Saturday, June 3, 2017

Akuma No Imouto Chapter Five

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<-----First Chapter

Your name is Nagito Masaomi, and you’re currently standing in an Izakaya in the middle of Tokyo, watching a fallen angel draw her sword and wondering what threat could possibly warrant such a drastic measure, as such a thing is a drastic measure.  Fallen angels are quite capable without a weapon, after all.  So of course, you ask in a panic, “G-Gabrielle, right??  What’s going on here?”

“Annie can explain,” Gabrielle answers, holding her sword out to her side as she approaches the old men eating in the corner of the restaurant who’d looked over at you earlier.  You glance at the rest of the customers, but they don’t seem to notice the sword-wielding angel, so you just turn to Annie, eyebrows raised.

“Huh?  Oh, yeah!”  Annie nods, standing up then stepping to hide behind you, “I sort of have a problem with Furies chasing me everywhere I go…”

“What the Hell is a Fury?” You question, as it doesn’t sound like any type of demon you’ve heard of.

“Furies are from Hell!” Annie laughs a bit as she explains, “Anyway, I’m an occultist, so I know about all sorts of things.  I’d say that the likelihood of any given person knowing about beings, excluding normal animals and such… Would go humans, humans with exceptional abilities, demons, ghosts, then furies.  So they’re super uncommon.”

“That doesn’t explain what they are!” You hiss to her, keeping your eyes on Gabrielle’s slow approach to the table, “And why is she just… walking?”

“Oh, right.  Furies are kind of mindless creatures which have unmatchable power, disguise themselves to blend in with normal people, and decide on targets at random to drag down to Hell.  Most of the time, these targets don’t stand a chance, but I have Gabrielle on my side so I can fend them off.  I mean, they’ll follow me around the rest of my life, but… I guess it’s fine.”

“That’s the opposite of fine!  Unmatchable power??” You question, turning to look at her and unable to avoid grabbing her shoulders, “If it’s unmatchable, how can we beat them?  And if you’re dealing with these things all the time, then why bother getting involved in petty drama?  This is clearly much more important!”

“Their power is unmatchable, but they’re not smart.  So somebody strong and smart can beat them with strategy…”  Annie explains, rolling her eyes, “I don’t have to deal with them all the time.  It’s just occasionally that enough of them end up together to launch an attack, and the thing is that this technically isn’t even a big enough group by their standards at this point… Which is why if Gabrielle approaches super slowly, she can beat one of them and get a pick before they go into assault mode.  They’re still hoping to get a couple more furies before the next attack.  They’re just smart enough to grasp the concept of power in numbers when it comes to a tough opponent.”

“There’s like ten old men there!” You insist, pointing in their direction, “If they’re unmatchable, shouldn’t that be more than enough?”

Two is more than enough… When they’re up against normal people,” She sighs and reaches down onto the table, grabbing some of the sake that Jasper left behind on the table, “Oh, my dear Jasper left some alcohol behind for me.  How kind,” She sips it, then giggles, “But they’ve learned at least a little bit.  A fallen angel, an occultist, and I usually travel with a professional demon hunter, after all.  That’s quite the combination.”

“So uh…” You look around the restaurant again, “What about the patrons?”
“They’ll be unbothered,” She takes another sip, eyes closed, “In fact, any property damage sustained during this battle will simply be remedied as soon as it’s over.  It’s almost as if Furies exist in this world to be battled, but whoever was supposed to do battle with them has forsaken us to this fate of defending ourselves.”

“You seem pretty damn unbothered yourself…” You note, grimacing as Gabrielle finally reaches the old men and cleaves one of them in half horizontally.  The others immediately become alert, and morph from the humanoid disguises into abominations which defy description.

“It’s just another Tuesday,” Annie shrugs, then puts the sake cup back down and reaches behind herself, pulling out a long, probably illegal knife she had strapped to her back so well that it was impossible to tell it was under her clothing.  It’s much too long to be allowed for carrying in public.  She holds it in front of herself, taking up a fighting stance, then looks to you and shouts, “Well, don’t just stand there!  You talked to me, so they’ll try to get you too during this encounter.  Either run or get ready to fight!”

