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Current time: 12:00AM
Under the dark awnings of an abandoned train station in the outskirts of the city, amidst the pitter-patter of heavy rain, two groups meet.
One is a short, gray-haired woman dressed in discreet black clothing, flanked by a dozen burly men in suits, as still as statues.
The other, a single blond woman in a fanciful white dress with a purple tabard, holding a parasol despite the weather, alongside a wheelchair-bound man with balding white hair.
“I might ask why you find the need to travel here personally.” The tall blonde asks as she examines the trunk the shorter one is towing. “These are dangerous times.”
The old woman chuckles, “Hardly dangerous. And it would not do for the prized swords of yore, of so much import that the public still believes of their fantastical nature despite hidden right under their feet in the Tower of London, to be delivered in such an impersonal manner.”
“As expected. But I dare say.” The blonde leans close and grins, revealing her rows of sharp teeth and prompting the guards to break out their pistols and take aim. “You are more concerned of how the recipient of the weapons is behaving, correct? Primrose?”
“Ah, would you not worry about how your scions are doing? Violet dear? You would say so too, correct, wizened engineer?” Primrose smiles, and looks at the man. The man stirs, and mutters something in German with an irritated tone.
“Please, do not trouble this old fellow. At least, try to help his mind stay intact until he can witness his creation’s true potential.” Violet says, annoyed, as she opens the trunk, revealing a rack of swords, lavishly bejeweled and carved, but all rusted and worn-looking.
“So. Hunks of old metal?” She sighs.
“One of these hunks of old metal, ohoho.” Primrose chuckles as she kneels down and fingers them. “Arondight...Courtain...Galatine...Caladbolg...Excalibur, ohoho,” She pauses as she lays a hand on the least rusty of them, “A weapon fit for an English king, and only wieldable by one.”
Violet sighs, “It wouldn’t be of help. Unless an old queen like you would wish to rush into combat.”
“No, not against our current foe, and not in the hands of our dearest scion, that monster of Wales, terror of Germania, and demon of the Levant. But this one.” She pulls out the most ornate, and yet the most impractical looking of the lot.”This is what will help.”
“And this is…?”
“The accursed ceremonial blade: Clarent.”
[X] “MEILING, HELP!”
“---they should have remained!”
A spiraling crack of rainbow light spreads from your body and intercepts the runes as they form. The golden runes push forward, only to appear to buckle under their own weight and collapse. Rigel frowns and puts away the tree bark.
“It appears I cannot justify this law in the face of even minor dissent. No matter. Even if I must turn my back to justice and take up arms as a vigilante.” He raises his head, a sword forming in his hand as he speaks. “Take the accursed dragon’s head. Reforged Gram!”
“Like hell you will!” As the rainbow crystals recede, you see Sanae leap forth and up above the paladin, her arms outstretched and projecting a series of divine light-sheathed water projectiles around her fists. “Sea of Opening: Moses’s Mirac--”
“Stay out of this, Sanae Kochiya! ” Rigel roars, “Sacred Onbashira of Yasaka!”
“Wha--” Sanae hesitates just a little too much, enough for the logs to thrust out of the ground and surround her like a massive tepee as she stumbles back earthward. Another shout from Rigel, and a series of iron rings materialize around the logs and shrink, locking the structure into a cage.
“You too, Hakurei Ochiba.” The outsider is stopped in his rush forward by a log sprouting out in front of him. You see that they are in fact growing all around the plaza, forming a towering fence that encloses just Rigel, Kasen, and your group. “I do not wish to engage any more innocents and redeemables in this fight. LIKE SO!” Abruptly. He swings his left arm out, and punches a cannon shell out of the air and into the sky where it detonates harmlessly. “Predictable.”
“Tsk. What a conceited individual.” Awyrgan complains, retracting the 155mm. “Must he really self-aggrandize to that extent?”
“You’re one to talk. By the way, cover me, you probably don’t want to be anywhere near a dragon-slaying blade.”
“You are going to charge forth posing as the main threat, hollow vessel, while the dragon rains fire from the back.” Rigel calls out, somewhat annoyed. “It’s a base tactic that I’ve seen a thousand times.”
“Hey, if it killed so many of your friends like you claim, then I’m not going to fix what isn’t broken. Hew Sign...hmm...” You wetten your burnt, shriveled lips as you think up a cool spell card name on the spot, ”Ah…’Dissection Barrier!’”
