Actions

Work Header

Supernatural Taisen

Chapter Text

The 20th Century was a time of terror and monstrosities. During the Second World War, several major powers desperately raced for advantages over their enemies. They created superhuman warriors, exploring every fringe science, hired costumed vigilantes as mercenaries, crossed dimensions in search of aid, tried to resurrect ancient civilizations or made pacts with demonic beings in an effort to win. As the century progressed, the fruits of their labor bore rotten fruit as Atomic Power created horrific, monstrous mutations that threatened the world.

The 1950s and 1960s were punctuated with their attacks, as well as aggressive alien refugees seeking to subjugate earth and the first inklings of a dimension previously unknown even to the most ardent occult scholars: the Wired, a place where electronic information lived and breathed.

Because of its history, Japan became a prime target for many of these horrors, forcing the Japanese Self Defense Force to explore strange options for dealing with the attacks. In 1963 the JSDF requisitioned an advanced submarine, the Gotengo, to combat a threat from remnants of a people calling themselves the Mu. This weapon caused an uproar amongst some military men in the United States as it verged close to violating the treaty they signed after World War II. 1965 saw the heavy use of it as several monsters appeared across the South Pacific that called for the burrowing/flying submarine's use. These incidents provided an excuse for the re-militarization of Japan, but the US began to think of counters, commissioning a competing submarine subbed Seaview built as a check against it.

The 1970s saw resurgence in the power of magic for the first time since the end of the Occult Wars in 1958 when Adolf Hitler died. Across the world: detectives; reporters; and even the odd costumed vigilante turned to the occult for aid or for combating the forces of evil. This trend started small but soon ballooned into phenomena that gained scientific attention in the 1980s.

The 1970s also saw the Japanese Military develop a new power source which proved difficult to produce, but absolutely vital for their national defense: the Nekketsu Engine. It ran on a new form of energy, dubbed Getter Rays. However, they seemed to be tied to the willpower of the pilot, hence the name. This engine, combined with specifically built combat frames made from a rare mineral they dubbed Sakuradite (which the outside world called Vibranium) were constructed just in time to combat the world’s first full supernatural war against a race of reptilian humanoids who once inhabited the earth. These Serpent Men launched a series of terrorist attacks against Japan and Southern Asia.

Russian High Command remained skeptical of the entire incident, and thought it was the Americans and Japanese testing them. The soldiers they sent to “test” the American and Japanese forces, however, discovered the true horrors involved, and often aiding all of humanity against the mutual threat. These incidents were never reported to the high command, as the first few to do so found themselves removed from duty.

The Silurians were defeated thanks in part due to the combined efforts of UNIT and the sacrifice of pilot Musashi Benki, who detonated the Nekketsu Engine of his jet, leveling the Silurian’s home base. Peace, however, did not follow, as demonic hordes who claimed only to serve a being their language called “The Great Enemy” began to appear. Also at this time, the most sought after lost relic from the so-called ancient empires arose to fight them, as well as other independent agents. This war ended in 1976, when the ancient technology disappeared along with the demons. The end of this war of saw the near total abandonment of Sakuradite Armor Frames, and the Nekketsu Engines were mothballed as their repercussions began to manifest themselves, and the destructive power of a detonated Nekketsu Engine was revealed to conservative military personnel in the United States government who called these detonating engines a violation of the peace treaty. Thus, the engines were dismantled. Japan fell into an economic depression (as well as one of national morale) for a period afterwords.

When the armors were silenced, the monstrous wars ended; with many military personnel believed the Nekketsu Engines were responsible for the uprisings. In fact, they were unrelated. Their true effect was later documented in 1989 by Dr. Egon Spengler, after encounter a natural outbreak of the same occurrence. Nekketsu Engines, it turned out, leaked a psycho-reactive substance that later caused the manifestation of uncontrollable entities frequently called Ghosts or Demons by those who do not know better. Dr. Spengler as well as his colleagues Dr. Peter Venkman and Dr. Ray Stanz managed to find and correlate date on the substance they called Ectoplasm, but since their findings were so tied to the Nekketsu Engine incident, much of their findings were discredited or outright blocked. They took to a private sector use of their findings, and had great success in New York, but were not taken seriously elsewhere.

For a time, the planet enjoyed relative peace on the surface, whilst in the underworld, monsters began to gather again and costumed vigilantes began to crack under the various pressures they exposed themselves too. It seemed to begin when the Ghostbusters formed, and a mysterious woman gathered a small group of preternatural allies to defend herself against her Father at the start of the 1980s. Even the great Cthulhu stirred in this time, and a being claiming to be the “primary” Dracula was thought slain by the decade’s end. By 1991, the Federal Bureau of Investigations set up a small unit to investigate overt Paranormal Activity that UNIT did not claim jurisdiction over. The incidents became greater and greater, with the discovery of new and dangerous species such as Graboids and Gargoyles, as well as a covert war for control of the mythic Wired. These incidents, however, went largely unnoticed by the public at large due not just to the intervention of the US Government and the actions of some occult organizations with an interest in keeping humanity in the dark, but as well as humanity’s own capacity for self deception and general stupidity. So great was this combination, that few people outside of the directly affected areas even know about the beings involved, and even then, there are some who still do not believe.

Until 1998, when the King of Monsters returned, as it seemed to herald a new Age of Monsters across the world. Several major cities were damaged in the course of several years, with almost every continent seeing a monster or two. New York City had sections of it rendered a “No Man’s Land” for over a year due to the appearance of a monstrosity called King Ghidorah. These events seemed to climax when the monster was trapped under Antarctica in 2002 whilst embattled with the abominations created by a teenage girl corrupted and guided by lost technology. Combined with a severe attack by Data Life Forms following the worldwide communications blackout that came to be called “The Babel Event” it all but seemed to be the End of the World. But with Godzilla trapped under the earth’s crust and a full year without the appearance of a single giant monster on a major city, the world breathed a sigh of relief. Newly elected President of the United States, David Xanatos, looked forward to a bright future for his country and his family.

And he saw storm-laden clouds.

Chapter Text

Dr. Daniel Jackson was having a rough day. It started bad and the tasks he had that day only made it worse. The night before, he had a nightmare. A flashback to be more specific. His continued research on the Ancients had brought it up. It was in that Stargate Command’s view on the Ancient’s changed-- for it was there that they met one. Rather, the Ancients who were Ancient to the Ancient.

It turned out that even though the Goa’uld built on top of the ruins of the Ancients. The Ancients had in turn built on top of an older civilization. This civilization was also not native to Earth and their physical structure was even more alien than that of the Re-Tu. Jack nicknamed them Starfish because of their vaguely starfish-shaped heads. They were almost a chimerical abomination of invertebrate sea-life with parts from coral, octopuses, clams, coral and (of course) starfish.

Unlike the Ancients, who appear to have disappeared in some unknown calamity, the Starfish died out slowly from wars of attrition with other alien forces that appeared on earth until the Ancient’s delivered the final blow. Translating their language was almost impossible because these beings communicated only half of their thoughts with sounds. The other half was done with ultraviolet color shifts which they incorporated into their written language. The ancients had a translation of the Starfish’s language, but it was still a translation of a translation. Not the best source of information. And even then, the use of proper nouns among these Starfish beings displayed in full how alien they truly were.

In their language, they appeared to use a combination of the words “feral” and “food” to describe native life on earth. Other races that the Starfish said to have encountered included such wonderful names as: “Mind-Time Travelers”; “Flying Polyps”; “Tentacle Faces”; and “Fungus from Ort Cloud”.

The revelations of the finds there had re-written what they knew. It appeared that the Ancients weren’t the Gate builders after all, it was the Starfish. The Ancients did build gates and built better ones, but they only seem to have co-opted and refined the technology of these Elder Things. The Elder Things, it appeared, were preoccupied with genetic engineering more than interstellar travel. Only a select few outside the SGC knew that many of the Kaiju that appeared during the Babel Event were the products of the Starfish’s technology.

But it wasn’t those thoughts that brought him nightmares. No, it was when they found what they thought was the frozen body of a Starfish.

As it turned out, it wasn’t dead. While the team excavated it, the creature began to move. When it finally thawed and started walking around without any ill effects, Daniel attempted to communicate with it.

Emphasis on attempted.

Nothing got through. The creature didn’t acknowledge anyone there any more than one would a beetle scurrying nearby. It explored its environment well enough, but regarded humans as much as a human would regard furniture. Jack kept the creature secluded while Daniel wasn’t trying to communicate with it.

The first night there, it broke out of its cell, found a soldier, and proceeded to tear him open. Daniel found the body first. He was splayed out and his organs had been systematically pulled out of his body—but were still connected to it on each end. The organs and even blood vessels were all pulled from his body which made him look like a bow that had been pulled right. The Starfish hadn’t disemboweled the soldier. It had dissected him with all the patience of a scientist and the apathy of a Biology student dissecting a frog.

As Daniel vomited at the sight, Jack emptied a P-90 into it. It took the full clip to put it down, but it went down without a sound and leaked a thick black ichor as it fell. Daniel looked up from the former contents of his stomach to see the ichor twitch and yaw with a hundred different organs and appendages before it clenched and fell dead.

That ichor and the investigation into those ruins continued to haunt him, especially since he had to do research into that incident in order to counter Anubis’ own research. He could only hope that the information was as taxing on Anubis’ mind as it was on his. Somehow. But at least he understood now why the mountains near the site were called “The Mountains of Madness.”

To have a day start like that would throw anyone off their game. And today was a big day as he had been given the task of guiding not just the President around the base, but the Director of UNIT and a representative from the JSDF. With General Hammond away, the future of the SGC could very well be in his hands.

And Col. Jack O’Neill was going to help him.

Good lord, Jack was going to help him.



Jack and Daniel stood just outside the Elevator that led to the top level of the SGC. If all things went well, they’d still have their jobs by day’s end. If not, the entire SGC might be folded into UNIT or another organization. Apparently, there were at least 4 other organizations in the United States alone that dealt with more ‘extreme’ phenomena. Partly because of the Babel event, these organizations spent more time tripping over themselves than helping with the crisis. SG-1 ended up trapped on the Alpha site for a month because of it and as such missed on most of the chaos. Apparently, communication outside of direct currier had been cut off by some of the technology the Starfish had invented.  People hung together and managed to pull through, but the government non-response was a complete embarrassment. In the end, the person responsible for the event was stopped by a group of teenagers who won a science contest, a few Navy SEALS who the kids had rescued and, if the story is to be believed, Godzilla himself.

This embarrassment was so bad that David Xanatos of all people had won on a platform to re-organize the military to prevent such a thing from happening again.

At least he was keeping his campaign promises.

“Relax Daniel,” Jack patted his friend on the back, “They can’t be as bad as Kinsey.”

Daniel turned to him, “Even though Kinsey’s the Vice President?”

Jack took a loud inhale, “At least we’ll go down fighting.”

At which point the elevator doors opened. Jack was taken aback by the figures within; because there were four, not three.  He made sure to hide his reaction as best he could, but to Daniel it was plain as day.

“Good morning, Mr. President,” Jack said, before turning to the other two tall figures in the elevator, “Lieutenant, Director.”

“Good morning, Colonel O’Neill, Dr. Jackson,” Xanatos answered. He was a tall man, with a cleanly cut beard and impeccably dressed. Jack found him even smugger than his campaign commercials made him out to be.

To his right was JSDF representative Lieutenant Tetsuya Tsurugi. Almost as tall as Xanatos, but with graying hair, Lt. Tsurugi carried himself in a way that reminded Jack of himself. Firmly, but loose enough to not appear rigid or uptight. In his right hand he had a strange, reinforced metal briefcase with the JSDF Ground Logo on the side of it—a stylized, radiating version of the famous Rising Sun of Japan.

To Xanatos’ left was the Director of UNIT, Hyppolita Trevor. She was the tallest of the three, wore a white business suit and was built like a Green Beret. Her body stood almost in contrast with her face, which was soft, warm and highlighted by an accepting smile.

And then there was the fourth figure: a 4ft tall Japanese girl who couldn’t be more than 10 years old in a white dress.

“So, is this ‘bring your daughter to work’ day?” Jack said.

Holding the girl’s hand, Director Trevor moved her forward. The girl readied herself with a blink and said “Hello, I am Time-Space Administration Bureau Civilian Liaison Nanoha Takamachi. It is nice to meet you.” Nanoha then bowed slightly before reaching for the red the red jewel at the center of her simple necklace and added, “And this is Raising Heart.”

“Hello,” the jewel blinked a pink light and spoke in a voice that could be best described as a smoother feminine version of Stephen Hawking’s computer.

There was an audible pause before Jack spoke again: “So is this ‘bring your daughter to work’ day?’”

“Colonel O’Neill,” Lt. Tsurugi said, “one of the things I hope to accomplish is an even flow of information between the JSDF and the SGC. Inspector General Yuki Misaki believes that we should reciprocate at least in some way. Ms. Takamachi represents one of the allies we have made in space.”

Daniel leaned down to Nanoha, “Where are you from, Nanoha?”

“Chiba, Japan.” She answered.

Daniel blinked.

“Like I said,” Nanoha kept a cheerful smile on her face, “I’m only a representative. Raising Heart is from their home world though: Mid-Childa.”

“Yes,” the Jewel said, “I am here to facilitate the transfer of data as well as act as a translator since Lt. Tsurugi nor Nanoha have a complete mastery of the English language.”

Nanoha blushed and Tsurugi stance grew even more rigid. The heavy silence that accompanied this was broken first by a warm chuckle from Director Trevor, “Whatever gets the job done, I suppose.”

Director Trevor’s calming voice did little to halt the nervous red coloration that grew in Nanoha’s face. Tsurugi remained calm despite this.

“At any rate, I’ve also brought some samples of some of our reverse-engineered alien technology. We generally refer to these technologies as METEOR.” Lt. Tsurugi said as he motioned to the briefcase he carried.

“Please, plug me in,” Raising Heart announced, “So I may begin file transfer and comparison.”

Jack smiled and waved a hand to guide the group, “I guess that makes our first stop the lab.”

Though the phrase was quickly said, the actual act took almost a half an hour. Terabytes of data tends to have that effect, even if it was to an external system and not the mainframe. It wasn’t that the storage device couldn’t handle it, but that the transfer medium was not quite up to par.

The visiting quartet got a full briefing on the Stargate network and their current understanding of the political situation deep in space. The Goa’uld System lord Anubis was rising in power and had already shown aggression towards earth. It was likely that if the situation in space continued on course, he would mount an assault on earth. With only a single space vessel and a dozen or so fighters constructed, even with several other nations in league, there was little chance of success.

Still, at least they had a chance. But that could easily change with Anubis’ using Ascendant knowledge to track down Ancient Technology.

Cross-referencing data between the groups revealed some interesting new bits of information. The JSDF had apparently had direct contact with surviving ancients. They called themselves the Mu or simply “Mulians” and by appearances the legendary cities of Atlantis, Lemuria and Mu (their capitol) were all part of their civilization. The Space-Time Administration Bureau believed they obliterated themselves in something they refer to “World Tuning.” Apparently, they’d seen at least three civilizations obliterate themselves almost completely, leaving only dangerous artifacts lying around. They called the most dangerous of these “Lost Logia.”

The fact that Anubis was actively looking for Lost Logia had gotten their attention in this Galaxy, making it the second extra-galactic race to land on earth.

Or the third, Jack couldn’t keep it straight.

Nor could Jack really follow the conversation that sprang up between Nanoha and Major Samantha Carter, with Raging Heart providing the technical details. Though upon hearing the word “Magic” struck his ears he couldn’t help but ask: “Magic?”

“Yes,” Nanoha said, “Magic.”

Raising Heart then elaborated and Jack tuned out again. There was something about Dark Matter and Quantum something or other in there, but after a moment it was pretty clear that Carter was the only one keeping up with the conversation. He could try to understand it, but as far as he was considered, it just meant “Exotic Power Source” and possible “strange effects.”

Nanoha, it seemed, was taking the same option when she said, “I just know the math to make it work. I don’t fully understand where the power comes from other than a part of me that’s not really in phase with the rest of reality.”

“Still,” Carter knelt down Nanoha’s eye level, “knowing that is very impressive at your age.”

Carter was always good with kids.

Eventually, the tour found itself in the Gateroom after they watched SG-10 return at which point President Xanatos asked for a closer look. After the room was cleared of non-essential personnel, Xanatos got his wish.

“So this is a fully functioning Stargate,” Director Trevor’s next sentence caught Jack and Daniel’s full attention as it contained the phrase “I haven’t seen once since I last visited Themys—” but it was cut off.

“Warning!” Raising Heart said, “Dimensional Rift in Formation 30ft from current location.”

The lights in the Gateroom dimmed, the Chevron’s flashed several times in rapid succession as a glowing circle of arcane runes (which Daniel recognized easily as Sanskrit) formed just in front of the Stargate. It’s red and black light casting the room in a sickening glow.

“Mr. President,” Jack said, “I think it’s best we get you and your friends to a secure location.”

Several Gateroom security members put themselves between the President and the strange glowing symbol. The turrets locked onto the circle.

It shimmered as four figures stepped out of the rift.

Three of the figures were strange, light blue, rounded and oblong rectangles with three jewel-like devices on its face. Several red wire-like appendages sprouted from the top and bottom of the devices. He’d never seen anything like them before. One hovered above the central figure, while the other two flanked it.

He didn’t know what these machines were, but he knew the central one well. It was a recent addition to Anubis’ arsenal, but it had made an indelible impression on the Galaxy.

It was a Kull Warrior.


Mission 1
"The Gate of Revelations"

 

Alarm klaxons sounded as the Anubis Drone raised its arm and pointed its wrist-mounted blaster towards the group Jack had lead to the Gateroom.

More specifically, he pointed it at Nanoha.

No other thought crossed his mind. Years of training kicked in as Jack acted.

Nanoha grasped onto Raising Heart and uttered the first syllable of its name as Jack wrapped one arm around the girl and hefted her off the ground. He turned his back to the Kull Warrior, placing himself between the horror and the girl, fully expecting to hear the repeating electrical crack of the repeating blaster amidst the storm of bullets.

Instead he heard the distinct sound of energy weapons being deflected off an energy barrier—something akin to a lit fuse in tone.

The bolts arced themselves towards Hyppolita’s crooked arms, they burned off the forearms of her suit, revealing metallic bracers which let loose sparks as the bolts struck and dissipated against them.

“Everyone out!” she commanded. The turret guns were abandoned almost instantly as the room evacuated. They had managed to destroy one of the machines and damage the other, but the third had disappeared shortly after it had traced a line of light across the Kull Warrior’s back.

Hyppolita covered the exit as the last soldier left the room, the bolts all attracted to her forearms where they dissipated harmlessly. She then dove out of the room as the heavy metal doors of the Gateroom slammed shut. The odd group continued to move down the hall as Daniel’s suggestion. The door wouldn’t hold the Kull Warrior for very long.

In Jack’s arm, Nanoha squirmed slightly and said, “Th-thank you Colonel O’Neill, but could you put me down please?”

Before Jack could respond, Raising Heart sparked again. “Warning, dimensional rift unstable. Subject of transfer suffered severe genetic damage. Approximate time for violent mutation to manifest: three minutes.”

“Alright,” Jack said “Director Trevor, there’s a safe-room two floors up. Get the President and Nanoha up there.”

“It’s your show,” she said as Jack put Nanoha down.

Raising Heart then announced: “Standby Read. Set Up.

In a pink flash, Nanoha’s outfit changes suddenly. It remained white, but blue highlights, frills and a red bow now adorned the ensemble. Her sleeves ended in blue highlights and black, fingerless gloves were now on her hands. She also held a white staff with pink endpoints and a large red jewel inside a golden crescent atop it.

It then stated “Shooting Mode” and the crescent turned into an elongated “U” shape.

“No,” Nanoha did not stomp a foot on the ground like an angry child, arms and body giving their full weight to frustrations, she simply stepped forward with such firmness and power that it sounded like she put her full weight into it-- if she had weighed 300 pounds. “I’m going to help stop it.”

“What-NO!” Jack shouted. “I’m not sending a 10 year old girl into combat!”

“You’re not. I’m just going.” Nanoha answered.

“Don’t get smart--”

“Please let me help!”

As they argued, a red tentacle bore its way through the steel door and began to reach for the nearest electronic interface.

Director Trevor boomed, “We don’t have time for this. I’m getting the President out of there. Stall the attacker as long as you can.”

Lt. Tsurugi opened his briefcase and pulled out a large, orange-highlighted pistol with a thick revolver-like cylinder where an automatic pistol would discharge spent shells.

“I have a few tricks for that,” He said, turned the cylinder until a blue light shown on the top. He aimed the pistol in front of the armored door fired a blue flare-like projectile.

The projectile reached the start of the door before it expanded into an octagonal blue cage that blocked the hall completely.

“The point is simple,” Director Trevor asked, “Who here has weapons?” She then turned with Xanatos in hand and headed for the safe room at what Jack guessed to be 30 miles an hour from a standing position. Xanatos did not realize he was being carried until they already rounded a corner.

Jack would have looked down for a moment had Teal’c not rushed into his frame of reference carrying a P-90 and a Staff Weapon.

“O’Neill,” he said, handing the earth weapon to his comrade before asking “why is there a little girl here?”

Jack made a few quick hand motions and said, “Daniel, get her out of here.”

Before Daniel began to move, Raising Heart stated “Root” accompanied with a minor flash of pink from Nanoha’s feet as Tetsuya, Teal’c and Jack took defensive cover. When Daniel tried to move her, she was as immobile as granite.

“Um, Jack.” Daniel said, “She’s stuck.”

“Stuck?” Jack said.

“I’m sorry, Colonel O’Neill, but you can’t stop me from helping you.” Nanoha’s voice had no hint of anger in it, but was as hard and cold as solid steel.

“At least take cover!” Jack yelled.

“Do not worry,” Raising Heart answered, “I will protect her.”

O’Neill grimaced and focused his attention to the Gateroom door where he saw the tentacle working the control lock.

“Don’t shoot unless the Capture Cube barrier falls,” Lt. Tsurugi said, “it’s designed to reflect both incoming and outgoing attacks to their source.”

“Okay, good to know. How long will it remain up?” Jack took the safety off the P-90.

“One minute or less depending stress,” Lt. Tsurugi answered.

Jack grimaced but didn’t have time to argue as the Gateroom door opened. The surviving drone and Kull Warrior stepped through the doorway. A pair of soldiers covered Daniel’s exist as the others hugged the wall, leaving Nanoha open in the hall.

“This enemy,” Nanoha asked, “What does it want?”

“The Kull Warriors follows Anubis’ orders unerringly,” Teal’c answered, “Whatever Anubis orders them to do, and they will follow.”

Nanoha blinked, “They—they don’t have free will?”

“They do not.”

Jack cursed himself for being unable to get this kid out of the battlefield. ‘For crying out loud,’ he thought, ‘she’s ten years old! She shouldn’t even be in here!’

Nanoha took a stabilizing breath before calling out, “Warrior! Tell me what you want! Why are you attacking us?”

The Warrior did not respond.

“If you do not stop and explain yourself,” Nanoha continued, “I will stop you.”

The drone brought two tentacles to the barrier field, tested it a few times before firing a shot at it. The blue bolt bounced off the barrier and struck the drone, destroying its face. It fell to the ground with barely a twitch.

The Kull Warrior simply walked through the field, causing it to shatter and break apart.

Jack, Tetsuya and the others opened fire for what good it did. It stepped forward and raised its arm as Teal’c opened fire, though not at the Kull Warrior, but at the ground in front of it. The blast created a small crater in the cement floor just below where the Kull Warrior’s foot. The armor and shielding of the super soldier absorbed the heat and force of the blast, as well as deflecting the shrapnel.

It did not compensate for the change in elevation. The Kull Warrior right foot twisted as it tripped and fell on its face. Depending on the severity of the injury, the Warrior would only be hampered by it for a precious few seconds at most. But in such a confrontation, every second counted.

“Restrict Lock” Raising Heart announced as pink cords wrapped themselves around the wrist blasters and held the warrior’s arms in place. It pulled against the bindings, but to no avail.

From the corner of Jack’s eye he saw another pink glow as Nanoha raised her voice, “Divine…”

The Kull Warrior attempted to stand up, but the leg it tripped on would not straighten fully without it cringing.

“BUSTER!” Nanoha shouted as a pink beam of energy thicker than a telephone pole lanced out and struck the Kull Warrior with such force that it was picked up and slammed against the end of the hall. Jack and the others stopped firing at the strange sight and just watched as the Kull Warrior was pushed into the wall, cracking the reinforced cement behind it.

When the stream of power ended, the Kull Warrior fell forward, leaving a noticeable fracture in the wall.

“Warning, target still functions,” Raising Heart announced just before the Kull Warrior moved its arms, “Let’s do it: Starlight Breaker.”

“Okay, Raising Heart,” Nanoha turned to Jack and said, “Pin him down for 10 seconds, please!”

Jack, Tsurugi, Teal’c and the remaining soldiers again opened fire. Jack kept his shots in short controlled bursts between the blasts of energy that Tsurugi and Teal’c launched. Keeping his shots close to the central mass of the Kull warrior as it stood up, one arm passed over its body. The other soldiers had taken to ‘spray and pray’ responses to the Kull Warriors in a mild panic, but Jack remained sharp.

A three round burst struck the blaster on the left arm as it rose, deforming the weapon and launching sparks into the air. Jack wondered if Nanoha’s blast had damaged the Warrior’s shielding. Its body armor remained intact, but parts of their collective shots were getting through.

The light from Nanoha’s staff grabbed Jack’s attention for just an instant. In the glimpse he gave her, he saw a sphere of pink energy gathered before her, held within a spinning circle in front of Nanoha that was bigger around that she was tall that soon filled the entire hallway, calling an end to the barrage.

“STAR LIGHT,” Nanoha shouted as she raised her staff into the air, “BREAKER!”

Nanoha brought the staff down on the sphere with all her might as it launched towards the Kull Warrior as it used its remaining strength to look up to its doom.

The hallway was enveloped in pink light for a good 13 seconds before the light dissipated. An acrid burning smell filled the hall.

When it did, the devastation was astounding. The entire hallway had been burned wider by almost 3 inches, while the hallway itself had been extended another hundred feet.

Two ports opened on Raising Heart and let out twin jets of steam.

“Target Neutralized.” Raising heart said.

At the end of the hallway, the blackened husk of the Kull Warrior dropped from the far rear of the hall almost a foot off the ground, leaving a near-person shaped mark of protected space where he once was.

Jack lowered his P-90, switching the safety back on, “Well, I guess that concludes our tour.”

 



When the alarm ended, within the saferoom inside the SGC, David Xanatos turned to Director Trevor with a smile, “I guess our theory proved itself viable, Director.”

“Did you need further verification?” Director said.

“No, but it’s always nice to be proven right. As a bonus it will help convince the last few holdouts the benefits of interaction,” Xanatos smiled, “Less people to replace that way.”

“Still, you had best be careful. Some of these people don’t take well to change.”

Xanatos’s smile grew darker as he answered, “In some cases, I’m counting on that.”



“May I ask about the bracers?” Daniel Jackson turned to Director Trevor as he guided her back to the surface, long after the others had left, readying themselves for the effort involved with increased international assistance. 

“Certainly,” She answered, “whether I can answer or not depends on what you ask about.”

“Okay. Judging from the effects it displayed, I assume it’s some sort of shield device.”

“Last time I heard it explained it was an electromagnetically attractive force field.”

“Okay, its design appears to be a smoother that a race called the Akonieks used.”

“Nowhere as potent, but longer lasting.”

“…Okay, may I ask where you got it.”

“Themyscira.”

“…you’re kidding right?”

“Disinformation is a wonderful tool, don’t you think?” Director Trevor chuckled slightly, “the added revenue doesn’t hurt either.”

“So, this ‘Themyscira’--”

“It’s off world. I have the gate coordinates if you want them, though I wouldn’t contact them without contacting me first.”

Daniel slowed down as the elevator drew nearer. “Okay, that’s a loaded response. You have a Stargate?”

“Sort of. It was a dedicated system, could only dial my mother’s home world. It was destroyed in the early 80s. We’ve had to use a Mulian Shuttlecraft to get there since then,” she sighed, “finally let my daughter see the homeland I suppose.”

“Muli—oh, right”

“You call them Ancients, right?”

“Force of habit mostly.”

Director Trevor nodded slightly as Daniel continued, “But what I mean is your people were seeded by the Anc—er, the Mu?”

“No.” Director Trevor looked down, “A single Mu calling himself Zeus created my people to be his own personal army and harem. My family was to be the chosen warriors of the society, mimicking the legendary hunter from Earth mythology called Slayer.”

“Ah, yes, the Slayer myth. Only dragons and vampires match them in terms of global proliferation. Still, that doesn’t sound like the Mu I’m familiar with.”

“Then consider yourself lucky so far. Japan has fended off at least three invasion attempts by remnant Mulian populations wielding super weapons of one sort or another.”

“Odd, the Mu I’m familiar with are usually Ascended.”

“Oh,” Director Trevor paused, “you really are lucky—or not, given their level of cooperation.”

“Yeah, they do like their non-interference. So why shouldn’t we contact the, er, Themyscirans?”

“Amazons.”

“Okay, so why shouldn’t we contact the Amazons?”

“Well, they haven’t heard from us in about 8 years now, and after liberating themselves from Zeus, the Goa’uld Ares tried to take over Themyscira. They buried their gate to prevent further incursions.”

At which point the pair arrived at the elevator.

“Yeah, that would pose a problem,” Daniel placed his hands in his pockets, “so are you really--?”

“No.” Director Trevor responded sharply, but her voice then softened, “I was. So was my mother. My daughter does it now.” She smiled slyly and added “Like I said, it runs in the family.”

The elevator door opened and Director Trevor stepped in, “She’ll be stopping by to help out in a few weeks as part of Xanatos’ effort for better communication amongst our various groups.”

“Let’s just hope that those visits are less eventful than yours,” Daniel said as he waved goodbye and the doors closed.

Before they finally closed, Director Trevor waved back and added “I doubt the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense representatives would mind.”



When General Hammond returned, he brought SG-1 for a briefing regarding the recent incursion. Thankfully, there was good news on all fronts. The Japanese had agreed to expand their technological assistance in exchange for the SGC aiding in the refitting of the Gotengo into a (much needed) starship. Xanatos’ move to connect the various formerly “Beyond Top Secret” organizations let them benefit from the others advances. Direct energy weapons were being installed in Prometheus that could extend the fighting time of the ship; the formerly fabled “Project Mechagodzilla” would be run on several Naquadah reactors; security had been beefed up all around and other changes.

All announced nearing Hammond’s last day as commander of the SGC. The new head, Dr Elizabeth Weir, would be arriving tomorrow. This would be one of their last debriefings together.

“It appears that Anubis is looking into a form of gate-travel that doesn’t rely directly on the gate. Possibly experimenting in the same technology that the Time-Space Administration Bureau uses,” Major Cater said.

Jack turned his head slightly to her, “You mean ‘Magic’, right?”

“Yes,” Cater sighed, “magic. However, it appears that he jumped the gun in its development. The machines and equipment passed through the rift unharmed. The organic matter of the Super Soldier was badly damaged. If Nanoha hadn’t blasted it, it would have died within another minute. I mean—the body dissolved by the time it was taken into autopsy.”

“And the machines?” General Hammond asked.

“They were actually in the TSAB’s files,” Daniel answered, “They are called Gadget Drones. A rather common type of Mulian remote or AI weapons platform.”

“The drones survived the transport easily enough, which if likely why they were sent with the Super Soldier,” Carter said, “to report back on the success or failure of the mission. I’d be guessing it was a failure given what happened.”

“So why isn’t Anubis overrunning the base with his troops?” Hammond asked.

“Well, there are two reasons. One of which being that TSAB liaison Nanoha Takamachi placed what she called a Dimensional Barrier around the mountain which should prevent any future attempts at dimensional crossing on base. Still, that only protects the mountain, not the rest of the planet,” As Carter explained this Jack scowled slightly, “Secondly, the technology failed. It should be a while before Anubis tries it again.”

“Alright, is there anything else that needs to be talked about?” General Hammond asked.

Jack rubbed a hand at his temple, “How ‘bout Child Labor Laws?”

“I looked into that a bit,” Daniel said, “Apparently, they operate with a much faster education system and thus end up starting military recruitment age is 16—”

“For cryin’ out loud, Nanoha is a 10 year old from Earth!”

“As I was saying, apparently in cases with extremely talented mages in their forces they tend to fast-track their training if it is requested. Though it’s not a very common practice; the files they gave us indicate that there have only been a dozen in their entire history.” Daniel paused for a second before adding “and, including Nanoha, three of them will be stationed on or near earth in the coming months.”

Jack let out an annoyed grunt as he threw his head back.

“When the time came,” Teal’c added, “She handled herself well in combat. We would not have stopped the Anubis Warrior without her assistance.”

Jack waved a hand dismissively, “I know—I just don’t like it.”

“Neither do I,” Carter said, “there’s no doubting her power or intelligence, but I’m not sure what effect this could have on her emotionally.”

“She seemed well aware of the power she wields,” Teal’c added, “She apparently does not like combat, but will act when needed. If she feels she can help, she will try.”

“Great,” Jack scowled.

General Hammond nodded, “For the time being we’re just going to have to accept their assistance. I don’t like it much myself, so I’d like it if you tried your best to keep those kids out of combat situations.”

“Done,” Jack answered.



“Gutten Tag” The man with glasses in the view screen aboard Anubis’ mother ship waved casually to the System Lord, “Might I inquire as to the conclusion of the mission?”

“A failure,” Anubis growled. His hood shifted slightly with his statement as he added, “the rift proved unstable, and the warrior I sent through was destabilized. Unless reports have surfaced of the demise of one of our targets, the Magic will need further refinement.”

“That is a shame,” The man’s demeanor did not change in the slightest, keeping an eerie grin upon his face, “as the President of the United States and the Director of Unit are, sad to say, alive and well. What of the drones I sent you?”

“Two were destroyed. The third provided me with data to refine the spell for future endeavors.”

“At least it was not a total loss, mein freund.”

“Indeed. Within a month, the final bugs should be removed allowing our troops to move unhindered.”

“Excellent. Then we will truly have a War to remember. Until then, System Lord.”

“Until then, Major.”

Chapter Text

Mission 2
The Lost City



Slowly but surely, new allies and international aid were being transferred to the SGC to combat the growing threat of Anubis. Nanoha had contacted the TSAB, who would send over a battleship, the Asura, to aid in planetary defense as well as try to halt Anubis’ misuse of Lost Logia. However, the Asura was over a week away at top speed, and since Anubis’ attack on the SGC, he had begun stepping up his plans and gathering his fleet.

The Asura would help, but it wouldn’t solve the problem. Daniel’s research had possibly uncovered a Mulian Repository, which Daniel believed held the location of a vast repository of their technology: the Lost City. Jack wasn’t exactly thrilled by the prospect given that one had nearly killed him last time, but these were desperate times. The TSAB wasn’t too happy with the idea of searching for a Lost Logia to combat the use of Lost Logia. This was despite assurances from the SGC that they would not use any Lost Logia found unless it was absolutely necessary.

The mission was decided on rather quickly. SG-2, 3 and 5 would be backing SG-1 as well as one representative from UNIT and one from the TSAB.

Which meant Nanoha would be going with them. Jack wasn’t happy about that in the slightest and prayed that the trip was uneventful.

Dr. Elizabeth Weir, on the other hand, was nearly overcome with nervousness. She had done tough negotiations before between warring states in North Africa and other hostile situations involving opposing civilizations and societies—even those that accused her of being a continuation of the so-called “white man’s burden” method of thought. She worried, however, that she might not be up to this task. The existence of the Stargate was quite a shock: a secret program of interstellar travel and contact with alien societies and life forms was an amazing concept. Then they told her of the secrets cultures and worlds existing right under her nose on earth: costumed vigilantes; alternate dimensions; lost worlds; and magic. Real magic. To make things worse, the entire SGC had received a rundown of alien life forms that had been in contact with earth in the past that they hadn’t even heard of yet, nearly tripling the total workload.

She was going to be at the forefront of it, negotiating with alien cultures from worlds away and dealing with a mix of people who understood, at best, half the depth of what was going on at the moment.

And now she was in an elevator with Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman. Or, what she was told was Wonder Woman. The woman in the elevator with her certainly had the build of an Olympic athlete and stood a good 6ft tall. The thing that threw the image off was that the woman’s hair was cropped short and blonde. Further, she was wearing standard military fatigues with United Nations insignias. Though, to her credit, she did have a golden lasso holstered on her right, as well as large metal bracers on her forearms.

Dr. Weir swallowed as quietly as she could, but still got a glance from the amazon. The pressure of her new job couldn’t be distracted for long.

“So,” Dr. Weir said, “Are you really—”

“Yes,” She answered quickly, “But please call me Cassie. Or Captain Trevor, whichever you prefer.”

“Captain Trevor, then,” Dr. Weir said, “Sorry, but I had to ask.”

“No worries. It comes with the territory.”

Dr. Weir waited a moment before she said, “I still can’t believe all this.”

“Reality tends to be unrealistic at times,” Captain Trevor smiled lightly, “Still, you do get used to it.”

“I’m almost afraid of that,” Dr. Weir said as the elevator opened.

Taking command with a mission already in progress wasn’t an easy proposition. Especially with how the Goa’uld were described by most everyone she talked to. Accepting a large group as so blindly evil was not something she was going to take lightly.

“Refresh my memory,” Dr. Weir turned to the Amazon, “Are there any known aliens out there who aren’t outright hostile or aggressive? “

“A lot are, but we do have friends out there. It’s just that, in comparison, the indifferent, the hostile and the predatory outnumber the openly friendly.”

“Predatory?” Dr. Weir asked.

“Sorry, it’s my own definition,” Captain Trevor said, “Basically for beings that view humanity as either a resource or a literal prey item. But, really, it’s the ones that are utterly indifferent that I watch out for.”

“Why is that?”

“Indifference is a varied thing. Some races like the ones on Mars are stuck dealing with their own problems to even begin worrying about the rest of the galaxy. Others, like the Nox, are pacifists or have policies of non-interference. But the truly indifferent ones treat sentient life as we would insects.” She shuddered for a moment, “and some of them are beings of immense power.”

Dr. Weir wondered what she was getting herself into.


 


Nanoha was quite surprised going through the Stargate, and almost tripped coming out. Jack caught her before she fell.

“Thank you, Colonel O’Neil,” She smiled looking up at him.

Nanoha raised Raising Heart into the air; it called out, “Wide Area Search.” Instantly, four pink spheres appeared around her: three darted away in different directions while the fourth remained.

“Alright people,” Jack said, “let’s go.”

The SG teams began to set up defensive lines, one soldier gave Captain Trevor an odd look as she checked over the weapon she held that was equal parts grenade launcher and machine gun. Just thinking about the kick the weapon would have gave the shoulder pain. Whatever it was, it looked like it would be at more at home mounted than in the arms of a soldier, but she slung the 30mm weapon as though it were .22.

It wasn’t that long of a hike, but Nanoha decided to fly to the location ahead of them. Jack thought she was just showing off—or having fun. He couldn’t exactly blame her for doing it that much. He would if he could.

She had landed by the time they got there; the small light probe circled the tremendous statue of a seated, Zeus-like figure.

“I’m sorry,” Nanoha said, “I hoped I could find it before you got here.”

Carter told her not to worry, but an hour later, they still hadn’t found anything. Daniel studied a column inscribed with text for what must have been the third time as Nanoha slowly traced her staff over the bulk of the structure with Carter’s instruments doing the same in the opposite direction.

Jack walked up to Daniel and said, “You know we've searched this place up and down.”

“I know.” Daniel answered as Jack glanced quickly at his watch.

“We could have Goa'uld on our collective a--,” Jack shot a glance back to Nanoha, “--er, butts, any minute now.”

“I know,” Daniel sighed, “According to the text on this column, its inside.”

“Inside you say?” Jack resisted the urge to tap the structure as he closed in on Daniel, “Well let me tell you my friend. There is no inside. There's just a whole lot of outside.”

Daniel could only answer, “I know.”

“I'm getting some strange readings coming from here.” Carter announced. Nanoha rushed over and pointed Raising Heart at the wall section Carter had been sweeping.

“Energy Source within Mu Phase space detected.” Raising Heart stated.

“So how do we get to it?” Carter turned to Raising Heart.

“Mu Phase space prevents further analysis.” It answered.

After watching the scene, Daniel turned around, glanced the nearby columns and walls. He murmured, “If I'm right ..." As he pressed against an adjacent wall and searched for something with his hands. Jack surmised that he found it (whatever it was) as the Repository warped itself into place in front of Nanoha and Carter. On instinct, Carter pulled Nanoha back as she leapt back in surprise.

“Thank you Major Carter,” Nanoha said, “but could you and your team please stop grabbing me?”

Ignoring the sentence that would sound absolutely horrible without context, Jack turned on his radio to call in their minor success so far. Finding the repository was easy compared to getting the information out of it without endangering someone’s life, or failing that, removing the repository as a whole for study.

“Warning!” Raising Heart yelled, “Multiple Goa’uld craft breaching atmosphere. One mother ship detected.”

Various expletives raced through Jack’s mind as he turned to his radio, and shouted “Trevor, dial the gate. We’ve got incoming!”

Overhead, a Deathglider slid into view and began to strafe their position. Nanoha leveled Raising Heart at the craft which stated “Restrict Lock” before pink rings wrapped themselves around the glider’s staff cannons.

The craft’s weapons flashed once, but nothing happened. They flashed again, with no effect. The Deathglider soon broke off.

“Alright let's go.” Jack flicked his hand quickly.

“We can't just leave,” Daniel protested.

Teal’c elaborated, “We must not allow this device to fall into the hands of Anubis.”

O’Neill dug out a block of C4 from his equipment, “Fine.”

Daniel rushed over to stop him and grasped his elbow to stop Jack.

“Sir,” Carter said, “if we destroy it we lose our only chance to find the Lost City.”

The pyramidal shape of an Al’kesh darkened the skies, but instead of the normal spheres of plasma Jack was used to see fall from their hull, a long rectangular capsule over twenty feet long fell and struck the ground with a massive tremor.

Whatever it was didn’t explode. Either things had turned their way, or things were going to get worse.

“Ah crap!” Jack scanned the skies and saw more ships headed for their position, “Alright then, what?”

Daniel rushed towards the repository, but Jack grabbed him before he got to close. “Jack somebody has to do it.” He huffed, “The answer is in there! Let me do it.”

“Genetic lock prevents access.” Raising Heart repeated.

Jack looked back at the repository and decided. He rushed towards the device, which reached for him and grasped his head. Jack’s eyes were flooded with an array of multicolored lights as he expected them to. He did not expect the music: a haunting, operatic chant the shook him to the core of his being.

Over the echoes of it, he barely heard the others call for him as he blacked out.

Nanoha caught him with a quick spin of Raising Heart, and gently lowered him. As she did, the rectangular capsule the Al’kesh had dropped opened with a steaming hiss. Something rose from the cylinder on branching tentacles. It was metallic gray and superficially resembled a tree with the very top cropped off by a horrific gaping orifice lined with teeth that served as the beast’s mouth. Standing up, the creature revealed itself to have four asymmetrical arms that branched into tentacles that appeared to end in tremendous suckers. Root like drapery around its feet reveled themselves as it pulled itself out of the capsule.

So taken by the sight were the explorers that it managed to stand fully erect and bellow a sound like sheet metal being torn that they did not notice the second one until it too had freed itself free.

“Xiclotl,” Teal’c gasped, “I have not seen one for many years.”

“Divine Buster,” Raising Heart announced as Nanoha directed a blast of energy directly into the face of the first creature, which toppled under the force of the blast.

Carter and Teal’c opened fire as Daniel helped Jack to his feet.

“They are unintelligent, but well armored and lack vital organs,” Teal’c explained, “We need to move.”

Already, the one Nanoha had knocked over was getting up. Teal’c staff left small welts on the creature’s skin whilst Carter’s P-90 left pinpricks in the 16ft tall monstrosities. Daniel pulled Jack to his feet and did his best to rouse him quickly, to little avail.

“Divine Shooter” Raising Heart stated, creating four small spheres of energy that shot forth from the staff, “Control Please”

Nanoha closed her eyes and sent the spheres not directly at the Xiclotl, but had them circle around the monsters. They paused and regarded the spheres for a second before attempting to lash out at them, but Nanoha moved them away before their limbs could strike.

Carter saw an opportunity, took Jack’s free arm and announced, “Let’s go!”

The four SG members ran as Nanoha floated slowly behind them. They easily snuck by the distracted horrors and managed to get a good distance away before Carter turned to Nanoha and asked, “Can you destroy the repository from here?”

“I think so,” Nanoha answered.

Raising Heart added, “Let’s do it!”

She held the staff forward and began to gather power from around her, building it into a sphere larger than she was. Eventually is drew upon and re-absorbing the divine shooter orbs into the larger sphere.

However, this drew the Xiclotl’s attention. They waddled forward as fast as they could

“Full power: STARLIGHT BREAKER!” She shouted as the bright cone of energy soared towards its target and bowled over the Xiclotl and pulverized a good section of the monument’s base, as well as the repository.

Teal’c raised an eyebrow at the destruction the little girl caused.

At his glance, Nanoha answered, “Well, there was more ambient magic out here.”


 

Jack was awake by the time they reached the gate, but he was still rather out of it. His eyes barely caught glimpses of the neon pink ooze that leaked from the bodies of several fallen Xiclotl. He also saw the other SG teams and Captain Trevor—who held that funky glowing rope as he called it, tightly, ready to lash it out at the next attacker. And she was covered in the pink ichor. He would later learn that she had torn herself out of one of the Xiclotl, rescuing several soldiers it had swallowed whole.

But before he could even ask any questions, Jack found himself back in the SGC.

