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A fine mist from the waterfall next to them coalesced upon Melan's armor, giving it a slick sheen. Marin's eyes, wide and watery from barely unshed tears, did not take notice of the tiny droplets that coursed down her face. Instead, she gave into a sob, and let her tears fall.

"Melan, I love you! I always have... Please, Melan stay with me! If not on Earth, then take me with you to Brigadoon! Please... please Melan, don't leave me!" Melan struggled not to choke on his own tears, kneeling upon the long green grass.

He closed his eyes briefly trying to find the right words to convey his heart to the little human that had changed his entire world. He opened his eyes.

"Marin, I-" Melan's eyes widened suddenly in horror and shock, his tears falling unheeded. "M-Marin? Marin!" The girl was no longer before him, and Melan's panic and confusion increased tenfold when he saw a splash of vivid red blood dripping from a blade of grass.

Right before his eyes, the droplets of blood grew brighter and brighter, while everything around them paled and slowly turned gray. Soon, he was encased in a black and gray forest, the once beautiful land dull and disturbingly quiet.

Melan yelled out for Marin, jolting in renewed horror when not a sound emerged from his throat. Desperate, he shot into the sky, scanning the trees for any trace of Marin. Darting back and forth, Melan struggled desperately to call out to her, knowing that somehow, if he had her in his arms, the world would once again be full of life.

Marin, where are you?! Marin! The words he wished to scream echoed useless in his head, and Melan gritted his teeth as a chaotic mix of fear, helplessness, and rapidly growing rage at his situation clashed.

A shudder suddenly coursed through his frame, and Melan flicked his eyes up at the sky. The blackness visibly rippled, and Melan found himself abruptly encased in complete darkness, a cold unlike anything he had felt before encasing him.

Melan blanched when he found his body unable to adjust, and he floated helplessly, limbs frozen in frost, oppressive darkness all about him. He had no choice but to wait and listen to the gentle sobs in the dark... wait, sobs?

"Melan... oh Melan... Why did you abandon me?"

I haven't abandoned you, Marin! I'm right here! Please, Marin, hear me! Melan struggled frantically, as Marin's quiet sobs grew even fainter.

"I know I'm not perfect and that I'm not smart but, but... I love you! Melan! Please! Come back! Don't leave me all alone!"

The overwhelming heartache and pain that rang within those words gave him the necessary strength to break free of the frost that had immobilized him. Melan tossed his head back and with all his might screamed into the nothingness.

"MARIN!"


 

Melan shot straight up, gun humming with charged energy and breath ragged. His eyes darted about, before realizing where he was. With a deep sigh, Melan lay back down upon the warm stoned of the roof he had been sleeping upon and deactivated his gun, basking in the soothing light of Brigadoon's sun.

Almost hesitatingly closing his eyes, Melan reflected upon the horrible excuse for a dream that had been haunting him ever since he had left Marin upon Earth. 20 years to the day had passed since he'd left her, and his heart ached painfully at the thought of her. Was she happy in the tenement, with her family? Was she still in school?

Or... or had she married with some undeserving human male and had kids? He scowled at the last thought, before giving into a tired sigh.

It didn't matter how he felt, as long as Marin was happy. He turned over onto his side, and keeping his eyes closed, felt himself slowly, oh so slowly, fall back into a deep, and hopefully dreamless, sleep.

Unfortunately, it seemed that life at the moment hated him.

Melan mentally stiffened when he heard the soft patter of feet walking towards him. He kept still and pretended to be deep asleep. Maybe the person would leave him alone if they thought he was a sleep.

No such luck.

"Melan? Hey.. Hey! Melan~!" Melan jolted out of his fake sleep when a paw poked his shoulder, his audials ringing from the loud, sing-song tone of a certain Chairperson of the Life Improvement Committee. He hid a shudder, an after affect of the nightmare, and glanced to his left.

"...Lolo?"

"Got it in one!" Melan ignored Lolo's cheerful tone and got straight to the point, worried that Lolo had seen him asleep while under the affects of the nightmare.

"What do you need of me?" Lolo went silent for a moment, gazing knowingly at Melan. Melan shifted consciously, realizing that the Chairperson had seen him in the throes of his nightmare.

To his relief, Lolo did not comment on what he'd had seen. Instead, he gave Melan a mission.

"The rest of the Chairpeople and I have found a simple solo mission that suits you perfectly."

"The last solo mission I was given ended up with me being hunted has a traitor." Lolo coughed, and to Melan's mild irritation, attempted to hide what suspiciously looked like a grin.

"Ah, well, its because of that mission that we have deemed you perfect for this one." That sparked Melan's interest. He tilted his head curiously.

"How so?"

"We need you to go back to Earth and find Marin again." Lolo had been dancing and twirling about Melan throughout the entire conversation, but now he stilled and stared hard at the silent Monomakia.

Melan's face had stiffened into a completely blank slate. His eyes filled with emotions, and for a moment Lolo thought he could see hope fill them, before it suddenly fell into deep sadness and despair. The sudden transition left Lolo frozen where he stood. The two simply stared at each other for a long horrible moment, before Melan broke the silence, his voice shaking.

"One, it is impossible to return to Earth. Two, if I return to Earth and see Marin again, I will never be able to return to Brigadoon. I left her once- I will never do so again." Lolo felt himself melt somewhere deep inside at Melan's words, smiling slightly.

"You won't have to." Melan's choke at his reply made Lolo's slight smile turn into a full blown grin.

"W-what?"

"You've helped with all the preparations for the future Pasca ritual that you were needed for, and the rest of it does not require you. Therefore, we are going to use the same kind of time and space Monomakia that Lulu used to escape with to send you straight back to Earth, only days after you left Marin." To Lolo's surprise, Melan didn't start jumping for joy. Instead, his eyes narrowed suspiciously.

"What's the catch?" Lolo blinked at the unfamiliar expression: Melan must have learned it in the Funny World.

"We want you to make sure that Lulu doesn't target Marin, and to find him and eliminate him. Whether we like it or not, Marin is important to the future of Brigadoon, and Lulu is still a very real threat." Melan nodded slowly, and to Lolo it was obvious that Melan was nitpicking the idea for flaws in his mind.

Melan finally smiled, and Lolo was relieved to find his eyes full of hope and happiness once more.

"I'll do it."

"Great!" Leaning forward, Lolo gave Melan a naughty school boy's grin and slapped the bracelet-like time and space Monomakia on his wrist, hitting a button in the process. "See ya later!" Melan's eyes widened comically.

"Wait a secon-!" In a flash of bright light, Melan was gone. Lolo cackled rather evilly. He turned and walked away from the spot Melan had been moments before, when a small thought crossed his mind.

I wonder what the council will do when they find out what I did... Oh well, who cares? Not like anything bad will happen. And with that thought, Lolo vanished into the streets of Brigadoon, not realizing the chaotic chain of events he was about unleash upon Earth.

Chapter Text

Melan's landing was less than elegant. He just happened to have been transported directly to the water fall where he had left Marin all those years ago, feet first. The grass was damp from the spray of the water, and he found himself slipping face first onto the mushy ground.

Coughing, Melan spit out the dirt and blades of clover that filled his mouth. "Ugh..." Rubbing away the mud that had splattered onto his cheek, Melan grumbled about annoying chairmen and stood up. Or, he tried to, at least.

Attempting to stand was proving difficult. His sword arm had impaled a rock, and stubbornly refused to break free. With a grunt, Melan gave his arm a powerful tug. Instead of the sword coming out the slab of stone, the stone decided to come out of the ground. It was all Melan could do to not just growl.

He hadn't seen Marin in over 20 years, and a rock was slowing him down.

...This wasn't how he had imagined his return to be like.

With an angry huff, the blue Monomakia charged his gun and shot the slab, ducking his head slightly to avoid the ricocheting pieces of rock in the process. Glancing over his blade, Melan was relieved to see no scratches of any kind upon the the smooth surface. He had never been able to fix his coding that allowed him to retreat into his ampoule to heal any and all blemishes.

When he had gone in to have it repaired, the medics of Brigadoon had been baffled, simply because of one fact: they couldn't fix what was no longer there. That meant wounds of any kind would have to heal naturally, and that serious wounds were suddenly much more dangerous. Erin felt quite guilty for a while after, despite Melan's attempts to reassure her that it was okay. Pyon had felt ashamed of the fact, feeling as if it was another sign of his failure to have seen the truth despite the web of lies that had surrounded Melan.

All in all, everybody hadn't been particularly happy with the news, but what could one do about it?

Nothing, really.

Melan gave a deep sigh, stretched, and then shot into the sky. As the wind caressed his face, and the cool clouds surrounded him, Melan flew towards Marin, heart having ached with hope and longing for far too long.

 


 


"Marin~! Marin! Where are you? It's time for lunch!"

Marin Asagi ignored the calls for her, and crouched depressingly on the roof top of the tenement. Even though it had only been mere days since Melan had left, Marin felt like it had been forever.

She just didn't know what to do without her handsome gunswordsman. He had gone through so much with her had stood with her when no one else would or could, that life had felt absolutely unbearable for the last few days. Life just felt... well, dull.

She went through her normal routines for an everyday life, such as getting dressed and going to school. She fought with the bullies, hanged out with Moa, did her paper route. Pretty much everything that had happened before the dark blue Monomakia known as Melan Blue had come into her life.

It was so painfully boring. Nothing seemed to have the color of life in it anymore. It was as if the world had become a washed with shades of gray.

Everything was nothing. Nothing was everything.

Marin buried her head between her knees and gave a hiccuped sob. "Melan..."

"Marin!"

Marin sniffed sadly. "Now I'm imagining his voice..."

"Marin. Look up." Feeling sad at the fact that she'd gone off the deep end so soon, Marin glanced up towards the sky.

"Now I'm hallucinating! Waaaaaaaaaaaah!" Melan couldn't help but laugh when Marin buried her face right back into her knees. As adorable as ever. He drifted down and landed gently in front of her.

"Marin, it’s okay. I'm really here. Look at me." Marin squeaked and shook her head. He can't be here, but I want him here and I know he can't be here and I'm dreaming-! Paws gently reached out and lifted her face, and Marin felt her eyes widen as a kiss was pressed lovingly against her lips. She couldn't help but respond, kissing Melan back eagerly.

The kiss lasted for several moments, before Melan slowly drew back and smiled fondly down at Marin, earning one in response. "Am I still a hallucination?"

"No, no you're not." Marin sniffed once more before lunging and wrapping her arms around Melan. "Welcome home, Melan!" Melan wrapped his arms carefully around her and smiled at her words.

"Yes. I am home."

Chapter Text

When he returned to the committee room to explain his actions, Lolo was rather surprised to find it wasn't the committee, or even Erin or Pyon he should of worried about.

It was Lala.

"Lolo, you idiot!" Lolo flinched and attempted to avoid the fist that swung out of nowhere at his face. To his great dismay, he failed spectacularly.

