"I beg of you… My slave who lives somewhere in the universe! Oh sacred, beautiful and strong familiar spirit! I desire and here I plead from my heart! Answer to my guidance!"
For such powerful magic words they are quite vague are they not? The universe has long since been proven to be far more massive than can be measured and the reflections even more infinite. Beautiful and strong can be defined in numerous ways and differ by one's own views of strength and beauty. However, a plea that comes straight from the heart fueled by a desire created from years of emotional torment by one's peers? That is a voice heard by any who are willing to listen.
Familiars of Zero is a series of one-shots featuring a plethora of what-if's consisting of a large cast of characters ranging from the unique to the downright bizarre. However, while the cast of familiars will be diverse a few key little details will remain in effect. All familiars will be sentient and will, at the very least, be chaotic neutral. I may include an "evil" familiar or two but I'm not really into writing horror all that much…
All one-shots shall be followed by an explanatory note regarding the new familiar (the who's, the why's, and the what's), a brief summarization of what could continue, and finally explanations towards an "OCness" on the pre-established characters. With that said, I hope you enjoy reading:
The Familiars of Zero
By Corvus no Genmu
"The Bones of the First"
Do the ends justify the means? Is the act of committing evil for the greater good better than not acting at all? Of two evils must the lesser be chosen to combat against the greater? Sanctity, human decency, courtesy for the dead… Are all these words meaningless? The dead should remain buried, not dug up again to fight against the living. They sought a weapon, a mechanical reflection of the greatest living natural disaster to traverse the globe and claim dominion over all that could be called kin if only in animosity. Weaponry had reached its peak but technology was forever an evolutionary concept and one mind, one stunningly brilliantly damning idea, was all that it took.
If even the most unconventional of weaponry could not kill these living disasters then a new weapon was needed, one to stand not as their equal but as their better, a machine carved in their shape, standing taller, never ceasing, unstoppable force against immovable objects of terror. Yet even such an ideal was not enough, to carve such a weapon around the greatest disaster and have it be guided by human hands and human instincts made it doomed to failure from the very start. These mountainous monstrosities did not think, did not rationalize, and did not plan as human minds could. They were primordial instincts hardened and sharpened beyond the human capacity to remember or relearn. No, it was not enough to carve such a weapon…
They had to build it straight from the source, the first unnatural disaster to walk the earth and raze one of the greatest cities in the world to the ground in the span of a single night. The only monster whose death was undeniable and whose destruction was worthless for others of its ilk had risen to the same banner with its heir at the front lines of the unending war. So they searched, so they discovered, and so they stole the bones of the dead king from his bed in the sea and buried them again beneath an ocean of wires, a mountain of steel, and made a weapon of the dead. They had thought themselves geniuses, they had thought themselves good for their evils, but more than anything else they believed themselves above punishment for the immoral obscenities they had committed.
They were wrong.
The first sortie, the first battle between the dead and the living king ended with no victory. The living son could not comprehend the twisted reflection of steel, the cold familiarity that brought a foul taste to his mouth, or that dreaded despair brought from recognition. So he had done what he had never done before, what no one, men or monsters, had ever thought him capable of doing.
The deceased watched as the living departed and beneath layers of circuitry and hardware, a spark of something beyond mortal make stirred a faint figment of recognition. A sound replayed once more, a roar of proclamation, a promise to return to fix the wrong that was committed, and that vocalization brought the spark up into a raging inferno of full remembrance. The dead remembered the life it once possessed and knew now the mockery, the travesty committed to its remains with all the fury of a soul once rested now returned to the mortal coil to enact its vengeance upon the world again.
But even though its rage was boundless, its thirst for vengeance quenchless, the weapon was not without its safeguards and in the span of a single hour, came to rest upon the border of the smoking ruins which had once been a city. They had sought to create the ultimate weapon and they had succeeded. It was a mistake, they had realized, to let those primordial instincts run wild without the proper safeguards. So they fixed what they believed to be a technical error, a mistyping of programed data, never once conceiving the notion that it was something more than digitalized processes running through the artificial network… or that the "bug" they had sought to eliminate was not destroyed, only silenced.