Dr. Weir was there to greet him along with several dozen other soldiers as Jack’s feet finally decided to function again.

“What happened?” She asked as the final few soldiers exited the gate.

“Things didn’t go as planned.” Jack said as Nanoha fired a Starlight Breaker through the gate, “I did it again.”

Chapter Text

 

 


Mission 3
Tempting Fate


Jack wasn’t happy. After the mandatory medical checkup, he learned that Bra’tac had come through the gate with some very bad news: Anubis had assembled his fleet. It would arrive in the solar system in three days.

Three days before the Asura would arrive.

Part of the reason for this development was in part their fault. The discovery, download from and then destruction of the repository of the Mulians lead Anubis to believe that the SGC knew the location of the Lost City. They still only had the Prometheus and a few dozen F-303’s to defend the earth with from the SGC. The Japanese were reluctant to lend what they had, as it required the use of the banned Nekketsu engines. The Gotengo had just entered dry dock to be refitted as a spacecraft, a process that would take a month if they rushed it. Mechagodzilla was complete, but the control system was so complex they had yet to find a pilot who could handle it. The Russians had promised to help, but would be withholding MOGUERA unless absolutely necessary. Then there was Wonder Woman’s “Jet,” a modified Mulian transport/all purpose small craft. They actually had access to that one, but it was still a single fighter.

But that was the future. At the moment, when the world was counting down to its eventual enslavement, he was in a meeting regarding the possible suspension of further gate activity while everything was sorted out. The Lost City may have been on earth, but with Jack’s brain full of Mulian data and the gate closed, their options of dealing with it would become severely limited. Prometheus had to stay in-system, and the F-302s were too small to have a hyper-drive installed. That left Wonder Woman’s Jet, and that was only good for short hyperspace travel at best.

SG-1, Master Bra’tac, Captain Trevor and Nanoha were already seated when the final two participants to arrive: Dr. Weir and, to Jack’s dismay, Vice President Kinsey. With them were two Secret Service agents.

He expected Kinsey to begin with some jab against SG-1, but instead, the first words out of his mouth were: “Who is that?”

Nanoha stood up and saluted with an infectious smile, “TSAB Liaison Nanoha Takamachi with Raising Heart, sir, willing to help out however we can.”

Raising Heart blinked, “Hello, Mr. Vice President.”

Kinsey scowled and motioned to one of the secret service agents, “Get this little girl out of here.”

Jack inwardly cringed: hell had just frozen over. He and Vice President Kinsey agreed on something, even if it was on principle alone. Thankfully, where Jack treated the situation with concern and a dash of humor, Kinsey’s voice dripped with contempt.

Before the Secret Service goon could move, Dr. Weir interrupted, “Excuse me, but Liaison Takamachi is standing in for one of our new allies. She needs to be at this meeting.”

“Besides,” Captain Trevor added, “even I couldn’t move her without causing serious property damage.”

“Yes,” Kinsey growled, “Your record is about as unbelievable as Colonel O’Neill’s.” Kinsey sat across from the sextet with Dr. Weir next to him after she attempted some cordial introductions.

“I understand that there’ve been a lot of changes,” Dr. Weir began, “and we have a difficult situation ahead of us.”

“Which is why I’ve taken it upon myself to come down here and see what Mr. Bra’tac has to say personally.” Kinsey said.

“Master Bra’tac,” Jack corrected, “Master.”

After a superficial apology, Kinsey said, “So you believe the Goa’uld Anubis is planning to attack?”

“You may be certain of it.” Bra’tac answered.

“I’ll say this, the timing is impeccable. The moment we suspend Stargate activity,” Kinsey motioned to Jack, “you pull this out of your hat.”

Nanoha let out an audible gasp before Jack responded, “Mr. Vice President, if you’re suggesting that we’d make something like this up—”

“Yes Colonel, that’s exactly what I’m suggesting,” Kinsey barked.

Nanoha almost shouted, “H-How could you say that!”

“Because, ya know, that’s exactly what we do;” Jack snapped at Kinsey, “We sit around on our …butts and create scenarios that put the planet at risk.”

“Oh, I think you’d do just about anything—”

“Gentlemen,” Dr. Weir said, “For the purposes of this discussion let’s assume that Master Bra’tac is in earnest and that the threat is real.”

“Do you even know what the threat is?” Daniel asked, “Anubis is half ascended: with the knowledge and technology at his disposal to wipe us all from the face of the Earth.”

“Worse, he’s adopted the old ways of the Goa’uld,” Bra’tac added, “Calling forth minions not seen in this part of the galaxy in at least sixty years. That means foes you have not before faced. Of course, I will tell you what I can.”

“Despite this,” Carter said, “We believe that there may be alien technology within our reach that could defeat Anubis.”

Kinsey chuckled darkly, “So now you're pulling a ray gun out of your hat.”

“Weapons capable of defending this planet,” Teal’c said.

Kinsey shifted in his seat from frustration, “I can't believe we're sitting here listening to this.”

“Mr. Vice President,” Dr. Weir said, “on his last mission—”

“Oh' I am aware of the events that once again compromised Colonel O'Neill's invaluable judgment,” Kinsey growled, “and the fact that on his last official mission, he has incurred the wrath of humanity's worst enemy on behalf of us all.”

Jack frowned, “Wait a minute; I thought you didn't buy into the whole invasion thing.”

“Also,” Captain Trevor added, “In light of Anubis’ experiment in dimensional shifting, the faster we move on this, the better. We understand the need to simplify things for the change in management and partial re-training of several large groups, but we cannot let this threat go on unabated.”

“Let’s make this simple:” Jack said, “If we come up with some Lost City-related or Anti-Anubis mission that requires the gate use, we’d like to use. Otherwise, you can keep it shut. Sound good? All compromise-y?”

“NO!” Kinsey barked.

“Who are you, really?” Jack scowled, “And why are you here?”

Dr. Weir blinked hard and answered, “I will consider it.”

The meeting wrapped up shortly thereafter. Bra’tac and Teal’c would be heading to Chulak to see if they could procure some means of defending the earth there. They knew they’d need every warm body and machine they could throw at it.

Dr. Weir left first, with Kinsey close behind her. When the door behind them closed, Nanoha finally blinked. Jack hadn’t really realized it until now, but Nanoha had been coldly staring daggers into Kinsey’s throat for almost half the meeting. Her gaze was more intense than the one he had seen in her when she defeated the Kull Warrior. This girl kept giving Jack chills.


Jack had been expecting the process of Mu-awakening to be slow and ponderous. Thankfully, he still managed to watch The Simpsons in relative peace. The first night of the download, his mind was again full of songs. There were few if any real words, just notes, and even full chords sung with inhuman reverberations.

The second night after the meeting, the dream music began to slowly creep into his waking activity. From it, images and thoughts began to appear in his mind. It was somewhat similar to the last time it happened, but the songs were definitely a new twist on the whole experience. The song never repeated nor did it get annoying (which Jack thought was a miracle). Though at one point, it did sound an awful lot like the Stone Cutters anthem.

Captain Trevor had left to prep her ship. Even with all the possible technologies the Mu had built, she figured they were going to need it. It was definitely a strange ship, and it probably had seen better days. It was semi-cylindrical and a faded gunmetal gray. The front of the ship was cut from the tube at a flat angle, and the rear of the ship was absolutely flat, which made cargo loading rather easy. It had been loaded with many bits of odd equipment over the years, each leaving their mark.

By the time she arrived, Teal’c and Bra’tac had returned with a commandeered Goa’uld transport ship, a Tel’tak. That’s when something clicked inside of Jack’s head and he began to collect various items that he had no idea what they were for. When asked, all he could say is “I don’t know.”

When asked why he was taking a Naquadah generator into the Tel’tak and modified its ring transporter, he said “I don’t know.”

When asked why he took a second Naquadah generator into the Invisible Jet, and hooked into only one system, he said “I don’t know.”

When asked why he was forging a strange curved bead (Daniel called it a magatama) from gold, silver and copper, he gave up and tried to say “Because it’s pretty” but it came out in Mu the first time through.

Before leaving for the day, he grabbed one last thing, and he really, truly wished he could have grabbed something else. He needed Nanoha Takamachi.

Working at a breakneck speed, Jack still realized that he had a buffer of 40 minutes at best, including flight time. By then, however, English speech was lost on him, and Raising Heart did not have Mulian in her system. So Jack was reduced to tapping his friends on the shoulder and various arm motions along with the occasional descriptive word that Daniel could piece together the meaning of.

So it took 5 of his precious few remaining minutes to gather SG-1, Bra’tac and Captain Trevor to the airstrip where their commandeered and inherited craft awaited. The craft were already prepped and ready for launch as they headed towards them, but before they got within 100 feet of the craft, a patch of reality in front of them rippled and pulled apart. Naturally, this stopped them dead in their tracks as one figure, then a second, stepped forward.

Their dichotomy was extreme: the first was a small child, 10 years old or so, with white hair, a face utterly devoid of expression and the irises of his eyes were a flat, pale blue that showed neither expression nor emotion; the second was a huge, muscular man almost 7ft tall in what appeared to be modified Kull Warrior armor: heavily reinforced and encased in metallic plates that seemed to support hidden servo motors. The helmet had been replaced with a different, stylized, almost samurai-like face mask that left his mouth partly exposed, but covered his eyes behind dark goggles. The face mask was largely a dark shade of red, with two spikes of blue emphasizing his cheekbones pointing downwards. The helmet, while larger, seemed to be better designed to protect the head from physical impacts. On the shoulders of the giant were strange, a set of three red and white spikes pointing downward. Other spikes protruded upwards from the tips of his toes, and some others from the shin. The fingers were encased in claw-like tips and the forearms were greatly reinforced.

Nanoha had already transformed by the time the second figure stepped out and had her wand at the ready. The others similarly readied their available weapons.

Carter had already readied the Kull Disruptor attachment; a new weapon to combat the armored warriors she, her father and the Tok’ra Selmak had developed; when the boy spoke.

“Greetings,” he said calmly, “I am Fate Averruncus. My employer wishes to delay your trip slightly.”

“And your friend is?” Captain Trevor asked.

The man growled.

“Grumpy,” Averruncus answered, “I do not wish to cause you harm, but I will if necessary to complete my mission.”

“How do you plan to stop us?” Teal’c asked.

“I was hoping we could have some coffee,” Averruncus snapped once and a table with enough chairs for the whole group appeared between them, with a full tea set upon it, “Or tea"  he almost spat the word, "If you prefer.  Please, sit, and I shall explain everything.”

It took a moment before Jack sat down. The others joined him, but they kept a hand on their weapons.

“Thank you,” Averruncus said, “My employer has asked that we delay your arrival in Antarctica.”

Carter blinked, “Wait—you know where Jack’s taking us?”

“Yes,” Averruncus answered, “he knows what you are going to find there and wants you to unearth it. He has a vested interest in the system’s reactivation. However, he has also allied himself with Anubis. In order to maintain the facade that he is working with Anubis, he has sent us here supposedly to ‘stop you.’”

Averruncus took a sip of tea and continued, “We would fight half heartedly, eventually flee back into dimensional space when a certain time has been reached, delaying you, but still allowing you to reach your destination in time and hopefully achieve what my employer hopes you will. That proposition, to me, is rather dull and uncivilized. I’d much rather reach an agreement regarding the delay time. I propose that instead of having a meaningless bout of violence, we wait here and enjoy this wonderful tea for the next 30 minutes. The alternative is that I turn the lot of you to stone for the time period instead. I’d rather not waste the magic or damage your ships unless absolutely necessary.”

Putting down his cup, Averruncus face remained as blank as it had been when he first appeared, “The choice is simple: either we sit and have a drink or my associate and I severely injure everyone here.”

A long moment passed before Jack reacted. At first his eyes widened as he realized what Averruncus had just done. He stood up, spread his arms and did something none of his allies expected: he sang. It was only one chord, and it was a chord they were sure no human could produce—as it created a wave of force that knocked back the chairs, the table, Averruncus and the hulking dark warrior all off their feet.

Captain Trevor charged the dark warrior, as Nanoha took off after Averruncus as he flew into the air. The others grabbed their weapons and opened fire on the Warrior. Teal’c was rather surprised Bra’tac’s staff bolt was not completely dissipated by the armor. Instead, it only partly shimmered and then left a small scorch on the black armor. He could see the bullets were similarly leaving minor scuffs on the warrior. When Captain Trevor got within melee range, her bracers sparking with electricity, she slammed a fist into his solar plexus and a burst of lightning shot from her fist, but he remained standing tall.

When the giant kicked her away, Captain Trevor expected that she would knocked back a good deal by the blow. She did not expect to be taken off her feet and catapulted a good 15 yards by the blow. That was enough for her to flip over midway through and land on her feet. Upon landing, she still found herself clutching her stomach. Even with the arm bracer’s shield, that had hurt. From that blow, she knew that as she was now, there wasn’t much of a chance of winning. And that if he managed to get a hand on one of the humans, the might die from the trauma his fist could cause.

That did not mean she was going to give up. After all, there was still a chance.

She brought her hands to her belt and clicked two hidden triggers. The belt was not a normally functional piece of equipment. Like her bracers, it was a Mulian artifact disguised as a mundane leather belt with a bronze buckler. Her grandmother called it Hyppolita’s Girdle. While the bracers acted as deflectors and enhanced her movement, the belt was an added layer of shielding and, to a decent degree, strength enhancement.

And she would need every edge she could get against this foe. Even with her enhanced speed augmented further by the bracers, he was almost keeping up with her. She could count on one hand the number of humans that could do that. The fact that he was wearing powered armor was certainly making her job more difficult.

Captain Trevor charged the giant again, this time with her lasso in hand.

She ducked his punch, slid by him and lashed the lasso at his far leg. She quickly stood and with a roar she flung the giant into the air before slamming him sharply into the ground, cracking the tarmac beneath him.

With but a thought, the lasso snaked itself across the armor and looked for the joints it could find. It found one near the wrist, and then went to the cuff to find skin. Once it did, Wonder Woman sent an electrical charge through the lasso and into her opponent.

His body convulsed at the shock, but he still managed to grasp onto the lasso. With a flick of her wrist, the lasso released him before he could grab onto an end of it and returned to her hands.

He stood up with barely a visible scratch. She expected as such. Any damage done by the lasso would be hidden by the armor, though she hoped that the armor’s systems were at least mildly impaired by the shock. She was rather disappointed when he stood up with relative ease. Only a slight quiver hinted at the damage she had done. He hid it well, which hindered her ability to gauge the attack’s effectiveness. That left her only one option: continue the all-out assault.

With the two finally having slowed down, two web-like bursts from Kull Disruptors struck the man in the chest. Carter and Teal’c’s aim had been right on. But the man only staggered.

“Interesting,” He finally spoke, “I did not expect that. But against someone like me, it will be of no use.”

In the air, Nanoha chased after Averruncus. She launched several small spheres of pink-colored magic at the boy, only to see them dissipate off a strange shield that encircled the boy.

“It would appear,” He grunted, “that the sound waves slightly disrupted my primary barrier. No matter.”

He dove towards Nanoha, power glowing around his fist. He wasn’t surprised when she deflected his fist with her staff. He was slightly surprised when the kick he aimed at her jaw was stopped by a glowing shield. His third strike was similarly blocked, but still had enough force to knock Nanoha a good distance back.

“Divine Buster,” Raising Heart announced, as the beam of pink enveloped Averruncus.

Nanoha gasped when Fate’s quickly manifested shield absorbed the blow.

“Very good,” He said, “I did not expect to meet someone so young with your amount of power. If I wasn’t prepared, that would have hurt. But now it’s time for you to sleep.”

Nanoha easily sensed the gathering power around him as he began an incantation, “Little King, Eight-Legged Lizard, Master of the Evil Eye. Give the poisonous breath that steals time: ‘Breath of Stone.’”

Nanoha did not waste the incantation time, and fired off three rounds of Divine Shooters at Averruncus, He casually dodged most of them, and the ones that did strike were absorbed by the strange barrier that surrounded him. The pale power gathered in two pointed fingers in his right hand and with a simple thrust, it bolted towards Nanoha.

But she was behind him before it was even halfway there, and rammed Raising heart into his back.

“Flash Move,” Raising Heart said before Nanoha launched a Divine Buster into the small of his back. The light again covered his form, but she could feel that he was no longer pressed against Raising Heart.

When the light faded, she saw that Averruncus had been knocked back almost a 10 yards and stood floating in midair. He looked unhurt from the front, but smoke wafted from his back.

“That,” He said, “was not nice.”

He raised his hand, pointed two fingers at Nanoha and fired a second bolt of pale light. Nanoha raised her hand to defend herself moments before the bolt struck. The shield absorbed most of it, but shattered when a second bolt struck it, with minor parts of the pale light hitting her final defensive layer: her Barrier Jacket.

She fell from the sky, landing on her feet but quickly falling to her knee and clutching her chest. It was intentional, as it allowed her to dodge the third bolt. Her bow had shattered itself to protect her.

“You are one very interesting girl,” Averruncus landed near her, “Normally, that spell can completely ignore magical defenses. But yours are quite interesting. You put up an amazing effort, but now—”

Nanoha jammed Raising Heart into his chest: “Bind!” Raising Heart shouted.

Averruncus’ arms and legs were encircled in pink binders.

“This won’t hold me for very long. A minute at…” Averruncus eyes widened slightly as Nanoha gathered power from the air.

“Thank you for the magic,” Nanoha smiled as she raised her staff into the air, preparing to slam the gathered power around her.

With a mighty shout of “STARLIGHT BREAKER!” she slammed her staff into the power and into Averruncus. Pink beams of light shown and flew from his form, one of them striking and knocking over the tall man.

In his stagger, Captain Trevor charged her bracers and belt, curved her body for maximum impact and delivered a shocking uppercut to the man. He flew off his feet and into several other deflecting bolts and shockwaves from Nanoha’s blast. Captain Trevor was almost blasted off her feet by the concussive force of it. Of the others, only Jack and Teal’c remained standing, Teal’c held onto Bra’tac whose age was catching up to him for the first time in a long while.

When the blast subsided, Averruncus had been knocked over, his form scuffed and bruised on the ground. The binders completely gone: absorbed and destroyed by the Starlight Breaker.

Then there was a flash of white, and the sun shifted over a dozen degrees in the sky.

Averruncus slowly rose with a slight scowl on his face, “Turning my power against me?” he growled, “I can count only a few times I have been blasted like that. But our mission is over. It appears we’ve won.”

“Master!” Raising Heart said, “Temporal shift has occurred. Time Lost: 6 Hours.”

“Six Hours?!” Carter turned from the tall man upon hearing this.

Jack grimaced. Averruncus pulled out a strange device from his shirt which looked like a pair of hourglasses bound by their sides, broken and leaking sand. He crushed it in his hand, and it shattered into glowing sparks.

“Yes. By the time you arrive in Antarctica, Anubis will already be in orbit. But do not worry,” Averruncus said, “He won’t start orbital bombardment immediately. Still, I would hurry.”

Averruncus calmly walked over to the large man, who was staggering up.

“Wodan, dissuade them from following,” He said.

Wodan grimaced as he pulled off the center spine of his shoulder spikes—which pulled the other two with it. He grasped it in his large hands as it morphed itself into a platform resembling the hilt of a sword.

Carter and the others were about to get up when Wodan boomed, “I AM WODAN YMIR: THE SWORD OF RAGNAROK!

As he spoke, the hilt let forth a tremendous column of blue flames that reached almost 20ft into the air and over six inches thick.

He braced himself and swung with all his might, as though the blade would benefit from his mass. For some reason that Carter would wrack her brain over later, it did.

Wodan swung with all his might, striking Captain Trevor first. Jack was next, his had raised and glowing. Nanoha had a erected a shield around the others and held out her palm with a pink circle extending from it. The flames struck them all, shattering the shields and flinging the entire group several yards into the air.

Jack looked up to see the Averruncus open a doorway to wherever they had come from. Before Wodan and Averruncus left through another tear, he could hear Wodan say one last thing: “There is nothing my blade cannot cut.”

Jack got to his feet and went to check on his allies. SG-1 and Bra’tac were fine, but Nanoha was out cold. She had taken the hit for everyone but himself and Captain Trevor. Her shirt had shattered, leaving only the black undershirt in form. This might have just saved her life. Captain Trevor had a shallow cut across her abdomen. She reconfigured the Girdle to hold the wound closed with its force field. They didn’t have time to find someone else with Mu Phase to pilot the Invisible Jet.

Jack hadn’t known how, but when the blade came at him, he bent the flames away and over him, but could only maintain it for the distance around himself. He couldn’t speak it, but as he carried the unconscious Nanoha into the Tel’tak, he knew that when this was over, he’d find that man Wodan and the boy, Fate. Find their boss and make them all pay.

Chapter Text

“Glad to see you back so soon,” The Major said as Averruncus and Wodan entered the control room, “I take it your mission was a success.”

“It took some added effort, but we delayed them the requisite time. Is Anubis already in orbit?” Fate answered.

“Has been for two hours now,” The Major smiled, “I wonder what we will salvage when this is over.”

A redheaded boy rushed over to Wodan. He was an older teenager, perhaps 16, but still had the eagerness of a child in his eyes.

“How’d it work!” he almost shouted with excitement as two other boys of similar age rushed to join him: one was blond, the other had black hair.

“Yeah, how’d it work!” The newcomers repeated.

“Perfectly,” Wodan answered, “though Wonder Woman managed to sneak past the armor at the wrist. I suggest reinforcement.”

“Ah, more details to work through,” Herr Doctor sighed, a thin, bespectacled man with blond hair, “That may delay development a little more.”

The boys produced a whining sound in near perfect unison.

“Boomer, Bret, Butch. You must have patience,” The Major said, “We still have a while to wait before we bring our perfection to the world. Now, go and inform Ouka and the other Children of the Dawn of the progress.”

The boys stood at attention, clicked their heels and saluted the Major before they sped off, leaving dark blurs behind them.

The Major smiled, “Such good soldiers.”


Mission 4
The Song That is Forbidden


President Xanatos remained calm despite the chaos around him. Anubis’ fleet was in orbit over the planet. It consisted of 8 Ha’tak mother ships and a specialized super-mother ship. Each one had 12 wings of Deathglider fighters, and 3 wings of Al’kesh bombers.

Worse, they had begun testing earth. From orbit, several of the Ha’tak had attempted to goad earth into showing what trumps they had. Thankfully, all it had done was confirm several allied nation’s support. But even with, they had about fifth of the space-capable ships that Anubis had brought. Worse, most of it was fighters.

His military advisers had been trying their best to form a decent defense procedure against Anubis. Keeping him up to date on each new development, a dozen plans ran through his head.

It would be tight, but as always, he had a plan. The first one was pinned on Jack O’Neill and SG-1. If they could pull through, it would be the best of all possible outcomes. If it did not, there were other options. A straight up fight simply wasn’t plausible using conventional means. Several of the plans relied on various factions specializing in unconventional and fringe methods working in concert. Anubis was only experimenting in Magic. The resources brought to him through the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense as well as organizations such as the White Council, the Hellsing Organization and others had opened up some interesting possibilities in addition to the technological defenses. He found himself acting as an intermediary between the groups for the most part. That part had to change, but that was a future concern.

If he had more time, it could have been in concert with the technological defenses.

When he decided upon a proper Plan F (a poisoned well strategy, something he was loathed to consider), the power cut out to the Oval office. Now illuminated only by natural sunlight, a dark figure manifested.

The Secret service acted quickly, but General Maynard stopped them before they opened fire shouting “Hold your fire! It’s a hologram.”

A tense moment followed before the cloaked image spoke in a bellowing, reverberating growl.

“I am Anubis,” it declared.

Xanatos was unimpressed. He smirked, “Sure you are.”

“Are you the leader of this world?”

“For all intents and purposes, let us talk as though I were.”

“Your leadership has come to an end,” Anubis boomed, “Bow before your God, and I may grant you leniency.”

Xanatos chuckled and mentally removed plan b from consideration, “I’m a self-made billionaire who now leads the most powerful nation on the planet. Do you honestly think I’d accept handouts or being ranked second best?”

“If you possessed weapons matching mine, you would have used them.”

“Despite our image, we know the meaning of restraint and patience.”

“You will bring destruction upon yourselves.”

“In the last hundred years, we’ve been faced with 30 invasions like yours. What makes you think that yours will fare any differently from theirs?”

As Anubis’ hologram faded, Owen Burnett, Xanatos’ right hand man, gave him a knowing eyebrow.

Xanatos sat down, nonpulsed, “Still, not as large of a ham as Sevarius.”


It had taken them an hour to reach Antarctica, longer than normal due to a trick Jack had pulled. He had altered the Invisible Jet’s cloak to extend it over the Tel’tak Bra’tac has commandeered as well as itself.

Inside said Tel’tak, things were a little tense. Nanoha had been unconscious for almost an hour. Jack had done his best to heal her, tapping into his Mulian/nearing ascension abilities to mend her wounds. However, she had expended a good deal of her magic, and the shock her system received when her shield broke had knocked her cold. Everyone was rather worried, and altered between trying to keep themselves busy while casting occasional glances

Carter was the first to notice Nanoha’s eyes slowly open.

The first words out of her mouth were: “I-Is everyone alright?”

“We are fine,” Bra’tac answered her.

Nanoha started to move, but a gentle hand from Bra’tac stopped her, “Save your strength,” he said.

She nodded slowly and lay back down. She asked several questions about what had transpired since she had fallen, and got calm, assuring answers them as the Tel’tak slowed.

“Is this it?” Carter asked as she entered from the engine room.

O’Neill soon followed in from the cockpit, moving to the ring transporters that were now hooked up to a Naquadah generator.

O’Neill said something that came out in pure Mulian, Daniel provided a quick translation: “I think he said ‘This will reveal us.’”

O’Neill flipped a switch and the transporters seemed to activate partly. Outside the ship, a beam of light shot down and began to briskly a tunnel through the mile of ice between the ring transports.

It took a few moments, but the disruption in the beam disrupted the cloak and it slowly evaporated.


Inside, SG-1 prepared themselves for the inevitable siege once they entered. Once Nanoha got to her feet, she joined them. She re-formed her Barrier Jacket as she stepped into the center of the Transporter Rings at O’Neill’s behest. Bra’tac took control of the ship and sent the quintet into the icy cavern the Tel’tak had carved.

Once there, O’Neill removed the strange bead from his pocket and held it aloft. It shone with a golden glow for a few brief moments before it shattered.

As the pieces fell from Jack’s hand, Daniel couldn’t help but comment, “Well, that was kind of underwhelming.”

But Jack didn’t lose stride as he walked to the end of the short hallway the Tel’Tak had unearthed. At its end was a strange chair shrouded in darkness. It was elevated on a double tiered pedestal, and SG-1’s flashlights revealed a slightly crystalline structure.

Jack sat down and it reclined slightly.

He said something in ancient and waved his hand. Daniel turned to Nanoha with his translation: “He wants you on the platform.”

Nanoha nodded and stood to Jack’s right on the lowest tier of the pedestal when Raising Heart announced, “Master, power interface detected. Power must be channeled through you to the chair to activate.”

Nanoha clenched her fingers around Raising Heart and let out a sharp breath before she placed the crystalline end of the staff on the second tier.

She closed her eyes in focus as Cater, Daniel and Teal’c set up firing positions at a choke point near the Ring platform, waiting for the inevitable horde.

It did not take long for the rings to rise up and reveal the first wave of Kull Warriors.


In the skies above, Captain Trevor pointed her craft towards the heavens, and the descending Goa’uld fighters and bombers without a word. She hoped the signal she had sent to her mother back in the ‘states had not been detected, but with the power readings from the Tel’tak, they might was well have made a second sun down there.

She activated the craft’s weapons systems and prepared for the worst.

She had 8 drone missiles and a direct energy canon mounted on the bottom of the craft. She’d seen both do incredible things before, but if backup didn’t come soon, it she’d just be overwhelmed.

A quick glance at the layout the Invisible Jet display revealed over 300 separate craft descending upon the earth--and one an unknown coming in fast behind her.

Whatever it was, it was round in shape and over 250ft across and pushing Mach 4.

She quickly decided to go for broke before it arrived. She launched all the plane’s drones, taking minor mental control of their movements. She did her best to avoid the fighter craft as they soared into space, but only half made it past the swarm. The others impacted against and destroyed fighters and bombers on their way.

Those weren’t her targets, the Ha’tak were. The four remaining drones split into pairs and slid past the Ha'tak’s shields on their way to the craft’s engines.

When she was younger, she heard her mother had destroyed a Ha’tak with only two drones. She hoped it worked now, but could not even watch the drones’ impact as the swarm of fighters got within range and opened fire.

Captain Trevor braced herself when a call echoed through the air around her—over the radio and beyond.

THUNDER BREAK!

A massive lightning bolt cut above the Invisible Jet and chained through several Deathgliders as it went. They fell to earth or outright exploded from the current’s power. Captain Trevor brought up a rear view screen to see where it had come from.

The machine was human-like in form; black torso and extremities with white in between and a pronounced red “V” shape over the chest. The face was like a pagan god or devil, she wasn’t sure which. Red wings and a rocket from the back held the machine aloft. A similar, if simpler, machine hovered next to it, blasting the incoming Deathgliders with yellow beams from its eyes with an accompanying boom of: “PHOTON BEAM!

Both machines were about 60ft in height.

Next to them was a much larger machine, over 150ft in height. It was red, with what appeared to be a wing-like cape on its back and weapons in its hands that were half spiked-club and half ax. An occasional beam of red would shine from a jewel-like structure on the machine’s “face” between its false eyes at the cry of: “GETTER BEAM!

Finally, streaking past them and simply plowing into the oncoming goa’uld craft was a smaller, blue humanoid figure with a thin, pointed nose and silver crest accenting its yellow eyes and a Flash Gordon like Rocket pack strapped to its back. It did not fire a single weapon, but held its own with only its fists and feet, which tore through the ships like they were cardboard without a sound.

Apparently, the Japanese had relinquished the Nekketsu Engine ban. Considering how many non-terrestrial invasions these machines had spearheaded the countermeasures too, it shouldn’t have surprised her as much it did. However, the might of Great Mazinger, Mazinger Z, Getter Robo G and Tetsujin-28 were beyond impressive thanks to their power source.

It was then that the unknown rocketed past the Invisible Jet. It was circular, but flattened slightly, with a ring of spinning flames around it almost like the planet Saturn. The object simply rammed itself into the oncoming gliders and Al’kesh. It didn’t appear to be a piloted craft. Whatever it was, it was on their side for the moment. She had a hunch as to what it was given the jewel O’Neill had crafted for the mission, but did not want to raise undo alarm.

As the two smaller machines let forth a burning blast from their red crests that cut a swath of destruction through the Goa’uld craft, and allowed the dozens of F-302s, Japanese Gun-Crusaders to pour through the hole and disrupt the goa’uld’s formation, the Prometheus pulled into the battle, guns blazing. It eventually stationed itself above the battlefield as the Ha’taks took the opportunity to open fire, but the Asgard-gifted shields the ship had been outfitted with did their job.

Comparing the two fighter craft was an exercise in opposites. Though both were built using knowledge gained from downed or captured extraterrestrial technology, they were constructed with different purposes entirely. The F-302 was swept-wing in design, fast and maneuverable, designed mostly on the Deathglider, replacing energy weapons with rail guns and missiles. The Gun-Crusader was primarily an anti-kaiju/anti-mecha assault jet. Slower and more heavily armored, it was triangular in shape with a snubbed nose and armed with missiles and a pair of plasma canons. Originally constructed in the late 1990s to counter Godzilla’s return, there was already talk of replacing them with a new, sleeker model: the Gun-Phoenix, which was already in prototype-phase.

Either way, Captain Trevor preferred her old Invisible Jet over either craft. After all, it was shielded. She quickly joined the fray as the mecha tore into the Goa’uld craft, at times literally with their hands. Though the three machines received a few blows from the gliders and Al’kesh, but seemed no worse for wear from any of the hits. A few Gun-Crusaders and F-302s did not fare as well when hit.

Captain Trevor didn’t let a moment pass and joined the fray with equal aplomb. Reduced only to the mounted energy weapon, she did her best to take down as many fighters as possible, while avoiding the swath-cutting attacks of the Super Robots and the unknown ally. However skilled the Glider pilots were; against a Kaiju, four Nekketsu powered Mecha and the Invisible Jet their hopes were slim. The Gun-Crusaders and F-302s clinched the battle in Earth’s favor.

“Captain Trevor, this is General Hammond with the Prometheus, do you copy?” Her radio crackled, briefly distracting her. She stabilized her shields and took a defensive flight near the Prometheus.

“This is Captain Trevor, I copy. O’Neill and the others are below. Whatever O’Neill is going to do, it’s comin’ from below. We need to buy him all the time we can!”

“Roger that,” General Hammond turned to his subordinates, “Keep this place covered and take out the fighters as fast as possible.”

They affirmed his order and went to work.

Captain Trevor’s energy weapon proved devastating against the Deathgliders as the purple energy chained from one to another, taking down four or five in a shot. In the corner of her eye, she witnessed Tetsujin-28 deliver a flying kick through an Al’kesh as the Mazinger launched their fist through a pair of them.

She was aware that machines equipped with the Nekketsu engine would flout the laws of physics, but with the way Getter Robo G moved—it wasn’t just flouting the known laws of physics, it was openly mocking them.

First, it quickly shifted into the Poseidon form (the very act of which could best be described as “impossible”)—large, lumbering and yellow, and created a giant windstorm with a massive turbine around its neck that swept up a full squadron of Deathgliders. It then split, raced past the tempest and changed into the Liger form. The drill handed, sleek machine then blitzed past the disabled craft, only to rush through the tornado it created, slashing at the targets within faster than even her eyes could follow to utterly devastating effect. That was definitely enough to take down the craft, but the pilots were not through. They formed the Dragon form over the falling debris and vaporized them inside a Getter Beam.

To Captain Trevor it was sheer overkill. Any one of those strikes would have taken down the targets, and the elaborate nature of the attack meant that they had to have not only planned it out, but practiced it at least once before. Who the hell were those pilots?

Her thoughts were cut short as the unknown confirmed her fears. It revealed its true form in almost as fast as Getter Robo G had moved. First a pair of arms: five fingers that ended in claws with wicked spikes upon the elbows. Then the monstrous head: round, wide and with large tusks protruding from the lower jaw like a reverse saber-toothed cat.

Captain Trevor knew what it was instantly as it began to spit spheres of plasma at the remaining Goa’uld craft. The fighter force had been completely routed by the surprise assault. Within seconds, no Goa’uld craft would remain in Earth’s atmosphere.

She made a quick call to Hammond, “General Hammond. Do not fire on the Kaiju. Its Registry Code is 'Gamera.' It is not intentionally aggressive towards humans and is thought to be a Mu bio-weapon. I think its part of Jack’s defensive line.”

Inside the Prometheus, General Hammond nodded and relayed an order, “To all Earth Forces, do not engage the Kaiju. Focus on the Goa’uld.”

A token complaint seemed to arise from a Gun Crusader pilot, but was quickly squelched. War did not allow for complaining as it was then that the Ha’tak’s began an earnest bombardment of the surface of the Antarctic. The Prometheus’ shields held out, but it couldn’t let any craft on board.

From inside the Mecha, Tetsuya wanted to keep fighting, but these mechs were not outfitted for Space travel. Nor could they board the Prometheus under such heavy fire. All they could do now was hold fast and dodge. The F-302s and Gun Crusaders could make it up to join their command ship, but had expended most of their armaments already. The Prometheus was all the people of earth could field.

Gamera, apparently, could do something else. The tremendous turtle landed on the ice field and then fell over on its back. Using its arms as best it could it angled itself to one side and began to glow. Ice melted around the monster as power gathered in its chest. The underside of the turtle opened up and a golden beam of light rocketed towards the sky.

The remaining captains of the 7 remaining standard Ha’taks were quite surprised to see the beam rise from the earth’s surface. They were even more surprised when it tore through two of them and grazed a third. The third listed half of the protrusions around its pyramidal structure were blown off. The other two craft were not so fortunate and were completely destroyed.

Tetsuya observed the monster and realized that the move it had just performed as a trump card; something not easily repeated. There were still 5 Ha’taks and the Super Mother ship to deal with. Whatever O’Neill was going to pull, he hoped it would come soon.


Inside the Mulian chamber below the ice, SG-1 was fairing little better than their surface counterparts. The Kull Warriors were continuing to pour in through the transporter rings. The Kull Disruptors had been doing their part to stop the onslaught, but Nanoha was unable to do anything but pour power into the chair. Weakened from the previous battle, she did not know how much longer she could hold out.

Then Jack O’Neill disappeared between the blinking of her eyes. She could barely see him inside the chair itself, before that to faded away.

“Needed Power Achieved,” Raising Heart said as it released itself from the chair’s grasp.

Nanoha did not take any moment to wonder where Jack had gone or what he was planning. She simply pointed Raising Heart at the Kull Warriors and opened fire, curving her Divine Buster around the cover the Kull have taken to, and crushed one between it and the buster.

Then another wave came down through the transporters, she secretly hoped Jack would hurry.


Where Jack was, however, time had little meaning.

At first he could not sense a single thing. But slowly, one by one his senses returned. He also felt the burden of the Mulian knowledge dissipate as though a tremendous weight had been lifted.

When his eyes opened, he was confronted with something he knew could not be true. There was simply no way it could be real. No. Way.

In the open air room he found himself within, sitting in an iron framed, white deck chair by a round table was Charlie.

Charlie had accidentally shot himself with Jack’s own service pistol almost a decade ago.

Charlie had been dead and buried for 9 years.

And it was his own fault it had happened. That knowledge nearly sent Jack into a suicidal depression.

And now, there was some thing wearing his face.

“No,” Jack said, “Stop it. Whatever you are, you’re not him.”

“True,” The Thing wearing Charlie’s face said, “I am not. This interface has been--”

“Change it!” Jack snapped, “Anything bu—No, wait, show me your true form. I don’t want to dance around with shape shifting/mind’s eye crap.”

“True…form?”

“Yeah; I don’t care if it’s some really ugly, mind-shattering thing. Just…just stop pretending.”

The Thing that was not Charlie blinked, “I…I do not have a true form. I am a reflection of--”

“Alright, whatever, just pick something else already!”

Before Jack’s eyes, the Thing that was not Charlie became the Thing that was not Carter.

“I said to stop looking into my head for crap to change into! I don’t care what it is, just choose something that’s not about getting into my head, alright?”

“Stop pretending,” She lowered her head, “Recall to Primary Function Interface.”

The thing that was not Carter changed form without a hint of movement or change. One moment she was Carter, the next she was not. He did not recognize its form, so he was slightly relieved. It was a girl, maybe late teenaged years. She was small, dark haired, wore a yellow sundress and dark orange scarf.

“Better,” Jack said, “Now, who are you?”

“I am Ixtli,” She said, “The muse that inspires the Song of Tuning and the Song of Destruction. You have awakened me when the Gamera failsafe is active to face the Gyaos and the Demon Horde threats. My secondary defensive function serves only as a backup procedure in case that is insufficient. Why have you awakened me?”

“Well, you did just download all that ancient knowledge out of my head. Didn’t you peak around my head while you were doin’ it.”

“I did not.”

“Well, to save time—”

“Time has no meaning here,” She said, “We are between the ticks of the clock and the beats of the heart.”

Jack let that settle in his mind before answering, “There’s a big alien armada over the earth. Ready destroy it. I kind of want to prevent that.”

“I have watched a dozen such fleets come and go from this planet. None have been a threat to Him that my intervention was called for. What makes this one any different?”

“Well, the guy leading it was also looking for you,” Jack Answered, “The Mulian data’s a bit fuzzy, but I think he wanted to tune something. I dunno—”

“The world is tuned,” She snapped, “It is as perfect as I could make it for Him.”

“Okay, now you’ve lost me—who’s ‘Him?’”

“It does not concern you,” She let out a piercing stare that nearly stopped Jack’s heart with its intensity, “How I have been blinded to this?” she lowered her head and her features grew dark.

“Well, he is half-ascended. I bet he’s got all sorts of tricks for that.”

“I see,” She stood from her seated position, “Then this is a threat I shall counter. Initializing Defensive Protocols: Raideen Interface Activate.

She sung a single note and the world around them shattered, her disappearing with it as O’Neill found himself in a place equally familiar and strange.

It was some sort of cockpit, but the control scheme was unlike any he had encountered before. All he could see of the controls were two arm holds within the strange, flowery cockpit in the midst of a sea of darkness.

He clutched the controls and hoped for the best.


Inside the Mulian chamber, the ring Transporters suddenly stopped mid transport, averting the next wave. Carter blinked as a white form, too large to get an accurate assessment of in the small chamber, seemed to pass through it, heading towards the surface. When the Kull Warriors came into contact with the entity they simply evaporated. Not even a sign of struggle or pain—they were just gone in an instant.

On that surface, the glowing white and golden form rise into the air and appeared to solidify into a giant over 230ft in height. Angelic wings peaked from its forehead, with highlights of gold and blue appearing on its chest and near the extremities. Its red lenses eyes appeared from below a blue brow ridge as the wings which highlighted the top of its head unfolded in full. It let out a cry that was equal part musical chord and howling wolf.

Inside Getter Robo G; the lead pilot, Ryoma nearly did a double-take. He’d seen that machine before some 30 years previous over the pacific.

He could not help by murmur “Raideen?” before the machine formed a bow of light from its arm. With the other arm, it drew back a red bolt of energy. Anubis looked on the figure with his semblance of a face that somehow managed to convey the notion of terror, he roared for his ships to destroy the giant before it rose to far, only to watch the large figure manage to gracefully dodge the initial volleys with the grace and smoothness of a veteran fighter pilot before letting the bolt fly.

On board the Prometheus, the crew witnessed the bolt streak by and lance a Ha’tak through its core. The Ha'tak seemed to swell from the inside and explode in a sphere of flames and molten metal. The white machine then shot past the Prometheus and, with a golden blade extending from its right arm, dove through a second Ha’tak with a near identical result.

“What was that?” One of the Promethus Crewmen asked as the machine deflected incoming fire with a oblong shield over its forearm with spectacular movements.

“That,” Hammond answered, “Is SG-1!”


On the bridge of his personal flagship, Anubis was far less enthusiastic.

The girl in the Sundress was in his throne room. His guards had acted swiftly, firing upon her as soon as she appeared. There was no flash of transportation. No Portal opening that she walked through. She just stood there as though she had been there just moments before.

Equally as such, the Plasma bolts passed through her as though she were not there.

They stopped firing after the first shot.

“You are Anubis?” She asked.

“That I am,” he answered, “Who are you?”

I am Ixtli,” Anubis tilted back in his thrown instinctively at the sound of the name.

“I am the Soul of the RahXephon," Ixtli continued, "The Instrumentalist has achieved Yollotl. Your actions threaten the dream made flesh.”

Outside, in the black of space, the RahXephon’s red eyelids flipped open, revealing the golden, clockwork irises beneath.

“And that,” Ixtli clenched her teeth in a rage that marred the beauty of her features, “I cannot abide, for that you shall hear the Song that is Forbidden: the Song of Destruction. All has become one, and nothing shall threaten that whole.

Inside the cockpit, Jack O’Neill heard the Ixtli whisper, “I’m sorry,” before the RahXephon let out a note that shook the foundations of space-time. Anubis' flagship as well as two Ha'tak's (one of which was crippled) seemed to lense into three different color spectrums within the waves of sound. Then, in an instant, all three ships crumbled into dust before their remaning components exploded. The song drowning out the screams of Anubis and his servant as well as Jack O’Neill, whose body was nearly torn apart by the power the RahXephon surged through him.

The last remaining Ha’tak broke off and headed off, but was cut off by the sudden appearance of another ship from Hyperspace. A strange tuning-fork like craft centered on a central, disk-like hub.

The Ha’tak took a different angle and, opening another hyperspace window, fled.

Onboard the deck of the Asura, a man in a blue suit sat looking through the view screen.

“Missed the battle,” he said, “But still, I think you got to make a point.”

“I’d like to think so,” The woman int he command chair said. She casually opened a view-screen to the Prometheus without a single motion, straightened herself slightly and said, “General Hammond? This is Captain Lindy Harlaown, commander of the Asura, here to provide ssistance.”

“Captain Harlaown?” General Hammond tilted his head back, “I thought you wouldn’t get here for at least another three days.”

“Well,” Lindy said, “we had some technical assistance. Someone was kind enough to provide our engines with a quick upgrade.”

"Temporary upgrade," the man in the blue suit corrected, "I'm not one to go around just handing people technology they're not ready for."

"Sorry, sorry," Lindy smiled dismissively.

“So, hello,” The man said to Hammond, hands in his pockets and rocking his shoulders slightly, “Might as well make a proper introduction: my name is the Doctor. And, for a change, the Earth's in terrible danger.”

He rubbed the back his neck and added, “Yeah, I’m generally not one to come without bad news. Sorry.”


Jack heard none of this. Inside the cockpit of the RahXephon, tremendous power had nearly tore him apart. Blood drooled from his lips as it did from every other orifice in his body. Silently, the RahXephon landed in on the deck of the Prometheus and held him within as he clung desperately to life.

The medical crewmen on board were quite shocked when the Colonel suddenly appeared inside a translucent glowing hand that phased through the deck. It gently dropped him there without making a sound and simply knelt on the ship’s broad deck. But they were more shocked when they began to examine him: he was literally almost torn apart by a process the crewmen could never hope to comprehend. It was a miracle that he was still alive at that moment and if they didn't act quickly, that would soon change.

Chapter Text

The Doctor was verging on nervous. He had not talked in front of a big crowd of politicians and soldiers for at least two regenerations. But he held ‘Fate of the Planet’ type information, of the type which, loathed to admitting it as he was, he needed help with. He led the train of bad news for the meeting.