SMACK.

"OWW! Lala, what was that for?!" Reeling from the hard punch to his cheek, Lolo stared incredulously at Lala. The pink chairwoman was currently towering over Lolo, eyes narrowed dangerously. Lolo gulped. That was the look Lala got whenever she got the urge to strangle somebody. (Naturally this means Lolo. Poor sod/)

"That one was for existing! This one -SMACK- is for sending Melan off with letting Pyon and Erin say goodbye! And this one -SMACK- is for sending him off in the first place!"

"Gah! Oh come on! It not like they won't ever see each other again! Well, as long as Melan doesn't get himself killed..."

SMACK.

"OOOOOWWWWWWW! LALA! THAT HURT!"

"I HOPE IT DID, YOU IDIOTIC IDIOT! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!"

"Thinking..? Eh heheh..." Lala's left eye twitched, and Lolo sighed, his careless and goofy act vanishing the moment he realized that he'd have to explain himself entirely to Lala and everyone else in the committee room. "Melan was dying."


Melan woke for the first time in twenty years not from a certain nightmare, but the gentle tweets of earth avians. The soft glance of the morning sun upon his armor made him sigh in satisfaction, stretching limbs until they gave satisfying pops. Pulling himself to his feet, blankets falling quietly upon the floor, Melan reflected upon the previous day, eyes lazily scanning the scenery about him.


Once Marin had come to terms with the fact that he truly was standing right in front of Marin, the two had gotten off the roof to tell the rest of the tenement. The triplets had been the first to see them, and had reacted quite vocally.


"Melan!"

"Darling!”

 "Our growing boy!"

Their cries quickly brought out the rest of the gang, and Melan found himself, for the first time in his life at the bottom of a dog pile. Their tears of joy and yells of laughter flabbergasted Melan.

While he had been gone for over 20 years, for them, he had only been gone for a few days. And yet... "Did you all truly miss me so?" They all looked at each other, then back at Melan.

"YES!"

The warmth that he had thought had completely filled his heart when he’s seen Marin again suddenly grew tenfold, and kept growing as he was once again swept into hugs by the family. The family that, apparently, was his as well.


After a wild party that only ended when Uncle Takashi started dancing on the table with a bottle of booze in either hand, he found that they didn't have enough room for him to sleep at the moment. In the end, Melan decided that the roof would be an excellent second option, much to Marin's dismay. She had wanted him to sleep with her.

For some reason, the triplets wouldn't let Marin sleep with him in the same room. Plus, the instant the conversation started, all the men promptly ran from the room, leaving June and her mother laughing in the background.

"You are much too young for such activities, Marin."

"Melan darling, we know you have good intentions, but not yet!"

"Oh, naughty kids these days!"

Melan had been thoroughly confused. Naughty? Activities? All he wanted was to hold Marin in his arms as he slept. When he told them as much, the three sisters had giggled together, and a furiously blushing Marin dragged Melan away.

When Melan asked her what they meant, Marin had only mumbled something under her breath, gave him a quick hug, and said that someday he would understand. Melan highly doubted it.

Females were just too confusing.

"Melan!"

Melan blinked out of his memoir as a certain brunette glomped him, sending him crashing to the ground. "Good morning!" Marin glanced up at him, and Melan was startled to find her eyes misty with tears.

"Marin, what is wrong? Are you hurt?" His paws quickly reached out, the top two gently wiping her eyes, while the bottom set began to poke and prod for hidden injuries. The middle school student giggled at the ticklish feeling and shook her head, hair flopping around wildly.

"No, no. I just woke up this morning afraid that I had dreamed you coming back. I'm so glad that your actually here!" Melan sighed happily and nuzzled Marin's hair, breathing in her sweet scent, arms drawing her closer.

"As am I."


"I said he was dying, I SAID WAS!" Lolo gasped desperately, eying the sharp point of Erin's sword. It was currently resting against his throat.

Huh. He should have remembered how crazy she was.

"What do you mean Melan was dying?! He has been well and better continue to do so, Lolo!" Lolo carefully pushed the tip of her sword away from him, and glanced at Pyon. The silver and black Monomakia was silent, eyes downcast. Lolo felt his eyes narrow.

"Ask Pyon. He obviously knows what I'm talking about." Erin whirled instantly, staring at Pyon almost fearfully. The gunswordsman did not meet her gaze.

"Pyon..?"

"He wasn't dying physically, but spiritually."

"Pyon?!" Pyon continued as if Erin had said nothing, eyes closed.

"He could not be truly happy here in Brigadoon: not when his heart lay upon Earth, far from his reach." Pyon nodded his head at Lolo. "I requested Lolo to find a way for Melan to return to Marin." He paused, and said almost gently to Erin, "He loves her too much to continue on without her. Surely you saw the signs, Erin. Though he was trying his best to do his duty, he forgot to do another: his duty to himself."

Lala stared back and forth between the Lolo, Pyon and Erin, almost speechless, only to jump when Erin suddenly spoke.

"I... saw the signs... I just wanted... I just had hoped that he could be happy, here, with us..." That maybe he could find his heart here. Her unheard wish silently weighed upon her. Lolo and Lala could only stare at Erin, who shuddered in the air before Pyon. About them, the committee silently watched, unable to say or do anything.

Then Pyon smiled sadly. "I understand."

And Erin cried.

Chapter Text

Chapter 4


 

"Well, isn't this interesting." Midori Mano stared down at the two forms walking beneath her on the concrete. She had been lazing on one of the many arches that swung over the haunted steps that a certain school girl used often. In fact, that was the reason she was even here. Ever since Melan had left, Marin had become withdrawn and unnaturally meek, eyes downcast wherever she went.

The change from the bright, sweet girl she knew into an almost lifeless drone disturbed Midori greatly. She understood why Marin was so depressed, but she needed to stay strong. To give in to her despair like she had wasn't healthy. Midori decided that she needed to show Marin what she had seemed too forgotten:

That life went on.

It was harsh, but Midori had felt great pain before, both mentally and physically, like many other people out there in the wide world. Some had simply given up and faded away, unable to find a reason to continue on. She had survived through the sadness and had come out stronger because of it. And she was determined that Marin would do so as well.

Then her plans went flying out the window when Melan, the very alien Marin had been so heart-broken over, walked down below her with a barely noticeable smile on his face, walking Marin to school as if nothing had ever happened.

Whelp, so much for that.

Midori sighed and rubbed the back of her neck, sword swinging from her other hand, getting ready to jump down and welcome Melan back to Earth.

While she was happy for Marin, truly she was, she was also worried for her. The fact remained that one day something terrible, god forbid, may happen and Marin would have to struggle through it and survive, more than likely on her own. Midori knew she wouldn't be there always to look out for Marin: it just wasn't logical.

In the end, she could only hope that the Fates would be kind to the girl that had saved them all.


 

"Hey there." Marin jumped in surprise as Midori hoped down in front of them. "I thought you had left for good Melan. It's good to see you back."

Melan found his lips twitching, as if they wanted to give into the smile that lay beneath his impassive face, and gave her a simple nod of acknowledgment. Marin, however, had no such limits and blew into a fully fledged grin and lunged at her senpai to give her a hug.

"Midori! Melan's back! Isn't it great?" The tough-as-bolts delinquent gave Marin a confident smirk and a tight squeeze, nodding in return to Melan.

"I noticed, silly. It's pretty hard to miss someone like Melan." Marin giggled and blushed, rubbing the back of her neck sheepishly.

"Yeah, I guess your right. I'm just so used to him." Melan felt his lips twitch yet again. Midori's sharp eyes caught the movement and she laughed, and Melan finally grinned.

Marin stared between the two, frowning. "Hey, what’s so funny?" Both Midori and Melan smiled down at Marin. "What?" The two shared a look before Melan glanced back down at the small girl and pressed a kiss upon her head. Midori felt her eyebrows rise, and said coolly,

"You two don't waste any time, do you?" Marin let out a choked sound, and Melan tilted his head in confusion.

"We do not waste time..?" He wanted to question Midori further, but Marin snagged one of his arms and began tugging him back up the stairs.

"Oh, look at the time, gotta dash! See ya Midori!"

"Bye Marin. Later Melan." Melan managed to give Midori a wave of goodbye before the delinquent was still in sight, and then, she was gone.


 

"Gosh, does everyone have perverted brains or something? I'm just happy to have you back! We're not DOING anything!" Melan listened quietly as Marin mumbled to herself, trying to puzzle out why she was so flustered. "I'm mean, first the aunties, and now Midori?" And like that, the pieces suddenly all fit, and Melan, for the first time in recorded history, flushed a bright, cherry red.

"I'm not even- Hey, Melan, are you okay?"

"F-fine, I'm fine." Marin stared. Did Melan just stutter? And why wouldn't he look at her?

"Melan, look at me." He shook his head slightly. "Please?" Unable to resist a request from Marin, Melan glanced hesitantly at her, both eyes and cheeks bright. Marin blinked. "Why are you...?"

"I understand now." At her confused look, Melan added, "What the triplets and Midori meant. Your words helped me figure it out." Marin gaped at him.

"Y-you heard me?"

"Yes. Was I supposed not to?"

"N-no! I just didn't think you'd be able to hear me talking to myself." The two stood in an awkward silence for a long moment, just staring at each other with bright red faces.

Melan Blue wasn't sure what to do. He loved Marin. There was no doubt in his mind about that. But he hadn't realized how his actions would look to the people close to Marin. Perhaps he should keep himself from- Marin suddenly lunged at him and pulled him into a hug. Melan gazed confusedly down at her.

"Marin?"

"It's okay Melan. They were just joking. You don't have to hold back. Just stay yourself. I love you that way." The last part was mumbled bashfully into Melan's chest, and her eyes peeked shyly up at him.

"Then, am I able to hold you still?" Then he added, almost wistfully, "I suppose I shouldn't kiss you anymore unless you need to be neutralized. People must be confused that I do so even when you are not sick." Marin giggled loudly, and Melan didn't bother trying to figure out why she was laughing; the fact that she was laughing was good enough for him.


 

"So, what are we going to do?" This question was directed at the Head of the Committee. The grizzled old Brigadoonian rubbed her chin thoughtfully.

"In the light of the fact that Lolo was acting upon a request by Gunswordsman Pyon Silver, we of the committee shall over look his transgressions." Lolo grinned, but it quickly faded at her next words. "Instead, we turn our attention to the Gunswordsman Pyon Silver. Gunswordsman, what do you have to say for your actions?" Pyon ignored the snarl of rage from Erin and straightened his back.

"I have no regrets. I will accept any and all punishments you see fit."

"No! You may accept it Pyon, but I will not!" Erin flew protectively in front of Pyon, battle mask up and gun humming with energy, ignoring Pyon's bark to stand down. Around them, the fellow members of the Committee jumped to their feet in alarm. The Head of the Committee merely raised an eyebrow, smacking her gavel upon the stand till the rest of the Committee quieted down.