“Fuck!” You can’t think of anything more intelligent to say than that.  You could ask if Jasper could have known that these creatures were here when he summoned her to this place, or you could ask another question on their nature, but you just don’t.  You swear instead, then pull out your phone and dial your sister, “Ryo!  Close the bar and get out to Kokoro Izakaya as quick as possible!”

“Good grief, I can’t do that,” She groans, “Did you get in a fight with that Annie girl?  Just don’t kill the angel, she’s cute.  I mean, you’re capable of that, right?  It is the new moon…”

“That’s not who I got in a fight with!” You explain, panicked, “Apparently there’s these things called Furies, which have unmatchable power and can kill most things easily!  And there’s nine of them!  Come on, I need some help here!”

“Good grief, and after I hired Vicente on such short notice to cover for you… Well, nobody else can run the bar here with the same level of quality as me, and I guess it’s a slow day, so I can close up… I’ll bring Vicente and Koren along too.  If these things are really strong enough that you’re scared, I guess we might need their help.  Even with Gabrielle there.”

She hangs up the phone, and you’re relieved that she’s coming to help.  You look to Annie, then shout out at Gabrielle, “I can help if you can get them outside!”

“I just told you the property damage is unimportant, why would you have to be outside?” Annie questions, but Gabrielle meets your eyes and gives a nod of understanding, using a table as a springboard to reach Annie quickly, grab her, and pull her outside.  You follow as the Furies chase after her, and once outside, go ahead and take on your truest form.  When the moon is shining, you’re restricted to human size, but on nights like this, you take on several stories.

A Gashadokuro; A gigantic skeleton which preys on nights when the moon doesn’t shine, searching for humans to harvest the bones from.  They say that if one hears a sharp ringing in their ears on such a night, they should go indoors immediately, and under no circumstances look behind.  Admittedly, you’re not quite the thing of terror, given that you’re not great at the whole preying on people thing and often weren’t able to eat before moving in with Ryo.  Lucky for you, she feeds on everything but the bones, so it’s a symbiotic relationship.

Your failures at finding people to eat, however, hinge on today’s society of nobody walking alone at night for long stretches of time, and thus failing to fulfill the requirements; it isn’t like you’re unskilled as a demon in general, and Ryo’s right to think you can hold your own.  Maybe not to think you could beat a fallen angel, but for all her teasing and all your failure, she still seems to look up to you when it comes to combat.

Though, perhaps that’s because she can use you as a tool to become even more terrifying on those occasions when you can grow to full size.  A ribcage is a great base of operations for a spider queen, after all.  It’s kind of weird to have bugs inside your chest, but you got used to it quite some time ago, since she first came up with this strategy while you were teenagers.  Well, back then you were stronger than her; all the strategy in the world couldn’t help when she was too timid to seize control of any of the others’ spider armies, and had about fifteen spiders to her name.

As the furies emerge from the restaurant, you turn and bend down to swipe at one, throwing it into a building.  Gabrielle launches after it, and while it’s still pressed to the wall, skewers it through, then looks up and gives you a thumbs-up and a grin.  With the number already down to eight, you have to wonder if these things are really as terrifying as described-

Then, you feel it.  It’s a burning pain which goes all the way through you, stinging through all of your bones with a peculiar intensity.  You can’t help but cry out at the pain, and Gabrielle’s grin turns to a look of horror.  She removes her sword from the current beast and flies toward the hand you’d used to slap it, and sticks her sword next to the bone.  You look and see that there’s a hardened black tar stuck to your metacarpals, but she pries it off, then dashes up the rest of your arm to speak in your ear, “Careful!  If they leave this stuff behind on you, it will attempt to cause you so much pain that you die from the shock.  This is the method through which Furies kill.  You can’t let it stay caked on for too long.”

“Would’ve been nice to know that ahead of time!” You complain, “But thanks for getting it off of me.  I’ll keep that in mind.  Does it happen anytime you touch them?”

“No, only if they predict your attack well enough to apply it while you’re hitting.  Try not to telegraph your attacks as much as possible, okay?  With your size, I’d say make a show of targeting one of them only to hit another nearby.  That was a real good hit, though, so please keep it up!” With this, she takes off again, flying back to ground level and taking her own advice, divebombing one only to turn at the last minute to attack another.

