack, which sat on the rail next to him, he looked to the city below. At night, the city illuminated brightly, its light reflecting on the Thousand Changes' ever-present sunglasses. Even at night, the warmth and cheer of the populace below spread like fire in the cold winter evening.
"Even after so many ages, these humans have not changed," he muttered.
He reached into his pack of cigarettes and lit a stick before putting it in his mouth. All of a sudden, he started to feel a little dizzy, and he barely managed to stay on his feet. After a while, however, he regained his balance and the feeling of uneasiness seemed to have vanished.
"What was that?" he mumbled. But before he could try to solve what had just happened, the ghost of a person he had never expected to see again appeared before him.
"Beol Peol?!" he said in surprise as he took a stance and prepared to transform.
"Don't bother attacking me," said Beol Peol. "I'm already dead, so we can't even touch each other."
"Then why are you here?" Sydonay asked, still keeping up his guard.
"I came to deliver a warning, since you look so pitiful that I can't just ignore it," Beol Peol began. "Don't forget that you and I are similar. We had similar beginnings, and we both chased our own goals at the cost of others. Even on days like these, you can still become the wicked General I knew. You cannot run from yor fate, but I'd still love to see you struggle against it."
"So you're giving me a warning to make me feel even worse?" said Sydonay. "I always hated your psychological tricks. Just get it over with already."
"Tonight, you will be visited by three ghosts, and each of them will attempt to help you change your ways," Beol Peol continued. "If your heart does not heed them, your end will be even worse than mine. Have fun struggling."
With her message delivered, the Beol Peol faded away. Sydonay sighed as he leaned back on the rails.
"I don't know what the hell is going on, but spirits, just do whatever you want already," he said aloud.
The first spirit to appear took the form of none other than the Supreme Throne Hecate herself.
"Hecate?" Sydonay said, somewhat confused.
"I have only taken her shape, as will, the other two sprirts to come. In truth, I am the Ghost of Christmas Past," she said, even mimicing her monotone voice. "Come with me. We will revisit your memories."
She stretched a hand out to the Thousand Changes, who took it with his own. The two of them flew out of the palace and over the horizon. Their first destination was at a great land ruled by a mighty leader, even amongst Crimson Lords. They had travelled to Atlantis many millenia ago, while Sereiden was still a part of it and the Snake of the Festival was ruler of a kingdom where humans and Denizens first learned to co-exist.
"I remember this time," Sydonay said. "I was still young for a Denizen. The people seemed really happy even before then."
"Let us enter the palace," the Ghost of Christmas Past told Sydonay as the two flew into the still-grounded Sereiden.
Standing alone on a balcony, surveying the kingdom before him, was the General Sydonay, dressed in the finest armor with the figures of several mighty beasts engraved upon it.
"That was me when I ws young," the current Sydonay said. "I was a lone wolf even back then, as is the fate of a high ranking official in the Snake of the Festival's army. For people like me, there aren't much people of the same level, and if I ever met any, I usually fought them."
The Ghost of Christmas Past looked to the horizon. In the distance, she and the Thousand Changes could see a great number of Flame Haze approaching. Soon, Sydonay found himself quickly reliving the war between Denizens and Flame Haze which destroyed the kingdom of Atlantis.
"I always hated that day," Sydonay said.
When the battle had ended, the Ghost of Christmas Past pulled him into the main hall of a ruined Sereiden. There, he saw his past self, Beol Peol and the past Hecate gathered together.
"Since then, however, I became a little less of a lone wolf and a little more of a leader," said Sydonay. He looked at the past Hecate with sad eyes. "But she became lonelier than I, or anyone else did, and I resolved to try and take the Snake of the Festival's place as her father-figure."
"And she is grateful for that," said the Ghost of Christmas past. "As the years and ages past, although she still never got over her emptiness…"
She waved her hand and the scene changed to a time when Hecate and Sydonay stayed at a town at the base of a mountain. At the time, although they were collecting fragments of the Snake of the Festival, they had also found time to participate in a festival the town was having. The whole time, Sydonay did his best to help Hecate to enjoy herself, although to no avail.
"You were always there, like a father to his daughter," the Ghost of Christmas Past continued. "And while she had never gotten better until recently, you on the other hand had found more fulfillment in your long life."
Next, they flew over the world, trailing the Sydonay of the past as he worked for other Denizens as a powerful and feared bodyguard, ironically hunting down Flame Haze which proved too big a threat, and tearing down Outlaw bases.
