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Archive for July, 2016

Fanfic Recommendation 47

My Fanfics :

Calling Card 4

Calling Card 5

Tiger & Might 3


Fanfics that I have found interesting and have recently been updated:

Ashes of the Past 183 –  186

A Pokemon Fanfic

Summary: Time travel, based on the Anime.  So, the world ended. That’s bad news. Who best to get to fix it? Well, there is this guy with a track record in world saving…  Not entirely serious. T rating may be overdoing it.

Poké Wars: The Truculence 10 (Complete)

A Pokemon Fanfic

Summary: Sometimes I wonder why I try so hard to stay alive? In a way I’ve lost so much to get the power to survive, to conquer. And for what? So I can stave it off another day? And yet there’s a part of me that’s dead now. What’s left of me tells me that’s good. That part was weak, and now I’m stronger without it. So do I ever wish Pokemon were normal again? Is it wrong I want to say never

Team 7 Ascension: Line in the Sand 11 – 15

A Naruto Fanfic

Summary: After rescuing Kakashi, Team Seven thought things would be looking up. But life’s never quite that simple, and lines in the sand don’t hold for long when a squall comes along. The world rushing over the precipice of sanity, vigorously at that, doesn’t make it any easier. [Sequel to Blood Wings]

From Fake Dreams 44

A FSN Fanfic

Summary: Emiya Kiritsugu was happy living the rest of his short days. He had put his past behind him… until he began to dream of futures that had yet to be. Let it be known that the Magus Killer was not dangerous simply because he was dying and had no plans to fight.

The Trinity – Book 7, Interlude 3

A FSN / Harry Potter Fanfic

Summary: A retelling of Harry Potter books with the titular character, alongside two other ones readers didn’t really care about, being replaced by three characters (Shirou EMIYA Archer, now known as Shirou von Einzbern; Takara Aozaki Daughter of Shiki and Ciel Aozaki from Tsukihime, with her name unchanged; Jester, with his name becoming Galen Salvatore) from one of his earlier works. With Neville Longbottom being the one of whom the prophecy speaks after an infant Harry Potter’s death at the hands of Lord Voldemort, they are trying to fix what is left of the world they knew from books and movies, to have a place to live.

Welcome Home

A Darkest Dungeon Fanfic

Summary: Eldritch horrors and evil men may abound, but in the shadow of the Darkest Dungeon, they are hardly the most dangerous beings to walk this land. Who can anyone trust in this tainted realm?

A Change of Pace: 4.6

A Worm/ Dishonored Fanfiction

Summary: When Taylor went into the locker, she drew the attention of two beings. One offered an absent thought, and a broken tool that wasn’t even meant for her.  The other took a more personal approach.

Intrepid: 12-07 – 12-09

A Worm Fanfiction

Summary: In the wake of the Locker Incident, Taylor goes comatose. Wracked with guilt, Emma and Madison trigger. Things spiral from there as they quickly go different routes, both seeking redemption in a different way.

A Cloudy Path 18.2 – 19-1 Interlude 

A Worm / Supreme Commander Fanfiction

Summary: Frustrated with her school life, Taylor Hebert dons an unfinished costume and goes off into the night to fight crime as a superhero. She stumbles across an infamous crime lord, Lung, talking about killing some kids. Taylor decides she has no choice but to act……and Lung kicks her ass.Not because she’s weak. Far from it. Taylor Hebert is hamstrung by being a moral person with an exceptionally lethal power set, one with horrifying and even potentially global implications.

…Fucking Tinkers: 5.I – Kirito Interlude (Alternative Reading Site)

A Worm x SAO Fanfiction

Summary: After the Golden Dawn, Taylor wakes up in a digital world without any clue as to how she got there after Contessa put two rounds into the back of her head. Initially believing it to be a prison made by a Tinker, she soon learned she was in the world of Aincrad and was now a part of the trapped player base in Sword Art Online. But the Death Game takes a drastic change from canon as the Queen Administrator Shard begins to influence Cardinal, and things quickly escalate beyond its creator’s control.

A Show of Force 2.6  (Alternative Reading Site)

A Worm Fanfiction

Summary: In a world where Eden managed to land safely, Emma Barnes seeks strength to put Taylor in her place as she triggers with Oni Lee’s power. Enter Wyrm.

Legacy. August 3

A Worm Fanfiction

Summary: Sequel to Wake and Cenotaph with Taylor as an independent Rogue/Vigilante.

Hunter: PRT (13) – PRT (14)

A Worm/ Bloodborne Fanfiction

Summary: Taylor becomes a Hunter and stalks the streets of Brockton Bay every full moon. Gangsters beware, and let all Fear the Old Blood.

Moon

A Worm/ Bloodborne Fanfiction

Summary: Arriving in an abandoned workshop, Taylor begins her transition to becoming a hunter in Brockton Bay.

The Bug-Type Queen: 3.3 – 3.A

A Worm / Pokemon Fanfiction

Summary: Taylor Hebert gets sent to the pokemon world by Bakuda’s bombs with her powers intact.  Yes, she does connect with bug-types. You may run now.

PRIMAL 1.3 – Interlude: Rune

A Worm x FFXIV Fanfiction

Summary: Taylor Hebert is a girl with myriad problems. Fore amongst these being that circumstances have conspired to not grant her powers during her darkest moment in a certain locker. Bereft of an escape from real life or of distraction from her pain, she begins to give up hope. But sometimes hope and power come from unlikely sources. Sources that may just have a reason for bestowing the might of Gods upon a mortal.

With the Ring: Triumph of Will – A Star Reborn Part 3 (Tv Tropes Page)

A Young Justice Fanfic

Summary: An SI with an Orange Ring ends up in the Young Justice Universe and seeks to advance humanity through advance technology and magic.

Digimon Trinity 70 – 74

A Digimon Fanfic

Summary: The War is over, or so it is thought. For the Digidestined, life goes on, but with digimon emerging once more into the real world, the world will change once more. Divided they fall, but a new generation of heroes, the Tamers, will rise to unite against the new threat.

Prytaneum 66 – 67.2

A Percy Jackson x DanMachi Fanfic

Summary: At the end of the Second Titanomachy, Percy found Hope to be in short supply. With Kronos unstopped, his friends dead or dying, and the gods falling one by one, it was hard to believe they still had a chance. But when Hestia sacrifices herself to give him ‘Hope’, there’s no reason not to take it, even if it costs him his life. But when he awakens… Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?/Percy Jackson and the Olympians crossover


Image

July 2016 Sugar Bits Update 4

Read the rest of the comics at Snafu-Comics – See more at: http://snafu-comics.com/swmcomic/sour-desserts/#sthash.bje4DaZs.dpuf


Tiger & Might – Chapter 3

Tiger & Might – Chapter 3: Keep it Going

******

“Izuku-kun, your grades are slipping,” Mister Kaburagi said from his perch on the rooftop of a two-story building. It was a month into their training at this point. After weeks spent going through different stamina-building and strength-building exercises, the veteran hero brought him here and told him his objective was to reach the top.

Given his advanced age, Mister Kaburagi had used his grappling-hook wrist-watch to get that high. But Izuku didn’t have that luxury. He had to use his own two hands and feet.

“Ah, I’ve been busy trying to work on reorganizing my notes on heroes and villains,” he said. The notebooks he had complied didn’t have a specific order to them so he had to transfer the information he had on them onto individual sheets and place them in expanding file folders. He had roughly six of them at the moment, with the majority being dedicated to heroes and only one being dedicated to villains. Between that, spending his nights doing research, and waking early to get in an early morning workout, his grades may have slipped a few points.

“That may be the case, but you still need to keep your grades up,” Mister Kaburagi said. “As things stand, if you get into the Hero Courses without a Quirk at U.A. you’ll be setting a precedence for those who come after you. Everything you do will reflect on that, so you need to set high standards and live up to them.”

“Okay,” Izuku said, thoughts briefly contemplating his time-table. He would have to squeeze in the time spent studying somehow.

“And don’t try and rush climbing up here,” the veteran hero added. “You’ve already tried four times and you’re getting tired and sore with every failure. Take a moment to assess the situation and consider your body’s current condition before trying again.”

Izuku did that while wiping the sweat from his brow with the sleeve of his track-suit. Standing at two-stories high, the brick-laden structure had a sign on the outside that marked it as once being a corner-store that had fallen into ruin. It was rectangular lengthwise, with eight windows divided into two rows and four columns, with a decorative band made of stone between them above the doorway. The upper windows had decorative hoods on top, feeding into water tables that were maybe two inches outwards, and the sills were inwards rather than outwards by three or so inches.

