Agatio anf Karst are a pair of warriors from Prox, sent out to discover what happened to Saturos and Menardi when the pair failed to return. Upon discovering that they have died, the pair decides to continue their quest to save the world. Agatio has a one-sided rivalry with Saturos, and is eager to prove that he can fill the latter's shoes as Prox's strongest warrior, while Karst is Menardi's sister, and seeks to avenge her death.
He and Karst follow Felix's Team around on their quest, eventually judging them incapable on Jupiter Lighthouse and fighting them. After their defeat, they retreat to the Mars Lighthouse in Prox, where the Wise One turns them into dragons. They fall in battle against the combined forces of Felix's and Isaac's teams, and turn back to their humanoid forms before dying.
Saturos lets out a yawn as he walks from the DFSB’s sleeping quarters into the larger common area, followed by a slightly perkier Menardi as the flurry of activity surrounds them. The girl – at least in appearance – leading them was shouting orders, which were obeyed promptly.
“Nathan, you’re patrolling the northern slums. Whoever let out the prisoners has a base there. Have Echo on overwatch,” Carol says, and the large bald man and thin woman nod, moving towards the exit. “Iwafune, we have you booked as a guest lecturer in North Uni. See if you can root out the cause of last month’s disturbance while you’re there. Hanamakakiri and… Lun Lun, back him up as visiting students. The rest of you birdbrains know what you should be doing. Go, idiots!”
And at that, the flurry of activity moved outside as they exited, the doors taking the members of the DFSB directly to their assignments.
“Oh, and you two lovebirds,” Carol continues, seemingly just noticing their entrance, “You’re on a search-and-destroy. Get to Leo’s office, it’s something personal from him.”
“Right, commander,” Saturos says, giving her a friendly nod and inwardly grinning as she scowls back.
“You should have told me part of this was making public appearances in his stead, Saturos. Speaking on the news is not my idea of fun.”
“My apologies. I’ve been his aide long enough that I’ve forgotten some of the functions. But if he wants the two of us, we best not keep him waiting.”
“We’re sparring once your mission is done,” Carol says, leaving the room in a ball of irritation.
“I think we might want to procrastinate on this one,” Menardi says with a wry smile, “At least until she decides not to abuse the revival systems.”
“Procrastinate a direct assignment from Leo or be used as Carol’s stress relief… truly a rock and a hard place,” Saturos says, opening the door that led to Leo’s office. The space, now several times wider than it had been previously, was strewn with electronics, blueprints, and papers. The man they were here to see stands before an oblong box, his left hand on his mask while his right hand slowly drips into the slats on its top.
“Ah, good. A generator has been repurposed to hinder extremely precise usage of powers. I’ve got my mask, so I can do it through the mental noise, but that’s slowing down my work.”
“So you want us to find it and blow it up… isn’t that the Laplace thing you abandoned years ago?” Saturos asks, no longer remotely fazed by the information being directly added to his brain.
“Yes. Data entry for each new arrival was too much, but its inner workings – primarily the ability to force quantum observations and the violation of the Uncertainty Principle – are likely applicable to the Kadingir project. The faster I complete that, the faster I can remove that mental block.”
“What do those two have to do with each other?” Menardi asks, having recovered from the information headache.
“Well, successfully reverse-engineering the Sefer Raziel is my victory condition for this little game of Farouk’s. Once the game ends, shredding this block is no longer unsporting.”
“We determined that Beast’s soul is likely trapped by Farouk,” she continues, “Are you really going to let him languish because it would ruin your fun?”
“You’re no longer Bureau, so the fate of a user – even a friend – is secondary to your whims?” Saturos asks, sarcasm creeping into his voice.
“Yes. If you’re so concerned, get going so I can get this done faster.”
“After you tell us that ‘one last thing,’ sure,” Saturos says. Abrupt as his boss’ sudden shift from lawful to chaotic might be, his core habits never changed.
“Was there one… Ah, yes, that. Your current match can be given a validity challenge. If you get into combat, I’m going to make it count officially. Try not to lose.”
“Got it. Be back when we’re done.”
Chalis opens her eyes, standing in a yellow room, the floor a checkerboard pattern. A quick glance next to her shows Blados in the same room, while a green-hoodied man with long hair sits in an armchair, juggling bullets while a pink-haired woman fixes them with a vacant stare. Her hand jerks its way to the man’s shoulder, tapping it before he notices the pair.
“They’re not who I wanted,” he says as a bullet passes his face, pointing at him. A bang resounds as the bullet fires, then a soft chime as it turns into a stream of bubbles, not adding to the worrying red and grey splotch behind him.
Blados and Chalis look at each other, disturbed and more than a little confused.
“Blue and pink from gold. How hard can that be to find?” the hoodied man grumbles.
“There’s three pairs of us, if you’re getting at what I think you are,” Chalis smiles, walking further into the room as Blados glares at her back, “But look, you wanted them to do a job, right? We can do it too,” Chalis says, smiling as she sits on the armrest.
“Can you really?” he asks, trying not to hope, “If you can, then…”
Blados interrupts, slamming the sheathe of his nodachi into the ground.
“Not for free.”
“Yes, it’s as he says,” Chalis says, getting to her feet, “You seem like a User… then a match.”
“We’re trapped in the slums,” Blados growls, raw anger seeping into his voice, “And the only User who even knows we exist doesn’t care.”
“So, dear, if you can do that for us…” Chalis says, her smile turning malicious as he nods.
“Very well. The… uh… how does it go again?” the man says, conjuring a cup in his hand. The woman beside him jitters towards a pitcher. He stares at the ceiling, struggling to remember. As a twitching arm pours his drink he suddenly nods, looking at them once again.
“That which is below, what once gave is now inverted. Destroy it, and trust no one.”
“Come on now,” Blados growls, taking a threatening step into the room, “Surely you can be more clear than that.”
“Surely can’t,” the man sighs, “If he learns of this, you will be dead and my prison will be under tighter guard. So cryptic messages it is.”
“This one’s not particularly cryptic,” Chalis says, resting her hand on Blados’ shoulder. “I’ll come find you at that dojo of yours in the morning. I know what he wants.”