It was an odd mix to say the least: there was Dr. Weir, newly elected head of the SGC; UNIT Director and old friend Hyppolita Trevor; Lieutenant Tetsuya Tsurugi of the JSDF; Admiral Lindy Harlaown of the Time Space Administration Bureau (a name almost as pompous as the Time Lords, but the Doctor didn’t press the issue); and Admiral James Bond, current head of MI-13, Britain’s home grown alien and monster countermeasures force; Colonel Chekov, representing Russia’s interest in the Stargate Program. Newly chosen representatives from China and France were also in attendance, but seemed slightly out of their element (apparently, they saw the RahXephon on their way in).

“Right,” the Doctor said, “before we start, we need to get everyone here.”

As the confused looks spread across the room, the Doctor unsheathed his Sonic Screw Driver and pointed it at a seemingly empty portion of wall. The attendants reacted with various degrees of shock as a young girl in a yellow sundress appeared as though one simply changed the channel on reality.

The girl blinked in astonishment. A sentiment she shared with some of the present representatives.

“It’s rude to eavesdrop,” The Doctor smiled slyly as the girl simply stared daggers into the Time Lord.

Colonel Chekov asked the obvious question first: “Who is that?”

The girl glared at the Doctor and answered: “I am Ixtli, the soul of the RahXephon.”

“Basically, the AI that governs your recently activated, 20 thousand-year-old God Machine,” The Doctor explained, “But frankly that’s not the worst bit of news you have.”

Heading back to the head of the table, the Doctor pocketed his sonic screwdriver before he spoke again, “There’s a subtly activated dark matter indicator surrounding the planet. It’s subtle enough that most won’t consciously notice it, but it’s going to draw all sorts of trouble to this planet.”

“Is it related to the Dinozaur that attack Hokkaido three days ago?” Tetsuya asked, “Or the re-appearance of Gudon yesterday?”

Three days ago, during the cleanup of debris from the battle over the Antarctic, a space monster slipped by both the Prometheus and Asura and landed in Hokkaido. The JSDF engaged it, but lost almost all their Gun-Crusaders in the battle. So bad were their losses that the reserves for the GUYS Crew had to be called up.

Ragtag bunch of misfits didn’t even begin to cover what was left. Among its new recruits included a soccer star, a professional motorcyclist and a kindergarten teacher. Worse, the only functioning anti-kaiju fighter the JSDF had left, the Gun-Phoenix, was an experimental METEOR prototype.

The only spot of hope in the entire incident was the appearance of an alien ally that had not been seen on earth for 25 years. Ostensibly a good thing, but the appearance of a so-called Ultraman was an omen of dangerous times ahead in itself; when Kaiju sightings numbered would occur almost twice a month on average.

“Both actually,” The Doctor answered, “The dark matter indicator does three things. First, it calls forth hostile alien species from space by announcing the planet’s ill health and vulnerability. Most aren’t even aware they’re being called; they come like moths to a flame. Second, it awakens and even spurs the creation of earthly Kaiju. Third, it weakens dimensional barriers allowing predators from other dimensions to see the weakness being announced. The short version is that a giant target has been painted on earth.”

“Despite our efforts so far,” Admiral Lindy said, “we’ve been unable to dissipate the signal or find its source.”

“And even if we did, the signal’s already reached around the Galaxy, so they’re already on their way,” The Doctor rubbed the back of his neck, “Some of them have natural forms of stealth while traveling in space to boot.”

“So even with the Asura,” Admiral Lindy lowered her head, “some will still break through. The debris left by the Goa’uld fleet certainly makes things even more difficult until we finish cleaning it up.”

“Not counting, of course, the one the planet itself will bring forth every now and then.” The Doctor added, “But I’m not the only bearer of bad news.”

Director Trevor took this as her cue, “Our researchers as UNIT have come up with some frightening answers. But to understand them, a little history is needed.

“In 1943,” Director Trevor began, “a group of Nazi scientists began experimenting with biological weaponry. They were united under a single name: Millennium. Their original goal was to create an army of Super Soldier such as the then famous Captain America. Eventually, they gathered every level of occult and fringe technological asset they could as a last gasp effort to create a weapon to win the war for Germany. This eventually culminated in the never realized Ragnarok Project—seeking to bring an Old One to Earth. Even though their attempt failed, it should give you an idea of what we’re up against.”

She let that sink in for a moment before she continued. Sadly, only she and the Doctor truly understood what being in the presence of an Old One was like. “Before the fall of Berlin, they fled to South America with as much of their research as possible. Among this was the Gladiator Formula. A human who survived the process would be endowed with superhuman capabilities to nearly become a true Human Tank. We thought the formula lost at the end of the Occult Wars in 1954 until a small group of survivors of the Gladiator Process re-appeared in South America in 1985 and attacked Rio de Janeiro. UNIT Special Operations managed to halt the attack of these self proclaimed “Children of the Sun” and they were all thought destroyed. However, 5 years later another generation of Super Soldiers was largely destroyed during the rescue of kidnapped Professor James Utonium. Their primary facility was completely lost in a volcanic eruption and the case seemed closed until 5 days ago when SG-1 encountered the man calling himself Wodan Ymir.”

Hyppolita brought up images of the warrior on the main computer screen which hung on the wall at the end of the room, “Wodan Ymir appears to be a recipient of the Gladiator formula. On most survivors of the Gladiator treatment he has been given incredible strength, durability and speed. His numbers exceed those of the average recipient, why is currently unknown. Based on the combat data Nanoha Takamachi and Raising Heart collected; as well as information taken from the known Children of the Sun, it is estimated that without his armor he is capable of lifting 10 tons with effort. Running at 150 miles an hour and leaping almost a quarter mile. Even the thinnest part of his skin is akin to Class IV armor. Nothing less than a 30mm shot is going to do any damage to him. His muscle and bone density render him extremely durable, which reduces the effectiveness of shots which do penetrate his skin. For a certain single-hit-kill it generally takes at least a 50mm shell to the head or heart. Other Children of the Sun have been revealed to have high degrees of enhanced senses including thermal, ultraviolet and X-Ray vision as well as canine-like hearing. Their bodily durability has so far prevented them from suffering from the dim of combat; but cyan pepper and other ocular irritants remain effective. He appears to be too old to be from the 1990 generation Professor Untonium worked on, so it is unlikely that he has any additional abilities beyond this.”

“Pardon me,” Dr. Weir said, “But it sounds like you’re describing Superman.”

“Who do you think they were trying to copy?” Director Trevor answered bluntly, “Professor Utonium actually had access to fragments of… “Kryptonian” DNA, which made his forced work on the project all the more terrifying.”

“If this was all possible,” The French representative asked, “Why hasn’t UNIT or some other government attempted this?”

“Oh, a few have tried over the years. The Nazi’s were just more successful. Still, the entire idea of creating Super Soldiers on a massive scale is simply not feasible due to the low success rate and cost of creation. Currently, the process for creating a Super Soldier like Wodan would cost about as much as 3 F-302s fighters. The same goes for Powered Armor, which was another thing Wodan had.”

“The armor Wodan wore is quite remarkable: it nearly doubles his effective strength; and adds another 40 miles per hour to his running speed. There were also indications of a flight capability within the armor, but it has not been fully defined. The armor is primarily a Kevlar-like mesh, with plates of a Naquidah-Steel alloy underneath a dispersive shield that surrounds the subject completely. Penetrating that is something we’re still working on.

“The sword Wodan carries appears to be channel magic directly through it for its offensive capabilities. What it can do beyond that is currently unknown.

“As for the organization, Millennium,” Hyppolita switched the images to those of various men, women and monsters surrounded by swastikas, “We have little information. After their defeat in 1954, the managed to remain quiet for 20 years before even an inkling of their survival surfaced. During that time, they replenished their forces through many means: they kidnapped the terminally ill to use as cyborg foot soldiers; dug up corpses to create mass-produced undead foot-soldiers akin to Frankenstein’s creature; turned their remaining elite SS and imported neo-Nazis into vampires or injecting them with the Gladiator Formula. Lacking hard materials, they went with biological development. Thanks to a few rogue creations and the intervention of the BPRD as well as others, many of their plans were stymied and the group thought disbanded. Our last reports on their leadership are rather dated, but this organization replaces leaders very slowly, so we assume the following men and women are still in power:”

The image of a man in an SS uniform with a strange gas-mask covering his face jumped to prominence: “Karl Ruprecht Kroenen. Formerly the leader of the Thule Occult Society, he is their top assassin and possibly the oldest cyborg ever created: constructed of clockwork parts and powered in a manner similar to a Golem.”

A new image appeared on the screen, that of a blonde woman in an SS uniform. The photo was at least 60 years old.

“Ilsa Hasputin is the apprentice of Rasputin, who was lost at the climax of Project Ragnarok. The extent of her abilities is unknown as she has yet to engage on actual combat. It is theorized she serves as an occult advisor in Rasputin’s absence.”

The image changed to a man with a swastika burned into his forehead, his head suspended in a green liquid in a glass dome attached to a metallic disk which floated the severed head several feet above the ground. Next to him was a strange creature, part gorilla part Frankenstein’s monster. Below the floating head were the parts of a machine that gave the Doctor some pause, but he put it to the back of his mind for now. Her did not believe in coincidence, but it was extremely unlikely that this mad scientist could even begin to use their technology.

“Herman Von Klempt is a classic sufferer of Malign Hyper-Cognitive Disorder. His mind was further warped by the teachings of Rasputin and the Necronomicon. Last he was seen, he was creating an army of primate-related weapons called Kreigaffes for the Nazis.”

The next image to appear was that of a man who under normal circumstances would barely be considered alive. The skin around his face was blood-red and stretched tight over his skull as if all the muscles within had atrophied into paper-thin sheets. His hairless skin and deeply sunken, bloodshot eyes only enhanced the menacing look the clipped security footage gave him.

“Johann Smitt, better known as the Red Skull, is a bio-chemist and would be the top scientist there if it were not for one man. Sadly, almost no information on him exists. Descriptions range from a tall blond to a hook-nosed hunchback. What remains constant is this Doctor’s cruelty and glasses. Because of his emphasis on creating living and pseudo-living beings from non-living or recently deceased components, many people who have encountered him have given him the nickname ‘Dr. Dreath.’”

The final image was of a short, barrel of a man with glasses which reflected light to the point that it obscured his eyes.

“This man is the last known leader of Millennium; Major Montana Max. Aside from his basic physical dimensions, we have little information about the man. He’s former SS and was thought deceased until the 1975; the fact that he apparently has not aged since 1944 leads us to believe that he is something other than fully human. Exactly what is currently unknown.

“They’ve already moved against the BPRD and Hellsing Organization. There is little doubt that with their alliance with the alien Anubis is a sign that they are moving to a big plan of some sort. It is feared that they seek to complete Project Ragnarok. We will need everyone’s full cooperation to survive against this new threat, let alone prevail.”

“Which brings us,” The Doctor put his hands in his pockets and leaned towards the Ixtli as he said, “to you.”

“Yes,” Colonel Chekov said, “Why did you come here?”

She blinked slowly, “I am not used to being out of the loop.”

“Yeah, I know,” the Doctor answered.

“These men,” She said, “They’ve done something to mask themselves from the suffused symphony of the one who has achieved Yollotle.”

“I’m sorry,” the French Representative said, “but what exactly do you mean?”

The Ixtli looked upon the stuffed shirt of a man with a mixture of confusion and contempt.

“The creators of the RahXephon reduced the fundamental cornerstones of reality to sound waves. She can manipulate them.”

“Not completely, and not without guidance,” She said, “Which only an Instrumentalist can provide.”

“I’ll explain the terminology later,” The Doctor said, “the important thing now is that the Millennium group has removed themselves from the threads of reality slightly—taking them slightly out of phase with reality. Close up, say, 1 kilometer or less, it’s worthless, depending on the intensity of the scans being made. They can be interacted with normally up close, but over greater distances, it makes them almost invisible except to themselves: a near perfect camouflage.”

“Their action may indicate,” Ixtli said, “an attempt to control or harness what has already been made. Thus, I must stop them.”

“Does that mean,” Admiral Bond said, “You will help?”

All eyes turned to the Ixtli for her answer: “I will,” She said, “However. Understand this: the previous statement applies to you as well. I am not your tool. I am not your puppet. Nor am I your weapon.”

She shone like the sun for a brief moment before disappearing with the words, “I will stop anyone who threatens the one who has attained Yollotl, no matter their cause or justification.”

A tenser silence fell over the room for a long moment before the Doctor broke it with a quiet comment: “And that’s why I hate talking to AIs.”


Jack did not wake up for almost 4 days, and only the use of the Asura’s medical magic spared his life and would get him back on his feet. Still, he spent another three days laid up in bed.

He woke up to the sound two light voices trying their best to be quiet.

“Is he going to wake up?” One voice said, rather breathily yet with a heaviness to it that verged on a weariness that did not suit the youth held within it.

“The doctors said it should be any day now,” the second voice answered. Jack realized it was Nanoha. “I’m glad he got through okay.”

“But in the last letter you sent,” The first voice said, “you complained about the SGC treating you like a child.”

“Well— but, yeah—I mean,” Nanoha stumbled, “They just worried a lot. It was because they cared about me that they tried to keep me from fighting. I may not have liked it, but I appreciated the thought.”

Jack slowly opened his eyes and saw the owner of the first voice: a blonde girl about Nanoha’s age and height, but with distinct red irises.

“Nanoha,” She said, slightly bobbing her head towards Jack.

Nanoha turned to see Jack’s slowly waking eyes, “Colonel O’Neill! You’re awake!”

“Not so loud,” Jack moaned as he got his bearing, “My head’s still ringing from the truck that hit me.”

Nanoha quickly, quietly apologized and added, “I’m glad you’re awake.”

As Jack’s eyes found their focus, he noticed something about Nanoha. She was slightly pale, and the glow of infectious joy she usually carried around her was gone.

“You okay?” He asked.

Nanoha shared a glance with the blonde girl with her, “I’ll be fine in a few days. Don’t worry too much about it.”

Jack didn’t listen to the last part, “What happened?”

“We were attacked near Nanoha’s home,” The blonde girl answered flatly, “and Nanoha was injured during the battle.”

“And you are…?”

“I’m sorry, Fate Testarosa,” The girl bowed slightly, “It’s nice to meet you.”

“Alright,” Jack looked up and rubbed his eyes, “You sure you’re going to be okay, kid?”

“Yes,” Nanoha said, “the doctors aboard the Asura said my Linker Core would regenerate within a week or so.”

“Linker-wha?”

“It’s a dark matter organ that mages use to—”

“Wait,” Jack interrupted Fate’s explanation with a raised hand, “Let me guess…Magnets!”

The two girls looked dumbfounded for a moment and shared a quick glance. Jack’s hand dropped as the humor flew over the girl’s heads completely.

“Should I tell the other’s you’re awake?” Nanoha said, “Or do you want some more time to rest?”

“Rest is good.”

“Okay,” Nanoha said with an honest smile. She and Fate bowed slightly before they left the room. Jack closed his eyes and quickly fell asleep.


When Jack opened his eyes again, he saw the Ixtli. Wearing a US Air Force Dress Uniform—lieutenant’s rank.

“We need to talk,” She said.

“I bet,” Jack slowly propped himself up.

“Is this how you see me?” She asked.

“Um…what?”

“As a weapon? A tool?”

“And you are asking me this because…”

“Some of them think me to be nothing but this: a weapon.”

Jack remained silent for a moment, trying to figure out his answer.

And he could not come up with anything. He had just met the ‘girl’ for lack of a better word a week ago and then only for 5 (subjective) minutes.

“Who do you think you are?” Jack asked back.

Ixtli scowled slightly and cocked her head to the side, “Don’t be smart.”

“Kid, I haven’t a clue beyond “RahXephon’s Soul” and I didn’t know robots could even have those. I’m not one for deep philosophical questions. Ask Daniel. He loves that sort of thing.”

“I was constructed 20 thousand years ago. I am hardly a ‘kid’.”

“Yeah, well, you could have fooled me,” Jack snapped back.

The Ixtli scowled, “think of an answer soon.”

“Why?”

“…I…” The Ixtli left her mouth open as she searched for words, “I inspire you. Without you to be inspired, I cannot truly act.”

“Oookay.”

“Without even the most rudimentary of instrumentalists, I cannot inspire,” She said, “I take the form of their desire to inspire them. But you—you rejected it. I…I don’t know what to do with you.

“I told them that I was not a tool, or a weapon…” her eyes glistened with half-formed tears, “and I don’t want to be that unless I have too.”

“You…want something?” Jack asked.

The Ixtli pulled back with a gasp, as if she realized what she said, “I—I inspire others to create or destroy…that is my function. I can create and I can destroy. What I do is up to you.”

“But you don’t want to destroy,” Jack said, “Well, that helps a bit.”

The Ixtli blinked.

“For a minute I was worried you would go crazy and destroy the world.”

“I can never do that,” She answered, her voice slightly strained, “For it is the home of Yollotl. For that reason, the Earth must survive.”

“Okay, can you use terminology I’m actually familiar with? Because this Instrumentalist, Yote-yodel stuff is getting kind of confusing,” Jack said, “Can I get some straight answers from you?”

“When you answer my question: how do you view me?”

“Alright, how’s ‘I don’t know?’”

“It is insufficient.”

“Then can I think on it for a bit. I’m still recovering from—whatever it is you did to me.”

Ixtli shrunk slightly, “I’m sorry. I’ll let you think,” and she disappeared as though she was never there.

Jack knew he pulled something desperate when he downloaded the ancient knowledge. But this…whatever this girl was, she was going to be trouble.


He spent the next two days catching up on what had transpired. Apparently, the Antarctic outpost he had uncovered stored only the RahXephon. The Lost City was somewhere else on earth.

But hopes of finding it intact were dashed when the pilot of the Getter Dragon, Ryoma Nagare, brought reports of a mission he and the getter team undertook back in 1976: even the RahXephon was activated; Atlantis reached the surface; and briefly awakened Godzilla.

Between Godzilla and a berserk machine similar (though larger) to the RahXephon called “Leviathan,” the city sunk beneath the waves and subsequent attempt to find it had proved futile.

Assuming it even survived the monster and machine’s duel.

So that topic got put to the back-burner. The issues with the “Millennium” organization and the unification of various factions got pushed to the forefront.

Millennium was proving difficult to find, so most of the focus on the reorganization and networking that Xanatos’ initiative would need. The newly formed Extra-Earth Defense Bureau, or EDB, would be working directly with UNIT in regards to beings either from other dimensions or other planets. They were already halfway through. Getting the various magic-related organizations to parlay however was proving far more difficult. Many of them were old and had long intertwining histories with each other—often bloody and violent history. The Catholic Church’s paranormal countermeasure group, Iscariot, had particular enmity for the British-Protestant Hellsing Organization.

Furthermore, Director Trevor would be calling up some of her reserve Specialized Operatives for future missions. The short form of it meant Government Sanctioned Costumed Vigilantes.

Jack considered himself a very observant individual. How could he have missed the existence of freakin’ superheroes living right under his nose? There was even a section labeled “Para-crime” to deal with the use of magic, exotic technologies or other things that are not generally on the social conscious—even entire gangs like Jokerz, Vultures and Scorpions which dedicated themselves to their use.

To be fair, he had never been to New York before, which is where most operated. His interest peaked, he did some more research. Daniel would be proud.

It turned out that the main reason he had never heard of any of these “Super Heroes” outside of movies and comics was that most only lasted half a decade of activity at best before either being crippled, dying, going insane or at best retiring. Many of the ones that did appear often had deep rooted psychological problems. Some were to the point that UNIT or the FBI shut them down when they were tracked down.

Strangely, UNIT had long ago adopted the policy the SGC itself did in regards to a…modest information leak that manifested itself as Wormwhole X-treme. They funded the production of comics, movies, books and TV shows that fictionalized re-named and exaggerated the exploits of these heroes to provide their agents cover.

That Superman’s real name was actually something as banal as Clark Kent had Jack chuckling, but not for joy.

To top it off, half of them didn’t even have superhuman abilities naturally. Most of them relied on technology, training or just raw nerve to get the job done. The United States had the largest concentration of them. Japan and England tied for second with a few scattered Costumed Vigilantes showing up in places ranging from Canada and France to Egypt and Mexico.

The act of reading these files slowly turned into an exercise in dashed dreams. One by one, he saw the heroes of his age had retired, been replaced or just died.

Captain America: Deceased, 2001 in rescue efforts during 9/11.
Spider-Man: Retired, 1997. Currently in the Witness Protection Program.
Superman: Deceased, 1985. Slain by enhanced bio-weapon labeled “Doomsday.”

It slowly got worse from there.

Many of them left legacies in one form or another, but the acknowledgment that time moved for even these iconic figures…was rather disheartening.


“Are you sure you want to do this?” Teal’c asked.

Nanoha nodded.

“Alright then, show me what you know.”

Grasping the wooden staff in her hand, Nanoha charged her much larger opponent and lashed out with all the form she had seen her siblings at the dojo.

The two-handed overhead strike was easily blocked by Teal’c, who knocked her staff aside in preparation for a thrust. Nanoha tried to block it, but the staff had too much force behind it, and nearly knocked her off her feet. But her arms did not give nor did her hands let go of the staff.

She used the momentum from Teal’c strike and turned her small shove into the air into a spin form which she lashed out again.

Teal’c twisted his arms and blocked her strike and spun the staff around that nailed his tiny opponent before she had even landed.

To her credit, she lasted all of 15 seconds before Teal’c knocked her flat on her back, the sound echoing slightly throughout the SGC’s small training room.

“Interesting,” Teal’c said.

Nanoha rubbed the back of her head slightly, “I…just copied what my brother and sister do. They run the family Kendo Dojo.”

“I am unfamiliar with those last two words,” Teal’c said.

“Oh,” Nanoha thought for a moment, “…Eto…I’m sorry, without Raising Heart, I can not really translate it simply. It is like a martial arts training school for sword use—though we don’t use real swords, just…um, Bamboo sticks.”

“A staff is not a sword,” Teal’c responded, “But you did not use the staff as such.”

Nanoha nodded, “Some of the motions that they use seemed useful.”

“How old are your siblings?”

“Siblings?” she said as she stood back up.

“Your brother and sister.”

Hai, they’re 5 years older than I am.”

“You are small and very light. You should use that to your advantage.”

Nanoha nodded quickly, with a slight grunt.

“Shall we go again?” Teal’c took a defensive stance. Nanoha nodded again and similarly took a defensive stance.

Teal’c waited for her strike—which looked to be a repeat of her initial strike from the first round when Jack’s voice boomed: “TEAL’C WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING!?”

Teal’c glanced at the noise for only a second, but it was that second that allowed Nanoha’s staff to strike him directly on the golden brand upon his forehead.

So he felt nothing.

“Eee!” Nanoha cried out, “Daijoubu? -- I-- a-are you okay?”

“I am fine, Miss Takamachi.” Teal’c answered as he turned to O’Neill, “Colonel O’Neill, I was training Nanoha.”

“You were what?”

“I asked him too,” Nanoha answered.

“Okay, why?” Jack scowled.

“Because of the Wolkenwritter,” Nanoha answered, “I believe that I need at least a bit more close combat training and until my magic recovers I can’t do any ranged practice, so I asked Mr. Teal’c to help me since he also uses a staff.”

“And you agreed to this, T?”

“Indeed,” Teal’c answered, “She is of the age when Young Jaffa warriors would begin earnest training with a staff weapon.”

Observing Jack’s continued disapproving scowl, Teal’c added, “Furthermore, it would be of an overall greater benefit to give her training since we already know that she is going to be placed in combat situations.”

Jack inwardly cursed Teal’c logic and realized he just couldn’t win. So, he left, unable to vent his frustrations while a 10 year old girl took training bumps nearby.

Maybe he could talk with Daniel and get the whole God Machine problem worked out.


 

When Jack went into Daniel’s office, he found it rather crowded. Not only was Daniel there, as he expected, but several people he didn’t recognize.

One of which was a tall blue fish-man in what appeared to be a reverse diving suit.

“Oh,” The fish said, “Hello.”

Jack could not help but blink sympathetically as the fish did—it was just that strange of a sight to see fish eyes do that.

“I’m sorry if I startled you,” The fish continued.

“That’s okay,” Jack peered over the fish man to get a better look at Daniel, “Daniel, can you tell me what’s going on.”

“A lot of research,” Dr. Jackson answered plainly, never looking up from his reading.

“And these are…”

“Oh, I am Abraham Sapien of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense,” The fish said.

“I am Yuno Skraya,” Said a kid not much older than Nanoha, “I work with the Time Space Administration Bureau.”

“I figured,” Jack scowled slightly.

The third newcomer in the room had not looked up during the entirety of the conversation. She was a young woman: short, pale and with rather thick glasses. She read the musty tome before her with an intensity Jack rarely saw. And she was blushing intensely.

“And you are?” Jack said, leaning towards the woman.

“Oh,” Abraham said, “Don’t bother. Once she starts reading there’s little short of a gunshot that will get her attention. She’s Yomiko Readman of MI-13.”

“Dare I ask what you’re researching?”

“The RahXephon,” Yomiko answered; a slight British accent and a small vocal crack that peaked through her words.

“Oh, so you have been paying attention,” Abraham chided slightly.

Yomiko didn’t answer. Nor did she move her eyes from her book.

Jack then noticed exactly how fast the girl was reading. No one page took her more than a minute before she turned the page, her eyes never once remaining still as she focused completely on the book before her.

“That’s good,” Jack said, “Because she’s been bugging me about stuff lately and want some context.”

“Well,” Yuno added, “to be honest, we’re multitasking rather extensively.”

“Oh?”

“Yes,” Yuno said, “Of the Lost Logia on earth, both the RahXephon and the Book of Darkness are currently active. With this Millennium group looking for more, we need to form a proper catalog of what they may be seeking. It’s not an easy task given how many Lost Logia are tied to, on or in the Earth.”

“The Book of Darkness--isn’t that’s the book that lead to Nanoha getting hurt, right?”

“Yes,” Daniel said, “And if it’s not found and its agents stopped--”

“Will it destroy the world?” Jack asked.

“Well, yes.” Daniel answered.

Jack let out a little smile, “We can deal with that.”

Jack looked over Yomiko’s shoulder as he asked, “So has anything about the RahXephon come up that’s worth knowing?”

Abraham’s water tanks gurgled, “Nothing quite yet, but you’ll be the first to know when we do.”


Jack left the room a little dejected. After running through his list of options, he decided to check in on Carter.

When he reached the Lab, he found her in conversation with two other women. One was striking, tall Japanese woman. The other was visibly strong blonde in a wheelchair.

“I swear to Rao,” the blonde exclaimed, “If this keeps up, I’m just going to overhaul the entire system and install the Angelic Layer Neural Interface. If they want mental control of Mechagodzilla that badly, they need to PAY for it.”

“I’m not sure what would be worse:” Carter sighed, “The fact that it would probably work, or getting the brass to put a game controller in the seat of its most powerful weapon.”

“Well, let’s be thankful that Daitokuji Heavy bought the company three weeks ago,” The tall woman smirked, “so if it does indeed come to that, we can do it with ease.”

“Aside from the brass,” Carter corrected.

The tall woman echoed Carter with a slight nod in her head, at which point Cater spotted Jack in the doorway.

“Colonel,” She said, getting the others' attention.

“Afternoon, ladies,” Jack said, “I’m not interrupting anything?”

“This would be a good point to break,” The tall woman said, “at least before someone suggests we put a Wii into Mechagodzilla.”

“Why not? You’ve seen the useless crap they’ve tried to put in it already.” The woman in the wheelchair huffed.

“Jack,” Carter nodded towards the tall woman, “This is Biko Daitokuji.”

“Of Daitokuji Heavy Industries. Pleasure,” Biko said as she extended a hand to Jack. He accepted it easily.

“And,” Carter continued, “This is Doctor Kara Zor-El.”

Kara wheeled herself over to Jack and shook his hand. Her grip visibly looked light, but Jack’s hand felt like it had just been squeezed in a steel vice.

“You’re not here to ask about the RahXephon are you?” She said, “I’ve had it up to my neck with mecha problems today.”

“Well it is sorta important,” Jack answered.

“What’s the problem?” Biko said, “You’ve only piloted once and came out alive. For the God Machine, that’s a pretty good outcome.”

“The…The Ixtli wants to know how I view it.”

The three scientists’ heads all perked up.

“The God Machine dreams of electric sheep?” Kara blinked.

“Did it ask anything else?” Biko stared intently at Jack.

“It wanted to know if I viewed it as a weapon. And that it wanted to inspire something in me, I guess. It was really vague and annoying.”

“Sounds like you talked to some mystical power—which sounds about right for the God Machine.” Kara thought aloud.

“Pardon me, sir, but isn’t this more of Daniel’s area of expertise?” Carter said.

“He won’t give me an answer, says he needs to do more research.”

“Probably should wait then. If the RahXephon’s AI is as advanced as I think it is,” Kara rubbed her chin, “then it will likely have experienced things that will color its future reactions.”

“Hell, I built learning AIs back when I was in high school,” Biko smirked, “If the civilization that built the RahXephon made its AI a learning type, then who knows what it’s learned over the years.”

It was a starting point, but it pointed to a currently stagnant direction. Jack did not like not being able to act, even if it was only going to be for a short time.

Chapter Text

Mission 5
Hellhound of New York

Hellboy liked his job. He fought monsters, saved the world. It was simple.

Then Meyers came in. His new “handler.”

Glorified babysitter's more like it. Besides, he already had one. Agent Clay was a good guy. He did not need a replacement.

And on top of that, the Brits wanted more interactivity and had sent two of their agents to observe the BPRD in action.

Things lightened up for Hellboy when the chosen agents arrived: good friend Joseph Chapman and his niece Talia Josephine Wagner.

It was rather hard to tell that the two were related: him being nearly 7ft of red classical demon with a giant stone fist; her being a lithe blue, three-fingered fuzzy-elf like being. Still, her father and Hellboy shared the same demonic father. The demonologists at the BPRD and at MI-13 heralded the revelation of their shared parentage as a breakthrough in demon/magical creature genetic study. To Hellboy, it meant that when T.J. was young, he got to act out the part of a red man of considerably greater girth and merriment on December 24th.

So he was only slightly miffed when T. J. insisted on following him to face some ancient-evil something-or-other that woke up in a New York Museum.

“Kid, I’m telling ya, I work alone,” Hellboy chastised.

“What part of ‘fully trained field agent’ doesn’t meet your standards?” T.J. pouted.

“It ain’t about training. I’m tellin’ ya, I work alone.”

“What about team-ups?”

“Do I look like Batman to you?” Hellboy turned, walked into the room. Letting Joseph’s “Well, maybe at the right angle” comment slide off him, Hellboy closed the door in an effort to end the conversation.

A chill went up his spine when T. J.’s voice echoed in the hall: “So where is this guy?”

“Christ, kid,” Hellboy growled, scowled, then relented, “Fine. Just stay behind me.”

“Meat shield it is.”

Hellboy scanned the museum corridors, past several exhibits—several of which were knocked over or smashed. The torn clothing, belts and boots littered the floor along with shards of glass and a few loose wires that sparked sporadically. Half of the lights in the museum were smashed or turned off. The faint glow from a few night lamps was all the light they had to guide them.

“So, you think five guards?” T.J. Asked.

“Seems so,” Hellboy said, “Also, ceiling.”

“Ceiling?”

T.J. gazed up to see a blue hulking creature hanging by one hand from the ceiling, clutching the body of a museum security guard.

“Hey,” Hellboy called out, “Stinky!”

T.J.’s face scrunched up as if she bit into a lemon as the marsh-gas like odor hit her. “Phew!” She gasped, “Got that right.”

The creature perked its head around the torso it held, slime drooling from its moist body

“Six guards plus bits of belts and boots...man, you’re gonna need some heavy fiber to put that through.”

The monster dropped the body which hit the floor with a wet splattering sound and landed in front of them.

“Listen I'm a terrible shot but the Samaritan here uses really big bullets. What do you say we work this out in a nice, peaceful —”

The creature let out a croaked roar and bounded towards the window.

“Aw, crap.” Hellboy sighed as he pulled his massive pistol—forged from the iron of church bells and loaded with hollow shells filled with everything from holy water and garlic to silver shavings and various shavings of wood.

T.J.’s had only a sidearm, as her hands provided her primary offense—minor bolts of raw, uncontrolled magical energy that tore through enemies rather easily.

The first two shots from Hellboy’s hand canon missed. The creature leapt away from the chaos bolts T.J. lobbed at him allowing the third bullet from the Samaritan to strike the beast in the chest. It was flung on its side with a massive hole where the bullet struck.

“Red,” the voice of Abe Sapien called out from the radio, “I have some pertinent information about this entity.”

“Relax, Blue,” Hellboy smirked, “We took care of it.”

“No, listen to this: Samael the Desolate One—”

“Abe,” T.J. said, “don’t run through the list again. Just get to the important part.”

“Sorry,” Abraham Sapien sighed, “Father of Legions.”

The demon spawn paused. T.J.’s eyes went to the ceiling.

“Uncle H,” She took a fighting stance, “I think it cloned itself.”

Hellboy followed his niece’s gaze and saw 5 cocoons hanging from the ceiling.

One of them burst, releasing a trio of fully grown Samael Frogs-monsters onto the museum—fifteen in total. On reflex, T.J. sent a sphere of chaos into the head of the beast in front of her—popping it like a water balloon—and leapt back.

The second bounded after her as the other cocoons dropped pairs of Samael Frogs to the ground.

Hellboy turned his Samaritan towards the monsters, only to have one of them lash out with a massive tongue and rip the gun from his hand.

The Samael leapt at Hellboy and his niece with their powerful legs. Hellboy greeted the first with his stone right hand—the force of the blow collapsing the creature’s skull like a poorly constructed car against a brick wall.

He pulled his fist back just in time to block at least one of the creatures before it sunk its teeth into him. The other five, however dog-piled the demon quickly, knocking him onto his back, claws and teeth tearing at him. The Samael frogs quickly ripped apart his leather coat.

‘Damn,’ Hellboy thought, ‘I really liked that coat!’ as he rolled back to his feet—a labored process with the creatures clawing against his body the entire time. Once up on his knee he rammed his stone-encased fist, a Samael clinging to it, into the ground with a satisfying crunch from the demon’s ribs.

He flipped over one that climbed up his back but failed to deliver the killing blow as one bit down on his leg, forcing a cringe.

Hellboy twisted twice to force two off his arms before stomping on the head of the biting Samael frog monster, forcing its release as its skull shattered.

He quickly scanned for something he could use as a weapon to keep the frogs from ruining his coat any more.

If it also kept them from cutting him to ribbons, that would be good too.

Finding none, he dropped his shoulder and barreled himself towards his gun. It only had three shots left, but being bigger than a football it made a decent clb as well.

He heard the shattering of glass as he dove for the weapon, turned it around and fired twice, pumping two bullets into one of the frogs. One struck the shoulder with the second shattering its face.

He hoped that none had reached a window and gotten outside.

When the Samael progeny descended from the ceiling, radio contact died. Abe was still online from Colorado, but inside the room they didn’t know what was happening. The other BPRD agents covered the door as Agent Meyers got the idea to head around back to cover his charge. Joseph Chapman lent him a clip of silver bullets just in case. He switched his clip out and hoped for the best as he left Chapman to command the troops.

He got outside the building in time to see half a dozen horrific creatures burst through a rather large window.

To Meyers’ credit, he didn’t freeze when the fear grabbed a hold of his heart and threatened to crush it. Instead, he instinctively channeled the squeeze from his heart to his trigger finger. The first shot went wide, but the next dozen found their target. The nearest of the frogs fell under the staggered barrage of frantic bullets, the others were unharmed and leapt into the street below as their compatriot collapsed.

Meyers pulled the trigger, pointing to the nearest frog, but heard the click of an empty clip.

The creatures seemed to acknowledge the sound when they bared their teeth in the midst of their charge.

Demonic screams pierced the night’s sky that caused the creature’s to halt and called Meyer’s attention to the skies.

A pair of winged devils with glowing eyes descended from the skies howling ass they dove, tackling the frogs as they charged, deadly talons extended. Only one escaped the initial dive unscathed—and it quickly scrambled over up the alley wall to escape.

The first of the devils to land was as large and heavily built as Hellboy—maybe more so. Lavender in coloration and with two tiny horns over each eyebrow, the creature grasped one of the frogs and threw it into the side of a nearby dumpster, deforming the metal.

The second was more obviously female and shared the first’s coloration, was more lightly built didn’t seem to lack the former’s power.

The sound of shattering glass and a wail got Meyers’ attention as Hellboy found himself flung from the museum window the frogs had exited.

Hellboy was many things—graceful was not one of those things. Neither was “Capable of flight.”

He plummeted down and landed on the edge of the damaged dumpster before hitting the street.

An indignant “Ow,” followed.

Meyers rushed to his charges as the demons battled, unaware how narrowly he missed death from the frogs as one of the stragglers found itself hauled into the sky by an unseen line.

“What are these things?” Meyers asked as Hellboy slowly stood up.

“Dunno,” Hellboy groaned as he straightened up, “Lemme ask.”

Hellboy strode toward the fighting monsters, “Get Down!” Hellboy shouted just as he cocked the Samaritan.

The two purple monsters ducked—but the three remaining frogs simply looked at Hellboy as he opened fired.

In a narrow space with a big gun, he didn’t have trouble nailing his targets quickly and cleanly.

The devils stood up as the last frog fell.

“Hellboy,” The larger of the two said in a deep gravely voice, “Is that you?”

Hellboy smiled, striding towards the devil, “Ain’t no one else make red look this good, Goliath.”

The two clasped hands.

“It is good to see you friend,” Goliath said, “But one two of these creatures have escaped over the wall. Are they CHUD?”

Goliath tilted his head up and to the wall on the other side of the alley from the museum.

“Nah,” Hellboy scowled, “Worse, but about as pop-able.”

Looking at the wall, Hellboy let out a sigh.

He wasn’t much of a climber. His right hand had very a very bad grip. So the Gargoyles—as he explained to Meyers in the midst of his climb—easily beat him to the top.

On his way up, a strangely familiar voice echoed through his head.

‘Child. All grown up I see…’ it rasped. Hellboy found it strangely familiar—more so than normal magical telepathic combat should be.

‘It was the first lullaby you ever heard, my son,’ the voice answered, ‘I ushered you into this world. I alone know your true calling, your true name.’

“Yeah,” Hellboy muttered under his breath, “then why don’t you speak like normal people?”

The voice silenced itself after that.

“Ah,” said the tall woman who appeared to be waiting for him on the rooftop where Goliath and his daughter, Angela, stood ready to fight her. She had rather long dark hair and was well groomed, “The guest of honor.”

“Who the crap are you?” Hellboy spat as he stood himself up.

“In a sense, I am your sister,” She smiled warmly; “I’d like to welcome you to the family.”

“Family?” Hellboy scowled.

“Yes,” She answered, “We are both children of Millennium. Here to bring about a new age for the earth.”

“Really?” Hellboy said as the Gargoyles shared a glance.

“Yes,” the woman’s smile continued unabated, “I followed one of our leaders here to observe. I felt it proper to introduce myself.”

“Proper, eh,” Hellboy stepped towards the woman, “Listen sister—”

“Please, call me Ouka.”

“— there’s something you really ought to know about me. A good friend of mine told me something very important.”

He then slugged her with his right hand and knocked her off her feet.

“ALWAYS punch a swastika.”

The red and black sash on her arm was clear as day, but the Gargoyles had no real conception of what it meant. To Hellboy, it meant a lot of things—none of which were good.

“I see,” Ouka easily flipped herself back to her feet, without a sign of the blow she had just taken, “then let me show you the benefits of membership.”

She drew back a fist and took a fighting stance.

Hellboy did not consider himself a fast guy, but he could keep up with some pretty quick critters.

So he was a little surprised when Ouka somehow covered the 20ft between them in less than a second and slugged him in the gut so hard that it sent him into the air.

High into the air.

By the time he had landed, the Gargoyles had similarly been floored or knocked aside with casual quick blows.

“How disappointing,” Ouka sighed, “I heard so much about the Gargoyle race, and how strong their warriors are. If you can’t take a single hit from me, how do you hope to survive the coming world?”

Goliath rose, eyes glowing brightly, growling, “We have not fallen yet.”

Goliath dove towards the woman with a powerful roar that caused her to freeze for just an instant.

Which was all Goliath needed to rake his claws against her skin. The first swipe slashed against her check, leaving red lines across it. The second was brought down on her shoulder, tearing through the dark toned uniform she wore.

She kicked Goliath off her and stood up only to have a pipe slammed against her head by Angela. She staggered but did not fall. The pipe bent and deformed against her features.

“You actually cut me,” She growled, tiny lines of blood bubbled out in patches where Goliath had clawed her. The scratches left by Goliath were no deeper the very edge of the surface, so the blood came out only in patches across her check and shoulder.

She moved to attack again but a loud ‘boom’ from Hellboy’s pistol cut her off. She shrieked once and stumbled as the round dug into her back, before falling to the cement below, flattened. Ouka turned to Hellboy who pulled the trigger again, sending another bullet home into her torso.

Ouka charged forward as the bullet struck, letting out a pained gasp, the bullet visibly deflecting off her chest. She closed the distance between them as Hellboy managed to get off two more shots to similar results. She kicked him hard in the stomach which sent him into the wall that encircled the roof. She felt the bruises forming underneath her uniform, but hid the pain as best she could.

Brick and mortar collapsed under the demon who barely managed to escape being knocked off the roof, holding on to the remaining edge to prevent plummeting to the ground.

Angela used Ouka’s altered attention against her, taking the opportunity to take to the skies and deliver a diving kick to the young woman.

Ouka was knocked off her feet and thrown a good ten feet by the blow. Angela landed as Ouka recovered. Only to be hit by a barrage of red-tinted purple spheres as T.J. leapt from the museum to the adjacent roof they battle took place on. The bolts landed against her skin, leaving red marks in their path, but little else.

T. J. opened her mouth to let out a quip—she found herself instinctively leaping into the darkness to dodge Ouka’s fist—which left a spider web-like crack in the rooftop as it landed reducing her defiant proclamation into a simple “WOAH!”

T. J. rolled and tumbled away, but felt herself pushed along by a wave of pressure from the blow that eventually pushed her into the top of a stairwell on the roof. Agile as she was, she only fell halfway down, but was bruised by the encounter.

“It seems I’ve been taking you too lightly,” Ouka gasped, then smiled, “But you’re still not up to my level.”

She rushed forward and struck Angela with an open palm—a wave of power emanated from the impact point, and Angela was sent flying off the roof, howling in pain.

Goliath dove after his daughter as Hellboy brought himself back to the roof.

“Do you wish to keep fighting?” Ouka asked.

Hellboy spit out some of the blood that was pooling in his mouth, “I’m still standing ain’t I?”

“You are even more stubborn than I was lead to believe,” Ouka smiled, “But I’ll wrap it up here.”

She moved to attack when an explosion of smoke separated the two.

Ouka stopped before she entered the smoke.

‘Chaff smoke?’ she thought, ‘that blocks my vision?!’

When it finally cleared, a figure in black and a long cape stood as though she were always there. Not a single part of her skin peaked through the armored outfit she wore. Even her eyes were covered with lenses. The cape draped over her form, obscuring the details. The figures most distinguishing characteristic besides the eyes were two vertical horns that sprouted from the top of her head.

“Who are you?” Ouka asked.

“How much?” The figure said.

“What?”

The figure extended a hand with a small handle grip in her palm, moving the cape out of the way revealing an armored Bat motif on her chest.

“How much are you like him,” she said as a green crystalline blade extended from the grip.

Ouka paled greatly.

“Your movements,” the woman continued, “The speed and strength. It was not all chi. It was…you.  Just you.”

Ouka’s knees began to quiver.

“It limits what you could be,” she tilted her head slightly, “So I guessed. Got lucky.”

“You,” Ouka spat through gritted teeth, “You Dare use Kryptonite against me!”

Ouka’s eyes flashed red; the woman dodged to the right as a red bolt of light shot past her by inches and burnt a hole in a nearby building.

In a single fluid motion as she dodged, the woman threw the blade—which shattered against Ouka’s outstretched hand. She began to hyperventilate and desperately brush off the fragments from her skin and clothes

“I won’t forgive this insult!” Ouka growled.

“Then stop me now,” the woman said.

Ouka gritted her teeth, reached into her pocket and a faint ‘click was heard before reality seemed to rip open beneath her. She quickly disappeared into the void and it sealed up behind her.

The woman stood still as Hellboy rose and the Gargoyles climbed back to the roof.

“Batgirl?” He muttered, “You gotta be kidding me.”

“25.” She said.

“What?”

“25. Not girl. Woman.”

“Like that’ll stick,” Hellboy smirked, “But thanks for the assist. Too bad about the knife, though.”

Meyers stumbled out of the nearby shadows complaining, “I’m telling you I could have helped.”

“With a standard service pistol? It wouldn’t even have registered against her. Don’t be stupid: Bullets. Can’t. Harm. Supermen.” A red and green clad blond girl snapped back.

“And you’re Robin,” Meyers swallowed, “Jesus. Just how much of this comic book stuff is real?”

“Not that much,” Robin said, “I mean, they still won’t acknowledge a female robin.” She folder her arms and pouted, “Jerks.”

“So,” Angela asked, holding her stomach with one arm, “Did we get them all?”

“No,” Robin said, “The crazy lady took one of those Super CHUDs into those portals before you got up here.”

“Damn,” Hellboy said, “Sounds like we’ll have a lot of paperwork when we get back.”

He turned and walked towards the edge of the roof, “Hey Meyers, I’m gonna go grab a beer.”

“Wait—I should go with you,” Meyers said.

Hellboy turned back at the edge of the roof to “Yeah, about that…” he stepped off with a short “Bye” before disappearing into the night.

Meyers scanned the alleyway—the fog and din covering too much of his senses for him to locate Hellboy.

Meyers wanted to curse, but held it back.

