Just to get this off my chest before we start – the characters used and several ideas are not owned by me, but simply borrowed from 4 leaf studios and type-moon for the sole purpose of introducing a little more laughter and smiles into the world.
Unlimited Disability Works: A Katawa Shoujo Story.
Despite the fact I'd been a working adult for almost a year now, I still felt kind of silly in a suit. There was something about the repressed air of dignity that wearing a suit implied that chafed me, moreso than the cotton and the poor stitching of my only dinner suit could anyway.
Still, I had standards, and despite the fact the black fabric and tie made me uncomfortable, I'd be damned if I wasn't going to be looking my best today - she was going to be, and that flat out implied that I had to at least match her, if not surpass her.
I glanced around the reception hall I was currently in, flattening a nearly unnoticeable bulge in my breast pocket as I did so. There were several blue and white stylised signs suspended from the ceiling by wires, each and every one of them proclaiming the graduation for this year's cohort of law students from Niigata University. They were rather ostentatiously wreathed with flowers - blue, white and pink hydrangeas if I was any guess (and to be fair, I probably wasn't - botany really wasn't my thing). A nice touch, I thought, and definitely aesthetically pleasing.
I wasn't the only person in the hall either, not by a long shot. There was a small crowd of people mingling around several standing tables, being severed small drinks and hand foods by immaculately dressed waiters and waitresses. The majority of people were in small clusters of two to four people - friends and families of the happy graduees. Graduators? Graduating students? Whatever. I shrugged off my inability to find the correct word I was looking for, just as the doors from the main hall burst open.
I was standing by myself around a table, which made it rather easy for her to see me.
She'd clearly just barged her way to the front of the group, which made it rather easy for me to see her.
Her already grinning face suddenly became radiant as we spotted each other across the reception hall, and she proudly marched towards me, brandishing her testamur with all the authority she could muster. It was when she looked like that, her dark haired falling gently down her shoulders, her eyes shining with pride, the very way she carried herself upright as though challenging the world… It was moments like these that made me almost fall in love again.
The effect was kind of ruined when she went to talk to me.
+Hisao!+ And as she moved her free hand to sign, an instinctual flip of the fingers in her opposite hand caused her to fumble the testamur. She awkwardly snapped it up before it could hit the floor.
+Hey,+ I replied, my fingers and hands laconically cutting the air as I fell into the verbal sparring that we enjoyed so much, +shouldn't you treat that with a touch more respect?+
Her face reddened a little, but I knew her better than to assume it was embarrassment causing her sudden reaction - an assumption which was validated as her eyebrows narrowed and she strode very deliberately towards me. By now I could feel the corners of my mouth ghosting upwards in a little grin, which promptly disappeared as Shizune used the rolled up piece of paper to smack me over the head. Clearly she wasn't in the mood for our usual games, and I guess I could appreciate that - it wasn't every day you graduated from university.
Having satisfied her urge to reprimand me for making light of the situation, her face softened and she swept me up in a hug, crushing the perfectly straight graduation gown into wrinkles against my suit. I breathed in deeply, my nose catching the light scent of peach from her hair as she buried her face into my chest. I was reminded of the fact Shizune hadn't let go of the testamur by a rhythmic series of papery taps on the back of my head, but I didn't care. She was free of her learning obligations for the time being, and she was right here with me right now. We relaxed slightly in each others arms for a moment or two longer before breaking the embrace.
+Thanks for coming,+ Shizune signed happily after putting the testamur down on the table, +it means a lot to me to see you here, especially since I couldn't make your graduation last year.+
+My pleasure. I just wish I was able to make it early enough to see the ceremony itself,+ I replied, my face turning a bit sour as I recalled having to deal with my worst class of kids rather than being able to make it out here on time. Shizune raised her hand to her mouth to suppress a silent chuckle. Truth be told, she almost didn't need the chuckle anymore - I had long ago associated that gesture with mirth in Shizune speak.
+You didn't miss much, it was long and boring,+ she confided, her eyes rolling to convey the emotion better. There was a slight pause before she continued, her eyes sparkling with mischief. +If I had have been in charge, I would have made it much more interesting,+ she said, her hands flashing in the quick movements I'd associated with her cheeky tone.