"Calm yourself, Erin Garnet. We did not say we would be punishing him, did we?"

"..."

"Stand down, Gunswordsman, before you have chance to regret your actions. You can be assured that Pyon Silver will come to no harm." Erin gave her on last glare, before slowly lowering her gun and mask.

"Very well. I shall take you at your word. Make sure you follow it, least you come to regret YOUR actions." The Head gave Erin a thin smile.

"I shall remember that. Now, I only asked Pyon of his actions to make sure he was aware of the severity it could have caused. Now I'm just glad it was Melan sent to the Funny World alone, and not Erin." Loud guffaws and chuckles echoed throughout the room, and Erin sulked, pouting next to an amused Pyon.

"Pyon Silver, and Erin Garnet, if you should wish to, you both may also go to the Funny World and assist Melan in his mission." Both Erin and Pyon jolted, and stared down at her with wide eyes. Pyon spoke first.

"What of the Pasca preparations?"

"They are well under way and can be completed without your help. In all honesty, we of the committee are more worried about what Lulu can possibly do with the technology that lies upon the Funny World. Though inferior to our own, the possibilities of what he can do with it can be potentially disastrous." Pyon and Erin nodded slowly, processing the reasons. Erin stepped forward, head held high.

"Then I can answer with confidence for the two of us: We accept the mission!" Pyon pulled up alongside his comrade, eyes fixed upon the Head of the Committee.

"Is there any additional details you would like to give us in addition to what we already know for the mission?"

"Only one. You need to take these along with you, plus one extra for Melan." Pyon and Erin leaned forward to stare at the choker like objects that that rest in her paws. One was a mix of black and silver embroidered with amber studs, another was a pale shade of pink with gemstones a pale green, and the last was a deep blue embedded with slivers of ruby.

"And these are what?" Lala stepped up from behind Lolo and answered Pyon's question, a proud grin on her face.

"These are brand new monomakia that I have designed just for this mission." Erin raised an elegant eyebrow.

"What are they supposed to do?"

"They'll make you human."

Chapter Text

Chapter 5


 

"It'll do what?" Erin looked almost insulted. "Why do we need to become humans?" Pyon just sighed at the contempt in her voice, and turned to Lala.

"Is it so we will not attract the human government’s attention?" Lala nodded.

"It will also insure that Lulu will not recognize you, and potentially find you, before you find him." Lala and Lolo glanced at Erin and blanched at the scowl upon her face. Lolo mimicked Pyon's sighed.

"Come on, Erin, Marin is human! It won't be that bad!"

"Except for the rare case that is Marin, humans are weak little beings that are completely disgraceful!" Snapped Erin, bristling like a cat. She hissed, "I do not find this plan acceptable!" At the look she received from Pyon though, Erin grumbled and added, "However, I shall follow it nonetheless." The Head of the committee nodded approvingly, hiding a grin at how quickly she relented under Pyon's gaze.

"Very good. Now, shall we proceed?"


 

It was dark.

Water dripped down hidden objects, echoing noisily around the room. Several chains rattled as a spring wind gaily played with them. A tinted window, the very one the spring wind had come through, reflected the sun's growing rays of morning, ensuring that no light entered.

In the center of the room, a large slab stood up, tilted slightly like an artist's canvas. Upon it, the large Gunswordsman known as Kuston Brown lay. Since the time of his defeat at Melan's hands, fate had evidently not been kind to him.

Someone or something had bound him head to foot with strange pieces of silvery rope-like chains. They appeared very effective, as Kuston struggled futilely against them, before falling limp with fatigue.

Both of his arms dangled uselessly: his gun arm had been mangled beyond recognition, and his sword had been sawed off. Kuston took no notice of his wounds, even as pain throbbed throughout his entire body. All of his attention was on the blue haired boy that stood across the room from him, inspecting a sweet.

The human took a bite out of the donut, grimaced and tossed it over his shoulder. With the offending treat out of the way, he stepped forward and spread his arms wide.

"Kuston, Kuston, whatever shall I do with you?" The monomakia remained quiet, ignoring his former master's tutting. "Even at the risk of my own skin, I go and find your ampoule, set you free, and this is how you repay me? By revoking your loyalty to me and even attempting to kill me. Oh, how the mighty have fallen..."

"I have no purpose with you anymore. Melan and the others have won. You have failed." Makoto Alo tilted his head slightly at Kuston's deep gravelly voice, strained from pain. His eyes met Kuston's for a long moment and refused to yield. He smirked in satisfaction when the staring contest ended with Kuston returning his gaze back to the floor.

"I did not fail. YOU did." When Kuston did not react to his declaration, Makoto stepped forward to lift his head and ensure that his eyes were on his own the entire time. "If you had just defeated Melan, it wouldn't have mattered if they had the Creis Marine. Brigadoon's continued evolution would have been assured." Makoto stared at the listless former Gunswordsman. Kuston's face was completely blank, emotionless in every way. "But you didn't. And I know why."

Now that got a reaction out of Kuston. It was brief, but Makoto caught the flicker of emotion in his eyes, the slight twitch in his cheek. It brought an unusually cruel smile to Makoto's face.

"You let his words get to you. For even the slightest moment, you faltered. You no longer had the unbreakable will I had given you to destroy him with. You... doubted yourself and my teachings." Makoto's face turned sad. "My child. My precious creation. You were perfect--or at least I thought you were."

Kuston's eyes widened when Makoto pulled out a strange object from of the many pockets of his over coat. "You leave me no choice." A stunning black, the metal item would have looked an awful lot like an USB jack, if not for the wickedly long needle at the end of its cord. "I'll have to reprogram you."

Makoto wasn't surprised by Kuston's violent reaction. The usually blunt and merciless Gunswordsman snarled angrily, eyes dilating with fear. "No!" Despite his chains, Kuston writhed desperately on the slab, snapping at Makoto when he drew near, near frothing at the mouth.

"Yes." Slowly and almost lazily, Alo began removing Kuston's head armor, speaking almost lovingly all the while. "You know, I think the biggest mistake I did in making you was developing from a mere child. I should have known your mind would still be that of a kids', despite the adult body I gave you." He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "But then, of course, that was what made you so easy to manipulate."

"DAMN YOU- ugh!" Kuston's curse was cut off with a hard punch to the gut. He coughed weakly, blood dripping and head hanging low. Makoto continued as if he hadn't been interrupted.

"A child's natural naivety and innocence also let me assure you that it was okay to kill everyone. Plus, children will become almost anything to make their parents happy." He chuckled. "Besides, you honestly don't think this is the first time that I've done this to you, do you?" Kuston froze, staring at him with wide, horrified eyes. And for the first time, the real child that Kuston Brown was came forward.

"You've... done this to me before?"

"Yes, when I needed a research subject, I chose you, a trainee in the program. By wiping your memories, I could ensure everyone that you were someone’s abandoned research, and I was able to take you into my care without suspicion. You remember that don't you? I, supposedly finding you in the farthest reaches of Brigadoon, and the questions that the authorities asked you of where you came from, of who created you." Makoto removed the final piece of armor and smiled faintly. "And all you could say was that you didn't know."

Kuston was limp with shock, horror, and confused despair. His body ached in agony, but deep within his chest, the heart he had been told repeatedly to ignore hurt the most. And when Makoto leaned forward with Reprogrammer, he gnashed his teeth viciously, and head butted the young man.

"AGH!" Makoto stumbled back with a yelp, clasping a hand to his forehead. Kuston, in an amazing burst of strength, shattered the chains that bound him. He lunged toward the one window, wings spreading to take off. "NO! Get back here!" Makoto reached out a hand in an attempt to grab one of Kuston's legs, but was too late. Kuston shattered the window with one quick kick and burst into the sunlight.

And then he was gone into the bright blue sky, leaving Makoto cursing his name in rage.


 

Melan followed Marin faithfully, ignoring the strange looks and whispers he drew from the other passerby's on the walkway. Marin was skipping ahead of him, humming a tune he didn't recognize. Probably a song that Grandma Moto had sung to her when she was little, Melan mused.

"Marin, are you sure you do not wish me to fly you the rest of the way to school? It would be much more efficient." Marin turned at his question and beamed at him.

"No, it's okay. Besides, I want you to see the town from the ground. You can miss a lot when you’re in the air!"

"True." Melan conceded, a paw snaking out to hold one of her hands. The action earned him an even bigger smile than the one from before, and Melan allowed himself to be tugged onward by the eager Asagi. "What do you wish to specifically show me?"

"Over here, there's a little fountain where couples pray and toss coins for good luck and fortune!" The stone little fountain, which was of a robed cupid dyed with stains of age, shot water out of the arrow he held drawn to his bow. Below it, yen pieces and the like glittered.

"Does it actually work?"

"Huh?"

"Does it truly grant wishes?" Marin stood silent for a moment, and then winked up at him.

"That depends. Do you believe it will?" At Melan's blank look, Marin explained further. "Grandma used to always say, 'Part of the trick to making a wish, was to believe it would come true. That if you didn't have that part down, the natural magic of objects like this fountain wouldn't work." Melan stared at the fountain, never taking his gaze off of it.

"Do you believe, Marin? In this lifeless stone fountain?" When nothing but silence answered him, he glanced at her. She too was staring at the cupid, a soft smile on her face. She felt his gaze upon her, and blushed.

"Though a lot people don't, I like to believe in it..." Marin stared bashfully at the ground, embarrassed. Melan's next words, however, made her look up.

"Then I shall believe in it as well." Marin blinked at his declaration, stunned. Her next question slipped out with a second thought.

"Why?"

"Because I believe in you."

Chapter Text

Kuston shot through the sky, wind whistling past his ears, away from his tormentor and keeper towards the freedom of the open skies. For a brief moment, he felt happy, despite his wounds.

And then he hit the side of a plane.

It had come out a cloud bank that he had just been going in, and it just so happened to be a silent radar drone. It wobbled dangerously from the impact, a rather impressive dent in its side. However, the one to come out the worst off was Kuston.

It had not only completely disorientated him, but it damaged the line of code that helped him control his wings.

That left him careening around out of control, sending him spiraling down towards earth in a dizzying spin of doom.


 

Moe lay in her bed, munching the breakfast that her mom had made for her happily. Though she still hadn't quite recovered from her ordeal as a giant monster girl, Moe was feeling much better with the news her mom had relayed.

Apparently, the incident, while hurting and straining her muscles, had cured her of being anemic. This meant she would be able to go out and have more fun with Marin with near as much caution as before. Plus, her mom seemed to have softened up to Marin since the whole end-of-the-world crisis.

So, all in all, she was rather pleased with her end of the bargain. Even if she couldn't go to school yet, things were looking up.

She picked up a random of slice of fruit and plopped it into her mouth, only to choke and splutter when the bitter taste told her it was a grapefruit. "Eww! Ugh, so nasty!" Moe hurriedly chewed and swallowed, knowing that no matter how awful it was, that it would help her get better faster.