“Hey,” T.J.’s voice labored as she limped up to the agent, “Where’d my uncle go?”

Meyers cursed.

Chapter Text

Jack sat in alone in the mess hall Mulling over what Daniel, Carter and the others told him about Ixtli. It was a lot to take in—and to be perfectly honest; he glazed over part of it all.  The short version being, the RahXephon was quite literally a God Machine. It could literally re-make the world.  It appeared to already have done so and only appears to act to defend whatever changes it made. Whatever those changes were, she kept them well hid, but it seemed to focus on Japan for some reason.

Daniel told him an abbreviated history of the machine, but it did not really touch upon the Ixtli. Its construction apparently lead to the destruction of the society that built it—twice.  It shunted them off to an alternate dimension and then fused them back into the timeline. 

Or something. Jack pretended he did not understand it very well because he could figure out enough of to know how dangerous the RahXephon was.

None of it brought him closer to an answer, though.

This left Jack in the mess hall dejectedly spinning his cereal with his spoon.

‘If another Groundhog Day starts up now,’ he thought, ‘it might actually give me time to find an answer.’

About then Nanoha put her tray across from his. Fate soon joined her.

“Hello Colonel O’Neill,” Nanoha smiled brightly. Jack returned a smaller version.

“Good Morning Colonel,” Fate added before sitting.

“Are you okay?” Nanoha asked.

“Just thinking…” Jack answered, “On a really tough question.”

“Well,” Nanoha said, “Talk with us. Maybe we can help.”

Jack did his best impersonation of Teal’c eyebrow. It wasn’t as dramatic, but seemed to convey his skepticism well.

So Nanoha added: “Please.”

‘Damn her and her puppy-dog eyes,’ Jack lamented in his mind.

So he explained his problem.

Fate gave a glance at Nanoha as the vexing girl gave Jack a quick, honest answer: “Treat her like a person.”

Words did not come to him for a good stretch of time after she said this.

“She’s intelligent, has emotions, wants, and desires. How else can you treat her except as a fellow person?” Nanoha retained her smile.

“…but she’s not…really a living thing,” Jack answered lamely.

Nanoha shook her head and smiled lightly, “You haven’t met Atom yet, have you?”

“Who?”

Nanoha was about to explain when Fate cut her off.  She had closed her eyes a moment before, building up the will to speak.  She opened her eyes and asked, “Have you read my file, Colonel O’Neill?”

“I’ve had so many files to read over the last few days they’re all starting to blur together,” Jack lamented, “You’re the one that turns into a ferret, right?”

“No, that’s Yuno.” Nanoha corrected.

“So Mini-Daniel can become Ferret-Daniel?” Jack paused and the world seemed silent, “That’s just so very wrong.”

“To refresh your memory,” Fate said, “I was not born normally. To the point, I am only a few years old. I was cloned by my mother and enhanced as a mage. My name is not the name of the person I was cloned from, rather from the FATE project that I was created by. In a sense you could call me a biological robot.”

Jack protested, “Wait—that doesn’t—that’s not the same thing!”

“I wonder sometimes,” Fate looked down at her tray, “though my processes are biological, I was manufactured just as any other machines.”

Jack saw in the blonde’s eyes an uncertainty and sadness he never wanted to see in the eyes of a child that young.

Under the table, Nanoha squeezed Fate’s hand, which dismissed the growing sadness in her face.

It was there that Jack found his answer.


Later that day, he made his way to the room in the Mountain Facility that the RahXephon was now housed. It was once a missile silo, but it had been retrofitted so much by TSAB to house the strange machine that Jack could barely recognize it for what it once was.

And it was full of water to boot. Apparently the RahXephon recharged itself by being immersed in flowing water, leaving the over 200ft tall machine in a tremendous tube of flowing water.

Jack walked out onto the scaffolding that surrounded the machine. He stood for the briefest moments in front of the machine before the Ixtli appeared.

“You have an answer,” her words were crisp and clear.

“Yeah,” Jack said, “You know what it is already?”

“No,” She said, “You have been angered by my probing of your mind in the past.  Therefore I have refrained from doing so.”

Jack blinked, “Then how did you know--”

“It is the most likely of reasons for you to come here.”

“Ah,” Jack nodded, “So you want to hear it?”

“Yes.”

“A person.”

The Ixtli paused.

“Ya know. Like Me. Like Carter, Daniel, Teal’c, Nanoha, Fate and--”

“I understand your meaning,” Ixtli stated tersely.

“So what do you think? Does it pass whatever crazy test you had for me?”

“That is not an answer expected,” She scowled

"I like thinking out of the box.”

“You’re answer does not address any of the functions I was created for nor does it settle to exactly what ends we are to operate,” she said and then gave a slight smile, “however I can abide by your answer.”

Jack smiled and decided to press his luck.

“So if we’re going to be co-workers, can I call you something other than your programming title?”

“Does that not violate regulation?” Ixtli asked.

Jack simply shrugged.

“This form,” The Ixtli looked at her self, “It defines me more than it should. I have no other name beyond the Ixtli. However, I believe this warped mirror will suffice. So, if you wish, you can call me Reika Mishima.”


Afterwards, Jack, the SGC technicians and TSAB researchers were able to begin analyzing the RahXephon—and Jack to pilot it again. 

 

For what good it did. Trying to get the machine to react was quite difficult, and when Jack got it to do things, the data flow was so tremendous that even Carter was sometimes at a loss for where to start.  The Doctor did not seem to be, but rarely explained in detail what was going on. Or, he did and no one besides Carter, Daitokuji, and Kara Zor-El had any inkling of what he was talking about.

Jack found him rather insufferable, to be frank.

Ms. Mishima, for her part, rarely revealed herself and revealed nothing to them when she did—or, rather, she answered using what Daniel said was “mythic terminology” of a form he was not quite familiar with. He spent the next four days with the others in his “Reading Club” (As Yomiko called it) scouring over an extremely obscure English epic poems that Jack had trouble pronouncing.

“Silma—what?”

“Silmarillion,” Daniel repeated, “it’s a collection of pre-Celtic mythology from England. We think the jewels the story is about were made by the same group of Mulians who created the RahXephon. It’s turned our research into a different direction altogether.”

“So have you learned anything at all really about this thing?”

“Well, no…” Daniel rocked a bit on his heel, “Most texts in the Tolkien collections that deal with the RahXephon at all pretty much say the same thing: made by the men from the sea—the Mulians; instrument-turned weapon of war against powers gone awry; created for the chosen instrumentalist primarily, but the backup was a bit more open…”

“So, we have nothing.”

“Yeah, a whole lot of nothing.”

“Which is why,” The Doctor said, running in, “I’m around.”

The word insufferable passed through Jack’s Brain as he said, “I take it you’ve got something?”

“Well, not yet actually but—”

“Oh,” Kara’s voiced echoed through the hall, “Don’t you dare start workin’ on my idea without me!”

She wheeled herself down the hall with a smoothness and speed that caught Daniel and Jack off guard and stopped with a forceful grace that let only her short hair shake from the momentum.

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” the Doctor said, “But we need Jack for it.”

“You do?” Jack said.

“Well,” The Doctor held the word for a moment longer than needed, “We actually need you to talk to your new friend in the God Machine.”

For some reason, Reika Mishima, the Ixtli, would only converse with others when Jack was around. Carter speculated that the program needed a large amount of Mulian genetics to function properly—or perhaps at all. This sort of interaction only reinforced that notion.


It took a little less than half an hour to get to the RahXephon’s hangar. The Doctor strutted out first.

“Oy, Ixtli, you there?” He shouted, “Can you come out ‘n play?”

Nothing happened.

“Reika,” Jack said, “Can we talk for a minute? The egg heads have some more questions for you.”

Reika walked from the machine to greet him, but said nothing nor made any gestures towards him.

“Mornin’,” Jack said, she nodded towards him.

“About a song that may threaten the harmony you created,” Kara began, trying to use what Daniel had explained about the mythic language she used, “We know what it sounds like, but we can’t find it.”

Reika blinked.

Kara opened the laptop on her lap and a few keystrokes later, a warped sound emanated from it. It reminded Jack of the strange radio signals that planet with magnetic fields produced.

“Is there anything that you can tell us about this song?” Kara asked.

Reika closed her eyes and upon opening them, they white lines scrawled across her eyes in rapid succession. She then blinked and the streaks were gone.

But her look lacked the serenity she normally held. Her eyes were filled with an intense subtle rage instead.


Jack did his best to stifle the jet-lag induced yawn during the briefing, but it still peaked out. Even though himself, the rest of SG-1, Kara Zor-El and the Doctor had transported there in only a few hours thanks to the Doctor’s TARDIS (to which Jack made repeated references to Bill And Teds Excellent Adventure), a few days in and the time difference brought on by the sleep cycle he had before and the one he was faced now that they were in Japan…

He guessed this was the Doctor’s revenge for comparing his “Police Public Call Box” to a magic phone booth piloted by Keanu Reaves.

Bogus.

When Reika determined one source of the wave to be a living creature, an alien kaiju called Bogal, things had moved quickly. Apparently, the creature had been jumping in from a dimension bordering reality (which Kara called “The Phantom Zone”) and calling monsters to earth and from the earth in order devour them. It was not the originator of the signal, but something that was making it worse and taking advantage of it.  Japan’s anti-kaiju force, the GUYS Crew, had been battling the creature for over two months by this point, but only managing to drive it back to its dimension, not kill it. This would be the second big test of the combined forces plan UNIT and President David Xanatos were setting up. It was still incomplete, but they were going to drop a big hammer on this Kaiju.

As soon as it would show up, as ripping open doorways to the Phantom Zone was A) An All Around Bad Idea, B) Very Difficult, even for the TSAB. The Doctor could do it, but refused to. He said that him opening the Phantom Zone with the TARDIS was possible, but that if he did someone he had angered eons ago would know and make the situation a thousand times worse.

Jack just couldn’t imagine that the Doctor could anger someone that much.

The Briefing Room at GUYS HQ was rather crowded with SG-1, the Mecha pilots who participated in the Antarctic mission, a squadron’s worth of F-302 pilots, the Doctor and Kara Zor-El all there in addition to the regular GUYS crew.

Sardine Can metaphors came to mind.

At the forefront of the room the Guys commander, Shingo Sakomizu—a tall Japanese man with a strong stance. With him at the forefront of the room was the resident Kaijuologist, Teppei Kuzo, who was shorter than the others, mildly plump and an overall soft manner of a physician.

“…Recent analysis of a severed portion of Bogal’s tail has revealed a weakness which we hope to take advantage of,” Teppei flicked a few keys on the keyboard he held, changing the image of Bogal to a different angle, “The fact that the flesh and nervous system completely relax when exposed to electricity.”

“So when Bogal appears again,” Kabuto Koji boasted, “We zap it and then blow it ta hell.”

“I like this plan,” Hayato added with a somewhat sinister smile as he leaned back in his chair, rolling a harmonica between his fingers effortlessly.

Commander Sakomizu smiled and said, “Most simply. However, the possibility of complication exists from another alien. Registry code: Hunter Knight Tsurugi.”

The image on screen changed from the stingray-like walking mouth that Bogal was to a far more humanoid, armored giant of silver and blue.

“Though similar to an Ultraman both visually and apparently in ability set,” Teppei said, “He has demonstrated a complete disregard for any other life form encountered. For the time being, we are to treat him as a secondary target, with Bogal being the primary target.”

Out of the corner of his eye, Jack noticed on the Guys crewmen scowling deeply—he believed his name was Ryu Aihara. He was an athletic young soldier unlike most of the GUYS grew. Though to be frank, only Jack and a few of the Mecha pilots were the only ones with gray in their hair. Commander Sakomizu was the oldest one in the room but looked no older than 30 thanks to an FTL experiment that concluded only a few years ago.

Something was definitely playing on Ryu’s nerves. He’d have to ask him about it after the briefing. No sense in making a scene yet.

Teppei went on to detail the attributes of each of the aliens. Suggest attack patterns for dealing with them and so on.

“Listen to that,” Jack leaned to Carter who sat next to him and said, “They give them names.”

“Sir?”

“Why don’t we give our planets names? They give the monsters names. Why don’t we do that with planets? Names are so much easier to remember than…”  Jack tried his best to remember the methodology's name when Carter filled in for him.

“Binary based computer programming extrapolation?”

“Yeah,” Jack managed, “That…thing you said.”

Carter did her best to keep her smile to a minimum, but Jack still noticed.

“We could name them something like 'Bob,'” Jack continued while glancing at the meeting again to see if any pertinent information was being discussed, “We need a Planet Bob.”

When Jack turned back to Carter, there was a strange white lizard creature with black stripes sitting on her lap. It had no visible eyes and a yellow slit where its mouth should be. Where its eyes should be a pair of split black horns sprouted and spun like a pair of radar antenna.

“Carter…” Jack said, “What is that?”

“I…don’t know.”

The creature chirped like a bird-chick, rapping its hands together innocently.

At the front of the room, Teppei and Sakomizu both stared at the creature on Carter’s lap—Teppei with a slightly shocked look to his face, which caused everyone else in the room to look at the creature.

“Major Carter,” Teppei eventually choked out, “Don’t. Move.”

At that moment, Carter had let it grasp her finger playfully, “…why? It doesn’t seem threatening.”

“I know,” Konomi Amagai, a small young woman with glasses said as she gently scooped the creature out of Carter’s lap as though it were a small child, “he’s so cute!”

One of the F-302 pilots, Lt. Colonel Cameron Mitchell leaned to the creature and said “But that is a kaiju, right?”

“It’s an Eleking” Teppei said, “The oldest known Data Life Form.”

“It’s a baby Eleking,” Konomi insisted, “and we know from the Digital Incursion last year that Data Life Forms are not inherently evil.”

She rubbed the creature’s head, to which he chirped happily, “See?”

A spiky-haired member of the Guys crew, George Ikaruga, reached for the Eleking and grasped onto it.

Konomi barely got the world “Careful” out of her mouth when the Eleking screeched and George fell to the floor convulsing, dropping the Eleking who scurried onto the floor. The Eleking then leapt into the air and in a flash of yellow light vanished.

“Oh!” Konomi pouted, “You scared him!”

George, whose hair was spiked to truly ludicrous levels from the electric shock, simply gave Konomi an angry, confused look.

“Scared him,” He huffed, “Right.”

“So,” Jack said, breaking the awkward silence, “Eleking, eh?”

Daniel made a quiet comment about the Japanese language and puns, but Jack barely heard it.

When the room was calmed down after a few minutes, launch patterns were assigned quickly after that and the crews were sent to await the order to launch.

The Doctor said little during the entire meeting. Unbeknownst to Jack or most of the others in the room, the Doctor was in the midst of a conversation with the only other alien in the room.

Inside the shared mindscape, the Doctor met with Ultraman Mebius. Though the doctor retained his shape in the mindscape, the Ultraman bore his true form of a silver and red giant with oval white eyes and a blue diamond in the center of his chest.

“So,” The Doctor said, “You’re an M-78 Light Giant. Haven't seen one of you on earth in years”

“Yes,” Mebius answered, “I am the first to come to earth in almost 25 years.”

“Hmm...Wearing the shell of a dead human to pass among them unnoticed. Rather clever, come to think of it, but quite morbid don’t you think?”

“I took this form,” Mebius explained, “As my brothers have done before me, I take the form of one who died protecting others to honor their sacrifice.”

“Well that’s nice of you, I suppose. So, can you tell me anything about this Hunter Knight character that you can’t share with the audience at home?”

“I assume you already know that he is not a part of the Space Garrison.”

“Yeah, the color’s all wrong. Clashes too. Blue and silver just doesn’t have the right heroic ring to it. Is there anything else I should know about him?”

Mebius paused before speaking, “Tsurugi witnessed Bogal consume the entire biomass of a planet he had come to care for, and swore revenge. He won’t stop until Bogal is destroyed, regardless of what it takes to do that."

"Well, I guess that helmet does go with blind revenge..."

"He followed the Garrison’s example and taken the form of the former Captain of GUYS, Kazuya Serizawa.”

“Serizawa, right. That family and Kaiju is not the happiest of combinations.”

“Ryu looked up to him a lot and was devastated by his death. It has not helped that he has seen Tsurugi in this form.”

“Can’t imagine it would—now, are you still upholding that secret identity thing the Garrison had?”

“Yes,"  Mebius took a moment before adding "I remember from the files that you last visited this part of earth 30 years ago, right?”

“Yeah, during that first Zygon attempt to use the Ness Monster as a weapon. Good times—How is ol’ Hayata Shin these days?”

“He’s retired on earth, like many of the Garrison who came here. But since that time, the rules have changed regarding revealing ourselves to humans. My superiors believe time is coming soon when I will not be fighting to protect the humans, but to fight alongside them. Nothing would make me happier than to truly fight alongside my friends.”

The Doctor did his best to hide the thought of how naïve and eager he thought Mebius in expressing this statement. It radiated off him like light from the sun. He could hardly remember how many regenerations ago it was that he was so eager to see the world.

“So…”

“Until that time comes, they cannot know.”

“Suppose I give them a kick start?”

“What? Wouldn’t that be cheating?”

“I’m the Doctor. I don’t cheat,” He said with a smile then thought for a moment, “…Well, yeah, maybe I do cheat, but I’m the only one who’d notice.”

 

Chapter Text

Mission 06
The Terrible Predator Part 1

To some it seemed a bit of overkill, but Reika had insisted that she attend the destruction of Bogal. She had not shown up for the meeting—but she had brought the RahXephon over to Japan just after Jack’s arrival via the TARDIS. She made her intentions clear in Jack’s mind. She wanted Bogal dead and gone.

Who’s going to say ‘no’ to a request like that? Other than, Jack presumed, Vice-President Kinsey.

Cameron Mitchelle, one of the F-302 pilots, whistled, “Fighting giant monsters in space ships,” he grinned eagerly, “rubbing elbows with the best of the best. This is just beyond cool!”

He spun like a dancer as he walked. His cropped hair did little to detract from the warm color of his face, made more pronounced by his enthusiasm, which Jack had to admit was quite infectious. And he was right, this was damn cool. Well, aside from the horror, danger, and death that went along with combating unspeakable horrors of tremendous size bent on devouring all in their sight.

Jack attempted to reach Ryu, but he stormed out of the offices quickly and with purpose. It appeared that he wasn’t the only one to notice the pilot's focus. He thought his name was Mirai, a wide eyed and eager youngster, had noticed Ryu’s condition as well, but seemed to have just as much trouble reaching the pilot as Jack was having.

He was almost within speaking distance when the alarm klaxon sounded.

Jack scowled and inwardly cursed, heading to the observation room.

The GUYS crew filed in before the Mecha pilots and SG-1 with the Doctor leisurely strolling in with a neutral expression on his face.

On the main monitor in the center of the room was Captain Lindy Harlaown with a stern expression on her face.

“Captain Harlaown?” Commander Shikomizu said, “Did you signal the alarm?”

She nodded, “Our long range sensors have detected multiple hyper-dense masses heading towards earth. I am sending a visual as our database has no record of these entities.”

The image was only on screen for half a second before Teppei barely managed to restrain his shout: “Dinozaur!?”

The creature only vaguely resembled their Dinosaur namesake. One would only venture to call them reptilian. It was four eyed with a bisected lower jaw, hunched back, long spines across its body and twin tails. Blue in color, patches of its body were raised in armor whilst the other sections were sunken in and colored deep red. Sharp teeth, claws, a long neck and mace-like tail tips completed the nightmarish package.

“We’ve faced that monster before,” The second female member of guys, Marina Kazama, said with a stern look across her pretty features, “He’s a tough opponent, but beatable.”

“The problem comes,” Captain Harlaown said grimly, “from this:”

The next image she sent over was of dozens upon dozens of Dinozaur.

Jack’s brief research on the subject of Kaiju before the briefing had made it pretty clear. Kaiju of a certain size, over 150ft in height, needed specialized tactics to tackle with conventional weaponry and could easily destroy an city in a fortnight.

There were well over 300 Dinozaur in the group, and Dinozaur according to the data monitor Konomi brought up for reference, stood over 250ft each.

“If we are to prevent these Kaiju from landing on Earth, we’re going to need a lot of cover fire and even then, there’s no guarantee a few will not make it through,” Captain Harlaown said, “At their current course, their most likely destination is within the Japanese Archipelago if they are not stopped.”

“We can fire our main cannon, the Arc-En-Ciel, once before they pass into Earth’s atmosphere. Even with a flack curtain, we will need some assistance.”

Konomi’s keyboard was already afire when General Hammond’s face appeared in an adjacent window on that screen.

“This is General Hammond of the USS Prometheus,” He said, “We received your message and are en route.”

A second face appeared on the opposite window as Konomi’s keyboard quieted down. It was stern and powerful, with a mustache and broad shoulders complementing a square head.

“This is Captain Gordon of the Gotengo,” He said, “We’re ready to launch and assist.”

“Permission to launch granted.” Commander Shikomizu said before turning to the others in the room, “Pilots to your machines. GUYS: Sally Go!”

G.I.G!” The Guys crew said in unison as they stood.

Jack would later learn that their response phrase meant “GUYS In Gold” but for the moment it just confused him.


 

In the depths of space the Asura’s tuning fork-like hull was joined by the cubic Prometheus and the newly re-designed Gotengo. This ship was more streamlined than the others, but still quite boxy. Its bow capped with a tremendous drill. Compared to the other two ships, it was rather small in comparison to the other ships, but still dwarfing the monsters headed towards them. The Gotengo reached almost 500ft in length, which was stubby compared to the Prometheus’ 630ft or the Asura’s tremendous 800ft.

The Captains' conference as the monsters quickly approached the moon on a direct course to earth.

“After firing the Arc-En-Ciel,” Captain Lindy stated, “We will need your flack cover for approximately 3 minutes; we will be unable to fire. We need flack cover from your vessels should we need to fire again. It is unlikely any Dinozaur that survive the blast will continue on their current course afterwards.”

“But better safe than sorry,” General Hammond said, to which Lindy nodded.

It would not take long for the Dinozaur to get in range of the Prometheus and Gotengo’s flack curtain.

On the Asura, Captain Lindy watched the Arc-En-Ciel firing mechanism form in front of her—a clear cube holding a round sphere with a clear key hole.

Voices from the crew called out around her:

“Distance calculated, detonation point chosen.”

“Arc-En-Ciel at 95% full charge. 10 seconds until completion.”

“Target locked, we can fire when ready.”

Her face hardened as she inserted the key into the firing lock.

“Arc-En-Ciel,” Captain Lindy barked, “FIRE!”

From the bridge of the Prometheus, General Hammond watched as concentric circles formed around the tuning fork-like hull of the Asura. When order to fire was given, a beam of white light shot forth from the center of the tuning fork into the cloud of Dinosaur. The beam continued on past the creatures, burning through dozens of the creatures.

At the center of the swarm a green bubble formed and quickly grew to nearly encompassing the Dinozaur completely. Those on the edge screamed futily int he vacuum of space before their internal energies violently exploded, ripping the monsters to tiny pieces.

The Dinozaur within the bubble disappeared as the it shrunk to nothing and disappeared. The sudden disappearance created a series of radiating shockwaves that flung the survivors in all directions—and killing a few more along the way.

General Hammond had never seen an explosion like that before. Then again, he had never even heard of (and only barely understood) using a dimensional tear as an offensive weapon. His crew was awestruck to the point that a stern wakeup call was needed to snap them out of it.

“All hands!” he commanded, “FIRE AT WILL!”

On board the Gotengo, Captain Gordon’s reaction was quite different. Instead of shock, he just laughed and clapped.

“Gentlemen, we can’t let the lady show us up. Show them what we can do,” He stood up and with a wave of his arm commanded, “Fire up the Nekketsu engine and prepare to fire the Drill Mazer!”

The crewmen new better than to protest their captain’s demands and followed his orders.

Outside, the massive drill at the end of the Gotengo’s hull began to spin, slowly coiling a strange green energy around it. Eventually this field coated the drill completely and began to fluctuate and glow with power.

Gordon shouted, “FIRE!” and the beam lanced into the scattered Dinozaur.

The first monster struck had a hole bored through its stomach by the energy. A second was completely bisected as the beam cut through its waste at the side. A third lost its head at the neck and a fourth lost its legs to the beam’s power.

“Raise the flack curtain,” Gordon barked, “And charge the Drill Mazer again. I don’t want a single one of these bastards to even touch earth’s atmosphere!”

Beams and canons from the surface of the Gotengo’s hull fired off and joined the stream of railgun slugs and missiles of the Prometheus in streaking towards the monsters. At first, the Dinozaur quickly moved to avoid the incoming fire, many speeding off back into the depths of space. But midway through the flack curtain’s first barrage, 20 of the Dinozaur turned to face their attackers. Unseen by the ships’ crewmen, the creature’s eyes glassed over with a purple film.

They lined up and from the small ports along their neck and top of their back, a counter-barrage of missiles intercepted half of the incoming flack. They then tripled their speed and rushed through the opening and into the next wave of flack.

Inside the Prometheus, the helmsman reported, “We’re having trouble locking on.”

Hammond thought for a moment before giving his orders: “Divert all non-essential power to shields; we’ll block them with our body if we have to!”

The spherical shield shimmered once as the Dinozaur approached.

The Gotengo did not have the shielding up to that of the Prometheus. But it did have a drill.

“Go right into them!” Gordon shouted, the drill of the Gotengo spun furiously as the ship coated itself in green light from its drill and moved forward.

Both ships continued their curtain of fire at the oncoming monsters. By the time they were within striking distance of the ships, 3 had destroyed by the flack curtain. On contact, 5 of the Dinozaur bounced off the Prometheus’ shield. These 5 found themselves flung uncontrollably into the blackness of space.

The Gotengo drilled forwards, splitting three of the monsters in half, their mouths gurgling purple fluid that may have been blood as their legs torsos became separated from their chests.

When six canons blazed from the sides of the Asura to thicken the flack curtain, many more of the Dinozaur died silently.

The flack curtain slew still more, but a total of 8 Dinozaur passed through. Thankfully, 3 were missing their heads.

Still, 5 Kaiju and 3 230ft long super-dense meteors would not be good for the planet.

The commanders of the vessels expressed their dismay in different ways as the Dinozaur entered the atmosphere. Lindy sat down in her seat with a thud. Hammond slumped in his. Gordon slammed his fist into the arm of his chair, which created a sound that echoed through the bridge.

The ground forces would have to clean up the rest.

Chapter Text


Mission 07
The Terrible Predator Part 2



On the Earth’s surface, Cameron was wondering about the plan just a bit.

“So, why don’t the ships above engage in an orbital bombardment?” He asked his asked openly through the com system of the F-302 he piloted.

“Firstly, the weapons aboard the Asura would prove environmentally hazardous if fired in earth’s atmosphere,” Teal’c explained from his F-302, “Secondly, the Gotengo weaponry are not built to transfer from atmospheric conditions to non-atmospheric conditions. Finally, it and the Prometheus have expended near their entire payload to weed the monsters down to this level.”

“Environmental damage,” Cameron echoed, “Is that like toxic or--”

“The power of the weapons involved would cause widespread devastation to the point of altering the climate of the entire planet and possibly inducing nuclear winter.”

“Okay, yeah, that’s not good.”

The two SGC personal lead their squadrons of F-302s skyward on an intercept course towards the descending monsters. Below them, the Mecha troops and GUYS Gun Phoenix waited to attack the monsters when they landed. The F-302s would be the second line before the ground forces took them on.

It did not take the creature’s long to get within visual range. The headless monsters sunk to earth like stones while the survivors lifted their heads and altered their courses, gliding towards the F-302s.

“Alright,” Cameron shouted, “light ‘em up!”

The F-302s soared towards the descending monster, launching a wave of missiles at the beasts.

One of the creatures opened its triple-jointed jaw, revealing a thin vibrating blue wire at its center. This wire quintupled in length in the blink of an eye and lashed out. The creatures were quickly concealed in a cloud of flames and shrapnel which the F-302s deftly flew around it.

Until one exploded as a blue streak passed through the machine.

Cameron looked back at the creatures as they passed unharmed through the dissipating flames.

“Okay,” he scowled, “What the hell was that?”

“A mono-filament whip in place of the creature’s tongue,” Konomi answered from the GUN-PHOENIX, “But it's not supposed to have that much reach!”

Cameron cursed as he brought his F-302 around for another pass, the rest of his squadron following as the Gun-Phoenix opened fire on the nearest space monster.

As they turned, the inert Dinozaur carcasses suddenly slowed as they approached the ground.

“What?” Kabuto gasped from Mazinger Z, “They can move?”

The pilots were briefly stunned by the movement from the headless monsters and missed their firing arc as they crashed with considerably less force than calculated.

Still, the impacts shook the ground greatly.

A wave of missiles impacted against the lead Dinozaur’s back as Cameron’s squadron completed their second run, followed closely by Teal’c’s. The lead Dinozaur fell to the ground, but quickly stood up again, screeching defiance. Hunched over with its long neck extending in front of its body, and massive spines jutting into the sky, the creature stood eye to eye with Getter Robo and other monsters the GUYS had encountered.

Jack guided the RahXephon towards the monsters and barrage of short bolts from the palm of the great machine’s hands. The bolts struck the monsters, leaving sizzling pot marks on the creature’s hides as the other Super Robots moved in to battle the monsters. Jack found himself surrounded by three of the beasts.

The Getter Dragon moved in directly to attack the creatures, its twin tomahawks slicing into the monster’s hides. The creature snapped its jaws and thrust with its claws, but Ryouma had spent years of his life battling giant saurians.  It might as well have had neon signs telling Ryouma his movements.

However, when it lashed out with its mono-filament tongue, one of the tomahawks was sliced in twain.

Ryouma took the machine into the air, to which the monster replied by firing a barrage of organic missiles from the ports along its neck.

“OPEN GATE!” He shouted as the machine split into its three component ships—which flew around the swarm and reformed behind the simple projectiles.

“It will take more than that to defeat us!” Ryouma gritted his teeth before letting out as mighty roar “GETTER BEAM!”

A pinkish-red beam of light shot like a lightning bolt from the top of Getter Robo’s head which struck the Dinozaur in the chest, causing the beast to howl in pain. The concentrated Getter ray easily tore a hole through the reptilian monster. The creature’s internal power sources could not take the strain, overloaded and exploded, nearly vaporizing the Dinozaur in the process. Small chunks of the super-dense creature rained down on the countryside with tremendous force.

With four active Kaiju remaining, Hayato had the sinking sensation that this not be as easy as it appeared, but Benkei, ever the optimist, smiled and said, “We’ll probably be back for dinner.”

Kabuto and Tetsuya did not share the height of Getter Robo. Even standing together, Mazinger Z and Great Mazinger would not reach up to a Dinozaur’s shoulder. Still, they did not back down.

The small missiles each machine was equipped with, as well as the classic “rocket punch” proved largely ineffectual against the beast’s armor.

The pair deftly dodged the barrage of missiles launched at them, as well as the lashings of the beast’s tongue.

Kabuto guided Mazinger Z through the air and scrapped the bladed edge of the machine’s flight wing horizontally across its neck: which set up Tetsuya in Great Mazinger to drag one of the robot’s swords in the opposite direction on the other side of the beast’s neck as it turned to snap at Kabuto.

Upon reaching the head, Tetsuya let out a thunderous “Mazinger Blade!” as he threw the weapon into the left topmost of Dinozaur’s four eyes. The eye squirted vile orange fluid as the monster shrieked and bucked, blinded in pain as the two Mazingers set out to finish the beast.

The V-like shapes on the mecha’s chests began to glow and red beams of plasma radiated down onto the newly carved pathways across the monster’s neck—and along the organic missile ports the Dinozaur now had exposed.

Kabuto and Tetsuya shouted “DOUBLE BURNING FIRE!” as the missiles quickly reacted to the superheated plasma and began to detonate inside the monster, eventually pulverizing the head, neck and upper torso completely.

8 minutes into the battle and two of the 5 monsters were already down.

Jack guided the RahXephon to one of the remaining monsters as the F-302 squadrons and the Gun-Phoenix swarmed around the survivors.

After the monsters had tackled him en mass, Jack managed to knock them back with a massive push from the RahXephon’s legs that sent it airborne.

Before it could get too far, though, as one of the whip tongues wrapped itself around the RahXephon’s leg. Jack found himself and the machine jerked down to the earth as the monsters rose around him. Jack reflexively lashed out with one of his arms—which automatically formed a massive blade of energy that cut deep into the monster’s hide and severing one of its arms.

The Dinozaur screamed its hate as the RahXephon righted itself, waiting for the next attack.

Nearby, the Gun-Phoenix split into its two component craft: the Gun-Winger and Gun-Loader. The first craft was a sleek craft with an arrowhead design, while the Gun-Loader was stockier, shorter winged and slightly reminiscent of the F-302. Both craft joined the F-302s in harassing the Dinozaur, as their weapons seemed to moderately annoy and lightly damage the monsters individually.

In tandem, they managed to sever the arms of one of the monsters as well as partly blind it. This partly blinded monster fired its missiles randomly, striking the earth with its barrage.

The explosions triggered something under the earth, and it began to quake. The three decapitated Dinozaur bodies fell over as two new monsters rose from the earth in the midst of tremendous shows of earth and stone.

One of the beasts stood slightly taller than the Dinozaur. Fully erect, it was rather demonic, yet remains reptilian. Large plates of armor covered its body with jagged, irregular rows of small spikes between them. Its eyes glowed red and its head was capped with a pair of massive demonic horns. The sail was short—almost non-existent—with hands that ended in long whip-like tentacles.

The other creature was more worm-like with a rounded head, thick body and two short tails at the end of its torso. The lower portion of its body was covered by small spike-like protrusions which inched across as the creature dug itself out of the ground. When the tails freed themselves from the earth,

“Goudon,” Teppei's voice called out over the radios, “And Twin Tail!”

“So Japan is crawling with monsters!” Cameron added.

“Neither have any projectile powers, but are quite powerful regardless. Don’t get to close,” Teppei said.

“Konomi!” Mirai called out to his co-pilot, “With these monsters here, Bogal won’t be far behind. Let’s land.”

Konomi nodded before the Gun-loader Mirai piloted turned away from the battle field to find a nearby safe landing space.

“Goudon feed on Twin Tail Eggs, so they may attack each other before anything else,” Teppei continued his explanation over the radio, “But with the space monsters here too, you’d better stand back for a moment.”

The Getter Dragon changed into the Getter Liger took a back position as the two new monsters oriented themselves in their new surface surroundings.

And attacked each other—grappling with tails, whips and teeth and careening about without regard for anything else about them.

Hayato, guiding Getter Liger, noticed the Dinozaur were distracted by the melee and decided to act.

Pushing the machine’s speed to its limit, he shouted “MACH SPECIAL” and slashed the Liger’s drill arms again and again on the nearest Dinozaur. It all took less than 60 seconds, but the monster fell and detonated from the numerous slashes rendered across his hide.

Hayato glanced at the other monsters to see one of the two remaining Dinozaur held overhead by the RahXephon. It screamed and squirmed as the RahXephon pulled at the center of the beast from two different directions. The Getter pilots could hear the armor and bones of the monster bend and eventually snap before—with a sudden jerk—the RahXephon tore the monster in half—which promptly exploded before the creature’s gore could stain the RahXephon greatly.

The last of the Dinozaur was pinged by F-302s, the Gun-Winger and the Mazinger units and would soon fall in Jack’s estimations when something caught his eye, and the sound of the Ixtili screaming overwhelmed his ears.

Gritting from the pain the sound caused, his attention turned from the monsters to a sudden purple ripple within reality itself that expanded quickly into a dark purple, black and red vortex. A wedge-shaped bolt shot forward from the darkness and raced towards the RahXephon. It struck the god-machine before Jack could raise its shield-protected arm. The wedge exploded against the RahXephon, sending black lightning-like tendrils coursing through the machine.  Jack’s body tensed against the power that flowed through him and wanted badly to scream and announcing his pain to the world, but was unable to as the RahXephon plummeted to the ground.

“O’Neil!” Teal’c nearly shouted before he brought his cross-hairs towards the newly opened rift and opened fire as the monster they were waiting for arrived: Bogal.

As it landed, the inert carcases of the headless Dinozaur rose and violently shifted, ripping parts of themselves off and growing new segments. The monsters that stood up from their forms were similar tot he Dinozaur, but their tails had become heads and their legs had turned themselves around and fused with their arms. They would alter be dubbed "Dinozaur Reverse" but at the moment, the soldiers could only blink in brief confusion and horror.

Bogal shrieked in triumph as the portal to its hellish hideaway closed and it prepared for a feast.

As the last of the original Dinozaur died, the new Dinozaur Reverse shrieked at the assembled machines and placed themselves between the heroes and the other monsters.  Bogal’s appearance managed to separate the Twin Tail and Goudon from their ferocious battle and had the earth monsters backing away from the space terror, only to be corralled by the new Dinozaur Reverse’s collective backs. Bogal’s claws twitched with anticipation as she approached them.

“Kabuto!” Ryouma shouted, “Come with me, the rest of you—attack Bogal before it can feed!”

A collective “Roger” went through the radios as the groups split up, though as they did one of the Reverse Dinozaur lumbered after Getter Dragon and Mazinger Z.

“Geeze,” Kabuto scowled, “Think this guy knows what we’re planning?”

“Well,” Benkei said, “It does have two heads. Maybe they are better than one.”

Hayato’s cringe was not transmitted over the radio but Kabuto and the other Getter pilots knew it was happening—mostly because they shared a similar expression.

As the monster gained on their position, Mazinger Z unleashed a brief volley of missiles from ports at the elbow before it and Getter unleashed a direct energy assault. The Dinozaur Reverse plowed through the hail of missiles as if they were not there.

“Now that’s a Kaiju!” Kabuto sneered as the Dinozaur Reverse opened its maws to unleash a defiant shriek.

The call of “Photon Beam!” accompanied “Getter Beam!” as the two robots let loose a torrent of photonic and getter energy.

The yellow photon beams struck the monster in between its necks, while the pinkish beam from Getter Robo struck one of the beast’s heads. Burning flames erupted from each blast point. The Photon beams gouging burning pot-marks between the necks, while the Getter Rays put out one of the monster’s eyes, leaving it a gaping, bleeding sore and blackening over half of its face.

The injured face howled in pain, but the rest of the animal continued to plod forward.

“Aw,” Benkei moaned, “What makes these ones so tough? They’re the same monster—just backwards!”

“Life is full of cruelties,” Hayato said.

“Kabuto!” Ryouma called out, “Distract it while we help Jack to his feet!”

“Done!” Kabuto answered before he flew straight at the Dinozaur Reverse at full speed. The monster braced itself, but was unprepared for Kabuto’s slight deviation to the left—scrapping the blade of his wing against its side. Though the monster howled in pain—only sparks flew from the contact point. Upon reaching the other side of the monster, Kabuto turned to face it—as the monster turned to face its attacker.

“IRON CUTTER!” Kabuto shouted as Mazinger Z’s fists launched from their sockets—blades extending from the sides of the forearms—taking a twisting trajectory over the monster’s neck and face. Shallow cuts were left in twin trails of pain across the monster’s body before the fists returned.

‘Wonder if that worked as a distraction,’ Kabuto thought before the Dinozaur Reveres’ mouths opened and lashed out with their mono-molecular tongues.


 

Nearby, the other team members were having even less success. Most of the F-302 ordinance had been spent by this point, and their remaining railgun rounds did little more than distract the giants.

“BREAST BURN!” Tetsuya Tsurugi shouted as his mech bathed a Dinozaur Reverse in burning light. The creature cringed from the beam directed at its face and showed signs of burns, but was otherwise unencumbered; “These new ones are a lot tougher than the first wave—THUNDER BREAK!”

Lighting from the tips of Great Mazinger’s fingers lashed out to the burned face Dinozaur Reverse—destroying it in an explosion of gore. The neck that held it fell limply, but the other head remained alive and active, lashing at Great Mazinger with its razor sharp tongue.

“Indeed,” Teal’c answered over the intercom, “Perhaps reinforcements are in order.”

“Or at least a resupply stop,” Cameron added, “I’m down to my last 20 rounds!”

The earth monsters were doing about as well as the F-302s against their foe. Bogal had already stunned Goudon with his blows and was in the process of repeatedly pile-driving Twin-Tail into the ground to weaken it. The alien’s tremendous mouth moved to engulf Twin Tail, the its ray-like body folding as its 'true mouth' enclosed around it, and in the space of a few bites made the monster disappear into what Cameron presumed was its gut, he couldn’t help but do a double take.

“Yeah, where’s that second wave?” he shouted.

“I’m almost within range!” Konomi answered over the radio.

Konomi looked out over the battle scene as the Dinozaur were drawn to the floundering F-302s and Bogal approached the remaining earth monster.

Konomi took a self-assuring breath and spoke softly to the small capsule in her hand: “Mikuras, do your best.”

She hit the pointed the capsule at the battle field and depressed the trigger. An electronic voice announced “Realize” and in a bright green flash, a new monster joined the fray.

The creature was bulky with a large head and stubby but thick limbs. Green in coloration, four twisting horns surrounded the head. Its wide mouth was lined with pinkish lips and flaps of green skin. It reminded Cameron of a cross between a bulldog and a cactus.

“Damn,” he couldn’t help himself, “That's ugly.”

Teal’c raised his eyebrow at the creature distinct appearance.

“Mikuras!” Konomi shouted “Don’t be scared! Fight!”

The creature grunted, steeled itself, and leapt into the air, impossibly high. Cameron knew Kaiju stretched the laws of physics by their mere existence, and had been briefed on this digital monster-recreation program that Konomi was employing, but darn if it wasn’t amazing, it cleared a thousand feet in that leap—and that was in height alone.

Bogal leaned forward to engulf Goudon, only to be knocked on top of the monster by the descending Mikuras. Bogal shrieked and rolled away before standing up to face its new attacker, but found out the hard way that Mikuras had her by the tail.

Mikuras’ horns sparked before Bogal went rigid and collapsed on the ground convulsing.

“Alright!” Konomi leapt in the air—but then realized that there were no troops there to attack the injured monster—and Mikuras only had another 45 seconds of activity left.

“Alert!” Carter’s voice echoed over the radio, “We have a UFO descending on the battle field.”

“UFO?” Cameron asked, “You mean something’s gotten past 3 battleships?”

“It’s jamming a wide area with some kind of chaff mist,” Carter explained, “It should be in visual range—now!”

True to her word, a blue tinged fog appeared at the top of the sky. Tetsuya’s heart skipped a beat once he recognized that fog.

“Don’t fire on the cloud!” Tetsuya said in the midst of dodging the Dinozaur Reverse’s latest tongue lashing, “If that’s what I think it is then—“

As if cued in by Tetsuya’s announcement, a large saucer-like craft emerged from the cloud. It was mostly white with a stylized black and gold face on the front and wings that ended in disk-like projections to its side.

“Grendizer!” Tetsuya gasped and opened a new radio channel, “Tell me that’s you in there, Daisuke.”

“Tetsuya?” the answer came, “It’s good to see you’re still here.”

Tetsuya smiled, “Care to give us a hand with these monsters—though the green one’s on our side.”

“The black one, Bogal, is the reason I’m here. It attacked the Fleed colonies not three months ago. It took me this long to track it down,” Daisuke said with growing anger in his voice, “We can’t let this monster escape.”

“Roger that!”

Grendizer swooped in towards the battling monsters, flying high over the Dinozaur before the golden horns atop the machine’s head sparked with lighting. A thunderous call of “Space Thunder!” rung out as a bolt of electricity lashed out towards Bogal only for it to explode against the hide of a Dinozaur that intersected the blast. The monster was left with a terrible wound to match its already missing head, but still lashed out against the new arrival as the last Dinozaur Reverse, unscathed by the F-302 assault began to return to its master’s side.

Teal’c kept an eye on the newcomer for a moment as it circled for another strike, “This is an opportunity to refuel,” he radioed the others, “Cameron, take your flight and refuel. My team will remain and try and keep the monsters distracted.”

Though Cameron disliked going first, he acknowledged the command and led his team off.


The RahXephon had curled up into a fetal position at the side of a mountain—trees crushed under its bulk—by the time Getter Robo reached it. Sparks of black lightning shot off from the machine at uneven intervals, which caused the God Machine to twitch and shudder as involuntarily as a machine possibly could. Benkei called out several times over the a radio to Jack, but to no avail. The signal was getting through whatever darkness infected the RahXephon, but the pilot was unable or unwilling to answer.

For all they knew, Jack might be dead.  Ryouma knew that the machine had nearly killed Jack once already. The Getter crew had known about that even before Jack re-awakened it with the last pilot of that mech: Akira Hibiki.

As Getter Robo gently reached for the RahXephon, some of the black lighting lashed out at the machine and knocked it back.

As Ryouma struggled to keep his machine upright from the backlash, a brief flash of something he could not quite pin down.  A memory?  A vision? Whatever it was, it made him sick to his stomach with guilt. Guilt of something he knew not of but knew he did not do.

“I think it’s a mental assault” Ryouma grunted in a pained reaction that echoed his machine.

“Really,” Hayato snapped, “The mental flash enough to tip you off?”

“I hope Jack’s holding up against it,” Benkei mulled, “If it hasn’t killed him already.”


Nearby, Mazinger Z was in rough shape. One arm had been cut down before the elbow, rendering it useless and one of the “eyes” of the machine had shattered from being slammed by the monster.

Its mouths drooled with anticipation as it approached Koji’s machine, but Koji remained defiant.

“Oi! You want a piece of me and Mazinger?!” He shouted, gripping the controls tightly, trying to think of a way out as Getter Robo attempted to overcome the shocks the RahXephon produced and reach its pilot.

The cry of “ANTI-GRAVITY STORM!” echoed across the battle field as a rainbow of light launched toward the Dinozaur who, upon being struck, was flung high into the air. Teal’c watched as the UFO ejected a second craft similar to Great Mazinger, but with an overall foreign design to it, and slightly larger. The machine landed near Mazinger Z, keeping an eye on the monster.