+Of course you would have.+ I paused for a second with my reply, determining the best words to use for what I wanted to say next. +Let me guess. A lion tamer on stage, a light show, some fireworks and maybe a cabaret show?+
Shizune pouted. God, but she looked so beautiful when she did that!
+Only the cabaret,+ she replied sulkily. I rolled my eyes and gave her a slight grin, then Shizune brought her hand up to her mouth and I burst out laughing.
At that point, a small group of girls dressed in gowns approached us, prompting a hasty rearranging of clothes and faces as we composed ourselves. Shizune took stock of the girls approaching, and apparently having recognised them, changed her posture to the 'Shizune is far superior pose number three', complete with that all-knowing grin.
"Um, can you translate for us? We normally pass notes and texts with Hakamichi-san is all…" the girl in front asked cautiously, giving me a wierd look as I converted her words into sign for the benefit of Shizune.
"I can," I replied simply, still signing for Shizune.
My blue haired girlfriend elegantly raised her hands before the girls could say any more, and signed with all the elegance and poise she could muster (and she could muster a lot). +Wahahaha~!+
I shot her a look between narrowed eyes, but she maintained a perfectly straight face. I rolled my eyes.
"Um, was Hakamichi-san speaking to us?" one of the girls enquired, and I shook my head.
"She was just thanking me for helping," I replied smoothly. It wasn't like these girls would understand our little private joke anyway, and I'm sure that last comment could have been construed as a sort of abstract thanks if you bent your head far enough around it.
"Oh, well in that case, we were wondering if you'd like to take some pictures with us," another girl said, addressing Shizune. My hands flicked out the translation, and Shizune brought a single index finger to her delicate lips, looking as thoughtful as she could manage. Eventually she unwound her hands and deigned to reply.
+Ask them what I get out of it,+ she said, and I could see the barest hints in her stance that she was preparing to enjoy the ensuing haggling.
I translated the question, and a few of the girls began to grin as they closed in on the table, apparently very familiar with this particular facet of Shizune's character. As the debating began to heat up, it was clear to see all the girls at our table were actually on very friendly terms with Shizune. She tended to keep her schooling and our lives apart, and I was pleased she still somehow managed to make friends with her rather domineering personality.
+I think I could have gotten more for you,+ my fingers spoke, completely seriously.
Shizune gave me a look over the top of her wine glass - a look that quite clearly said 'no you couldn't have.'
+You could have roped your sexy boyfriend into the shots,+ I explained, and she raised a questioning eyebrow. +They would have paid double.+
Shizune looked unimpressed, and took a dainty sip out of her glass before answering. +My science teacher of a boyfriend? That'll bring in the money.+
+Dedicated, smart, handsome science teacher of a boyfriend,+ I corrected for her, and she snorted.
+Keep telling yourself that, Romeo. Where's Hideaki and my father?+
I shrugged, masking an minute tic of annoyance of being reminded of the rest of our company for tonight's dinner. Honestly, they were the only fly in the ointment for tonight - a dinner that I had planned out meticulously almost three weeks in advance. The location itself had a menu so expensive that I had little doubt it would end up costing me a week's worth of wages, but tonight had to be perfect. I'd clearly been put onto the right place by the headmaster at my school though - the view out the window over the river was stellar, and our four person table was well secluded from the rest of the diners, who in turn were well secluded from us. To be honest, it almost made me a bit nervous - I'd never dealt with this level of class before.
It would have been perfect if Shizune hadn't told me about a week ago that Jigoro and Hideaki were making a trip down for the graduation, and even worse, asked if they could come out to this dinner. I had of course told her about the dinner, but not about the details, so it wasn't an unreasonable thing to ask. I couldn't cancel or reschedule our reservations for a more reasonable time frame, so I ended up having to extend the number of people on our table. The small silver lining here was that Jigoro might possibly pick up the bill… but I sincerely doubted it. Thankfully, I had gotten in touch with Hideaki earlier in the week, and he was very helpful in preparing for this intrusion.
I was just about to suggest that we start ordering without them, when who should I notice saunter through the door of the resteraunt but Jigoro, suited up in a pretty snazzy looking tux, and swinging that damn sheathed sword of his all around the shop! On his heels I spot a similarly dressed Hideaki, who was absently dodging his father's sheathe as it flew about randomly. A slight misstep on his behalf revealed socks with a bright yellow, blue and green pattern on them, contrasting completely with his more sober outfit.