His body was sore somewhat from failed attempts, a few falls that he rolled out of safely, but his muscles still ached. It would limit the movement he could make and how long they would last under stress to only seconds at best before they gave out. Taking all that into consideration, he took a deep breath and just visualized how he could go through with climbing it safely.

It played out in front of his eyes like a simulation, each attempt and failure taking into account his limitations. The revelation made him grimace as he looked down to his fingers, where some of the flesh had been scraped against the concrete and brick. They tightened into a fist. As things stood, he wouldn’t be able to climb the building no matter how hard he tried. He was too tired and his body needed to rest.

“I won’t be able to scale it before it gets dark,” he admitted. “The muscles in my hands are too worn out to support my own weight.”

Mister Kaburagi looked up to the sky for a moment in thought before leaping over the edge. The line attached to his wire went taut and then gradually lowered him until he touched down. He then pressed a button on the watch and the line detached from the building and retracted into itself.

“That’s a good call,” he said. “In your current state, there was only one way you would have made it.”

Izuku frowned. He’d spent minutes just now going over every conceivable way he could climb the building with his own two and hands and feet. “How?”

The older man grinned slightly. “By using the fire escape on the back of the building, of course. I didn’t restrict you to climbing just the front, now did I? I only said your objective was to get to the top and you jumped straight into it the first way you saw that you could.”

Izuku’s shoulders went slack at that. He should’ve checked the rear of the building as well. “That… was a mistake on my part.”

“You weren’t wrong in how you approached it,” he assured him. “Had your body been at its strongest and you had more experience in climbing, you would have gotten up there in seconds at best. It is experience through failure and success alike that builds on the foundation and keeps pushing you into going higher and higher. Take into account your mistakes and the obstacles you faced for the next time, and you’ll become a better hero for it.”

Izuku thought about what experience he gained through this failure in particular. He supposed the points where his body was the sorest were the ones that needed the most improvement. And he learned how to assess his condition, so that was a positive as well.

Mister Kaburagi stretched his aged arms and sighed. “For now, let’s call it a day. I have to leave for one of my granddaughters’ performances in a few hours or my daughter will be upset.”

******

Karina sighed as she stood outside the Todoroki Manor, a traditional Japanese structure that stood separate from the surrounding buildings. It was a magnificent place in the grand scheme of things. At one point she thought it was perfect for raising her grandchildren, only for her to realize too late that this beautiful place was owned by a man whose ambition cast a shadow over everything around it.

She strode forward towards the entrance and knocked on the door. It opened seconds later to reveal her eldest granddaughter, Fuyumi. She was a diligent girl who loved music as much as Karina, a contrast to how her mother was at that age.

Fuyumi was dressed to attend the performance as well, her white hair with streaks of black in a short ponytail while wearing a white dress-shirt and black pants. However, Karina noticed the concern in her eyes behind her glasses and the way her lips were turned up slightly in worry. “What’s wrong?”

“It’s Shouto. Dad just finished training with him in the Training Hall before he left a few minutes ago, but—” Her words fell on deaf ears since Karina had already stepped inside and left her heels by the door, heading down the hallway to the Training Hall. Fuyumi followed after her.

The moment she opened the door, a wind bellowed out from the room that was covered in ice. Shouto was on the ground, back against the wall to remain upright, panting and shivering. The stubborn boy wasn’t using the other-half of his power, and unlike her or her other grandchildren, his resistance to the cold was weaker because he had his pyrokinetic ability to compensate and warm him up.

Karina stepped foot on the ice that crackled under her weight, only for her youngest grandson to scream in panicked alarm and then raise his hand while he shone with a thin cerulean glow. The luminescent glow of her powers as a NEXT kicked in and she met his wedge of ice with a bulwark that caused them both to shatter with a surprising amount of force. The crashing of ice and resulting spray of frost left her staggering back a few steps as she used her arms to prevent any stray fragments from hitting her or Fuyumi, who let out a short cry of surprise.

When it settled, Shouto was struggling to his feet and had returned to his senses. Recognition and regret quickly covered his trembling face as he belatedly took notice of who it was he attacked. “Gr-Grandmother, I—”

“Warm yourself up this instant,” she ordered as she walked in the room towards him. “Honestly, it’s one thing to spite your fool of a father, but to leave yourself in a condition where you can’t even recognize us is simply shameful.”

He looked away and released a haze of heat from the pores on the left side of his body, warming the air around him. The shivering stopped as the ice around him began to run, pooling on the floor around him as he rose to his feet and formally bowed to apologize. “I’m sorry. I thought you were him.”

“I figured as much.” She huffed as she looked around the room. The ice was thick and layered. “How long have you been in here training?”

He looked up towards the clock on the wall to see where the hands were frozen in place.  “About six hours.”

“Six hours is too long for a boy of your age to be training without rest.” Her tone grew softer as she brought her hands to his head and brushed his hair out of his eyes so that she could look into them. “You know you don’t have to try and be a hero if you don’t want to. You and Fuyumi can come live with me if you want. I don’t care what those lawyers say.”

Shouto looked down as he slowly shook his head. “I don’t want to cause you anymore trouble. Besides, I need to be stronger to become a hero like All Might and you were. I’ll do it with just the power that I inherited from you, without using the power I got from him.”

Her lips pursed. She… well, she wasn’t proud of her early work as a hero. Who would be when one of the things they were famous for was ‘Cutie Escape?’ Back then she felt like glorified model, wearing that revealing outfit when everyone else was bulletproof in some aspect. Thank goodness heroes these days had more practical outfits and the sponsor companies had less of a say in what they wore.

“That’s fine, but don’t put yourself in that sort of condition again,” she told him. “…You’re as stubborn as your mother was around that age.”

Her daughter had been rebellious when she was younger, likely because Karina hadn’t been there as much as she should have. Her career as a respectable pianist and musician left her traveling a lot after her old home fell. Perhaps if she had been around more, her daughter would have had better taste in men?

Then again, Todoroki had even her fooled when they first met. He seemed like a respectable sort of man back when she was introduced to him, but either he changed over the years or he had always been the sort who coveted glory above all else and hid it well. By the time Karina understood everything, it was too late.

She huffed as she made her decision. “You’re coming with Fuyumi and me to my star pupil’s performance and then dinner afterwards. The more time you two spend away from here and your father, the better it will be.”

******

Kotetsu sighed as he stepped out of the passenger’s seat of his daughter’s car, having ridden in it with his daughter to the performance hall. The formal clothes he wore felt tight on his aged body as he stretched out his arms and legs to remove the stiffness. He would have preferred more casual clothes, but Kaede had insisted that he wear it because she wanted the family to fully support Tomoe while her father was away.

Kaede herself stepped out of the door on the opposite side and compulsively ran her hands along her clothes to make sure they were neat before looking at the performance hall. A small smile came across her face, no doubt feeling a sense of pride that one of her children had reached a point where they could stand on a stage and perform for others with pride. It probably reminded her of the time that she herself had been an ice skater, doing the same thing.

Further down the parking lot, two small figures were darting around in a circle while a larger one waved.  Kotetsu had to strain his eyes to make out the details at that distance while Kaede waved towards them and then started walking forward. Once close he could identify that it was his grandson and the twins.

“Mother, you made it,” Masahiro said as they approached, trying futilely to rein in his kids. He was the oldest of Kaede’s children, the firstborn. He then turned to Kotetsu. “Grandfather, it’s been a while. I’m glad to see you’re in good health.”

“There’s no need to worry about me, boy. I’ve got another decade or two in me,” Kotetsu said before one of the twins, Minoru, darted for him and then touched his hand. A second later, the child was covered in a thin shroud of cerulean as he activated Hundred Power.

“That’s not fair!” Minori, the other twin, said as he came to a stop in front of his brother. “We said no powers!”

“Nu-uh!”

“Yes, we did—”

Before they could argue further, Kaede cleared her throat. They turned to see that she was standing there with an annoyed expression and was tapping her foot on the ground. They knew what that meant, having been watched by her enough to know when she was reaching her limit.

“Turn it off,” she said firmly. Minoru immediately stopped shining, signaling he had deactivated his power. Kaede huffed. “I told you two that you should be on your best behavior when we go out, didn’t I?”

“Yes, Grandma,” they said in unison as they settled in for another lecture.

