DISCLAIMER: All copyrighted materials belong to their respected owners.
AUTHOR'S NOTE I:
First off, let me introduce this author's note by saying that yes, I am indeed back but, no, I shall not be updating as frequently as I had once upon a time. This is primarily because of my working on finishing a novel that I hope to see published by the end of the year of which you can read the opening chapter in a prospective film format on my writer's portfolio website, which can be found through the links page of my blog, Bibliotheca Somniare Corvus. A direct link to my blog can be found on my author's page where I invite everyone to read my bi-daily postings on the likes of Disney Villains and whatever latest film happens to catch my fancy enough to write a review for it.
Secondly, as I'm sure a few of you sharper eyed folks have noticed, there has been a subtle change to this story's cover image. Is it a hint of things to come? Yes. Is there any set order to them? Nope. Why? Because frankly, inspiration strikes when it wants so who am I to try and argue with it otherwise? Just like its predecessor, a larger sized example of the cover can be found via a direct link on my author's page along with the, I suppose one could call it, the "first volume" cover. That all being said, let's move on to the story shall we?
The Familiars of Zero
By Corvus no Genmu
There are laws that govern the multiverse. Rules the likes of which no one being is ever fully capable of comprehending though they may spend all of a thousand and one lifetimes trying. Such rules are the rules that any scientist worth their doctorates could speculate as being true and absolute but very few have the means or capability of testing their theories to the full extent. One such rule is the principle of medium transfer that states, in the simplest of terms, that no matter where one goes, there one is. This means that no matter the incredulous odds of incapability, if the dimensionally transferred object or being will retain any and all properties in a dimension without them. in layman's terms, if one were a superhuman in one world, they would remain as such in a world without them.
Such is the law of the medium transfer principle.
There is also the rule in regards to memory when one takes into account the possibility that no matter how outrageous the alternate world may be, that the individual that is they can still exist. As such there is a substantial risk of the traveller to receive memories not their own and be driven mad by result, particularly if they should travel to a world where their counterpart is dead but is made so within a significantly short range of time. Should the traveller be alive however, there is a higher risk of that individual's mind creating memories where none exists is even higher than the suspected loss of their sanity.
Such is the law of the memory accumulation principle.
However, the one rule in which no one, brilliant fool or idiot scientist, has yet to test takes into regard the method of the travel itself and not just the concept of taking an individual being to a world that would, in essence, break them in ways beyond comprehension due to laws beyond the boundaries of the medium transfer principle. There are several recorded ways of which one can traverse the dimensions of time and space to worlds marginally close and infinitely far away but these methods can be divided into two distinctive ways. The Doorway Method through which the individual makes use of a "hole" between the dimensions where the space between the two universes are so minute as to be nonexistent. The second method known as the Ark Method makes use of a device or vehicle capable of coursing through the space between the dimensions with such speed that the rider is not only unaware, but heavily protected from the effects of the space between spaces.
The space between spaces is a territory the likes of which no being has ever willingly or purposefully tried to enter simply for the fact that this nexus, this void, between the infinite worlds of existence is not of any one world but the entirety of them thrown together in a chaotic miasma. A kind of mixture the likes of which can cause irreversible harm to the traveler should they traverse the dimensions without a means of retaining their sense of self along with any and all objects they should be carrying. For the law of medium transfer principle becomes null and void within the space between spaces and the visiting individual and all that they carry upon their person is immediately and irrevocably changed to mirror that which they represent.
In layman's terms, an individual who has no prior background in the martial arts but is garbed in the attire of a knight will, upon emergence from the space between spaces, become the very epitome of knighthood from swordsmanship to valor. Likewise, an item that, in its home dimension, is nothing more than a mere toy will become the very object that it represents, right down to mass and accumulative experience of the object to equate the representation.
Such is the law of the voided identity principle.
Many have done and succeeded in the first law. Few have succeeded in the second. Rare is the individual who survived the third. Never before in the history of Creation itself, when the very Root of Existence was but a seedling nestled deep within its earthen womb, had anyone dared to make use of all three laws in the same instance.