+Well, here they are,+ I announce for Shizune, as unless she's grown eyes in the back of her head there's no possible way she could spot them. Her body turns to follow my line of sight, which does some very interesting things to the way she sits in the strapless red dress she's wearing.
She calmly raises a hand and her father spots her almost immediately, storming over to the table and almost wiping out the maitre'd in the process.
"I told the taxi driver to take the tunnel, but he wouldn't. Disrespectful." My hands started moving automatically, converting his rant into an understandable form for Shizune. "And now we're almost fifteen minutes late. Unnacceptable. Have you ordered yet?" The long haired man demanded as he pulled himself into a seat.
"Not yet," I reply, and barely finish the sentence before he continues.
"Inefficient. You should have called us to ask what we wanted and -" he cuts off suddenly as Shizune's hands blur into motion.
+Ask him why he didn't bother to call us,+ she demands, suddenly pulling herself upright and staring him down, looking for all the world as though she were a queen staring down on a particularly stubborn citizen. I must admit, I love watching her when she's in these moods – that never say die attitude and fierce competitiveness she almost always had during high school had me hook, line and sinker. She knew it too.
So I asked Jigoro exactly that. The result was predictable.
"Disgraceful. You're the hosts, you must make the effort to please the guests!"
Hideaki watches my hands intently as I translate back and forth, seemingly doing little else. I've got a little rapport going with the kid (although at twenty, he's hardly a kid any more), even if he does tend to space out and hit conversational tangents like Tiger Woods hits a golf ball.
+You can't flip this around on us father,+ Shizune's hands flick at me. Her pose remains unchanged, but the forceful way her hands chop and slice the air betray a hint of either excitement or anger – I can't tell which. +We had no way of knowing you were going to be late. Therefore the burden of contact falls upon your shoulders!+
I shrugged at Hideaki, who simply picked up a menu. Looks like we were in for a long night.
"Alright, I think it's time for dessert," I announce, my hands flashing the words across the table to Shizune at the same time I speak them. This statement breaks up an argument between father and daughter regarding correct ettiquette for thanking a chef for the meal. I was thankful that the arguments eventually became less personal and more about whatever they could spot in the environment – the one before this one was about whether or not the maitre'd had his bow tie on straight or not!
This family definitely enjoys their arguments, that's for sure.
Ah, but I'm getting sidetracked. I glanced at Hideaki, who seemed to pull himself out of his usual bubble of antipathy at the mention of of dessert. He stood up abruptly, and both Jigoro and Shizune looked at him in surprise.
"Ah, I'm thirsty," he said, completely monotone. "Dad, lets go to the bar for a beer."
The blue-maned man blinked once in surprise. Twice. And then he was yanked onto his feet by his expressionless younger son and dragged, unresisting and uncomprehending, to the bar.
Shizune just blinked in confusion, an act which made her look absolutely adorable. She was barely ever caught flat-footed by social situations, and she looked absolutely floored right now. I made a mental note to remember this for blackmail material.
+What,+ she began, but fumbled the next word, took a quick breath to readjust herself and tried again. +What the hell just happened?+
+Looks like Hideaki got a bit thirsty,+ I noted clinically, wiping the emotion from my face.
Shizune remained quiet as she digested the information. I knew that my girl was too smart to remain surprised for long – that keen analytical mind was working through the reasons as to why Hideaki would act so out of character. It was a joy to watch her mouth contort into a thin line and her eyebrows furrow in thought – at these moments it almost felt as though she was putting on no airs for the benefit of others, allowing pure Shizune to shine through.
Eventually the thoughtful look gave way and the light of understanding dawned in her eyes. I grinned across the table as she brought he hand up to her mouth and chuckled, her eyes sparkling.
+You did this!+ she signed delightedly. +You organised this with Hideaki!+
I took a short bow. I knew how much manipulating people made her happy, and I'd just one-upped her dad pretty fierce. She clapped delightedly.
+Guilty as charged,+ I replied, my grin threatening to split my face in two.
Shizune wound down the quiet applause and began tapping her fingers rythmically on the table, as though deep in thought.
+Which begs the question, what for?+ She asked with her other hand.