“And what did I tell you about playing with your Great-Grandpa’s powers?”

“Not to because we don’t want to hurt someone by accident.”

Masahiro looked somewhat relieved as he stood next to Kotetsu and watched Kaede continue her lecture to them. “They are quite a handful sometimes. It’s amazing how easily she can reel them in.”

“They’re young and full of energy,” Kotetsu said with a smile. They had no idea how lucky they were to be born in this age compared to when he was a child their age and with his power. Things were nowhere near as peaceful as they were now and, with a majority of the new generation having Quirks or being descended from NEXTs, they rarely got more than a passing glance. “Actually, they remind me of your youngest sister when she was that age actually.”

“Kasumi is like that every time we see her.” Masahiro sighed, massaging his forehead at the thought. “I swear, when she comes over the lawn ends up being torn apart as they play heroes and villains. Doesn’t she know how embarrassing it is to ask our neighbor if I can borrow his Quirk to fix it?”

“You’ve got it tough.” He couldn’t help but chuckle a bit. All of Kaede’s children had inherited her power, but raising them had been a different affair compared to her.

Tomoe was always reserved and often stayed under her mother’s shadow, so she rarely used her power and chose to be an aspiring pianist and student under Karina’s tutelage. Masahiro had been the more troublesome as a boy and got into scraps, but he settled into running a bar like his other Granduncle and had gotten married. Their twins were young and playful with a deviation of their father’s Power Copy ability, allowing Minori to copy Emitter-class powers while Minoru could use Transformation-class powers.

Kasumi was the only one who used her powers to the fullest extent to become a hero and she had been the most… enthusiastic, though for different reasons than Kotetsu. Of course, no sooner than he thought that did the sound of a motorcycle engine reached their collective ears. Kaede stopped her lecture and turned towards the source as the sleek, black bike slowed to a stop and parked opposite of Masahiro.  Pulling off the helmet, Kasumi hung it on the handle as she hopped off the bike.

“Auntie Kasumi!” cried the twins in glee as they ran towards her.

She crouched and gave them a hug. “How are my favorite little troublemakers?”

“Fine,” Minori said. “When will you come visit us again?”

“Did you beat up some new villains?” Minoru asked instead. “Did you get some new powers?”

“Yeah, I got to beat down this guy who could turn himself into stone. It was awesome, but my overseer got mad about the property damage. I’ll tell you more later on when I visit this weekend, I promise.” She rose to her full height and then turned to her mother. “Mom, how’ve you been holding up since I moved out?”

“Just fine.” Kaede held a hand to her cheek and sighed as she looked over her daughter. Kasumi’s hair was done in a ponytail and she wore leather pants with a matching jacket.  “Couldn’t you dress in something more appropriate?”

“I’m not the one of the stage tonight,” Kasumi said, before turning to Kotetsu. “I see she pulled you out of your cave, Gramps. How’ve you been?”

“Good, good,” he said, giving her a hug. “And how’s things for you?”

She grinned. “I’m getting there. Just keep listening out, one of these days Myriad’s going to be a big-name hero.”

Kaede pressed her lips thin but didn’t say anything, having made her peace with the girl’s decision. It had taken a lot of convincing from Kasumi, Kotetsu, and even Karina to get her to agree to let Kasumi follow her own path and attend the hero course of the school closest to where they lived. Now she had graduated and moved out to a location where she could begin working under a more established hero.

“That’s good,” Kotetsu said, moving his head close to her ear to whisper to her. “I may have something to talk to you about later on. Best if your mother doesn’t hear. I don’t want her to worry over me.

Kasumi gave a brief nod before pulling away and then going with them as they walked into the building and towards their seats, where they found Karina and two of her grandchildren. Kasumi grew excited when she saw Fuyumi. “Fuyu!”

“Kasumi, you came too!” Fuyumi stood up in time for Kasumi to give her a hug, with Shouto leaning back to not be caught between them while looking nonplussed. The two had been playmates when they were younger, with Karina bringing Fuyumi along to watch her lessons with Tomoe. Though that was mostly Kasumi dragging her around to go play and get into trouble, they were the oldest of friends and it had been Kasumi who gave her the name she used as a hero and her primary power.

When Kasumi finally broke the hug, she turned to Shouto. “And if it isn’t her little brother. What have you been up to kid?”

“Just training,” he said, turning his head away from her. From a glance, it was clear he wasn’t sure on how to handle Kasumi from the few times that he’d seen them together. But he probably didn’t appreciate being called a kid.

“I brought Shouto-kun because he needs a break,” Karina said. “He was working really hard training to be a hero and needed a night out.”

Kotetsu caught the underlying message. “You’re not working too hard, are you? A boy your age should be enjoying himself.”

“It’s fine,” Shouto said. “I want to carry on Grandmother’s legacy as a hero, so it’s merely another step toward doing that.”

Hearing that, Kotetsu smiled slightly. “There are a lot of ambitious youngsters these days.”

“I could give him some tips,” Kasumi offered, leaning uncomfortably close to him. “I’ll even give them to you for free since you’re Fuyu’s little brother. What do you want to know first?”

“Kasumi, give the boy breathing room,” Kaede said as she took a seat next to the twins, with Masahiro on the end. That way they could keep them both in check and they couldn’t borrow any of the others powers to play around with.

She thrust her lips out in a pout at her mother and then settled down in her seat next to Fuyumi, who she turned her attention towards until the lights dimmed. Tomoe came out along with the other performers for the customary introduction. She would have the fourth performance of the evening, so Kotetsu settled in for a long night while surrounded by his family as silence enveloped the room…

 [-CHAPTER 3 END-]


Calling Card (Psyren x FSN -Nasuverse): Arc 1 – Chapter 5

Chapter 5

Six Months Ago

I stare up at the fluorescent lights and count ceiling tiles of the hospital room to pass the time.

Being stuck here alone is a quiet sort of Hell. But I can’t leave the hospital until they finish monitoring me for any changes in my body after having the albino brat’s heart shoved into me. The memory of the pain that followed makes me clench my bed-sheet and grit my teeth.

My head turns to the tray by my bedside. On it are two slices of apples cut into rabbit-shapes, with one on its side and the other with a tooth-pick in it. Leftovers from when Sakura was here.

The ears are perfectly shaped, like something out of a magazine. She even coated the flesh with a light and sweet glaze that I liked when I was a child. She put a lot of work into them, overstepping her bounds as someone who was sold to the Matou family.

I still remember the day I was told her family sold her to mine, when I came back from my study abroad after the last Holy Grail War. The thought of an outsider in my household, in my world, made me sick. But a part of me felt bad for the girl, having been sold into being a possession of our family by her own. Then again, I expected as much.

I learned early on that there were two types of people in this world: those that were special and those that weren’t. The former stood on top, sacrificing and using those that stood on the bottom to move up in the world. Then you cut them out when they were no longer useful. Zouken taught me that at an early age, which was what happened to my mother.

Yet, I pitied Sakura.

She was supposed to be special, but was then cast out to become something less. The little girl with dull purple eyes and never smiled was meant to be a tool, but that was just so pathetic that I couldn’t stand it.  So, as the heir to the family, I decided to take pity on her and treat her like my sister.

She would never be as special as me, who was to be the heir. But she would be better than everyone else outside of the family. As long as she was loyal, I would never sacrifice her like my grandfather and father did my mother.

Then the truth came out.

Sakura was there to be the true heir, not a failure like me. She knew the entire time and just humored me, laughing behind my back every time I said I would be the heir. I showed her mercy and kindness, treating her like a person rather than the tool to carry on the bloodline she was, and my reward for it was to be mocked.

She deserved to be slapped. To be beaten. To be reminded of her place. So I paid her back for every laugh and taking what was rightfully mine.

And she never fought back. She never claimed it was her right to be the heiress. She just sat there and took it.

At first I thought it was because she knew that she deserved it. The abuse was her atonement for mocking me. If that was the case, maybe I would have forgiven her as long as she served me sincerely. But then Zouken kindly informed me of what it really was:

Pity.

She pitied me. Someone who was sold off by her own family because I wasn’t good enough pitied me. I was so pathetic that someone who lost everything from her old life and was then given away like a tool pitied me.

Things were a blur for a moment after that. I remember yelling, hitting, exposing her pale skin and feeling lust overtake me. A fleeting thought occurred, telling me that if she was mine to use as I pleased then why not do so in every aspect? Then I felt euphoria, an immense satisfaction flooding me to my core as I experienced the pleasure of being a man for the first time.