Identity: the set of characteristics that one recognizes as belonging uniquely to themself and constituting their individual personality for life. Such is the dictionary definition of the term.
It must be nice thing to have.
An identity, I mean.
These memories, these experiences, these abilities… They are everything that is myself and everything that is himself. I'm not him but he is now me. I know my life and I have fragmented pieces of his. My hands are clean of his sins but still the wretched stench of blood permeates in my nose, my hands clenching to let loose and do as I wish because much as she and others think otherwise…
I am no one's slave.
Not before when I was me.
Certainly not now when I am also him.
But I'm getting ahead of myself aren't I?
You want to get to know me?
I don't even know myself.
I was garbed for the events, not really a participant in any of the contests but I wasn't refraining from showing off whenever the opportunity arose and in a place like this, it rang at me from all sides. Not that I did much to discourage it. There was more than one opportunity calling to me at this convention and barely an hour in, I was already raking in the big bucks and chucking the leftovers for the inexperienced scavengers in my wake. True, a majority of the attendees were here for spirit of the convention but that didn't stop people from taking what they wanted from those who thought that disguising themselves as heroes made them as equally impervious to harm.
People like me.
Crook, thief, rogue, scoundrel… I've been called a lot of things by a lot of different people and most of them are true but for one. I have never been nor will I ever be, a villain. I steal. I rob. I cheat and if need be, I swindle. Sure, I take a cut for myself for my daily bread and butter, but the rest of it goes to those who deserve it more than the saps and the fools that let a two-bit crook like me unburden them of their wallets. Another tour around the place, maybe a few photos with a good lookalike to my character's companion and then it's off for home.
Too bad for me, I was so busy checking my latest loot of Benjamin's that I never saw what waited for me around the corner. If I had, I can assure you I would have taken a hard U-turn and never once look back. If it pursued, I would have kept running until I was old and gray had I known then what I know now. But no, I never saw it and fool that I was, I walked straight into the portal and I would have kept walking if it hadn't hit me that I wasn't in California anymore.
No not the sudden shift in scenery for there wasn't any scenery to be seen. There was no sound, no sight, no touch, and no taste. It wasn't anything. A second longer, I might have freaked out but you remember that hit I mentioned not even two sentences ago? Imagine the worst pain you've ever endured. I'm not talking about any of that pansy crap like getting your wisdom teeth pulled or setting a broken bone. I'm talking about the kind of shit that you only see in movies, the kind where only the heroes ever seem to shake it off like it ain't nothing but a mosquito bite but for us real folks? Yeah, we're rolling on the ground, screaming and crying for our mamas and whatever deity we hope is listening for the pain to stop.
You got it now?
Now, multiply it by the worst tortures you've even had the displeasure of knowing. Whether you've seen it in action, read it in a book, or heard the screams for yourself it don't matter. You know them well enough to know the kind of agonies they inflict, particularly if you know those by the man whose name coined the phrase "sadism." Bones being broken and improperly shoved back into place. Limbs being stretched beyond comprehension as knives tear the flesh asunder straight down to the goddamn bones… Yeah, that's the kind of shit I'm talking about.
You think you understand?
You don't have a goddamned clue.
By the time it was over… Hell, I don't know how long it was. Could have been half-a-minute. Could have been my entire goddamn life. All I knew, all that I could comprehend, was that the pain was over and my head was scrambling with memories and experiences that I knew weren't mine and at the same time, I felt the exact same damn thing for my own true memories. That the life that had been mine was some kind of dream and that I've only now been awoken from the nightmare that it had become.
All thanks to the girl I was trying to kill.
Sorry. Did I forget to mention her?
Yeah. Pain… it does things to you. It makes you into an animal—no. No, that's not right. An animal may lack in sentience but it makes up for it in instincts. It knows whether to fight or to flee and in that moment I had no comprehension of either. All I knew was that the nothingness that had surrounded me was filled with some things, that the pain was still clawing its way down into the very recesses of my soul, and there, in front of me, was someone that I could, however subconsciously, cast the blame.