Her dog, which had been laying at the foot of her bed drooling over the bacon, suddenly stood and pricked his ears. Moe glanced at him confusedly. "What is it boy?' The dog didn't reply, instead he whined and slunk away with his tail between his legs, running out of her bedroom.

Moe passed it off as nothing, and finished her breakfast. Placing the empty dishes down on the nightstand next to her bed, she sighed and curled up in her blankets and snuggled into her pillow. She had almost fallen asleep when loud barks and deep growls startled her awake.

"Hmm?" Confused, Moe slipped out of the comfy blankets and put on her robe and slippers, making her way over to the window that overlooked the front yard.

The sight that greeted her eyes made her gasp.

Down below, a dark brown being that looked similar to Melan Blue lay awkwardly among the shrubbery her mother took so much joy in tending. Her dog yapped furiously at the intruder, his hackles rising.

"No, bad dog! Leave him alone!" Both started, dog and being simultaneously glanced up at her. Her dog flicked his ears uncertainly, but when the brown man(?) turned to see her better, he leaped back and growled menacingly. Moe huffed irritably, at her dogs disobedience. "Just don't move mister! I'll be down in a moment."

Without waiting for an answer, she turned and ran out of her room and down the stairs, glad that her mom had left early to go shopping. She ran through the empty house, nearly tripping on the threshold as she went through the front door. The damp grass made squelching noises under her feet, and she reveled in the feeling of fresh air as she came to a stop alongside her dog.

The man like being was seriously injured, purple blood dripping from arms that dangled uselessly. His wings looked as if someone had taken a bat to them, and small droplets of blood slipped from his lips. But his spirit was not broken, if you looked into his eyes. They seemed to glow, glaring out at the world in general, angry and betrayed. They also happened to be staring at her suspiciously.

Her dog waved his tail happily at her, and ignoring her command to go back in the house, snapped his fangs at the strange man. The man merely snapped his own fangs back at the canine, and growled dangerously. Moe watched in bemusement as the two seemed to trade growls and snarls, before the man suddenly lunged at her dog.

Startled by this unfair tactic, her dog whimpered and turned tail, running away yelping. The what was obviously a monomakia, settled back slowly, grimacing in pain.

"Stupid beast..."

Moe turned back and stared in shock at him, stunned by the remarkably deep and rough voice. The monomakia staggered to his feet, and Moe desperately tried to think of something to say.

"Your hurt!" Her soft cry caused him to pause in his movements for a moment, and he snorted.

"Obvious, is it not?"

Moe flushed.

"Leave me be, human. Least I given into my desires and kill you."


 

To say that Kuston was not pleased was an understatement.

He had fallen from quite a high height, and his abrupt landing had brutally warped his wings. All he could do for several moments was lay stunned and disorientated, staring up at the sky.

The Gunswordsman knew he had gotten lucky. If the tree branches and the thick vegetation he was currently laying upon hadn't been there, he would have without a doubt have died. Just one less branch, and a monomakia known as Kuston Brown would have been eradicated.

It took him a couple of tries, but he finally managed to sit up among the bushes and look at his surroundings. A large and particularly well kept house loomed before him, finely painted walls gleaming in the morning light. Eyes irritated by the light after spending several days in complete darkness, Kuston glanced away, and took in the fact that the entire premises was closed in a tall fence.

"Grrrrr..."

The low growl snapped his attention back to the front of the house lickety split. He felt irritation at the fact that he had actually been sneaked up on and stared at the well-furred canine quadruple that stood there baring its fangs threateningly at him, tail lashing.

Instinct instantly told him not to flinch back or show any signs of weakness. So instead, he did the next best thing.

He snarled back.

The dog seemed to take it as a challenge, and soon the two were growling menacingly at each other repeatedly. Kuston ignored the silliness of his actions. He may be tired and in injured, but that didn't mean he would submit to an earth beast!

"No, bad dog! Leave him alone!"

Kuston was startled once again, and he turned slightly to stare at the tiny human that stood in the window at the top of the house. Her dark purple hair bounced slightly in its curls, and her wide eyes glowed with disbelief. The... dog ignored his masters commands and growled once again at him.

Kuston twitched angrily, wishing desperately that his gun and sword had not been removed. He'd love nothing more that to blow the blasted mammal into bloody bits! However...

He returned his gaze back up to the window as the girl called out, "Just don't move mister! I'll be down in a moment!" and vanished from sight. He resisted the urge to charge his no longer existing gun and prepare to blow the girl's head to nothingness. It wasn't as if she was a threat.

She was only a human after all.

Chapter Text

Moe couldn't help but laugh at the Gunswordsman that stood in front of her. He wanted to hurt her?

Not even noticing his stunned face, she giggled helplessly, a hand attempting to smother the sounds.

He reminded her of Melan and Erin. One silently noble, the other razor sharp yet kind. They had saved her, so why would a companion of theirs want to hurt anyone? Moe decided then and there that he was the tough and gruff type, the kind that hid their emotions deep inside.

But that was okay: she'd still help him. He was a good guy, she was sure of it.

"Why are you laughing? Perhaps my appearance has broken you?" To her surprise, one of his paws stretched out and poked her stomach almost cautiously. His rumbled tone was almost apologetic. "I don't know how to fix humans..."

"O-oh no, no! I'm fine. Really." Moe gently brushed his paw aside, catching his eyes in hers. "I just thought of something funny, that's all. Thank you for your concern, Mr...?" He tilted his head, eyes crinkling in confusion and Moe had to resist the urge to giggle again.

"I do not know who this Mister is, but I am Kuston Brown."


 

Her presence both bewildered him and irritated him at the same time.

One, she was so unbelievably small. Two, why in Pasca was she laughing at him? Had he not just threatened to end her existence? His pride stung more than a little from her laughter. It took all his training to brush off the slight.

Then later, when he had reached out to see if she was broken, he was startled to find that she was just as soft as she looked. This confirmed fact made his head reel, and his original thoughts of eradicating her faded entirely.

How could anything survive with such a fragile frame?

Kuston hurriedly removed his paw: he was more likely to hurt her than fix her. He wasn't pleased when the thought upset him. It was an unfamiliar emotion. He'd been having to many of those in the last twenty four hours, and that needed to stop now.

"K-kuston?" His attention instantly swiveled back to the human girl.

"Yes?" She smiled sweetly up at him, and Kuston had to resist the urge to stare blankly at her. No one in their right mind would smile like that at him.

"My name is Moe." Her gaze traveled over his body, and her eyes grew worried as she remembered his wounds. "Come inside, I can get some bandages and hot water to clean you up."

Kuston hesitated, unsure of what to say and do. He growled angrily at himself: he was a warrior of great skill and strength! Why was he so nervous around this human?

His growl was cut off short when she flinched, and with a sigh he knelt before the delicate girl, trying to put her at ease for reasons he was unable to understand.

"Why?" She jolted at his question, fidgeting with the hem of her dress.

"Why what?"

"Why do you wish to help me? Do you even know what I am? Who I am?" Moe blinked in confusion at him.

"W-well, your hurt, why wouldn't I want to help you? And you are a monomakia like Melan Blue, right? Besides, you just told me who you are..." She trailed off when he stiffened at Melan's name. "Is something wrong?"

"You know of Melan?"

"It’s sorta hard not to know of him when he hangs around Marin all the time-" Kuston reared back and stared at her suspiciously, ignoring the guilt that flared when she jumped at the sudden movement.

"You also know of the false Creis?"

"Yes, she's my best friend."

"...friend?"

"Yeah, you know, somebody that you can trust with your back and who you can tell your most sacred secrets to without worry?" The Gunswordsman's blank face unnerved Moe. She tried again to explain. "Someone, who you have no doubt that cares for you?"

Kuston just stared helplessly at her, completely astounded at the thought of such a person existing. Someone who actually cared...? With out a doubt?

It sounded like some exotic mythical creature.

He leaned in toward her, and she leaned back, nervous.

"Such things exist?"


 

Now it was Moe's turn to stare at him.

"You're serious, aren't you?" He just blinked slowly at her, gaze solemn.

"Completely."

For a long moment, Moe could only sputter uselessly and wave her arms from the sheer sympathy and sadness that had suddenly burst into being in her chest.

He didn't know what a friend was. And that meant... Moe gasped. That meant that he didn't have one! Moe found herself sniffing desperately, trying to keep the tears in.

She resisted for a second the urge to hug Kuston, but her emotions won out and she practically glomped him, burying her face in his chest and sobbing all the while.

"Oh, you poor thing!"

Kuston's eyes widened comically as he fell back into the bush from the force of her hug, a loud "Oof!" escaping him. He snarled, more startled than angry.

"G-get off of me! How dare-" His tirade suddenly came to a halt at the sight of tears. "You are leaking H2O! Why are you leaking?"

"Be-because you don't know what a friend is! It's j-just so sad!"

Kuston tried to figure out just what was sad about that fact. He quickly gave up when his brain started to hurt. He mentally snorted.

As if it was sad that he didn't have a mythical creature for a pet.

"But it's okay." Her soft voice caused him to glance down at her and meet her teary gaze. He raised an eyebrow questioningly.

"I'll be your friend!"

Chapter Text

"Gah! What’s the monster doing here, Asagi?!" Melan felt his eyes narrow at the young human boy, resisting the urge to shoot him. Said boy was pointing a finger rudely at him, and backing up slightly until he hit the wall with a squeak. "Get it out of here!"

Marin scowled, and took a menacing step forward, but was stalled when a voice called out, "Oh, shut up Isshin. He and Marin saved all our butts, so the very least you can do is stop calling him a monster!" Marin and Melan alike turned and stared at the class president, the first stunned and the later mildly curious.

She stood at the head of the room, arms crossed and eyes narrowed dangerously. Standing at Hanazono's back was Kabamoto, equally imposing with his wide shoulders and impressive girth. He jerked his head toward Isshin's seat.

"You heard her Isshin. Seat yourself before I make you." Isshin gritted his teeth angrily and glanced at Tanzen. His usually compliant partner in crime ignored his pleading look for backup, and glanced out the window with a melancholy sigh.

"Sorry, but they’re both right. Doesn't matter though, we're gonna die in the end." No one so much as twitched at his morbid words, more than used to his attitude. They did, however, blink at his next words. "Marin, and...Melan, right?" Melan dipped his head in a nod, even though Tanzen didn't even turn away from the window. "Even though we're gonna die eventually, you gave me and everyone here a new lease on life. So... thanks."

For a moment, stunned silence reigned over the classroom. Marin blushed and rubbed the back of her neck, not sure of what to say. Melan merely monotoned a “Your welcome," while Isshin's jaw dropped. Kabamoto grinned, and Hanazono nodded and sniffed approvingly. The rest of students in the classroom just gave Tanzen stunned stares.