So with this knowledge, you realize that you need to make sure none of them are able to sneak up on you, but it’s still confusing to hear their power is unmatched.  Maybe it’s just because of how good at combat Gabrielle is, though, seeing as she’s already killed two herself.  Annie seems to be holding up okay too, though her knife seems to only subdue them for a few moments; the creatures are durable.  They’re clearly targeting her more than you or Gabrielle, but aren’t ignoring you either.  Of course a force of destruction, even with a specific mission, would want to spread its influence further.

Even with the danger of the painful slime, you get the impression that Annie overexaggerated the danger.  Still, Gabrielle isn’t smiling, doesn’t look confident even as she destroys another one.  That’s what remains concerning to you.  A fallen angel should be able to handle this just fine, should have absolutely nothing to worry about; but you can’t deny the worried grimace on her face.  Annie seems unbothered, though.  You realize, suddenly, and shout to Gabrielle, “You know something we don’t!”

“What possible reason could I have to hide information from you!?” Gabrielle yells back to you, and she has a point, though she does continue on, “I just have a bad feeling about this, is all!  I don’t know what it means and it’s probably unimportant, now focus on the fight or something will go wrong!”

“Gabbie’s right, dipshit!” Annie calls to you too, then hits the Fury directly in front of her with another swipe from her very illegal knife.  You return to the fight yourself, landing another good hit only to find that the creatures aren’t focusing Annie anymore.  You look around, but can’t see anyone else that they could now be targeting.  When you return your gaze to the Furies, it seems that they’ve actually converged on each other.

Before your eyes, the remaining beasts combine into a singular mass.  Gabrielle rushes toward it and plunges her sword into it, only to find herself stuck as it continues to grow, taking on the form of an entirely different creature.  It seems to resemble a hydra in some ways, but it still has the idea of its previous, separate forms, its skin seeming to be unstable.  You’re barely finished witnessing the formation of a being which rivals your own size when all of its six heads let out an ear-splitting screech.  You can’t stand your ground and find yourself hurled backwards, shrinking in size with the force of the soundwave.  You’re back to human size when you land on the pavement, ears ringing.  There’s a very distant sounding crack that you know to be your arm from the pain that you feel, and the fact that you look down to see half your arm detached.

That’s what happens when a skeleton breaks a bone, after all.  You kind of fall apart.  You can fix it, but there’s one other thing which catches your attention.  A small creature sits by your head, clicking its toungue.  It takes care to talk loud enough that you can hear even with the aftermath of that sound the monster made, “Oh my.  This is a problem.”

“What… Are you?” You question, and the thing looks down at you, empty eyes glinting.

Oh One (Distributor)
“I’m what’s known as a Distributor.  We feed on Furies, especially when they turn into monsters like these,” It shakes its head, “But we can’t fight on our own.  We have to mark other beings to become half-distributor and use their own abilities to destroy these for us.”

“If you marked one of us… Could we defeat that thing?” You instinctively wonder aloud.

“No,” It gives a matter-of-fact response, but then continues, rubbing its cheek with a paw, “I mean yes, technically, but… That would be a waste of energy.  Usually when the Furies get strong enough to form monsters, the world experiences some sort of magical leak.  It becomes so saturated with magic that marked humans learn to harness it.  When it’s just a small population of natural magic-users who can see these things, why bother?”

“So you know more about the Furies?  If you’re not going to help, can you at least explain?” You sit up and grab your detached arm with your functioning one and hold it together at the fracture point, where your magic gets to work repairing it.

“Sure thing!” It hops over to sit in front of you and look up at your face, “Those things… If you lose in a fight against them, all damage done to the surroundings during the fight will be permanent.  Civilians will be seriously hurt or even killed!  The military can’t do anything though, because battles can only be engaged in by magical beings.  It really is tragic that your planet hasn’t evolved to give its inhabitants an effective way to combat these things.  Even your most powerful natural magic users can’t take one of these on alone!”