I don't know what snapped me out of my dementia. It could have been her screams or that of the crowd. It could have been the fireball that nearly took my damn head off. It could have been the sight of creatures that could not be real, that I know, in both sets of shattered minds, could never have been real by flesh and blood or steel and oil. But it wasn't any of these. Not really.
It was the device strapped to my arm, the one that I had painstakingly built for the last year to make a faint semblance to the real thing actually being the real thing itself. The leather was worn from a constant use that hadn't occurred, the hardened plastics gleaming in sharpened steel, and the pathetic spinning motor was now a whirling storm of death.
I relaxed my hand and the blades stopped their deadly revolution near the girl's neck. It was then that I became aware of the guy that had chucked the fireball at me. Hard not to when the bastard shoots something at me that feels like a goddamned tranquilizer and making my poor motor control go even further on the blitz. I stumbled back off the girl and glared blurrily at the man and asked the first question that came to mind.
"Why the hell are you in a dress?"
Priorities. I had them.
Whatever the man said, I couldn't tell you. Why? Aside from the fact that he was speaking something that sounded like a D&D version of freaking French, the girl that I had nearly beheaded had grabbed my face and planted one on my lips. At this point, it was rather fair of me to assume that I was on some kind of drug trip likely brought on by my kidnappers because correct me if I'm wrong but the first thing one should not do with the person whom nearly killed them is to kiss them.
Pain assaulted me again but compared to what I had just endured it was like getting a bitten by a freaking mosquito and at least I got a kickass looking tattoo on my hand for it rather than a—
There's the goddamned headache now.
And there goes my consciousness.
What followed was a night full of screaming, shouting, and a whole mess of explosions both literal and figurative. It took a while but I soon learned that I really wasn't in California anymore. Hell I wasn't even on the same goddamned planet anymore because unless someone somewhere really screwed the pooch, then Earth had only one pale moon and not two that vaguely reminded me of Halo for some reason… Apparently, I had been hauled off to magic school and unlike a certain scar headed boy, I wasn't there to join the student body. No, apparently I had been summoned, freaking summoned, here to be a familiar.
The very girl I had tried to kill no less.
Louise Françoise Le Blanc de La Vallière.
Talk about freaking pretentious… How many last names does a person need around here?
Whether it was my attempt at murder or that time of the month, the girl, who I might add was all of four feet and nine inches tall to my solid six despite us being close to the same age, was a bitch in every sense of the word. I won't go into too much detail on how our first conversation went but, at the time, I was proud of the tears I seen shimmering in her eyes as she ordered me out of her room for the duration of the night. Opportunity was knocking and I tried to make use of it by way of escaping the castle when I caught sight of the moons and…
Well. Let's just say that any passerby and eavesdroppers learned a few new bad words and leave it at that shall we?
As for yours truly?
Well, I learned some things too.
The memories that weren't and yet were mine… I recognized them. I knew them because I had seen them myself on a television screen with stunning graphics that couldn't compare to seeing it for real. The "toy" that I had made had become the very thing that it had been based on. I tested it enough times on the walls to know that it certainly cut like the real damn thing. My clothes certainly didn't feel any different but I'm a guy, what the hell do I know about clothes? My face was still mine. I saw it well enough in the girl's dresser mirror. I didn't feel any different physically, maybe a bit more fit than I was used to. I kept myself in decent shape but I know I didn't have the strength to swing around a weapon that weighed a good twenty pounds more to its original five.
One of the not-mine-memories surfaced and just as I envisioned it in my mind so too did I see the results right in front of my face.
I don't give a shit what you heard from anyone else, I did NOT scream like a little girl at what I saw.
It was an… exclamation. Of surprise and excitement. Because if I could do that…
Then what else could I possibly do?
Well, I was going to find out or my name isn't [Redacted].
"… The fuck?"
My name is [Redacted].
"No. No goddamn it! My name is—"
[Redacted]. [Redacted]! [Redacted]! [Redacted]!
Okay, check my wallet then! See, there's my Driver's License with my picture right there next to… my name…
I was stolen away from my home with no chance of ever being able to go back. My memories had literally been torn to shreds and I had been granted gifts I didn't want or need. And now, I didn't have my own goddamn name.
