"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
Last time on The Familiars of Zero…
Shadowed wings flew over bloodied fields, what few people left alive cowering in the safety of stonewalls that crumble to the screams of the damned…
DO YOU THINK THAT YOU ARE ENOUGH?
A dark king standing at the head of an army of bones that march endlessly forth, leaving a trail of fire and death in their wake…
THAT YOU ARE STRONGER THAN THE ABSOLUTE NOTHINGNESS?
A blackened copy calls forth a storm of thunder and lightning, rain pelting down like bullets as it flies straight and true to that which it had once been and shall be again…
THIS IS THE END!
And now the final chapter…
"The End: Part Two"
"Oh really? I can't help but think otherwise…"
IMPOSSIBLE. YOU ARE DESTROYED, THERE WAS NOTHING LEFT OF YOU TO RETURN!
"Well, I'm rather famous for breaking the odds as you're about to see…"
The Shadows of Evil they had been called in the time of the Ancient Ones, the Fallen they were later to be known by those who still told the tales of their treachery, their inhuman villainy in the demise of they whom were their mothers and their fathers. They flew as locusts, scores of them blocking the sun beneath their featherless wings and like their insect brethren the Fallen feasted on everything that was in their path. Yet it was not the crops and fields that these monstrous birds devoured.
It was the living.
It mattered not the form so long as there was flesh to tear, bones to crunch, and blood to drink… so long as their appetite was appeased so too were they but there in lies the problem, the one flaw that the Ancient Ones unknowingly instilled upon what was to be their "Last Hope" in maintaining their place in the status quo of their world.
The appetites of the Fallen are insatiable and so too is their hatred…
For even so many millennium since, for even to those who were not born and so did not witness the destruction of their elders, the Fallen remembered the race that had sealed them away, that had driven them down into the hellish pits beneath the earth. They remembered and so they attacked with droves upon droves, feasting and growing in numbers by the day until they were no longer a meager flock but a veritable tide, a legion of shadows given wing and fangs.
The humans would die, this the Fallen believed with absolute certainty for what hope did they have? That Metal Titan was more of a shadow than they! Its flesh was hardy and its blood foul to the tongue but its bones lay just beneath ready for the crunching and the munching of slavering jaws. It felled many of them with its breath of lightning and blades of thunder but for every Shadowed Evil that fell from the blood-red sky, a dozen more rose up to the attack. It could not possibly defeat them with such numbers, not before the last rays of the sun vanished into the horizon and their truest power was at last unleashed upon the land. It would be torn asunder, its master ripped apart by bloodied teeth before its eyes, and then, only then, would it be granted the eternal rest it had been denied.
A change was in order.
He came from nowhere and yet he had been there since the beginning of the massacre. Twisting and coiling like a serpent through the legion, his breathe was the flames of the sun that ignited the air into a heavenly blaze. His roar was the gale of a hurricane, swatting them down like the arrogant flies that they were. A single swipe of his tail was the strike of a mountain and broke them like shattered stone upon the unforgiving earth below that rippled and exploded upwards into thick rivers of the planet's blood. It was this very blood that the Fallen coveted above all others and so they were given.
They burned, they broke, they shattered… but in the end, they all became one thing.
Volvagia watched as the last of them crisped into ash and snorted a puff of smoke. And here he had imagined these new opponents to have rivaled his own…
He had earned a fair share of titles during his reign. The Lord of Thieves, the Duke of Darkness, Baron of Madness… but one particular title that always rested in that special place in the black pit of his heart was the apt but no less true title of…
The Warlock King.
Six millennia had passed since his reign and though his people had grown in numbers and kept an iron-tight hold on their territories, the sharp-eared elves were still the stronger force for his kind no longer dared to use the same black powers as he once commanded, as he once ruled with. His people had become weak, pathetic insects. To rule over them was to rule over mediocrity. He would not settle for the lands that are his by right of conquest, oh most certainly not. As they are now, it would be enough to placate his hunger, his desire for more.
Only the world would be enough to satisfy him… for now.
Like all those centuries ago, he rode at the fore of a skeletal tide but where once that was but a large lake, it had risen to an ocean's weight. Six thousand years, countless upon countless generations of warriors, mages, and everything in between was used to rebuild and go beyond what his ancient armies once were. Millions of lives lost to the passing of time, returned as a seeming, a falsity of life resembling it just enough to function in a war of conquest.
Against such numbers, there was no force that could stand against the Warlock King and his army of the dead.