“At least that makes one of us,” he growls as they fade, leaving the Astral Plane and returning to their beds. The man sighs, alone once again, as he swirls his drink. The liquid shimmers and shifts, changing colors and viscosity constantly. Spoiled for choice, he had no idea what he wanted to drink. His eyes brighten, a possibility enlightening him as he grabs his glass and turns it upside down, the liquid floating in the air. It forms a set of spheres, each of different color, as he places the cup on the floor and stands. As the most recent fake Ramona withers to dust he starts to juggle the spheres of liquid, humming to himself as he does so.
He sways to the invisible tune, trying to get a feel for music. If those two were successful, he might be able to start fighting back. His elation causes him to miss a catch, and one of the balls falls in the glass. A clear amber liquid spreads across the bottom, and he lets the rest fall in. Beast sits again and takes a sip of his cider, letting the alcohol encourage him.
“So, Beastman. What did you want us for?” Agatio asks, staring the man down.
“Well, I need some guarding done, and Ramona is… occupied.”
“Why us?” Karst asks, clearly wary.
“Well, Leo certainly thinks highly of your abilities, and I don’t think you work directly for him, so I’m not stepping on his toes when hiring you.”
“I don’t like taking orders, no,” Agatio says, “And unless this job is entwined with our domicile’s continued existence…”
“It might, actually,” the man says cagily, “I’ve heard whisperings that your match might be… challenged. And Leo might even approve it himself.”
“And this helps us how?”
“Well, I can ensure any intruders you stop count as a match. Might even make your way into the Wealthy District if you get lucky.”
“And our jobs?” Agatio asks, “Our food truck isn’t going to run itself.”
“I’ve got that covered. Notice of official orders from a Bureau. Stick that on the truck and people will understand.” At this, the two Proxians look at each other for a second, before looking back at the man who had summoned them.
“We accept,” Karst says.
“Wonderful. I’ll have Ramona deliver the details and notices to your apartment later today.”
“Then we have work to get back to,” Agatio says as Karst turns to leave. The brawny man stops at the door, before looking back over his shoulder. “We do appreciate the generosity you have displayed.”
He joins Karst as the smaller, pink woman leans disinterestedly against her scythe to avoid the already grime-stained walls of Beast’s new Blue Collar District office. She rests the weapon against her shoulder as they walk towards a truck, similarly painted blue and pink, in silence. They hop in, closing the doors before they start to speak.
“So. You think this is legit?” Agatio asks.
“Probably. And do me a favor and leave the thesaurus at home.”
“You’re willing to risk it on a probably?”
“Look, something’s going on in the city. My sister and her husband haven’t been home in weeks, and with their jobs being what they are, that’s a bad sign. Beast is a Bureau, so…”
“So helping him is pretty much mandatory and might help out Menardi, too. And Saturos, I suppose,” Agatio says, nodding, “Which uni we hitting today?”
“Hmm… yesterday was North in 1%, so let’s head to West in White Collar.”
Agatio nods and turns the key, gearing up for another day making food.
“So what’s this idea you’ve had?” Saturos asks as he and Menardi walk out of their conjoined houses, the combined near 40,000 square feet the envy of the rest of the neighborhood. The two held a matching pair of travel mugs, drinking the coffee within.
“Well, there’s a couple people nearby who have rather extensive information networks,” Menardi says as they enter their car, “And these people are friendly to us.”
“So they’re likely to give us good information,” Saturos says, nodding as Menardi types in their destination. The car beeps in confirmation, lifting itself off the ground as it flew towards their destination. The next few minutes are filled with silence, the pair finishing their energizer for the day ahead.
“Given thought to who we’ll ‘find guarding the jammer?’” Menardi asks as she finishes her cup.
“Not particularly. Figured we could just grab Kai Leng or something and drag him to… hold up, I recognize this area. We’re not going to them, are we?”
“Whoever could you mean?” Menardi asks with exaggerated innocence. Saturos closes his eyes and sighs, and Menardi catches his fist before he can slam the emergency ejection button.
“Menardi please. With that group…”
“You know they’ve got people everywhere.”
“Still, I don’t think…”
“And they’re quite fond of you.”
“No. Nonono. Come on, there has to be someone else.”
“Someone else who can get the information fast? You know there isn’t.”
“There’s… no, Kessler isn’t on our side any more…” Saturos grumbles, shaking his fist out of Menardi’s grasp before massaging his temples.
“Look, Mutant Vineyards has a brand new Eiswein. It’s Port-based, and I’ve already ordered a bottle chilled…”
“Sure, but not tonight. I’ll need some of their Blackout Poitín instead.”
“I’ll let them know,” Menardi says, giving a wry smile as their destination – the Alamein Military Library – comes into view. “You know, you could try being as friendly to them as you are to everyone…”
Menardi shrugs as the car touches down, and Saturos swings out, striding into the library alone. Menardi boots up her laptop, connecting through the DFSB VPN to work while Saturos gets the information. The blue-skinned Proxian opens the door, causing the librarian, one Bernard Montgomery, to look up.
“Hello, sir,” he says, giving the man a respectful nod, “Your wife informed us you would be coming today. The grace of your presence is a rare honour.” Montgomery rises and walks around the desk, shaking Saturos’s hand.
“Then you know why I’m here. Let’s get to it, then.”
“Certainly, certainly. Through the doors on the left, then.”
Saturos nods, unclenching his jaw as he opens the door and shuts it behind him.
“We give welcome to the One True Leo,” a man with a sling tied as a bandanna says, bowing to him.
“Skip the ceremony, please.”
“As you wish, then,” Rafael Uribe Uribe says, stepping out from the shadows, and gesturing at a poorly-lit table, “You wanted some information…”
Outside, Menardi’s computer beeps, informing her that a capture was underway. She steps out of the car, nodding in hello to the young, uniformed doorman while slipping around to the side of the building. She takes a seat in the wide, green lawn and connects a wireless headset to the computer. The monitor folded out, showing four screens. Left and right were Nathan’s and Echo’s body cams, above was a mash of the CCTV cameras installed by the DFPD and various other parties, and the center showed a wireframe model of the city itself now focused on a white dot chased by a yellow and a red one.