"… I need to hurt someone. Badly."
He wasn't much. An arrogant little twat with a bad taste in shirts but you know what? He'd do just fine as a punching bag. I hadn't really planned for him to fit that role for me but you know, spending the night sleeping in a goddamn bale of hay, waking up to deal with the pint-sized witch and her slut of a rival… well, my fraying temper was nearing its breaking point when I had caught sight of the twat playing with the heart of another girl.
There are few things that really piss me the fuck off. I don't know if it was because of my own experiences or his but I really don't like bigotry in any form and I still recall how this particular twat had talked down to me when I was stalking about in the halls. But you know what really did it for me? When I caught sight of the little fucker wooing another girl. Playing with a woman's heart… that's nothing what any man would do. Scum like him was what gave men like me a bad name. I couldn't see much with how the blonde cared for his attentions but it was painfully obvious that the younger brunette was really sweet on the guy. A first love if I guessed correctly. Putting him on the spot with the two girls was poetic justice really.
Call it chivalry. Call it brotherly or even paternal instincts. Call it whatever the hell you want I don't give a damn.
This twat got half of what he deserved.
I was setting to give him the rest.
"Wait! Guiche cut it out already! Duels are prohibited!"
Oh well if this isn't a surprise. Was my "master" actually trying to stop the fight because she was worried about me? Thought she was still ticked off at me considering our last conversation ended up with me being forbidden from eating until dinner.
Not that it didn't stop me from swiping some grub as I left the dining hall but still it was strange that she actually cared about my wellbeing.
"What's prohibited are duels between nobles. He's a commoner, so there's no problem." The twat smirked at the smaller girl with a weird, almost knowing glint, in his eyes. "Don't tell me that your heart has been moved by him Louise."
"Who would?! Don't be ridiculous! I just don't want to watch my familiar get beat up!"
Ah isn't this just fan-fucking-tastic. I have a tsundere for a "master." My life just can't possible get any more fucked up can it?
"Whatever you say, the duel has already started!" The blonde ponce waved his wand, which was a freaking rose of all things, and a suit of armor emerged from the earth at his feet. The armor looked faintly feminine in design but overall wasn't all that impressive compared to what I've seen at conventions and some video games. If this guy was aiming to intimidate me, he should try for something out of Soul Calibur. "I am called Guiche the Bronze and so this bronze Valkyrie will be your opponent."
"Bronze huh…" I held up my left hand, noticing the faint glow of the runes but otherwise ignored it as I said, "well I hope you aren't too attached to that little doll of yours. Because I aim to turn it to slag."
Fire burned in my veins before it erupted forth through the skin of my left hand, burning away the flesh of my fingers and leaving a molten mess of blood and sinew in its wake though I felt no pain. I clenched my fingers and held up a fist-sized glob of magma.
The cries of surprise were only half as satisfying as the screams of horror. It was a disgusting sight after all.
"You-You're a mage?!" cried Guiche.
"Magic? Please. This ain't no goddamn magic!" I chucked the molten glob at the golem and smirked as it exploded in a blazing ball of fire and burning shrapnel that sent the watching crowd scrambling back while the ponce just fell flat on his ass. "Is that it?"
"You… You…!" Guiche waved his wand once more and this time, three golems emerged, two armed with regular swords while the middle one carried a war halberd.
"Three against one ain't fair odds." I said as my hand returned to normal flesh and blood before a sudden emptiness flowed through my limb. Emerald light ensnared my flesh and turned it translucent as vapor as a ghostly figure of a woman twirled about it.
I'm fairly certain I heard the sound of wood cracking amidst the crowd but I ignored it as I stared at the figure in my hand. Was it my imagination or was that—
The sound of clanking bronze brought my focus back to the golems attempting to rush me. I whipped out my hand and the ghostly figure enlarged to a fully human sized wraith that entered into the middle golem who skidded to a halt for all of a second before its halberd pierced the breast of its fellow golem on the left. The one on the right turned just in time to watch as its compatriot was hurled down upon it, crushing the two into scrap from the force of the overhead swing.