Not even one who had unwillingly served under his banner.
Volvagia tried with everything that he had and more for though his last life was but a foggy dream, the Warlock King was a nightmare that never ceased to plague him when the moons were dark. Yet even with his vast power in his fullest form, the serpentine dragon could not maintain such magnitude for long for his true form was that of a hatchling, a child. Though the future was there, it was not there for him now when he needed it the most. He lasted long enough to destroy a one-tenth of the Warlock King's forces before he succumbed to reversion and fell into the waiting clutches of the skeletal soldiers.
A change was necessary.
Emerald lightning danced amongst the hordes of undead in sync with the music of a flute. Bones and sinew crumbled into ash as beams of green force tore straight through the lines with the greatest of ease. A burst of white lightning flew from the roaring jaws of a tiger's head as the blade it rested upon cut down the rest. A storm of colors, a clear-sided dominance of emerald over the ivory, decimated the once great army until at long last, there were only two combatants left in the ashen field.
The Warlock King… and the Power Ranger.
No words were exchanged, no witty banter or gloats of villainy. There was no need for one felt his victory assured with but a single swipe of his monstrous blade, the other knew this was just another evil meant to fall one more time.
Just like all the rest.
And like so many other evils, greater and lesser, this particular one would not fall without one final stand. Power coalesced around the Warlock King and what once was a monstrous man became a demonic monster of unparalleled size and hideous figuration. Neither a boar nor a dragon nor even a man, this creature, this thing was some twisted amalgamation of all three. Twin blades borne from the same monstrous sword wielded in human hands were clutched tightly in the Demon Lord's claws, piggish nostrils flaring as it opened its mouth in a hideous fusion of a boar's squeal and a lion's roar.
Victory was assured with the musical calling that brought forth a metallic titan that made the large Demon Lord appear as a child to its own massive stature. Fire rained in a storm of missiles and the massive drill finished off the oozing heart that struggled to rejuvenate the hellish fiend's flesh. In death, he who once had been king took solace in the knowledge that, at long last, the cycle of rebirth had been broken and this failure would be his last.
The Power Ranger of the Emerald Dragon sat wearily upon the head of his zord, sword and dagger both hanging loosely in tired hands. He was tired, nearly exhausted to the point of demorphing but he held the armor tightly in place.
The battle was far from over.
There is no greater enemy than your self, wise words spoken by one who did not intend for them to be taken literally.
This blackened figure, this dark mirror of the silver purity, flew on the winds of hurricanes and danced with bloodied lightning in a storm of sleet and thunder. Blazing red eyes glared hatred so thick, so vile, that one could feel it down to the depths of their very souls aided as it was by the oppressive psychic force that shattered any mind that dared to be in range of this vile copy's gaze.
Thousands of minds would break beneath its oppressive might, and millions more would perish soon after in the wake of its flight. Nothing in its path would survive the storm of biblical proportion, a storm that would drown the world beneath an endless sea.
A change… was not needed.
A force of pure wind so tightly woven that it was not so much a tornado as it was a solid beam of light came crashing down upon the Shadowed Copy from above. A flap of silvered wings sent the black clouds away into oblivion as sunlight radiated brightly upon the twin combatants. The two circled one another as though what lay between them was not air a but reflective glass, both so alike to the other that the only true differences between them was lay on and below their feathered skin.
The Shadowed Copy roared and unleashed a beam of orange light upon its foe who spun aside at the last moment and returned the attack in kind with another of a more floral variety. His attack struck true and impacted with explosive force. The black clouds did not dissipate and only at the last second did the Silver Guardian dodge the bladed assault but did not do so unscathed.
His vile twin knew that a battle, a natural one, would end in its demise and so it changed the rules of the game, broke whatever boundaries that were once a part of its own heart so that any blow it made would injure, break, and even kill. That attack, one potentially weak enough to do nothing more than leave a harmless scratch, would have beheaded the Guardian. As it was, the attack was enough to draw blood, real and true, for the first time since the Primordial War.
That… was a horrible mistake.
For though the blood was diluted, even a single drop of it was enough… for dragon's rage.
Pupils shrank beneath amethyst eye ridges as energy, thick and azure, shone in a thick veil around the Silver Guardian before it flowed down into his opened beak. The Shadowed Copy flew back, expecting another beam of wind or solar energy, so imagine then its surprise when the ball of power was not unleashed but swallowed. The aura that was a veil became a physical force, taking shape into a massive dragon's head whose roar made the very heaven's quake before it came rushing forth.