“Echo, turn right there. Climb up the ladder on your left,” she says, guiding her compatriots, “Nathan, set an explosive trap on the three alleyways on your left and the first one on your right… Yes, you should lead him there…”
A few seconds later, one of the cameras shows Aiden Pearce running into a crowded plaza. A gunshot rings out from Echo’s camera, and Nathan’s shows the hacker falling, blood pooling under his dead form. Menardi congratulates the pair, then shuts her computer off. She then lies back on the grass, grateful for the chance to relax.
The excitement and danger of her new job blew the tedium of her stint as an instructor out of the water, but it was much busier. It was nice to be able to soak in the grass and the soft warmth of the sun, something unthinkable when she was farther into the city.
She pulls herself to her feet as the door opens, an irritated Saturos walking out of the library that served as the Cult of El Alamein, though why any warrior would choose that user in particular to venerate was beyond either of the Proxians’ understanding.
“Sewers under the One Percenter District, Northern Octant. About fifteen minutes away from North Uni,” he says without preamble.
“North Uni, eh?” Menardi asks, “Connection or no?”
“We’ll find out. One of their members, Cioccolata, vanished after reporting a concealed accessway in the walls.”
“Well, let’s get going, then,” Menardi says hopping back into their self-flying car, “It’ll take this thing about a half-hour to get to the North Uni lot.” Saturos nods wearily, flopping into his side.
“I thought Carol taking over would lessen their… adoration,” he grumbles, “Just made it bloody worse.”
“I can cover… half your shifts,” Setsuna Tendou says, looking at the dojo’s work schedule with Blados, “Working both here and at the sister school for more than that is… a little much for a student”
“That’s enough. That hobo instructor – Ichigo – is taking the rest,” the blue man says, nodding. Setsuna gives him a friendly wave as he heads to the door, Chalis leaning against it.
“You good?” she asks, opening it.
“Made arrangements. The Stacked Deck can survive a week without its bawd.”
“Good,” the blue man grunts, squinting as the polluted air of the slums stings his eyes.
“Now what’s this job about, Chalis? Clearly something’s happening under the city, but…”
“‘What once gave is now inverted,’ the man said. And if there’s something under the city that gives, it’s the generators. Since those were given much attention during the uprising…”
“Spit it out.”
“One of the generators is hindering things and we need to make it go boom. Simple enough?”
“Yes,” Blados says testily, following Chalis as she turns the corner.
“Good. Now, one of my girls – that one you like, who can turn into a rabbit – has another regular. One that can actually satisfy her, might I add.”
“To the point, Chalis.”
“Yes, yes. I know your upper head is slower than your lower one,” Chalis continues, idly dragging her claws against a brick wall, the remnants of one of the few buildings in the slums. “He’s the one who got intel on the generators for the Wolves. If anyone knows what we’re looking for, it’s him.”
She swings into the entryway, looking through the canvas and cardboard smashed together to create makeshift dwellings. Ignoring the chitinous spiders, their glittering carapaces resembling eyeballs, the pair of them walk towards the back of the tents, and Chalis raps on the floor before one.
“Whoever you are, leave.”
“Oh, but Panne would be so sad…”
“Chalis? I know I paid properly…” the voice says, and the curtain opens to reveal an Italian man in a tattered suit and homburg, an out-of-place metal strip around his throat.
“I know, Mike, that’s not why we’re here,” she replies, smiling at the mafioso while Blados glares.
“What do you want, then?”
“Information,” Blados growls, “The stuff underground.”
“Ah, those,” the man says, nodding, “Well, that’s pretty expensive knowledge.”
“We can pay,” Chalis says, smiling, “And this might help get you on the users’ radar for another match.”
“We’ll talk inside, then, the man says, stepping back and letting them in.
“Ah, and don’t mind the big guy’s glaring,” Chalis whispers to him, “The two of you just have the same tastes.”
He grimaces and nods, letting the curtain drop. Neither took notice of one of the spiders creeping in, a dull black where the rest glittered.
A couple blocks away, a pale man in a dark blue coat leans against the wall, glaring at the street. A woman in leathers, a hood concealing her face, walks towards him. She looks at him, surprised, before speaking.
“I hardly expected you, when I was told to meet ‘a tree,’” she says, “I suppose you’re not the one who came up with it?”
“No, the Serpent’s responsible for that tasteless joke. Though if an information broker is asked to meet a ‘little bird’ there’s no room for doubt,” he says, opening his palm to reveal a small thrush. The dull black bird flaps off his hand, riding the wind down the street.
“While I’d very much like to know why you’re in my line of work now, I did ask for something specific,” she replies. On cue, the man pulls a small file out of his coat, handing it to the woman, who drops a sack of coins into his other hand.
“Playing villain to the Council got boring,” he says, making the sack vanish into his coat, “And the information market is in pretty high demand. Especially from the resurgent Wolves factions.”
“Are we finished, then?”
“Yes,” the man says, turning and walking back down the alley. The woman watches him for a couple seconds before continuing down the street she had gone before, a small, black thrush following in her blind spot.
Far underground, farther below the floors of OCity as the foul place is from the bowels of DFederal, two warriors stand watch. One, Karst, leans against the concrete wall, looking around at the wide, round room. The other, Agatio, sits on the floor, utensils scraping at the large glowing iron slab, heated with his Psynergy, and the tantalizing smell of roasting lamb wafts on the steam released by the frying rice. One of the perks of being chefs, the pair took turns making meals, keeping their strength and alertness up.
Karst takes a peek down the pipe next to her, seeing nothing but a small puddle – about a stride wide – and the escaping steam. The puddle ripples, and a tentacle rises out of it, waving lazily in the air as it ascended near the top of the pipe, itself large enough to dwarf Agatio. Its four rows of bulbous suckers expand, each one displaying a large, eerily human eye. Karst reaches for her scythe as the tentacle splits near in half, revealing a fleshy cavity of molars that seems deeper than the appendage.
It brushes the ceiling as it quivers, calling forth a low hum. The top of the pipe cracks, and out of them wriggles a swarm of wasps, each about as large as her fist and colored a wet red as if they had been soaked in blood. They single-mindedly dart around the tentacle as it flails, ramming their finger-long stingers into its flesh as it tried to grind them in its maw. The tentacle hurriedly retreats back into its puddle, and the insects swarm around the top.
Karst, with Agatio now beside her, prepares to unleash a torrent of Mars Psynergy down the tunnel as the wasps notice them. The swarm halts in the air, each and every member turning to stare at the Proxian pair.