She didn’t complain. Zouken didn’t chastise me for it. Of course they didn’t. I hadn’t done anything wrong by the standards of the world we lived in. So our roles were set and life continued.

Then Emiya came into the picture.

He was an idiot. He constantly did things that other people didn’t want to, like he was a natural-born servant and enjoyed it. But he was useful, an honest idiot that I felt like I could tolerate compared to other people.

Someone who could never attain happiness outside of helping others was someone would always be willing to do what I ask without question. Someone who wouldn’t usurp me like Sakura did. Someone I could see as a friend and wouldn’t sacrifice like Sakura, before the truth.

Then he turned against me because of Sakura. He couldn’t understand that Sakura was supposed to be mine, a tool to be used in exchange for taking everything away from me as heir to the Matou line. He chose her over me and the thought of those two together filled me with a black flame inside my chest as I watched them.

Then came the Holy Grail War, a chance to prove myself to Zouken as the one who should have been the rightful heir to the family. Sakura not wanting to fight was so pathetic that he surely had to acknowledge me. Plus, if I won, I could have used it to fix my defective body and become a true magus.

That’s all I wanted in the end. To have been a true part of the world I was born into. Like my father, my grandfather, my sister, and… and my friend.

I couldn’t see the strings being pulled behind the curtain because I wanted to be special. And I got played for it… suffered for it…

I shudder as the sensation of worms crawling through my body and bloating my flesh from the grail came to mind. Was that what Sakura felt everyday for the sake of being a magus? If the stupid girl had said something, I would’ve….

No, it wouldn’t have changed anything.

I had lost my ability to feel sympathy for those I saw beneath me a long time ago. It was only because I had been placed into her shoes that I could understand everything she felt, after I regained my sanity. A moment of empathy towards someone who’d experienced years of a similar Hell silently with no one to save her.

Sakura treats me with sympathy after my ordeal, understanding the pain I’ve been through. She could have mocked me or thrown it in my face after everything I’d done to her. But she simply stayed by my side and cared for me.

Like a sister should.

That moment also made me truly realize why Sakura clung to Emiya despite the abuse I put her through for it. Having been stuck in a position where death would have been preferable, I too wanted someone to desperately save me. And though it was Tohsaka who pulled me from the prison that my flesh had become, she’d made it clear that she’d done it for him. Despite the number of times I’d tried to kill him after he sided against me, he still extended his hand by proxy to save me.

Like a friend should.

The only question now was what I should do when I get out of here. How do I face them? What should I aspire to become after losing my chance at being truly special, only to find that it wasn’t worth it in the end?

Knock. Knock. Knock.

The knocking at the door turned my attention away from the ceiling tiles to the door. Through the slit that serves as a window, I can make out a familiar bed of brown hair and matching eyes. It was Ayako.

Once she notices me staring, she opens the door and enters of her own accord. She’s wearing a pink wind-breaker and a pair of jeans, rather than her uniform.

I sit up and turn so that my feet find the floor. “What are you doing here?”

“Sakura mentioned you were in the Hospital, so I thought I would drop in and check on my Vice-Captain.”

“Didn’t you say you were going to expel me from the club?” I distinctly remember that argument before I sent Rider after her. In hindsight, it… may have been going a bit overboard.

A slight pout forms on her face. “Well, you were starting to get out of hand. I had members on the verge of quitting because you were in a bad mood and decided to take it out on them. Unlike last year, we’ve got a shot at the Autumn Tournament and I want us to come home as the champions.”

After the summer of the first year we didn’t have Emiya anymore in the club, after I made a comment on his burn mark. Did she blame me for that too? “If you really want to win then why are you talking to me? You know where Emiya lives.”

She just stares at me for a moment, her lips pursed. Then she steps forward and gets in my face, looking me in the eyes. “Having Emiya back would make it easier, but I want you back in the club more than anything.”

“…Come again?”

“In truth, I’ve been doing some thinking about reorganizing the club since we’ve been doing pretty badly lately. I want your help to whip them into shape by the time I have to step down from the role of Captain and help your sister take the reins. I get the feeling that she’d be a good Captain, but right now she’s the type that stands back and quietly nods rather that assert herself, so it’ll take some time.”

She doesn’t sound like she’s joking. But it doesn’t make sense. “Why me?”

“Because we’re a lot alike, so I feel like I can understand you.” Her eyes look towards the ceiling. “You and I don’t like to lose, but Emiya was always better both of us. I admired and was jealous of him for that, yet he quit so easily that it was hard to believe it really even matter to him. How can someone like that drive others into giving it their all?”

“And you think I can?”

“Yeah, I do. As long as you keep your behavior in check, I think that you’re the only person I can trust to be my Vice-Captain. What do you say?”

I know the Archery Club means a lot to her, so hearing how earnest her words are only serves to make me feel uncomfortable. Of all the people she could place her trust in, I am the last one person she should. Not after everything I’d done to her.

Guilt rears its ugly head for the first time in a long time. “You shouldn’t forgive or trust me so easily. After all, I was the one behind what happened to the students and school. And with you in Shinto—”

Ayako’s response is immediate. She slugs me on the shoulder. The hit isn’t hard enough to do any real damage, but it does draw my attention to her face. She looks upset.

“Jokes like that are in bad taste, Shinji.” She crosses her arms. “You’re a jerk occasionally, but even you aren’t that much of an ass. I mean, could you imagine Emiya or your sister standing by you all the time if that was the case? They must see something good in you, right?”

… No, I am that horrible. Both of Emiya and Sakura know that. Even I’m not sure why they act so cordial to me, but they’ll never forget what I’ve done. Ayako’s so painfully ignorant that it hurts… but I prefer the way she thinks of me, a jerk with a softer side rather than a monster that reveled in whatever power he got.

I want her to be right. I want a second chance to start over, to live a normal life without the desire to be out of the ordinary pushing me to become a monster. A second chance to be the sort of person she thinks I can be, and someone who can face Emiya and Sakura without seeing everything I’ve done written over their faces, even if unsaid by them.

If this was the first step to doing that, then I’d do it. “Fine, I’ll straighten up and help if you really need it.”

Ayako smiles as the golden sunlight pours into the room, becoming a radiant scene that burns itself into my memories. “Looking forward to working with you then, Vice-Captain.”

******

My eyes snap open to find fluorescent lights hanging on the ceiling above. For a moment, I believe I’m back in the hospital room and the last few months have been a dream. That the future I’d seen was nothing more than a nightmare.

“So you’ve awoken then?”

Then I hear a familiar voice and turn my head towards the source. The Student President is sitting down in a chair a few feet ahead of the infirmary bed. His eyes are fixed on a book of some kind.

I sit up and become aware that I’m wearing my club uniform. But there are no signs of rips and tears. I lift my arms to see they’re still in one piece.

He glances up at me. “Mitsuzuri informed me about your abrupt trip to the future and the injuries you sustained. You’re fortunate that I arrived before someone noticed the wounds.”

I hold my head as the visions of that terrible future come flooding back. “So it was real after all?”

“Of course it was.” He closes the book and adjusts his glasses. “You pried where you shouldn’t and were brought into the fold as a result. Whatever your reasons for doing so, you involved yourself in this and the consequences of that are you have seen the future and are now responsible for changing it.”

I want to deny his words about prying, but a brief image flashes in my head at the thought. It’s the memory of that hospital visit from Ayako. The smile she wore when I accepted her terms. It’s stupid that such a simple request and smile moved me enough to make an effort to help her. But I was desperate for a new path to take and she offered me the way.

If Sakura was the hand that supported me, and Shirou was the hand that saved me, then Ayako was the hand meant to guide me towards a second chance—my redemption. So did that mean that this too was a part of what it meant for me to have a second chance? Was it worth it if I got hurt or killed in the process?

… No, it’s not my job to try to sort out that mess that could be set decades into the future for all I knew. I only got involved for one reason and one reason alone, and that wasn’t it. “Where is she? She was with you, wasn’t she?”

“I’ve already treated Mitsuzuri’s injuries and left her behind with Gotou. He had answered his phone while on the way to school and passed out on a sidewalk, so someone called an ambulance and they rushed him to the Hospital. After I had treated him, she remained behind to inform him of the circumstances of his current situation when he wakes.”

He frowns slightly as he looks down at me from over the rim of his glasses. “For the record, I didn’t appreciate your efforts to turn Emiya against me with baseless accusations. Please refrain from doing so again. I have enough on my hands as it is.”