"However, you wer still the General of Bal Masque," the Ghost of Christmas past told Sydonay. "You still had a reputation to keep, and jobs to do. And you always did them without a thought about the other side. The longer you stayed away from the closest person you had to a family, the more lives were ruined. You believe it cold not be helped, but in the end, there is still no excuse for bringing misfortune upon others, even on the happiest of days."
She led the Thousand Changes to one particular assault on an Outlaw base, one which had happened only a few years earlier, which had left a mark in the Thousand Changes' memory.
As the Sydonay of the past and his battalion of Denizens and Rinne still approached in the distance, the current Sydonay and the Ghost of Christmas Past peered through a window and into the Outlaw base. Rather than finding them seriously go about their work, Sydonay was surprised to see them enjoying themselves, exchanging gifts, and eating together. The place was even partially decorated for the occasion.
"Back then, even your enemies knew it was a time to be enjoyed with friends and loved ones," the Ghost of Christmas Past said.
As she finished speaking, Sydonay's attack force arrived and quickly laid waste to the once merry Outlaw. All of the laughter and cheer had quickly turned into cries, screams and roars of battle, which soon drowned into the night as the fight ended.
"Okay, I admit I was a jerk back then," said Sydonay. "But I was working with the bad guys at the time."
"There is still more," the Ghost of Christmas Past said, taking him back to Misaki City, but still at a different time in memory.
It was a certain Chrstmas Eve two years earlier. Sydonay found himself witnessing the incident with the Statue of Pride. And at the end of the fight, at the moment of their defeat, he looked at Hecate, who looked upon the ruins of the Statue with her first tears.
"It was at this point that things began to change for her, and you as well," the Ghost of Christmas Past said. "It was on this Christmas that Hecate had begun to question her life, comparing it to that of Fumina Konoe's, and it would eventually lead her to leaving Bal Masque. Following her defection, Bal Masque split into two, with your side fighting to stop Beol Peol from using her and making her suffer again."
The scene changed once more. They were still in Misaki City, but this time the Ghost had taken the Thousand Changes to a certain apartment, his own while he stayed with Dantalion. During this time, he had been watching over Hecate in secret.
Although he never liked his partner. As the Sydonay of that time looked out the window, a disguised Dantalion burst into the room with various holiday trinkets in his arms.
"These humans reeeeeeeeeeeeally know how to have fuuuuuuuuuuuun!" he yelled loudly. "Thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis calls for another experimeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee—akgh!"
The Sydonay of the past suddenly grabbed him by the throat.
"Be quiet," he said. "Beol Peol can attack at any time, and the last thing I need is you screaming into my ears when we should be vigilant."
"Although you did what you had done out of love, you still found no joy or comfort in the mirth around you," the Ghost of Chrismas Past said. "You even resented it, believing it made those you guarded in secret weak and unaware. This may be partially true, but it is also partially false."
Soon enough, Sydonay found himself watching the battle against Bal Masque. Although the ones who had been celebrating in Konoe's mansion had not fully anticipated an attack, they fought with such unity and coordination that their defense was nearly unbreakable.
"Of all days, this was one when these people did not wish to lose anyone they loved," the Ghost of Christmas Past said. "They fought at their limits to protect each other's happiness on this day. Lamies, Kanaro Sakai and Fumina Konoe were even willing to give up everything to preserve the gift of life of those closest to them. Although they would all admit that this was their worst Christmas ever, it was still a time to share with friends and family. They still tried hard to be happy with one another. You, however, barely even spoke to anyone during this time, and only focused on that which you thought was most important at the time: winning the battle itself."
As the Ghost of Christmas Past spoke, Sydonay could not help but notice a tear trickle down her cheek.
"Don't you think you've showed me enough?" he said, his tone not bearing any spite, but possessed a hint sorrow.
The Ghost of Christmas Past nodded, and Sydonay found himself on Sereiden's balcony once more, in the present time. The Ghost of Christmas Past soon vanished, and another spirit appeared in the shape of Yuji Sakai.
"I'm the Ghost of Christmas Present," he said, mimicing his form's warm smile. He too reached out to the ancient Crimson Lord. "Please come with me."
Sydonay took his hand and the sprit led him off the balcony. As the two flew high over the city below, the looked down to the people. Even at this time of night, the streets were littered with families, couples and groups of friends, all going to various places to celebrate together, be they human, Flame Haze, Denizen or Rinne, or any combination of the four at the same time. They also flew right through the buildings, emerging through the walls unharmed, as if both of them were ghosts, and no one saw them either, not even the most sensetive of Denizens and Flame Haze. Everywhere they went, be they homes, offices or stores, they were all filled with the spirit of Christmas.