The Injured Dinozaur Reverse landed upon the one which now sported only a single head thanks to Tetsuya’s attack.

“Koji, Ryouma, Tetsuya!” Daisuke called out, “We need to end this as fast as we can,”

“Yes,” Tetsuya said, “With Bogal tied up, this is our chance.”

“It may drain a good deal of power,” Ryouma added, “But with them tied up, it’s our chance.”

“Think we’re ready for this?” Benkei asked.

“I’m always ready,” Daisuke answered.

“I won’t miss,” Tetsuya added.

“This will be the final strike!” Koji concluded.

The four machines stood together, their eyes flashed with power before they separated on Daisuke’s command: “Everyone, let’s go!”

Daisuke’s mech, Grendizer, remained in place, the two monsters in its sight as he shouted “Anti-Gravity Storm!”

A rainbow of light lanced out from Grendizer’s chest and struck the entangled monster, lifting them high into the air.

“Koji! Tetsuya!” Daisuke ordered.

In the skies, Mazinger and Great Mazinger flew on opposites sides of the rising monsters.

“I’m in position,” Koji said

“Ready to go,” Tetsuya added before both machine’s red breasts shone their flames.

“Double Burning Fire!” The Mazinger pilots shouted in unison.

From above, Ryouma shouted “And this will finish them!” as he dove his mech down towards the writhing beasts—Getter Robo encased in glowing white-hot plasma.

At the last second, Ryouma pulled up, but the plasma continued down and stuck twisted mass of Dinozaur sandwiched between heat beams. The plasma interacting with the heat beams and the monster’s own combustible internals—generating the largest non-nuclear explosion recorded since King Ghidorah destroyed an oil refinery at sea.

“Final Dynamic Special!” Ryouma roared as he and the other super-robots landed a good distance away to avoid the shockwave from the pressured blast they had generated—it was still powerful enough to cause the last remaining Dinozaur to stumble—itself partly in shock at what it had just seen.

Mikuras, for his part, nearly feel over, but kept his grip firm on Bogal’s tail.

Inside the cockpits, the mecha-pilots breathed heavily, and noted the power gages on their machines. Hayato was the only one to openly curse: “Crap, that took more power than the last time we did it. And the overheating is nearly 30% greater than the last time we did this.”

“Well, that way almost 30 years ago,” Benki explained, “perhaps we’ve gotten rusty.”

Hayato simply growled at that answer, as all four waited for their machines to cool down—as all were acutely aware of the dangers of pushing a Nekketsu Engine to far beyond its limit.


A bright flash of light away from the explosion captured Teal’c attention. When the light faded, a blue and silver figure 50 meters in height stood in the light’s place.

“Teal’c to all units,” He said, unphased by the new arrival, “Hunter Knight Tsurugi has appeared.”

The giant wasted no time and charged Bogal, but he was intercepted by the healthy Dinozaur Reverse and literally bowled over by the creature’s bulk and strength.

The Dinozaur Reverse spun on its heel and lashed out with its tongues—which wrapped around Hunter Knight Tsurugi. The giant grunted as the tongues wrapped around his waist. An electrical current raced down the glowing blue lines and upon reaching Tsurugi, the giant tensed and twisted in pain as the power coursed through him. He fell to his knee in pain.

Then Goudon began to stir. Mikuras let out a worried cry that sounded eerily similar to “Eep.”

“Damnit!” Kouji burst out, “I thought he was out of it?”

“To me,” Hayato said, “A kaiju isn’t dead until it blows up.”

“We should help the blue Ultraman,” Daisuke commanded.

“Eh?” Kouji recoiled, “I know you missed the briefing but that guy is no Ultraman! I’m not sure if—”

As Kouji spoke a golden flash of light caught his attention, as did a golden wedge of energy that sliced through the Dinozaur tongue.

Daisuke smiled as a silver and red giant similar in height to Tsurugi, but with clearly defined white eyes and more streamlined features and design patterns took to supporting him as the tongues released their grip.

“That, however” Ryouma said, “is an Ultraman.”

Hunter Knight Tsurugi pulled away from Mebius and looked away from him, ashamed, before turning to face the Dinozaur. The Goudon had recovered and turned its rage and pain against Mikuras—whipping the digitally constructed Kaiju repeatedly.

It took a good 10 strikes, but Mikura’s grip loosened as he was knocked back.

“Commander!” Ryu called out, “Requesting permission to use METEOR.”

Sakomizu’s reply of “METEOR Ban Lifted!” was almost immediate.

The R-Winger’s wings folded out and the entire craft become covered in a golden glow. It began to move at alarming speed, leaving a golden shadow after several high speed jumps.

Mikuras vanished as the digital process feed that kept him active ended, letting the monster dissipate into green sparkles of light. Goudon was caught off guard by this and nearly spun off its feet from the force of its strike.

Ryu snuck the R-Winger through the giants and monsters, close enough for Dinozaur Reverse to snap at it—but only catch the flickering afterimage it left. Ryu locked onto Goudon as he recovered from his unintended spin.

Ryu flicked the toggle on the craft’s joystick and announced his intentions: “Specium Missiles, FIRE!”

Four golden missiles popped out from the underside of the craft and launched themselves towards the monster—striking hard enough to knock Goudon off his feet and leaving bloody gouges the size of the monster’s agape mouth in its chest and torso.

Goudon fell as Bogal righted itself and dove towards the falling monster, wrapping its massive jaws around it and swallowing it in a flash. Bogal then fell face first to the ground.

“Damnit!” Ryu cursed, “I had him!”

As Mebius held back the Dinozaur, Tsurugi ran to the fallen Bogal, only to be knocked back by a shockwave from its back as the monster split in two like a shedding insect. The monster’s body shifted and twisted as massive wing-like structures grew from its back and the creature’s smooth skin became knobby and armored. The improved Bogal stood and turned to face Tsurugi, bellowing defiance.


 

Below and far from the battle, near the still open doorway, two scientists observed it near one of the most secure spots in the universe—the Tardis.

“That’s a pretty stable tear,” the younger of the two figures—the wheelchair bound Kara, observed.

“Far, far too stable,” The Doctor concurred.

“I mean, I’ve seen Phantom Zone Projectors in action, and they’re never this stable.”

“Yeah, didn’t they stop it by your time?”

“They made a special exemption for Zod and his ilk just before, but otherwise they hadn’t used it for several decades because…”

“Because of him,” the Doctor scowled, “And then Krypton blew up due internal pressures caused by dimensional distortions. That’s not at all suspicious don’t you think.”

Kara looked at the machine in her lap, a stylized light projector connected by heavy tubes to the TARDIS, “Why do you think I’m so uncomfortable using this thing.”

“Well, you’re one of the last living pure-blooded Kryptonian, so we really don’t have much of a choice in the time we have left.”

Kara’s face fell, but she said nothing.

“We should have more than enough power to close this, but that depends on how active he is behind that curtain.”

“Not as active,” A voice boomed from behind the veil of the tear, dripping with a knowing smugness that repulsed the listeners, “As I would like to be.”

“Yapool, the Lord of the Phantom Zone,” The Doctor growled, “Back after another regeneration cycle I see.”

“As long as enmity exists, Time Lord, the so shall I!” Yapool answered.

“Right, right,” The Doctor said dismissively, “and still trapped in the Phantom Zone.”

“You say that as if it were some punishment for me to remain on my throne,” Yapool chuckled.

“Well, you have been trying to escape it for the past two hundred years.”

“Again you confuse escape for the beginnings of conquest, Doctor,” Yapool growled, “And when the time comes, I shall ensure you suffer greatly for the trouble you have caused me.”

“So are you keeping this portal open just to bluster? What are you planning, Yapool” Kara hefted the machine in her lap and pointed it at the portal, her face twisted in anger.

“Do you truly expect me to tip my hand so soon?” Yapool answered, “I did not come to rule the phantom zone by being obvious, Kryptonian.”

“You want something, don’t you?” The Doctor concluded.

“Aside from conquest and turmoil, indeed I do,” Yapool nodded, his form largely obscured by the ripples of the portal, only his glowing eyes remained distinct.

“Well?” Kara hissed.

“You are two bright humanoids,” Yapool smirked, “You figure it out.”


 

Bogal slashed against the air, launching dozens upon dozens of purple spheres at her assembled enemies. The two Ultramen deflected the bolts with a shield raised in front of their hands. The earthen machines were forced to dodge—difficultly.

“Daisuke—you’re machine’s been in battle a shorter time,” Ryouma said, “We still need time to cool our engines. Give us some cover!”

“Roger!” Daisuke answered, elevating the arms of Grendizer before announcing “SCREW PRESSURE PUNCH!”

Spikes folded out from the wrists before the twin fists of Grendizer launched towards Bogal—who deftly dodged their first pass—but was slashed across the sides on the fists’ return. Though no visible scar was left, the beast howled and steam rose from its entire body.

In fact, Daisuke noticed, the entire monster had a slight red glow to it.

Hunter Knight Tsurugi used Bogal’s distraction to his advantage. He reached his hand into the air—to which lightning gathered, before placing his hand in a plus-shaped formation, but in a style that was the reverse of any Ultramen the others had seen before—with the in hand of the horizontal position behind the right hand’s vertical.

A blue beam raced from the edge of Tsurugi’s hand and struck Bogal in chest.

The monster screamed but did not die—though the explosive shockwave that radiated from the monster knocked all others present off their feet. Uprooting nearby trees and throwing boulders into the air.


 

Near the portal, the Doctor was spared going through regeneration again when Kara launched herself at him and pulled him to the ground before the shockwave reached them.

When the dust settled, the Doctor was the one to help her up.

“You alright?” She asked.

“For the moment,” The Doctor said, “But we need to close that portal.”

“Ah, It’s about time you caught on, Doctor,” Yapool smirked, “I thought you were more intelligent than,”

Yapool’s gloat was cut short by a flash of mirroring, silver-light from the machine in Kara’s lap that raced to the portal and sealed almost instantly.

“Bastard was observing us. Learning what we can do,” Kara concluded.

“Without a doubt,” The Doctor concurred, “But there’s more to it than just good tactics.”


 

“What the hell was that blast?” Koji shouted.

“This one appears much more volatile than the last group,” Teal’c observed.

“Teal’c, we can’t use explosives against this monster,” Carter’s voice came through the radio, “if it goes, judging by the explosion that only a part of it created, it might be a blast equivalent to a Mark IX Warhead.”

Teal’c raised an eyebrow.

“How powerful is that weapon?” Daisuke asked.

“Very,” Teal’c answered, “We cannot let the creature die on earth.”

“The weapon carries a multi-gigaton payload that has an initial blast radius of 100 miles,” Tetsuya elaborated.

“I’m not sure even the RahXephon could survive that,” Koji added.

“But wait the Ultramen need to know," Ryouma turned on the external speakers on Getter Robo and shouted, “Oi! Ultraman! Tsururgi! Don’t blow up Bogal! If he goes, the explosion will kill us all and doom the whole planet!”

Bogal chuckled as the information hit them.

Tsurugi stood still for a moment before a golden blade extended from his left arm.

“If this planet suffers to end the threat of Bogal” His boomed before he charged, “THEN SO BE IT!”

He did not get far as Bogal released a red bolt of lightning from her eyes that struck Tsurugi full on in the chest. Bogal spread her arms out and further bolts of crimson lashed out at her foes.

Koji grunted, “How are we supposed to fight this thing? Even if we don’t use explosives, it’ll still explode when it dies!”

“That doesn’t mean,” Daisuke answered, “That we shouldn’t try!”

From the shoulders of Grendizer, Daisuke brought forth a pair of inverted crescent blades on the end of long handles. Daisuke connected them together at the unsharpened edges as he announced “DOUBLE HARKEN!” before throwing the weapon like a razor-edged discus at Bogal.

The weapon scythed past the monster’s side, generating sparks as the alien metal contacted extra-dimensional flesh.

The shockwave that accompanied the lightshow knocked them back even further.

Daisuke cursed, “We can’t touch this thing at all!”

“I don’t even want to know what lightning would do to it now,” Tetsuya added.

“Oi!” Ryu called out, “The METEOR isn’t loaded in this unit, but I bet a capture Cube could hold it in.”

“The shield would not contain the explosion fully and the creature may break out of it before the minute time limit passes,” Teal’c countered.

“That’s true,” Benkei confirmed as the Ultramen grappled with the horror and each other.

A voice echoed over the radio that caught everyone by surprise, “But it does block radiation and heat…”

“JACK!” Tetsuya shouted, “You’re okay!”

“Barely,” He answered, with a labored breath, “But I can’t move this thing and I don’t think I have time to explain why just yet. But, does the Capture Thingy block ambient radiation?”

“Are you suggesting we use the Asgard Transporters?” Teal’c asked.

“Asgard Transporters?!” Daisuke almost shouted in shock, “When—how did earth get those?”

Carter did not deem to answer him as she gave her explanation through the radio: “The Capture Cube can block the ambient radiation and other inhibiting particles many Kaiju produce, but there’s still the problem of mass to deal with. I’m not sure the Prometheus has the power to—“

“Leave that to us,” Admiral Lindy Harlowan interrupted.

“We may be still be holding the Arc-En-Ciel under lock, but we can use other weapons and spell casting through the ship.”

Carter blinked, “Wait, that ship can-”

“Cast spells as though it were a mage itself,” Lindy fished, “Yes. And if it’s a power boost you need.”

“General-” Carter again found herself cut off as Hammond answered.

“I heard,” He said, “Admiral Harlowan, you have my permission to boost our systems as needed.”

“Roger,” she answered, “But now you need to get it in a capture cube.”

“Don’t worry about that,” A new voice came through the radio, “I asked for a special load out for the F-302s and that’s all they had left.”

Most of the Earth forces turned to spot Lt. Cameron Mitchell and his wing as they entered the battlefield, reloaded and ready for battle.

“That is quite a coincidence,” Lindy commented as she brought a hand to her chin.

General Inspector Sakomizu back at base nodded, “Alright, Lt. Mitchell. Permission to use METEOR rounds is granted.”

Koji smiled broadly as he announced: “Operation: Blast them Into Space is GO!”

Carter lowered her head at just how bad that name was. An expression shared by many of those back at base.

“Mebius!” Ryu called out, “Get clear!”

The Ultraman nodded and dodged to the side as Getter Robo manhandled Hunter Knight Tusrugi to get him away from the target area with the aid of the Mazingers.

“She’s going to escape!” Tsurugi yelled as he struggled against the machines.

Aware of the incoming threat, Bogal opened her hands wide and a dark portal to the Phantom Zone.

A beam of glistening, mirroring silver light lanced out as Bogal leapt to enter it and sealed the gateway and instead fell on her face.

Cameron took the opportunity to target the broad target that Bogal made and thought ‘Eh, when in Rome’ before he said “Capture Cube—FIRE!”

The strange missile detached itself from the F-302 and rocketed towards the Kaiju as it stood—exploding and surrounding the Kaiju in blue fields of light.

In space, the Asura and the Prometheus watched the scene below intently.

Inside the Asura, Officer Amy Limietta worked furiously to reroute the power from the Asura to the Prometheus—but it wasn’t going fast enough for her liking.

“Power linkup at 96%,” she announced as Bogal slammed her claws against the shield—and it began to waver with each blow.

“Hurry!” Admiral Lindy ordered, “That shield has 15 seconds--tops!”

With one final keystroke, Officer Limietta shouted: “DONE!”

Onboard the Prometheus, General Hammond heard his ally and gave the order: “Beam that up and prep all remaining weapons!”

On the ground, a bright flash of light enveloped the shield and the monster—and both disappeared in a blur. In the sky above, a few moments later and even through the light of the sun, the explosive force of Bogal’s death was clearly visible.

“Mission accomplished,” General Hammond announced, “Bogal has been destroyed.”

“From the looks of things,” Carter added, “I may have underestimated that blast force.”

Hunter Knight Tsurugi instinctively ducked as the Gun-Winger nearly clipped the top of his head at top speed. All eyes were drawn to the craft and several radio calls went out, but Kabuto Koji’s “What the hell are you doing!” drowned most of them out.

Inside the craft Ryu switched the com system to Speaker mode before he spoke, his face nearly crimson with rage and the beginnings of tears in his eyes. He was so enraged, he reverted to his native Japanese—slurred partly through his rage, as he yelled.

“You Goddamn Idiot! What do you think you’re doing! You took my Captain’s shape—but you didn’t take his heart! You’re nothing but a shell—a hollow thing that imitated my Captain! He gave his life to protect the earth—and you nearly destroyed it in the name of revenge, using his face! Damn you to hell!”

Tsurugi said nothing, but his head dropped at Ryu’s words.

Tsurugi flung himself into the sky and disappeared soon afterwards. Ultraman Mebius followed, but without the sullen body language. Officer Linetta sat back in her chair and did not even bother to track them—TSAB had tried to do so hundreds of times with the Ultramen. Whatever they were and wherever they were from, they hid it far too well.


 

“Remind me,” Jack grumbled, “why I pilot that thing again?”

He wasn’t physically injured by it very badly, but the entire experience with—whatever it was that hit him—had left him sore, bruised and with a massive headache. He felt like sleeping for a week, but did not want to close his eyes.

Then he would see it again.

Like the other Mechs, the RahXephon returned safely back to base and he extracted himself from it, but during that time the Ixtili, the newly christened Reika Mishima, did not appear.

Jack was not given much time to worry about that as a pronounced cry of disbelief caught his attention.

Kabuto Koji and the other mech pilots stood in front of the newly docked Grendizer as its pilot stepped out.

“Wha-what the hell happened to you?” Koji shouted as Daisuke stepped out—virtually unchanged from the last time Koji saw him on Earth over 30 years ago.

“You look as young as ever, Daisuke,” Tetsuya commented, “What happened?”

“Hyperspace accident, to be perfectly honest,” Daisuke responded, “Time Dilation has that effect on people.”

“I bet you’ll still get carded when we go for drinks,” Koji smirked as his confidence returned. “We haven’t all gone drinking together in a while.”

Jack’s attention soon drifted away. He had to talk with Daniel or Carter or someone who’d know how to deal with what he saw inside the RahXephon.



After the blast disabled the RahXephon's movement, during the brief time Jack found himself in Darkness, he saw something. He wants to chalk it up to an hallucination, but something he could not quite pinpoint told him it was not.

He could see, but the place he found himself in was surrounded in darkness and seemed without end. Water lapped at his ankles, but otherwise, there was nothing.

“Um… Hello?” He called out, only for silence to greet him.

He began to walk through the shallow water—which, he noticed, was as clear as glass—looking for something. Anything, even a source to the constant illumination that saturated wherever he moved.

As he sloshed through the water he heard something hit the water’s surface hard. He reflexively turned to the source of the sound and saw two girls—one of which he recognized as the Ixtili who recently dubbed herself Reika Mishima. The other, who appeared to be the same as the Ixtili’s human form appeared to be, as a little shorter with cropped hair. The other girl’s skin tone was darker compared to Reika’s pale skin, but both were apparently Asian. The other girl’s hair had a more auburn tint to it and wore a short skirt topped off with a gray, long-sleeved hoodie which stood in drab contrast to Reika’s sundress.

Somehow, he knew the name of the new girl was Hiroko at one point in time, and found himself unable to approach them, no matter how hard he willed himself to move.

He watched Reika’s eyes shifted to a bright crimson color and charge Hiroko, lashing out with an elbow strike, only to have it effortlessly blocked by Hiroko who countered with a fist to Reika’s stomach that knocked the girl onto her back. Her eyes changing from an average brown to an unearthly blue, her face something of a twisted mockery of joy. Reika's, by contrast, was cold and without emotion of any kind.

With a flick of her wrist, Hiroko produced a knife and straddled Reika, moving in for the kill—only to be flipped and thrown over Reika before she could lash out.

The knife disappeared into the water with the slightest of sounds.

Both girls came to their feet quickly, but Reika was first on the offensive. She rammed Hiroko with her should with such force that she skid across the water, kicking up a wave that reached nearly four feet into the air. Hiroko herself came to a stop twenty five feet from where she started.

Jack watched the display, unable to move, the inhumanity of the combatants clear as day. Even if he could intervene, he would be torn apart like wet tissue paper.

Before she could right herself again, Reika had closed the distance between them and lashed out with her fist.

Hiroko only had time to raise a hand in defense, only to have it and most of her forearm shattered into fragments no bigger than a quarter.

Blue blood exploded from the wound and the impact, splashing across the two combatants.

Hiroko attempted to scream, but had it cut off as Reika plunged her right hand directly into Hiroko’s heart. Her body did not spasm. It simply dropped to the ground like a marionette that had its strings cut.

Jack finally found himself able to turn away from the cruel site, only to see it mirrored to his right.

But there, it was a boy he’d never seen before standing over Hiroko, and the blood the two were covered in was red.

Furthermore, their faces spoke of sadness and horror rather than the disturbing visages of the blue-tainted counterparts. The girls eyes had lines of tears mingled in with her own blood as the boy pulled himself away and screamed in a manner that cut to Jack’s soul. He cowered away from the sight.

That is when his gaze returned to Reika, whose face had changed from the cold neutrality of a killer to something far emptier. Her eyes seem clouded, skin paled and she held herself up only by the barest minimum of strength, as though it were all she could muster.

“Do you know why the sky is blue?” He heard from the blue-Hiroko’s lifeless form as both deceased girls’ blood clouded around them in the water, “Because it belongs to those with blue blood.”

The next thing Jack heard was Reika’s scream before he awoke.

Chapter Text

Interlude 03
Sheltered

I HATE THIS!” A young Japanese girl exclaimed from the corner of a massive bomb shelter deep under Osaka. She and her entire school were in there, mostly waiting for everyone to file in. Today was the day of the Kaiju Evacuation Drill. Since their recent resurgence, the school board had decided to brush off this old drill to protect the students in case of an attack.  A drill that hadn’t been put into practice since 1989.

“Settle down, Haruhi,” one of the girl’s classmate, a profoundly average Japanese boy of the same age, said calmly as the girl, Haruhi, slumped against the shelter’s grey slab of a wall, “It’s only a drill.”

“But why?” She whined, “Kaiju never come to Osaka! It’s always Tokyo! Tokyo, Tokyo, Tokyo! It makes me sick,” Haruhi slumped, “There’s only been one Kaiju attack on Osaka, and that was over 35 years ago!”

“Wait, do you want a kaiju to show up here and smash everything up?” The boy scowled.

“Of course not,” She snapped, “I’m not an idiot. I know what kind of damage they can do.”

‘Well that’s a relief,’ the boy thought.

“It’s just that the only way to see a Kaiju in the flesh is if it attacks your city,” She continued, “people try to sneak in after the defensive lines go up, but that’s just suicidally stupid with the defenses the JSDF throws up. The only way to ever see one is to either join the military or have it attack your city and be lucky enough to catch a glimpse without being trampled.”

“And you don’t want to join the military?”

“I just don’t see myself being able to shoot them,” the boy arced his eyebrow as Haruhi continued, “Sure, some Kaiju are really dangerous or even downright evil, but a lot of them are just wild animals.”

“Yeah, animals that cause humans a great deal of problems. We shoot problem animals like Tigers and Bears when they attack people, so why not Kaiju?”

“Because they’re usually the only ones of their kind, that’s why!”

The boy thought that wasn’t a very good reason, but decided not to press it and instead offered a different perspective: “What about the giant insects?”

“I’m not talking about giant insects,” Haruhi huffed.

“They’re Kaiju too.”

“Not in my book they aren’t,” she pronounced, “First of all, a basic kaiju has to be at least 25 meters in length. Otherwise, it’s just a monster.  Most bugs never get that big.”

“Well I’m glad you’re being scientific about it,” the boy snorted.

“But a true Kaiju has to be between 50 and 100 meters tall and have hide able to withstand conventional weaponry. And it can't just be reactionary.  Animals can be really smart, so a super-sized one has to measure up. It also has to have no real antipathy towards mankind.”

“No real antipathy?”

Real kaiju aren’t evil.  They’re just too big to interact with humans very well.”

“Well, we’d better go tell King Ghidorah that’s he’s not a kaiju anymore.”

“Oh, shut-up Kyon,” Haruhi pouted, “Reality doesn’t always work out the way you want it to.”

Internally, Kyon breathed a massive sigh of relief. Given what he’s been through at Haruhi’s side, he had long suspected that sooner or later a Kaiju would hit Osaka or perhaps some masked Vigilante would attempt to tackle Osaka’s minimalistic crime rate or some other bizarre phenomenon would rear its head overtly. But with Haruhi’s declaration, he thought for a moment, just a brief moment, that he wouldn’t have to worry about his home being crushed by a giant monster or having the school blown up by a vigilante bent on cleaning delinquents from the streets.

And in that instant, Kyon knew he was screwed. He had just dismissed something as unlikely in the presence of Haruhi Suzumiya—a girl who aliens, time travelers and psychics (or "espers" as she called them) believed to be the key to evolution, a temporal anomaly and God, respectively.

He just guaranteed that not only would a Kaiju appear in Osaka in the near future, but he and Haruhi would be far to near it for Kyon's comfort.

'DAMNIT!'

Chapter Text

The Mahora Academy in the Kanto region of Japan was huge. Not just by Japanese standards, where land is at a premium, but by world standards. Even if Mahora was stationed in Texas, it would be considered huge (though only appropriately so). Everything at Mahora was huge. With a population of students alone being thirty thousand, it was almost completely self sufficient with several student-run businesses at the forefront. It had its own shopping center, restaurants and even nature preserve. It covered all levels of education from preschool through the graduate level, with over half aforementioned student body living entirely on campus.

Not to mention the thousand-foot-tall world tree that grew at its center.

If one could sum up Mahora Academy in a single word, it would be along the lines of “gargantuan”.

One of the aforementioned student businesses was the small, but popular, Chao-Bai-Tze Chinese restaurant (though in fairness, it was actually a serving cart with seats around it). With most of the students and faculty away on break, it was largely empty, with only a few people at the tables. But even during school breaks, Chao-Bai-Tze attracted customers.

Evangeline A. K. McDowell sat at one of the tables. Unlike the other students, she was trapped in this school, cursed to repeat junior high endlessly.

A true hell.

The 600 year old vampire was forced into her natural form, that of a 10 year old girl, as part of this purgatorial prison. As such, visitors were something to be cherished, especially in ones that suffered a similar fate. Mahora's size did little to alter the fact that she was trapped. Its size did little to change its nature.  A gilded cage remained a cage. 

At her side stood her robot servant, Chachamaru, and behind the counter of Chao-Bai-Tze was it's co-owner, Satsuki Yotsuba. One of the profoundly normal students of the 3A class. Given that said class contained a ghost, a half-demon, herself, and her robotic servant amongst other oddities which were all capped off by being taught by a 10 year old welsh kid, being 'normal' in that crowd was an oddity in and of itself.  Satsuki was short, rather round, but with a quit, disarming manner and simple smile that eased those she met. Her dreams were modest, but she strived for them with an honest effort Evangeline found endearingly human.

“Satsuki,” Evangeline said, “Are my special orders ready?”

Satsuki simply nodded as she quietly asked, “Has your friend arrived?”

“Oh, he’ll be here if he knows what’s good for him.”

As if riding in on the growing evening mists, a tall figure whose presence was even mightier. He wore a red coat and similarly tinged wide brim hat, with orange-tinted sunglasses, though Mahora was drenched in darkness. He strode to Evangeline’s table with a self assured stride that had no swagger, only confidence.

“If I know what’s good for me?” He rumbled, “Are you really in a position to be making threats?”

“Well,” Evangeline smiled, “It is a full moon night, but it’s only a threat if you see a low-magic ten year old girl as a threat. Are ten year old girls a threat to you, Alucard?”

Alucard chuckled as he sat across from her, “15 years of imprisonment has sharpened your tongue, Evangeline.”

“Aside from the tea and the occasional game of Go, there’s been little else to do until recently.”

“Oh,” Alucard smirked, “Has the situation changed?”

“It’s not much,” She returned the smirk, “I only turned the Thousand Master’s son into one of my minions.”

Evangeline took the opportunity to stand upon her seat, her hands clenched into a fist as her smile grew wider.

“I shall turn him into the ultimate sub-boss! So that when I escape this purgatory, I can re-establish my domain and—”

“Get the attention of the man who locked you in here?” Alucard interrupted, “You’re still obsessed over him aren’t you?”

Eva sat down, slightly deflated, “You’re one to talk.”

Alucard lightly sniggered, “Quite true. We undead do not move on very easily.”

After a moment, Alucard added, “I can wait as an eternity for her now.”

“Yeah, well, I’m working on a mortal time limit, so I got to be a little more proactive.”

Alucard folded his arms, “So why are we having our tea out here? Is there a special occasion?”

“Just something I came across recently,” Evangeline’s smirk returned as Satsuki placed a wooden tray with a pair of meat buns roughly the size of baseballs were in front of Alucard and Evangeline.

Alucard contemptuously glared the chubby girl who had brought the food.

She simply smiled and said, “Enjoy,” before returning to the kitchen.

Upon which Alucard said “What is this?”

“Nikuman,” Evangeline answered, “Steamed meat wrapped in dough.”

“You do know that the food of mortals is unable to nourishes me, and outside of alcohol, tastes horrendous. You cannot be doing something as paltry as serving me a spiked meat bun now would you?”

“Just shut up and eat it.”

“Very well,” Alucard said as his large hand wrapped around the bun. Alucard’s mind ran through a dozen possible insults and snide comments to make after his undead taste buds registered what he was about to eat. As the undead, few pleasures of the living satisfied him—and hadn’t for hundreds of years. Even before his transformation into one of un-life, Alucard’s mortal life was marked with the extravagance of a king. The few exceptions to the insatiable nature of the undead were already well known to Alucard already—and the thought that some child could create a substantial food product to overcome him was so far beyond the realm of possibility as to not even warrant mockery.

But Alucard planned to anyway.

His teeth grew jagged and his mouth wider as he placed the entire bun in his mouth. He expected to swallow the thing in one massive gulp—but as soon as the bun hit his tongue he stopped.

His eyes opened wide, and the orange sunglasses upon his face slipped down the bridge of his nose.

He took a modest bite from the meet bun, savored the flesh in his mouth as a mixture of juice, blood and spice dripped from the bun onto the tray—his large tongue quickly lapped up whatever juice dripped from his mouth in one swift motion.

Alucard stammered, “It…it has flavor!"

The strongest sweets, the most radioactive spices and the eldest of aged alcohols were the only foods Alucard thought he could taste anymore. Flavors that were so strong that their presence managed to reach the numbed-to-all-but-blood tastes of a vampire—even one as altered as him. This simple bun of pork and dough brought out subtleties in flavor. Something he had long given up on tasting ever again.

Alucard almost wept, but composed himself quickly before slowly devouring the first bun. He savored every drop of flavor as it passed over him in waves.

Upon devouring the first he looked Evangeline square in the eye and asked, “How is this possible!”

“I admit I helped in the research a bit,” Evangeline answered, having consumed two of the meat buns already, “but that kid has real talent.”

Evangeline turned an eye towards Satsuki as she worked in the kitchen—largely to not look on as Alucard devoured the remaining every ounce of meat bun before greedily and respectfully.

“She’s the one of the few humans worth keeping around here,” Evangeline said.

Upon finishing, Alucard stood up with the violence of a hundred years of bloody conflict. In an instant, he was at the Restaurants’ front, his open palms crashed loudly on the wooden bar before him as he loomed over the chef.

“Girl,” Alucard boomed, “I must have—“

Before he could even finish, Satsuki turned around with a brown paper bag, a quiet smile highlighting her face.

“The recipe is inside with some ingredients, please enjoy.” Satsuki attempted in English, but Alucard only barely understood her.

“Don’t worry,” Evangeline called out, “I made sure that the recipe is in perfect English.”

Evangeline paused before adding, “I do believe you owe me one, Alucard.”

He slowly turned as she indulged in her most clichéd aloof villainess laugh. Alucard gave her a glare as he took the package from Satsuki—just before the world turned gray.

Alucard put the package into a coat pocket as he turned to Evangeline, a glance asking his question for him.

“Closed Space?” Evangeline pondered, “No—we’ve been dimensionally shifted. I haven’t seen magic like this before.”

Evangeline scanned the surroundings and notices that she, Alucard and Chachamaru were the only ones within eyesight.

“Seems someone is searching for Magic of some sort,” She concluded, "Quite an efficient spell, I must say, but too overly cautious for my tastes."

“I wonder what they’ll do when they find us,” Alucard grinned.


Mission 08
Magical Malady at Mahora

 

Konoka Konoe’s first thought upon dodging the first attack of the red ball gown-clad red-headed Gothic Lolita (who honestly looked no older than her 10 year old teacher Negi) was simply ‘not again.’

“You must not know about your power, Princess,” The girl smirked, “otherwise, you wouldn’t have dodged like that.”

Konoka's hand moved towards her hair slightly, but quickly before stopping herself at being called ‘Princess’. Sure, she liked that simplistic style of hair—and in an older time period, the title might have fit. But it still just made her feel awkward.

“So give it up, will ya?” The girl brought out an ancient tomb from under her arm.

“Can I ask what it will be used for? Or if I could just donate the power instead?” Konoka stood up and brushed the dust off her dress. With a smile she added, “If it’s for a good cause, I’d love to help.”

The lolita’s eye twitched, “The hell are you—”

“I’ve been through this once before,” Konoka continued, “But you don’t seem like the kind of person who would do bad things without a good reason. So, can I ask why you want my power?”

“I don’t have time to explain—”’

“Pretty please?” Konoka’s smile positively sparkled.

Shut up!” The girl yelled as she raised her hammer to strike Konoka, who closed her eyes as the hammer fell.

But she felt nothing but a rush of air and hear the clash of metal on metal.

When Konoka opened her eyes with a smile, as there was only one person who would have defended her like that. One of the most precious people in her life: Setsuna Sakurazaki.

“Setsuna!” Konoka cried out with a little jump of joy as she watched the swordswoman in training extend her blade and push back the floating attacker.

“Are you alright, my lady?” Setsuna said, “I apologies for not getting here—”

“It’s okay, it’s okay,” Konoka interrupted, “We’ll get everyone together and get out of this trap.”

The attacker scowled at Konoka, thinking only of how she underestimated her. The newcomer however, had the look of a fighter. Athletic build, short hair already tied off to prevent entanglements, but quite pale skin.

“I am Shinmeyryu Swordswoman Setsuna Sakurazaki.” Setsuna pointed her blade at her foe.

The attacker smiled before saying, “I am the Knight of the Iron Hammer: Vita. Along with the Iron Count: Graf Eisen.”

“My weapon has a name as well,” Setsuna added, “Yunagi.”

With a shrill scream, Vita flew towards and pressed the offensive, only to have her hammer deftly parried by Setsuna.

Vita leapt back and raised her hammer, which then spoke: “Schwalbe Fliegen”

With that four steel spheres appeared in a flash of red light, and with a swift swipe, launched them at Setsuna. Without hesitation, she parried each of the incoming spheres, but not the follow up hammer strike to the small of her back. Setsuna was hurled through the air, but managed to right herself and land on her feet, with blood on the tip of her blade, which she swung off the blade’s edge. A crackle of electricity traced down to the tip of the blade as she did.

Vita briefly wondered when she made the connection but was more concerned with how she bypassed her defensive armor. It was a minor cut—barely an inch across near her shoulder, but it still got through. Vita attempted to read the look on Setsuna’s face, but she maintained a calm façade at the front, but her stance belied the pain she felt.

Vita grinned, “You’re not going to last much longer.”

“You think so?”

“I’m barely trying,” Vita said confidently, “and I already injured you.”

“That may be my own fault for not giving my all at the beginning,” Setsuna said as she flipped a card between her fingers.

With a cry of “Adeat!” a series of lightning-laced small blades manifested, floating around her hand.

Vita just smiled, “This planet really is full of surprises. The amount of untapped magical power and the class of its mages is far greater than an un-administered planet should have.”

“EXPLOSION!” Graf Eisen announced as section metal underneath the Hammer’s head shifted and let off steam like an automatic pistol—even ejecting a cartridge.

The hammer shifted and changed, growing a pointed spike on one end, and what appeared to be a rocket jet on the other. This appearance was seconds later confirmed as it spat red flames and Vita spun with the momentum before entering a roaring charge.

Setsuna’s eyes widened before her training kicked in. Instinctively, she set up the strongest barrier she knew: The Barrier of the Four Gods.

She threw four spikes to the ground at the four cardinal directions and a hand sign later, was covered in a pyramid of protection.

Graff Eisen’s spike slammed into the barrier, sparks flew wildly where the tip touched it.

Vita smiled, “Good barrier, but—”

Graff Eisen fired off a two more cartridges.

“There is no barrier that Graff Eisen cannot DESTROY!”

True to her howled declaration, the barrier shattered like a pane of glass, the tip of the hammer just missing Setsuna as she dodged.

She did not, however, dodge Vita’s foot.

Setsuna was hurled through the air, bounced off the brick laden ground once, before skidding to a stop.

“Setsuna!” Konoka cried out as she ran to her friend’s side.

“Give it up,” Vita said as she rested Graff Eisen on her shoulder, “She’s out—”

Vita did not get to answer as a second “Adeat” struck her ears and a white light engulfed the two.

Then the light faded, Konoka’s attire had shifted to something from a Japanese Role Playing Game: a White robe with red trimming. In each hand a glowing fan rested.

Also, Setsuna was back on her feet and without a single sign of injury.

Vita growled, cursing herself for underestimating her opponent. She only had one more full load of cartridges left in her bag and 2 more in Graff Eisen.

“Still won’t matter,” Vita smirked, “I’ll take you both down and steal your energy just the same. Doesn’t matter what abilities you have, you two couldn’t beat me.”

“Don’t be so certain,” Setsuna said, placing both hands around her blade, the floating daggers taking up positions around it.

“But,” Konoka said, “Just in case…”

And then she showed the open Cell Phone in her hand, snapping it shut.

Vita had not been on earth for long, but she knew what it was and what it meant.

“S-Stupid! There’s no way you could contact the outside!”

“Oh, who said anything about contacting the outside?”

Vita reacted instinctively and moved back before realizing why—as a dozen magical projectiles, several bullets and throwing knives hit where she stood just instances before. Around Konoka stood several others, all arriving in the space it took Vita to leap back. She took to the sky a bit to gain some distance between herself and the targets.

Including the healer and Setsuna, there were now 9 opponents of varying levels of combat readiness, from extreme to none-at-all. That last one puzzled her quite a bit, a short girl (still taller than Vita), with long bangs that nearly covered her eyes with a book. Vita reasoned it to be magical in some way, like a lesser Book of Darkness.

She was at the back. In front of her stood two dark-skinned amazons: one with long hair and a pair of large pistols, the other with shorter hair and a man-sized shuriken in her hands.

Near them was a red-haired schoolgirl with a large metallic fan she wielded with two hands. Next to her was a Chinese girl of the same general age as the others.

Between these two girls were the only boys, who were the same size as Vita. One wore a black school uniform, his hands ending in claws. The other was a redhead who held a crocked staff and was capped with rather messy red hair.

The red-haired boy stepped forward, “As the teacher of the students you have attacked and a Magister Magi, I insist you drop your weapon and surrender.”

“T-Their…” Vita stammered, “teacher? You’re kidding right.”

The boy did not answer, so Vita let loose a laugh.

“This really is a strange place,” Vita smiled, “But you’re not the only one with allies.”

Soaring in from behind her, three others joined Vita in the air. In the lead was an athletic woman in an open-legged, pink outfit with a large sword and long ponytail. Next to her was a large, blue, wolf-like beast. Behind the two was a woman in a green dress that seemed more fitting for the 18th century than modern day.

“Having trouble?” The woman in pink asked, "Most of the security mages here are only just worth the effort of one-on-one combat."

“It's not power, it's numbers, Signum,” Vita answered, “It’s not like that glasses guy we nabbed earlier.”

The red headed “Teacher” blinked before interrupting, “Glasses—do you mean Mr. Takamichi?”

“I guess so,” Vita taunted, “What of it?”

The next thing Vita knew, she was righting herself in the air after being smacked in the head with that large metal fan the one girl wielded, her eyes burning with rage.

"Asuna, wait!" The boy, Negi, called out, but to no avail.

“How dare you hurt my Takamichi!” She yelled, before her fan turned into a tremendously large sword in an instant.

“M-My barrier,” Vita stammered as Signum caught Asuna's blade and parried strongly, sending the girl back to the group.

“It was smashed," Vita lightly touched the bruising part of her head, "so cleanly," Vita's face quickly soured and her voice rose, "ARE YOU TRYING TO SHOW ME UP?!”

Before their hatred could boil over, a pillar of light interceded the two parties. The flying attackers moved back, and raise their weapons.

“Negi, who are those people?” Nodoka, the girl with the book, asked the red-headed boy, “They look like mages.”

“They aren’t like any mages I’ve ever seen,” Negi answered.

The light faded revealing three children about the same age as Negi, causing Asuna to nearly do a double take.

“They’re brats?” Asuna gasped .

Nanoha and Fate Testarosa stood on either side of Chrono Harlaown, a boy their age whose barrier jacket armor was more robe-like and spiked. His magic staff was capped with a wing-motif and blue tube. He clenched his staff tightly before lowering it for his declaration.

"In the name of the Time-Space Administration Bureau," Chrono announced, "I ask that you drop your weapons and surrender peacefully."

“And I thought there was nothing new under the sun,” The tall, long haired girl, Mana, smiled slightly.

"Time-Space Administration Bureau?" Negi repeated, "It they operate in Time-Space--could they be from another planet?"

“Eh!?” Asuna arched an eyebrow, “They’re mages from outer space?! That’s just stupid! Besides, they look human! What kind of aliens look human?”

Suddenly, a new figure appeared, seemingly from nowhere. One that Nanoha recognized immediately.

“Wodan?!” She gasped.

“Wolkenwritter! Humans!” Wodan announced, “Ragnarok has ordered your destruction!”

As he spoke, he was surrounded by a hoard of Gadget Drones which encircled him and further divided the two groups.

"So come at me with all your strength!"

 

Chaos erupted across the battlefield as the Gadgets let loose volleys of blue beams from their central masses. The drones themselves proved to be little more than cannon fodder against the Mahora student body’s skills and weaponry.

Wodan was another matter entirely.

One of the tall students, Kaede, raised an eyebrow slightly as she watched her kunai and shuriken bounce off of Wodan’s armor. So she changed plans, as he engaged Signum, Vita, Fate and Setsuna in melee combat, she aimed for the gaps in his armor and defense.

There were few, but her eyes caught them and she flung her blades towards them, one striking underneath his armpit. It appeared to stick, but Kaede realized that it had only penetrated the fabric and not his skin before the blade fell loose from its position. The same fate befell the multitude of blades Chrono sent towards Wodan—deflected or even breaking against his armor. A few stuck in soft spots, but none deep enough to be considered damaging.

With one mighty swing of his colossal blade, Wodan then threw back his four close-range attackers several yards back. Though they landed soundly, Wodan still sneered. But others were waiting for just that opportunity. From all around him, cries of various attacks went out—be it from the force of the attacks themselves or the throats of his attackers. Wodan had underestimated them, and now he was surrounded, and out in the open.

Mana, seemingly from nowhere, pulled out a six-chambered grenade launcher and let loose several shells towards Wodan, only to see him use his blade to block each one. He did not even flinch as the shells detonated.

“As expected from a top Millennium Agent,” Mana said, as she readied a second volley. Over the din of battle, however, none of her allies hear her utterance.

“Your attacks are meaningless against Wodan Ymir!” he shouted before he charged towards the group—but in the next instant, he was completely enveloped in pink light to the cry of “Divine Buster!” from Nanoha.

When the light dispersed, he stood firm, his sword raised to block the bolt, smoke rising from his entire body.

“That," he snorted, "actually hurt,”  He shifted his stance and changed his focus to Nanoha, who was floating mid-air near him. Throwing his sword directly at her.

“Flash Move!” Raising Heart announced as Nanoha sped out of the way.

Wodan grinned.

The next thing Nanoha knew, there was an explosion and she was staring at Wodan’s face, with a great pain in her chest, with the pink lights of her shielding scattering and falling around Wodan’s large fist.

Wodan scoffed as he landed, “Set up so easily.”

Fate screamed as Nanoha began to fall, her barrier jacket’s primary defensive layer disintegrated.

Nanoha fell into unexpected arms, those of the field commander of the Wolkenwritter: Signum. Fate having just missed the interception. A tense stare shot between them.

“My master,” Signum began, “would want no one to die under our watch.”

Fate blinked.

“We have two dedicated healers here,” Signum continued, “Keep Wodan from harming anyone else. I’ll back you up shortly.”

Fate had little choice but to trust her. She turned, to face Wodan as he knocked aside Kaede, or what she thought was Kaede, as the one Wodan hit exploded in a puff of smoke.

Kaede appeared again, her fist holding a sphere of glowing energy, which she slammed against Wodan’s back.

Lighting coursed through his body and he shook uncontrollably. But when the seizure stopped, Wodan swung around with his fist towards Kaede.

She dodged, but only just. Wodan’s fist tore so close to Kaede that her clothes and even her skin were torn as his fist brushed against her stomach.

Releasing powder from her palm, He put as much distance between herself and Wodan as she could.

Wodan moved to press his attack through the smoke—only to be struck from behind.

Fate’s scythe slashed against Wodan’s back, and as he spun, she darted out of the way to slash from another side. Wodan growled expecting a third strike from her scythe, only to be struck by a powerful fist so hard that he stumbled—and the armor around the area she struck cracked and split apart from the force.

“Eeeeiiii---yow!” a female voice said as Wodan turned to face his attacker, the Chinese girl.

“You damaged my armor!” Wodan yelled.

“I think I broke my hand!” The girl answered in Chinese.

Wodan moved to kick her, but she back flipped out of the way as his foot rose—but the force of it created a mild shockwave that caused her to stumble.