Ah, he must be talking about what I told Emiya this morning. “You shouldn’t have made yourself so suspicious, Mr. President. Besides, you were with her.”

“Regardless, you had no evidence to support that theory. It was fortunate that I managed to cover it up on my way here by saying that she came over to the temple to spar with me this morning and suffered a minor injury that left her unable to attend.”

It would pass somewhat as an excuse. Ayako was the type of person who was into those sorts of things. Being a member of the family that ran the temple, it was natural that he would know some kind of martial arts to go with his attitude as well. In addition, she was also the festival committee chief for the upcoming cultural festival, meaning it wouldn’t be strange for the two to discuss matters in private.

He rises from his chair. “I’m sending word to your sister to escort you home now and informing her that within a few hours you will experience a fever and severe nosebleed that will leave you bedridden for the rest of the day. Don’t mention anything you’ve learned or gone through to her or you’ll risk her getting others involved in this as well. You’ve seen for yourself how unforgiving that world is.”

I don’t need him telling me that. Ayako mentioned that even knowing about what I do can draw Nemesis Q’s attention. Not to mention the bird-thing tried to kill me once before when I tried showing her the card. She’s been through enough as is and I’m not in a hurry to die.

Though I didn’t like what he said before all of that.  “What do you mean I’ll be bedridden for the rest of the day?”

The Student President elaborates. “Upon returning to the past, all those that survive the first round undergo a transitional phase as a result of being exposed to that environment as far as we can tell. The body feels as though its melting on the inside as the change happens. Then, when the symptoms pass in the morning, you wake to find that you can perceive the world differently—to know that you have been changed in some aspect from the people around you.”

I think on it as he makes his way to the exit. It must be the abilities that Ayako used in the future. For a moment, my heart quavers at the thought of possessing that sort of power. Then I remember how the last time I yearned for it had earned me a visit to Hell every time I dreamed.

The only reason I didn’t this time is probably because of the displacement of my soul.

As he stops at the door, the Student President gives me a final glance. “When you wake up in the morning, come to the base of the mountain. Mitsuzuri and I will meet you there. Once you and Gotou have arrived, I’ll take you both to meet the other veterans in Fuyuki and they’ll inform you of everything and begin your training. Make sure your schedule for the day is clear.”

Nothing left to say, he leaves the room and gently shuts the door behind him.

I lie back down and just think on everything I just got myself into. It’s ludicrous to think that any sort of power that I can wield would be enough to change a future that has already come to pass. The abnormal sky and condition of the land and those Taboo creatures—how did something like that come to pass by the moonlit world of magi and monsters? Weren’t there safeguards in place to avoid things like that from happening?

Or were they the ones responsible for that future?

The door slides open and the thoughts fade as Sakura steps into the room while dressed in her school uniform. In her hands are my clothes and belongings. She looks slightly relieved as she comes over to my bedside.

“Nii-san, how are you feeling?”

“As best I can be for now.” I sit up and take the clothes. “You talked to the Student President, didn’t you?”

She nods her head. “He said that you would need to rest back at home for the rest of the day and we have permission to leave early. Though, Senpai suggested we should head back to the hospital so they can give you a thorough examination.”

I shake my head. No more hospitals. If I have to stare up at one more tiled ceiling I’ll start pulling out my own hair. “After the symptoms pass, I’ll be fine.”

“But—”

“No, Sakura.” My tone is firmer this time to get the point across. “Emiya doesn’t have a say in this. I said I’ll be fine, so drop it. Understand?”

“…Yes, Nii-san.” Her eyes lower slightly, leaving her hair shadowing them from view. Without another word, she turns around so that I can change my clothes.

The feeling of kicking a puppy returns with a vengeance. I wish I could just explain that I can’t get them involved for both my sake and hers. That I would like nothing more than to push this onto Emiya since this is his sort of thing. But I can’t as things stand.

I sigh deeply and then look up to the clock again. “Sakura, you haven’t eaten Lunch, have you?”

“Not yet,” she replies softly.

“Then let’s go find a place in Miyama to eat.” I’ve got my wallet on me so it shouldn’t be a problem to treat her. “It’ll be my way of apologizing for getting blood on your uniform since I’m going to be busy tomorrow, so I won’t accept you trying to take a pass on it.”

She looks slight confused given my abrupt change in demeanor, but knows better than to refuse and nods.

We leave the school grounds minutes later and make our way to the district. The cool autumn breeze briefly blows past us along the way. The lack of biting chill and aftertaste of metal were something I couldn’t help but notice. The warmth of the afternoon sun caressing my skin felt almost foreign. And the people ignorantly walking along the side of the road and going about their day without any worries of what the future holds for them….

I do my best to ignore them all as we find a place to dine in peace.

 

 

 


Family Reunion 12-01

Is it wrong I thought of Porkachu before I even read that it was actually named that? Also, I’m honestly surprised Herbie isn’t sapient yet.

Heretical Edge and Summus Proelium

Previous Chapter

“Right, well, you kids have fun,” Koren announced to Shiori and me as we stepped out onto the grounds a minute after our brief meeting with Wyatt. “I’ve got some… things to think about.”

Glancing at Shiori and then back to my niece (which was still weird), I spoke quickly. “I still need to know what you told Gaia about what you saw. I need to know what Ammon did in the lighthouse.”

Koren raised an eyebrow before shrugging at me. “Sure. Why not. Meet me around the back of there after lunch. Then I’ll tell you what I saw. And you can tell me all about my grandmother.” After giving Shiori a quick glance, she added, “And, preferably, let me know who else in this school already knew everything about my family before I–” She stopped in mid-sentence, letting out an audible breath. “Never mind, just… I’ll…

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July 2016 Grim Tales Update 2

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Interlude 11 – Wyatt

I’d say he was paranoid, but honestly its not when you’re in their line of work. Especially not after what happened.

Heretical Edge and Summus Proelium

Previous Chapter

For most people, opening their eyes upon waking up was a natural response, the first thing they did even before their minds were fully conscious. It was an entirely instinctive action as the brain woke.

Wyatt Rendell was not most people, and he had long since trained himself to keep his eyes closed while waking. That had required some elaborate conditions. Specifically, he had, as a teenager, positioned an enchanted mirror in front of his face at night before going to sleep. If his eyes opened and the mirror caught sight of them, it would trigger an electric shock. It wasn’t too bad, just a reminder to keep his eyes firmly closed until he had worked his way up to cover the mirror with the nearby blanket.

It wasn’t like a mild little shock was the worst thing he’d ever woken up to, after all. Not in his…

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Facing Evil 11-07

Koren is really hard to like. I mean, I get it, but she’s really … yeah.

Heretical Edge and Summus Proelium

Previous Chapter

Please note that there was a special, commissioned mini-interlude focused on Scout posted yesterday. If you haven’t read it yet, please hit the previous chapter button. 

Stepping into the lounge beside Avalon, I saw the others immediately. Shiori and the boys were sitting at one end of the room, on a couch beside one of the pool tables. They seemed to be deep into a whispered discussion. Meanwhile, Koren was sitting by the window at the opposite end of the room, intently staring out at the grounds beyond. She had a pillow from one of the other sofas held against her chest like it was some kind of shield, and both of her weapons were set on the windowsill beside her.

They all looked up when the two of us came in, and Shiori was on her feet immediately. “Flick,” she spoke up in a voice that was…

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Mini-Interlude 4 – Scout

Truth Seeker Scout. Makes sense.

Heretical Edge and Summus Proelium

Previous Chapter

The following is a commissioned mini-interlude that takes place several days before the current events in this arc. It is unconnected from what is going on right now in the story. 

Saaaaaraaaaaah! Come out, Sarah. Please. Please, Sarah. Please, baby, please. Don’t you love Mommy anymore? Why do you hate me, Sarah? Why do you hate Mommy? Why do you want to hurt Mommy? Please stop hiding. He’s going to kill me. He’s going to kill Mommy if you don’t come out. All you have to do is come out. Don’t you care? Why don’t you care about Mommy? Why don’t you love me? I’m scared, Sarah. I’m so scared. Please, he’s going to kill me. All you have to do is come out and then we’ll be safe. Please, Sarah. Sarah, please. Please, he’s going to kill me. Please. I love you, baby.”

A horrible squishing…

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July 2016 Sugar Bits Update 3

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Facing Evil 11-06

A nutso heretic… I guess it’s the only excuse Ruthers can buy given they don’t acknowledge half-borns.