No pink light emerges from your body now. Glowing maggots and worms do, boring themselves out of your mummified skin and into the shield generator. A pink, writhing graviton barrier is projected, squirming and writhing as it grows large enough to cover both you and Awyrgan’s crouching form.
The true form of that iron card spell, eh? You wonder with perverted curiosity at what the cards themselves would have looked like without the hilariously powerful glamour that ‘professor’ put on you.
“Predictable”, Rigel scoffs as he tosses aside Gram, and pulls out a polearm instead,“Odin’s Unerring Spear: Gungnir!”
A couple of miles away, Remilia Scarlet staggers and grabs onto a table as the weapon she was leaning on vanishes.
You leap in front of Awyrgan, blocking the tossed spear with your shield. Even as its divine construction breaks apart in your infused graviton shield, you find yourself forced back, the draconic-infused exoskeleton unable to even hold ground against the raw power exerted against you, allowing it to push you back all the way to the edge of the plaza and slamming you against a wall.
No matter. You pull yourself back up and immediately charge back, firing your sidearm while continuously taunting him. “All you’ve got? Even the spear of a chief god not enough?”
“Hmph, the weapons of the wicked...” He deftly steps back to dodge a series of slashing strikes from a fuming dragon girl, dual-wielding the Ohabaris like they are claws...actually, they are growing out of her humanoid knuckles in a grotesque Wolverine-esque pattern. “Divine Shield: Aegis!”
A couple of miles away. Remilia Scarlet squints her eyes in confusion at the spear that reappeared in her hand.
Zeus’s shield blackens as the fragile bronze blades shatter themselves on its Olympian forged construction. Depleted of swords, Awyrgan roars, rears back into her monstrous form, and lets loose with a gout of plasma on Rigel, followed by a barrage of bullets from concealed guns under her scales. He raises the shield, projecting a glowing barrier that blocks the entire series of attacks as it slowly fades away into the aether.
“...Are not easily obtained, as they are destroyed long before they can damage civilization. Unlike you and your defiled tools. The likes of you, concentrated beings of evil, know not of love, or of hope. Fortunately...Juuchi Yosamu! Wretched Sword of Blood!”
A black-colored katana appears in his hand. Off in the sidelines, you notice that Ochiba is checking an empty scabbard. Stepping forth in a flash, he makes a diagonal cut at you, which you duck away from.
A spray of foul-smelling, lukewarm blood splashes on your face. You look down and see that your throat has been cut, despite the blade missing you by over a meter. Rainbow colored rocks scab over the “mortal” wound almost immediately (can you even ‘die’ normally at this point from human-tier wounds?), sealing it, but giving a peculiar numbness.
“Using cursed weapons against my spawn. Clever.” Meiling taunts through your mouth, “Not clever enough though.”
You feel your flesh and bones being stretched to their limit as the rainbow strings puppeting your body rears you up into a fighting stance. “Discord Sign: ‘Rainbow Schism’ ”
Slamming your foot into the ground, shattering your bones before putting them back together with crystalline fractures. A massive wave of sharp rainbow crystals spreads forth, forcing Awyrgan to leap back and Rigel to...ignore it completely. The crystals break off his armor like nothing.
You now notice something that, judging by their fearful expressions, Kasen and the others have already figured out. Rigel hasn’t taken any damage during this fight, not even minor scratches or dents on his shining armor. Even dragonfire and anti-divine rounds have failed to trouble this hero.
“An evil spirit possessing a corpse...familiar.” Rigel grunts as a hammer slowly materializes into his right hand, a similar one to the ones Castor threw at you. “And a minor god of calamity, eh? Appropriate. Let’s see if you can face this one! Purge the evil spirits with thy lightning! Mjolnir!”
“Castor Pyrus is fond of that weapon, wasn’t he?” You loudly ask as Awyrgan slithers in front of you, deflecting the thrown weapon with yet another cursed blade.
“Aye!” Rigel heartedly replies, some of his earlier mirth returning as the battle drags on. “Now if you would just let the Pyruses go...” The returning hammer catches Awyrgan off guard, knocking her on the head and flooring the dragon with the impact. Before you can react, a frightening crackling sound booms from heaven, and a bolt of lightning strikes her as she tries to push herself up. From a cloudless night sky. Somehow.