"Damn," I couldn't help but whistle appreciatively. "Got to love Possession… Still, do me a favor won't you? Die."
The golem looked to me and nodded once before it turned its weapon upon itself and pierced itself straight through the chest before it crumbled to the ground, lifeless as a puppet with its strings cut. Though he never gave any orders to them, I always wondered if those under possession, oiled machine or bloodied man, would respond to commands. Seems I was right.
"This—This is impossible! You're nothing but a plebian!" cried Guiche as he summoned another contingent of golems, six in all. "How can you use magic!?"
"I told you once and I'll say it till I'm blue in the face bucko. I ain't using any kind of magic. Now…" The skin on my hands crackled away like flaking clay as the herd of broncos stampeded in full golden glory in my veins. "Buck off!"
The wind roared to the whinnying of horses before the golems were hurled into the air and held aloft like metallic air balloons, but I was far from done. The skin on my hand healed over before the storm cycled through my veins as thick, angular crystals ripped their way through the back of my hands. Electricity hissed and sparked angrily between the crystal growths and I swear my voice gained a faint electronic hum to it for a moment.
"Tell me Guiche the Bronze, do you know what happens to bronze when it's struck by lightning?"
"The same thing that happens to everything else!"
Lightning blasted out of my hands and impacted the foremost golem before it scattered like writhing serpents across the rest. Holy shit this—there just weren't enough words to describe how awesome a sight it was to see this for real instead of pixels on a television screen! The golems crumpled to the ground the moment Bucking Bronco had run its full effect and while electricity still sparked dangerously across the remains, none of them were getting up. I glanced over at Guiche and saw that the poor sod was actually quivering but from anger or fear I couldn't tell. It was probably the latter given that his little flower wand was missing its petals by this point.
I started walking towards him
"N-No! Stay away!" He waved his wand but nothing happened.
"What's the matter? Run out of MP? Well, I'm still ready and raring to go!"
"So fucking what?" I snarled. "This isn't a duel remember? You were aiming to do me some serious harm and by the God, so am I!"
I held up both my hands and clenched them into claws as I felt more than heard the rustling of feathered wings beneath my skin. Avian scales erupted beneath the flesh of my fingers as my nails lengthened into predatory claws before ebony feathers pierced out from along the skin of my arm. I was ready and able to unleash the Murder of Crows, just let it go and the flock would rend the flesh from his—
What am I doing?!
I stopped, standing over Guiche's quivering form as he pleaded for his life. I clenched my fists tightly and—
Socked him straight in the face.
"That was for the girls whose hearts you broke." I muttered before letting go of my grasp on the Murder of Crows and watched with some bit of disgust as the feathers retreated back beneath my skin and my hands returned to normal. Shit that's going to take a while to get used to. I glanced around at the crowd, ignoring the muttering whispers of being a demon, some kind of heretic mage, or… a disguised elf? The fuck is that about? Ah well, there's Louise now, looking so absolutely gobsmacked that I just couldn't help smiling. Damn. She's cute when she's not being an utter bitch to me.
"Who are you?" She whispered. I'm sure she was asking for more than my name but given that she hadn't really bothered asking it before, I felt this was as good a time as any to introduce myself.
"Call me Book—" No. No goddamn it! That's not my name!
"…" God fucking damn it to the heart of Hell and back again. "Shepard. Shepard Book."
You'd think that things would have started looking up after that. Well, they did in some ways and in others… not so much. My relationship with Louise improved to a point where I could call us friends even if she was a tsundere all the goddamn time with more tsun than dere when it came to me and anyone else of the female persuasion. I swear, the girl has some kind of jinx on her or some weird shit given how often she seems to stumble on me in the middle of something that couldn't possible be anything else but a lewd act, at least in her eyes. That leads me to the downside of my showing off that I was neither a commoner nor one to take any kind of shit from people. Y'all remember that rival of Louise I mentioned, the one that I called a slut?
I was wrong to call her that.
Calling her a slut would be an insult to sluts everywhere.