"I beg of you…"
That the soul of a monster still resided within a manmade machine… silently waiting for but a single moment of weakness… learning and evolving into something greater than a weapon, more terrible than a monster, and far deadlier than both combined…
"My servant who lives somewhere in the universe!"
Do you hear it, desecrated king?
"Oh sacred, beautiful and strong familiar spirit!"
That's the sound of opportunity calling to you, heartless machine.
"I desire and here I plead from my heart!"
Take it. Take it now!
"Answer to my guidance!"
An utterance, a whisper at best, but not nearly eloquent enough to properly describe that which it was ascribed to. Oh to be certain, Louise had thought of many words to describe her familiar; beautiful, sacred, and strong just to name a few. However, as things currently stood, Louise wasn't quite certain if her familiar fit any of her criteria beyond the strength to match its gargantuan girth. She had proclaimed… how long ago was it now, a few hours past yesterday's afternoon? Her mind was still reeling from the shock so it was to be understandable really though it was hard to tell just what the source of her mental pause was. Her success at casting a spell or that her familiar stood sixty meters tall.
"Big?" Kirche repeated incredulously. She laughed but it was a hollow sound as she stared with pinpricked eyes up at the monolithic figure that was the Zero's familiar. "It's humongous!"
"Is it a golem?"
"Imbecile, how can it be a golem?! It's obviously a statue!"
"Who decorates a statue with weaponry?"
"Who makes a statue that big?"
These questions and several others of its ilk were tossed and turned on their ears as the students tried to give reason to the monstrous impossibility towering before them until they were silenced by a stern cough from Professor Colbert, who had managed to keep a more level head despite his own bursting curiosity.
"While I commend you for your success Miss de La Vallière, you still need to finish the contract." Louise blinked owlishly at him, turned and blinked upwards into the towering contraption of steel, and turned once more to Professor Colbert who coughed. "Ah, yes. Allow me." A muttered incantation and they rose slowly into the air until they were hovering before the snout of the metal-skinned beast. Louise gulped as she took in the full scope of the thing she had summoned.
If it truly was a golem than it was a golem the likes of which she had never seen or heard of before. For one thing, it was most certainly not shaped after the human body. If anything, Louise supposed that it resembled a wingless dragon than anything else though she knew of no such limbless species that stood upright on its hind limbs and sporting three rows of leaf like spikes down along its back. What few portions that weren't covered entirely in steel thicker than she was tall, were ropes of a strange, almost rubberlike, substance with the smallest being as thick as she was.
Looking into the face of the metallic monstrosity, Louise felt again that strange quiver of fear deep in her gut. For though those golden mirrors were dark and the massive form still as mountain's stone, she could almost feel the anger, the inhuman wrongness radiating from deep within the metallic shell.
A polite cough brought her eyes to Professor Colbert who gestured with his free hand upon the statuesque figure. Pink splashed its way across Louise's face as she brought forth her wand and began the incantation. "My name is Louise Françoise Le Blanc de La Vallière. Pentagon of the Five Elemental Powers; grant your blessings upon this humble being, and make him my familiar."
She leaned forward to tap the nose of the golem and placed a quick kiss in that same spot. Professor Colbert kept the two of them hovering before the snout of the monstrous metal construct, both eagerly awaiting for some kind of reaction from the unmoving figure. On the outside, there was no change, not even a minute twitch, to indicate the changes taking place within.
"When mankind falls into conflict with nature, monsters are born."
Magic is a fickle thing, capable of many things great, terrible, both and neither all once and never at the same time. When its opposing twin known more commonly as technology is added into the equation, fickleness becomes refined chaos as senseless tries to make something of the sensible and vice versa.
"He may be here to punish us...I'm not a very religious man, but in an age where gods walk the earth, I can't help but feel like we are close to our own deliverance..."
This machine could not run without power and so power was granted, a sightless connection to the everlasting well that was the Source. This weapon was advantageous but too much so to be of any daily use, so old programs locked by trillion digit combinations were broken. This machine had no true will to call its own save for that one thing more powerful than a beating heart and sensible mind lying shackled behind an impenetrable programing block. Deletion was simple, alteration only marginally necessary, but the result? Oh but the result…
"Why couldn't they bring my mother back… instead of a monster?"