"As you can see, this is a time for everyone to spent time with one another and be happy together," the Ghost of Christmas Present told Sydonay.
As they flew over the streets again, they spotted a certain bespectacled young couple. They were holding hands, but more likely because the girl was dragging the boy around. Indeed, the two of them were none other than Fujita and Ike, who had gone out after helping out in Sereiden.
Fujita, with inexhaustible energy, dragged her boyfriend here and there. Normally, Ike would have been very reluctant and easily become weary, but today he was different. Indeed, for an entire week, he willingly let her do whatever she wanted with him, even if it would kill him.
"Even he wouldn't let certain other feelings get in the way of both him and his girlfriend from being happy," the Ghost of Christmas Present said as he began to pick up speed.
Before he knew it, Sydonay discovered that he had somehow ended up in New York City within a few seconds. Even there, the holiday spirit was no weaker than in Japan, or in any part of the world for that matter.
"What are we doing here?" Sydonay asked the spirit next to him.
"To check up on your other friends," the Ghost of Christmas Present said with a smile.
He took him to a certain base of a branch of the Eternal Alliance and found themselves in a rare treat. The ancient Khamsin, Leanan-sidhe and even East Edge went about decorating the place with some help from their allied Denizens, Flame Haze, humans and Rinne. Lorelei, Lawin and Jean soon entered the room with some food, for which everyone gathered around them for. The whole time, Khamsin and Leanan-sidhe were smiling cheerfully, truly appearing like merry little children.
"So even old guys like them can still be cheery like this, when they're with the ones closest to them," Sydonay noted.
"Now you're beginning to get it," the Ghost of Christmas Present said as he took him back to Misaki City and Sereiden at astonishing speeds.
Instead of landing on the balcony of the palace, however, they phased through the wall, still like phantoms. The two glided through the hallway, watching as everyone finished decorating. As they passed through the kitchen, they saw Pheles and Chigusa panicking to help Wilhelmina put out a blazing, out-of-control fire in her pot. In the next room, Kantaro and Johan had a drink together while the former, holding his own baby in his arms, gave the Mystes more advice on being a father. In the main celebration hall, Dantalion and the Domino Rinne finished things up, although much of their work was lopsided, as they were as well. They were all still singing horribly, as if they were worse than tone deaf. Even the Ghost of Christmas couldn't stop himself from sweatdropping.
And in another room, Margery, Keisaku, Eita and Ogata sat in a circle. The Chanter of Elegies, as usual, was hopelessly wasted, but so was Keisaku, albeit to a lesser extent.
"Okay, okay, guess who I am," she said as she placed a straw in her mouth and placed her hands in her sidepockets, mimicking a certain rugged person with a heavy aura, although it suddenly changed into a perverted expression. "Alright, where are those lolis?" she even added.
"Oh, I know, you're Pedonay!" said a very drunk Keisaku.
Eita put a hand over his face. Ogata just giggled.
"Is there any point to this?" Sydonay asked the spirit beside him in an exasperated tone.
"I guess not," the Ghost of Christmas Present said, somewhat embarrassed. "I was actually hoping you'd see that togetherness in times of happiness can change anyone, even someone like you or her, a battle-crazy lone wolf, no pun intended."
"Then next time you should pick a better example to watch," Sydonay suggested.
With their trip over, the Ghost and the Thousand Changes returned to the balcony, with the latter fully tangible again.
"Has your heart accepted yet?" the Ghost of Christmas Present asked.
Sydonay shook his head. "I still think it's a waste of time," he said. "Peace and happiness like this won't last unless someone continues to work and fight for it everyday."
"But how can you expect to see peace on earth when you are always watching out for war?" the Ghost of Christmas Present said as he began to fade away. "Beware, the final spirit won't be as gentle as the first two."
Moments after he had disappeared into thin air, the third spirit appeared in the form of a dark-haired Shana, wearing her black cape. While the first sprit bore no expression, and the second one had a warm smile to him, the third one possessed a burning glare.
"Lemme guess, you're the Ghost of Christmas Future," Sydonay said calmly. "So, what are you gonna--?"
Suddenly, without warning, the Ghost of Chrismas Future delivered a swift kick to Sydonay's gut that knocked him clear off the balcony's rails. As he flew through the air, the Thousand Changes attempted to stablize himself and fly, but somehow he couldn't.
After plummeting from a long height, the Thousand Changes landed face-first on hard gravel. After recovering from the pain, he picked himself up and looked around him in astonishment.
All around him, the city was in ruins, and a great dark cloud loomed over the entire country, if not the whole world. Barely any presence remained in the area, and they were approaching him slowly from various directions.