Hovering a safe distance away from the fight, a particular celestial oarfish reddens with jealousy as she feels her hair and fins stand on end at the energy dispensed.
“Awyri!” You scramble over to her head, “Are you okay?”
“Tis...nothing...” She grits out. “What...what sort of devilry art thou employing to summon so much weaponry of yore, red-haired tyrant?”
“The Lux has seen to grant me the power of Dominion, foul dragon. Which means.” He declares to the observing Gensokyeans as he cycles through multiple weapons in his hands, “I can borrow anything of mankind’s virtues as needed to deal with the threat at hand. Weapons, magic, even lesser gods” He smiles apologetically at a seething Sanae, “...must answer my call.”
“Aha!” You see Marisa slide down the curved roof to yell, a somewhat more smug than usual expression on her face, “Sanae, Ming, you dumb tank, I got him.”
“Hmm?” Sanae stops pounding on the barrier, “What do you mean, Marisa?”
“Kourin collects lots of rare items and tools that float in, an’ he collects lore on everything he doesn’t. Norse items are hard to find all the way here in Japan, but he told me about the famous ones before and how to spot them. Mjolnir, the one Mr. Rigel just used, is a blessed short-handled hammer that always returns to its user. Kinda like your gohei, Sanae.”
“Oh! You are a knowledgeable one, Miss Kirisame!” Rigel laughs, “Indeed, it is one of my most favorite tools, as the wise Lux saw fit to grant me dominion over.”
“You’re lying.” Marisa says, the smug grin growing wider, “If the Lux blessed you with dominion over the world, that tool is not something that was part of the gift. For you forgot, perhaps from overuse, that Mjolnir does NOT have the power to summon lightning.”
“But it does?” You ask, “I mean, even modern depictions...”
“No, Ming, Marisa’s right.” Sanae interrupts, cold realization dawning on her face, “The comic book version of Mjolnir is not the original. It never had any power but sure-hit and returning, along with its usual divine abilities to banish evil spirits.”
Rigel shakes his head and crosses his arms as Sanae turns to him, “Red hair, full beard, angular runes...you’re not just some randomly chosen human champion, Rigel, or should I say...Thor!”
In front of your eyes, the golden armor on “Rigel” sloughs away, no more than a gilded facade. Thick animal furs and bits of chainmail take its place, and not nearly to the extent that the fake armor implied. Most of the previous volume is instead filled up with muscle mass more appropriate for a Renaissance statue than a regular man.
Muscle mass that cursed bullets and blades are bouncing off of, not to mention high calibur magic.
Also he’s wearing a black t-shirt underneath with something you can’t read. Judging by the lettering and design though, it looks like Swedish, and probably metal band merch. Kind of gives his getup a more modern flair.
“Tsk,” Thor chuckles as he removes the knight-esque helmet and shakes his long, braided hair loose “it was always Father that was more skilled at disguising. Perhaps a bridal veil would have served my purpose better.”
“Shouldn’t Gotterdammerung have killed you by now?” Meiling asks through your mouth as you watch him appear to grow another two feet in stature. “I’m not seeing a lot of you Norse folk around since the Christians got to you.”
“Why are you under the impression that Ragnarok had finished, O’ lesser kin of Jormungandr?” He questions as he drops the hammer onto the ground, causing you to wince as you see the ground crater. “Aye, the Roman wolf in sheep’s clothing have burnt our lands and invaded our homes in the name of their Christ. But even it, at least, loved humanity.”
“You know. I don’t get your point. What exactly is Clear Sky doing that makes you so angry about it, Thor?” You rub your milky eyes as you ask, exhaustion taking its toll. “If anything, everything’s going along pretty well here, and from what I can tell they’re making strides to even eliminate the ethical dilemma of human flesh. People are dying to live here, you doddering god. Can you look at the world and say that what Gensokyo stands for is worse?”
“Yes. It is worse.” He replies without a bit of hesitation, a noticeably thick Nordic accent creeping into his previously immaculate Japanese, “Regardless of how gray the future may be. Regardless of the flaws, the wars, the cruelty that humans may exhibit...it’s all preferable to a world where they are extinct.”