"Schlangenform!" Signum's sword announced as it seperated into a long, chain whip that was quickly surrounded by flames.

"Hyriu Issen!" Signum shouted as she wrapped Wodan in her whip-like blade and pulled it off him, causing him to spin and raking the blades across his form. Wodan actually let out a pained roar as she did so, but did not fall.

“Who this guy?” Ku-Fei asked aloud in Japanese to the others as Signum attacked.

Wodan slammed his foot into the ground, creating a shockwave that knocked over the less athletic students, but caused the others to stumble, as well as knocking away Signum's segmented blade.

The eyes of the Chinese girl, Ku-Fei, widened as she realized what Wodan had done.

“You are not the only one well versed in Ki, mongrel.”

“Then," Negi grew pale as he realized the truth, “You haven’t been using Ki or Magic before in this entire battle!”

Wodan stood firm as he retrieved his sword.

“I will cut you all to ribbons!” Wodan shouted as he took a stance.

Negi drew several cards from his back pocket and brought them to his forehead. Several of the girls nodded and took action.

Asuna charged Wodan, slashing at him with her sword. He effortlessly and casually blocked it with his own sword.

He also casually back-fisted Negi as he rushed against his side, but Negi rolled with the blow and rolled on the ground towards Wodan—placing a single hand on him.

White ropes of light entrapped the giant, to his surprise.

“Un-incanted?” He muttered, but knew they couldn’t hold him for very long.

“Everyone!” Negi shouted, rolling back to his feet, “Short out his armor!”

The group nodded those that could prepared to attack, and Wodan realized that he couldn’t break out fast enough.

With two swift motions, Chrono summoned a multitude of blades. “Control, Please” his device asked before he let them fly with the pronouncement of “Stinger Ray!” into the joints and mesh portions of Wodan’s armor—they stuck loosely, but they stuck nonetheless.

“Ougi!” Setsuna held her sword aloft, lighting channeling, “Raimeken!”

With a slash of her blade in the air, she sent a bolt of lightning towards Wodan that struck the knives sticking in his flesh and traveled through his body, burning his body as it went and leaving him convulsing uncontrollably.

With a wave of her hand, Fate called up a circle or runes. Electrical energy gathered in the center of the circle as Bardiche called out, “Plasma Smasher.”

With a swift strike, Fate send the beam forward, striking Wodan full in chest, Wodan fought the urge to fall with all his might, but it mattered little as he was held up and in place by the bonds.

Kaede gathered power once again into a sphere in the palm of her hand. She made a hand-sign in front of her face and created 3 shadow-clones of herself. Each one carrying a sphere of electrical power.

She and her clones took positions around Wodan. They rushed him with their electrical spheres with such force that they appeared to pass through him as their movements shaped a cross.

Kaede and the clones leapt away as four odd grenades from Mana’s arsenal landed at Wodan’s feet. They let out bursts of electricity as they detonated, cascading more energy over Wodan.

The joint motors with Wodan’s armor began to short out and even burst. Wodan just gritted his teeth and stood straining against the bonds and the power that held him in place.

“Ras tel Ma scir Magister,” Negi incanted, “Come forth from the void, O Thunder, and cut down my enemy! Axe of Lightning!"

At his command, a massive ax-shape lightning bolt followed the downward motion of his hands and struck Wodan with surprising force.

Wodan’s armor finally gave out and nearly shattered from the waist up as the magical restraints followed suit. Wodan fell to his hands and knees. When the dust settled, Wodan stood with only a few burns, frizzled hair and smoke rising from his frame. Small, shallow cuts covered his body, but they were almost completely obscured by the dust and smoke the area exuded.

“NO WAY!” The small white Ermine hiding in the back with Nodoka said, “Is he even human?!”

“Not by miles” a voice boomed, gathering the group’s attention. Alucard and Evangeline stepped out of the darkness.

“You!” Wodan shouted.

“Oh, so you know of me,” Alucard smirked, “Should I be flattered?”

“All of Millennium knows of you, Alucard,” Wodan spat, “And I’ll gladly take your head to my master to show my strength.”

“Oh,” Evangeline scoffed, “Like that would kill him.”

Evangeline lightly flicked her hand to the crowds, “Stand back, Children. You’re about to get a lesson in team combat. So, Negi, take notes.”

“Yes Master!” Negi answered, to Evangeline’s amusement.

“You’ll die by my hand before—“

A shot rang out, cutting off Wodan’s speech, a sphere enveloped him and held him in place. Negi recognized it as the same shell that held the ancient demon from Kyoto in place before Evangeline destroyed its physical body. The source of the shot was Chachamaru, whom Negi spotted as she put the large anti-tank rifle down: her mission complete.

“Are you sure you’re up to this?” Alucard asked Evangeline quietly.

“It’s going to be a stretch, but I’ll manage,” she answered with a smirk, “Besides, there is no overkill.”

“Only ‘Open Fire’ and ‘I need to reload!’” Alucard roared as he raised his hands and focused on Wodan, boxing him in his line of sight with his fingers like a Hollywood cameraman preparing a shot, “Cromwell Restriction System override in 3…2…1… RELEASE!”

“Lic Lac La Lac Lilac!” Evangeline incanted.

“These hands of ours are dripping red!” Alucard roared

“With the blood of the guilty-” Evangeline raised a hand into the air and clenched it tightly.

“-And innocent alike!” Alucard added, following in suit, but with the opposite hand.

Standing next to each other, the hands furthest from Wodan clasped together as they shouted together, “Twin Fangs!” And gathered power in their clenched fists only to bring it to their interwoven hands.

“Your life,” Alucard smirked.

“…becomes ours,” Evangeline completed.

Bringing together the black energy they had gathered with a massive thrust of their clasped hands, they shouted: "Vampiric Embrace!

The power shot towards Wodan like a tsunami, the tip of which eventually split into a jagged-toothed maw of darkness with a horrific screech that shook those present to the core. They had heard that shriek before, be it on the news or in person from another monstrous nocturnal predator, the voracious kaiju known as the Gyaos.

The horrible maw bit down and enveloped Wodan before spiraling skyward like a massive waterspout of evil before flowing back into the vampires.

Evangeline breathed the power in deeply, nearly standing on her toes as she did so, while Alucard just let it wash over him.

“Delicious,” Evangeline purred as Wodan fell—but landed on his knees, alive and angry, “And look, it still thinks it can fight.  How cute.”

Evangeline turned to Negi, who reflexivly started clapping at the display, "Well? What did you think?"

"Amazing!" Negi answered.

Evangeline smirked as Wodan steadied himself, preparing for a counterattack--but a second figure dropped from the skies directly next to Wodan. His black armor was more plate-like than Wodan’s, with larger, thicker pieces covering almost every inch of his body. The corners of each segment were sharpened into points or hard angles on the limbs and boxed off at the shoulders. On his back were two wing-like structures held folded against his back. It reminded Mana of a Steel Clan robot, but it appeared to be a copy made from observations and recovered parts. The face was highlighted by a pair of straight demonic horns on either side of the head as well as a large central, green jewel over the “Third Eye”. The non-solid bits of armor were tipped with bits of gold and red in various locations, with a dark blue underlying the plate armor. The insignia ont he shoulder, however, clearly alerted herself, Alucard and Evangeline to its true source: Millennium

“Wodan,” The figure said, “It appears you were going soft on them.”

“I apologize, Prime,” Wodan answered. Nodoka made note of the name as she heard it—but was horrified by what she then saw.

“I understand, wanting to test the TSAB—and the son of the Thousand Master,” Prime smirked, “I have finished my appraisal. I do not think this site will be of use to us.”

“I hate to interrupt,” Alucard growled, aiming a massive pair of pistols at the pair, “But I should insist that you stay here and die.”

“Look, Wodan,” Prime gritted his teeth, “It’s trying to speak to me. I should teach them all a lesson.”

Wodan smiled, but in the next instance the cry of “Divine Buster!” shot out, and both were enveloped in pink, the ground around them burned away as the beam from Nanoha’s staff shot forth. She stood firm, fully recovered from Wodan's attack thanks to the Wolkenwritter and Konoka.

When the light faded, Wodan was slightly charred and on his knee, whilst Prime floated where he once stood—one hand extended flat against where the blast had come from, a round shield of magic radiating out from it.

“How dare you!” Prime scowled, “Do you have any idea who I am?!”

Prime drew a sword from his waist, held it in front of him, hilt up and tip pointed to the ground and began to glow with a sickening black and red aura.

“There is only one person on this planet worthy of truly fighting me,” Prime growled, “And when I meet her, I will beat her into submission and take her.”

As spoke, a green beam from the jewel on the center of his forehead, burning off Alucard’s arms. This merely annoyed the vampire, who quickly began growing new arms, but before he did, prime shouted: “Embrace the Inferno!” And a sickeningly black and blue light radiated from his sword and quickly enveloped all before them.

Inside the darkness, the Wolkenwritter huddled together to maximize their shielding, but they had aid to their surprise. A tall, blue haired man in a white suit and mask that only had red eyes as conforming features.

“This battle will not go well for you,” the man said, “Flee while you can.”

“Who are you?” Signum asked.

“And why the hell should we listen to you?!” Vita added.

“I’m a friend, and as to why you should listen,” The man held out a linker core ready to be harvested, glowing green as it floated in the palm of his hand “consider this a peace offering.”

Signum gritted her teeth as she debated her actions, but when the black dissipated: Wodan, the Wolkenwritter, the man in white and Prime were all gone.

Negi Springfield lay on the ground, pale. His students quickly gathered around him—wondering what had happened in a near panicked state.

 

Chapter Text

Jack knew there were problems, but the frustration on the faces of those currently atop the head of the RahXephon worried him. No one had seen the Ixtili in a week and attempts to access the mainframe or the cockpit proved futile. With the RahXephon inert and unresponsive, it took the Super Robots several hours to bring it back to the GUYS base. Its chaotic energy signature made it beyond even the combined might of the Asura and the Asgard Transporters to move. As such, many of the personnel connected to the RahXephon now found themselves staying with the GUYS.  Jack felt as though he was reliving life on the barracks with the small space accommodations. Daniel was having the roughest time adjusting to that, but he was also the only one who spoke the language fluently.

Well, not including those who came via TARDIS. When the Doctor explained that now he could understand any language spoken to him, he thought it was pretty nifty. It annoyed Daniel greatly. Distracting as they were, these problems paled in comparison to the plight of the RahXephon.  With such a massive problem concerning the most powerful known “Lost Logia” in this reality, UNIT Director Trevor called in an expert. Her name was Rachel Roth. Her list of aliases and code names were rather scary, including such things as “The Gate to Calamity” and “The Antichrist”.

Most people called her Raven.

She was apparently having about as much luck as the others. The Doctor and Yunno Scrya had their tools at work on the top of the RahXephon. All bathed in the light of glowing crystals that were embedded in its skull. It reminded Jack of Christmas lights, but it was nearing summer at this point.

Raven was rather tall, covered head to toe in a dark blue hooded cloak. Her facial features were long, and had a hawkish nose.

“Is…this a bad time?” Jack said, bringing all eyes to him.

“No,” Raven answered, “I can’t delve any deeper without focusing aids.”

“I did warn you about the depth of its psychic interface,” The Doctor said,

“To be perfectly honest,” Raven responded in monotone, “It was a bit of an overstatement.”

“Well, yeah” The Doctor admitted, “But that was to try and let you know the gravity of the situation.”

“It’s a God machine,” she stated with a small smiled, “I don’t think it’s possible to overestimate the power or danger this machine wields.”

“Yeah,” Jack interrupted, “I enjoy witty banter as much as the next guy, but I’ve got some questions I’d like answered.”

“Of course,” Raven turned to him, “What do you need?”

“Just an update, really,” Jack said.

“You want to know if she’s okay,” Raven answered.

Jack blinked.

“Sorry,” Raven said, “It’s coming off you in waves. I couldn’t help but read it.”

“It’s okay, little weird, but not up to my normal standard of weird,” Jack assured her with a nod and a smile. But she was right; he was worried about the girl. The glimpses he saw from the RahXephon and talking to the TSAB technicians helped them piece together what was going on to a basic degree. She was reliving a memory, effectively trapping her in a nightmare. Poetic language for a machine stuck in a play loop like a broken record, but the anguish Jack briefly shared with her made him prefer the poetic in this instance.

“I’ve done this sort of psychic surgery on humans before,” Raven said, “The God machine aspect does make it more daunting, so I need to familiarize myself with its layout before I start kicking things.”

“Kicking things?” Jack raised an eyebrow in a manner Teal’c would be proud of.

“Just a metaphor,” Raven said, “Though Eiko prefers to call it a 'Bright Slap.'”

“Please don’t abuse pop culture references when there are people here who have no idea what you’re talking about,” Yuuno sighed, his head held low.

“Or at least do so with more popular stuff,” Jack said, “Now if it was a Simpsons reference instead of whatever—”

“Anyway,” Raven continued, “She needs to be shocked out of it somehow. Not as simple as it sounds as the nature of her loop is rather hard to pin down.”

The Doctor leaned back on his heels and sighed, “That sort of thing happens when a machine is used to rewrite reality itself.”

Before Raven could continue, an alarm claxon sounded and red lights flashed everywhere.

“I bet that’s for me,” Jack said.

“All UNIT and GUYS personnel please report to Battle Ready positions” Konomi’s voice, strained slightly with panic, “This is a Priority 1 event. I repeat, all UNIT and GUYS personnel please report to Battle Ready positions.”

Raven closed her eyes, but quickly snapped them open, her face more pale than before.

“I guess that means we’re heading to the observation deck,” The Doctor began to walk away, but he, Jack and Yuuno found themselves enveloped in the darkness of Raven’s cloak as she said simply “No time.”

When light returned to Jack’s world, he and the others stumbled into the observation room of GUYS HQ. SG-1 and the members of GUYS were already assembled as they arrived, with the Super Robot pilots entering as Jack turned to shout at Raven “Warn a guy next time!”

Raven simply pointed at the monitor at the front of the room, where all eyes were transfixed. Jack noted that various expressions of fear and worry crossed everyone’s faces (except Teal’c, who just raised an eyebrow).

The screen held a live news feed from Krakatau, its namesake volcano erupting in a massive geyser of lava and debris.

“It shouldn’t be erupting like that,” Carter said quietly.

George shouted “This shouldn’t be happening at all!”

From amidst the fire, smoke and magma a black figure rose. A leviathan had dug itself from the center of hell to see the skies again. Its vaguely feline head was long and almost crocodilian in its maw, with two rows of terrible teeth. The creature stood upright like a man, with short, clawed hands pulling against the side of the Volcano. Down its back, maple-leaf like spines stood prominently in three rows, occasionally flashing with blue lightning. The monster then simply pushed one edge of the volcano top down and away so it could stride out of the lava which poured out of its mass as a conquering king. Unimpeded by anything nature wrought.

The headline quickly changed to reflect the horrific situation before them.  What once read "Anat Krekatau Erupts!" now had a far simpler title: “Godzilla Returns!”

The monster blinked at the skyline which it had not seen in years and roared in triumph.

Mission 09: Return of the Monsters


Jack launched from the deck of the Gotengo in an F-302 as part of Mitchell’s squad. There were only minor arguments, but they didn’t have many pilots on hand that could get there as fast.  Besides, it felt good to be behind in a fighter again. He still wished the RahXephon was active. Koji and the other Super Robot pilots had faced Godzilla only once before in the mid 1970s—and they had only succeeded due to the intervention of the RahXephon. But at the time, Godzilla was the least of their worries.

When they got back, Jack would have to read that report in more detail.

Jack also hoped that she, Ixtili, was not repeating that nightmare vision after getting a sense of self.

The Gun Loader, Gun Winger and newly completed Gun Booster also launched (a craft which appeared more like a quartet of guns with a wing and cockpit between them) lead the flight and headed into battle at the forefront.  Even with all this rallied against them, they needed more. Godzilla was more than twice the size of the average Kaiju, if the word "average" could even be applied to such horrors.  Jack thought that even this may not be enough.  They did have more, but it needed time to get there. They might be able to actually beat Godzilla.

“Keep Godzilla on land, if he gets in deep enough water, we’ve lost him,” Commander Sakomizu announced.

One of the most frustrating things about fighting Godzilla was his complete stealth to radar, sonar and other imaging devices. So if Godzilla submerged, he might as well have disappeared completely. Worse still, he could move at over 40 knots while submerged, and go deeper than any military vessel currently in production. This made conventional methods of hunting it down in water extremely difficult at best, and normally outright impossible.

So the strategy was to keep him on land as long as possible, and hope nothing else crawled out of the earth’s crust. That last order saw Teal’c raise his eyebrows. Apparently, there was a vast network of caves under many places in the world; caves that lead to minor inter-dimensional wormholes where all sorts of horrors lived. Teal'c commented that is the Goa'uld knew about all the horrors lying hidden on earth, they'd have never come to the planet in the first place. 

Godzilla was thought lost in one over a year ago in the cavernous neither region beneath the aptly named “Mountains of Madness” in Antarctica. Konomi and Teppei had warned that many other things may have followed him along his path. Monsters with such names as Baragon, Black Scorpion and Shoggoth.

Jack pretty much assumed that within 5 minutes of taking potshots at Godzilla, one or all were going to show up, Volcano or no.

And potshots were head. The railguns on the F-302 and the basic energy beams from the Gun-series jets did little more than grab his attention, while the mechs provided targets for his wrath.

Godzilla’s neck whirled around far faster than Jack expected to spit blue-green light at him. Jack dodged, but only just.

Jack cursed, “I thought his range was 200 meters?!”

“That’s his optimum range,” Tetsuya’s voice answered, “At almost triple that, he can still take shots.”

“And even then,” Benkei added, “The damn beam will go on for at least 5 kilometers before dissipating in an atmosphere.”

Jack’s mind flashed through the briefing he was given on Godzilla’s radioactive energy beam. The biological processes involved were still undergoing study, but Godzilla’s could project a beam from his mouth of intense radioactivity at adversaries. This beam varied in intensity based on how recently he had refueled and his ‘emotional state’ if such phrasing could apply to the monster. An F-302 could take the heat of the beam for about .25 seconds before compromising its hull. Godzilla’s might sweep a group of jets down with a single blast, but a concentrated beam could last anywhere from 1 to 8 seconds. Even with the armor and shielding the F-302 had, a pilot still risked heavy radiation poisoning and EMP frying the cockpit from the merest grazing. Even if the ship did not detonate in a cloud of shrapnel like conventional fighter craft, it would only be by the slimmest of margins that he’d survive a glancing hit.

Jack mused that this was just one of the several reasons why Godzilla was called the “King of the Monsters.”

He turned around for another pass when a new object appeared on his radar. It was too small to be their backup, and it was moving at mach 4.

“Heads up,” Jack announced, “We have incoming bogie.”

At 65 meters across, the spherical object was definitely a Kaiju, spinning rapidly and seemingly encased in flames. Before it could be identified, it slammed into Godzilla’s chest and knocked the monster off his feet.

Godzilla quickly recovered as the bogie landed. Four limbs a head and tail emerged from the spherical form, which Jack now saw to be a shell. The creature was massive turtle-like beast with a pair of large tusks on the bottom of its jaw.

“It’s Gamera!” Konomi called out over the radio.

Jack could feel Teppei’s grin through the radio as he let slip “Awesome, I think they’re gonna fight!”

Godzilla bellowed at the newcomer, his lips curled back in a bestial snarl. With his legs and tail out of his shell, Gamera stood a full 80 meters in height, but was only came up to Godzilla’s chest.

Gamera roared back at Godzilla, returning the snarl, dipping his body lower, getting ready for Godzilla’s next move.

Ryouma cursed, “This isn’t good.  If those two fight, we won’t be able to keep Godzilla on land!”

The monsters eyed each other for what seemed an age before Godzilla’s blue-green flame shot down a string of three plasma fireballs erupting out of Gamera’s mouth. Before the flash of the explosions faded, Gamera had already closed the distance between the two of them and rammed his shoulder into Godzilla’s stomach. The leviathan stepped back from the force of the impact, but grabbed onto Gamera’s shell and nearly flipped him over as he tossed him aside.

Gamera rolled with the throw and landed on his feet, growling before charging Godzilla with his mouth agape in a mighty roar. Gamera’s tusks dug deep into Godzilla’s belly, pulling a scream from the monster as blood oozed from the wounds.  Godzilla took his claws to Gamera’s face in an effort to pry the turtle off of him. His claws passed close enough to the eyes that not even Gamera’s armored skin could protect him from natural reflex. Gamera let go and was pushed back as the wounds began to heal. The bloodflow stopped almost immediately, and the King of the monsters only wore a bloodstain on his stomach as a marker of what Gamera had done to him.

But as a parting short, Gamera let out a plasma fireball that struck Godzilla full on in the chest.

The pilots realized they were just watching the battle unfold soon after that and moved to different positions.

“What are the standing orders on Gamera?” Jack finally asked.

“That’s what we’re trying to find out,” Konomi answered, “An attack order was last issued against Gamera in 1999, but rescinded a few months later to refocus on the Gyaos swarm.”

Jack considered his options before saying, “Hold fire until he gives you a reason.”

A collective “Roger” went out from the group.

Godzilla let loose another atomic blast into Gamera, striking him full on in the chest, knocking the turtle over onto his back. Godzilla grabbed the monster’s tail and began, spinning him once, threw him into Getter Robo.

The cry of “Open Get” went out as the three jets separated and were nearly crushed against Gamera’s back.

Gamera, however, did not crash, but withdrew his legs and let out jets of flame from them, taking to the air once again.

“Everyone, Prepare for an all out assault on Godzilla,” A new voice clamored over the radio, it was Samantha Carter.

From the deck of the Gotengo a giant took off into the air. On jets, it floated effortlessly in the air before it landed in front of Godzilla with remarkably smooth movements. The creature seemed a mechanical double of Godzilla, but a head taller and with a greatly shortened tail. The spines were shortened and simplified, and several ports existed on its torso. Its eyes were alight, gleaming yellow as it steadied itself.

A call rang out over the sound of the volcano and through the radios: “Like an angel, descend and defend the world—MECHAGODZILLA!”

Inside the cockpit, located deep within the massive machine’s chest, Samantha Carter turned and gave a quizzical look to her co-pilot, hooking her mind directly up to the control system for the impressive machine. Carter monitored the weapons and sensors.

She also gave her co-pilot an odd look at her pronouncement, believing she spent too much time “practicing” with the control system in Angelic Layer tournaments.

Kara simply shrugged and blew it off, having Mechagodzilla slam his knuckles together and release a shrieking howl from his mouth.

Godzilla tilted his head at the new arrival before answering the howl with a defiant roar.

“Alright folks,” Captain Gordon growled from the Gotengo’s bridge, “Blast the bastard!”

Ryu called out, “Gun Phoenix Striker, Bind Up!”

The Gun Winger, Gun Loader and Booster lined up and united smoothly, though without the efficient speed of Getter Robo. The speed and power increases were worth the system’s installment, despite the lower armor each individual unit had. Furthermore, it allowed for full fire-linking of its arms systems, and extra power to all the mounted beam weaponry.

The machines surrounded Godzilla, and opened fire with everything they had. The cries of “Getter Beam,” “Double Burning Fire” and “Space Thunder” echoed over the explosion of dozens of missiles from F-302s and Mechagodzilla’s shoulders. Beams shot forth from its eyes and mouth as the Gun Phoenix shone brightly—almost encased in golden, a gold which then lashed out and struck its target with a tremendous explosion. Even the Gotengo got in on the act, firing its cannons at Godzilla with fervor.

Godzilla was quickly concealed in smoke and flames, his screams of pain fell largely on deaf ears.

“I think we got him!” Konomi said.

“Alright!” Ryu added.

But Jack felt tense. He felt something watching the scene.

A blue-green shockwave radiated from the center of their firing range, rocking all around them. The jets did not fall, the pilots were too good, but it took every ounce of skill to keep them in the air. Several minor systems within Jack’s cockpit shorted out and shut down. Jack maintained flight, but it took more skill than he'd like. He could only imagine what the others were going through.

Godzilla stood amidst the smoke, minor wounds covering body and quickly sealing, his spines aglow with power. The blood from larger, more grievous wounds caked against his hide, but their source was already gone or much reduced.

With a snarl, Godzilla swept his beam across his foes. Mechagodzilla and Gamera took the short full on in the chest, causing them to stumble back. Getter Robo dodged effortlessly.

Godzilla turned his head again and let his flames loose, engulfing Mazinger Z almost completely in light as his tail lashed out to knock Mechagodzilla back further until a running shoulder tackle finally took the giant machine off its feet.

Tetsuya cried out Koji’s name as Mazinger fell on its back, unmoving.

Carter kicked in Mechagodzilla’s rear jets to float it away and right itself once more.

Godzilla charged again, but found himself upended by Grendizer’s anti-gravity beam. This did little to stop his momentum and Kara had to dodge again as Godzilla pitched forward and crashed to the ground—near the water.

Repeating “crap” as if it were a mantra, Kara rushed towards Godzilla—but was intercepted by a hidden pit trap, and fell forward on its face. It caused a chain reaction and the ground underneath Godzilla collapsed as well. A mixture of water and lava filled the pit, engulfing the pair in a massive column of steam.

Carter brought the jets online and quickly brought Mechagodzilla out of the hole. Godzilla’ shrieked and howled as he crawled out and scanned the surroundings. Something had done this to him and it would pay.

Testuya aided Koji’s Mazinger to its feet, but it was in bad shape.

“I’m fine,” Koji insisted, “My Grandfather’s Mazinger can’t be beaten that easily.”

Koji shrugged off Tetsuya’s assistance and chugged towards the battlefield as his adoptive brother scowled.

Jack felt physicially ill, but felt the source was outside, near the island's slowly burning ground. He turned to look at it and watched reality shatter before him.

A window of blackness opened and closed lightning fast, allowing three horrors to squeeze theri way through. They were savage looking grey creatures with wide backs and wide mouths. On both sides of their head were small horns pointed forward and similar ones, pointed up, and were on the edge of their exaggerated shoulders, followed by serrations that went down their sides. A forward arcing horn capped the top of their skulls. One hand on each was extremely deformed and had large, lumpy claws in place of fingers. They had large yellow eyes and fanged under-bites.

They reminded the GUYS crew of one monster in particular.

“Bogal?!” Ryu blurted out.

Teppei shook his head, “It looks similar, but has too many differences. Perhaps a subspecies or servitor created in its image.”

The trio eyed Godzilla, drool escaping from their lips.

“If they are anything like Bogal,” Konomi swallowed, “They’ll want to eat Godzilla—and then explode!”

Jack had a brief image what an atomic explosion of creatures that size, with the fissionable material inside Godzilla powering them, would do to the planet. They were not pretty.

Godzilla snarled as the scalding burns began to recover themselves.

The three creatures were shorter than Godzilla, but they quickly surrounded him.

“Okay,” Jack growled, “We can’t let those things eat Godzilla. So…I guess we help him.”

George cursed in Spanish rather colorfully.

In a gesture of politeness, Teppei added: “Makes sense.”

Gamera was the one to take the initiative and tackle one of the Bogal-like creatures before it could act, wrestling it to the ground and biting into it with his tusks. Grey liquid oozed out of the creature as it hollered. This distracted the other Bogal and let Godzilla charge them.

Grabbing the nearest one to him by the throat, Godzilla lifted it over his head and threw it to the volcano—only to see it extend the flaps along its side and sail back towards him and launch a bolt of purple-black flames from his eyes at Godzilla’s head, striking him dead on.

Godzilla shrieked and spat flames at where the lesser Bogal was, but it had moved. So his flames instead raced towards Jack and the Gun Phoenix Striker.

Twin flashes of light intercepted the beam, which impacted against them and failed to reach its targets.

When the light and beam faded, Ryu saw three figures before him. Two had interposed themselves between the beam and the Gun Phoenix Striker. One he immediately identified as Ultraman Mebius. The other, however, was new. It resembled Hunter Knight Tsurugi—but the heavy armor was gone, a color timer lay on his chest and most importantly his eyes were open.

“Captain Serizawa?” Ryu later cursed himself from uttering.

The third figure had caught Jack’s F-302 in its hands. The RahXephon. The wings on its head had not moved from its resting position.

“How the hell did that get here?!” Cameron scowled at the machine.

Jack was no longer inside the cockpit of the F-302. Instead, he found himself inside the cockpit of the RahXephon, though not in the pilot’s seat. He instead found himself on the water-filled floor. A quick appraisal of the situation led Jack to look down at his feet. The water lapped against his ankles, but he saw Reika floating below him.

On instinct, Jack went to his hands and knees. The floor remained solid, but he pounded on it anyway.

“Are you sure you want to wake her up?” A voice reverberated through the chamber, sending the hairs on the back of Jack’s neck up, “She looks so much more peaceful like this, don’t you agree?”

Jacks scowled, but didn’t bother looking for a source of the voice, “Okay, who the hell are you?”

Jack’s reflection in the shallow water shifted and morphed into a shape that could only be vaguely called humanoid. It had short antennae, glowing eyes and nearly cubist head. Its body was covered in spines and jagged bumps.

I am Yapool,” It said, “And I do hope you appreciate my handiwork. It’s much safer for everyone this way.”

“Safer?” Jack spat.

“Do you really think that putting the fundamental building blocks of reality:” Yapool stroked his chin, “the tools and aspects of both the Outer Gods and the Endless, in the hands of a lovesick teenage girl is a good idea?”

Jack’s scowled slightly as he thought. This thing, whatever it was, did have a point. There was something definitely off about her, but the way Yapool referred to her fanned a flame inside him.  This was not altruism.  It was cold, calculated, and cruel.  But the words he used to describe her did something else in Jack's head.  The Ixtili was not human. Yet, now both of them were talking about her as though she was, accepting her mental state as something deeply human and 'emotional'. 

Jack dug his hands into the water, pushed through the floor as though it were thick mud and grabbed Reika’s hands.

“What are you doing?” Yapool roared, “If she sleeps, she cannot destroy the world! I thought the world would be important to you?”

“Oh, shut up!” Jack snapped, “Like I believe anything you’d say! You’re a goddamn reflection!”

Jack pulled with all his might against the sucking pressure of the "mud" beneath him, his feet remaining on a solid surface--aiding his efforts.

"Besides," Jack added, "what she wants is for this world to continue. Why would she destroy it?"

“There are ways, Jack O'Niell, there are ways. Perhaps a different reflection would convince you?” Yapool smirked as much as his stagnant facial features allowed him to as his form shifted to one he had not seen for years. Another extremely dangerous machine he had encountered and one that he had shut down—no—killed.

Reese, the “Mother” of the Replicators.

“The way I understand it,” Yapool’s voice echoed, “You’ve faced this problem before and agreed with my conclusion. You’ve already made your choice.”

Jack looked at Reika, cold and silent in her prison, and back at the image of Reese.

He steeled himself and continued to pull, but he didn’t understand why he was pulling. It made no sense. This girl was as much of a threat, if not more, to earth as Reese was. What was he thinking?

“Interesting choice,” Yapool said, “I will make sure you share her suffering next time.”

Yapool’s image and the image of Reese faded to Jack’s normal reflection as Jack hauled the wisp of a girl out of the gelatinous substance beneath his feet. When Reika’s head passed the water’s surface, she let out a frightened, pained gasp and latched onto Jack with all her strength. Jack stood up and tumbled back, finally pulling Reika free of the prison.

Jack scooped her up in his arms. She never let go. Nor did she stop repeating one phrase over and over again, whispered between her shivering, she only said one thing: “I’m sorry.”

And though she was cold, damp and shaking, Jack believed that she actually felt human.


Outside that little room, the RahXephon landed with only a few token hisses to its name and rested on all four limbs.

By then, the accomplices of the Bogal had made their presence known: nearly a dozen of creatures rose to the surface. Snarling, with eyes defined only by hunger, they were half the size of the minor Bogal, four footed and had armored ridges going from the left to right down their backs and tails. A single horn protruded from the center of their faces, just over their fanged mouths. On all fours, they appeared even smaller. These were Baragon.

The two Ultramen dove towards the Bogal and tackled them off Godzilla. With the pain greatly reduced, Godzilla focused on the Bogal gnawing at his arm: by raking his free claw over his assailants face.

It howled in pain and, distracted, was easily slammed by Godzilla’s tail. On its back, Godzilla plodded over and repeatedly stepped on the creature. The sound of granite-hard bones snapping under Godzilla’s feet was accompanied by the blood-choked screams of the Bogal.

Godzilla then grabbed the monster by the tail and hammer tossed it into the air, only to blast it down with atomic fire. The creature crashed to earth with a painful shriek, which was quickly drowned out by Godzilla’s roar.

Godzilla then turned his attention to the Baragon scurrying after the Super Robots.

Mechagodzilla attempted to kick one of the creatures, but had it leap over the leg and onto Mecahgodzilla’s chest.

Kara’s fast reactions allowed her to catch the multi-kiloton reptile as her machine’s foot fell to earth. The creature wriggled and struggled gamely in her grasp, casing some strain on the control system to keep it there.

“Always aiming for the goddamn chest,” She murmured as the machine threw Baragon away—but then caught it again, but not in her hand. From her wrist, Carter launched a bladed chain weapon dubbed the “Shock Anchor”. Once it imbedded itself in the Baragon’s hide, an electrical current shot through the cables and into the monster.

It convulsed and quiver uncontrollably, hardly uttering a sound as it fell to earth.

Kara did a quick scan of the environment visually, her eyes catching Ultraman Mebius wrapped up in the three-pronged tongue of one of the Bogal, it’s mouth expanding over 25 meters in anticipation of the meal.

“Release the cable on my signal!” Kara said as she whipped the Baragon into the air.

She leaned her machine back and began to spin the Baragon around before shouting “NOW!”

Carter released the shock anchor and sent the quivering Baragon into the Bogal’s massive head, but from behind. The Baragon detonated on impact, knocking the Bogal back and severing its tongue—thus freeing Mebius.

Ryouma and the Getter team were in their element. Fighting dinosaurs from the center of the earth was what Getter Robo was built for. Baragon were old hat. A tomahawk slash and getter beam here; transform and let Hayato go nuts with the drill; transform for a typhoon and missile bombardment over there—they hadn’t had a fight this easy in years.

Baragon could stand 25 meters tall when on their hind legs; just enough to pear over Great Mazinger, but just short of Grendizer’s shoulders. Mazinger Z was the shortest of all of them, and against the Baragon, he was at a disadvantage in size.

Koji’s only advantage was his flight and that was limited as each one’s powerful hind legs could propel it over a quarter of a kilometer per leap.

Looking down on one Baragon which eyed him hungrily, Koji had Mazinger punch its own chest, “Give me your best shot!” he sneered.

The monster leapt into the air, its mouth agape.

Mazinger raised its arms as Koji shouted “Breast Fire!” but instead of a red beam of heat, the chest of the robot simply exploded out, knocking Mazinger out of the air.

The Baragon missed his target, but landed safely, unlike Mazinger, who landed on its neck with enough force to dislodge the plider atop Mazinger’s head.

Koji saw stars and blurs upon impact. When his vision cleared, he looked through the clear plastic bubble and saw the Baragon knowing futilely at Mazinger’s arm. Then the face of another Baragon blocked Koji’s vision. It tilted its head and drool dripped down from its maw.

Koji sprung into action and launched a pair of missiles at the monster from the forward part of the Plider. The missiles screamed towards the Baragon who pulled its head back instinctively—but not fast enough.

And Koji lucked out, the missiles traveled up the Baragon’s nose before detonating, blowing out a good portion of its face.

It reared away, howling in pain and clutching its face. It fell backwards and rolled on the ground as red blood poured out of the hole in its face until Great Mazinger’s sword blade imbedded itself in its brain. Tetsuya turned Great Mazinger towards the other Baragon and slew it with a well placed Thunder Break.

“Thanks, Testuya” Koji said, wiping blood from his mouth.

“Are you okay?” Tetsuya asked.

“I’m good, how’s Mazinger?”

Testuya paused, staring at the hole in Mazinger Z’s chest, unable to tell him as Grendizer’s double-harken scythed overhead and through another pair of Baragon.


Nearby, Gamera incinerated another Baragon before turning his attention to the two Ultramen as they battled the last remaining Bogal.

The two Ultraman punched and kicked the creature back and forth between them, knocking it off balance until it threw black spheres of burning energy at the two Ultramen—who dodged them effectively.

Gamera saw his opportunity and spat a trio of fireballs at Bogal, but only two hit their mark. Distracted, it turned to face Gamera only to be hit by a pair of flying kicks from the Ultramen. They continued to fly, however, looped back and hit him again—and again, and again.

Their bodies blurred slightly, creating a double loop between them—almost a sideways figure eight or infinity loop. When the Ultramen stopped, the creature was left stumbling where it stood in a desperate attempt to stay upright.

Observing their handiwork for just a moment, the blue Ultraman raised his right arm in the air, gathering lightning-like energy in it as Mebius slid his hand over the bracer on his left arm before raising his hands over his head.

They then brought their hands together in a ‘plus’ position, Mebius’ left hand in front of his right and the other with the right hand in front of his left—but still in the same positions. Beams of light, one gold and the other silver, shot out from the sides of their hands and struck Bogal in the chest. It did not take long before it exploded into tiny fragments.

Godzilla snarled, the bodies of several Baragon lay at his feet unmoving. He stood at the center of the others: Getter Robo, Grendizer, the Ultramen, the Gun Phoenix Striker, Gamera and Mechagodzilla had him surrounded.

So he decided to attack first. His dorsal spines burned red for an instant before he unleashed a burning red, spiraling beam towards Mechagodzilla which had such force that it knocked the machine up over the ground and depositing it unceremoniously in the ocean. Inside, Kara and Carter screamed as several shorts cascaded through the machine before it even touched the ground again.

This did not prevent Carter from firing off the Plasma Grenade, a massive beam cannon located in the machines belly region, before Mechagodzilla fell.

The orange blast covered nearly a quarter of Godzilla’s body, easily bowling him over. As Godzilla stood up again, he was greeted more pain as Grendizer’s space thunder struck his back, as did a trio of Gamera’s plasma fireballs.

Godzilla stumbled forward, only to be smashed in the chest by the Ultramen’s two beam attacks—this time, they combined a few dozen yards away from Godzilla’s chest and combined into a single rainbow colored beam before striking.

As Godzilla suffered, the Gun Phoenix Striker became encased in gold as METEOR burst into action.

"Invincible Phoenix, Power Maximum!" Ryu shouted before the golden energy encasing the Gun Phoenix Striker leapt off the machine and soared towards Godzilla, exploding on contact. The blast elicited another pained roar from Godzilla.

Over their cover, Ryouma called out to his fellow crewmen, “Remember, our timing has to be exact.”

“I know,” Hayato smiled.

“Let’s go!” Benkei cheered.

All three pressed on peddles at their feet as Ryouma shouted “GETTER SHINE!”

Getter Robo was encased with white hot energy as it held its arms out to the side and took to the air, taking the energy with it.

Diving down to the target, Ryouma shouted “SHINNING SPARK!” as they pulled up at the absolute last moment, letting the white-hot ball of energy the size of Getter Robo strike Godzilla full on in the chest.

Godzilla shrieked in pain as he was engulfed in a getter-fueled explosion, blinding light emanating from it for the instant of the explosion.

“He’s been knocked into the ocean!” Kara announced, her eyes seeing through the smoke and din with ease, “Make sure he’s down!”

When the smoke and light cleared, the heroes moved in to the churning froth 40 meters from shore.

Getter Robo switched to its Poseidon formation and headed into the water for a deep search, but the water barely lapped at its ankles when Godzilla exploded up from beneath the waves with a mighty roar.

Blood dripped from his maw, as well as several wounds on his chest. The entire body was covered in burns and boils—one of the dorsal plates even appeared melted and Godzilla’s left eye was held tightly shut. He stood surrounded by scalding steam from the eruption, but he stood ready to fight.

“We got him on the ropes now!” Hayato smirked, but before anyone could move in for a follow-up, a massive gust of wind nearly threw them all off balance. The cascade of jagged yellow bolts from the sky did that for them. Along the wind, small glittering flakes filtered down from the overcast sky.

“The hell is that?” Daisuke asked aloud, just before his instruments went haywire.

"Whatever it is," Carter said as she furiously worked the controls, "It's acting like electronic chaff and playing hell with the radar."

Godzilla growled as the heroes fought the torrent of wind before he slipped beneath the surface.

“God damnit!” Captain Gordon slammed his fist onto the arm of his chair, “Keep him within visual range!”

“Sir,” One of the crewmen turned to him, “the visibility is already too low. He’s gone.”

Gordon cursed again.


 

Reika Mishima awoke slowly and in unfamiliar environments. She ran a diagnostic on her systems, and found herself in organic standby mode. She concluded the damage had been far more extensive than originally anticipated.

She decided to open her eyes and let Jack O’Neill know of her consciousness. What limited data her human senses could provide allowed her to deduce he had been there for at least 10 minutes.

“Welcome to the human race,” he said.

“It is a temporary recovery measure,” Reika said as she sat up in the bed.

“I’m sure,” Jack said, “The Doctor was throwing a fit about it, saying ‘That’s impossible’ over and over again. It was kinda funny.”

Unspoken was the fact that they needed it to a degree. Mazinger Z was damaged so badly that several of its primary weapons systems were non functional. The Breast Fire short nearly caused the machine to detonate. Its partly melted and deformed frame was to blame for that, and its source was still at large.

Her eyes turned to the IV drip in her arm, “Humanoid form is easier than other forms to recover and acts as the ultimate funnel for spi--”

“Don’t care,” Jack said, “In fact, I’ve had it up to my ears with the funny words and high English crap. For once, I’d like a straight answer.”

“No,” Reika sighed as the color of her iris began to fade, “You want two.”

“I think I earned them.”

Reika took a deep breath, “Which is the most pressing question?”

“Which one has the shortest answer?”

“Ixtli Safety Protocol Implantation.”

Jack blinked, “What?”

“It is why you saved me,” Reika said, her voice approaching a form of monotone, “And why you can pilot the RahXephon as well as you do. Normally, an emotional link is established between the Instrumentalist and the Ixtili through a strong desire. You refused that desire strongly, realizing its hollow nature. Thus, for you to be able to pilot the RahXephon, a desire had to be either circumvented or implanted.”

Jack snorted, “Okay, once more and assume I’m a total idiot.”

“In order to ensure the RahXephon’s power does not fall into the wrong hands or is compromised,” She continued, “A suggestion was implanted into your mind to treat me as though I were a member of your team."

The air in the room felt like it weighed a hundred pounds.

“Was it mind control?”

“No,” She said, “Control tears apart the mind and leaves the target a withered husk of a person. This was suggestion.”

Jack scowled, hoping that his face was not slowly turning red, “but you still went into my head and messed with my brain so that you’d be one of my team?”

“I believe that is why you insisted on calling me Reika Mishima,” Reika tilted her head slightly, “An unexpected outcome.”

“Unexpected?” Jack snarled, “Then why did you—“

“You wanted to protect the world from Anubis, as did I,” she snapped, “You refused to accept the normal means of continuity insurance so the secondary method was undertaken. I still do not know how you view me because of this procedure.”

Jack rubbed his face in his hands before he said, “And the other answer?”

“I can show that answer to you.”

Jack found himself standing along with Reika inside a small house or apartment. He could not find any way of identifying where he ways—as everything outside the main living area they were in was obfuscated in white fog that seeped in everywhere Jack looked. At the central table, three people sat: a man and woman in their 30s and their son. Their features were nearly blanked in—obfuscated like the distant horizons.

“He’s seven now,” Reika said, her eyes focused on the young boy finishing breakfast, "Still early in his primary education.”

“Okay.  Who is he?” Jack said.

“He is the original Instrumentalist, the one who tuned the world in the year 2012 to the world we live in now.”

“Wait. How does that even work?  And past tense?”

“I rewrote history.”

“Oh,” Jack blinked, “And now—“

“All he wanted was a peaceful, happy life. I exist to grant him that.”

“And yet, there are still giant monsters, alien invasions and wars.”

Reika lowered her head, “I can only do so much.”

“I thought you were an all powerful god machine,” Jack said, “You just said you changed history.”

“I may only bend the tools and wills of the Endless and Outer Gods so far before they snap and rip reality asunder.”

“Oh.”

Jack looked at the scene a little longer, and Ixtili’s focus on the little boy, “So, you and the boy—”

“It is not something my creators intended,” She said, “Before the Gyaos, before the Deceiver and the Enemy of All, I was to cease existing after I tuned the world. Because of them, I must remain.”

“And watch.”

“And watch him love the one who I am but a shadow of.”

The words were half choked in her throat, but they passed her lips with a great effort of will.  He turned and saw her on the verge of tears.

She sniffled once, “It is harder to contain emotional states in this form than I anticipated.”

“Yeah,” Jack said, “Humans like to defy anticipation a lot.”  He extended an arm to her, “c’mere.”

She smiled slightly and began to move towards him when a pulse went through everything.  The images she had conjured, her human form, and he even felt it go through himself.  Like a stone disturbing a pond, the pulse flowed through everything. She froze and they found themselves back in the GUYS hospital wing, Reika grasped her head, her eyes wide in fear.

“What the—“

“What have they done,” She murmured the phrase through clenched teeth and then repeated it, louder and louder until she screamed it at the top of her lungs, until the nearby machines to spark and squeal as they overloaded.

Jack latched onto the Reika’s wrists and forced the girl to look at him, “What have who done?”

“They’ve awakened the one before me! The prototype war machine I was based upon. They’ve awakened the Tune X!”


 

Oceans away, laughter echoed deep underground.

The Major looked over his newest toy with glee as two red eyes shone through the slit-like ‘face’ of the machine.

With the Major was a tall, elderly Japanese man in black, his claw-like hand clutching a small bundle of black balloons. In front of the two stood a holographic projection of a tall, muscular man with long dark hair holding a long, curved blade. The blade was sheathed and its point touched the ground as he rested his hands on the bottom of its hilt.