At that moment, the puddle below the wasps erupts, a brackish mass of flesh, eyes, and teeth engulfing the murderous insects and smashing a massive hole in the top of the pipe as it continues, the grinding of enamel on chitin and wet squelching of grinding entrails replaces the ominous buzzing. Then, fast as it came, the pillar of flesh descends back into its puddle.
A thick, oily liquid flows out of the hole in the pipe, not reaching the bottom but instead covering the breach. A few seconds later it shimmers, taking at least the appearance of the rest of the steel. The two stare at it, not wanting to test if it is, in fact, steel and not some new form of predator, until Karst breaks the silence.
“You know, I really don’t like this place.”
Sorami Kugutsu strolls through one of the many downtown markets in DFederal, trying to look relaxed and inconspicuous. A pair of young girls had come to their apartment after the attack that had killed Raziel, apologizing for not being able to revive her fully. As Setsuna and Lilith were talking to the one in the frilly dress, the one with a mouse-eared hoodie slipped beside her, and before she could blink she was transported to a wide room filled with machinery, a man in an orange mask, grey jacket and pants, and a blue shirt before her.
“Hello, Sorami,” Leo said, nodding at Parcel. The youth took her cue to hop out, manifesting another one of her spheres. Once the pair was alone, Leo continued, “I figured I could use this time to give you some warnings; I had initially been concerned you would be targeted, not Raziel.”
“Little old me?” she asked, tilting her head in confusion.
“Yes, and you still might be. Keep an eye out for anything suspicious, and contact Hanakamakiri or Parcel if you notice anything off. Your own eye might be safest for that.”
“Also. Tell. Nobody. About. Your. Raison d’etre,” he says, and Sorami can somehow feel him glaring at her from under his mask, “There’s too great a chance someone might misunderstand it and try to use you to force a future to come about, only to kill you when you can’t.”
And at that, the man tossed her back into her apartment with a wave of his hand.
She slurps the bottom of her bubble mocha, gathering a few of the tapioca balls as her reminiscence gets cut short by the sound. She puts it down and looks around, scanning the milling crowd. She had, naturally, mentioned the possible danger to both Setsuna and Lilith, saying it might be due to Gethel’s Eyes rather than her raison d’etre. She hadn’t wanted to voice the danger Leo had left unspoken: that someone might understand her power correctly.
She gets up, tossing the empty cup into a nearby trashcan as her eyes momentarily flash purple. There was a knot of uniformed men and women in one corner of the market; one in five of the soldiers were already dead.
Several animals in the vicinity shared a mind, but that was less of a threat these days. Even if she was eaten by Nrvnqsr, it would simply be painful until she was revived. While she didn’t particularly want to feel pain, it was likely a mercy compared to whoever was sending the zombies out to tail her. If they knew what she could do, they’d be free to unbalance the city, sending it tumbling off of the tightrope that lead to its future into the abyss of stagnation.
Sorami shakes her head vigorously to clear the gloomy thoughts, nearly hitting a passerby with her twintails. Another pedestrian stumbles into her, sending her into the mouth of an alleyway where a pale arm stretches, wrapping its hand around her mouth and pulling her farther into the shadows. The clammy flesh prevents her from gasping as her back slams into the corpse-cold chest of her abductor.
“So you’re the one spotting my Dead?” the man snarls in her ear, “you have hindered my plans long enough, wench,” he growls, dragging a knife across her blouse while she struggles futilely. It stops slightly over the right side of her stomach, and as she feels his breath on her neck a bright light shines down the alleyway.
“Begone!” an older man with white hair and clothes shouts, and the intensity of the light increases, causing her to shut her eyes. The man is violently ripped away from her, and she takes advantage of the freedom to run back to the street; the old man is clearly an ally, at least for now. The light in the alley grows brighter, and her captor disintegrates.
“Are you alright?” the old man asks, looking at her with grandfatherly concern, “It was not our intention to get you caught up in Council business, and I apologize for that.”
“No, no, don’t worry,” Sorami says, waving her hands in front of her, “I’m kind of used to the whole ‘cosmic plaything’ bit by now.”
He steps towards her, clearly concerned for her wellbeing, only to be forestalled when Setsuna stands in front of her.
“Sorami, are you all right?” he asks, out of breath.
“Yes, he saved me,” she says, motioning towards the old man.
“I did indeed. I’m not your enemy, child.”
“Ehhh, wait, is he the ‘old fart in a bathrobe’ she was yelling about?” Sorami asks, glaring at the old man as if he were a pervert.
“Uwah, that’s bad. Let’s get out of here,” she says, holding onto the boy’s arm. Setsuna nods and leaps, flying away from the scene as Gandalf stares, dumbstruck.
The gates to DFederal North University open silently, as ostentatious as one would expect from a school in the 1% District. Despite having gone here for years, Shirou can’t help but gawk as the ruby-studded silver swings parallel to the imposing black marble columns that held them in place. Just one stone would let him make the most lavish of meals for himself, Saber, and his new neighbors, Kiritsugu and Maiya.
“Oi, Shirou! Hurry up!” another student yells, and he tears his eyes away from the glittering wealth to catch up, one a subdued bespectacled girl his age with a lacrosse stick and the other a boy with spikey blue hair in a loose ponytail.
“Sorry, Kei, Queen,” he says as he reaches them.
“We’re used to it,” the girl says, adjusting her glasses with a wry smile.
“Very,” the boy adds, “You got a shift, Queen?”
The three continue their lively conversation, not noticing the car coming in for a landing. Saturos stretches as he swings out, a brief nap having restored his drained energy. He and Menardi shut the doors, arming the Semtex bricks that passed for theft prevention in the city as they leave the parking lot.
The pair strolls down the sidewalk, vigilantly basking in the idyllic atmosphere. The general chaos and crime in the inner districts hadn’t quite made its way out here, but there was still the occasional attack. Nevertheless, it seemed to be a fairly peaceful day, at least on the surface.
“Wish we could have shown the rest of Prox this,” Menardi says, scanning the residences for any sign of trouble.
“I’m not so sure,” Saturos replies while doing the same, “The city’s not the friendliest place, and who knows what district they’ll end up in?”