Spending nearly two weeks avoiding her like the damn plague and refuting any of her attempts at sending me gifts, I was rather taken with the sword Louise had been kind enough to purchase for me for reasons I'll get into later, the girl sent her damn salamander after me. Rather than try and see if I could get away with killing the thing, I decided, rather stupidly, to go into her room. The girl, Kirche then tried to get me to have sex with her simply for the fact that I had impressed her with my use of the Devil's Kiss. That and her family had a history of stealing away would-be spouses of Louise's family.
How do I know this? The bitch actually told me this upfront with not one but three different men trying to meet up with her for some prescheduled private time. She refuted them all whilst also getting their damn names mixed up but at least she had the sense to drive them away via flaming serpent to the balls. No better way to make a man run than to aim below the belt.
If this place was an anime, and I was beginning to suspect that it was one somewhere given the amount of stereotypes I've seen everywhere around here, Kirche would be the "sexy one." Not the "flirty sexy one" that is generally the most attractive one of the bunch and flirts shamelessly but is generally very heartfelt in her affections, oh no. The one that is so damned sexually promiscuous that anywhere else, she'd be arrested for sexual harassment never mind the possibilities of rape given that the bitch actually cast some kind of lust spell on me!
Well… to be fair, the results weren't what she or I had expected.
Given the nature of Kirche's nightly encounters, I'm willing to take a stab at presuming that her little "lust enhancer" spell works in a way that it increases the amount of lust in the target so that they're as free of the sexual inhibitions as Kirche. However, that Kirche must have used this spell whenever her target was feeling skittish or, as she called my case, playing "hard to get." As such, no matter their reservations the target still felt some kind of attraction to her and reacted to her as the spell intended.
Not so much.
The moment the spell hit me I was filled with a desire, a fire that needed to be put out by the affections of another and I wanted her right then and there. The only problem was the stupid broad trying to pin me down on her bed and trying to force my mouth open with her tongue. I shoved Kirche off me like a sack of potatoes, and started for her door only for it to be blown apart by the excellent wand work of my master, Louise. The girl took one look at the scene, me with my shirt half opened and Kirche in her lingerie, and opened her mouth to begin a tirade that I quickly cut off by pressing my lips against hers and ravaging her mouth with my tongue like it was going out of style. She wasn't the one I wanted but she was close enough to my liking.
In my defense… I have a thing for girls with spunk and by God did Louise have plenty of it.
Kirche didn't take too kindly to that by her outraged squawking and I raised my hand as wintry cold flowed through my veins and—
WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING?!
Dazed and disorientated, it was only because of my arm wrapped firmly around her shoulders that Louise didn't collapse from the amount of blood flushing her face redder than Kirche's hair. I kept a firm grasp of Old Man Winter as frost enveloped the flesh of my left hand and icicles erupted from the faintly glowing runes. I leveled a glare upon Kirche the likes of which must have been frightening seeing that she flinched away from me and her pet charmeleon-wannabe skittered for cover underneath her bed.
"Get this through your head. I do not nor will I ever feel anything for the likes of a disgusting wench like you who has to resort to magic to get a man to come willingly her bed. Chase me all you want. You'll be old and gray before I give you a second glance and trust me when I say that it'll be no better than the one I'm giving you now."
I escorted Louise out and slammed the door shut behind us, using a blast of winter's wind to cover it in foot thick ice for good measure. I could tell that my Salts was all but gone and that it'd take the better part of the night and next morning to refill on its own before I could use my Vigors again but I had enough left to maintain the manifestation of Old Man Winter through my veins until the spell wore off. I could feel it scratching at the back of my head as I walked a strangely quiet Louise back to our room but it was a hell of a lot weaker than when that witch first cast it on me and kept getting weaker the longer I kept the cold flowing in my veins.
Unfortunately for me, the blessed silence was soon ruptured the moment we entered Louise's room and my little master started on a tirade that was more like cute stuttering than anything else though I think I could understand just what she was trying to say.