A deafening wave of silence falls upon the plaza at his proclamation as all those present, including you, are taken aback. Extinction of humanity?
“And I am supposed to believe that our society, which depends on humans for faith and fear, is supposed to advocate for their extinction?” Aya pipes up from her aerial vantage point, having been one of the few tengu brave or foolish enough to stick around after Thor started throwing lethal magic around.
“You fools. Don’t you see?” Thor shouts, clouds gathering in the sky as his volume rises, “What do you think this garden is, but a testbed for a world without humanity? Look at the so-called ‘Human’ Village, do they actually resemble any people you see outside your garden, you accursed winged fiend?”
“Weird colored hair. Sharper teeth. Enhanced speed and magical potential. Oh my god, Thor.” You clasp a hand to your mouth in mocking terror, “They’re turning into anime characters! Clearly a fate worse than death.”
He ignores your comment and continues talking to Aya, “There are no humans left in this garden. No human will allow others of their kind to be devoured by monsters with such passivity. No human will stand idle as giants and monsters pervert the world to their design. It is dead within these walls, and the Violet Tyrant, your...Yukari, seeks to render the entire planet to her will in this way, a savage, monstrous place where the flame of humanity, of community, of fellowship...are snuffed out.”
“So, literally no different than the current world by your words? OH SHI--” You are interrupted by Thor’s hammer closing in on your face in a swing, crackling with lightning and backed up by mountain shattering strength. You just barely manage to dodge and drift off the shockwave and are only thrown back all the way across the plaza.
“Disgusting fiend.” He snarls in sudden anger and, to your horror, grabs the half-conscious Awyrgan by the neck with one hand, and with physics-defying strength (and weight distribution) he swings her around once and hurls the thirty metric ton dragon at you. Rainbow strings tug on your muscles, threatening to tear them apart, as you strain the exoskeleton in the effort to clear the distance. Ripped up stone tiles and broken tables ricochet off of her path as Awyrgan painfully slams into the ground, half-sunken. “If you are to speak, make a valid point, not another one of your inane ramblings.”
“How am I wrong?” You complain, wiping stale blood from your face as you run to heal your friend, the result of a stray fragment of rock hitting you in an exposed area, “Am I supposed to believe that modern humanity--a heady stew of pointless violence, meaningless ideology, and unsustainable pollution, is a culture worth conserving?”
“You cannot name one thing in humanity you think is worth keeping?”
“Look Thor. If there is anything good in humanity, youkai...or whatever you call the non-human folk...they have it too. Because let’s be fucking honest here, youkai are the result of human imagination, so they can’t stray too far off from the base material. So what if we all become hybrids or whatnot? There’s nothing lost.”
“Hmph, you sound like the Violet Tyrant herself, who stated that...”
“...Humanity has remained in a degenerate state for millenia. Which is why I must act.” The tall blonde states in a rather matter-of-fact way.
“Now that’s a harsh statement to make, dear.” Primrose chuckles as the train from nowhere pulls up in the station. “Surely our progress from dirt to concrete has some meaning? Yukari Yakumo?”
“It would, your majesty, if they truly improved themselves beyond their tools. Dozens of millenia ago, humans beat each other to death with rocks over food and mates. Now, they do the same with guns.” Yukari sullenly states as the train stops completely and opens its doors. She enters first, with the old woman and her silent entourage following behind. “In the English language, why is it that the word ‘utopia’ carries the double-meaning of ‘ideal’ and ‘impossible’? Why are only negative facts referred to as ‘facts of life’? Despite living in a world with infinite possibilities, why do human will always choose the nastiest, most brutish and shortest way to solve problems?”
“Because that is the way the world runs...without your witchery, of course.” Primrose says,, finding a comfortable seat in a booth. “The question you are implying, is why humans cannot overcome that?”
“The answer is that humans dare not think of a better state. The pragmatic always triumphs over the naive, and the scheme over the dream. ”
“And the alternative you are offering to solve this obstacle?”
“Restructure it all, destroy the idols, the poisonous ideals and institutions that plagued humanity for its entire history. Allow magic, mystery, monsters to roam wild once more, without the ignorance that coated human eyes during that time. Allow nature to share the burden of civilization and industry, so life can prosper without want. For satisfaction to replace ambition, faith, envy...”
“All things that drove humanity’s growth.”