“It has been pretty stable for the past decade, though,” Menardi says, “It’s only this year where there’ve been such drastic events.”
“Have you already forgotten Red November? Or that time when the Cult of the Old Ones tried to summon Nyarlathotep in the sewers?”
“Red November I remember. That was… three years ago? I do not remember the other one, though,”
“Come to think of it, you actually shouldn’t. Was five years ago. Just Leo and I back then, with the unexpected assistance of the Council of Magi…” Saturos trails off, slowing his pace until he stops, looking nauseous.
“What’s wrong?” Menardi asks, putting a steadying hand on his shoulder.
“Just a bad feeling. A really bad feeling, and I hope I’m wrong.”
He shakes himself, as if trying to physically throw off the oily tendrils of worry, and nods to Menardi. She lets her hand fall beside her, only for Saturos to grab it as it landed next to his. They walk, hand-in-hand, letting the noise of an ending school day fade into the unnatural quiet that permeated the district. Their grips tighten, the near void of sound sending the worry slithering back into their minds.
“It’s just down there,” Saturos says, pointing at a manhole tucked away in a small alcove. They separate their hands, instead gripping the round steel cover and prying it off.
“You first,” Menardi says, gesturing inside. Saturos channels a flash of Mars Psynergy into his hands and leaps down, landing lightly on the concrete flooring. He takes a few quick strides down as Menardi follows, and holds his light up to a symbol drawn in blood, long dried.
His mouth twists in a frown, noting the six-pointed branch.
“Let me guess, hope was in vain?” Menardi says, squinting at the sign.
Saturos nods, closing his eyes, before reaching out and tapping the six points of the branch in a sequence. The glyph fades into a thick, soupy miasma, taking a large section of wall with it. As it spills around them, the Proxian pair takes careful steps in.
“I hope they’ve updated the décor.”
“Lighten up, Blados,” Chalis says, smirking at her glowering companion as they step out of one of the outbound buses, looking around at a mall in one of the more suburban areas of the White Collar District.
“Why?” the taller man growls, glaring at his supposed compatriot, “You’ve just spent the last hour doing your best to emasculate me, and we have nothing to show for it.”
“I wouldn’t say nothing.”
“A six-pointed branch painted in blood in the sewers? How the hell are we supposed to find that, not to mention your so-called ‘source’ had no idea what’s behind it.”
“Well, he certainly knows one behind…”
“Enough,” the man growls, glaring and drawing attention.
“All right, all right,” Chalis says with a smile, “But only if you promise to drop by for something other than your usual.”
Blados stops, staring at her in utter disbelief. The crowd mills around them, paying them little mind save for a few glances. The man stands stock still, as if paralyzed, until Chalis flutters her eyes coyly. Blados regains his senses, and his first act of lucidity was to bring his hand up to cover his face.
“I… what?” he asks as they keep moving, swinging around outside an open-air coffee shop in front of the mall.
“You heard me,” she says as they slip around the building, spotting a manhole in a recess.
“Never figured you for the lonely type,” he says, laying his nodachi against the wall and grabbing hold of the iron disc.
“Well, everyone else from Weyard hates us,” she says, leaning against the wall, before a shout from the coffee shop startles them, nearly causing Blados to drop the cover.
“No, Appel, you can’t just do that!”
“Yes I can, Laqqy, Yes I can,” a voice answers, carrying equally far.
“No, you cannot just replace a tentacle with a phallus. It doesn’t work that way!”
“Yes you can! That’s why tentacle porn was invented in the first place! You can go from dick to tentacle, so why can’t you go back?”
Blados and Chalis simply glance at each other, too surprised for words. The sentiment seemed to extend to the other warriors nearby, but clearly not to the users speaking.
“Okay, look, see, the tentacle can get in there, same as a penis,” Laq continues, the argument providing cover as they set about entering the sewers, “but the tentacle is flexible and long! It can do things the shorter, more rigid…”
The slam of the cover fortunately prevents any more of the tirade from reaching Blados and Chalis’ ears as they descend to the sewers in flabbergasted silence. Once there, their target is easily found, the dark red branch glowing for a second as they notice it before it and the wall behind it dissolves into a mass of miasma.
They step in, and quickly turn back as a squelch announces the melted wall restoring itself. They walk down the narrow corridor, passing under a small archway to an intersection. As they enter it, they hear the sound of rushing wind. A split second later, it lifts them and carries them down the hallway, slamming them into the wall. The wall itself curls around them, cutting off the light.
And then it opens, taking them to a wide, circular room. They step out cautiously, noting the several pipes leading outward. Blados unsheathes his sword, throwing the massive scabbard aside as another bud of concrete grows from the floor and opens, revealing a pink-skinned woman with a scythe and a blue-skinned man with a curved, red sword.
Seeing his chance for a surprise attack, Blados rushes at Saturos, the latter easily blocking the blow. He rides the momentum, leaping back as Menardi readies herself to face Chalis, but he’s met with a blast of wind from the side. Neither party expecting this, they simply watch as he sails up and is caught by another concrete bud, closing and retreating into the wall as he lands.
“Good for us,” Blados smiles as he and Chalis take their combat stances, on opposite sides of Menardi, who readies her own weapon.
“Yes. It’s widely known that Saturos is the stronger of the two,” Chalis says, smiling wickedly. Her good humor fades, however, as Menardi lets out a sinister laugh.
“Saturos is the better fighter, sure,” she says, the pure malice in her smile causing the other woman to involuntarily step back, “But why do you think that makes me weak?”
Saturos looks around as the bud opens, and grimaces as he spots Agatio and Karst, standing in front of a thick metal door. It was quite obvious that the pair were tasked with obstructing his goal. His sister-in-law’s jaw drops, but Agatio smiles and walks forward, smashing his fist into his palm.
“Well! Never would have prognosticated that you and Leo were our employer’s enemies!” the muscle-bound man says, “Come, Karst. Let’s see if the lofty borough of his domicile has made him soft!”
“You know, Agatio,” Saturos says, taking a fighting stance, “using large words doesn’t make you sound smart.”
The Magician and The Shadow
Agatio charges, aiming to put Saturos off balance before he can cast Protect. A flash of the red blade strikes Agatio’s vambrace, knocking his attack off course as Saturos steps in, delivering a palm strike to the solar plexus, stopping Agatio in his tracks. The ground under the larger man rumbles briefly before erupting into a column of lava, Saturos’ Pyroclasm launching Agatio high into the air.