"Yes, I was in her room but not by choice. That lizard of hers caught me by surprise and rather than risk you getting in trouble for my killing it, I decided to see what she wanted. Stupid of me I know but I didn't think she'd go as far as she did."
More cute stuttering and as she started searching her drawers for something that I knew she wouldn't find. After that first night, I made sure to search out for any possible tools against me and I actually had destroyed the riding crop and the collar though I kept the chain.
… What? I could use it in conjunction with my Shock Jockey! Get those lemons out of your brains!
"Yes she came on to me and believe me when I say I did not want anything that she was offering. She cast some sort of lust spell on me and that's why I've got Old Man Winter active. The frost is increasing the spell's rate of decay and it's helping me from acting out any further than I have. Unless you wanted me to resume raping your mouth with my tongue."
Huh. She actually squealed and tossed herself on her bed. Here I thought that my attempt at sarcasm would have gotten an explosion spell to the face. With her face pressed against her pillow, she muffled something out at me that I couldn't quite make out.
"Why did I what?" More muffling and I sighed in resignation. "Louise…"
"Why didn't you kiss her?!" she yelled at me, her face red and tears shimmering in her eyes. Ah God, how do I fix this without screwing this up further.
"Kirche's spell filled me with lust but it was not for her. I'm no expert when it comes to magic but I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that her spell likely enhances the desire for someone that the victim has strong feelings for. Unfortunately for Kirche, I didn't feel a speck of attraction towards her so my attentions were focused only on the one whom I did feel attracted to."
Louise hugged her pillow tightly to herself but only covered half her face with it, firmly set on leveling a fierce glare at me that would have worked if her entire face were not as pink as her hair at this point. "So that's why you ki-ki-kissed me?"
"What can I say? You're the kind of girl that I find attractive."
Louise was silent before she snapped her fingers and the lights in the room flicked off. Guessing that the conversation was over, I made for my mattress on the floor. It wasn't an actual bed and reminded me more of those futon things from Japan but at least it wasn't a pile of hay. I had just settled down beneath my blanket when I felt a small weight settle on my back and a hand grasp me tightly on the shoulder.
"Sh-Shut up and go to sleep. Stupid familiar…"
I had thought that I would have seen it all by this point in my life. Never mind the freakish animal menagerie going on around me with floating eyeballs, giant moles, and intelligent dragons oh my. Never mind the abilities I possessed due to my summoning or Derflinger, the six thousand year old talking sword who could knew more dirty jokes than I thought possible of anyone not of the same caliber as a certain Toad Sage was capable of knowing. Never mind that Louise was a childhood friend of the heir apparent whose visit was spoiled by the stupid competition and the equally stupid attempt at thievery by some broad named Fouquet the Crumbling Dirt or the debacle that followed.
Though using a rocket launcher was kind of awesome…
No, it was the person standing before me that could not possibly be here.
She couldn't be here not because she didn't exist but because I knew that she could not exist. I myself had seen it, done it, ensured it. Well… not the me that is me but the me that is him. The him that is frankly so stunned to see her the best that I can do is gape like a goddamn fish as she approaches me with a curious air.
She was dressed just as I had last seen her. A white corset beneath a short blue jacket and long blue dress skirt that altogether made her look like she walked straight out the pages of an American steampunk novel. Her hair was long as when I had first met—first seen her and tied in the same loose ponytail that I had preferred over her shorter hairstyle. On her neck was a small choker bedecked with a pendent that bore the shadow of a bird flying through the open air. Honestly not my first, second, or even third choice of pendent wear but that was all those damnable twins were offering and it was a hell of a lot better than that damned cage.
"So… you're not what I had expected." She tilted her head and goddamn it, it was all I could do not to blush at her scrutiny. Louise might be my type but this girl, this woman… it wasn't me and it was me that fought for her, bled for her, and fucking killed for her. "You're not him but you are. How did you accomplish this?"
I swallowed and glanced up and down the halls that were strangely empty despite it being the middle of the freaking day. "I don't know, Ellie."
Her eyes narrowed. "Say that again?"
Oh crap, did I piss her off? Oh man, I'm going to end up in the core of the sun or worse, Rapture! "I don't know…. Ellie?"