“And there’s nothing you can do?” You question, a panic setting in to your chest.  Not only does such a horrifying thing exist, but there’s nothing on this planet which can take one on?  Is the demon world in danger too, or is it just the human world?  You’d have to assume it’s demonkind too, since Furies are considered ‘more supernatural’ than your species by Annie’s classification.

“There isn’t!  But you’ve never encountered a Fury before, right?  Chances are, if you continue living a normal life, you never will again.  If I were you, I’d just run away and let the battle end now before anything else happens,” It gives a slow blink.  This creature, this… “Distributor”, it looks like a mangy stray cat which had already lost all nine lives drowning in sewer pipes.  The quadruped interpretation of ‘least wanting to meet in a dark alley’.  Still, you’re inclined to take its advice.  What do you care if a section of Tokyo gets leveled?  Hell, that’s just more of Akuma’s competition taken out of the equation.  And with the population of humans on the planet, their lives really don’t hold much value to you as a member of a species which eats them.

Vicente Romão
“Yeah, you could do that,” A voice snaps you out of your thoughts alongside a light kick to the ribs, “But it’s not like that thing can kill you, Onii-chan.  Are you really gonna just give up again?  For once in our goddamn lives, why don’t we lose fair and square?”

“Ryo?” You question, looking up at her, “Look, aren’t I allowed to be scared of the giant hydra which just knocked me eight blocks?”

“Nah, that’s bullshit,” Ryo shakes her head, then reaches down and pulls you to your feet against your will, “We promised, didn’t we, when we got to the mortal world?  We’d leave behind the past versions of ourselves.  We’d become strong, and never be afraid again.  I intend on keeping that promise.  Don’t you?”

“Pretty sure I already broke it like two days after we got here.  I’m kind of a coward,” You protest, but Ryo’s already giving you a shit-eating grin that makes it quite clear you won’t be able to get out of this.  You groan, then look behind her to see Koren and a couple of people you’ve never met, “Vicente, I presume?  And…”

Lulu Randoseru
“That’s right,” Vicente nods, then pats the head of the much smaller girl standing beside him, “And this is Lulu.”

“Pleased to meet you,” Lulu smiles and bows in her introduction, then stands up straight again and steps forward slowly, smirking at the Distributor which still sits on the ground, “Hello, kitty.  You and I are both strange beings, right?” She turns back to look at you, “Hey, Nagi-kun, right?  I’m a type of demon you’ve never heard of before.  Maybe I’ll explain it to you sometime!  Anyway, let’s defeat this monster.  Just to prove we can.”

“I agree,” Vicente grins, stepping forward as well, “As an incubus, my combat skills are sorely lacking, but that’s not to say I have none.  I’m strong for one of my kind, and I do have a bit of fire magic.”

“Come on, Koren, you’ll be on my side… Right?” You look to your last vestige of hope, and she gives a lazy shrug.

“Normally, sir, I absolutely would be!  But honeypie, I’m itching for a good fight as much as the next demon!  It has been a very long time, and seeing as I’m centuries old, I should be able to handle myself by now.  In fact, I’m so old that I can remember the days before contracts were regulated, before there was even such a thing as government for demons,” She slithers forward, baring her fangs, “I remember anarchy, sweetheart, and if you did too then you’d know why I miss the feeling from time to time!”

“Ugh, fine, I guess,” You roll your eyes, and since there’s no way you’ll be escaping the fate of battling this thing, return to full size once again.  Ryo shoots out a web and swings up into your ribcage and calls all the spiders in the area.

“What in the…” Annie’s still on the ground and speaks with terror as she notices the spiders pouring out of every crack and crevice, grimacing, “A-Are there really this many spiders around you at any given point in time??”

“Of course!” Ryo responds, leaning out to wave, “Gabbie~!  We’ve got this under control, so could you go ahead and get your human to safety?”

“Yes, of course, Ryo-chan!” Gabrielle nods, then picks Annie up bridal style and flies off with her out of range of the monster.  You envy them, being able to just run away like that, but you do keep moving forward.  Ryo smirks, not that you can see it, but you know she is as her spiders surge toward the thing.  They’re only there for a moment, and when they’re finished there’s a layer of spider silk over the monster.  When it tries to secrete the pain slime again, it all gets trapped under the silk.  The creature is unaffected by its own pain slime, but at least it can’t try to fling it or anything.  Though its parts seemed too unintelligent to do such a thing, you don’t know what to expect from it now that it’s formed into a monster.