And now was the time, before she wised up any further. I slid out of my seat, and took a knee before her. Shizune read the situation as I'd expected, and threw a shocked hand up to cover her mouth as she divined my intentions.
Traditionally I'd have the ring out now too, but hey, I still needed to be able to talk.
+Shizune, ever since we met at Yamaku I've been attracted to you. Your spirit, your passion, your good looks,+ at which point I managed a weak grin before continuing, +I was definitely in love when we finished and went to different universities. Those times apart from you were some of the toughest times in my life.+
At this point I took a break from my extended bout of signing to line up the next part of my speech in my head. I didn't break eye contact with Shizune, who was going a deeper and deeper shade of red with every passing second.
+Then I graduated last year and got a job in Niigata to be with you while you finished your studies, and conversely these have been some of the best times of my life. You can always make my day just by being there, Shizune.+
She nodded quietly, and I plunged on. My heart was beating like a hammer now, and despite my initial cocksure demeanour I was sure that I was also going red in the face.
+I think we know each other well enough by now to know we want to spend our lives together. Shizune, will you marry me?+
I brought a felt ring box out of my breast pocket and opened it up, offering it to her. Her hands twitched several times, then one finally rose to her face to wipe away a tear that had been forming.
Rather than favour me with a signed response, she shakily took the ring from the case, put on a triumphant smile through the stunned yet delighted expression she was wearing (which kind of ruined the effect a little, but not much) and placed the subtle sapphire ring on her ring finger. Her fingers went to flash me a proper response, but she seemed to change her mind, opting instead to admire the ring.
I released a breath that I didn't realise I was holding, the tension draining from my body as the woman of my dreams accepted my proposal. I brought my hands up to sign, but halted the motion, my eyes detecting movement behind my new fiancee.
Oh. That wasn't good.
Jigoro had left the bar and was striding back towards the table, his features locked in an expression of rage.
His roar shattered the serenity of the resteraunt, attracting the attention of the other diners, who turn to look at the spectacle. Shizune notices something wrong and turns her gaze to match mine. For a fleeting second I spot pure terror in her eyes before her face hardens. I stand up again and take a hesitant step forwards, putting myself between Jigoro and Shizune.
"You dare ask for my daughters hand in marriage without asking for my permission! Impertinent!"
A few steps behind him, Hideaki signs out a translation of Jigoro's rage. I'm grateful for the translation – Shizune can't see my hands from her point of view, so it saves time and lets me concentrate on defusing this situation.
+I'm sorry,+ Hideaki signs hesitantly after completing the translation, +I tried to keep his attention, but all it took was a glance and he figured out what you were doing.+
I shrugged. The kid had a point – there weren't a lot of things that we could have been doing. Damn shame Jigoro couldn't keep his eyes occupied for another few minutes though.
Speaking of Jigoro, he had closed the distance surprisingly fast while I had been concentrating on reading Hideaki's hands, close enough to make me feel nervous again, at the very least.
"M-Mr. Hakamichi," I stammered, but got no further.
The general aura of malice Jigoro had been wearing suddenly burst into intense killing intent, giving me a fraction of a second warning of what is to come next. Unaided, I dive to the right, grabbing Shizune's arm as I do so. My momentum describes an inelegant arc onto the floor and sends the two of us tumbling away from the table - which is now neatly bisected on the floor.
I push Shizune away from me as I roll upright. "Iai strike," I mutter, just loud enough to be heard by my soon-to-be inlaws. Hideaki looks utterly shocked that his father could do such a thing, but his hands move in translation anyway.
Jigoro himself has his hands on the hilt of his katana, having casually re-sheathed the sword before I could bring my eyes around to the attack itself. He looks confident, cocky even.
"Unforgiveable!" He murmurs, his voice pitched low and deadly. "To seek my daughter's hand in marriage without obtaining my permission. You are no true man, Nakai Hisao!"
During his short monologue, I couldn't help but notice his voice rising with every word. Hell, by the end of it I was sure everyone in the block had heard what he had to say. Jigoro's dark eyes narrowed and a subtle shift in the way he held himself let me know he was preparing to attack.
"Prepare yourself," he whispers, before the coiled mass of muscle and blue hair springs.
I was prepared long before that however. By that point I had already opened my magic circuits and was funneling odo into my limbs, the reinforcement making me faster and stronger than a normal human – so although Jigoro had covered the ground between us faster than anyone in the resteraunt could follow, I was already swaying away from his opening strike.