The click of a door opening had everyone except Melan and Tanzen jumping and turning to see the teacher walk in. "Sorry I'm a little late students but I got stuck in traffic-" She paused as she took in all their wide eyes. Then she saw Marin and Melan. "Oh, Marin, you brave, brave girl! Are you all right? I heard quite a few different versions of what happened up in the sky, and the only thing that they agree on is that you two fought and won together!" Marin smiled shyly and snagged Melan's gun arm, clutching him close. She smiled up at him, before glancing back at Mrs. Kurihara.

"I just fine Sensei. I probably wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for Melan. He protected me and helped me save everyone." Even as Mrs. Kurihara opened her mouth to ask a question, Melan shook his head.

"No, Marin is truly the one you must be thankful for. She has saved me as much as she has saved all of you. Many times I told her to leave me, to go to safety, but she would always return... and create miracles even in the darkest times." He nuzzled Marin affectionately, resisting the urge to pull her into a hug with all four of his paws. "She truly is nothing short of amazing."

Mrs. Kurihara smiled knowingly, even as students gaped. "I see. Mr. Melan, would you like to stay here at school with Marin today? I'm sure it wouldn't be a problem." Melan gazed questioningly at Marin, who just giggled and nodded. "Very well then. You two can sit back in the conjoined desks together."


 

Kuston was thrown for a loop.

Possibly two.

No, wait, scratch that, make it three.

He wasn't sure if he had heard her right. Maybe that bump into the plane a knocked a few important screws loose. "Y-you want to be my what?" If Kuston hadn't been so flabbergasted by the human that stood before him, he would have been horrified by the fact that he was stuttering.

Moe nodded decisively. "We'll start out as friends, and then, hopefully, we will become best of friends!" She beamed up at him, her arms still around his broad torso. She gave him a slight squeeze. "Okay?"

Kuston blinked, and slightly nervous that if he didn't say 'yes' she wouldn't help him, he gave her a shaky nod.

And was promptly blown away by the brightness of her smile.

She scrambled to her feet, still smiling, and tugged gently on his sword arm. "Now that's settled, let us get you cleaned up." She glanced over his injuries worriedly. "Will you be able to stand on your own?"

Now THAT Kuston was determined to do on his own. With a communicative grunt, he slowly stood, staggering slightly. He grimaced, as lances of pain shot throughout his body, threatening to send him falling back to the ground. His paws automatically reached out to for something to help him keep balance, and Moe quickly snagged one.

Slowly, oh so slowly, the two made their way into Moe's house, where she directed him to a large couch in the living room. She helped him lay down, and with a strict mothering tone, told him to stay put while she got the hot water and first aid kit.

As she scampered off, Kuston started thinking.

She wanted to be his... friend. He went over what Moe had said friends were. Someone who listened to you, somebody you could trust no matter what... A sudden light bulb went off in his head.

She was offering to be his pet.

It made sense. He had seen some Brigadoonians with pets before, and it essentially was the same thing Moe had described. Pets gave companionship, were loyal, and stayed by one's side. In return, the owner gave them the same along with food and safety. Though it obviously wasn't the exact same thing, it was similar enough for Kuston to finally understand what Moe had been talking about.

Now that he thought about it, wouldn't it mean that the false Creis was Melan's pet...?

He shook his head to clear the stray thought. That didn't matter. What did matter was Moe. The tiny, delicate, oh so soft human that had essentially helped him without a second thought.

Yes, she definitely needed an owner. He wasn't sure how she had lasted so long without one. She looked as if the wind itself would blow her away. Kuston nodded resolutely. He'd protect her and hopefully do his best as a 'friend'.

How hard could it be?

Chapter Text

"...Now, who can tell me the name of one of the many constellations in our night sky?" Melan watched as one of the many students raised their hand and waved it eagerly. The human teacher nodded at the student to answer.

"Well, I know Leo is a constellation." Mrs. Kurihara nodded and wrote down the constellation down onto the blackboard.

"Correct! Leo is not only a constellation but is a sign in the western zodiac. Anyone else have a constellation they'd like to mention?" Next to him, Marin raised her hand high.

"Yes Marin?"

"My favorite constellation happens to be the Big Dipper." Marin flushed when Melan smiled at her, pleased that she was more than able to follow along with the lesson. The teacher meanwhile smiled and nodded.

"Ah, a good example! The Big Dipper, known also as Ursa Major, is one of the most reliable constellations in our night sky. Not only does it show up in more hemispheres than the others, it is also the easiest to spot. And of course, let's not forget its little tag along with the Little Dipper, known as Ursa Minor." Mrs. Kurihara turned toward the back of the room from where she had been scribbling on the blackboard. "Melan, does Brigadoon have any constellations?"

Slightly startled at being put on the spot, Melan tapped his chin and nodded thoughtfully. "While I am no expert on this subject, some of the more common constellations of my home world are known as the Wing, the Shifter, and the Mirror." The class stared in fascination at Melan, and Marin beamed.

Even after all this time, she was still learning more about Melan and his world.

Mrs. Kurihara seemed to be just as enthralled with Melan's answer as her students were. "Do you know why they are called that? Like, for example, how did the Shifter gain its name?"

"The Shifter was named after a famous, legendary monomakia, one which Marin eventually found and actually proved to be real. The stars that make up the Shifter appear in a section of the sky that has high gas levels. The gas fluctuates the light of the stars, and creates the illusion that it can change form at random intervals."

"And the others?"

"The Wing is pretty easy to explain, as it is a mass of smaller stars that are perpetually revolving around each other. The unique thing about the Wing is that its stars take up quite a portion of the eastern sky, because the stars are widely spread out and create the image of spread wing. As for the Mirror, it was named such because it is four stars in the shape of a rectangle. When the day of Pasca begins to approach, it is between these four stars that we first see Earth. Our scientists still haven't quite figured out why it happens, but the fact remains that it does."

The class was quiet for a moment, and then everyone burst into chatter, some asking questions, more squealing in excitement at the thought of such a world. Even as Melan blinked at the sudden change in volume and the rapid fire questions sent his way, Marin tugged on his shoulder to pull him down to her level.

"Don't worry," she whispered into his ear, "this is pretty common. Mrs. Kurihara should have them back under control in a moment." He slowly shook his head.

"While the human way of teaching is effective enough, I still can't help but find it strange." A burst of loud giggles from a couple blushing girls from the desk next to him only seemed to drive the point across.

Marin couldn't help but giggle herself at his bewildered face. "Like I said, don't worry. This is just a normal day in school for me." She gave him a big wide smile that he couldn't help but return. "If you don't count the fact that you're here."

"True." Melan glanced up at the front of the classroom, where Mrs. Kurihara was desperately trying to get the class to calm back down. "My training was far more solemn than this." A student in front of the duo caught Melan's last sentence and turned around to face them.

"How so sir?" Ignoring the fact that he had been called sir, Melan answered in a soft tone that instantly caught everyone's attention.

"For one, I had to learn how to fight. The training was brutal, and failure meant almost certain death. Out of a class of a hundred, I alone survived alongside Pyon and Erin." He fell quiet, caught up in the memories.

"Ugh...!"

Coughing up blood, Melan struggled to get back on his feet, dazed from being sent flying into a brick wall. In front of him, the last obstacle towards becoming a Gunswordsman stood, tail lashing and vivid red mane flowing in the wind.

"Our final was to fight a Combat monomakia. We weren't expected to win. But if we should excellent reasoning, great strength, and unwavering bravery, our proctors might recommend us for our final upgrade. But, of course," added Melan, "we had to survive first."

The Combat monomakia shrieked a wordless battle cry and lunged forward with deadly intent, claws outstretched. Flinching, Melan rolled and came up shooting. The shots hit their mark, but the young monomakia did little to no damage, weak compared to the thick armor of the other monomakia.

Said monomakia shrugged off the shots as if it were nothing but irritating flea bites, and snarled in annoyance. Behind it, Melan could see the timer ticking, and he felt his heart sink in his chest.

At this rate, he'd be dead before the halfway mark was reached.

Lunging to his feet, Melan focused on the slight wings he had been given and shot up into the air. While the wings weren't made for actual flying, perhaps they would be enough to carry out this one plan...

He flipped over the surprised monomakia and landed on its armored back with a loud clank. Unfortunately, his landing wasn't as flawless as he wished it could be. With the metal armor of the Combat monomakia smooth and unblemished, his odd feet couldn't catch a purchase upon it, and he felt himself began to slip.

Desperate to stay on the back, he quickly dug his sword into a chink in the armor.

Instantly, the Combat monomakia let out a shrill scream of pain and rage, whipping its head around to snap powerful jaws at him. Melan yelped in shock when its fangs came awfully close to shredding his arm. The monomakia was a lot more flexible than he originally guessed. This would put a damper on his plan. But before he could start to reevaluate it, his foe decided to do that for him.

"Nnngh!" The monomakia sent him flying yet again with a sharp buck, and he landed just like he had been taught to: in a roll. Slapping the ground as he hit it, he used the force of the throw to send him into a flipping roll away from his enemy.

Melan landed on his feet, and turned in time to see a massive tail longer than the length of his body swing straight for his head. Ducking and dodging, Melan moved with the Combat monomakia in a deadly dance, sending shots at chinks in its armor from time to time. As usual, the shots did nothing to help his cause and seemed to only make the other monomakia more determined to kill him.

He felt something akin to despair ache in his chest. He wanted to live! He wanted to be strong, and to do his best for Brigadoon!

Suddenly, he felt the despair change into hardening resolve. That was right. He WAS going to live. He WAS going to be strong, and he WAS going to do his best for Brigadoon.

Starting. Right. Now.

Melan snarled, and with a ferocity that stunned the monomakia before him, actually charged his opponent. Deftly avoiding the shot of pressurized water that was aimed at him, he shoved his gun into a gap into the leg armor of the monomakia, tilted upward, and fired.

The effect was instant.

Keening in pain, the Combat monomakia slumped down on one knee as it clutched its wounded leg. Melan used his wings to speed up his movements and constantly kept up the attacks, not giving the enemy a chance to recover.

The Combat monomakia swung almost desperately at him, but Melan just leaped back out of range, rapidly firing his gun at any and all chinks in its armor.

Evidently enraged at its weakness, the Combat monomakia growled deep in its chest and shot water at him again. This time, when Melan leaped aside to avoid it, the monomakia whipped up its other hand and shot another stream of water.

This shot ripped into Melan's shoulder, nearly severing his entire left arm. Gritting his teeth to keep from fainting, he staggered behind a nearby rock and collapsed. Both monomakia took the time to breathe, and to lick their wounds. Sucking in air from the pain, Melan took stock of his gun arm.

The arm was barely hanging on by a thread, and completely useless. All it was now was dead weight that would only slow him down in the long run. Melan paused.

Or maybe...

His thought was cut off when a loud rumble informed him that the Combat monomakia was on the move. He dared a peek around the rock side.