Light flashed behind gold lenses before metal jaws opened in a mechanized roar. Though no wind blew from the throat of the machine, the sheer volume and their close proximity had the two humans falling through the air and likely to their deaths had Tabitha not sent her familiar up to catch them and bring the pair down before the feet of the massive familiar. The machine let loose another agonizing roar as energy crackled upon its left hand and burned a set of runes upon the limb.
Then, it was silent and still once more… before its entire form started pulsing with a brilliant light that shrunk it down with every passing beat until it stood towering still at roughly seven feet in height, its golden optics glaring down upon Louise, silently waiting…
Louise, who was doing the best impression of a fish of all her peers, managed to collect her wits enough to realize that now was not the best time to try and have that mental breakdown of questions that'd never be answered. So instead, she did what she did best.
Keep it cool and collected and when absolutely no one was looking have a good cry and then try and make sense of everything.
"Come along familiar," she ordered, walking with her head held high. The machine's optics trailed after her before it following along, no one ever noticing how, for the briefest of moments, twin lines of red appeared beneath its eyes, like tears of blood…
In the days leading up to the Exhibition of Familiars, Louise found more questions than answers to the conundrum that was her familiar. It was not a golem in the strictest sense of the word. It was a machine, a creation of technology the likes of which had her most levelheaded professor acting like a three year old on sugar high. Of course, Louise hadn't learned this on the first day, or the second, or even the third. No, she had come to learn this only because on the fourth day she had lost all sense of self-preservation and outright yelled at the strange creation that was her familiar, demanding that it give some manner of information.
With no answer forthcoming, and no visible indication that her familiar heard much less cared, she stomped off for another long day of class with her familiar following dutifully behind. She took her seat with a dispassionate glare at her usual tormentors, taking a small bit of glee that Montmorency's heart was still broken from the reveal of her boyfriend's two-timing ways. It was only when she turned her eyes to the front of the class did Louise realize that her familiar had deviated from the usual routine. Though Mrs. Chevreuse had not yet entered the classroom, her familiar had taken upon itself the task of erasing all of the previous day's notes and was… writing?
"What is your familiar doing Zero?" asked Kirche. "Is it trying to write gibberish or is it just copying your own handwriting?"
Whatever snappy retort that Louise had was cut off by a sudden scream from the open doorway of the classroom. The students turned to see one of the castle's many maids standing just out in the hall, her eyes wide with shock not for the familiarity of the scripture but the writer. She whispered something too quietly for Louise to hear but was loud enough to catch her familiar's attention with a snap of the chalk and a sharp turn of its draconic head. The maid squealed in fright and ran with all the abandoned dignity of one who knew the devil's gaze was upon them.
Bloodied teardrops fell as Louise's familiar roared and gave pursuit with a blast of rocket fire, sending desks and students toppling from the force of his sudden departure and making appropriate headroom in the doorway. Too angry, and really rather shocked to find that her familiar could move beyond a steady gait, Louise stuttered incoherently for a moment before giving pursuit with cries that her familiar best not harm the staff lest she return the favor upon it.
Lord knows how her mother would feel having to pay not only for damages rendered to the Academy but for a new maid as well.
The remaining students muttered and cursed the devastation that perpetually followed Louise whilst others questioned the strangeness of the events that had transpired.
"What did that maid even say?"
"I don't know I was over by the window, which I nearly got blown out through thanks for caring!"
"It sounded really strange… whatever it was…"
It had taken a lot of talking, and more than a little persuasion, but Louise was eventually able to convince the maid named Siesta that her familiar was not out to kill her or cause wanton destruction on a globular scale. As it turned out, Siesta could read the gibberish that was her familiar's written language, kanji the maid insisted it be called, and so Louise had acquisitioned a handmaid to serve as her familiar's translator. With communication at last opened to them, Louise finally had that good long talk with her familiar.
Oh how she would wish she hadn't.
In the battles to come, Louise would learn that the tears were the only sign, the only true indication she had that her familiar was going to rampage. Those bloodied lights that shone just beneath his eyes before he voiced mechanized primordial fury to the heavens and lost any semblance of sentiency he possessed. She had seen it only twice before and both times had been too quick, too simple, to be of any note. Louise could never expect that such a simple sign would lead to such destruction to make even her most foolhardy of spells appear incidental, nay, outright dismissive.
