Sun's Day again.

Last chapter/oneshot/thingy for now, since I have way too many unfinished projects on my hands to start yet another epic, but I do intend to get back to the universe eventually because there are scenes in my head that make me grin. This is more of a postscript than a real chapter: my apologies, but that was how it turned out/I want to get this wrapped up. The sooner I get stuff off my plate, the sooner I can get to the real/major Star Ocean 3 fic? The fic begins and ends with 'family bonding,' one appropriate to 'real life' but done with 'game characters,' the other gaming but done with 'real' people. I like the bookends.

Ah: keep in mind that this is several upgrades/rule changes/level cap raises… Well, the MMO thing gives a justification for all the gameplay changes between the different Star Ocean games, and even the remakes could be those events happening in a different timeline, one 'after' a few upgrades from 4d's perspective. Of course, the Eternal Sphere in-universe is far more realistic/immersive than any of the games we've played, obviously, and the gameplay would reflect that.

I really don't think that real!Blair's combat style would be much like fake!Blair/the Sphere's combat style, by the way. For one thing, since she's studying it she's probably tried out most of the game's combat styles, or at least the ones the players use, and second there's the entire way she approaches the problem of Luther. Favored play style ideally has a lot to do with personality/what people think is effective. Well, provided the game has decent balance.

It had been what, years, since he'd played with a controller or a computer keyboard, he thought as he sent his character/combat form running out of range of an area effect technique in the opposite direction Blair was. He was surprised that he didn't seem to be rusty at all, but then he was the one who had designed the Eternal Sphere's control scheme: maybe it was just that it was intuitive to him.

It was a pity he couldn't do this battle in what had become the 'normal' way for him, with his mind in what had become a second, or third, body, but he'd been doing a little too much training in case of more invasions like that last one. It wouldn't do for some automatic flicker of will to call up a shield, start dropping bombs on top of the enemy or anything like that.

Not that Blair, testing out one of the Federation's latest weapon models (although using some decidedly non-Federation-standard ammo), wasn't doing a good job of dropping bombs on the bonus boss' head. Well, and Azazel's, but Luther had already got him shielded. Honestly, he had to wonder why Azazel always chose close-combat 'tank' characters, even though that wasn't an effective tactic in the real world. Perhaps it was wish fulfillment, perhaps it was an extension of his ethos as a security officer, bodyguard, whichever. It was certainly hard for the bonus boss to do much to hurt either of the other two when it was stun locked half the time.

Which would be making Luther's character build comparatively useless if he hadn't skewed it more towards black mage/summoner than he normally did when he was dealing with a party. Blair and Azazel were far more competent and less likely to need healing than the typical party, even if Azazel was, as always, quite willing to take damage to accomplish the objective.

Honestly, the medic/white mage/healer/whatever type was always the most effective, which was probably he kept nerfing them enough so that from his perspective they were somewhat balanced and from the average player's perspective he'd made them almost useless. It wasn't just that while there was life there was hope, it was that it didn't matter how much damage the enemy did to you if they couldn't make you stay damaged. It was always amusing in PvP, when he did PvP, to see the look on their faces when they realized he'd just been toying with them, all along.

Not that he'd created an anonymous account to do that with in awhile. It was really unfair unless there was someone he was scouting.

Which was why Blair had roped him into this, really. All work and no play was making Luther an antisocial shut-in, which as his sister she wasn't going to just stand by and let happen. Which itself was all part of the plan, he mused as his summon activated and he waited until he could heal Azazel again, considering following that up with a buff. That was another nice thing about the healer/summoner type for a party leader: in order to heal, you had to be paying attention to their status constantly anyway, so it only made sense for the strategist to take that position. Two birds with one stone. Not that he had to do much strategizing, forget any commanding, with this party, but in a few years he might be handling graduate student research assistants in the field, if he couldn't swing doing it solo, and then there was going to be the real fight.

Well, for a certain value of real. Hopefully. Because if things went wrong it would end up 'for real' in all sorts of nasty ways.

For something that Blair had intended as a social occasion, there was very little party chatter. Well, the difficulty level had something to do with that, in Blair's case. Azazel was acting like a focused professional, and he was thinking.

It wasn't that Blair wasn't good, far from it, it was that she was a researcher for a reason. When she had a shiny problem, or in this case a mottled-green draconic problem, she'd focus in on it. She was nowhere near as bad as him when it came to forgetting to multitask, but she was pretending that this was just a normal little 'family outing,' where the point wasn't to watch him, it was to blow a bonus boss to smithereens. And, you know, collect data and test it for the players and all that stuff because they were responsible people doing their jobs. The fact that this involved playing a video game at work was just one of those things that happened when you'd won at life, he thought, and smirked. He could just see her saying something like that. Not where anyone would hear, obviously, because that would just be mean.

He was going to miss this. Not the battles like this one, because he doubted that the Eternal Sphere would be completely safe once the worlds were divided (hadn't Freya proved otherwise?), but the battles with these people.

…Maybe he could shanghai Blair? She wouldn't mind, probably, once she stopped yelling at him/started speaking to him again for not telling her earlier. Nah, that wouldn't be a big problem, he'd just let Sophia and Fayt at her. Why fight a battle himself when he had party members so perfectly suited to it?

No, it really wasn't fair to make that decision for her, and he doubted he'd be able to ask her safely, even in the last moments. There'd be too much going on, too much that could go wrong.

So he needed to enjoy these moments while he had them, he knew as Azazel's light show of a technique started up, and not act like he was mourning them or saying goodbye. There were years to go, after all.

Years of days like this, and days like the one he would be having as soon as this was done, taking Fayt and Sophia to the university bookstore because Fayt had saved up his allowance for a book on dinosaurs.

In most games, even if the fate of two universes hung in the balance either there was all the time in the world or you were steamrollered along to some inescapable fate. He'd thought that having to take it day by day like this, juggling two lives and two universes' worth of lives would be exhausting, but there were days where something went catastrophically wrong and days like this. Days when everything came together like a well-oiled machine and days when he just got to hang out.

Because it wasn't a robot apocalypse or cosmic horrors crushing a helpless world: he wouldn't let it be.

It was just… people, and days like this.

Family… and setting a new speed record for defeating this boss.

Yeah, he thought to himself as Blair came over for a high-five, he'd better make sure she didn't think he was a lost cause, actually, because she'd be one bitch of a final boss if she ended up getting serious.

Well, that was an excuse not to have to cut all ties with her.

For now, at least.

Well, if that was what it took, that was what it took. "Do you want to head further in, since we're already here?" he asked them.

Why not? There was time.