The enemy had somehow found a piece of twine that it had used to bind a makeshift splint for its wounded leg. It was shuffling along awkwardly, and its head swung to and fro, looking for its prey: him.

Melan swallowed and glanced at the clock. While it was past the halfway mark, he still had the other half of the time period to survive. It was now or never.

The Combat monomakia huffed, twitching occasionally from the sharp pains that lanced up from its leg.

She was stunned at the fact that a trainee had managed to do so much damaged to her. Never before, when she had fought past trainees had she ever been so injured. A sense of respect for the tiny blue monomakia had bloomed, and the Combat monomakia felt an excitement that she had not felt for a long time.

Here was a worthy warrior, at last. This one would go down into the books of history for sure, she thought with relish.

The Combat monomakia rumbled slightly in amusement, looking about for said monomakia.

Not like she would make it easy for the tiny warrior, though. There was still plenty of time for this battle to end in tragedy.

A flash of movement caught her attention, and she swung her head in the direction of a large rock.

The Combat monomakia stiffened instantly, and carefully slunk toward the obstacle. She made sure to keep her breathing entirely silent and lift her injured leg carefully to not let it drag on the ground. She curled her claws in eager anticipation.

A step, then another, all done in complete silence. Just a few more steps and then-

Roaring in triumph, the boulder went flying with a quick flick of the tail and- the Combat monomakia froze in mid-roar. Laying there was nothing more than a bloody arm. Before she could process the fact that she had been led into a trap, said trap was sprung.

The tiny blue monomakia dashed from another boulder behind her to do exactly what it had done to her before. The Combat monomakia let out a scream of both surprise and pain as her other leg was stabbed repeatedly through slight chinks in her armor.

She swung her arms toward the pest with both hands outstretched, but to her immense shock, the blue trainee stabbed the center of both of her hands, obliterating her water spouts with ridiculous speed. Ignoring the fact that he had just practically won the battle, she lunged forward with the last of her strength and smacked the runt across the grounds into a wall.

As her body collapsed and she began to slip into unconsciousness, the Combat monomakia noticed with great amusement that he also was becoming unconscious.

She'd guessed right: he would go down into the history books for sure- as the only Gunswordsman trainee to ever fight a Combat monomakia to a draw.

"Whoa... did- did that really happen?"

The class had crowded all around Melan, enthralled with his tale of his test. Next to him, Marin gave him a comforting hug, and he offered a soft look in return. Melan gave the stunned student a look, annoyed at the fact that someone might not believe him.

"Of course. I would never tell lies about my training. It would be disrespectful to the memories and honor of the course." He answered stiffly. Mrs. Kurihara sputtered at his indignant tone for some reason.

"The honor? You must be joking!" Melan shifted and just the hint of growl came from his chest. He glanced at the shocked teacher.

"How so?"

"Out of a hundred students, you and two others were the only ones to survive?! That's just... that's just horrible!"

Melan shook his head in disbelief even as Marin squeezed his arm and looked at him worriedly.

"You do not realize what we trained for, human. If I had not gone through such dangerous training, how could I ever been prepared for the many battles I went through to save Brigadoon and Earth?" The teacher gaped for a moment, but Melan continued on, uncaring. "We all knew what we were getting into. In fact, that was the first test. They told us the risks and the fact that only three of us would likely make it. They gave us the options of either becoming a trainee or going away to become a personal bodyguard of a Council member. Several backed down, and were promptly taken away, more than likely to be killed."

The last statement sent a wave gasps throughout the room, and Melan quickly held up a paw to stall any forthcoming questions.

"You must realize, we monomakia are made with a specific purpose in mind. If they were too cowardly to take the chance of becoming a trainee, then how could they ever adequately protect someone? A bodyguard must protect their master at all costs, including their lives. If they are not willing, then they are worthless." Melan shifted slightly and glanced back at the stunned students and teacher. "I will not lessen the seriousness of the training or the brutality of it. If we succeeded, if we survived, we would gain the immense honor of becoming a Gunswordsman and the duty to protect all of Brigadoon. Nothing else mattered. I had to become strong, to shove aside my weaknesses in order to make it. So I did. And I survived."

Melan sat back and gazed solemnly around the room at the humans that crowded it. The teacher seemed incredibly horrified by his tale, but some of the students seemed to have taken in the meaning of his words. Kabamoto looked thoughtful, and he leaned forward when he noticed Melan looking at him.

"I noticed the fact that you say you were made? Do you mean that literally?"

"Yes, I mean it literally. I am a monomakia, a living weapon, made for the duty of battle." Kabamoto opened his mouth to ask another question, but the shrill ring of the bell sent the children scattering like bugs. Mrs. Kurihara seemed to leave the room rather shakily, and soon Melan was left all alone with Marin.

Melan glanced down at her, a little nervous. How would she take to his tale of his childhood? Would she be as horrified as her teacher? Would she-

"Melan." He jolted at her voice and instinctively turned in time to catch her as she hugged him tightly. "Thank you for sharing. I know your past must be important to you, so you opening up like that was really brave." Melan blinked, and then buried his face into her soft hair, relieved.

"It was nothing." Marin shook her head furiously and glared up at him with watery eyes.

"Don't say that! You saying so much about your past reveals a lot to one. Plus now, I feel like I can understand you a little better. And that," she whispered into his chest, "means a lot to me." Melan felt his heart swell, and he tilted her head for a kiss.

"I love you, little one."

Marin sniffled and returned the kiss.

"Love you too."

For a moment, the two just sat there, in the empty classroom, holding each other. Melan stroked Marin's head affectionately with a paw, and Marin buried her face into his chest. Then Marin looked up at Melan.

"Melan?"

"Hmm?"

"That Combat monomakia you fought... was it Kushatohn?" Melan stared at Marin and then laughed.

"Yes, it was Kushatohn I fought that day. That battle ended up earning me her trust and respect, which you know proved invaluable when the rest of Brigadoon believed I was a traitor." he leaned back in the chair and stared up at the ceiling, where beyond, he knew Brigadoon lay. "Marin, I have never felt happier than at this moment with you. And to think, that battle that far off day would lead me to great comrades, honor, and you." He tilted his sword toward the sky he couldn't see.

"I have never, and will not question this path that I have chosen. I am a proud Gunswordsman! I am Melan Blue, and I say this: I have completed my duty to Brigadoon! And now" he turned toward Marin, "my duty is to you. Forever and always."

Chapter Text

"Now, we'll set your destination for the waterfall and the time for a few minutes after Melan arrives there with his own time monomakia. Any questions so far?" Pyon and Erin simultaneously shook their heads 'no' even as Lala glanced at them to make sure they were keeping up.

The three stood on one of the many roofs of Brigadoon, sun shining brightly on the Gunswordsmen armor. Lala continued reading off her little clipboard, ignoring the slight wind ruffling her fur.

"Good. Once you're at the waterfall, we want you two to put on the Collar monomakia before you do anything else. They have a reliable communicator within it, which you can turn on by pressing a specific point on it. Also, once you put the collars on you will only be able to take them off with a unique code that we will tell you through the communicator if we deem fit."

"What?!" cried Erin, stiffening angrily. Pyon just sighed as his comrade stiffened and aimed a scowl at the small Brigadoonian. "Why should we have to wear it all the time?" Lala just plopped her paws on her hips and scowled right back at her, unimpressed with Erin's attitude.

"This is an undercover mission. As in, not revealing yourselves. Knowing your disdain for humans overall, we decided to make sure that you wouldn't feel the need to randomly break cover." Erin began spluttering at the insinuation that she would endanger the mission, but Pyon calmly set a paw upon her slim shoulder.

"Relax, Erin. If we wish to aid Melan, then this is for the best." He glanced down at the extra Collar monomakia he held in his other paw, glittering with vivid rubies among its dark blue threads. Erin followed his gaze and reluctantly calmed down at the reminder of her absent comrade. She turned away from Lala with an irritable huff.

"Fine," she snapped curtly. Lala just grinned in a very Lolo like fashion and winked knowingly at Pyon. Bemused, he hesitantly winked back.

"Heh. Now that's resolved, here are the Time and Space monomakia for you two. Good fortune on your mission you two. I hope you catch Lulu quickly."

As the two flashes of light signaled the departure of the Gunswordsmen, Lala sighed and stared out at the vast blue sky.

"Good luck."

"Aw, they don't need luck, Lala."

Lala gasped at the voice coming from behind her and whirled to point an accusing paw. "You!"

"Me!" Exclaimed Lulu in return, smiling insipidly at her horrified and angry tone. He bit into a cookie and swallowed. "Shocked to see me?"

Lala glared at him, but her eyes remained wary. "Of course I am. I didn't think you had the audacity to return here." She began edging away, but Lulu noticed the movement and attacked.

In two seconds, he had lunged, twisted her to the ground, and pinned her there. She writhed desperately against him and made to scream, but he pulled out a syringe and stabbed her in her neck. Lala's voice was choked off with a soft whimper, and she went limp as the sedate took hold of her system. Lulu held on to her for a moment longer, then let her arms drop.

"Don't worry Lala. I'm not going to hurt you," he said softly to his unconscious former friend. "You have a great role in the future of Brigadoon." Lulu smiled again, this time with vicious intent. "And it's almost as important as mine."


 

It was with a loud 'thump' that Erin and Pyon announced Earth of their most ungraceful arrival.

As with Melan's arrival, the ground was damp from the spray of the waterfall, and Pyon found himself sprawling face down on the ground. The warp from the monomakia around his wrist had left him breathless, and for a moment he just lay there sucking in the cool air. It was night-time, and the soft sound of the waterfall with the song of crickets was surprisingly comforting. After deeming himself ready to get up, he slowly pulled himself up into a sitting position.

"Erin?"

A moan answered him.

Alarmed, Pyon quickly stood, or at least tried to. He slipped yet again, but this time, he landed on something far more agreeable than the muddy grass. Underneath him, a dazed Erin Garnet lay, the side of her helm dented badly from hitting a rock. Her eyes fluttered open slowly to look at him.

"You are awfully heavy." She stated blandly. "Mind getting off of me?"

"As you wish." Smiling in relief, Pyon carefully stood this time and leaned down to give her a helping paw. She stubbornly ignored it, and wobbly managed to stand. She attempted to take a step, but her legs collapsed beneath her and Pyon was barely able to snag her before she hit the ground again. He began picking his way through the mud to find a dry spot in the grass to lay her down. Erin, however, was far from compliant.

"Put me down."

"No. You are injured."

"I am most certainly not! Compared to the wounds of the past, it's just a little bump!"

"That 'little' bump left you disoriented and stunned. You also nearly fell again. Until I believe you fit to walk, I shall carry you."

"You don't have to! I could always fly."

"And go careening into the nearest tree? Not on my watch. Plus, we need to put on our collars." Erin scowled at the reminder of becoming a human, and she glanced down at her own Collar monomakia. It glittered innocently, and for some reason, it made her even madder than before.

