…Yeah. See, I watched the Human World ending on YouTube once, and only once. That was after reading all 23 chapters of Fail To The King! That is an awesome fan fic, by the way, you should go read it. It was the inspiration for this fic.
Okay, so. After I watched the ending, my brain started acting up again, and I found myself scribbling out the beginnings of this story on a pad of yellow paper. I didn't really know what to do for Mao, though, especially since he was just floating in the remains of his world, which means there isn't much for him to do other than that. Then I hit upon the craziest idea that my brain may have ever come up with:
Send Mao to Mundus Vetus, aka the world of Mahou Sensei Negima, a few days before the Kyoto arc. Yes.
Please read and review! I appreciate constructive criticism most of all. Flames will be subjected to laughter before tossed into the fire where they belong.
Also, spoilers, chiefly for Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Disgaea 3.
Disgaea: Presence of Hope
Prologue: A Prince's Awakening
Once upon a time, there was a demon. But not just any demon, mind you—the subject of our story is an honor student, one of the most evil demons in the Nether Institute, where demons went to learn how to become proper demons. He was the best one of all, and the reason why was because of his heart, closed to all, even himself.
In one universe (or should I say multiverse? These things are hard to keep straight), he and the friends he acquired opened it, and he became the rightful Overlord of the school, defeating the Super Hero that had killed his father in the process.
In another, he wasn't as successful, succumbing to his inner darkness and destroying the entire universe, as well as some neighboring ones. After this, he found himself floating for all eternity in darkness, taunted by his darkest self and slowly going insane. Outside of his little world, shrouded in darkness, the universe rebuilt itself, with the help of the Lifemaker, the Entity and a young girl called Hope, some of the few survivors from the original universe.
However, the Lifemaker had plans for this new universe, and Hope, realizing this, decided to set in motion a plan to counteract the Lifemaker's…
It was dark. Then again, it was always dark. He had grown used to it, so used to it that he was starting to forget the last time he saw light, even what light looked like.
He floated in an abyss of darkness, with nothing to keep him company but his fading memories, his dark self's taunting voice and the voices of those who he had killed, especially the people that he once personally knew. If it weren't for his dark side, he'd have forgotten their names already, though he certainly tried never to forget the ones he knew. How would they react if they saw him now, floating helplessly in the darkness and going slowly insane? Would they laugh at him and tell him that he deserved it for all he'd done? Certainly, they wouldn't hug him and tell him he was going to be okay.
No one did that for the villain, after all.
Sometimes, when he couldn't hear his darker side taunting and mocking him, he'd remember. His memory wasn't the best—he had spent an untold amount of time in this abyss, after all—but he remembered the moments before then, before he unleashed death upon the universe.
Some moments were ironic. He hated irony. It reminded him far too much of all the things that had happened, something he didn't want when he delved into his memories.
How long had it been, anyway, since he killed everything? He couldn't quite remember—time had no meaning in the abyss, and he measured days by how long his dark side taunted him, and nights by how long he could rest and remember. It wasn't a very reliable system, but it was all he had to work from. From that, he was quite sure that at least three centuries had passed. It was a surprise to him that he hadn't gone insane already.
…Three centuries was an awfully long time to be floating in an abyss.
"Well, what do you know, we finally found you," somebody drawled, and he realized that someone was there—but it wasn't anyone from his memories, fuzzy as they were. He could recognize a voice, and this was one he didn't recognize. "Know how long it's been?"
"…Three centuries?" he guessed.
There was a laugh—dark, evil, sinister, not unlike the laugh his evil side possessed. "Wrong!" the voice responded. "It's been two millennia and three years since you blew up the universe! Nice job, by the way. Couldn't have done it better myself."
"Who are you?" he demanded, trying to keep the shock from creeping into his tone and failing at it.
"Open your eyes, dumbass," the voice ordered him.
He didn't know he had closed his eyes, but they fluttered open, and he saw…darkness. And, impossibly, standing right in front of him was a cocky young man with grey hair and unnatural blue eyes.
"…Who are you?" he repeated. "I know I've never seen you before."
"That's understandable, really," the man replied, smirking. "You've been floating in some abyss for what, 2003 years? I'll give you props for destroying the universe, but you couldn't even bust out of there without any help!"
Then the man pointed to himself. "And as for my name…I'm the maddest of the mad! Baddest of the bad! Master of Death! You can call me Gig."
He blinked, suddenly remembering something. "Hey, I know you!" he cried. "I've read about you before. Is it true that you were called Vigilance?"
Gig flinched in reply. "So? That's bullshit, Science Pervert."
"On the contrary," a feminine voice interrupted, "it's true. Gig, I'll handle this."
"See? She gets it!" he cried, then paled. "Oh, great, she's here."
He turned, and found a young woman in black—black clothes, black spiky hair, black ankh necklace, black…everything. The only thing that wasn't black was her skin, which was pale on the verge of being white. However, there was a kind smile on her face, unlike Gig's smirk, which was now replaced with a frustrated frown.