The columns obscure Karst, who quickly unleashes a blast of fire on her opponent. The blast throws Saturos back, but he manages to right himself in time to slice the dragon of flame erupting to catch him in the air. The fiery apparition bursts around him as Agatio falls, the muscular man yelling as he approaches. He slams his fist towards Saturos, who simply rolls to the side before stabbing upwards. Karst leans back, narrowly avoiding being stabbed in the throat, and swings her scythe down at her enemy’s head.
A quick twist of the wrist locks the red sword with the scythe, and Saturos flips to the side, kicking a still-charging Agatio in the chin as he rises. Karst gives her scythe a sharp tug while Saturos is in the air, yanking his blade to the side and disrupting his attempt to cast psynergy. He lands in a crouch, and pulls the blade himself. As an orange orb appears at his position, the pair change places. He disentangles his sword from the now-caged Karst’s scythe. He quickly turns his sword to the side, parrying a sudden outpouring of Mars psynergy from Agatio.
Forced to hold back from finishing Karst off, he charges towards Agatio instead. The larger man backpedals as he throws streams of fire, even causing the floor to erupt. Each blast is swatted aside by Saturos’ sword, and the warrior simply runs through the pillar of lava, delivering a leaping strike that clangs into Agatio’s armor, emitting an orange cloud as it hits. Agatio punches at where Saturos should be, landing a blow on his breastplate.
Saturos lashes out with his palm, hitting Agatio in the face and breaking the larger man’s nose as the cloud vanishes. As he reels back, his eyes meet Karst’s for a split second as Cage wears off, casting Rising Dragon. The move hits this time, carrying Saturos in the air and exploding to send him down fast. Karst uses Death Scythe, leaping to hit where he would land.
Blados charges at Menardi from behind, aiming to get a drop on her. She turns, delivering a kick to his face. He stumbles back as she thrusts her scythe out, the blunt end of the tip clipping his side. The blow turns him around as she pulls the scythe back, catching him in its full arc. Blados’ armor keeps him alive, and momentum throws him behind her. She follows up with a palm strike to the chest, casting Supernova as she does.
A quick Shadow Shield from Chalis saves his life, though the taller man is thrown through the air and directly into her. She tosses him a vial as they leap to their feet and quickly roll to the side, barely dodging a wall of fire. He drinks it as his partner uses Shadow Shield again and throws a pair of spark shuriken. Menardi slaps one out of the air with her scythe, and nimbly catches the other, flipping it around and throwing it at Chalis. The item hits properly, splitting into four and electrifying her.
Blados charges at Menardi again, bringing his blade down in a diagonal slash. Menardi blocks with the handle of her scythe and slams her fist into his gut. A swift kick to the side sends Chalis flying, her failed attack buying Blados enough time to recover and step back out of distance. Menardi simply uses her Psynergy, forcing Blados to dodge and weave a series of explosions and fireballs.
He manages to breathe long enough to throw a firecracker, the explosion not fazing Menardi in the slightest. Chalis again tries flanking their foe, ducking under a sweep of the scythe to simply be lifted in the air again by another kick. Menardi takes a hand off her scythe, shooting it out to grab one of Chalis’ horns. A twist sends her flying into the wall, but not before a small pink bottle drops at Menardi’s feet.
The bottle of illusion perfume shatters, turning into a large cloud of pink, sweet-smelling mist. Blados charges as Menardi grimaces, the powerful fragrance overpowering her senses. He suddenly stops, moving his blade to block an explosion of psynergy that sent him staggering back. Another massive wave of fire burns away the perfume. Blados and Chalis leap sideways, dodging the scorching fireballs that rained on their position.
As the scorching wind fades, Menardi glares at Chalis. A split second later, she leaps, scythe in the air as the pink Proxian takes her first step away from the center of the room. Blados hurriedly uses Shadow Shield, hoping to protect his partner as her second vial of perfume misses entirely. Chalis’s eyes grow wide, spotting the apparition that marked this attack as Death Size. Menardi strikes, cleaving straight through the other woman’s defenses and slicing her in half from shoulder to hip.
Menardi turns around, glaring at a shocked Blados, and readies her scythe once again.
Saturos lands in a crouch, and Karst hears a clang as he halts the tip of her scythe with the pommel of his sword. She kicks off the ground, entering a backflip and landing a short distance away. Saturos uses the lull to cast Potent Cure, while Karst uses it for a few casts of Healing Aura, putting all three back in top form. Saturos makes a half turn as a fierce smirk crawls across his face.
“Surely that’s not all?” he asks, making sure to keep both enemies in his peripheral vision.
“Of course not,” Agatio says, holding his palm out. Saturos, surprised that it was Agatio rather than Karst who responded to the taunt, takes a quick glance upward, seeing a meteor bearing down on him.
“Wait, Agatio, we’re underground!” Karst yells, “Meteor Blow isn’t…”
She cuts off as Saturos leaps, flipping in the air to deliver a roundhouse axe kick to the meteor. As one would expect, it only chips a few bits of stone off the top, and Saturos places his palm on the resulting depression. He pours his psynergy into the lump of rock, causing it to melt from the center out. The pressure causes the meteor to fracture, eventually breaking into several pieces. The ground makes a strident peal as the rocks land, whatever eldritch rituals the cultists had used causing it to ripple under the chunks. They pass through, and when Saturos lands the three Proxians are once again in a clear room.
Agatio and Karst charge him as he lands, resuming their bout.
Blados swallows as he meets Menardi’s gaze, having lost the numerical advantage. He surreptitiously pulls his last spark shuriken, hiding it behind his nodachi’s grip as he took his stance once again. Menardi rests her scythe on the ground, moving it slightly. After a few seconds, she moves rapidly, flinging Blados’ discarded sheathe at him as she sprints at an angle.
He deflects it with his sword, sending it sailing through the pipe behind him. He throws his spark shuriken as Menardi flings something from the ground at it. The object collided with the spark shuriken, revealing itself as the one Menardi had deflected earlier. They both activate, fizzling harmlessly as Blados readies his nodachi and Menardi continues her charge.