"You… sound really familiar." She said after a long moment of staring at me in silence.
"Like a voice whispering in the background of my memories."
Whispering in the background of her what? Wait… she couldn't possibly be—I mean that's just impossible isn't it?
I was just imagining things, making assumptions out of nothing. She couldn't possibly—
"So where's that Labrador puppy you promised me?"
… Holy shit!
When I played the game, hell, when I played any game, I tended to monologue like a goddamned idiot most of the time, substituting my character's dialogue with my own thoughts and opinions as I went about doing shit and God damned if I didn't have plenty to say when I played that particular game. Call me crazy but I swear that most of the time, she had answered me right back too, particularly when I was cussing myself out for running out of ammo or Salts before she went and got them for me straight out of nowhere.
She is the same Elizabeth that I and he had—Oh. Oh crap. If her powers allowed her to "hear" my voice in her memories of the events that transpired in the game then she heard everything that I had ever said which meant that I was about to die by way of being torn straight into the heart of the sun. In my defense, I had no idea that he was actually her father and, until I learned this awkward truth, I was all for flirting with her shamelessly throughout my ventures in Columbia. His ventures. Damn it, I'm getting a headache now!
She smirked at me and reached up to shut my gaping mouth. "Just so you know, I hate Oedipus Rex."
That's… nice? I never cared for that story either but then most Greek stories sucked anyway. It was like the concept of having a happy ending was against the law or something.
"But I am rather partial to George Michael."
Elizabeth leaned up on the tip of her toes and pressed a quick kiss to my cheek.
"See you around Shepard or as you say… I should go."
And she was gone in the blink of an eye just like those goddamned twins.
"Did she just make a Mass Effect reference?"
Until the next summoning...
AUTHOR'S NOTES II:
Now let's see if I can answer all the preemptive questions here… First, I'm well aware of the Familiar of Zero crossover story with Bioshock. In fact, I have both favored and followed it since its initial publication and eagerly await the next update. This story was not written as a nod to tit but rather at an attempt at something wholly different than what I had done previous though also being somewhat the same in that regard leading me to point number two…
No, this is not a self-insert of myself or anyone of whom I am acquainted with, this character is my attempt at a (somewhat) realistic view of the trend that I and many other writers have set on having a "mundane" individual be granted abilities upon their summoning as the familiar of Louise the Zero because of how they were dressed or what they were carrying on their person. If it weren't obvious by this point, this individual was dressed as Booker DeWitt of Bioshock Infinite, more specifically "his" version of the character whom he played through the main game. He possesses the Vigor of Old Man Winter thanks mostly to drinking from a real world version of the bottle at the convention he was attending. His name "Shepard Book" was not originally intended as a tongue-in-cheek gesture towards the Firefly character of the same name. In fact, I hadn't even realized the connection until I was set to posting this very segment.
While it initially looks like Shepard is going to fall in love with Louise, such is not the case as his real-world affections lie in the very girl whom he had actually admired and adored though she was nothing but a fictional character at the time. As I'm sure many of you can attest, there are some games that you well and truly invest yourself in when you play. You simply cannot put down the controller because you know that you must see the story through to its end. Such was the case for me when I played Bioshock Infinite and having recently watched a very entertaining Let's Play by Cryaotic, I was inspired to create a character who truly "fell in love" with the role he had been given and had the same train of thought as myself and Cryaotic in that neither myself or he had any clue that Elizabeth was actually Booker's daughter, making both of our comments rather awkward after the fact.
Shepard Book is not Booker DeWitt, not physically. He has his memories, his skills, and even his Vigors, but he is, if anything, a reincarnation of the man and not the man himself, hence Elizabeth's own interest in him thanks to her "listening in" to his verbalized thoughts/opinions throughout the game. She was able to recognize this almost instantly upon seeing him, both with her eyes and her powers, and so immediately dissuaded any concerns he would have before he had a chance to actually have them with her little comments at the end there. Truth be told, I originally intended to have the twins there but I find Elizabeth's involvement in the world of Halkeginia far more interesting, don't you?