"You again?" he said. "What the hell is wrong with you? I thought we already agreed on this!"
"You're not exactly helping matters," the woman responded, then turned to him. "I'm Death of the Endless. It's nice to meet you."
"Wait a sec…" He glanced towards Gig, then at the woman who had just introduced herself as Death. "Did she just…but aren't you…what's going on?"
"Oh, yeah, you don't know," Gig realized. "See, after you destroyed the universe, it started over from scratch. Shit blew up, stuff went down, next thing anybody knows the second Big Bang's exploded and there's a bunch of Deaths all over the place. It gets hard to do your job when there's a shitload of other people saying it's their job as well."
He grinned cockily. "Not that I mind or anything. And like I said, congratulations on blowing up the universe."
"Gig," Death warningly told him, and he promptly shut up, much to his relief. "Basically, it's like he said: after you destroyed the universe, it restarted itself, but not without some help from the Lifemaker, the Entity and Hope herself."
"Hope?" he asked, trying to recall where he had heard that name before.
"A while before you destroyed the universe, a young girl defied destiny and became the personification of hope," she explained. "She still acts like a kid sometimes, but trust me—she's one of the most powerful beings in the universe. After all, she was the one who helped find you."
"But…why?" he asked again. "Why were you looking for me?"
And it was here that Gig interrupted again, saying, "You know the Lifemaker, right? Turns out he's not exactly benevolent or anything, kick-started the universe again because he had some plans up his sleeve just for it, and they ain't pretty little rainbows and puppies. Some weird-ass Oracle back in the second Ancient Greece—I think her name's Catherine or something?"
"Cassandra," Death patiently corrected. "And she's not weird, she was cursed. She prophesied that, and I quote, 'the one who destroyed the universe shall save it from one of its creators'. I know both Hope and the Entity far too well to suspect them, which leaves…"
"The Lifemaker," he guessed.
"Because of him, the universe is going to end—again—in about a year or so," Gig muttered. "I knew he was a sick bastard."
"You shouldn't call him that, Gig-san!" a younger, female voice admonished him, and to his surprise, a young girl with pink hair and an elaborate dress straight out of a mahou shoujo series marched in, a staff in her hand. "No matter how mean he is, he's still a person! And…and people have feelings, so you can't just call him that!"
Gig's palm met his face, something which the other three diligently ignored. "Dammit…"
"Let me guess," he said. "You're the Hope I've heard so much about."
The girl waved her hand dismissively. "Ah, thanks," she replied, a smile on her face, "but just call me Madoka. I'm used to that name more than I am to being called Hope."
"Why the hell do this things always happen to me? It's got to be hanging around that kid and her ditzy friend for so long, isn't it? Isn't it?" Gig was muttering to himself. He wondered, idly, exactly what the Master of Death was talking about. "Dammit…"
…The hell's this?
"Hotpods. That's what I need. Once I'm done with this, I am going to go and buy some more hotpods. Maybe wash it all down with a beer…"
…Okay, spill. What the hell did you do to attract the attention of the Master of Death, some weird girl, and the personification of hope itself?
He…honestly had no idea. It had something to do with some prophecy about saving the universe from one of its creators.
"Mmm…delicious hotpods." Gig was licking his lips at the prospect of eating…whatever these hotpods were. "I'm coming for you…"
"Did you explain everything to him already, Death-sama?" Hope—no, Madoka asked.
"Mostly," Death answered. "There's still a lot of things to run over, but he knows the basics."
Madoka nodded, then turned towards him. "Hey…Mao-san, right?"
He blinked at her. That…that was his name, wasn't it? How did she know his name? He himself was on the verge of forgetting it, had almost forgotten it when they came along.
"Y-Yeah," he managed to say, not quite over the shock.
"I have to tell you something," she began. "This prophecy—you're free to either fulfill it or go against it. If you want to die, I'll understand. I'll ask Death-sama to take you to her realm, or Gig-san to take you to reincarnate. You won't have to worry about the prophecy or the universe ending. But…"
She took a deep breath. "If you want, you can fulfill the prophecy and save the universe. But there's a price—I can't send you to where you have to be without taking your power and memories away. It's how the universe works. You have to sacrifice something to save it. You'll get them back over time, don't worry, but you'll start out with nothing."
"Basically, get level grinding," Gig translated. "There's no easy way out of it, no cheat codes to achieve Level 9999 at once. Trust me, someone tried it once. It was not pretty, but I got a sweet lifetime supply of hotpods out of it."
Do you really want that to happen? I know how valuable your memories are to you, his dark side hissed. And if you accept, you'll have to grind your levels back up. There's no cheat code, just grind, grind, grind. Do you really want that?
"Shut up, me," he muttered to himself, ignoring the strange looks he got. "What else?"
"So I have to ask of you," Madoka concluded, "will you be my champion, Mao-san? I don't have anything I can give to you as a reward, but I will be there if you need me. I can't give you any awesome powers, but I can give you a second chance. It sounds clichéd, I know, but it's all I can give you."