Jigoro followed up with another half-dozen strokes within the next second, but I managed to keep pace, if only just, by throwing my entire concentration towards his sword and footwork. Clearly this man isn't human. Clearly he's something more.
Upon completion of his eighth stroke, which I had hurriedly ducked under, I spot an opening and disengage, leaping back a good three metres and crashing onto a table, scattering someone's seared salmon fillet in cranberry sauce all over their face. "Sorry," I mention off-handedly, not caring all that much for the screaming as they try to remove the scalding fish from their face.
The distance allows me to finish the reinforcement of my body by pouring odo into the imperfections of my heart, ensuring that no matter what, at least I won't lose here today due to a heart attack. I stare back down at Jigoro, who is licking his lips menacingly.
"Unexpected," he purrs menacingly. "You're not just a normal human, are you." I whip my hands up, chopping his words up and putting them into signs for Shizune's benefit.
"Neither are you," I reply coolly, keeping my cards close to my chest. I have no idea if Shizune can still see me, but I keep signing away anyway, the motions of my hands heavy and deliberate.
My mind whirs as Jigoro prepares for his next attack. I can't beat him without a weapon, I can tell that much for sure. Speed alone won't get me through his guard – he's way to fast with his katana for that. I need a way to break his defence if I want to win this fight, and a quick glance around yields nothing capable of standing up to his blade, which is at least on the level of Conceptual Weapon, if not a outright a Noble Phantasm.
Finding nothing without, I search within, wracking my soul for something that will allow me to win this fight. In my mind, an image forms. Twin weapons, almost identical in shape and size – the only difference being their colour – one pearly white, the other onyx black.
They'll do. I pull the blueprints from my mind, creating the basic frame of the metallic weapons in my hands with odo. I overlay the process of their initial creation into the memory of the twin weapon into the wireframe, pulling every design technique from the manufacturing process and overlaying them into the creation of my weapons.
That done, I imagine the effects of the passage of time on the weapons and finish my process of creation by infusing the twin blades with that experience. A flash of red light fills the resteraunt, filling my grip with my newly projected weapons.
Hopes and Dreams. The legendary twin bladed prosthetic legs of Emi Ibarazaki.
Now fully prepared for combat, I coil my legs, daring Jigoro to make a move. A malicious smile crosses his face. "Your lack of tradition cannot defeat me. Impossible. Your fancy tricks only delay your end!" From behind an overturned table I saw a pair of hands shakily emerge, converting everything he said into sign. Hideaki.
With that declaration Jigoro leaps towards the table and I mirror the action, sending the table flipping backwards as I launch. Our two weapons meet with a torturous clang barely two metres in front of Shizune, who I absently notice is wearing an expression of utter shock on her face. The momentum of the collision sent waves of force up my arm for a second before bouncing both of us back a step, but no quarter was given by Jigoro as he recovered first, swinging a devilishly fast horizontal strike towards my torso. I counter with Hopes, catching his blade in the bend of the prosthetic and twisting with all my might in an attempt to disarm the blue haired beast in front of me.
I cover my shock well as he simply overpowers my disarm with brute strength, forcing me to release the bladed prosthetic before my wrist snaps. Hopes spins end over end towards a load bearing pillar in the centre of the bar area, easily tearing through it in a shower of concrete and dust. I only barely notice that though, that and the panicked diners who are now trying to rush outside as quickly as possible.
Instead I focussed on continuing my offence – I had forced Jigoro to waste precious time breaking through the disarm, and with those valuable seconds I had managed to begin a neck high strike with Dreams. For the first time in our battle, Jigoro was forced on the defensive, and he quickly disengaged, leaping back a few metres and giving me some breathing space. That didn't last nearly long enough though - I'd barely finished re-tracing Hopes when Jigoro descended upon me, his sword lowered.
I growled as metal met metal with a clang. "What is your problem Jigoro," I asked, and from behind that table I saw Hideaki's hands flash out my statement for Shizune's benefit. "So I proposed to your daughter without your permission." - A scraping sound filled the air as my offhand strike with Dreams was parried by Jigoro's blade - "Welcome to the new millenium," I roared, keeping my momentum up from the previous strike, spinning on the spot and driving both the prosthetic blades towards his hip.