Heretical Edge and Summus Proelium

Previous Chapter

“Mr–” I stopped, making a show of frowning slightly at him. “Err, sorry, I’m not sure what honorific I’m supposed to to use for someone that’s on the Crossroads Committee. Is there a special title or…”

The man’s eyes watched me carefully, which gave me an easy excuse to meet his gaze without looking away. He looked like one of those old heavyweight prize fighters, a big, beefy guy who had put on just a little more weight than he’d had in his youth (whenever that had been, considering he was old enough to have witnessed the Black Death). His nose had been broken so often it was permanently crooked.

“Counselor, Miss Chambers,” he finally answered after the silence had carried on for a few seconds. “When referring to a member of the Committee, we use the title of Counselor. After all,” the man added with a very slight…

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July 2016 Sugar Bits Update 2

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July 2016 PPGD Update 1

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Facing Evil 11-05

And thus begins the talk.

Heretical Edge and Summus Proelium

Previous Chapter

(Please note that there was a bonus chapter on Wednesday. If you missed it, please use the previous chapter button, or you will have no idea what’s going on right now.)

“Koren!” I blurted in spite of myself. As worn out (not so much tired as… emotionally and mentally exhausted) as I was after the events of the past half hour, my anger shot to the surface. “You can’t do that. Don’t you get it? That piece of shit knows how to get past the shield. Everyone but us is vulnerable. You can’t just leave everyone else in danger by withholding crucial information like that.”

A guilty flush crossed the girl’s face before she retorted, “I—of course I know that! But my parents—what do you think I’m supposed to do when you people are keeping secrets from me that have to do with some mind controlling psychopath that…

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Calling Card (Psyren x FSN -Nasuverse): Arc 1 – Chapter 4

Chapter 4

The wind feels a bit colder as it whistles through the remains of Fuyuki.

I carefully peer around the corner of a half-fallen building and make sure the path is clear before I turn to Gai and gesture for him follow. Ayako is in his arms, still unconscious and feverish. He can carry her without being slowed down because he’s broader than me.

We were making our way back to the Shopping District, to the phone that served as the gate to the past. By my guess it’s been at least half-an-hour since we left the building that Ayako had brought us to. We were maybe a little over halfway to the district at the hurried, yet cautious pace we were going. It spoke wonders of just how fast Ayako had been when she brought me there in less than five minutes.

I had thought magecraft was involved at first. But I brushed it off on account of Ayako not being a magus. I confirmed as much when Rider drained her to the extent it took days for her to recover, and had a good laugh when Emiya brought it up back then.

Obviously, I’m not laughing now.

Besides, I’m not a magus. The Old Worm had pointed that fact out many times. I was a defect in the bloodline of the once proud Makiri, a failure without worth despite the effort I put forth in school and how I presented myself.

So if the requirement needed to gain a card was the presence of Magic Circuits, then I wouldn’t be here. Then there was the gauntlet with a crossbow she had earlier. Was it a mystic code of some kind that she could summon at will? Or was I just stretching for something—anything to make the facts line up with what I knew.

What exactly is this the power Nemesis Q spoke of to change the future?

The answer could wait. At until after we got back to our own time. But there was one thing I was absolutely certain of at this moment.

I am never going to wear this uniform again if we get pulled into the future.

It’s impractical for this sort of terrain and weather. And the only reason I kept the sandals on is because the alternative was dealing with bits and pieces of rubble wedging themselves into my feet. I can’t run away if that happens.

As we come to a stop at another outcropping several minutes later, Gai speaks. “I don’t think we have long if this fever gets worse.”

I feel her head. He’s right. She’s warmer than before. “I think we’re ten minutes—”

The words die when I hear a sound coming from the distance and peek around the corner. I see another one of those hounds that nearly dragged me off. But it’s not alone.

No, there’s a person there with it. Or at least what used to be a person before it got turned into Frankenstein’s Monster, lugging around some kind of giant vat or container.

The muscular torso gives me the impression that it was once a tall man, but certain body parts seem misshapen. The arms are elongated to a similar length of Nemesis Q’s arms, yet the legs are muscular and swollen. On its head is a mask of steel that left its eyes and nose hidden, and its ears are shaped like that of a bat’s.

I turn to Gai and press a finger to my lips before pointing over to the edge so he can see as well. His eyes squint before he pulls back. His voice comes out hushed.

What is that?

“I’ve run into the dog-thing before. It nearly dragged me off until Ayako killed it. But that other one is new.”

I think back to that time, before Ayako carried me off. She mentioned that the ‘Catcher’ would follow the sounds the Hound made before spiriting me away. I guess that must be it.

It looks fast. I couldn’t see us getting to the phone fast enough to save Ayako if we had to go around it. But going straight ran the risk of us being caught….

At least without bait. “Gotou, how fast are you?”

His eyes narrow at the question. “I make decent time on the track course. Why?”

I nod to Ayako. “Neither of us can run fast enough to avoid getting caught if we have to carry her. But we don’t have time to waste if we need to circle around. Not before that fever puts her down for good. You’re in better shape than me and are wearing actual shoes instead of these sandals.”

“So you want me to throw myself at them?”

That’s the gist of it actually. But he doesn’t need to know that. Instead, I shake my head and point to the right.

“No, I need for you to go that way while the wind is blowing towards the left. You’re going to circle around until the Hound catches your scent and then leave your shirt behind. That’ll buy you time to circle around again and get to the phone while I’ll take Ayako straight ahead.”

“If you’ve got this all planned out, why don’t you do that while I carry her?”

“You’re faster than me and, again, not wearing sandals.” I wiggle my feet for a moment and then tilt my head to Ayako once more. “It’s not about me or you. She’ll die if we don’t do it this way. Do you want to let that happen after she helped us out?”

He looks hard at me at that. Then Ayako. A sigh follows as he stands up and starts unbuttoning his shirt. “Fine. I’ll do it.”

Works like a charm. “Run fast.”

“Yeah, yeah. Just don’t screw this up, Matou.” That said, he runs off to the right and disappears around the remains of a building that way.

Honestly, I don’t expect him to get away from those two entirely. But I do expect him to distract them long enough for us to get to the phone. That’s what counts.

That container that the Catcher has looks big enough to house a single person. And, while the ears give me the impression that its hearing is sharp, I can use the wind and softer surface to mask my movements. I’ll live through this and get back to the past with Ayako.

… It’s about three minutes before I see movement on the other end. The Hound lets loose a sharp bark and the Catcher standing next to it rouses. They move off to the right and out of my view.

I reposition Ayako onto my back with some effort. Her fever hasn’t gone down in the slightest and she’s started mumbling something under her breath. Like I told Gai, I really do have to hurry and get her to safety before she dies.

No sooner than we pass by the spot where the Catcher and Hound had been did the winds shift, blowing towards the direction that the monster pair ran. I cling to a faint hope that our scents remain out of the Hound’s range as I push ahead faster. But that hope is snuffed out when I hear a barking noise.

Fear crawls up my spine. It’s coming. The Hound is coming. If it gets close enough to scream, then we die.

I seriously consider leaving Ayako behind for a moment, but that isn’t an option. She’s the clear condition and the reason I came here in the first place. I already threw Gai to the Catcher to buy us time, but doing that to her isn’t an option. I have no choice but to run.

But I’m not fast enough to get away before the Hound catches up. The moment it caught my scent, running stopped being an option. And, even if we hide somewhere, the Hound will just track us down by scent and sound. That only leaves one final option:

I have to kill it somehow.

I don’t know how Ayako killed the last one, but I knew that they could be killed. I can probably manage by bashing its skull in or something. But a frontal assault will just get me caught by the scream and leave me helpless again. I need to arrange an ambush then.

My legs burn while running until I come across the ideal battlefield—one of the buildings that looked as if the foundation shifted.  This caused it to lean, tearing down one half of the building and exposing the gutted remains to the elements. I can see a spot where the second floor can be used as an ambush point, and the large rubble beneath it as a weapon.

I enter the first floor through the opening and set Ayako down against the mountain of rubble, beneath where the second floor collapsed. Then I remove the top of my uniform and set it down ahead of her feet. I don’t expect it to distract the Hound for long, but it should make it sit still for a second or two.

That has to be enough.

I grab the largest chunk of stone I can before I climb up the stairs. It’s… a lot higher up than it looks from the first floor, but I get into position as the Hound comes in. The moment it sniffs at the discarded clothing, I hurl the head-sized block down from the second floor.