He still had one final card, and the time had come to play it. He narrows his concentration, waiting for the moment that Menardi would come within range for him to use Punish.
Then, all of a sudden, a massive explosion appears in front of his face. The force throws him back through the pipe while the heat cooks him from the inside out. The injuries render him unable to see the small puddle of water on the floor.
From that puddle, a massive tentacle arises, nearly reaching the top of the pipe. It splits up the middle, revealing a maw deep as the abyss, lined with rows of teeth. Blados barely has time to feel surprised at its appearance before it lashes out, engulfing him as he tries and fails to scream in pain.
Menardi ignores his death, instead more worried about every other pipe sprouting an identical appendage, which advance slowly towards the circular room. She looks at the ceiling, taking note of the position of the bud Saturos had been pushed through, and leaps, using Supernova to create enough force for her to reach it as the walls of flesh and teeth started to feast on the remains of Chalis.
The clashing of steel and sizzle of flame fades in the large, circular room as Agatio and Karst leap away from the concrete bud growing near Saturos. The three Proxians glare at it in suspicion as it opens, only to relax their guard as Menardi steps out.
“Good to see you intact,” Saturos says, nodding at her.
“Yes, it was quite difficult,” Menardi says, exaggerating a yawn, “In fact, I think I might just take a nap over there…”
“I do need your help, you know.”
“Well, if you’re asking so sweetly…” Menardi says, grinning as she readies her scythe
“Oh get a room,” Karst groans, readying her own weapon.
“Sure, we’ll take the one behind you,” Menardi replies.
“Not on your life,” Agatio growls, and charges at Menardi, fist extended. She flips over him, landing a kick on his back as he passes, and lands facing the opposite direction. Saturos parries a follow-up blow from Karst, protecting Menardi’s back. A series of quick slashes forces the younger woman away. Saturos gives chase, dodging the rolling flames that filled the area he was previously in.
Menardi casts Flare Wall, forcing Agatio further back. She uses the wall of fire as cover, charging in and leaping at him as it fades, using Death Size immediately. Agatio, seeing the danger, leaps back and forces the floor to erupt in lava, barely dodging the blow. She slides to the right, avoiding the dragon that erupted afterwards, slicing at her foe as she does. As Agatio defends, she takes a half-step back before extending her scythe over her shoulder.
A clang reverberates through the room, her scythe blocking Karst’s from biting into Saturos, followed swiftly by another as his sword prevents Agatio from slamming his fist into her stomach. All four Proxians reach their free hands out, engulfing the area in a massive burst of Psynergy as the floor glows. Agatio and Karst go flying, hitting the opposite ends of the room, while Saturos and Menardi fall to their knees.
Menardi and Karst both cast their healing spells as the glow spreads over the floor, sending the four staggering to their feet. Saturos taps his helmet as he rises, and Menardi braces herself as she stands. He strikes the floor with his sword, causing the same peal of sound as when the meteor hit. Agatio and Karst, unprepared, stumble at its intensity, an opening neither Proxian could miss.
At least until the entire floor ripples, it and the walls turning transparent.
“Stay still!” Saturos shouts, clearly panicked, “No sound, no motion.”
All three heed his words, not moving a muscle as a wide, cosmic expanse spread out below and around them. The stars below vanish, covered by a dark mass of pure wrongness that slid underneath, its tendrils seeking out the lights. As the stars turn to a void, the mass shudders as a single enormous, fiery eye opens. It stirs further, seeming to almost grin in amusement before the room abruptly returns to normal.
After a brief pause to catch their breath, Saturos and Menardi both cast psynergy, filling the room with yet more fire. Karst rolls out of the way while Agatio simply defends against the torrent, both barely managing to block the chasing sword and scythe aiming at their throats. Saturos kicks off of Karst’s face, launching himself into the air while Menardi leaps back and uses her scythe to sweep Agatio off his feet. Saturos brings his sword down again as he falls, once again being parried by Karst’s scythe. This time, however, an orange haze blocks her vision.
He slips behind her, cutting her head open with a quick overhand hack as Menardi uses Death Size on Agatio, slicing his head clean off. The victorious pair share a glance before looking at the metal double door their friends had been guarding. They place their hands on each side, focusing all their psynergy into their palms. The door blows backwards, sending a massive gout of flames into the room. The immense heat destroys the delicate equipment within, causing an explosion.
Another concrete flower opens at their feet, conveniently whisking the pair back to the surface. Menardi hails a cab as Saturos leans against the wall, neither wanting to make the trek back to headquarters on foot.
Epilogue: Freedom in Death’s Sight
Karst’s eyes snap open, showing her an unfamiliar, off-white ceiling. The smell of disinfectant tickles her nose, identifying her location as DFederal General Hospital. She feels a hand on each shoulder, both pouring psynergy into her, and she glances around, seeing Jenna healing her while Sheba reads her mind.
“I can confirm Karst is mentally sound after her revival,” Sheba says, stepping back and moving to the door. The blonde Jupiter adept leans against the chest of the brown-haired, ponytailed man standing next to it, hand on his sword. Felix pats her on the head silently, obviously standing guard. She could see blue-green hair through the window, confirming Piers’s presence outside, and a quick glance next to her shows Agatio sitting up in his bed, reading a thesaurus.
“We’re considered flight risks, are we?” she asks.
“Obviously,” Sheba says, “Why else would all four of us be here?”
“Certainly not out of goodwill,” Jenna says, glaring at both of them.
A knock at the door breaks the tense silence, all five people in the room turning to look as Piers opens the door, letting in a man in a zipped gray jacket and gray pants. He touches something above the collar of his jacket, revealing a, orange mask covering his face. The sunken eye sockets, a solid, dark blue like the rest of the detailing on the mask, turned to look at each member of the pair in turn. The surprise at Leo’s entrance almost makes them miss Saturos and Menardi switching places with Felix and Sheba, the latter giving her sister a friendly wave.
“So. Exactly why were you guarding the jammer?”
“Beast asked us to,” Agatio says, “And we can hardly refuse a Bureau.”
“I suggest doing so in the future,” Saturos interjects, “Especially because he sent you to the Sewer Depths of all places.”
“Yeah, I’d also suggest entirely forgetting about that place,” Leo says, “Luckily for you, you were only in the shallow levels. If you went deeper, well…”
“Well what?” Agatio asks, annoyed at Leo’s caginess.