I was expecting him to be off-balance from the parry, but Jigoro recovered faster than I had expected – bad news for me. He bracketed his right side with his katana, and my twin weapons struck hard. The force behind my attack was deflected with a deft flick of my opponent's wrist, preventing damage to his weapon. I could feel my eyes widen involuntarily – I'd over extended with that attack, and Jigoro capitalised on that by lashing out with his left boot.
The kick hit me in the floating rib with enough force to knock the wind out of my lungs – even through my reinforced body. Needless to say, it sent me hurtling backwards through the air, and eventually my uncontrolled motion was checked by a pillar. A steel reinforced pillar apparently - my hardened body slammed painfully through most of it, debris and concrete dust covering me as I collapsed on the floor.
It was Jigoro's voice I could hear filtering in through my buzzing ears. He sounded disappointed.
"I thought you were prepared to defend your modern ideals. Clearly I was wrong, if this is all you have."
His voice was coming from somewhere beyond the veil of rapidly thinning dust – far enough away for me not to be instantly worried about if he was coming to kill my prone self. I groaned as I drove Hopes into the ground, using it to lever myself upwards. Just in time too – a sharp blade sliced the billowing dust, and I unsteadily deflected it with the prosthetics.
"I am the sinew of my heart," I mutter, slowly gathering odo from as many circuits as I can manage.
"You mumble incoherently in the face of your death? Hilarious."
The katana slices through the dust again, an overhead strike aimed directly at my crown. Desperately I cross Hopes and Dreams over my head, intercepting the incoming blade. Apparently Jigoro had the presence of mind to charge the blade with prana, as the instant our blades came in contact, a flash of prana cleared away the remaining dust, allowing me to stare defiantly at Jigoro.
"Medical grade stainless steel is my body, and anti-bacterial wash is my blood."
I continue to chant my aria, turning my gathered odo in upon myself as I do so. Jigoro pivots to the left and strikes again, a probing attack that is easily dodged. I counter with Hopes, striking towards Jigoro's knees, and for the barest half a second catch him off-balance – my opponent dodges most of the damage, but the bladed prosthetic slices through his suit leg and draws blood from a shallow cut.
I take advantage of his minute distraction to glance around. Shizune, uninjured, peers out frightfully from behind the bar, and I breathe a small sigh of relief. I can't spot Hideaki anywhere anymore though, probably having fled with the rest of the diners, and I can't say I blame them. Our last clash of blades completely ruined the remaining undamaged parts of the resteraunt, and with two load bearing pillars mostly rubble, it's looking more and more unlikely that the building will remain standing for long.
"I have created over a thousand crutches."
I continue chanting my aria. It's obvious to me that I can't hope to win unless I complete it – Jigoro constantly surprises me with his increasing speed and power, almost as though he's testing my limits.
I need to keep him off balance for long enough to complete my aria though, so I press the attack, mechanically hammering Hopes and Dreams towards the older man. His face registers disgust at getting his suit cut, and it doesn't change as he wards off my blows with his weapon.
"Unknown to the call nurses, nor known to the doctors," I continue chanting.
Jigoro's constant parrying has finally started to wear down his weapon – katana's aren't designed with blade strength in mind, and the tougher, more flexible metal of my prosthetics has been steadily bending and warping his blade with every clash.
Jigoro leaps backwards, narrowly avoiding copping a mouthful of Hopes. I take the opportunity to put some extra space between us, watching carefully as Jigoro changes his stance. The blue haired man twists his body, putting his left foot forward and exposing his back on a forty-five degree angle towards me. The bent katana comes up, held orthogonally to the lines of his body, and he peers over his shoulder at me.
Despite the apparent absurdity of the stance, I dare not attack. There's something odd about it – he's exuding no apparent magic power, but the vibes I'm getting from him are off the charts. If I were to attack him now, I'd die for sure. Hell, if I were to blink now, I'd die. I desperately want to check on Shizune, but to do so would be death in this situation.
"Have withstood pain to create many aids."
My odo collection is complete now. I begin manipulating it in my body, preparing to lift the barriers that separate my soul from the external world.
"Silence," Jigoro roars. "Stop mumbling! Do you not know who you face?" Apparently he doesn't approve of my continued chanting.