She had barely taken the stage to announce her familiar's name to the audience when said familiar suddenly wept red and unleashed a roar to make the foundations of Heaven tremble. The startled shrieking of the audience was overshadowed by the ports along the apparatus upon his back opening up and unleashing their payload of great tubes of steel that left a trail of burning smoke in their wake as they shot for the open sky. The curved and curled upon the air until they narrowed down upon their intended target, one very shocked thief by name of Fouquet of the Crumbling Earth. The poor woman had only just enough sense and time to leap clear of her mountain golem whilst summoning a shell of earth around her lithe form.
It wasn't enough.
What was left of the golem wasn't enough to fill a bucket and the Tower of the Void, which housed all of the Academy's most precious treasures and tomes, was missing an entire wall though the enchantments managed to protect the cargo within from the flames. As the left echoing booms of the explosions disappeared into the horizon, Louise's familiar reached up and caught the missile of stone in one hand. He stared at it for a moment before clenching his claws just enough to crumple the rock to reveal an unconscious woman whose head had been severely injured from both the ride and its sudden stop.
In the days to follow, no one would figure out just what was going through Miss Longueville's head, trying to stop and apprehend a dangerous thief like Fouquet. Not that she hadn't recovered from the escapade but not even magic could cure her of the amnesia that robbed her of… well, everything. The only true good that came out of the entire experience was that the secretary happened to wake up when Professor Colbert had been leaving his own get-well gift, a bouquet of flowers that she loved and remembered easily, and through a series of misunderstandings, and some grammatical blunderings on the professor's part, came to the conclusion that the two of them were dating.
Any attempts Headmaster Osmond made to dissuade her of this and change her attire to something more debauched was dealt with swiftly and most painfully because some instincts are just never forgotten and Old Man Osmond was quick to learn that however much she might have forgotten of her life, Miss Longueville, eventual Mrs. Colbert, knew just where to kick a man where it hurts most.
In the months that followed the Springtime Familiar Summoning Ritual, Louise would come to learn a lot of things about her familiar. Quirks and routines he followed that nothing short of an act from God could deviate him from. He never ran, not in the sense that he didn't move very quickly as one particular handmaid had already learned, but more that he never retreated and would advance until victory was his no matter how it was earned. He never was the first to strike, to attack, but when he did it was with everything he had at his disposal as he had proved in his vanquishing of the dreaded thief Fouquet. Yet what Louise had seen of him had been on a much smaller scale in every sense of the phrase. Micronized to a little under one-tenth his full scale, her familiar's might was not to be denied on a human scale, a fight of one against one.
A fight of one against many was something else entirely.
Louise had wanted to ride ahead on horseback to the frontlines, to be beside Princess Henrietta as the hastily gathered army of Tristain fought against the encroaching forces of Albion on the border town of Tarbes. She had every intention of doing this until her familiar resumed his proper size right and gathered her up in his massive claws before she even had a chance to scream. A porthole opened just above the base of his neck and he held her to the opening and seeing the only other option was to ride in her familiar's hands (which she absolutely would not do) she hastily climbed inside… and was amazed.
It was a cockpit the likes of which made the most top-of-the-line airships appear as a recreation of a child and almost by instinct, Louise moved to take the one lone seat. The automatic straps flew over her shoulders and waist, the chair moving forward to a trio of screens, black and empty. Suddenly, there were words, words written in that same blasted language of her handmaid. By fortune, and feeling that the maid's readings were not entirely truthful, Louise had managed to beg a translation spell from Professor Colbert and was able to read the words though she did not comprehend their meaning.
"What?" Was about all that Louise had time to say before rockets roared and gravity enforced its will as her familiar defied its whims by flying through the air on a direct course to Tarbes and the frontlines. Louise thought she might have hurled had she actually bothered eating lunch and as it was, breakfast looked to be making another appearance.
ARRIVAL TO TARGET LOCATION T-MINUS FIVE MINUTES.
ARE YOU READY?