And no awesome powers, either. You should just give up and die.
"Not going to die," he replied, earning another round of strange looks. "Fine. I'll be your champion—but only if I can get some sort of physical reward after this."
"Idiot," Gig grumbled.
Death raised an eyebrow in concern, already realizing the implications of those words. "You could rephrase that," she pointed out.
Madoka only shrugged it off. "Don't worry about it, Death-sama," she assured her. "He's accepted. That's enough for me." She held out her hand. "Take my hand, Mao-san."
He hesitated. Don't take it, his darker self whispered. Do you want to go through so much pain just to champion her?
Take it, another voice—one he hadn't heard in a long while—countered, its tone childish yet at the same time wise. You'll have another chance, a shot at making things right.
Aren't you dead? I'm damn sure I finished you off myself! His darker self started cursing at the new voice.
For a while. I got better.
"Shut up, me," he muttered, earning himself strange looks from the other three (though Gig's was that of sympathy, like he had gone through this before and understood exactly what was going on) again. He sighed, then took her hand.
"Good luck, Mao," Death said, her kind smile still on her face.
"Blah, blah, yeah, yeah, good luck to you too," Gig dismissively said, waving his hand and sounding bored. "Now if you'll excuse me, I hear someone calling."
"Thank you, Mao-san," Madoka gratefully told him, then closed her eyes. When she next spoke, her voice was charged with power.
"I am the fire who blazes through the bleakness of despair, the one who encompasses the universe. I am the candle who lights your way in the darkness of the night. I am the harbinger of justice, the bringer of peace and one of the universe's creators. When someone calls out for me, I come to their aid. I have raised many warriors, led many to victory and triumph over their enemies. I am she who gives the strength to defy the destiny laid out for you. And I name you, Mao-san, as my champion. I ask of you, please save this universe, and all we have built over the past two thousand and three years." Her voice reverted to its usual childish tone when she added, "And, um, please be okay when you land!"
He was cut off by an explosion of white light, and saw nothing more.
NEXT EPISODE PREVIEW!
Flonne: The hero is finally here!
Mao: Damn straight. Wait, hero?
Flonne: Rising from the ashes like a phoenix, wielding the blessing of Hope herself, Flonne, the Magical Angel of Love, Justice and Hope, punishes evildoers in the name of love!
Mao: What the hell? Can't you read?
Flonne: To spread the message of love and peace throughout the universe, to thwart all those who seek to do evil, that is her everlasting mission!
Mao: Didn't you die? I thought the ending this fic is based off of meant you were dead!
Flonne: Not even death can stop her! The power of love is all-encompassing! It conquers all that stands in its way!
Mao: That's impossible! Not even love could cheat death…could it? (huff, huff, drool) I'll capture and dissect you…
Flonne: Magical Angel, Lovely Flonne! Episode 1: "Love Conquers All"!
Mao: So much potential…if I could only learn exactly what powers this love mechanism, I'd be all-powerful! Muhahahaha!
Laharl: …Great, I'm dead. I demand a rewrite! I'm the original main character, you can't just kill me off-screen! It's in my contract!
Mao: Muhahaha! And yet I did!
Negi: …Is this normal?
Almaz: Trust me, Negi, it is. I think you'd better get used to it.
Etna: WHO STOLE MY PREVIEW?
Almaz: Yep, completely normal.
Yes, that's Kaname Madoka from Puella Magi Madoka Magica up there. Originally, she wasn't supposed to be in the story—it was just Mao, Death and Gig. Then I remembered something I had read about her, which said, and these are major spoilers here, people, that she had become the personification of hope itself at the end of the series. Now, since the title of the fic was "Presence of Hope", I had to put her in. Please tell me if I wrote her well, because I haven't watched Puella Magi Madoka Magica yet, but am planning to!
And as for Mao becoming her champion? Blame that on 2 millennia and 3 years of solitude. He'd do anything to get out of there, but at the same time, I think he still wants to live, despite living for a long time now. His choice enables him to do that, at the cost of his memories and his powers. At this point, though, I don't really think he cares about that anymore. But don't worry, I'll try my best to make sure he's still the same perverted mad scientist we all know and love. Or tolerate.
And yes, the Entity is the same one as in DC Comics. Whether this means a bunch of your favorite superheroes and civilians died in the blast caused by Mao's epic universe-destroying rage or not, I leave up to you.
And the real identity of the Lifemaker? I think it's probably obvious, but if it isn't, yay for me! I actually managed not to give something away!
And yes, that's Gig from Soul Nomad and the World Eaters, and Death from the Sandman, working together. Basically, my idea is that Gig takes people to be reincarnated (although occasionally he's called on to escort demons to…wherever awaits them when they die) and that Death is there to escort people to her realm, where they stay. It's a good arrangement: Gig gets to slack off and eat all the hotpods he wants while dumping the non-demons on Death, who doesn't really mind. The other Deaths are just around to help out if they're far too busy (or if Gig is feeling extra lazy).
Please read and review!