I rolled my eyes. Yeah, I had a fairly good idea actually. My stupidly over-protective soon to be father-in-law.
"I am Jigoromesh! King of Curfews!"
My eyes widened instantly as all thoughts of sarcasm were wiped from my mind. Suddenly it all made sense and yet no sense at all! Jigoromesh, legendary king of curfews, patriarch of the ancient kingdom of Kokblokdonia, was my opponent! But what he just said was impossible! Kokblokdonia was destroyed millenia ago – there's no way he could possibly be alive now! If his claim was true, it would certainly go a long way to explaining how he was so damn powerful.
"Yes, I can see you understand the situation you find yourself in. Satisfactory. Perhaps now you will yield?" Jigoromesh paused for a second in his gloating, as though considering something. "On second thought, I hope you don't. I want to grind you into a paste for your impertinence."
I recomposed my facial features, turning my concentration inwards. "Yet, this body will never carry burdens."
I was reaching the most critical stage of my aria now. I could feel the barriers separating the internal world of my soul from the reality in front of me evaporating – very soon I would be able to completely rewrite this reality to become what it meant to simply be me.
"Will you shut up already?"
Jigoro was very clearly over my chanting, and bunched his muscles in preparation to attack. I was desperately running out of time.
"Swallow-cutting strike," he roared, splitting the distance between us almost instantaneously. His roar drowned out the final line of my aria, but I was vocalising it anyway, even as his superhuman speed narrowed the gap between us, his blade closing in from over his right shoulder.
"So as I pray," I began, lifting my weapons to parry his attack, when I abruptly spotted Shizune out of the corner of my eyes, looking absolutely lost as she poked her head up from behind the bar. Shit. She would have seen Jigoromesh and me conversing but would have had no idea what we were talking about, not with Hideaki gone.
Instinctually I went to sign the last sentence of my aria out to my confused fiancee, sending my weapons flying away. Damnit! Damn instincts! I was going to die now! Oh well, at least Shizune would know my final words.
Or maybe not. By sheer luck, Dreams had launched on a trajectory that would intercept Jigoromesh's head. Fully committed to his attack, there was nothing he could do as the prosthetic hit his head with a hollow thunk (I always knew he had nothing in there!), throwing him clean off balance.
It was a good thing too, because his strike came down at that moment.
A croak made it's way out of my throat as I stumbled over backwards and fell on my arse. That wasn't just a single strike. It was three! What really scared me was the fact that I couldn't tell the order they came at me in. Hell, if I didn't know any better, I'd say they were quite literally instantaneous! Regardless, I belatedly realised, dropping my prosthetics somehow saved my life – there was no way I'd have dodged that attack.
"Unlimited disability works," I finished my aria, my voice still croaking. My hands were shaky as I signed the words to Shizune, and Jigoromesh was standing above me, looking equal parts shocked (whether at missing me or being hit in the face by a fake leg, I had no idea) and furious.
Suddenly, the world went white. Reality was shunted aside as the world of my soul expanded into the local region of space. A pure white spread of space rolled over the ruined resteraunt, quickly expanding as far as the eye could see. The sharp scent of pine scented disinfectant suddenly scourged my nose clear of the stench of sweat and the smell of concrete dust.
Jigoro glanced around, his eyes wide. I leapt backwards, taking advantage of his brief disorientation, flipping over a lone hospital bed placed in the apparent centre of the off-white wasteland. By the time I'd landed, Jigoro had recovered his composure.
"A reality marble. Impressive. Is it good enough to defeat me though?"
"I don't know," I replied, regaining the confidence in my voice and signing with one hand for Shizune – I saw her looking absolutely bewildered as I was flipping through the air earlier. She would be somewhere behind me me now, so I took special care as I raised my other arm skywards.
"But surely you don't think I'm," - a pause, a quick break to provide the necessary dramatic tension - "'armless?"
Behind me, I effortlessly projected scores of prosthetic limbs, just as effortlessly doubled the number, and without a worry in the world, doubled that number. All individual, all unique. All shapes and forms – ranging from modern nerve controlled hands right up to thousand year old empty iron gauntlets.
This was my Reality Marble, Unlimited Disability Works. This was my soul projected onto the world – a rewriting of the local laws of everything, a place where my desires, my flaws and my ideals defined our battlefield.