“You wouldn’t have been able to be revived with your mind intact. Or at all, in some cases. Comparing those things to what you saw would be like comparing an ant to, well, me,” Leo says with an unsettling laugh, “So let them lie in the dark, and be grateful they stay there.”
Agatio and Karst nod in unison, taking his warning to heart when they see Saturos turning pale and tightening his grip on Menardi’s hand. Leo nods, satisfied, and continues.
“Oh, and about the combat… it seems that Menardi fought Blados and Chalis, as well, so I’ll be adding that as a three-team match. They’re here, too; died well before you two, and are being guarded by the other four Adepts. I’ll send Menardi along later to get full details,” he says, turning to leave. Saturos and Menardi follow him out, leaving Felix and Sheba to once again take up their guard positions.
The match mirrored the previous result, with Saturos and Menardi taking first due to their better teamwork and lack of specialization allowing them to cover each other. Agatio and Karst came second due to being slightly less skilled individually and as a team, as well as having heavier specialization between them. Blados and Chalis came last due to their lack of teamwork, reliance on items, and being so heavily specialized that Blados can't give support while Chalis can't do damage.To see the original battle, weapons, and votes, click here.
Battles here were deemed to be unfair or otherwise not in accordance with wiki standards, and have been removed from the statuses of the warriors and displayed below.
In a large coliseum, shrouded in darkness, three gates are being prepared to be opened. The twelve gates are set and labeled as if the arena was a gigantic clock, and several shadowy figures are stationed in the stands. The bloody corpses of the previous fight are dragged out of Gate 12, along with any debris, and the blood is cleaned off the stone floor. Gate 12 closes, and Gates 2, 6, and 10 open. Out of each gate comes a set of two warriors, one blue and one pink. Out of Gate 2 comes Saturos and Menardi, sword and scythe at the ready. Gate 6 spawns Agatio and Karst, both ready to fight, and Gate 10 spawns Blados and Chalis, who step out cautiously. Agatio and Karst quickly move to the side of Saturos and Menardi, thinking that joining with their former teammates will give them an edge against Blados and Chalis. Saturos nods to the two, and he and Menardi advance on the remaining duo. Blados, noticing this team-up, unsheathes his Nodachi and both he and Chalis take battle stances.
Agatio charges in first, casting Rising Dragon on Blados, who takes extra damage because of his weakness to Mars psynergy. Karst then strikes with Firey Blast, damaging both Blados and Chalis. Chalis retaliates by throwing Illusion Perfume at the duo, while Blados strikes Agatio with Punish, slicing him seven times, followed by throwing a Spark Shuriken, which damages both of them.
Saturos casts Potent Cure on Agatio, while flanking the other pair. Menardi, following his lead, moves at a crouch. “Why aren’t we fighting?” she asks him.
“If I’ve judged this right, we’re fighting all four of them. Wearing ourselves out is foolish at this point. Let’s just use basic attacks,” he replies. Menardi smiles at him, grateful that she has an intelligent partner.
In the battle, Agatio and Chalis are brawling, while Karst is fending off Blados. Karst has severely nerfed Blados’ attack power by stacking Heat Kiss debuffs, so she is able to heal through his attacks. Agatio has been damaging Chalis, but he has taken a lot of damage in return, since Karst cannot fully out-heal Chalis. He decides to cast Cage on Chalis, immobilizing her. The two then focus all their attention on Blados. Blados casts Shadow Shield on himself, reducing all incoming damage. Agaio and Karst’s attacks do minimal damage, and Chalis is released from the immobilization.
Saturos leaps at Blados from behind, using Heat Flash, while Menardi simultaneously attacks with Death Size. Blados takes a large amount of damage from Saturos’ attack, and Death Size’s effect kicks in, killing Blados instantly. The four of them now turn to face Chalis. Clearly outnumbered, she repeadedly casts Shadow Shield on herself to lower incoming damage. Unfortunately, doing this means that she misses most opportunities to attack, so she falls from a Meteor Blow from Agatio, of which Saturos and Menardi barely dive out of the blast area.
Agatio and Karst turn to Saturos and Menardi to talk about the battle, but instead see them adopting battle stances. Menardi casts Wish, and only belatedly do they realize that it only healed their friends. Before they can react, Saturos uses Heat Flash to get a quick surprise attack in, and Menardi casts Supernova directly afterwards. Reeling from the sudden attack, Karst has just enough time to cast Healing Aura to heal some of the damage alongside Agatio’s cast of Rising Dragon on Menardi. As Menardi is seized in the summoned dragon’s mouth, Saturos casts Pyroclasm once again, causing the ground underneath Agatio and Karst to spew lava. After the dragon explodes and she falls to the ground, Menardi uses Death Size against Karst. Karst casts Healing Aura, and Agatio uses his standard attack against Saturos. Saturos counters with Pyroclasm, and Menardi strikes with Flare Storm. Saturos looks at her in annoyance for using such a weak attack*as Agatio casts Cage on Menardi and Karst uses Death Scythe on Saturos in a last-ditch attempt to beat the pair.
It fails catastrophically, with Cage missing and Death Scythe’s effect not working. Saturos smiles, knowing he has won. He prepares to cast, along with Menardi, the latter of whom exclaims, “Prepare to experience first-hand the horror of a master Fire Adept!” They cast Pyroclams and Supernova simultaneously, the combined release of Mars Psynergy killing both Agatio and Karst.
The battle is concluded, with one pair left standing. One of the shadowy figures watching rises to his feet and summons a blast of light from above, obliterating the remaining combatants
“Hello all. As you may know, I, Leolab, am the sponsor of this match. I’d like to make a formal announcement that I will not sponsor any more matches. Instead, I will simply supervise and make sure this arena runs smoothly, essentially staying on in an administrative capacity. Thank you, and have fun.”
* Seriously, I fucking hate the flare series
Saturos and Menardi were the superior duo due to their superior power. Agatio and Karst were tough, but Saturos and Menardi are, canonically, stronger. Blados and Chalis were, overall, pretty weak enemies.
Only Blados and Chalis were given their full arsenal, invalidating the battle due to the nerfing of Saturos, Menardi, Agatio, and Karst.To see the original battle, weapons, and votes, click here.