“Me next!  Vicente, darling, can you back me up in case this thing works like a real hydra?” Koren slithers forward, gesturing for the incubus to follow up.  You do know that his variety of demon occasionally has fire magic, so you assume that’s what Koren is referring to.  She approaches the creature despite it letting out another wail which you’ve now braced yourself against, as if the sound doesn’t even affect her.  Vicente, too, stands his ground and even continues pressing forward against the shockwave.  Are you really just that much of a wimp?  No, you realize, there’s two factors at play.  Preparation, and the fact that the scream is weaker this time.  There’s even spider silk in its mouth.  Smart Ryo.

Koren lunges forward and slices with her claws, but seems to miss; her nails don’t connect with the creature at all.  Still, moments later, the three heads are sliding away from their necks.  She shouts out, “Vicente, before it grows back!”

“Of course~” He leaps up and just as you thought he would, burns the neck stumps so that new heads can’t sprout from them if that’s something which the monster would do.  Despite now being totally headless, the monster doesn’t fall or stop moving.  Vicente and Koren fall back, staring at the creature which is now chasing after them.

“I told you!” The distributor speaks up, and somehow you can hear it even though it’s not shouting, and it’s nowhere near you, “It really is a tragedy, but there’s just no way that anyone on this whole planet, no, in your entire universe… Could possibly defeat a monster!  It just can’t be helped.”

“It’s my turn,” Lulu steps forward slowly, a sweet and unbothered smile on her face, “I was hoping this would be unnecessary, but I suppose… I need to do this if we want to destroy that thing.”

“Didn’t you hear what I just said?  It’s completely impossible.  There’s hardly any additional magic in this world; I could mark maybe one naturally magical being.  That is insufficient, I can’t help you, and nothing which hasn’t been marked stands a chance against this thing,” The distributor speaks to her, “Only the marked are immune to its slime!”

“You keep saying that, but you haven’t seen what I’m capable of yet,” Lulu chuckles, then jumps into the air and seems to somehow pull a ton of daggers out of thin air, then sends them flying towards the creature.  WIthout a mouth, it somehow cries out in pain when the weapons connect, then she pulls two full-length swords to hold in each hand and dives toward it.

She digs into the creature with both swords, then pulls them to opposite sides, tearing open the ever-inconsistent flesh of the monster.  She reaches in, then pulls out a glowing orb.  The creature falls still, and she gives a cocky smirk as she approaches the distributor, “You’ll be wanting this, won’t you?”


“What the…” The distributor stares up at her and takes the orb, shoving it into its mouth.  Once the orb’s been eaten, the monster’s corpse disappears, and the distributor continues speaking, “How is this possible?  How are you a magical girl without a mark?  Only the marked can touch these orbs without dropping dead!”

“The thing is,” Lulu puts her hands on her hips, “You can’t underestimate humans.  Sure, they can’t use magic, but they can use science, and they created me.  I’m part of a project to create people based on public consciousness.  You probably know it as the internet… So I’m born of a lot of traits of public perception.  There’s a lot of us, me in particular, I’m based on perception of lolis and magical girls, so I figured… I had to have some connection to real magical girls.”

“You’re smart!” The distributor notes, “How did you figure all of this out?  How did you know I was connected to magical girls?”

“Of course I’m smart, I’m a teacher.  Well, I was, I’m out of work right now,” Lulu shrugs, “Anyway, it was pretty obvious to me.  Magical girls always have a small sidekick guide of some sort.  Though normally they’re a lot cuter, and way less openly sinister…”

“I’m not sinister at all!  I expressed many times how sad I was that your universe was doomed,” The distributor shakes its head, “It’s super, duper depressing!  I want to help but I really can’t!”

“Well, it looks like I can keep this under control,” Lulu offers, taking a step closer to the distributor, “And if I can’t, well, I guess our universe is out of luck.  So why don’t you go somewhere that you can actually do something?”