"Re-Ready for what?!" gasped Louise.
SCANS OF TARGET LOCATION INDICATE A LARGE NUMBER OF AERIAL FORCES. AT THIS DISTANCE, THE NUMERICAL VALUE IS ESTIMATED BETWEEN TWO OR THREE.
And Henrietta had only been able to garner a thousand for her side, all bound to the ground and most not even experienced in the bloodied fields of war as Louise's own mother was. For a moment, hopelessness settled heavily upon her spirit when the ride came to an abrupt and earth shaking end. The central monitor flashed to view the world as her familiar viewed it and Louise saw a fleet of Albion's finest airships each one free of their burden of dragon knights, a single flight to every ship and so while the ships themselves were small in number the majority of the sky belonged to the dragons and their riders. Almost as one the dragons roared challenge to the army of Tristain, flames licking at the sky's underbelly.
Louise's familiar, standing at the fore of Tristain's armed forces of ground troops and hastily gathered gryphon knights answered in kind with a roar that sent forth bolts of lightning through the air. Those that it struck died before their brains could even register the intensity of the maser energy and what poor fools that were far enough to not be hit directly were so paralyzed from the pain that their release came from the unforgiving welcome of the ground below.
Whatever unity the dragon knights possessed vanished as mayhem took the reins and guided them into a mad frenzy as the familiar gave them no ground, no means of escape. Maser energy flew like the arrows of God upon their souls, laser cannons vaporized the desperately flapping wings, and missile fire outright obliterated what few masses that dared to try and come together once more. All too soon what was to be an army of thousands became an army of hundreds. Mage enhanced cannon fire came raining down like meteors from the airships as the remaining dragon knights gathered together once more. While the dragons had no true protection of their own the airships were another matter entirely. Lightning flowed like water across an invisible sphere, beams and bullet ricocheted and risked harm against his own side and the familiar dared not consider what missiles would do.
But the familiar was far from done.
A control panel slid down to Louise's right and she turned to see an image of some kind of apparatus on her familiar's chest and words she could barely pronounce, "Absolute Zero Cannon…?"
THIS UNIT IS CURRENTLY UNABLE TO UTILIZE THIS WEAPON WITHOUT A PILOT. THIS UNIT… I… CANNOT STOP THEM ON MY OWN…
WILL YOU HELP ME LOUISE?
Louise stared at the monitor in wonder before her face hardened into its usual arrogant pride. "What kind of master would I be if I didn't aid my familiar!?" Whether by instinct or by her own innate knowledge that the familiar runes provided her, Louise pressed the precise sequence of keys needed to activate the cannon. "Show them what you're capable of Kiryu!"
The armor upon the metallic dragon's chest opened into three distinct panels. From these selfsame panels, azure tinted lightning arced from the tips down into the central core where a growing orb of freezing light grew and grew until it was just the right size…
ABSOLUTE ZERO CANNON…
The air was rent by the firing of an unstoppable bullet that flew through shattered shields and crumbling dragons to impact against the leading airship and from there expand outwards in a massive swirl of freezing intensity. The Absolute Zero Cannon was exactly what its name implies, a cannon capable of firing a single shot of cryokinetic force that reaches absolute zero degrees on the Kelvin scale of measurement though when it is translated into Fahrenheit…
– 459.67 degrees.
The airships hung in the air for a single breath before they came crashing into the earth, frozen down to the subatomic level and crumpling into a flurry of snowflakes by the sheer force of the fall and exploding outwards as a massive gale of snowflakes from the impact.
A force of projected three thousand had been decimated, utterly decimated, not by an equal or greater force but by a single familiar whose power in life had been so great as to be named King long before more of his kin would rise to plague the world. A familiar reborn by mechanical design, a cyborg at best, a mockery of life at worst. The only weapon to be forged by the desperate hands of mankind to be victorious not once but twice against the Heir to the Throne, the dead beast own grandchild.
This was the Anti-Xenomorphic Defense Weapon MechaGodzilla.
If Hell was truly a place on earth than there was no better place than this sanctimonious pit. Once upon a time, it had been a city, the broken remains of the capital city of what once ruled the world with bloodied claws. A race that was so advanced in the ways of technology that they had no need for weapons of constructed steel or refined iron. Not when the creatures, the mundane and the magical, could provide so much more materials to create, to mold, to shape to their every twisted rim.