Oblivion came all too quickly for the Shadowed Copy.
Lugia hovered in place, the wounds already healed and the blood flaking away and leaving his feathers pristine once more. His eyes narrowed and gained an azure glow as his gaze turned to the sky.
"Is that all?"
"Well? You heard him, is that the best you've got?"
YOU MISERABLE WRETCH… DO YOU THINK IT SO EASY? DO YOU THINK THAT THOSE WERE PAWNS I HAVE ON THE PLAYING FIELD? BUT YOU HAVE MADE A GRAVE MISTAKE…
"Oh? Do tell."
YOU ARE HERE WITH ME.
"So I am… but then, so is he."
Maser energy bound into bolts of lightning arc against massive red eyes. Not enough to injure but just enough to startle. Bones buried beneath steel and wires, a life once lost returned with technological advancement and blasphemous hearsay. Once he was the King of Monsters, but in death he had become the last line of defense against that same devilish breed…
YOU DARE? YOU DARE TO BREAK THE CONVENANT?
"With him? Oh perish the thought…"
Chaos incarnate, bound from the essential forces that were Before the Beginning and from After the End, tightly formed so that the Middle of Existence may comprehend his majesty. Eyes of red, a mane matching the intensity of flames in its coloration, and emerald scales gleamed beneath the stunning golden armor. The Broken One… Envoy of the End…
Chaos Emperor Dragon.
A warrior of fantasy, a soldier of impossibility clad in a green bodysuit bearing a golden shield across his upper chest upon which was engraved a diamond shape bearing the rune for "dragon" at every corner. He wore a helmet of the Dragon whose jaws clutched down upon the obsidian visor and upon its brow, a ruby inlaid with gold. He stood proudly atop his mechanical partner, one of the Old Ones and whom shared with his caller a membership, a kinship, to that of the First Generation long lost to time…
Tom, the Power Ranger of the Dragonzord.
White as the freshly fallen snow with only small samplings of finest azure and deepest violets bearing wings with pinions so great as to almost be phalanges in their own right. A beak did well in hiding the fangs of the lower jaw, a better job than the pointed mask of dark violet that did nothing of the sort for the above-human intelligence in those red eyes.
A serpentine dragon with the horns of a ram and a mane of flame whose coils twisted and turned to keep him aloft. Small forearms that once served as the only means of motion when he was but a hatchling. Fire was his blood, the molten earth his flesh, the winds his closest allies. He who had been beloved and abhorred, whose life was now on its second chance…
"All of them at my side? Yeah, I dare."
Flames of molten earth burned a trail of crimson through the air whilst a beam of pure wind burst forth first as four and condensed together as one. Missiles and maser energy joined the fray with the musical melody of a flute as the Envoy made true to his profession and bent the laws of time and space asunder so where once there was few attacks there was now hundreds.
Yet it remained standing…
Yet it smiled…
And Horror was given a face.
YOU IMBECILIC CHILD! FIVE? YOU HOPE TO CONQUER ME WITH JUST FIVE TAMED INSECTS?
Rising to the unbelievable heights, gleaming eyes glared down upon the tallest of them who was no higher than an ankle.
IN THIS BODY YOU AND YOURS ARE BUT ANTS BENEATH ME AND WILL PERISH AS SUCH.
"… Huh, guess that's true… Doesn't seem at all fair does it… just inviting these guys to the party…"
A maiden of snow-white hair and eyes to shame the color blue, dressed as one of the most distinct of nobility, nay, as the most regal of royalty. A shadow floated over her tiny form, a draconic being that progressed into something larger with three snapping heads before that crumbled into something more machine than flesh. Yet that too vanished away into nothingness and, in a flash of azure light, gone was her once-mortal form and replaced was it by a dragon of white scales and azure eyes and a mane of golden hair.
Kisara, the Legendary Dragon of White.
Blue scales beneath techno-organic armor stronger than most conceivable alloys. A horn long enough to pierce through the tank-thick hides of greater bio-weapons far stronger and greater. Yet of the many generations that have come before and that will come long after him, he is forever remembered as the noble steed of the savior of the Old World.
Blau, the Panzer Dragoon.
The son of a vile sorceress, the reincarnation of a living embodiment of death itself but he was nothing like she who shared his blood or he from whom his soul once belonged. The back of his cobra's hood bore the sigil of a star trapped in the circle of eternity and upon his backs, a massive pair of angelic wings, a vivid reminder of his success… and his failure…
Not really the true heir to the throne of the King of Monsters, he was still the perfect vassal, the appropriate knight to serve under the banner of the one true king. Thin and possessing the litheness of a lizard, he was only just smaller than Kiryu himself in height because of his slouched stature. Discolored eyes are narrowed as emerald flames lick away at his barred teeth.