“Good idea!  I’m kind of wasting my time, sticking around here,” The distributor laughs, “Maybe in another timeline, I could have saved your world… But all I can say now is good luck,” With that, it turned and walked away, fading out as it went.

“God, that was weird…” You mumble as you return to your normal size and your disguise, noting that the destruction is rewinding itself and assuming that the world will soon resume as usual, as if nothing had even happened.

“I’d never seen that happen before…” Annie added in as Gabrielle landed once more, carrying her, back on the scene now that the battle was finished, “But, didn’t that disgusting cat say that the Furies were getting smarter or something?”

“Yes…” Gabrielle nodded, then mumbled her next words, “It seems that they have a unique evolutionary curve, in which they’ll stay the same way for many centuries before suddenly developing greater abilities when they sense a challenge…”

“So is it because of us that Furies can become Monsters now?” Annie asks, furrowing her brow, “Is it our fault that Miss Lulu has to fight?”

“The long and short of it is yes, it’s your fault,” Lulu notes as she approaches the two of them, tapping her own cheek, “However, it’s my own choice to stand against them, and I think the Monsters are more intent on widespread destruction, so I’m going to assume that those things won’t be following you around.  For the most part, it will just seem like natural disasters, won’t it?  The world can handle a few more of those than usual.  There’s plenty of humans.  I’ll just fight the ones that I happen across, or if it turns out they’re threatening a nuclear plant or something.”

“Oh, in that case, I guess it’s fine!” Annie shrugs, then looks up to Gabrielle again, “Gabbie~?  Do you think that you could get me to a hospital, please?”

“That does seem important,” You note, realizing that the fragile human girl must have been terribly hurt in that soundwave.  After all, the bones you eat serve to strengthen your own, an effect that could only truly be achieved by a mortal by drinking a hundred gallons of milk to every one bone you’ve eaten, and you still broke one of them.  She’s surprisingly calm for the amount of injuries she must have suffered… “Aren’t you in pain?”

“No, dummy, I’m in shock,” She explained, then looked back to Gabrielle.

“Of course.  We’ll get you medical attention before the shock wears out,” Gabrielle nods, then turns and takes off at top speed for the nearest hospital.  Luckily, it’s Tokyo, so it won’t be too tough to find one.

You heave a deep sigh, then cross your arms over your chest and turn to the others.  Ryo looks like she’s about to burst out laughing, so you relent, “Okay, yes.  That did pretty much all happen because I decided to go on a date with some famous dude who left his number with the tip without saying a word to me his entire meal.”

“I told you, Vicente!  His type’s bad people!” Ryo gets out between guffaws, and Vicente starts chuckling along with her.  So she mentioned to him that Nagi was unlikely to end up with a crush on him… He groaned.

“Forty-three!  This guy was fourty-three.  That’s less than two full decades, and he sure didn’t look it, so there.  I don’t have a type.  Not at all.  Not in the least,” You shake your head.

“Sure you say that, but you know, the day that you actually have a crush on someone your own age, Onii-chan, I’ll eat my favorite pair of socks,” Her laughter fades to a giggle, “See, that isn’t the worst bet in the world, because even though I’ll be losing my favorite socks, I’ll get silk material.  Just a little bit of a bumper there in case you defy all expectations, and so that I’m not trying to sabotage you if it does seem like you’re falling for someone under forty.”

“That’s quite the complicated bet, dearie,” Koren smirks as she slithers back to Ryo’s side, “Why, it almost sounds like you’re rooting for him to actually have a healthy relationship for once in his life~!”

“Are you kidding me?  Of course I’m not.  My extent of caring about my big brother is just enough to let him stay in my home, no more, no less,” She turns her nose up, frowning, but then loses her composure and starts laughing again, “Kidding, of course!  Onii-chan, you don’t even know all that I’ve done for you!  I wouldn’t do all that if I didn’t care about your well-being, anyway…”

“Wow, I’m finally getting to see the dere aspect of my so-called tsundere little sister!” You start laughing as well, and it’s genuine happiness.  You’re not living as a miserable disaster now.  You have Ryo, and all her friends are ready to befriend you too.  All you have to do is let them.

Next Chapter ->

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