It smashes down on the Hound’s head hard enough to shatter and makes it yelp. But it’s not enough to do more than crack the black orb on its head. And it knows I’m here now.

I freeze as its legs tense. My blood turns to ice at the knowledge that if I don’t do something, it’ll come after me now. I don’t want to be caught by that thing and dragged off. I don’t want to die for getting myself wrapped up in this, trying to be a hero like….

Like Emiya.

Something clicks inside of me when I think on what Emiya would do here? What would the idiot who went out of his way to help others do? The answer is stupid and obvious.

I leap down, screaming. I throw myself at the problem without thinking further. I ignore my heart leaping into my throat as gravity grabs my body and drops me down.

The Hound’s legs buckle under my weight and we collapse onto one another. The blood pounding in my ears acts like a war drum. It takes away my sanity.

I find myself screaming as the desire to survive takes hold, scooping up the largest chunk of what was left of the stone I threw. It was maybe the size of a baseball and jagged, the tip pointed enough to serve as a makeshift knife. I stab at the Hound wherever I could with it around the head, neck, and mouth.

I have to kill it. I can’t let it get a chance to recover or it’ll kill me. I have to kill it!

I have to kill it! I Have To Kill It! I HAVE TO KILL IT!

The Hound whines and redoubles its effort to throw me off at the pain. It succeeds. Then it opens its mouth to scream.

I don’t think. I react. My closest arm moves, sinking my fist into its mouth until it’s lodged in its throat. It closes its jaws on reflex and bites into my arm.

AHH!!” It hurts, but it doesn’t break the bone. It can’t scream like this and it can’t get away. Something inside of me can’t help but giggle as I start hammering away with the stone in my other hand.

It tries to escape, but it can’t. So it tries to take off my arm instead. Pain surges through my body as it jerks its fangs to rip my arm apart, tearing into the flesh until blood began to cascade from between its fangs.

It hurts. It hurts! It hurts! But I can’t lose this chance or else it’s all over!

I drown out the pain with a scream as I keep hammering away, every hit causing the jagged edges to cut into my good hand. It tears at my flesh and leaves my blood to run over the pitch-black stone as the crack widens. Then something inside of the orb begins to pour out like steam.

The Hound’s fangs loosen. Its throat tightens with a whine that chokes on my arm. It’s dying. Good.

Die! Die! DIEEEEE!” I keep hitting at its weak point until it collapses. Its body begins to soften as the stone buries itself into its head, whitening and loosening. I only stop when it turns to ashes and laugh as I pull out the bloodied limb coated in white powder. “That’s what you get for coming after me, stupid mutt.”

The pain hurts so badly that I don’t think I can use either of my hands again. But I’m alive. The thought makes me laugh again. “Hehehahaaha….HAHAHA—

“Sh-Shinji?”

The voice draws my attention. I turn to see that Ayako is awake. The noise must’ve woken her.

“Did you see, Ayako?” I gesture to the pile of ashes. “I killed it. Hahaha… you see, I killed it on my own.”

“Shinji… you need to… calm down….” She leans forward off the rubble, despite her face being red from the fever. “Take a deep breath.”

Ah, she’s staring at me with those eyes. My lips curl into a frown as I recognize those same pitying eyes that Sakura used to stare at me with. Those same pitying eyes that said she was laughing behind my back that I couldn’t use magic when she could. Those same damn pitying eyes that shows she thinks she’s better than me!

I hate them. I hate them! I HATE THEM! IHATETHEM! IHATETHEMIHATETHEMHATETHEMHATETHEMHATEHATEHATE!

Stop staring at me with those eyes!” I try to rise up, but my body sways on my feet a little. Blood stains the ground as I stumble towards her to wipe those eyes off her face. “You should be grateful I saved you! You couldn’t even do anything and yet, I—

My foot slips over my discarded top. I fall forward. She reaches out and grabs me before I can hit the ground.

Her body is uncomfortably warm. It stinks of sweat and ashes. But she holds me tight before I can struggle and doesn’t let go.

Shinji, don’t let this place drive you insane.” Her tone is gentle. And her embrace soothes the burning inside of my chest.  “I don’t want to see someone else like that. Calm down so we can go back to the past together.

Her words bring back my sanity. I realize how close I was to doing something I would regret again to the person giving me a second chance. Shame comes with the pain in my limbs and an apology slips out. “I’m sorry.

“It’s okay.” She pulls back and looks me in the eyes. “What happened to Gotou?”

“He….” I struggle to find the words to say ‘I sent him off to die in order to buy us time.’ Yet, if I worded it wrong she would likely try to go out and find him. In her condition that wasn’t likely to work out and we’d die here stupidly. “The Catcher caught him and left the Hound behind. He’s gone.”

A tear streaks down her eyes at hearing that. A shuddering, lifeless breath leaves her mouth. It takes her a moment before she lets me go and pulls herself together. “I’ll get you out alive then, at the very least.”

The shame and embarrassment still lingers in my chest. I sit up on my knees. “Mitsuzuri, about a moment ago… I didn’t—”

She cuts me off with a slow shake of her head. “It happens. I’ve seen people go insane in different ways. One girl threw herself off a building when I first started out, before Issei could get to her. Another guy tried murdering others until…”

Ayako trails off. The message is clear enough for me to get the picture. Desperate people did stupid things. The pain in my arms lingers as proof of that. I don’t know what I was thinking…oh wait, I wasn’t.

Then again, Emiya probably would have done the same thing. He’s an idiot like that.

“We need to wrap those injuries before the shock wears off entirely.” She tears apart her torn clothes further to wrap strips around my bloody hand and arm. “Once we get back to the past, Issei will be able to heal your wounds.”

“He didn’t come with you?”

“No, he’s a Veteran Drifter.” She finishes and wipes the sweat from her brow with her forearm. “He went through his card’s value around the time I got started and helped me cope through it. Right now he’s taking care of my body in a guest room at the Ryuudou Temple, while I’m here. The wounds we sustain transfer over to our bodies once we snap back, so he stays nearby to heal them. I’ll tell him about you the moment I wake up.”

She rises to her feet and sways before steadying herself. “Did Nemesis Q appear?”

I nod and rise to my feet, letting her lean on my shoulder for support. “The clear condition is to get you to the phone in the Mount Miyama Shopping District. We’re not too far.”

“Then if we hurry, we might be able to save Gotou. If the clear condition is met, all surviving Drifters are pulled to the past as long as they don’t end up inside of the Tower.”

That’s convenient. “Then let’s go.”

We push ourselves to move, stumbling out of the building with our weary bodies. Now that the adrenaline isn’t coursing through my body, I feel like I’ve ran a marathon of some kind and my legs and arms ache. It takes effort to just walk while supporting Ayako.

I glance towards her. The fever hasn’t gone down in the slightest, but she’s trying to put on a brave face. Yet her eyes are half-lidded and straining to remaining open as she looks into the distance. She’s pushing herself too far just to see me to safety…

No, it’s not just me. She’s hoping that if we get there quick enough that Gai can be saved too. It’s a frail, fleeting hope, but enough to get us both to safety nonetheless.

The phone comes into view and I let out a sigh of relief at the thought of safety being only short walk away. But then Ayako freezes mid-step. “What’s wrong?”

She turns her head to the side. Her eyes furrow and close in. “I hear footsteps and hard breathing.”

“What?” I turn behind me and try to listen in. But I don’t hear anything until nearly ten seconds later, when a bloody Gai stumbles out from an alley. Just how sharp is her hearing?

“Gotou!” She releases me and tries to go to his side. However, her strength hasn’t returned just because she sees him. She nearly falls forward until I catch her, sending pain lancing up my limbs.

Gai sees us and yells, “RUN!”

That’s when the Catcher leaps out from the corner in a crouch. The vat it carries is on its back, strapped on like a backpack. In a motion too quick for me to see, it throws itself forward and pounces on Gai.

AGH!!” He goes down with it on top of him like a feral beast, placing a hand on his head like it’s going to crush it. His strained voice reaches our ears as he yells again. “Hurry up and go!

I don’t need to be told twice. Ignoring the pain in my arms, I pull Ayako forward with fear giving me the strength to run away. “Let’s go!”

She resists. “We can’t leave him!”