“I am Gym Ghingnham, Ixtli of the Tune X,” It said, “I now await an instrumentalist.”

The figure then disappeared as though it were an image on an old television screen.

“This is wonderful!” He nearly squealed, “Absolutely wonderful! You have outdone yourself Doctor Death. I never dreamed anyone could override the safety protocols of Ultima Thule's greatest weapon!”

“If you please,” The doctor said, I prefer the name that accursed Rider has given me: Doctor Shinigami.”

“Of course, Doctor,” The Major corrected himself, “It is good to have you back after all this time.”

“It is good to be accepted back so readily,” He smiled, his left hand not letting go of the black balloons as he bowed.

“With the ‘returning gift’ of turning our jamming system into a fully functional weapon, able to handle our greatest threat and ultimate goal all on its own, how could I not?” The Major laughed loudly again.

Standing in the shadow of the 80 meter, green machine in the massive underground hanger, they failed to notice the entrance of Prime before he got within 10ft of them.

The Major smiled like a shark, “Ah, your favorite student’s come for a visit.”

“Sir,” Prime said as he saluted his superiors in rank.

“First he gives me you,” The Major said, “Then he gives me this. The perfect soldier and the perfect weapon.”

“Thank you, sir.” Prime bowed slightly, “I’ve come to report on the analysis tests done at the chosen sights.”

“Oh,” The Major’s smile faded only slightly, “How did it go?”

“The Sunnydale Hellmouth is inert, and the one in Cleveland does not have enough output to be worth an extraction. The World Tree has its power locked in far too tightly. It’s next scheduled release of power would not be soon enough for our needs.”

“That is unfortunate,” The Major sighed.

“There are other sites. Basin City and Roanapur in particular hold promising amounts of power that is quite easy to extract with our methods,” Prime continued, “The Ogasawara Islands may be problematic initially, but they are more easily defended than the other locations.”

“That will have to do, then.” The Major said heavily, “I will consult with the others as to our next stage of operations.”

“I shall join you shortly,” Dr. Shinigami said, “There is a matter I wish to discuss with Prime.”

“Very well, then,” The Major waved a hand dismissively as he stepped out of the room.”

“They believed you to be dead,” Prime said as The Major left their sight.

“But you knew better?” Dr. Shinigami smirked.

“You have survived far worse fates than what they meted out to you all those years ago,” Prime said.

“They did cost me one exquisite weapon, though,” Dr. Shinigami sighed, “However, You do far surpass anything I have wrought before.”

Prime smiled, “they other scientists are still trying to deduce how you perfectly melded my donor DNA.”

“Donor?” Dr. Shinigami arched an eyebrow.

“I am as related to them as I am to all vertebrate life forms. This is my family here.”

“No wonder you feel the urge to chase your half-sister,” Dr. Shinigami smirked.

“As I am a hybrid of a Kryptonian and the best Homo sapiens specimen of the 20th century, Bruce Wayne. She is a hybrid of that Kryptonian and an enhanced Amazon,” Prime smirked, “I’m sure the superiority of our genetics and a few checks in the lab can overcome any birth defects that might result.”

The hybrids’ face turned serious in an instant, “We are clear.”

“Recording devices disabled?”

“For the next 2 minutes.”

Dr. Shinigami smiled, “Well done.”

“I am your human-prototype Super-Beast Prime, Lord Yapool,” Prime said, “There is no mission I cannot accomplish.”

“Well spoken,” the shell Yapool inhabited smirked, “how are the preparations?”

“Rasputin is alive again and has continued my training in the black arts,” Prime said, “He suspects nothing. He believes that I too follow the will of the Ogdru-Jahad.”

“Excellent, continue your tutelage. For a human, he has great skill. Do not underestimate him.”

“Yes, my lord,” Prime paused before adding, “Sir, why give them the Tune X?”

“Why?” Yapool looked down on the young man as he spoke.

“Can you reveal to what ends you are reaching?”

“I am aiming for several birds with this move,” Yapool said, “And if all goes well, Millennium and the RahXephon will be dead and gone by the time The Emperor arrives.”

“Am I to pilot it to Victory?” Prime asked, expectantly.

“No,” Yapool said, “You lack Mu Phase and could not anyway.”

Prime’s face scrunched up in a scowl.

“The pilot of Tune X is marked for death, boy” Yapool laughed, “and that death marker is for the Major alone.”

Yapool looked up at the Tune X with a smile, “He wanted to continue the Dark History of the 20th century—expanded it into a thousand years of war. By letting him use the last war machine of Earth’s first Dark History, he won’t notice death’s approach until it has him by the throat!”

“Do you have any new orders for me?” Prime asked.

“No,” Yapool answered, “Things are well within the plan.”

Chapter Text

 

 

Harry Dresden had never been more frightened in all of his life. Still recovering from his encounters with the Wolkenritter across Chicago, he had received a summons from a source he never expected.

Addressed to "Chicago Warden Harry Copperfield Blackstone Dresden," it read:

David Xanatos,
President of the United States of America,
Requests the pleasure of your company at a dinner
At a secure location to be revealed upon reply.

Following the dinner will be an information session
regarding upcoming paranormal inter-company relations
within the United States.
You may bring one person with you
at your discretion, who must be identified during the RSVP.

Black Tie Preferred.

When Harry first read those words, he was covered in a cold sweat. Considering how well his last formal party invitation went, as well as who was giving it and why…Harry would have rather faced down Queen Mab in a one on one duel.

Amongst the supernatural community, mundane humans were feared for both their numbers and their technology, which caused most to remain in the shadows. Wizards did this too largely to avoid being drawn into mundane conflicts—which would allow said shadow-loving creatures to move in.

This threatened everything that Harry knew in the worlds he traveled.

When the White Council found out, they were beside themselves. The Merlin nearly had an aneurism. They agreed that the only reason Harry had been chosen was because of how he advertized himself: in the phonebook, under "Wizards." Harry guessed that the only reason the Merlin did not take his head as soon as he found out was that he, like the rest of the council, was curious as to what the president wanted.

He spent a few days trying to decide who his "+1" should be. But in the end, the choice was simple.

Murphy was nearly floored when he asked her—with laughter. When she realized it wasn't a joke, her tune changed a good deal.

Harry still felt uncomfortable in a tux, but it was quelled somewhat by seeing the dress Murphy wore. Like Murphy's usually short blonde hair, the dress she wore spoke to practicality more than fashion—the long leg slit allowed for complete freedom of movement if it was needed—but simple black dresses were one of the few constants in the fashion industry.

Murphy was tiny compared to Harry, five-foot-nothing and a hundred and nothing, but Harry new better than to underestimate her. She was the best cop he ever knew and that was before she saw her tear apart an ogre with a chainsaw.

It was probably wrong to drool over your intended backup and possible bodyguard, so Harry restrained himself as best he could.

Their ride to the event was also invited and, having helped against the Wolkenritter, decided to lend a hand. Travel was not a big issue when the council classified her as a living doorway to the never-never and beyond.

Her name was Rachel Roth, but she had collected a vast number of nicknames in her short tenure amongst the magical community—few of them were nice: "The Doorway," "The Antichrist," "Hell's Daughter" were applied to her even before she could walk, through no fault of her own.

She preferred to be called "Raven" if a nickname must be used, and she'd really rather not. Taller than Murphy, but still dwarfed by Dresden, her hair was dark and her skin extremely pale. Her dark blue cloak obscured most of her figure—and hid whatever it was she was going to wear to the event.

With Raven was her bodyguard and former 'student', Rose Wilson. Not full wizards like Harry or unbelievably powerful like Raven, Rose was nonetheless battle hardened and formidable. Platinum blonde hair and an eye patch made her stand out when she dressed casually. Put her well proportioned, athletic body in a slinky, low cut white dress and she guaranteed that all eyes would be distracted by something.

All that beauty could not mask her surly, sailor-like attitude for very long.

"So you do have a girlfriend," Rose smirked, "and here I thought you were catching for the other team."

"I'm not his girlfriend," Murphy answered, with more snap than Harry expected, "I'm his bodyguard for the night."

Rose snorted, "What are you, a slayer or something."

"I'm a cop."

A retort was on Rose's lips when Rachel interrupted, "Down, girl. We only just met her."

"Cops a cop," Rose countered.

"You know better," Raven scolded, her voice deep but matronly.  "Please excuse my colleague," Raven bowed slightly and extended a hand, "She has issues with authority figures."

"It's okay," Murphy grasped it, "I can undersand that."

Introductions followed swiftly thereafter, though it took Murphy a second to grasp how they were getting there.

"So you're our ride?" She asked Raven.

"She's a real village bicycle," Rose smirked.

"Funny," Raven said without emphasis or emotion, a shallow laugh following it. Though with her gravelly voice, it was sometimes hard to tell when she was not growling.

Rose rolled her eye, but said nothing.

"One of the perks about being a living inter-dimensional rift is the ease in which I can traverse the NeverNever," Raven explained, "Among other places."

"You go into the NeverNever before?" Rose asked with a sneer.

"Often enough," Murphy narrowed her eyes at the white-haired woman.

Raven cut Rose off before she could release her retort with an authoritative, "Then hold on," and envelope the three of them in her cloak before she melted into the ground, taking them with her.

When they returned to the real world seconds later, the first thing out of Murphy's mouth was "Why were there sharks" she swallowed, "in space?"

"I have no idea," Harry answered, his own face slightly paled, "and I don't know want to know."

They were only a few yards from the main entrance of Peninsula, one of Chicago's most upscale hotels. Their appointment was on the fourth floor, in the restaurant Avenues.

After answering some very odd questions at the door by the security personnel whom Harry sensed were mages, but their uniforms and staves were unlike any he had ever seen. One thing was certain: They were not wardens.

The Avenue's private dining room had a golden tint to it, with fine wooden finishes on every piece of furniture or wall within line of sight. At the back was a bar, where a trio of bartenders awaited being called as the crowd was in the process of mingling. Not many had taken to seats yet (which were assigned).

As a trained private investigator as well as a warden of the White Council, Harry immediately began scanning the room, and did not like what he was seeing. It wasn't the security (which there was a lot of, comprised of what he assumed to be secret service and more of those strange mages) but the guests that put him on edge.

There were little more than half a dozen mages in the entire world that could tell the White Council to go screw themselves. It took a combination of raw power, special talents, political clout and stones to pull it off. Raven was one of them. In this room were two others. Like Raven, they had many names and epithets to go with such notoriety.

One of them was the queen of an extremely prosperous African nation, Ororo Iqadi T'Challa. Aside from "Queen" her titles included "The Storm Goddess" for her natural affinity at manipulating weather formations. Her other titles generally followed along those same lines. Aside from having a nation backing her up, she remained in contact with the mysterious Westchester "Academy of Gifted Youngsters" which took in young mages, talents and demi-humans for education. Some of that education included paramilitary training. The Academy had not openly clashed with the White Council since the late 1980s, but tensions still remained in the reformatted institute.

Like Dresden, she was a young wizard, but only in wizard terms. She looked like she was 30, but from what he learned, she was just over 50. Wizard longevity at work, Harry mused.

Ororo had two private military forces at her disposal, making her magic strength only secondary to her clout. The other notorious witch also had a private military force at her disposal, but was possibly more frightening. Smaller than the statuesque Ororo by nearly half a foot as well as younger, Willow Rosenberg only escaped execution by the White Council by a hair's breath. The Outer Gate her town was situated on managed to mask her violations of several laws of magic. She'd invaded minds, done mild enthrallment and worst of all, reached beyond the borders of life and resurrected a close friend.

What really got the council angry at her was that it worked without any side effects even several years after the fact.

Though such acts did not come without penalty, as dark magic like that is naturally corruptive. Her method of resurrection had one requirement: the victim had to be slain via magic or magical energies. When her lover was shot and killed, her rampage was, by reports, frightening. She slew the killer after a brief Jack Bauer impersonation by flaying him alive telekinetically.

Then she tried to burn all life from the planet. She was talked down and by the time the council got to her, they had bigger fish to worry about than a rogue wizard. When the issues were resolved, the town she lived in fell into a sink hole left by the destruction of the outer gate and further attempts on her life were ruled out as infeasible and too costly.

By then she had re-written a stagnant magic code that surrounded the planet, effectively giving her an entourage of superhuman magical warriors at her beck and call. The later was difficult to deal with; the former was just damn scary.

That they had effectively allied themselves with everyone from MI-13 and the Hellsing organization to the JSDF and the Vatican made them effectively untouchable politically.

When they were brought into the Unseelie Accords by Hellsing and the Vatican (two groups that did not like each other in the slightest) everyone took notice.

Though they were very easy on the eyes, he dreaded an accidental soulgaze with either of them.

But Harry was a Wizard, a master of subtly and misdirection. He didn't let any of his fear show through. Some awe might have slipped out, largely because he was still meeting the President of the United States. That still counted for something.

"Murphy," He whispered, "This is the big leagues. Be careful."

"Obviously," Murphy said.

"I mean, magically too," Harry clarified.

Murphy clarified as well: "The gargoyles and the big red demon guy kind of tipped me off to that, Harry."

Harry blinked and sure enough, there were gargoyles in the room; three of them. They stood with a small group composed of several humans, two blue elfin creatures and the Hellboy.

Harry scanned the room again to make sure Bigfoot wasn't in their too.

A small, girlish voice interrupted Harry's further scanning of the room, "Um, excuse me."

Harry looked down at a 10 year old Japanese girl in a white dress with a marble-sized red jewel hanging from a thin gold necklace.

"Are you Warden Harry Dresden?" She asked, "The representative of the White Council?"

"I should hope so," Harry answered, "The tux is rented in his name."

She giggled lightly, almost musically, "I'm Nanoha Takamachi with the Time-Space Administration Bureau. It is nice to meet you."

She bowed slightly and a tingling sensation hit Harry's senses and put him on alert. The name did not do much for his confidence either. One of the laws of magic specifically forbade 'swimming against the streams of time'. He'd never heard of such an organization before, but it answered where the magic guards came from.

"It's really nice to meet so many different mages from earth, I thought there weren't that many here," She said.

The information that this girl was giving him was quite bizarre, so he hesitated for a second before saying, "Well, we try not to make a big fuss about it," a thought struck Harry and he added, "Actually, we make a big fuss about not making a big fuss"

She nodded, "Anyway, after the event, Admiral Lindy Harlaown would like to talk with you about cooperation between the TSAB and White Council."

Harry mused that if he was going to deal with alien mages making first contact on earth, talking was definitely better, but he'd keep an eye on them and make sure they weren't devouring hamsters behind everyone's back. Harry's mind tended to focus on why this little wisp of a girl was in this organization to begin with. The way she carried herself was not as if she was not what he expected. A girl her age at this sort of function would be someone's kid sister or a princess. She carried herself with a certainty and strength that reminded Harry or Murphy or even Kincaid. She seemed so happy and upbeat, but it could be a facade to keep a child soldier from mentally breaking down.

"Sorry," she bowed, "But there are a lot of people I need to speak to and set meetings up with before the talks begin."

"It's okay," Harry murmured as the little girl excused herself.

"Harry," Murphy said, "I can handle magic. But I'm going to hold off on believing that little girl was an alien."

"She said she is," Harry answered.

"And you believe her?"

"Not in the slightest," Harry scanned the room again, "But it would explain the mages here using a method of magic I've never seen before."

"You're kidding right?"

Harry just continued to scan the room as Murphy repeated herself. His ears listened to bits of conversation that floated by him, looking for one to interject himself too.

"So Koji's been locked in his father's lab for 3 days working on that thing?" One voice said, to which an answer soon came.

"Yeah," a female voice answered, "I've been keeping an eye on him, considering he still has his father's notes with him."

"But he's not his father," The first voice said, "Do you really think he can repair Mazinger?"

"He built a personal inter-planetary spacecraft on his own dime," The feminine voice said with a smirk, "I don't doubt his ability as a mechanic—just his sanity."

Another nail in Murphy's (and his own) disbelief in the presence of aliens in this room, but before he could alert her, another White Council face revealed itself.

"I know that guy—" Harry murmured and began walking towards a rather large circle of people—though he used the term loosely.

The circle consisted largely of Gargoyles, but he decided to pass it. Amongst the gargoyles (and demons) where two young teenaged Asian girls—one of whom was actively engaging the gargoyles in conversation. Both were rather pretty for their age—though one was obviously more athletic than the other, even though she was slightly shorter. What really made the pair stand out, however was their clothing. The taller girl wore a white dress with red highlights, whilst the other wore a black suit and tie.

For about one quarter of a second, Harry mistook her for a very pretty young man.

The suited girl carried herself strongly, but was visibly nervous. The one in the white dress just bubbled energy.

"I love the way your wings fold up!" White Bubbles beamed, "I bet you can swoosh them around like a cape too."

"Not really," The rounder of the Gargoyles said. He was large, barrel-shaped and a light green in color.

Next to him were a muscular male and slender female, both a shade of purple Harry was sure had a specific name that wasn't just normal purple. Maybe it was eggplant—he didn't quite care.

The girl in the suit seemed to shrink as the other spoke more openly to the Gargoyles.

White Bubbles wrapped an arm around her friend and nuzzled up against her as she whispered in her ear—but not quietly enough, "Yours are still prettier, 'tsuna."

"Yours?" The large purple said.

The girl in the suit, 'tsuna, looked aside and murmured, "I do not wish to talk about it."

"Oh," White Bubbles whined, "But it's not like they're Tengu, they're Gargoyles!"

"Tengu are Gargoyles" 'tsuna murmured.

"Not if they're from New York," White Bubbles smiled.

By then, however, he reached his destination. An old man in a simple, but elegant kimono, he had a long white beard that was well kept and highly stylized. The top of his head was bald except for the back which housed a rather long braid.

This was a White Council warden like himself, but from the other side of the pacific: Konoemon Konoe.

Upon spotting Harry, he arched one of his fuzzy eyebrows and let a small smile escape the forest well kept hair that nearly covered his face.

"Mr. Dresden," Konoemon said, "What a pleasant surprise."

"And here I thought I was the only representative from the White Council here," Harry extended a hand to the older man, who gladly shook it.

"From what I've seen," Konoemon said, "We're the only ones—must be an east/west thing. But there are quite a few oddities here, aren't there Warden Dresden."

"Where would you like me to begin," Harry said, "At this event being held at all or the fact that there are several groups here who are not exactly the best of friends sitting at arm's length from each other?"

"Not to mention the big names," Konoemon smiled, brought a small pad from a hidden pocket and said "It's not every day one can get Hongo Takeshi's autograph."

"Who?"

"Oh, you wouldn't know," Konoemon pointed towards a couple a few yards away, "he's the pretty boy with the red head over there."

Sure enough, he spotted the couple. The pretty boy was of a decent height and of a slim athletic build. He appeared to be Japanese and stood almost rigidly straight. His suit was well made, but he wore black leather gloves with it. Something else was off about him too.

The woman he was with was a stark contrast to him greatly. Though she too was Japanese, but her hair was vividly blonde. His dark suit with green tie counteracted her white dress with red trimming. While he stood rigidly, she could not help but move with every syllable she uttered.

An inhuman, fluid movement that was almost mesmerizing. It helped that she was quite curvy and the dress left little to the imagination.

They stood talking to another Japanese woman, a very tall one at that. Not as tall as Harry, but enough to be more than a head taller than Murphy. She was also stacked.

Listening to their voices, he realized that he overheard them earlier in the party-they had re-established Nanoha's claim towards alien influence. Were these aliens too? He bet the fluid woman was just using human form as a disguise. There was no way a human could move like that.

"So," Konoemon said ripping Harry away from the woman's mesmeric bounce, "What do you think?"

"It's bad news all around," Harry answered, "Before Xanatos became president he was one of the most successful businessmen in the world. With us here, all these powerful wizards, foreign dignitaries and things I didn't think really existed all in one room."

Harry took a breath, "I expect a coup d'état."

"What?" Konoemon coughed, "I was talking about my granddaughter, Konoka."

Konoemon pointed to White Bubbles, Harry blinked, "Um, huh?"

"How about a marriage interview?" Konoemon smirked, "With your combined raw talent, I'm sure you'll produce powerful wizard children. And marrying into my family would certainly help with the bills, wouldn't it?"

Harry sputtered and thanked God that he wasn't drinking anything at the moment.

"Are you kidding?" Harry nearly shouted, "She's fourteen!"

"Isn't that the legal age in America?"

"No!" Harry answered, "God no! Besides, she looks a little too friendly with the girl in the pantsuit."

"Well," Konoemon's grin reminded Harry of the Cheshire Cat, "Why not have both then, I'm sure Konoka wouldn't mind."

Harry did everything in he could to keep his power under control.

Magic power was strongly tied to emotions, and Harry had a lot of power. One uncontrolled outburst and he could blow circuits in nearby machinery. Harry felt the power rise up in him, but he grabbed it and channeled it back into the floor, grounding it

Konoemon's laughter eventually clued him in. He'd been had.

Distracting Harry from the fact that no electronic equipment nearby was effected by the power release-the light bulbs did not even flicker.

Konoemon apologized but then added, "But think about it in another 8 years. If I haven't found her a husband by then—or if she wants to raise a kid with her girlfriend, give it some thought."

Harry decided to bow out before the conversation got any more wrong.

The next words to hit Harry's ears immediately grabbed his attention: "You licked me!" It was a girl's voice that reminded Harry of his apprentice Molly Carpenter. It carried the same annoyed know-it-all attitude commonly found in teenagers.

This declarative statement was followed by, "As part of a normal investigation! Don't you use all of your sensory—and why are you getting upset over this in the first place?"

The voice had a British accent Harry could not quite place, and seemed to slightly together due to the speed at which the person talked. He appeared to be a young man in his late 20s.

Harry eyed them and found Tongue Man in a blue suit and bowtie whilst he girl wore a yellow sundress and orange scarf. The small Asian girl was a wisp of a thing that carried herself in a manner similar to Nanoha. With them was a rather strongly built military man in a blue USAF dress uniform. His rank read as Colonel, his hair graying but body remained rather fit and well built. Harry guessed him to be in his 50s or so.

"For cryin' out lout," the soldier said, "can you make this conversation any creepier?"

Thinking on it for a brief moment, Tongue Man said, "I could mention the various impurities and calcifications that accumulated on her robot shell while it rested in Antarctica—but it's not as if I liked your projection or anything! Licking a giant robot's armor isn't creepy in the slightest!"

The soldier, girl and Harry did not believe him.

"Ah! Harry Dresden!" He said as he walked over to Harry, alarm bells ringing in his head, "wonderful to meet you!"

"Um, hi, who are you?" Harry asked Tongue man as he shook his hand.

Tongue man pointed to a name tag on his shirt that read 'Hello my name is: The Doctor'

"I'm the Doctor,' Tongue Man said, "And over there are Colonel Jack O'Neill and Ixtli Reika Mishima."

He shook Jack's hand first. He went to shake the girl's hand (she could not have been more than 16 by appearances) when she met his eyes—which flashed red.

Yellow Sundress gave Tongue Man a severe look, which forced him to scan the surroundings looking for an out.

And she met eyes with Harry.

He found himself in front of a titanic machine in the shape of an angelic humanoid figure with a mirror for a face. Below it the girl stood watching the life of a teenage boy with someone who looked exactly like her, but with darker hair, inside the reflection of a lake they all stood upon.

The sky was the color and composition of the skies of Jupiter. The machine howled, causing the sky to shatter into a blue hue. As it did, Harry felt his heart seize for a brief second and every atom of his existence vibrate to the same chord.

Harry awoke in time to catch himself from falling to his knees.

Or Harry thought he did. Murphy actually caught him and was glaring at this Ixtli thing, whatever it was Harry was certain now that it was not human.

And she was very sad.

"Harry!" Murphy blurted out.

"You alright?" Jack asked.

The Ixtli looked at him, her hands clasped together in front of her mouth, "I am sorry. I had forgotten how easy it is for some wizards to initiate a soulgaze."

"Oh," The Doctor winced, "you got the God Machine's Full Monty. Never a good thing."

First wizards from outer space and possibly the future too, followed by a "God Machine". If Godzilla showed up in Chicago to attend this function, Harry did not think he'd be surprised.

Harry found some wood to knock on rather quickly after that thought crossed his mind.

This Doctor guy was also starting to get on Harry's nerves.

"Wait, a God Machine?" Murphy fixed her gaze between the Ixtli and the Doctor.

"Deus Ex Machina," The Doctor explained, "God from a Machine."

"So what just happened?" Jack asked Harry as he righted himself.

"Soulgaze," Harry said between heavy breaths.

"It lets a wizard with the right talents to see into the psychological profile of a person they lock eyes to," The Doctor explained (to Harry's relief), "unfortunately anything you see with your soulgaze stays with you—burned into your brain until the very end."

"How…do you know—" Harry stammered, but the Doctor interrupted him.

"Well, I may not be able to use magic," The Doctor smirked, "Or even like it, but I know how it works."

"Do you need to sit down?" Jack asked Harry.

Harry righted himself and breathed, "No, I'll be fine."

"So, you're a wizard," Jack asked him, attempting a conversation, "Not what I expected but at least you're not a 10 year old girl."

"You met her already, I take it?" Harry said, finally standing on his full two feet.

"A while back," Jack answered, "Still not used to it."

Harry was about to ask him another question when a voice sounded over the speakers, "Everyone, please take your seats. The presentation is about to begin."

"So, who did you bump into?" Harry asked as they made their way to their assigned table.

"Her," Murphy said as they approached their seats. She and Harry were placed next to Jack and Reika on one side, and woman he had not seen before.

She sat at the table, leaning back in her chair with an assured grin on her face. She had an athletic build and vivid red hair, swapped in a diaphanous, but still slinky, emerald dress.

"So," She said, "Are you really a wizard named Harry?"

Dresden was tired and had been through a lot in a very short period of time, so his response was less than diplomatic: he just grumbled under his breath.

That was when he noted her chair. It was made of a metallic substance that clashed heavily with the room.

"Harry," Murphy said, "This is-"

"I go by many names," The woman in green interrupted, standing up to her full height. Though she was shorter than Harry—she still stood an impressive 6ft, "I have been called: Tifa Lockheart, Lina the Pink, The Fifth Fire Shadow—and just yesterday, someone called me Susan. That was kinda weird. But, for today, I'm just Eiko."

She extended a hand to Harry, who took it. He shook it, but notices that her hand barely closed around his, he guided the vigorousness of the shake—which was pretty limp with his condition.

"I'd say more, but the movie's gonna start soon," Eiko said.

"Movie?" Harry asked as he plopped down, with Murphy between him and Eiko. On the other side of him sat Jack—acting as a thankful buffer to him and Reika. Beyond Reika were others—a Blonde woman in silver, a nerd with a mild military build and a large, bald black man with a golden symbol on his forehead. Harry thought it was a tattoo until he sat down and saw it was three dimensional.

Murphy turned to explain what she meant when the lights dimmed, leaving only a single bright spotlight, which grabbed everyone's attention.

At its center was the President of the United States, David Xanatos. He still maintained a youthful appearance, but stood with pure confidence.

Harry guessed it was the beard.

Flanking him from behind were two secret service agents. One was a blonde Amazon whose hair was tied back in a knob; the other was a dark haired man with broad shoulders and an athletic, military build. They both appeared quite young—maybe late twenties like Eiko—and the woman had on large metal bracers over her forearms.

Next to the President stood a woman in a military uniform Harry had never seen before. It was similar to a blue naval uniform, but the arrangement of various icons on it was off—way off.

The fact that the woman in question had light blue hair and a strange third eye tattoo in the center of her forehead raised further alarm bells.

"Ladies and Gentlemen," Xanatos calmly began, "I have called you all here today to discuss grave matters. I'm sure it has not escaped your attention, but the previous century has been fraught with strife, conflict and near apocalypse, only getting worse as the millennium encroached."

Harry could think of 3 events offhand that nearly brought about an apocalyptic upheaval in the nature of the world that he had been personally involved in within his lifetime alone. He was pretty sure that was far to frequent to be normal for a long time.

It's nice to have someone agree with you.

"Thanks to contact with the Time Space Administration Bureau and other organizations already within the Earth's government purview, we have come to a grim conclusion that earth is entering what the TSAB refers to as..."

Mission 9
Dark History

The room filled with screens that floated in mid air, each one displaying an image of destruction, death and horror. Some were medieval battles in the darkest depths of the Fairy-realms or "Nevernever", others were battles beyond the furthest stars, still others featured rampages of monsters and demons unopposed.

Harry recognized a few of the monsters. Godzilla. King Ghidorah. Rodan. Some of the clips, he realized, were film from earth. Recent news broadcast no less. One of them was of Godzilla's battle against Ghidorah in New York. Others were clips of just the monsters on their own: Ghidorah leveling Paris, Godzilla attacking on Tokyo, Varan marauding across the Gulf of Mexico.

But those were only the monsters Harry could identify, in places Harry knew. There were hundreds more Harry had never seen before in places ranging from the ancient to the alien. The monsters themselves ranged from gigantic insects to things Harry wished he never saw, and one really ugly mother-

"A period in time when high technology, magic and primordial forces reach a level of activity that threatens all sapient life forms at one or more points in their history. Hundreds of species never make it past this barrier, obliterating themselves before they took their first strong steps beyond their home sphere, or being obliterated by energies they could not control or foes they could not overcome."

Harry looked on at the images and saw armies of summer fairy soldiers together with humans in medieval armament running into a massive battle against twisting creatures resembling hobs, but larger, armed and armored with what looked like materials made of wrought iron.

But that was impossible.  Iron burned fairies.  That shouldn't be possible.

Behind them stood nearly a dozen or so fiery demonic beings seemingly made of semi-solid magma and built like classic devils, some 20ft in height and armed with flaming whips.  They lead their lesser beings into battle and cut a bloody swatch through the coalition.

"I'm sad to say, but earth has already failed the test once before. Our species survived, but it took us over twenty thousand years to even approach the level of technology needed for such a confluence to occur again."

The image of a flying machine reminiscent of a police issue robot or Patlabor blasted at swarms of Gyaos over an ocean turned red with blood passed by Harry's table. As they tore at it, it fell apart like broken pottery.

Eiko pointed and quietly said "It's a Gundam!" and added a choked off cry from the pit of her stomach.

Harry gave her a look, initially of disgust, but he realized she was joking to hide her fear.  A tactic he understood very well.  Harry wished he could muster up a snide remark at that moment. But seeing people torn apart by Gyaos, crushed under giant machines, liquefied by sound waves…

It made him glad he didn't eat beforehand.

The next image even more so. A mass of red tentacles and ropey organisms coalesced over several buildings, forming a cyclopean figure reminiscent of a pagan idol. Its face contained a single mask-like eye with two large fins on either side of its head. From its base, several other horrors budded off from the individual ropes which lost cohesion as the creature's mass traveled from its top to its base. They resembled half-formed torsos, living cloaks, jellyfish and hydras, Humanoid figures with too many faces for its head—so some appear in random places on its torso and masses of tentacles that congeal into a singular mouth. All of these creatures shifted in coloration from a sickly red to a lifeless gray.

Harry wondered if this was a Walker of some sort. Though with the hook-like scythes that were attached to many of the creature's sides, it probably had a moniker like "He Who Reaps Life" or perhaps "Those Which Reap Life" as it did seem to be continually budding off new forms of itself.

"Our current Dark History has been actively running for over thirty years now, with inklings of its occurrence going back to the First World War. It could go on for another hundred years at this pace—or we could all die tomorrow. Dark History's don't end until we move beyond what divides us for the sake of all sapient life on the planet."

The image of several spaceships with odd pyramidal designs raining gold energy bolts down on a planet's surface, leveling all structures on the surface, passed Harry by.

"I'm rather certain that none of us here want to see this history repeat itself. So I am asking you for your cooperation in the long term. Some of you are nervous, afraid that we will turn your organizations into supernatural lapdogs of the government. To be blunt, we have those already. What we—the United Nations, The Time Space Administration Bureau and myself—want is cooperation and friendship for the survival of sentient life on the planet. The more of us that work together on this, the greater our chance of survival."

"So how do we fight this thing?" A voice called out, Harry turned to see the Hellboy as its source, scowling at the images as they passed him by.

"For that, I'll turn this over to Captain Lindy Harlaown of the Time Space Administration Bureau: one of Earths many allies in space." Xanatos said, and motioned for the woman with the third eye tattoo to take the podium. The images of war and horror disappeared.

"Fellow Sentients," She smiled as she spoke, "I am Captain Lindy Harlaown of the Time Space Administration Bureau…I believe that it is somewhat analogous to the Federation on Star Trek. Though, we are a society of mages as well as space travelers."

A low murmur went through the crowd. Harry had figured right, but still did not want to believe what he was hearing.

"We are an alliance of worlds which have all greatly suffered through various Dark Histories. My own home world, Mid-Childa, went through two such incidents leaving many artifacts of those wars behind."

New images filled the screen. These were simple three dimensional images of items or snapshots of locations.

Most of the items were books of one sort or another. However, a few were quite different: medieval weapons, stone tablets, even an odd shaped revolver appeared in the lineup.

"We've come to call these highly destructive and dangerous artifacts Lost Logia. Our original mission on this planet was to secure a Lost Logia from our planet which made its way here. Earth was already well known to us as a planet with an extremely large number of unaccounted for lost logia.

"It is standard First Contact procedure within the TSAB to aid a planet in the location and containment Lost Logia and related locations. Many of you have done so already and for that we are grateful. Still, there are many that, if they fall into the wrong hands or are left on their own, will ensure that this Dark History will repeat itself once again."

The images changed again, showing what Harry assumed were members of the TSAB in action on various planets. Mages in flight, battling machines, fallen mages and monsters alike.

"The final phase of this project is to eventually bring earth up to the technology standard of the Bureau. We will be sharing standard humanitarian aid where applicable. Earth is a good deal away from our dimensional hub, so I cannot promise much immediate action beyond my own ships' capabilities. Still, by the slow, monitored introduction of our Magical systems to earth, we can eventually bring humanity out of the chthonic masquerade the planet has around it—but the shortest time frame for that is still a hundred years off, so there's little need to worry."

The lights went back up as Lindy continued, "Of course, there are a lot more details in the actual treaty documentation—but we'll address any questions or concerns you have as an initial reaction to the proposal."

From across the room, the first to stand was a member of the Catholic Church, Enrico Maxwell. He was a slim with his gray hair tied back in a pony tail, but still looked rather young.

"This is a joke," He stood rigidly, lowering a condescending eye at Lindy, "Surely, this is a joke. You expect us to believe that aliens want us all to cooperate? How absurd. I expect you have Antennae hidden inside your hair too."

"Most humanoid life forms in the galaxy descend from the ancient Mu, so we do tend to look 'Human.'" Lindy answered calmly, "As for being an alien, we can take select groups on tour of either my ship, or the two inter-stellar cruisers earth has already built."

A murmur went through the hall as that bombshell was dropped as casually as a pebble. Harry himself nearly did a double take. If aliens were indeed real and looked like humans, it should not be that surprising to find at least one or more Ancient Astronaut theories turning out to be true too.

"I'm sure that will be most informative," Maxwell nodded his head slightly, "But you cannot expect organizations who have centuries of animosity to work together easily?"

"Of course not," Lindy smiled, "I expect the process to be a long, drawn out one. However, we feel the threat is certainly worth a little paperwork, don't you agree?"

Enrico Maxwell scowled as he sat down.

A small blonde woman stood up to speak, her seating name read as 'Buffy Summers.' Harry expected her to be taller for all the crap she pulled.

"I don't have quite the objections that Father Gray Ponytail, though I'll be trying to get on that spaceship tour later on." Buffy paused to get a look at Father Maxwell, who scowled back at her, "And I really hope you're not eating hamsters while our backs are turned. My main concern is with the women under my care. I'm sure a lot of people here who are not too eager to become tools of any government. We don't want to be drawn into something like the 39th Central Asiatic Conflict."

"Until the masquerade is broken," Xanatos answered, "Magical and mundane affairs will be kept separated in terms of resource allocation."

"And afterwards?" Buffy's face darkened slightly.

"Magic will be a part of everyday society," Lindy answered, "Given the—Slayer, right?"

Buffy nodded as an answer.

"Given a Slayers known predispositions towards violence and their power," Lindy answered, "Simple registration and training in how to responsibly use their abilities. I believe you are attempting to do something similar, correct?"

Buffy looked as though she had a rebuttal at the tip of her tongue, but it died as she answered Lindy: "Uh, yeah."

"We would work out the details of such registration and training as we worked out the treaties—but I believe it would be something analogous to a drivers license here on earth," Lindy smiled.

Buffy sat down, mumbling something Harry could not pick up.

"Any other immediate concerns?" Lindy asked.

"What about those of us who want the Dark History to continue?" A voice with a slight German accent filled the room, and the lights flickered.

Two figures appeared in the center of the room. One was a short, round man, in a white suit with glasses, his blond hair neatly combed so that only half of his bangs dangled over his forehead. The other was far larger, both in terms of height and musculature, with long dark hair and holding a long, curved blade sheathed over his shoulders. Guns and staves from the agents and Secret Service pointed at the new arrivals, and several of the guests stood up, ready for battle at their entrance.

"Hold on," Xanatos interrupted, "It's a hologram."

They lowered their weapons slightly, but remained on edge.

"I have a different proposal for you," The shorter of the two continued, "It is far simpler and more satisfying than paperwork and treaties could ever be."

He clenched his fist in a tight ball in front of him and said only one word: "War."

After letting that sit in the air for a moment, "War without end, a war to engulf this planet, this galaxy and beyond—to the very gates of Valhalla! War as pleasure, War as pain, War as a catalyst to bring about the best and the worst in mankind."

The Major turned grin continued to grow as he spoke, "A merciless, bloody war. A war built on iron, lightning and fire. A war whose very existence is needed for mankind to survive in any way, shape or form. A massive war—a War of Worlds! A war beyond any that man's history has ever known!

"Stand and fight us—the Last Battalion—or lie down and die as we press our jackboots into your throats. Or, if you choose to stand and watch, we will do so to those you hold most dear. Maybe that will get the urge for war to burn in you, as it does me. Precious people. Family, friends…"

The Speech-making madman mouthed two words towards Harry's table. Harry wasn't the best at lip reading, but he could barely make out the words—and they weren't English.

These two words elicited a gasp from the God Machine and caused her to pale significantly.

Harry believed the words to be a name, but not from a language he was familiar with, and that wasn't very many. Cam-E-Nah Eye-Yacht-Oh? He had no idea as to its significance, but they caused the God Machine to quake in fear.

Their images flickered into nothing before the ground shook and a white light filled the room. Harry braced himself for the shockwave.

Harry's world was inundated by white, but darkness claimed his sight soon after. His senses were overwhelmed and he knew the cause. The thing that looked like and thought she was a simple little girl.

"My instrumentalist," she boomed, "will not by threatened by anyone!"


 

When Harry opened his eyes again, his vision was blurred. A blonde woman was standing over him, saying something he only heard as muffled cries. As his vision cleared, he thought he recognized her.

"Murphy?" he groaned.

"No," The woman answered, the first clear word Harry heard, possibly due to the overabundance of cheer in it, "Right now I'm a nurse."

Harry's vision cleared and he did not recognize the woman who he saw now was far taller than Murphy as she helped him to his feet.

Harry felt a leather duster and a staff in his hand. He distinctly remembered coming to the event in a tux, but didn't feel like arguing with his brain. He needed to know what was going on.

"What happened?" He said, "Where's Murphy?"

By then the sounds of roars, explosions and guns began to register with him. They were oddly muffled, like listening to them through a pillow. He remembered the world going white and then an explosion. This snapped Harry to his senses, but he still didn't know what happened.

"I'm over here, Harry" a more familiar voice greeted him.

Harry leaned up in the bed he found himself in to get a better look at the surroundings—and to see where Murphy was. He lay on a cot inside a large tent that, from appearances, was made of several thousand sheets of ordinary paper. He could feel powerful energies flowing through it, keeping it solid and rigid against his weight.

That's when he realized the Murphy was in more combat-oriented clothing, casual but functional, and armed with a P-90 and other weapons.

"Glad to see you pulled through," Murphy smiled, "Can you stand?"

Harry nodded as he moved his feet.

"Murphy?" Harry asked, "When did we change?"

"Gift from the TSAB," she answered, "Remember the forms we filled out?"

Harry did remember and thought it was very weird at the time. It asked about their standard combat gear to be supplied to them upon the event of a confrontation at the meeting. Harry mentioned his blasting rod, staff and duster.

Seems they could only do so much. They at least gave him something, similar to his duster. The rest of his new ensemble was extremely casual by the standards of the party not minutes before: a T-shirt and jeans.

"Unlike me," The strange woman interrupted; as her attire changed from a stereotypical (and almost fetishistically short) Nurses' outfit into a leather motorcycle racer's attire, complete with helmet, "You can't change your clothes on a whim."

Ignoring the frivolous use of powers, Murphy continued, "It sort of makes up for being left behind."

"Okay, so what happened?"

"Building was hit pretty hard," She continued, "Most of the VIPs-"

"And our biggest guns," The strange woman added.

"-have been evacuated to before they cut off our transportation and pinned us down. You took a hit early on and had to be rushed to the back," Murphy continued.

"Raven hasn't woken up since they shut down access to the NecerNever," The strange woman said, motioning to Raven's still form lying in the cot next to his. Rose, now in the combat armor Harry had grown accustomed to seeing—a scale-like armor bits composed most of the dark blue ensemble, a large rifle and a sword strapped to her back.

Behind her was the mage responsible for the armored paper tent. She sat in a paper-chair and was plainly-dressed with pale skin and thick glasses. It consumed the entirety of her concentration.

Nearer to harry, the strange woman's attire again partly dissolved and shifted in a flash of pink to a red halter top with a heart shaped opening near the center and tight black pants that might as well have been painted on. On her arms were long white gloves and matching long boots.

Harry blinked twice before she added, "Also, I helped fix you all up!"

Harry decided it was best not to argue about that as she cheerily continued, "So we got to fight our way out—isn't it neat!"

"Just who the hell are you?"

She smirked, "Well, at times I'm a waitress. At other times I'm a battlefield nurse or a Bike Racer. But on assignment, my true identity is: Warrior of Love, Cutie Honey!"

Harry decided, as she said this with a twirl and (physical) sparkle, it was best not to let her elaborate on that fact and turned his attention to his staff—or, rather, the staff he had in hand. It was not his staff. It also helped solidify that he wasn't wearing his own duster either. He still felt the magic about it, but it was quite different.

The staff was identical to the ones the mage guards had.

"Did she just sparkle?" Murphy said, breaking Harry's train of thought.

Harry replied: "You saw it too?" and attempted to refocus on the strange staff.

Harry willed some power through it as a test and felt no resistance. The crystal light in the center of the metallic boxy, diamond-like structure at the staff's top blinked a few times and an electronic voice answered him: "Ready to go."

Perturbed slightly, Harry nonetheless gave it a mild test. It could channel his power almost as well as his own staff to his surprise. With the firefight all around him, he had bigger things to worry about beyond 'What the hell is this staff and how did I get a duster on?'

Harry wished he had his proper gear: his own staff, his rings, his revolver; but beggars couldn't be choosers.

"What can I expect to see out there?" Harry asked.

"There's these black-leather guys with animal motifs," Murphy answered, "They're strong, fast and occasionally do weird things at short range, but are otherwise a little melee restricted."

"They're Kaijin," Honey said, "Cyborg foot soldiers. There's a lot of them."

"There's also these big robots," Murphy said, "All armed to the teeth, but pretty fragile."

"Sentinels," Honey named them.

Harry was starting to like the odds. He and computers never really went together.

"There's some zombies—"

"Solamnun Infected-"

"Which have been outfitted with body armor and automatic weapons," Murphy continued with a small growl, "Some low level black court vampires, flying robot drone things—"

"Gadget Drones."

"—Are gonna let me talk?"

"Maybe," Honey smiled coyly.

"So," Harry chimed in, "What's the guy's name on first base?"

A short moment of silence filtered in before he got an answer.

"No, What's on second," Murphy supplied.

"I'm asking you who's on second," Harry smirked.

"No, who's on first," Murphy continued.

"I dunno—"

"THIRD BASE!" Honey shouted-her arms immediately raised, fists clenched in excitement.

"Would you mind!" the woman holding the tent together hollered, "I'm trying to concentrate here!"

"Sorry," Honey said, placing her hand in front of her face in an apologetic completely foreign to Harry.

Harry attempted to get the conversation back on track by asking; "So is that everything?"

"So far," Murphy said, "Though something new may have appeared."

"No new enemies within scanning range," the electronic voice of Harry's lent staff chirped.

Harry waited a moment before saying "It's supposed to do that, right?"

"Well, Nanoha's talks quite a bit from what I've heard," Honey answered, "So I guess so."

Harry wished he had his own staff—and his revolver, and his force rings, and his blasting rod too.

But he could not afford to be picky currently, "Who else is with us?" he asked.

"There's about a dozen others currently with us," Murphy answered.

"Okay, that's something," Harry began, but Murphy continued.

"And you won't like it," Murphy continued, "I think half of them are under 18 or younger."

Harry frowned a bit at that news.

"It's not that bad," Honey smiled, "There was a 14 year old girl here earlier who healed this guy who had a softball sized hole in his torso! It was amazing!"

A scowl crossed Harry's face, "Healed how?"

"Like it was never even there."

Healing magic was not something that could be tossed around lightly. Too much energy into cell regenerative processes and a healing could create horrible cancerous growths or even thaumagenetic tumor monsters. It took power and fines, as well as the proper mindset. To have the amount of skill to heal a lethal injury quickly and with no apparent side effects at the age of 14—that would be a prodigy along the lines of the Thousand Master or even the original Merlin if half the stories about him were true (and they probably weren't, in Harry's opinion).

"Alright," Harry said, "Let's make sure she gets out of this alive," and began to walk to the entrance of the tent.