"I still can't believe we have to be human! It's an outrage!" Pyon just rolled an eye at her melodramatics and laid her carefully at the base of a tall tree. Through its thick leaves moonlight still managed to filter and bathe Erin in a pool of light, and Pyon folded down gracefully next to her, pulling out his Collar monomakia in the process.

"Are you ready?" Erin's head jerked up, and her still slightly hazy eyes focused on him.

"Ready for what?"

"To become human." Erin stared at him blankly for a moment, then sighed and nodded resignedly. A twitch in her forehead, however, told the world that she wasn't very happy with what was happening.

"Very well then. Let’s do it at the same time though."

"One..."

The two picked up and readied the Collars in their paws.

"Two..."

They locked eyes, bodies tense.

"Three!"

And then nothing but darkness.

Chapter Text

"Ugh..."

The soft groan that escaped Pyon's lips covered how he was feeling the moment he came back into the world of the living quite well.

His entire body throbbed horribly and still, he couldn't open his eyes. He attempted to move, but a sharp jab in his ribs told him that wouldn't be smart. Pyon paused and tried to remember how to breathe, fighting back tears of pain.

A soft breeze blew over his overheated body, and it took him a moment to realize that he had felt it on his skin.

His bare skin.

The thought of being completely naked in the middle of nowhere as a human sent him lunging to his feet, and he staggered when inertia hit him with the force of a sledgehammer swung by a drunk Kushatohn.

Pyon swayed helplessly for a moment, arms outspread, then suddenly, the pain and dizziness faded away. Blinking for a second, he tried to collect his thoughts.

He was Pyon Silver. He was a Gunswordsman turned human on a mission, and... he was naked?

Pyon glanced down at himself hesitantly.

Yup, he was naked. Completely, utterly, naked.

He frowned mentally as a thought crossed his mind. If he was naked... then maybe... He turned to the tree where he had laid Erin down. To his relief, Erin was still there, albeit unconscious.

And she was as nude as a newborn baby.

Pyon nearly swallowed his tongue.

Flushing furiously, he turned sharply away from her, nearly tripping over his own bare feet in the process. He stood there for a good whole minute, trying to get his mind to focus on anything other than the lovely Erin that lay only a few feet away from him.

Just a few... feet... away...

Coughing violently, he shook his head and pressed the collar around his neck. He needed answers.

NOW.


 

Lolo hummed happily in the transmission room, waiting for the call that would undoubtedly come.

-beep!- -beep!-

And there he is.

Lolo picked up the transmitter with a naughty grin. "Hello~ this is your operator. Dial one if you have a complaint. Dial two if you wish to speak with-"

"Lolo. Why am I naked?"

"Oh? Are you the only one naked? And here I was sure that Erin would be too~."

"LOLO!"

The Chairman of the Committee cackled at Pyon's scandalized tone. "What's wrong? Never seen a naked woman before? Well, you should admire the view while it lasts; god knows that it won't if Erin has anything to say about it. Speaking of which, how she reacting to this?"

"..."

Lolo raised an eyebrow at Pyon's silence. "Well?" He prompted.

"She's... still unconscious from the transformation."

Lolo promptly burst into obnoxious snickers.

"Shut up! Now tell me, why are we naked? And don't tell me it's a byproduct of the transformation; our technology is plenty advanced enough to give us clothes!"

"Oh, shucks, there goes that excuse. Whelp, I guess you can say that I got tired of watching you make goo-goo eyes at Erin when you thought no one was looking, so I snuck into Lala's laboratory and... edited the Collars. Just a bit."

"I... what?...D-did you just say GOO-GOO eyes? And a-at Erin?"

"Yup!" Lolo chirped, sniggering quietly at Pyon's shell-shocked tone. He had no doubt that he was the first person ever to get the solemn Gunswordsman so worked up. Heck, he had even managed to make Pyon stutter!

"...bwuh." And with that eloquent statement, Lolo heard a loud thump, and the line became full of static as it was cut off. For a moment, Lolo was concerned for his victim, and then realization washed over him and he burst into wild laughter.

He had made the famed Pyon Silver faint.


 

It was the soft chirping of sparrows and the bright rays of the sun against her eyelids that woke Erin up. It was a slow awakening like one has after a long working day and a long peaceful night of sleep. It was quite the opposite of her usual early and quick mornings.

The Gunswordswoman groaned as her head throbbed from the recent trauma it had gone through, and rubbed at her eyes blearily.

Then she did a double take at the fact that she had hands. She flexed each and every finger, suddenly fascinated by the simple limbs. She turned around to share her new found discovery with her comrade.

"Hey, Pyon-"

She broke herself off, realizing that she was all alone, carefully wrapped in a blanket underneath the tree from last night. Looking around, she squirmed slightly when a blade of grass tickled her back. Startled by the feeling, she peeked underneath the blanket and gave a soft noise of surprise.

After taking in her new body for a moment, not thinking much of her nakedness, she gave a noncommittal shrug. "It'll do."

She carefully stood up and wrapped the blanket several times around her before tying the ends behind her neck, creating a makeshift dress. Erin grunted in annoyance when a strand of her long hair got caught in the knot at the base of her neck, and she pulled it out with a harsh tug.

It was at this moment when she noticed a note flutter out of the bottom of the blanket, and she bent over to retrieve it. The sticky Post-It note was a bright forget-me-not blue, which stood out against the black cloth of her blanket. Erin flipped it open cautiously, only to brighten considerably at the words upon it.

Erin, once you wake up, wrap yourself up in the blanket. Follow the trail I left and head west. You'll come across a cottage within thirty minutes. I'll be there. See you soon.

~Pyon Silver

Erin sighed and stuffed the note in her chest. It was obviously his handwriting, though it was unusually curt. And why had he left her all alone with nothing but a blanket? She ignored the fact that she didn't even know how he had gotten the blanket and grinned.

Had he... freaked out over the fact that she had been naked? That would have been just like the noble prude that Pyon was.

Erin's grin suddenly grew naughty.

Oh, she was going to have so much fun messing with him.

Chapter Text

It was a bright sunny morning in Ayn Shizuoka's opinion. The sun was fair, a slight cooling breeze kissed the treetops, and the world was at peace. There was no strange rainbow-like mirage that had plagued the sky for so long, only the soft blue that she loved and adored. Little fluffy clouds scattered here and there, now being chased by the spring wind from before. The middle-aged woman sighed happily, and tossed her hair back from her face, smiling at the universe in general.

Yes, nothing could ruin her day now.

Ayn began picking her usual herbs, crouching low to the ground to keep a look out for the more tricky plants. It was while she was doing this that she literally stumbled upon the man that lay unconscious in the long grass that lined the Tosho riverbank. Startled by the silver peppered black hair she saw, she assumed that it was an old man at first, that had fallen and been knocked unconscious. Stumbling back and uttering a polite apology out of habit, she bent to help him, only to stop halfway down to stop and stare. It wasn't an older man at all, but rather a beautiful young man.

It was quite a bonus that he was butt naked, too. Deciding it wouldn't hurt to take a moment and enjoy the view; the woman stifled a perverted giggle and tilted her head to take in his bare form.

His thick mane of black hair was peppered with bright strands of silver hair, and it's length had to go down at least down the length of his long neck, Ayn mused, intrigued. It wasn't every day that you saw a man with hair that length. Not to mention, it was slightly spiky, in a tameable fashion. Satisfied with his sense of taste, she flicked her eyes to his face.

It was aristocratic, smooth and the color of alabaster, the polar opposite of the hair that framed it. In fact, his skin was a striking against the black of his hair and the green of the grass about him. High arched eyebrows and straight lips told her that the man before her was serious because neither parts had the slight wrinkles of someone who smiled. The woman rubbed her chin thoughtfully. To her, he looked like a marble statue, beautifully unbreakable.

To her delight, the white skin flowed down into broad shoulders, that led into long slim arms. The calloused hands at the end of those long arms were just as elegant as the face, thin but strong.

Ayn felt her eyes being drawn back to his hands. The calluses were similar to one who was trained in the art of Kendo. The handle of the sword often rubbed against the palm of a sword user, trainee or master alike, leaving those slight bumps to form over time. Deciding to look over him again for more signs of what he was like, she felt her eyes narrow as slight markings on his chest and arms caught her attention.

The faint yet thick scars that were scattered here and there had her stiffening angrily. This young man, who looked little over twenty, had more scars than her own former Kendo master, who had been well over fifty years of age. She hummed worriedly, eyes suspicious.

So this statue wasn't as unbreakable as she had originally thought.

A slight moan brought her attention back to the present in a flash, and as she watched him come to, she decided to push her unease away for the moment and focus on the man. Completely unaware of her, he carefully sat up in the damp grass and rubbed his head tenderly. He growled under his breath, but Ayn had sharp ears.

"...ugh... Lolo, you're not going unpunished for this... I'll get you!"

"I'll say," Ayn added in agreement. The man whipped his head toward her so fast she was surprised it didn't go flying. He also pointed one arm at her, oddly enough. She continued despite this, mentally grinning when he clutched his head with a groan when his sudden movement sent his head throbbing. "If what I gather is right, this 'Lolo' left you here naked, yes? Rather odd for a prank, but I've done worse." She mused, smiling blandly.

"...You could say that..." He murmured sullenly, golden hawk eyes boring into her suspiciously. Then he realized what he had just said, and squeaked as he hunched forward to hide his bits. His pale cheeks darkened with a blush, causing intense amusement to through Ayn.

She tossed her head back and laughed rather wickedly.

"Now now, little boy, this witch won't eat you. Well," she added naughtily, "only if you want me to, that is." She gave him a saucy wink and snickered when he blanched at her implication.

"N-never! I-I-!"

Ayn giggled again and smacked him friendly like on the shoulder. "Oh, I'm just kidding Hun. Now cmon boy, relax and tell me what's your name. And for god's sake, I've already seen everything, so stop hunching over! You'll give yourself a back problem doing that." She glared at him impatiently when he hesitated, only easing up on the look when he began to unfurl. "Now, your name?" He hesitated again, and Ayn resisted the urge to slap him to attention.

"...Pyon. Pyon Silver."

"Pyon, eh? Well, that's certainly a unique name. I'm Ayn Shizuoka, but I give you permission to call me Ayn." Pyon glanced at her uncertainly. She gave him a glare.

"...Thank you?"

Now Ayn beamed, and she patted the still naked man on the head, grinning evilly when he clutched it in pain. "You're welcome, Pyon. Now c'mon, let's get you some clothes." She turned and began walking away; pausing once she realized he wasn't following her. "Something wrong?"

Pyon hesitated one last time, and then seemed to make up his mind.

"My companion, Erin Garnet, suffered the same incident as me, unfortunately. Do you think you could help her as well? It would improper for me to do so in our current, uh, condition."

The man shifted slightly, feeling rather awkward as Ayn raised her eyebrows. "Where is this... companion of yours?"