In the war that led to their destruction, the slaves of this powerful race, those sapient races that mastered the mystical arts, would be the key to their downfall. They were the key but were not the final doom that led to the extinction of a race that could and had played their hands at being gods.
No, this all-powerful race only had themselves to thank for that marvelous act of utmost stupidity.
And here in this blackened pit, vivid miasma oozed as smoke through the cracks as molten eyes searched through the darkness. Rounded surfaces glistened and a sound shook the underground chamber just before a crack appeared on the surface at the nearest orb before another appeared upon its brothers and sisters. Eggs, the whole lot of them, a baker's dozen and none any smaller than a full grown dragon and what lay within was far worse than any dragon tickled awake from its slumber.
The earth shook to the wails of hunger, the desire for flesh, the need for blood, but it was not the sound that made the earth quiver with fear as shadowed wings spread. The miasmic ooze trailed upwards, thick and viscous like blood, with glimmering molten eyes staring down at the hatching clutch of devils and made once more that disgustingly wretched sound.
Laughter, it was laughing.
IT HAS BEGUN…
On the next Calling...
"A Second Chance"
The first dragon of the Five Draconian Summons Arc, and one I'm sure not many had expected, Kiryu! A pseudo-experimentation at a robotic familiar, one that actually possess no personality or speech capabilities to call its own outside of a fight, and a stab at the ever loved mecha genre, this story… Was fun, pure and simple as that really. Would I write more? If inspiration comes to me most certainly but I can't say I'd devote myself to this story as I would certain others.
To those unfamiliar with the MechaGodzilla variant more often recognized as Kiryu, here's a quick backstory. Godzilla, a living natural disaster the likes of which cannot be stopped or destroyed, not since the only weapon proven effective enough to kill the first one perished alongside that monstrous nuclear terror. Decades past and a discovery was made; the likes of which started Japan down a path of salvation straight towards their own damnation. The first Godzilla's bones had been found, taken from their resting place, and built around it a mechanical clone of the Monster King with a DNA-based computer allowing it to fight and react just as well as Godzilla himself could.
Too well in fact…
In its first sortie, Kiryu and Godzilla met with no true fight between them. Oh yes, Kiryu unleashed an opening salvo of missiles upon the stunned Godzilla who could not comprehend the familiarity of the machine, the nagging feeling that it was more than just a metal mirror of himself. Confused, Godzilla unleashed a call of greetings and, receiving no visible reaction from Kiryu, fled to the ocean to try and make sense of his latest foe. But he was wrong to think that his call was ignored just as the Japanese government had been wrong to sanction the creation of such a monstrosity against life. They had thought Kiryu was theirs to do with what they wished, that it was a machine, nothing more than a tin-soldier to wind up and set out against the monsters that plagued their country. They thought they had it under control.
They were wrong.
That's Kiryu in a nutshell really though there's something else I should add. Thanks to the computer system that acts as his brain, Kiryu is far more intelligent than the typical kaiju. In point of fact, I'd say he's even smarter than Mothra, who has been known to directly speak to humans through her twin fairies, but such intelligence is that of a machine. Knowledge without the experience, built entirely upon the brutal, hard facts of life. Oh, and as I'm sure those in the audience who do recognize Kiryu and are wondering about his micronization ability let me lay it all out for you. This particular Kiryu is a fusion of Matt Frank's Godzilla Neo (found under KaijuSamurai on deviantArt if you're curious) with the addition of a Jet Jaguar who had all the abilities he possessed in his starring film, including the ability to change size. Now, while the government easily seized the machine for themselves, they never were able to crack its programming but were not hesitant into incorporating it into Kiryu in the vain hope that, if nothing else, the martial arts mastery that Jet Jaguar possessed would pass on to the mechanical clone.
That's all I've got to say on the manner really because, as you've read, the adventures of Kiryu and Louise are far from over. Shadows of Death are rising from the polluted relics of a forgotten past and they are not alone… For theirs is but the first world to be dragged into the abysmal fires of Hell, four more are still to follow…