In short, any medical or personal aide or device I had seen before in my life could be perfectly replicated in this world, for no expenditure of prana.
"Fire," I intoned, bringing my arm down towards Jigoromesh.
None of the limbs I'd created were anything but normal prosthetics, but the sheer volume of them forced the King of Curfews onto the defensive – his damaged katana blurring furiously as he deflected the projectile prosthetics.
I raised my arm again, generating countless numbers of fake legs and crutches this time.
"Looks like the shoe is on the other foot now, King of Curfews," I told Jigoromesh, who glared daggers at me as the last of my prosthetic arms were deflected off his blade, thudding into the white ground.
My next barrage split the air between us. The blue-maned man maintained his defensive posture, not able to find a gap in my attack to exploit. His blade moved with the same lightning speed I was used to seeing, but it was becoming terribly bent, warped, damaged.
I raised my arm again. Thousands of fake arms and legs came into existence, ringing my future father in law, all poised for the attack. That was not all, however. Hearing aids, pacemakers, transplanted organs, wheelchairs, glass eyes, you name it, it was there. I had effortlessly projected my entire arsenal onto the air around Jigoromesh, who was finally showing signs of damage as he fended off the last of the legs.
The barrage completely overwhelmed the struggling blue-maned warrior. His katana was now a useless, blunted, malformed lump of metal, but still he attempted to parry the incoming objects – to no avail. He was quickly swamped under a pile of fake limbs, organs and assorted devices, each traveling at a hair under Mach one. Unable to block any more with his blade, the King of Curfews eventually resorted to attempted dodging, and finally, simply taking the hits.
As the dust cleared, I was somewhat surprised to see that Jigoromesh had kept his head clear of my barrage. He was literally buried in all sorts of objects otherwise, and I had no doubt more than a few were lodged rather painfully inside him. He didn't have long to live. Regardless, I raised my hand one more time, projecting an object into existence above my head.
"Fine, you can marry my daughter. You've proved yourself. Acceptable," he muttered painfully, injecting as much anger into his voice as he was able to. It was almost touching of him.
"I didn't ask for your approval," I tell him simply, bringing my arm down one last time as I do so.
There is a look of absolute disgust on Jigoromesh's face as he recognised the object that would be his doom.
"Really," he asks incredulously, raising an eyebrow. "A hea-"
Jigoromesh is interrupted by a replacement heart to the face – an object not of this time period. A wet squelch echoes throughout the empty Reality Marble, and I matched Jigoromesh's stare as the bloody meat of the lab grown heart that would eventually replace my defective natural one slowly slid down his face.
"You bastard," he spits, before the fire of life leaves his eyes, queueing a sigh of relief from me. With a snap of my fingers, I cut the flow of odo that I was using to prevent the world from rewriting itself over this closed space, and the white scenery washed itself away, to be replaced with the ruined resteraunt.
My medical devices explode into shimmering prana as the bounded field closes over them, and the body of Jigoromesh falls unceremoniously to the ground. I turn back to Shizune, tired, yet triumphant. She looks utterly shocked at the events of the last few minutes and takes a while to compose her face into something resembling her usual know-it-all expression. Despite that, a hint of wildness in her eyes betrays the fact that she can't quite get over it all.
Her hands come up shakily, and I smiled encouragingly, happy to get her communicating again.
So where did this idea come from? Well I'd just started playing Katawa Shoujo (or more to the point, finished the Shizune route), and couldn't help but notice a few type-moon reference's in Shizune's route. Hideaki's outfit for one, and you can't tell me that Jigoro doesn't at least somewhat remind you Assassin, especially if he cleaned up his hair a bit.
Then following on from that, I thought it would be funny to write a bit of a bait-and-switch continuation from Shizune's route, like a quick romantic moment followed by a completely serious nasuverse style fight which would of course leave the deaf heroine completely out of her depth. Of course, this was intended for the KS forums first - here it's kind of obvious the bait and switch is coming, due to the crossover designation.
After I got into it a little, I realised I wanted to really get into the romantic part to make the switch a bit more jarring, which nearly ruined me – I'm a cynic, so I have no head for those things. Needless to say, it was a good learning experience. After that a light hearted poke at combining bits of the nasuverse with Hisao's personality down the Shizune route didn't seem that hard.
Anyways, I hope everyone enjoyed this bit of fun :)