“And all things that leads to its suffering.” Yukari smiles, “Lives will only improve, the only thing that truly changes, is who’s calling the shots, and for 99% of people...is it really any different?”
“...and thus a complacent humanity will be cast down into the shadows. Sidelined, irrelevant until they are bred into an amorphous mass with the monsters of the world. The entity known as humanity will disappear with nary a whimper. Forever.”
“Once again, ‘Wow, how terrible!” You snark as you surreptitiously heal Awyrgan with your non-gesticulating hand, ”A species of hairless apes got improved to be slightly less shitty!’ Is there any loss not predated on sentimental bullshit?”
“You all hear that? The Null Fiend states that there is no value to human essence. That it’s just a weakness to be thrown away. That the struggles, accomplishments, and culture of mankind is just trash...”
You feel a powerful hand clasp around your mouth, “Ming. Shut up.” It’s Kasen who speaks up this time, in a cold whisper, “Stop making this situation worse than it already is.”
“Ha...Ha ha ha, Oh Miss Ibaraki, you have no idea. So...Mr. Hakurei, are you still convinced that you are on the right side?”
The outsider unsheathes his (reobtained) swords, “I am responsible for the safety of Gensokyo. As long as I’m alive, I can’t go against that law. However,” He adds as he looks straight at you, “I kind of see why Reimu would not extend this protection to outsiders.”
Thor grimaces, “You mean...”
“If these demons die, would you leave? Yukari is not inside Gensokyo. If you defeat her, then mankind will live on, right?”
“You misunderstand the Violet Tyrant. She is not a human, or even a monster. She is a wicked, unrelenting force of corruption that infests the world not just through magic, but through the veins of society! Even if she is somehow killed, the monster will revive, fulfilling her goals through her organizations and intrigues, of which the very heart of it is Gensokyo....”
“...And you are not worried about yourself? These seem like awfully determined enemies, what if I was a Manchurian candidate, hmm?”
A dismissive harumph, “You underestimate my abilities, your majesty. I am not so easily ruined if my body is destroyed. Frankly, no youkai is. You will find that my ideas, my essence, are a bit more stubborn than most.”
The train begins to move, and the rain-soaked exterior of Mumbai disappears into darkness. The train is moving in a hazy dimension now, one of distant, peering eyes and a roiling, lurid purpleness.
“Knowledge. Or rather, the ideals of knowledge. The wonderment, enrapturement, and joy that comes from the realizations of the impossible. The discovery and control of boundaries between the real and fantasy, to be specific...a process that is activating as we speak, perhaps pre-maturely, but necessary...”
The void briefly parts, revealing a burning village. Soldiers bearing Myanmar insignia are fleeing from the scene, as a massive snake with the torso of a human emerges from amidst the houses, bullets bouncing off its scaly hide.
“For as civilization spread, the old myths that brought darkness upon human souls must fade, and rest in the few niches of true nature.”
The village and naga fades, and now they are passing through a large Chinese city. People wearing rainbow sashes and wielding torches are marching upon police precincts and government facilities...including the very officers and officials supposed to be manning them. Some of them are sprouting fangs and scales.
“But when after a long slumber, they shall emerge, no longer cloaked in the darkness of ignorance, but heralding a new dawn.”
The train slows down as it enters into a cavernous underground staging area. The Violet steps out, followed by the Queen. Some of the soldiers idly about recognizes the new arrival, and snap into rigid salutes almost by instinct.
“I see you’ve taken advantage of our former troops as well.” The Queen mutters as she returns the salutes.
“They merely saw the knowledge, the light of a new future.”
One of the Queen’s bodyguards yelps and levels his gun at the spider drone that crept up behind him, lowering it when he notices the half-dead, half-living thing nuzzling his leg with its head. Out of one of the adjacent storage bays, a Typhoon fighter jet crawls out on its wings and landing gear, snarling and snapping its nose open and shut at the hunks of meat some warriors are tossing at it. The Queen notes that the label on above the bay entrance reads “Bronze Wing Prototype Roosts”.
“A queer future, I say.”
“Indeed, but it is a better world, one which sprung from mine creation, the Garden...”
“...a wellspring to fuel her misbegotten nightmare of a future!”
Ochiba shakes his head, and levels a blade to both sides, “Both of you pose a threat to this land, and to my cousin. I can’t let you do this.”