Reincarnated once more with little memory of what he had once been before, he stands proudly as an Ultimate, with the red wings of a true Dragon to show off his accomplishment. In his hands he carries the weight of a sword longer than he is tall for though he is but a single level away from wielding the blade to its true potential and that of his own, it is still heavy in his claws.
Zeromaru, the AeroVeedramon.
Neither a man, a lizard, or even a bird, he had become some kind of fusion of the three, but whereas most chimeric monstrosities display quite evidentially their imbalanced properties, it was hard to see any such malformation in him. He had been cursed into this body, used as a vile experiment, and his hatred of himself and the gods he thought to have forsaken him sent him down a dark and dangerous path towards a pair of twin swords to reclaim that which he had lost. Though his form had changed since then, he was no less the man he had been before.
Scales of the purest of silver, a massive spiked spike topped with a deadly, venomous stinger… Of the many presented here on this unseen field, he is of similar mentality as the two behemoths of Kiryu and Godzilla. Intelligent to think, to reason, but nowhere near the same capacity as what lay before him as an enemy. Did that bring him pause? Did that make him fear? Far from it, he was ready for a good fight!
Argentum, the Silver Rathalos.
Contrary wise, he who towered as an Elder over the beast that was of the same world of an alternate time, was a dragon in every sense of the word. The oldest of the mortal blooded possessed scales to decree his great age with the bleached whiteness of centuries upon centuries of time but for his paws which remained dirtied by their obsidian past. His eyes decreed his above-human intelligence and their feral ferocity.
Grimoire, the White Fatalis.
If gods were so inclined to manifest themselves to their fullest glory than there was no better example than he whose very form was a magnificent sight of armored plates finely carved into a draconian shape. Amethyst scales that shone like freshly polished steel and set like the finest armor, with accents of bronze in the underbelly. Throughout many of his incarnations, he had earned a long series of titles; The Hallowed Father, the First Sire of the Eidolons, Conquerer of the Skies… but no title has ever fit him more than his own name.
He was not a dragon. Not in the distinctive sense of the word anyway. He is as much a dragon as a lion is to a tiger, or a grizzly is to a polar bear. Yes, there are many distinctive similarities but there are the subtle differences as well. His forearms were too small to serve beyond what mere hands could allow while those of his wings carried his massive form through his favored wood. He did not breathe the traditional elements but death itself for he is the one to beware above all others in his world in the Underground. The claws that catch… The jaws that bite… and the eyes of flame…
"Well? Do you think that we are enough to stop you?"
AN INSECT IS AN INSECT AND YOUR HIVE IS NOT ENOUGH TO STOP WHAT HAS BEGUN.
Fire rained from a multitude of mouths, emeralds, reds, even stunning purples, and all impacted with a fiery detonation upon armor stronger than diamond's skin. Yet, this was the first wave of attacks, what followed next was a series of energies not so much breathed as fired from their source. A massive wing cutting forth from spread wings, a mega flare from armored jaws, arrows of light that flew of their own accord… so many varieties, so much power and yet it did nothing to mark against the sturdy hide though they succeeded in two aspects.
First… The assaults, so heavy and so numerous, were just strong enough to earn a step back from that which the gathered dragons faced.
Second… they earned its attention.
INSECTS! I'LL SQUASH YOU ALL LIKE THE INSECTS YOU ARE!
The attacks repeated with greater intensity, this time without the synchronization that brought wrath and fury upon them. Each assault came in turn, leaving no chance for retaliation, no chance of stabilization, no chance of their own loss to this most sanctimonious of foes. For though no return attack came, what answered from their own assault was neither screams of pain or roars of fury…
Cold, merciless laughter.
HEH… HEHEHEH… HAHAHAHAHAHA!
IS THIS THE BEST YOU HAVE TO CALL UPON BOY? THESE TAMED BUGS? I EXPECTED MORE FROM YOU.
"As well you should have!"
Multitudes of shining light came crashing down from the unseen sky and shattered against crimson eyes.
A scream, soundless and more painful than anything any voice had a right to create.
"Hardly a hive but I figured, what's a few more familiars?"