"Under that tree over yonder." Pyon gestured with one hand, pointing toward a dainty willow. Ayni's eyebrows rose once again, but she didn't bother commenting, striding toward the designated tree with long quick strides that ate up the ground.

She paused next to the tree and glanced at the sleeping woman that lay in the soft clover at the base of the willow in slight shock.

If her friend was a marble statue, unyielding and strong, then she was a long dagger, both deadly and beautiful.

Her stunning magenta hair was incredibly long and silky, draped slightly over her bare form. Two particularly shorter strands grew out right in front of her ears, framing her face quite nicely. Said face was calm in the respite of sleep, unwrinkled and smooth. Rosy cheeks and lips did little to soften the sharp, noble planes of her nose and high forehead, only adding to the fierce beauty that made up this woman.

An elegant swan neck attached her head to slim shoulders, which then lowered down into a slightly bigger than average bust, toned belly, and long model legs that were held to her chest. Her arms, currently wrapped around their dreaming owner, were equally long and slim, with hands that contained nails that Ayn would die for.

All and all, everything Ayn wasn't.

The older woman sighed in envy that faded almost instantly, even as she pulled out a dark blanket from the travel pack that rested on her back and settled it gently over the sleeping woman. She glanced back at Pyon, who was slowly coming up from behind, awkwardly avoiding looking at his female friend. Ayn rolled her eyes in annoyance.

Great, just what she needed. A prudish man that had a crush on what literally must be the most gorgeous female in existence. She snorted.

"If you like her, then I'd suggest just telling her, boy. Nothing good comes of doing nothing." When Pyon began to deny any interest in Erin, she quickly interrupted him with a devilish grin. "What if some other man snagged her in your hesitation?"

Pyon froze, and then his eyes darkened dangerously. However, when he spoke next his voice was incredibly soft, and it was that sent a slight shiver of fear down Ayn's spine.

"That would never happen."

Ayn brushed off his anger at the thought with a nonchalant shrug.

"Well, don't say I didn't warn you, stud." She straightened out from her stoop and brushed off some dirt from her knees. "Now, as I am an old, frail, little woman-" A snort came from behind her, but she ignored it. "-I find myself unable to carry her back to my cottage down the river. And since you are too much of a prude to pick her up-" She ignored Pyon's stammered protests, "-You'll have to write her a note telling her where we are heading. She can join us on her own when she wakes up."

Rustling through her pack, Ayn pulled out a pack of sticky notes and tossed them over her shoulder at Pyon. To her surprise, his right hand flashed up and snagged them from the air.

He then caught the pen she threw at his face in confusion. "What exactly... are these?" Ayn raised another eyebrow at him.

"Magical devices that will telepathically transmit data into the person you stick the note on."

"...Truly?"

"Yes. Wait, no! You moron, those are sticky notes and a pen!" Ayn rubbed her forehead, feeling only slight guilty at Pyon's mildly embarrassed and insulted look. "Look, just write your girlfriend a note that tells her where to go." Attempting to get rid of an incoming headache, she rubbed her temples and sighed, watching Pyon as he began fiddled with the pen for a moment, before finally succeeding in getting the cap off.

Ayn resisted the urge to facepalm, and instead became resigned to her fate.

Just what had she gotten herself into?


 

Lulu whistled cheerfully as he walked down the hallway of his personal mansion, for once out of his human disguise. Here he had nothing to fear, completely out of sight of any prying eyes. Plus, his current prisoner would recognize his true form, unlike his human form. It was best to keep that ace up his sleeve for now.

Taking a sharp turn to the left at the end of the hallway, he hopped down the stairs two by two, feeling elated. Other than the escape of his creation, everything was going according to plan. And he didn't really need to worry about Kuston; he too would be taken care of by the end of the year, if the fail-safe he'd put into his creation's body worked correctly.

He hopped the last two steps and twirled down the next dark hallway in a rather Lolo fashion. Lulu only stopped once he reached a rather dim room. Pulling a key out of nowhere, he proceeded to unlock the door. Cautiously, he pushed the door open.

"Hello? You awake yet?"

In response, a large candlestick holder flew out of the shadows of the room toward his head. Ducking quickly, Lulu chuckled as it impaled the wall behind him.

"Gosh, Lala, if I didn't know better I'd say that you weren't happy to see me."

Said Brigadoonian stepped into the pale light, her eyes narrowed dangerously. Breathing heavily, her paws were clutched tightly around the second to last candlestick holder. The last candlestick holder was the only thing that gave off a light, flickering rather feebly all alone in the corner.

"You twisted, rude, horrible-!"

Lulu waved a paw at her, amused.

"Now, now, no need for that kind of language. I just brought you here to talk with me." He smiled gently at her skeptical look. "Honestly! It gets rather lonely being the only villain. Why, I don't even have Kuston anymore!"

"Well, you deserve that loneliness, and much more!" Snapped Lala, waving her oh-so-fearsome candlestick holder. Then she registered his last sentence. "Wait, what do you mean you don't have Kuston anymore?" She narrowed her eyes at the male before her. "You make it sound like you 'had' him recently. But you couldn't have, he disappeared when Melan defeated him in his capsule."

Lulu let out a low hum. "Well, you’re only partially correct. He did disappear, but only because I went and found him before any of you could. But then," he added with a dramatic sigh, "he and I had a... disagreement and he escaped."

Lala perked up at the last word, and Lulu felt his good mood slip slightly. He should have used different wording.

"Escaped? So that means he is no longer on your side?"

It was obvious where Lala's train of thought was going, and Lulu decided to get rid of it right away. "Uh uh, don't even think about it. The possibility of him allying himself with Brigadoon is not going to happen, simply because I will not allow it. I already know where he is... and I will be going soon to take him back."

Now that was actually different from his original plan with the fail-safe, but he found himself wanting to show Lala just how far he had planned ahead, and just how powerful he really was.

Lala scowled at him, unaware of his thoughts, and gave her candlestick holder a fierce wave. "And how do you know that?"

"Well..." Lulu gave her a calculating smile. "...that's for me to know... and you to find out."


 

Kuston didn’t know what to do now.

The tiny human known as Moe was slumped against him, having fallen asleep after bandaging him up. Kuston had a feeling she hadn’t meant to fall asleep, or against him for that matter, but she had and a little bubbly feeling in his chest was making warm with that fact.

She trusted him enough to relax in his presence.

It was disgusting.

All these soft, primitive emotions, that he hadn’t felt in eons, were suddenly all around him and filling him, and Kuston had no idea what to do with them. Lulu had taught him to ignore them, or better yet, to not have them at all. He was in unknown territory, weak and injured at the mercy of his tiny pet.

Kuston rumbled deep in his chest and shifted uncomfortably. Moe gave a soft mumble at the movement and he instantly froze as she ducked her head against his arm, only remembering to breathe when her own soft snores had faded to the even sounds of deep sleep.

Relieved she hadn’t awoken, Kuston returned to his troubled thoughts.

He needed a plan. But that was the problem; he didn’t even know what he wanted now. He was a defeated runaway, an utterly disgraced Gunswordsman. His own creator had built him on lies, and he was a joke to the ideals of Brigadoon, the very thing he should have protected but instead helped destroy on the whims of a mad being.

A shudder forced its way through him; literally, no one would help him or want him now. He was completely alone…

Well, perhaps not completely, he corrected himself, glancing down at the tiny human curled against his side.

She hadn’t even truly been afraid of him, even when he had threatened to kill her. Her wide eyes had taken in his wounds and she had been afraid for him. It was baffling, but her openness and naivety made him want to believe that she was genuine. That it was possible that she actually cared.

As if she knew she was being thought of, Moe sighed and snuggled even more against him, toes curling and fingers wrapping around his injured arm. It hurt a little bit, but that was okay. Kuston was used to pain, preferred it to the soft and unknown feelings that had been plaguing him since his defeat at Melan Blue’s sword.

But perhaps that was the problem. Lulu had taught him to be what he was, and look where it got him-- mental and physical agony. Maybe the first step in trying to get his life back together was to be the opposite of everything he had been, and nothing was more polar opposite than Moe.

A sense of relief filled him. It was vague, and not much, but it was an outline of a plan. And for now, that was more than enough for his tired and pain filled body. The tension and fear slowly drained out of him, and the soft rise and fall of Moe’s chest against him was soothing.

Ticking of a clock behind him only helped his tired mind shut down, and with his tiny hope for the future snoozing beside him, Kuston leaned his head against the back of the couch and fell into a rare and deep sleep.


“Higher Melan, higher!”

Marin giggled and spread her arms out, reveling in the wind in her face. Melan laughed in agreement and shot even faster straight up through the clouds.

The two had opted out of walking back home, and Melan had been all too happy to hold Marin tight in his paws to fly her home. But somehow along the way, the two had gotten lost in the flying and simply decided to flit about among the clouds and the wind.

Feeling a burst of hot air below him, Melan gave Marin a small grin as an idea popped into his head. “Do you feel adventurous Marin?” A nod and a trusting smile was his answer, and he was good to go.

Giving his wings a sharp twist; he flipped and swayed upward, using the natural winds and heat to send them even higher. Another flick of his wings sent him back downward, in a lazy pattern reminiscent of a falling leaf.

Marin let out a squeal of delight and clapped her hands. “Your amazing, Melan!” She grabbed him around his waist and held herself even closer to him. She gave a happy sigh and rubbed her face against his chest, closing her eyes and letting the gentle rock downward reassure her that this was real and that Melan was with her.

After a calming moment of the wind filling her ears and the warmth of Melan filling her heart and soul, Marin looked up at the Gunswordsman with watery eyes.

Startled by the sight of tears, Melan instantly froze and hovered in midair. “Marin? Are you okay? Should I have not-” He cut himself off when she squeezed him even tighter and buried her face against him.

“I missed you. So much.” Her voice dropped to a soft whisper. “Please don’t ever leave me again. I love you.”

A soft sigh escaped Melan, and he wrapped his arms and paws around her as he lowered them to the ground. As soon as he felt his feet touch the ground, he knelt before her shaking frame and grasped one of her hands in his paws. Another tilted her face so she was looking him in the eye, and his heart throbbed with guilt when a tear streaked down her cheek.

“I-” His voice shook. “-missed you as well. It hurt so much to be away from you. I will never leave you again. Ever. My heart, my everything, is yours and yours alone.” Melan gently pulled Marin against him and pressed his face into her neck. “I love you. I love you. I love you so much; I don’t think it’s possible to measure just how much.”

Marin gave a happy sob and laughed through her tears as she clung to him. “I love you just as much, Melan.”

“I know,” Melan whispered, eyes closing. “I’m sorry I hurt you and made you feel alone. I promise by my sword, I will never let you go again.”

The two cuddled together, soft nothings passing between them, soothing the heartache and reaffirming their affections underneath the spring sky. The warmth of the sun was cold in comparison to the feeling of knowing that they would never, ever, be apart again.

They would always have each other.