"That damn bastard should have just stayed here than gone out to beat those remaining rogues into submission," Keisaku said with a grim look.
"We needed him, and we had to stay together, especially on that day," Kantaro said. "How could he have not seen that?"
"And now Yu-chan, Shana-chan, and nearly everyone in this city is dead," Chigusa said, clutching her husband's arm in sorrow. "If only he stayed for that one day, this wouldn't have happened."
"At least he deserved his fate," said the one person Sydonay would never had expected, Hecate. "He used to be a father to me, but I see now that he never changed from the heartless General he was."
"Don't tell me, I died?" Sydonay said in shock.
The Ghost of Christmas Future approached him from behind slowly b ut menacingly.
"Yes, in battle, and your death was very humiliating rather than anything else," she said. "No one came to your side, and you were overcome too easily."
"But I can change, right?" Sydonay said as he looked behind to the spirit. "If I can accept Christmas, all this can still be avoided."
Crimson flames suddenly exploded from the Ghost of Christmas Future, forcing the Thousand Changes to tremble in fear, a feeling he rarely felt.
"It's already too late," the spirit said with a heavy and powerful voice as her hair and eyes blazed like the fires of hell itself. "You have already shown that you are not capable of unity if you cannot be with anyone at the time it is wanted most."
As she spoke, the entire area all around Sydonay was engulfed in scorching flames.
"Alright, alright!" Sydonay yelled as he put up his arms. "I yield already! You win!"
The Ghost of Christmas Future made a small grin. And in the next moment, as Sydonay regained himself, he found himself in his chambers. A shaft of sunlight shone through his window. It was morning.
"Heh, who would have thought I could ever get a nightmare like that?" the Thousand Changes said to himself.
That day, most of Sereiden's residents gathered in the main celebration hall, doing what should already be obvious to everyone. Happy greetings and song filled the air, gifts were exchanged, and the light of the Christmas tree warmed all hearts and shone brightly in a hall once dark in the past. The scent of delicious food called out to everyone, although a few particular dishes were avoided like the plague.
Catching most of the celebrants at unawares, a large reindeer burst through the main doors with a sack on its back. That same reindeer quickly hanged into a man, who lost no time in giving a loud, booming greeting.
"Merry Christmas everyone!"
Everyone was still frozen in shock and confusion, but it quickly turned into even livelier mirth as Sydonay joined the party. He began to hand out gifts he had gotten at the last minute, starting with Dantalion of all people.
As he handed a drill-shaped present, he patted the Seeking Researcher on the shoulder. "Merry Christmas buddy," he said.
As Sydonay approached the others, Dantalion looked at him, completely baffled. "Has he gone maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad?!" he exclaimed.
After giving his present to Yuji, Shana and, of course, Hecate, he whispered to them.
"Thanks for last night," he said.
"What are you talking about?" Yuji said, feigning ignorance.
"Who else could have used her mastery of long-range Synchronization to msuch a degree? And don't think I haven't read that story, after all, I've lived for thousands of years," said Sydonay. "But still, it's one thing to read or watch about it, and an other to live through it yourself. Merry Christmas you guys."
As he mingled with Margery, Wilhelmina and Johan, Yuji and Hecate watched him with smiles on their faces.
"I told you you shouldn't have followed the book too accurately," Shana said with a small frown, which suddenly changed to a happy smile as she held the two next to her. "But I'm still proud of you."
"But in the end, it was you who was most convincing," said Hecate, retaining her monotone.
"Yeah, you can be pretty scary," Yuji added. "Your part was really fitting."
"Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!"
The festivities continued from the morning to the afternoon until long into the night. And although by then many were tired, they continued to party like never before. It was a rare time for peace on Earth, a time meant for being together with those you love while you still can.
Fujita, who although was invited by Ike, still had no idea where she was or how she got there. She suddenly spoke out for a reason she could not fathom even after the party.
"God bless us, everyone!"
Meanwhile, deep within an undiscovered tomb in Egypt, Yuri approached Merihim, carrying a small package in his hands.
"Mr. Merihim, Me--," he was about to say as he stretched the gift out to him, but the white haired man knocked it away.
"How can you still be so childish?" he said coldly. "What use are gifts for the dead?"
The horned, cloaked female of their group appeared behind Yuri as he picked up the fallen package.
"Do you have to be so hard on him?" she scolded. Merihim didn't even react when she spoke her threat. "Don't make me use that story on you."
She looked at her other comrade. Under the shadow of her cowl, a gentle smile emerged.
"I'll be happy to accept that gift if he would not want it," she said tenderly. "Merry Christmas."