"A few" was hardly a fair estimation of the vast number of familiars present. Including those of draconian design there is fifty-two familiars present and accounted for. One hundred and four hands ready to fight and fifty-two souls and hearts thinking and beating together as one; the whole lot of them, attacking, striking, firing, and roaring their defiance in its face. Swords slashed, bullets flew, fires burned, claws dug in deep, and fangs even more so.
From the smallest little pink puff, to the immeasurable envoy, they fought with what they had and even more. Exhaustion did not exist because time and space were not yet an idea, an inkling for this place was neither the Before the Beginning or After the End but a place outside of the outside, where Nothing could exist and yet, here they all were, defying it, fighting it…
Some stood taller than the tallest of mountains and lackluster in coloration, others are delightfully small and colorful. Some wielded an intelligent blade, others wielded weapons better suited to them. Different as they were though, they were tied together by one, small little detail…
WHAT… HAVE YOU DONE, BOY…? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE? YOU THINK YOURSELF IN THE RIGHT FOR THIS, THIS BLASPHEMY? YOU WOULD TEAR THE BARRIERS BETWEEN THE DIMENSIONS DOWN JUST TO CONTEND AGAINST ME?
YOU AND EVERYTHING THAT YOU'VE EVER HELD PRECIOUS IN YOUR HEART WILL RETURN BACK TO THE NOTHING!
YOU WILL ALL RETURN TO ME!
"No… We won't."
"You don't get it do you? Everything that I've done, everything that I am… is in thanks to the one Outside! The one that you so foolishly warned of your coming! Did you think that he'd simply let you do what you wanted? Didn't you think that we would let you?!"
YOU WILL DIE!
"Not before you. DO IT NOW GIRLS!
They are all Familiars of Zero.
"That's the end of it I guess…"
No truer words can be written. Back in 2010, I started this story as a whim, a passing fancy inspired by one of the greatest novel-length fanfictions I've ever read. A little over two years has passed since that day and this fanciful whim has earned over four hundred followers, nearly seven hundred favorites, and well over eight hundred reviews… Had anyone told me of these results I'd have called them a daydream believer and laugh at the idea that any work of mine could become so renown, so well-received by hundreds of people… it's unbelievable really.
Almost as unbelievable as my retiring The Familiars of Zero…
… PFT! Yeah right! Retirement? As if! You, all of you, never cease to inspire or amaze me with your ideas, your own stories, and like heck that I'd quit when the games have only just begun! Besides, you all should remember that I've made a few promises of certain familiars-to-be-summoned including another, yes another, themed arc! Now, as I'm sure many of you have your questions as to the "Nothing" and the "Figment", well, let's just say that this ending was a little teaser for another series of one-shots I'm currently working on…
A Passing Figment
Let's have a small look shall we…?
Fifty-two distinct alternations of Louise Françoise Le Blanc de La Vallière, some masters of their craft, some only just begun… Some wearing rings, some carrying staffs, even one that bore herself a child. Each and every one of them aiming their penultimate spell not as fifty-two variants of the same person, but fifty-two times over that one person…
Nothing could survive such an assault… but its stolen body was not carrying such favor.
And in the aftermath I watched as they departed back whence they came, not seeing the others they had stood beside, those whom shared in their experiences, they who could sympathize and strengthen one another. In their eyes, they had been alone in the face of a great evil, alone with their significant half, master and familiar, and together they had triumphed.
I watched and wondered if any would stop and think… What was this thing they had faced? How was it that they and they alone were called to ensure its halt if not its destruction? Who was it that had called them here and why was it that they had answered?
"The end of it? I'm not even sure I understand the first part of it… or any of it really…"
With my back turned to the questioner, he could not see my despondent smile. I should have expected this, I had expected this… and even now I have no inkling as to what to do, what to say to him…
"Why have you remained Archivist?"
"I had some questions I wanted answers to, but something tells me you're not really the chatty type."
"I can't say much on something I don't even have."
To this day I don't know… I likely never will…
"Look, can't you even tell me your name?"
A name? How many times have I been asked this question? How many times have I ignored it, not heard it, or even acknowledged it? Until that one moment where truth was compelled from me, when I learned how easily the truth could harm me, I began to realize my situation.
"My name doesn't matter, I'm just…"
"I'm just a passing figment of your imagination…"
I think… he'd be glad to know that at last somewhere in this vastness of time and space… that you will live forever.
"Hey, wait! He's gone… Damn, and here I had thought he was… a lot like… me? No, not me… Co—"
On the next Calling...
"In A Half Shell"