“The hell we can’t!” Why do women make this more complicated than it needs to be? Since I don’t have time to argue, I crouch down and lift her so that she’s slung over my shoulders like a bag of potatoes. The act causes blood to slip beneath the makeshift bandages and the muscles in my hands feel like they’re tearing apart.

Ayako doesn’t argue. Instead, she opts to say, “Brace yourself then!”

That sent up some red flags, so I turn my head expecting the Catcher to be lunging for us this time. Instead, I see Ayako raising her arm and that crossbow-gauntlet appearing on her wrist with a flash of light. There’s a bolt of pure white energy thrumming in it.

The moment she lets it loose, the backlash knocks me off my feet as an explosion sounds out. I end up falling on my stomach and then have the air knocked out of me as Ayako ends up mounted on my back. “Ow!”

In contrast, Gai is half-buried under ash. Confusion paints his face as he notes the absence of the Catcher. “What… happened?”

Uhh….” Ayako’s body sways on top of me. Then she falls to the ground next to me.

“Hey!” I sit up and take a look at her. Sweat covers her face and blood runs from her nose as she desperately gasps for air. It’s clear she made her condition worse.

Yet, despite all of that, she gathers enough energy to just glare at me with barely-opened eyes. “You said… he was caught…”

I look away.  “…I made a judgment call. The clear condition was to bring you to the goal. If he hadn’t been caught, then he would have been brought back to the present as well.”

I had no proof of that until she informed me earlier. But it’s the best excuse I can think of to appease them. A little white lie to avoid making it sound worse than it was.

The conversation died there as Gai came over and helped us to our feet. He’s rough with me and looks like he wants to say something, so I take it that he didn’t like being bait. Shame he couldn’t play the part properly, given I had to kill the Hound, but at the very least he seems to understand that now’s not the time.

Before anything else can jump us, we get to the phone. The moment Gai picks up the receiver, the world vanishes. We abruptly start falling through space again as Nemesis Q lingers above us and claps its hands like it’s giving us an applause.

A look of pure hatred crosses Ayako face at the sight of it. It makes the glare she gave me earlier seem tame in comparison. Then again, Nemesis Q ran her through this who knows how many times now.

Then everything goes dark as the bird that’s mimicking a person grows distant….

 

 


Facing Evil 11-04

Awww, the vicious man-eaters are friendly. Also, Koren, I get you’re scared, but now isn’t the time to be pulling this.

Heretical Edge and Summus Proelium

Previous Chapter

Eleven years ago

“But Mommy, what if there’s sharks?”

I was six years old, squinting up at my mother as the two of us stood on the edge of the lake. Me in my awkward little blue one-piece and her looking as beautiful as ever in a pristine white two piece with black piping. Her short hair was already wet, slicked back over her head as she smiled down at me.

“Well, sweetie,” she replied in a casual voice, “I know you’ve had some bad luck with animals lately.”

I lifted my arm to show the band-aid on my bicep while intoning flatly. “Mr. Raphardy’s cat is mean.”

“Well, you know what they say.” Chuckling, my mother leaned in a little closer, her voice lowering to a confidential whisper, as if her words were a secret just between the two of us. “Like owner like pet.”

As I…

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Facing Evil 11-03

Eh, Snipers are so fun when they aren’t on your side. Also, Good mechanical doggy. Now rip out his throat!

Heretical Edge and Summus Proelium

Previous Chapter

I hit the hallway already facing the exit. Ahead, I could see Ammon just disappearing through the inner set of doors that led to where the exit door and the stairs were. He paused just long enough to smile back at me before shouting at the top of his lungs. “My name is Ammon! Hurt Flick Chambers!”

The first of many curses just had time to spill from my mouth as something slammed into the door directly beside me. Doorknobs up and down the hall were shaking, jiggling back and forth as the occupants tried to join us in the corridor. But they weren’t opening. Gaia’s work? I hoped so.

Unfortunately, they couldn’t hold everyone. Just down the hall, I saw a metal-covered fist literally punch through the door and start to tear a larger hole. A little bit away from that, one of the other doors…

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July 2016 Grim Tales Update 1

Read the rest of the comics at Snafu-Comics
– See more at: http://snafu-comics.com/swmcomic/k-r-to-mars-or-bust/#sthash.vFHH22MQ.dpuf


Series Review – RWBY Volume 3

Otaku Youth

Written by Bananaowns

Images courtesy of Roosterteeth

The second season of RWBY was a resounding success and fans could not wait to see what the future had in store.  Production was moving along smoothly on Volume 3 when the unthinkable happened.  Monty Oum, the creator of RWBY, passed away suddenly.  Monty had an allergic reaction during a simple medical procedure that left him in a coma and he was unable to recover.  He was only 33 years old, but in those 33 years he managed to touch millions upon millions of people with his work.  This is evident by the outpouring of grief when news of his passing became public.  To this day, I have not seen anything that compared to the tears shed by this fan base.  After a period of recovery, questions began to arise whether or not RWBY would continue.  Given Monty’s reputation as a workaholic…

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Facing Evil 11-02

More evidence that Fossor is apparently father of the year (sarcasm, for the record) and Ammon is an entitled brat with a lack of empathy.

Heretical Edge and Summus Proelium

Previous Chapter

Confession time. I’ve been a babysitter before, and some of the kids I’ve looked after made me want to strangle them. Not that I ever had, or would, but the fact is that there are kids out there that are so intensely and purposefully annoying that the urge to smack them can be really strong. And yet, I held out. Through gum in my hair, dead flies in my soda, and being kicked repeatedly in the shin (and that was all just one kid), I restrained myself. I showed patience and didn’t lash out. I made gum-storing, fly-sharing, shin-hating boy stay in his room after taking the power cord for his computer and television. I didn’t hurt him. I didn’t think, up until a short time ago, that I was capable of hitting a kid.

But if Ammon hurt Avalon, I swore to every power great and small…

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Facing Evil 11-01

Koren is unpleasant and their security sucks. That’s at least three times now someone has gotten them on a mission.

Heretical Edge and Summus Proelium

Previous Chapter

(Note: Please be aware that there was a special extra donator-fueled interlude focused on Shiori’s jungle hunt posted Saturday. If you happened to miss that, click the previous chapter button to read it first)

Once Koren finished telling me about her horrifying childhood experience with the flower-leaving abductor, I stared at her, mouth open. My first impulse was to grab and hug her after hearing something that damn traumatizing. But, well, we didn’t exactly have that kind of relationship yet. I was pretty sure she wouldn’t react well to it. Which meant that I was left staring, tamping down my impulses.

There was, however, one reaction that I couldn’t quite avoid. “You mean your mother dismissed it? What the hell? Believe in the supernatural or not, you don’t tell your kid that something that made her run out of her own house and sleep in the backyard because…

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July 2016 Sugar Bits Update 1

Read the rest of the comics at Snafu-Comics – See more at: http://snafu-comics.com/swmcomic/sugar-popping-high/#sthash.iP2RoiSe.dpuf


Series Review – RWBY Volume 2

Otaku Youth

Written by Bananaowns

Images courtesy of Roosterteeth

The first season of RWBY had a lot of rough edges, but managed to gather a large following.  So it was only inevitable that the series would get a second season and a chance to improve some of the issues.  I am glad to say that RWBY Volume 2 managed to improve the series in almost every way.  There are still a few problems, but nothing on the same level of the issues the plagued the first volume.  I’m Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth Anime review.

Image1Story

Volume 2 possesses more of an overarching story.  Unlike the first volume, each episode directly ties in to the larger plot.  This was necessary in order to expand the scope of the story.  This was a very big improvement on the relatively weak plot of the first season.  The pacing for this season is…

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Mini-Interlude 3 – Shiori

They’re about to hunt the equivalent of an Alter matryoshka and her attention is… elsewhere. For shame, Shiori. For shame.

Heretical Edge and Summus Proelium

Previous Chapter

“Boys and girls!” the voice of Professor Katarin bellowed over the sound of Shiori’s Hunter track-mates excitedly chattering back and forth as they stood at the edge of the jungle entrance on the far end of the school grounds. “I will ask for your attention once. If you do not give it to me immediately, you will spend the next four Saturdays in my classroom writing an essay on exactly why ignoring the man that is about to take you into the jungle is a very, very bad idea! Now, do I have your attention?”

There was a chorus of answers. Unlike in most groups, everyone spoke up clearly, because Professor Katarin wasn’t most teachers. He was somehow able to zero in on exactly who mumbled or didn’t answer at all, and single them out for a severe dressing down. The group as a whole had been broken…

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