“Tsk. Maybe I thought wrong of you.” You remark.
He ignores you.
Thor dispels his hammer, and retrieves the parchment again. “That can be arranged, but first you do agree that these demons must be expunged?”
“OCHIBA YOU TRAITOROUS---”
“No, Sanae. He’s right. About me, at least.” You set aside your shield and open your arms, “Come at me, ignore the others. I am the one you want, right Thor?”
A smile forms on the god’s face. In a flash of lightning, he rushes up before you can react, and hurls you and Awyrgan high into the sky, one with each hand. The air rushes past in a deafening roar you as the shock prevents you from air braking with your artificial wings. By the time you can react, you and Awyrgan have already reached the height where Youkai Mountain is but a patch of light in the distance.
“Then don’t take it back when I go all out, Hakurei!” Thor’s voice booms as the thunder in the skies, “Enduring Stockpile: B61!”
Down below amongst the spectators, Reiuji Utsuho feels a sudden pain in her chest. As a result, she doesn’t really notice everyone else moving away, in a justified mass panic, from the area, until the plaza is completely vacated.
All the way across the world, a series of blaring alarms send a particular missile silo’s occupants into a panicked frenzy. “Broken Arrow! Broken Arrow!”
You can barely see the bomb moving towards you, hurled by the might of a Norse Aesir. You can however, notice the massive threat blob that almost dwarfs Thor’s own doing so. Closing your eyes, you activate the shield and grab ahold of the now-shrunken dragon, hoping for the best.
The nuke detonates in a brief flash of light, then...nothing.
“Hmm?” You see the bomb sailing past you, cracked but not destroyed, its surface covered by a mess of talismans and seals. A green blob, almost as large as Rigel’s own, enters the immediate area.
A soft wind heralds the arrival of the red and white butterfly. Her form is dangling with torn ropes, broken fabric seals, and a defeated-looking Mima. With a brief wave of her arm, layers upon layers of barriers form around the warhead, until it resembles a bubble wrap of faintly glowing divine magic.”
Which explodes in a blinding flash of light and an earth-shaking sound, causing your visor to shutdown briefly and for Awyrgan to roar and squirm in discomfort. When the HUD flickers back to life, you see that everything is mostly intact...save for the massive crater in the Tengu Village plaza that’s emitting a ton of radioactive smoke.
“I missed.” Reimu...that’s not Reimu’s voice, but it’s coming out of her mouth. A rumbling, emotionless tone, “Recalibrating.”
“And so the true opponent has arrived.” Thor shouts, “Good, let’s end this quickly before any more needless suffering should occur.”
“Incident mastermind, seen. I shall start sealing him. Thank you for your prior generosity, Wu Ming.”
“Thor! Son of Odin!” Reimu cries out as she flies straight down, dodging deftly pass a hail of divine arrows and gunfire as you follow her from a safe horizontal distance away, Awyrgan in tow. “You are a trespasser on these lands. Leave!”
Mima limply falls off of Reimu as the shrine maiden turns into a furious comet. Sending out your Fishing Line, you swiftly reel her out of the barrage that Thor is sending up.
“Thanks….oh, it’s you.” She weakly murmurs upon reaching the ground. The former plaza is all but deserted, with all previous spectators having fucked off when the nuclear warhead that’s not called Utsuho showed up. Sanae has broken free and is collapsed near a burnt building. Marisa is still hovering around, though more out of shock and concern than curiosity. Kasen is standing right on the edge of the hole, unconcerned of the radiation.
You crack open the Eientei medikit and apply one of the yellow patches.
In the middle of the crater is a glowing nimbus of divine energy. Gohei and hammer struggle towards each other, each blocked by a katana.
“Stop this! My cousin...”
“I’m not your cousin, idiot!” Reimu’s normal voice pops back for a second, before returning to the previous rumbling one, “ ‘Hakurei’ Ochiba, if you do not stand out of my way, you will be eliminated just like this invading god.”
“My boy, are you really going to defend this embodiment of human extinction?”
“Both of you! Quiet!” He shouts in sudden anger and slashes, sending both of the opponents back. “Neither of you know what’s true! Or what’s right thing to do?”
“And you do, you false relative? Tell us then.”
“Come on boy. Share your thoughts.”