"Um, she's right over here," Murphy said, pointing behind Rose and Raven to a very familiar slumbering form on a cot: Konoka Konemon. Resting soundly, showing telltale signs of magical overexertion: pale skin being the most obvious.

"Oh," was all Harry could manage afterward.

"So get out there and help already," Rose snarled, "I've got the interior covered."

Harry and the others turned to the exit—which formed from the paper walls in front of them. Stepping out into the battlefield, Harry was reminded of old photographs of war-torn Europe from the forties. The buildings immediately in front of him had been hollowed out at worst, or had pot marks from explosives at the very least.

As he exited, he found himself surrounded by those that were left behind. Out in front were some of the people he had been sitting with—Jack O'Neill's allies. Surrounding them seemed to be and endless horde of oncoming enemies-mostly the Solanum ghouls.

Solanum ghouls were not true ghouls—Harry had fought enough of those to know. Nor were they true zombies—again, from experience.

They were more of the pop cultural understanding of the zombie. Not controlled by magic, but controlled by a bacteria that infested the brain.

These things were everywhere, lumbering towards the crouching survivors, occasionally firing the odd burst of automatic fire. No rhyme or reason to it. They marched closer and closer to get their teeth into new victims—and thus, slowly, make more of their kind.

Firing back at them were a few of the survivors: The blonde woman and the large black man Harry had seen earlier—he did not catch their names unfortunately—were among them. They were wearing military combat uniforms with black, pouch-laden vests over the jumpsuits. The blond woman wielded a P-90 similar to the one Murphy held. The man had a strange staff—darker, clunkier, and without the crystal that Harry's had. This one spat yellow bolts of—Harry did not know what—which left football sized burn marks in the armored figures' chests.

They stood behind a row of overturned cars as the hordes swept down upon them. They had apparently been learned of the Solanum Ghoul's weak point: The head; the only way to guarantee that they were taken down. That or burn them up—they hated fire.

Before he could view the scene further, a woman's voice echoed in his head: "Get up here, we need fire support."

"Flight mode activated," Harry's staff announced—which was quickly followed by Harry's protestation of "Wait, what?"

Harry felt the oddest sensation as he rose in the air. It was like he was floating in water, but less thick.

From his elevating position, he gained a far wider view of the battlefield, and got an idea of how things were set up.

In the center was the triage tent he exited, back to the wall of a building that survived the blast fairly well. At the front of the box-like formation were Murphy and the two soldiers, laying down a layer of surprising fire against the oncoming horde.

On the sides were melee fighters—many of which Harry recognized, out in front, pushing the ghouls back.

Specifically, he recognized Cutie Honey, the Hellboy, his blue Elfin companion, Buffy Summers and the girl Konoka was nuzzling back at the party among them—as well as a green-armored figure with a thick helmet adorned with large, segmented eyes and small antennae (making it look like the head of a grasshopper) and a red scarf that Harry had never seen before.

Solanum ghouls were many things. Tenacious, tough—but they were slow as hell. And those engaging them in melee combat were moving at speeds that would put most of the vampires he'd seen to shame.

In the air above the ghouls, raking through their heads with aplomb, were the large lavender Gargoyle and a blonde girl in black with a cape and a skirt far too short for someone that age (about 10) to ever be wearing at all—let alone into battle. She held a black staff which formed a scythe of yellow lighting at its top with a yellow crystal at its center which slashed the heads of the Solanum ghouls at lightning speeds.

Which left Harry in the air with a young woman and a girl: On one side was the infamous Willower Rosenberg, on the other, that little girl Nanoha. Both had changed their attires—Willow to a green dress, Nanoha to a white one—Nanoha also clutched a white and pink staff with a large round ruby-like crystal at its crown. The two of them rained down bolts of magic of a nature Harry had only rarely seen—or never seen at all in Nanoha's case. She alternated between pink bullets of energy to wide beams, each with their own name that her staff called out.

Willow silently sent down spell after spell at the incoming horrors. Sometimes a bolt of lightning, other times a ball of fire exploded like a grenade upon contact with the ground—scattering ghouls and setting them on fire—and still others just vanished—forced into the never-never or some other outer dimension.

"Think you can incinerate some zombies?" Willow smiled, "I hear you really good at burning things down.

"I burn down one nightclub," Harry laughingly grumbled.

"Just be careful for Alucard," Willow added, "He doesn't like being burned up."

"Who?"

"Look for the shadowy amorphous shape eating everything in sight," She said, "Though don't look to long—and definitely don't use your Sight."

She shuddered before sending another team of Solanum ghouls into nothingness, "I don't even want to imagine what he's like underneath it all."

Harry nodded—whoever this Alucard was (probably Dracula—or some iteration their off. Word was there were about 12 different Draculas at one point or another) he really did not want to meet him.

Harry pointed his staff and shouted "Fuego!"

A gout of fire launched from the staff's tip and billowed over another squad of ghouls, incinerating some instantaneously, and sending others scurrying in fear as the flames spread from the blast point.

At the rate the three areal bombardiers were working, the streets would be clear of Solanum ghouls in mere moments.

Was this all that was left? Where were the robots and cyborgs Honey mentioned?

At that point, Harry inwardly cursed. He knew he just jinxed it.

A glint of blue light caught Harry's eye, one which grew brighter. It quickly shot into the sky and did not seem to end-then it began to fall.

"Protection" his staff barked and he felt power flow through the staff into a protective barrier—which Harry instinctively bolstered.

A pillar of blue light smashed against the shield—as well as the shield of Willow Rosenberg and the shield of Nanoha, sending sparks and jagged bolts out from the contact point. Pink, Green and translucent silver mixed together against the blue pillar.

A fourth party had also interceded between the three mages, one Harry had clashed with repeatedly over the last three week—and she was using her sword to bolster the defense against the pillar of light. Harry never thought the color pink could be made intimidating, but this "woman" managed to do it.

"Signum?" Harry gasped just before the shields began to crack with the sound of brittle eggshell crumbling away.

They soon shattered and the pillar of light barely passed between them as Harry's brain was filled with a tingly-spiders-crawling-everywhere sensation from the backlash of his shattered will—along with a splash across his face of warm liquid.

The pillar of light hit the ground first; cutting through the barrier the gunmen had been using and shattering the triage tent in a single blow. Sending everything in its path away from their formerly secure position.

Harry crashed to the ground, though the landing was far more comfortable than he was expecting.

He reached a hand to his face to wipe the offending liquid from his face as it started to creep down is face. He stood back up and look at it—confirming his fears.

Blood.

Looking to his left at the women who were next to him, he saw Signum bleeding from a cut on the arm, Willow with a cut over her head which bleed over an eye—forcing it shut.

But in her arms was that little girl in the white dress, Nanoha, splattered with blood and far more pale than she was before. A large gash traced down on her right side, between her neck and the edge of her shoulder, down to just below her elbow.

Her eyes moved frantically-but slowly, the only sign Harry could see that she was still alive—somehow. She was already deep in shock.

He looked to the pillar of light, which he could now see was connected to a mountain of a man in mechanical armor. The pillar itself was directly connected to a sword hilt the man carried.

"There is nothing," The man boomed as the pillar of light shrank and condensed itself into a blade at least 7 or 8ft in length, "that my blade cannot cut!"

"Nanoha!" Harry heard a girl scream before a streak of brilliant yellow lightning traced 5 times across the giant—knocking him back a step with explosive force contained in each blow before he lashed out with his sword again—knocking back a black clad blonde figure Harry had noticed before. Now wielding a sword composed of yellow lightning as big as the giants and somehow wearing even less.

"Wodan Ymir!" The girl frothed, tears streaming down her face, "Yurusanai!"

"Like I need forgiveness," The man said, "From a failed experiment."

"SHINEH!" she roared and charged with her sword again, keeping an inhuman pace to their duel.

Harry did not think. He just acted. What this man—this Wodan Ymir—had done, filled him with rage.

Harry's emotions were always the wellspring of his power, but he threw in a little soulfire, burning away part of his soul, to add to the flames. His could take it, and Wodan needed to go down.

"FUEGO!" Harry roared, sending a telephone pole sized spear of white-hot flames towards Wodan, piercing his side before the figure leapt an impossible 25ft into the air to dodge a sweep off the strike. Blood seeped from Wodan's mouth as he smirked.

Mid-air, pulled one fist over his shoulder and drove it into a spike on his back and then aimed that spike—actually a foot and a half long drill—towards Harry.

It launched from his fist like a rocket a shrill whine accompanying the spinning action of the drill. Reacting quickly, Harry called up his shield and managed to intercept the projectile.

"Panzer Geist!" a new voice called out from his right side just before the drill exploded—knocking him (shields still intact) back through the rubble.

"I understand your rage," A tense, but calm voice assured him, "But your talents are better served elsewhere."

"Screw that," Harry barked, "And what exactly are you doing here, Signum?"

"My master wishes that no blood be spilled—even vicariously—on her behalf," Signum answered, "You are still weak from being drained, are you not?"

Harry had to admit that, overall, he still was not a hundred percent, and "I'm still going to kill that bastard."

"Your talents are better served elsewhere," Signum repeated, and Harry looked in the direction she was facing as black-leather-clad biker-like people with animal motif elements moving in manners befitting more of the motifs than of humans, elongate rectangular flying machines and four Sentinel robots descended on the battlefield, crushing the few remaining Solanum ghouls underfoot.

He then looked back to Nanoha, cradled in Willow's arms, her hands weaving healing magic the likes of which he had never before seen.

The fact that her eyes went black was definitely not a good sign.

Damn it, Signum was right. She had saved him twice already. He needed to focus.

"Alright," Harry said, "But I want piece of him."

"Don't you mean another?" Signum deadpanned.

Before turning away he added, "And thanks for the save."

"Don't think hard on it," Signum answered swiftly, "I will still knock you down if we cross swords again," and took off to aid the blonde girl (who had been joined by a second, the more reasonably armored Buffy Summers) in battling Wodan Ymir.

But Harry saw her flinch for just a moment before she responded to his thanks. It might have less noticeable if the "woman" (who, he was told, was more akin to a realized program or android than a human being) was not so reserved.

Harry mused that he'd have to add to the list of Femme Fatales that he's encountered over the years.

"Besides," Signum added, "My reasons for hating him are stronger."

With that, she charged towards Wodan, her sword wreathed in flames.

"Wodan Ymir!" She screamed, "You have hunted down and killed many mages that were drained by the Wolkenwritter. You have put blood on my master's hands."

Signum sped underneath the flung, pained form of the Slayer as she was kicked aside by Wodan Ymir into the air, nearly taking off Harry's head—and into the Hellboy.

"For your acts," Signum roared, "You will die by my blade! For now, more blood on her hands will not be noticed."

"My blade will also taste your flesh!" A third swordswoman roared; leaping down upon Wodan with her blade wreathed in lightning. It took a moment for Harry to recognize Konoka's girl-toy—because she had large, feathery wings sticking out of her back, small fangs, and glowing red eyes.

Wodan, however, blocked both incoming strikes and leapt back, "And what have I done to you, half-breed?"

Harry's view of the scene was interrupted by a giant metallic leg interceding himself and Wodan's adversaries. Looking up, Harry was surprised at what it was. Dark red and black, roughly humanoid, but very angular, it stood some 15 feet tall, the only visible features on its face being two small glowing eyes.

"Oh great," A voice said behind him, which Harry soon saw belonged to Hellboy, "A Sentinel."

"You ever fight a giant robot before?" Harry asked.

"I've got a few under my belt," Hellboy answered, rolling his shoulder.

"Does arguing with my now-giant little sister count?" Buffy Summers quipped as she joined them.

"Giant little sister?" Harry asked, "What happened, was she cursed by a Thricewise?"

"Pretty much."

"Kids," Harry breathed, "Well, I've always wondered if this would work."

Harry willed his power through his staff—no refinements, no focus, just raw "Jinx technology" magic.

"Hexus," he whispered just before small explosions of sparks and tiny arcs of electricity erupted from all over the machine.

The lights of its eyes faded into and disappeared from its face. The head slumped down, bringing its chin to its chest, right before the machine stiffly fell backwards to the ground.

"Nice," Hellboy chuckled.

"Kinda anticlimactic," Buffy added, "But whatever works."

"Perhaps," A new, lighter voice said, "I will work better for your needs."

The figure slammed down in front of them—Buffy leapt back, avoiding the shrapnel, whist Hellboy and Harry let their toughness or their shields handle it. This new foe was quite different from the enemies Harry had seen so far—except one. In a way, it reminded him of Wodan Ymir, but that was only in terms of what it was—a person wearing a mechanical armored suit.

Compared to the sleek and pointed armor Wodan wore, this was far rougher—almost a hodgepodge of different parts. Black in color, highlighted in parts with a dark crimson, the machine had what appeared to be multi-jointed, wings-like structures on its back. It was far boxier than Wodan's armor. One arm had a miniature Gatling gun mounted on it, whilst the other had a trio of blades attached to it.

"Who are you?" Buffy asked.

"He can tell you," She answered, motioning towards Hellboy.

"Ouka," he answered, "But she's just another Nazi bitch to me."

"Don't be like that, Hellboy," She pouted, "We're practically family."

"'cept for the whole Nazi thing," Hellboy growled.

"I don't want to fight you, Hellboy," She sighed, raised her Gatling-gun towards the group—which began to whine as it spun, and added "But to make sure you live, I must do this."

Harry had his shield ready to intercept the barrage, and raised it in front of his allies before the first bullet got near them.

Buffy and Hellboy dove to opposite sides, Hellboy drawing his obscenely large pistol and Buffy grabbing a discarded rapier off the ground.

Ouka, for her part, leapt over the wall Harry had erected—and into Harry's line of fire.

"Forzare!" Harry shouted—and sent her careening back and into the ground, hard enough to leave a depressed skid mark in the rubble around them.

Harry blinked as she just got right back up.

Hellboy's first pistol volley slammed into her armor, to little effect.

"Damn," Hellboy spat, "that's thick armor."

Harry didn't miss a beat, hissing "Hexus" at her, letting loose a raw burst of magical energy—to fry any machinery she carried.

But was only rewarded a few sparks from the armor.

"Noble effort," She said, rolling her shoulders and slowly getting into a fighting stance, "But EMP shielding is something this armor's taken into account."

Hatches on the armored shoulders opened up, revealing a series of small spheres—Harry guessed they were explosives.

Harry caught a glimpse of small red lights atop the ends of the explosives. The lights probably meant there was a guidance system and a guidance system meant electronics—so he sent out another wave of power towards Ouka.

And watched the grenades explode on her shoulders, Ouka fell to her one knee, grunting in pain, as she was engulfed in smoke and flames.

"Guess the grenades weren't shielded that well," Harry smirked.

The next thing Harry knew, the smoke was nearly split in two and Ouka was in front of him, the blades on her one arm bared to strike him. Her face and body covered in thin scratches, her eyes bloodshot and armor around her face and shoulders blown away.

Before Ouka could strike, Buffy Summers intercepted her, blocking Ouka's blades with one of her own. She was still forced back into Harry, sending him tumbling back.

Harry stumbled, but Buffy held her off—their arms moving at blurring speeds Harry could not follow, as he forced himself up.

Buffy jumped into the air and delivered three rapid kicks towards Ouka before she landed back on the ground. The third and final kick managed to get Ouka to step back in her stride—and set up for a blow from Hellboy's massive fist that sent her reeling back a few steps.

With two melee fighters in combat with the target, Harry felt almost helpless—most of his spells were not geared for picking out a single target from that sort of rapid melee—he did not quite have the finesse for that.

But he did still have options. It was not his primary method of attack, but he could work things other than fire into an attack.

Harry gathered his will and did his best to focus it and readied his aim.

That's when Buffy snapped a quick "Stand back" to Hellboy—who obliged.

At which point, her sword arm began to move even faster, to the point where Harry could only see the whiplash and edge of the blur as it moved—as well as the sparks it made upon impact with Ouka's armor.

Ouka grunted, "What's the point of increasing your speed when your blows become random and—"

Before she could finish, Buffy's style of blows changed from horizontal slashes to repeated stabs—all into the joints between the armor.

Though the bade bent and broke by the end of the flurry, Ouka fell to her knees, a look of shock on her face.

"What is it with super-powered wackos and underestimating everyone around them?" Buffy smiled, "Ya think with all that superiority, they'd be able to see through very simple tricks."

What happened next happened in a flash. Buffy's eyes went wide, Ouka's eyes narrowed.

Buffy brought up the guard of her rapier as Ouka raised a weapon that looked like a grenade launcher with one barrel on top of the other.

A loud crack filled the air and Buffy's guard hand was thrown up over her head—bloody and red—forcing her back.

Buffy leapt out of the way of the following bursts from the strange weapon—but let out a curt scream as one shell hit her thigh. She was knocked off her trajectory and landed with a roll in a heap on the ground.

In a flash, she turned and leveled the weapon on the Hellboy, who took one to his over-sized right hand and was knocked clean off his feet by the angle of the blow. A second shot hit him in the back, fraying his leather overcoat.

Harry barely had time to raise his shield before the first shell was launched—followed by three more.

Harry braced himself on the ground as best he could so as to not be sent flying through the air. Then she flipped the weapon out to the side and brought the top barrel over the bottom one, creating one long-barreled weapon.

Harry poured more of his soul into the shield as soon as he saw Ouka put two hands on the weapon.

When it fired the air distorted around it as a blue beam raced towards him—Harry's shield lasted all of 3 seconds before is shattered like glass. Harry fell to the ground from the mental shock, just going underneath the beam as it flew by.

And pointed the stored lightning bolt in the right direction with a command of, "Fulminos!"

The bolt raced towards Ouka, channeled through her weapon and into the superwoman, blowing her off her feet, a cut off scream the only thing to escape her throat as she was knocked off her feet and her armor twitched in overload.

For a long moment, only the background din of battle could be heard.

"Did we win?" Harry said, slowly pulling himself up from his stupor.

"Ow," Hellboy said, as he began to rise.

"Ditto," Buffy sighed, "I hate guns."

Harry, being the chivalrous sort, helped her to her feet before seeing to Hellboy, who managed to roll over to a seated position, but looked pretty roughed up himself.

"Well I can't fight on this leg," Buffy winced as she leaned on Harry's shoulder, "What the hell kinda gun was that?"

"My guess," Hellboy said, rolling his head to get his bearings again, "Felt like high end anti-demon ordinance."

Hellboy opened his eyes and sighed, "Aw crap."

Harry looked in the direction Hellboy was facing—as did Buffy. A group of demons—heavy-set beasts with three eyes placed lopsidedly over their saber-toothed, ox-like heads, adorned with tentacles atop it. Their ape like postures and blue-green skin were not that endearing either.

Harry decided to nickname them Hellfrogs.

There were a dozen of them, stalking towards them.

"You know what they are?" Buffy asked.

"I killed one before," Hellboy said, "Does that count?"

"They burn well?" Harry asked.

Hellboy answered: "Dunno."

It was better than nothing. Harry pointed his staff at the entourage and shouted "Pyrofuego!"

The beasts were quickly engulfed in flames, burning them to ashes almost instantly, leaving a 100ft foot area full of small fires, half melted metal and cracked cement.

Harry stumbled but caught himself—he was running very low on magic with that one. The filtering the staff did was helpful in keeping things controlled—but he still overdid it.

"We have to get out of here, like now," Harry said as Kaijin began to slowly filter in from the shadows.

Above them, Harry caught a glimpse of the three swords women who were still in battle with Wodan Ymir above their heads.

The ladies above were petty beat up, bleeding and bruised in several spots over their bodies, all were breathing heavily.

Wodan, for his part, was also bleeding—primarily from the wound Harry had given him, but he continued to fight on with a smirk on his face.

"Your blades are weak," He said, "Mine is the sword of Ragnarok! What do you have which can compare to that?"

"Ragnarok?" Signum scowled, "What is a sword that cuts only for a concept—an ideal. My sword burns for something far more real than that."

"As does mine," The winged girl added.

"Same here," The blonde added.

"Testarosa, Sakurazaki," Signum gave a glance to the two other swords women; "I'll give you an opening—use it. This will be the final strike."

Wodan raised his sword in preparation.

Signum's sword fired off a pair of cartridges from its hilt, encasing the blade in flames, transforming the sword into a segmented, bladed whip and ejecting the cartridges like a pistol. Signum spun partly back, holding her whip-sword low.

"For those we care for!" Signum roared and sent her burning whip towards Wodan. He deflected the strike—only for it to slide past him and ensnare him like a python, forcing his blade out of his hands.

"For those we protect!" Sakurazaki shouted—her eyes no longer red with rage, but her blade encased in glowing power Harry could feel from there.

"For our friends!" Testarosa added, her massive sword expelling three cartridges before it too began to glow with power.

Signum pulled back on her snake-sword and away from Wodan—spinning him in mid air as the blades cut at his side.

An electronic voice from Testarosa's stated "Zeus Zanber" as she swung her blade—the electrical energy extending in the blade to length's Wodan's sword had previously reached to catch him in the gut.

"Shinmeiryu Ogi!" Sakurazaki leapt in the air with a scream, and came down again on Wodan, her blade encased in a thunderstorm of lightning, "Dai Raimei-Ken!"

Both lightning blades struck simultaneously, causing Wodan to howl in pain.

"There is nothing," Signum said, turning her back to the warrior, returning her weapon to its sword form.

"That our blades," Testarosa continued, reverting her sword into the black staff it once was.

"Cannot cut!" Sakurazaki added, snapping her sword back in its scabbard just as the energies dumped into Wodan detonated—engulfing him in flames and sending his armored form spinning away.

A sigh escaped all of them when Wodan's counter attack failed to arrive.

The three of them landed in front of Harry and his allies with a near audible slump of weariness.

"I was hoping," Signum said, her breathing heavy, "You would have survived this better than I."

"No such luck," Harry answered, "And more are working their way here."

"We saw, but they will not be able to break the barrier my lady is protected by," Sakurazaki sighed, "I at least have that."

Harry looked around and saw the others allies nearby in similarly worn states. Bleeding, clothes and armor torn, weapons broken or discarded entirely while dozens of fresh Kaijin slinked towards them.

Harry began to muse on the situation when the ground between them and the kaijin was struck with lightning and exploded in a massive crater—most of the force launching out towards the kaijin.

"Wha?" He heard himself say as a figure rose from the crater, encircled by wind and flame. She was of an athletic build with strong arms with burning red hair that went to the center of their shoulders (or it would if the wind let it rest). She wore a white jumpsuit that clung nicely to her curves, blue boots and gloves tipped her limbs, and a red scarf fluttered in the wind with her hair. Clear goggles rounded out her face in full. Her arms were firmly folded over her chest.

Harry was extremely glad he was looking at the back of her head. If they locked eyes, he did not think his mind could take it at this point.

"Sorry I'm late," The figure said, "I had to go change my outfit."

Harry blinked twice before asking, "Who are you?"

The woman smirked as though she'd been given the perfect straight line for a joke: "Japanese Self Defense Force Captain on special assignment in the United States. The UN's Top Special Forces Agent in combating Para-Human threats. Bishojo Chojin Eiko Megami!"

Harry groaned, "Does anyone just have a name anymore?"

The kaijin picked themselves up from her landing debris and ran towards her. And worse, Harry saw Wodan picking himself up from the rubble, leading the charge.

Eiko's eyes narrowed, "You are truly contemptible to think you are the greatest. To think that raw strength is what gives one an evolutionary advantage. To think that such strength means you are the pinnacle of development. One who thinks "I have reached the top" is nowhere near it."

She extended both of her arms out to the sides, small red dots forming at the end of them.

"Um, Eiko?" Hellboy said, "You wanna—"

Eiko continued regardless, "Because the true top is to be strived for, never achieved. The moment you stop striving is the very moment that you have failed. Because a real Übermensch—a True Superman NEVER STOPS TRYING TO BETTER THE WOLRD!"

"Eiko!" Hellboy shouted, "Stop showing off!"

Wodan led the charge, outpacing all the Kaijin. Bleeding from his side and a massive cut on his shoulder, his armor torn and broken, he nonetheless charged with two rocket thrusters burning on his back. He raised his sword in the air—both hands clasped tightly on its hilt, ready for the strike.

He roared as he flew towards her.

"BUSTER!" Eiko clasped her hands over her head, her fingers pointed like a child's finger-gun, the red spheres merging and a similar color glow emanated from her eyes.

Wodan kept rushing towards her.

"Eiko!" Hellboy yelled.

Wodan got within a few feet of her, his sword ready to come down on her floating figure before she finally shouted: "BEAM!"

The red light emanating from her fingers pushed shot forth as a beam-fusing with a second beam that came from her eyes, striking Wodan full on in the chest and sending him back hundreds of feet within a split second—making him appear to almost teleport the distance due to the velocity he was thrown back at.

He quickly disappeared into the side of a building with a small explosion of rubble and fire.

"SLAAAAAAAAASH!" Eiko added and split her hands, each going in a different direction, taking each beam at the end of her fingers and slicing through the kaijin that ran with Wodan cleanly and neatly before the beams disappeared. Red lines now formed on the kaijin it struck. Harry quickly saw that the beam had literally burned right through them. Armor and all. Some had lost limbs in the process, but all were struck deeply in the body.

"The cavalry!" Eiko pronounced just before the Kaijin began to detonate from the extreme damage they had taken, "has arrived!"

Hellboy sighed and smiled, "That's Eiko for you."

"Who is that girl?" Buffy asked.

"Eiko Megami is her current alias. She's a one woman army," Hellboy thought and added, "With all the apparent self control of a 16 year old girl."

"Apparent?" Signum asked.

"If she really did lose control," Hellboy explained, "She'd crush people like pumpkins when she hugged 'em."

"Wow," Was all Harry could add before a black figure dove out of the sky and tackled Eiko to the ground.

Blows were quickly exchanged at a rate that made Buffy's earlier display seem slow and uncoordinated. When Eiko and the new figure separated, Harry got a good look at it.

"You indeed are as good as they say," He said with a smirk in his voice. Harry could not see his face as he was completely encased in black powered armor. Harry had seen Steel Clan Armors in images before, and this armor was highly reminiscent of this and Wodan's armor, but more plate-like. The corners of each segment were sharpened into points or hard angles on the limbs and boxed off at the shoulders. On his back were two wing-like structures held folded against his back. The face was highlighted by a pair of straight demonic horns on either side of the head as well as a large central, green jewel over the "Third Eye". The non-solid bits of armor were tipped with bits of gold and red in various locations, with a dark blue underlying the plate armor.

Eiko did not answer his jab.

"And quiet too," He said, "I knew you'd be the only one for me."

"You must be him," Eiko said.

"You heard of me? I'm flattered."

"You're that whiny, Emoboy Prime that Robin's told me about," Eiko smirked.

Emoboy Prime shook with anger and clenched a fist at her, "MY NAME IS PRIME! You will call me that and only that!"

"Whatever, Spasticboy Prime," Eiko scowled, "Get lost or I take a limb."

He then disappeared from Harry's sight—Eiko soon followed. They seemed to disappear, but in truth they just moved too fast for Harry to turn his head. Harry tried to regain them in his sight, but by the time they did, they had stopped moving. He saw Prime pinning Eiko down, one of his claw like hands clasped around her head; face nearly forced down in the rubble, straddling her back. His other hand kept one arm in check while the position of her body made sure the other was not a threat either.

"You're soft," He said, "Like everyone raised outside the compound. But don't worry, I'll harden you up—as I teach you where your proper place is."

Harry felt anger burning inside him, but lacked the magic to do much about it.

He still sent power through his staff and sent a stream of fire towards Prime.

He was joined in by the others, firing what rounds they had left, using what magic they could or just throwing rocks.

All of which only got his torso to twitch at the very most.

"Pitiful creatures," Prime said, squeezing Eiko's head to elicit a short, pained scream, "I'll have to teach them some—"

Prime stopped mid sentence and looked about—namely up.

Harry followed his gaze and was soon rewarded. From the blackness of night, he watched the sky ripple and shift. Harry realized it was Raven's cloak.

Underneath it, revealed now for the entire world to see might as well have been a bright pink sun, measuring at least half a football field in diameter. Standing at its top, he saw a small white-clad, bloodstained figure—Nanoha. With her and Raven was Willow.

That pink sun was made entirely of Magic—more than Harry had ever felt from a single entity before. It would not be until well later that he learned that it was the residue of all the magic expended in the battle over that day and before. Every last bit of raw magic—as well as some donated by the other two powerful mages – was in that sphere.

Signum's face went pale, Harry sharing a similar expression.

He was pretty sure Prime had it as well.

"Zenryoku Zenkai!" Nanoha shouted, her breathing slightly labored, "Starlight!" She raised her staff high above her head and sent it crashing into the giant sphere, "BREAKER!"

Harry's entire vision was overtaken with pink—but he felt nothing strike him. He was safe—untouched, even though everything within his eyesight was now engulfed in the attack.

When his vision returned, Prime was gone, though a chunk of his armor remained.

Signum was gone as well. Harry surmised she used her last bit of magic to ensure her escape.

Above him, he could hear a heavy sigh of exhaustion and the hiss of a powerful machine releasing steam.

Eiko spat as she stood up, "How the hell did he get away with that hitting him?"

Harry was even more worried now than before.

"Hey!" He heard a voice call out—that of Honey, "They left a survivor behind."

The group limped over to the woman to see what she saw.

Ouka lay in a pile of rubble, breathing faintly, where Harry had left her.


 

The White Council of Wizards took their sweet time deliberating over the information Harry sent them. He had Bob review the strange jewel the TSAB agents had given Harry detailing the Dark History as well as the proposed joint operations with the various governments in on the deal which, aside from the US, included every other heavyweight nation from Russia and China to England, France and Japan, as well as oddballs like Singapore and Mexico, places that were hotbeds of supernatural activity.

They've done their homework, but the documentation given did something no one expected, they flouted the Unseelie Accords, the general "Peace Treaty" between the supernatural nations of earth.

Harry had to talk it over with someone. Fortunately, Harry let a few of the visitors from the event stay at his place overnight, they insisted they stay someplace warded since the Nazi's blocked off Nevernever travel for a dozen hours.

The council would not like him talking with Willow Rosenberg and Buffy Summers, but he'd take what he could get, he needed to talk this out.

"So what are your thoughts on this?" He asked as he prepared them a simple breakfast, eggs and toast for the most part.

Willow warned Dresden that Buffy ate a lot, to the Slayer's annoyance.

"That girl Nanoha scares me a bit," Willow said, "She'd do whatever it takes to help people. Which is nice, but to see that much dedication in a 10 year old is frightening."

"You think the space wizards did that to her?"

"Honestly, they seemed just as impressed by her," Buffy answered, "I'd blame Japan,"

"You're just pissed that you can't have a secret identity in Japan," Willow chided.

"No, I don't like Japan because the girls there submitted themselves to government oversight as soon as they got their powers!" Buffy scowled, "We change the rules of magic so that girls don't have to be slayers if they don't want to and an entire country's worth of girls willingly lets itself be used by the government for who knows what!"

"Probably fighting giant monsters, they do have a lot of them," Willow teased.

"Stop making sense," Buffy leaned back in her chair as Harry brought the meat to the table, "You're ruining my irrational dislike with your sense-making."

"Anyway," Willow said, after scooping some more Fruit Loops into her mouth, "The space wizards don't appear to be that bad, but-"

"But they could still be lizard people here to eat us," Harry said as he sat down.

"More likely they're here to strip mine natural resources," Willow said, "we make bad food stock—breeding cycle takes too long." After a pause, and two long stares at her, she added, "Well, I got bored one day and thought about it in my freshman year—I…didn't have many friends back then and it was Xander who brought it up!"

"Trying to hide your inner dork, Will?" Buffy smirked.

"No, I…" Willow sighed and leaned back, "Never mind."

"Even if they aren't, though," Buffy said, "We're going to help with the Nazi business."

"If the White Council won't help," Harry said, "I'll at least throw in my weight."

"Being both Jewish and gay, I think I have a vested interest in their defeat too," Willow said.

"Probably the others will help stop them too," Buffy said, "They did just declare war on the entire world."

"But afterward," Harry said, wheels turning in his head.

"I dunno," Willow closed her eyes in thought, "The Merlin hates me."

"That makes two of us," Harry assured her with a smile, which felt very odd to him—here was a woman who had altered an ongoing permanent, global spell and broken multiple laws of magic in her youth.

Why did she need assurance?

Harry filed the peculiarity away in his brain, for now he had more pressing matters to worry about—namely, the Nazis.


 

Ouka awoke inside a sterile, white hospital room. Her eyes opened slowly at first, but widened when they saw a not-so friendly face staring her down. Dressed in an orange gi with a dark blue underlay, with spiky dark hair, sat Eiko.

"You're awake," Eiko said, "Glad to see they didn't knock you totally senseless."

Ouka tensed up, but felt metal restraints on her limbs holding her down.

"You really want to try and run," Eiko smirked, "From me?"

"Then why am I—?"

"Brass isn't taking chances," Eiko answered quickly, "Even though they're throwing you a bone."

"A what?"

"There's a trio of girls who are very vocal about us not just setting you down on the Ogasawara Islands and letting the locals deal with you," Eiko coldly explained, "So, can I get your word that you'll behave?"

Ouka took a breath to steady her nerves before she said "Alright."

Eiko nodded towards the door and three teenage girls entered. They had changed quite a bit from when she had last seen them: they'd matured a good deal, as teenagers were known to do, but they kept their preference in colors regardless of how much they aged. The first was dressed in a shade of red that complimented her hair, the second wore blue that matched the color of her eyes and capped off with blonde hair, the third wore black and green which matched her hair and eyes. They were rather attractive, with the athletic build of cheerleaders—though only two looked like they could have come from the team. The green eyed girl looked more at home in a goth club.

"Blossom, Bubbles, Buttercup," Ouka smiled lightly, "I wish I could be meeting you someplace nicer."

"Hi, Ouka," Blossom said quietly.

"Nice to see you again," Ouka answered.

Eiko slipped out of the room quietly, to let the sisters re-connect—though "Sisters" was a very loose term for genetic experiments of two different generations. They were as closely related to each other about as much as Eiko was to them.

But they still considered themselves family.

All four of the girls' minds were recalling the last time they had met—a very unpleasant one for all of them. Ouka had led an attempt to bring the girls back to Millennium after their creator secreted them to the United States. Millennium insisted that she bring 4 remaining 4th Generation Children of the Sun to bring them back.

Things got out of hand, and by the end of the day, there were only 6 children of that generation left as the girl called "Bunny" detonated.

"Are you okay?" Bubbles asked her, "Are they treating you okay?"

"So far," Ouka answered.

A tense silence filled the air.

"Why are you still with them, Ouka?" Buttercup barked, "You can't believe that "create a better world" crap they spout."

"But that is Rasputin's goal—a new world will be ushered in by Anung un Rama. It is inevitable. All we can do is prepare for it—"

"Or fight it!" Buttercup leaned towards her elder sister, "We've fought off apocalypses before, we'll do it again too!"

"Buttercup!" Blossom scowled at her sister before turning back to Ouka, "Rasputin' isn't in charge, is he?"

Ouka did not say anything.

"We've listened to the Major—he doesn't' want a perfect world," Blossom continued, "All he wants is war."

"He's but a tool we need to get to paradise," Ouka answered in a manner that spoke of endless repetition.

"Do you really think it's worth it?" Bubbles asked lightly.

"Yes," Ouka reflexively answered.

"Even if we fight it?" Buttercup asked, locking eyes with Ouka—who did not maintain contact for very long.

"I…" Ouka's voice cracked, her mind thinking back to Bunny—the last sister from the B-class to die.

Unlike her, the B-Class incorporated the genetic material for manifesting multiple superhuman abilities that seemed to regularly crop up. Some came from humans interbreeding with old ones, like the removal of heat from nearby the mutant creating ice and freezing targets. Other times, they generated electricity or the ability to project radioactivity.

The mixtures did not go according to plan, and those capable of generating radioactivity in offensive bursts were the most unstable—detonating and leaving radioactive particles in their wake, more like a dirty bomb or failed nuclear detonation than a true nuclear detonation, thankfully.

Several of the B-Class died in this manner, but one in particular stood out—Bunny. Malformed and mentally retarded, Bunny was allowed to live only because of the power the B-Class had and how rare survivors were. Forced into field work to retrieve the girls, the mission ended in failure.

Bunny befriended the girls of the B-Class she was sent to retrieve. Ouka was sent after her, leading to a massive confrontation, which was largely verbal. Bunny was torn on what to do or where to go, but fortunately, she did not have long to agonize over the decision. A Baragon bore its way to the surface and attacked the down. They battled the beast effectively, but Bunny began to fall apart. Ouka warned everyone of the danger—that Bunny was about to explode in a kiloton-level explosion.

So she leapt down the Baragon's throat before it happened—taking the monster with her.

Her last words before leaping to her doom were a simple declaration: "Bunny do good!"

Ouka did not want to lose another member of her family.

But she would not betray the cause either.

"When the time comes," Ouka voice grew cold, but quiet, "Don't go to Tokyo. Please."


 

In an adjacent room, Eiko went to check on their contingency plan. Said contingency sat observing the scene as it transpired with a cold smirk on her lovely face. Long blond hair capped off the best body money could buy, draped in a white cape that covered an outfit which, despite having pants, left enough to the imagination to tantalize—but only just.

Her name was Emma Frost, and she could kill people with her mind.

"Did they do their job?" Eiko asked as she strolled in.

"Only enough for me to do the rest," Emma remarked, "Trusting teenagers with rooting out international security secrets? I swear David must be losing his edge."

"He did set you up as a contingency."

"At a price, of course," Emma countered, "Keeping my school out of his little renewal of the second world war seems adequate for knowing the enemy's tactics before they are implemented."

Eiko frowned and asked her, "So what did you find out?"

"A basic list of where they're going to attack next. Not exactly sure what their plan is, though," Emma sighed, "A war on two fronts is suicidal—but a war on seven fronts…"

"Seven?" Eiko scratched her forehead, "Gotta be something magical going on there."

Before Emma could elaborate further, the door to the room swung open with casual grace.

"Emma Frost, I haven't seen you since the Eugenics Wars," The Doctor said as he strolled in, "I'm not interrupting something am I?"

"Just minor psionic espionage," Eiko said, "No big."

"We will have to do something more in-depth later," Emma said, "that woman's mind has been bluntly tampered with so many times it's a miracle she's coherent and stable as she is now."

"Surface scans only, Ms Frost?" The Doctor asked, "You've softened up a great deal."

"I have you to thank for that, I suppose," Emma then smiled and added, "and it's Mrs. Frost these days."

The Doctor cringed, "please don't tell me it's to that guy who reeks of alcohol, tobacco and ferrets?"

Emma smirked, "Dear Doctor, I have far better taste than that."

Eiko, by contrast, released a boisterous laugh, "That's it, from now on, Logan's a ferret!"

When Eiko recovered, she asked, "I assume you found him?"

"Them, actually," The Doctor said, "find the God Machine and you find the Instrumentalist."

"So, where are they?" Emma arched an eyebrow awaiting the answer.

"Atlantis," The Doctor said

Emma smiled, "How amusing, that is one of the locations they plan to hit."

"And the others?" The Doctor asked.

"It's an interesting mix," Emma said, "The significance should be evident to you, Doctor. New York, Tokyo, the Vatican, Roanapur, Cardiff, Atlantis and Kaspak."

Eiko visible paled at the last name mentioned.

"High population densities, strong inter-dimensional currents, rifts and resting old ones," The Doctor murmured, "If I were them, the only reason I'd go to those places is to gather fuel and resources."

"How the hell do they expect to get off Kaspak alive?" Eiko shuddered.

The Doctor stroked his chin, "They won't be asking nicely, that's for certain."

Chapter Text

Everyone remembers where they were that day. I was right there. At ground zero. Over a hundred floors up, doing my best to rescue as many people as I could.

In the year 1999, Godzilla destroyed the first World Trade Center tower, dropping it on the space demon King Ghidorah. An acceptable loss. Now the actions a few men threatened to bring the last tower down. Why, at the time I didn’t know nor care. I had only one primary objective. Keep the building standing.

I am strong—ridiculously strong. When I focus myself and my chi, I can lift more than even my father could at his prime. One of the support beams had given out. Buckling under the heat of the flames. There was no choice, no other option. If I was to save as many people as I could, I had to make sure the last tower remained standing.

So I held it up.

My muscled quivered with exertion. For someone as strong as I am, this is a rare event, and it brought tempest-like fear to my stomach. I could feel my hands burning. Hear and smell my own flesh sizzling against the red hot metal. Being able to see into the infrared and beyond ultraviolet spectrum sounds like a blessing at first, but here and now, amid those intense flames, it left me blind. All I could do was hold it up. I didn’t have a costume on. There was no time. I had to save as many as I could.

I remember calling out to him, “Cap! Tell me you’re making progress.”

“As much as can be made,” I heard his voice over the com. Damn things still worked despite the heat. I thanked Biko for the design afterwards. It didn’t stop her tears, “You holding up?”

“Ha. Ha.” I smiled. Cap could always keep moral up, even in the darkest of times. He cared about everyone he worked with. Everyone loves Cap. Everyone loved Cap. Steve Rogers. Captain America. He was truly the greatest hero I've ever known. This was the day he died.

I watched him die. Unable to do a thing.

He was lower in the tower than I was, leading people down the stairs as best he could, clearing debris and getting as many people out as he could. We were the only super heroes close enough to the scene to get in—maybe the only ones fool hearty enough to do it. I can get away with it. Very few things can harm me. And Cap? He’s just one brave son of a bitch. Unthawed in the 1960s and still kicking around. I never realized until he was gone how old he’d gotten. Not in his body, but in his eyes. He was tired.

Maybe I could have saved him if I realized it sooner.

“How long do you think you can manage?” he asked me. He always cared about everyone under his command.

“I’ll manage as long as I have to!” I told him. Even though he was floors away, I could feel his disapproving glare. “Another hour. Tops. Then this place is going down.”

“Are you sure you want to—”

“Cap, I know I can survive this. It’s gonna hurt like hell, but I’ll manage—“Damn those words. Those were the last words I got out before I heard it. Another support beam starting to give out.

“Oh God,” terror crept up my voice, “Cap—another beam is giving out! I can hear it!”

I dug down and focused my sight to the x-ray spectrum. I could see the shadows of the metal starting to bend and twist.

“The buildings going down any moment now! I--I can't stop it! Steve! Get out of here! I know you can—“

“We both know that’s not true,” he told me calmly, “We both knew this was probably a one way trip for me.”

“Steve! Please!”

“Eiko. It’s been an honor.” I could see him salute me. I could see him and the others. Everyone.

I screamed again as the floor collapsed beneath me. But I couldn’t un-focus my eyes. Damn them. Damn my eyes. I saw them all. The people. Crushed. Stabbed. Eviscerated. Mutilated. Smashed and finally rendered unto ash. I watched them all die. I watched him die.

I survived. But part of me wished I didn’t.

I don’t remember being pulled out. I was awake, my eyes refocused to close, but all I can remember as the smells and sounds. The burning. The creaming and my own horse voice crying out in the darkness as the building's remains surrounded me. I remember waking in the Hospital days later. I remember the nation in mourning. Aside from Steve, over a thousand had died. They say that with out the two of us, the death toll would have been more than twice that. They gave me medals. I couldn’t stop crying for days.

Then someone claimed responsibility for it. They tried to keep the news away from me. But I found out anyway. I don’t remember what happened in the next few days. It’s a blur of red in my mind. Stories from Afghanistan speak only of a monster, something called Shaiitan al Ahmar. The Red Devil. The monster is said to have torn the country apart in its search for the ones behind the attack. It was discriminate, but terrible in its wrath to all who stood in its way.

All I know is that I regained my senses in Pakistan. From there, I made my way to India and arranged transport back home. There, I learned that the ones who brought about the destruction of that day were scattered to the winds, their leaders and organizers assumed dead. Assumed because of the amount of destruction wrought. Because there were no bodies to confirm it. Only the jabbering testimony of men frightened to madness.

I don’t know what I did. I don’t know if it could happen again. So I lost myself in fantasy. Fantasy of what I failed to be—a true Super Hero.

I pray I never find my way back out.

Chapter Text

“Instrumentalist” Reika’s voice rang in Jack’s ears as he found himself roused from an unpleasant slumber, “I need your presence.”

Jack opened his eyes, painfully, low lights piercing him lightly as though he had a hangover.

“I apologize for the rough transport,” She said, “But I need you to active the system.”

Jack quickly got his bearings—he was inside a ship, Ancient (or, rather Mulian) in design by the look of things, and it wasn’t working.

They were deep enough inside that no natural light penetrated, only light blue emergency lighting filled the room—largely from the large crystalline platform at the room’s center. In front of it was something he assumed to be a control panel.

Reika stood next to it.

“Please, activate the system,” Reika said.

He looked at his watch: only half an hour had passed since the "Show" portion of the evenings activities began. He wished he had more than a military watch in terms of equipment.

“Why?” Jack snarled as he stood up, “Where the hell am I?”

“You are in the Atlantis city-ship,” Reika explained, her voice slightly strained, “And you are here to activate the city’s defenses to prevent it from falling into Millennium’s hands.”

“And you can’t do so because--?”

“I am locked out.”

“Okay, why are you locked out?” Jack folded his arms.

“An Ixtili cannot operate Mulian Technology other than what we are created for or bonded to.”

Jack’s ears perked up, “Bonded to?”

“We don’t have much time—activate the station please,” Reika pleaded.

Jack walked towards the console and placed a hand on it. Blue and yellow-white light quickly spread from Jack’s hand and illuminated the room.

A voice soon followed: it was soft, yet commanding voice of a young woman, “Atlantis station now reactivating.”

A form blipped into existence before him. It was quite different from what he had previously seen of the ancients up until now. Like Oma Desalla, her outfit could best be described as a pantsuit. But unlike Oma, the arms had a large stripe of black running down their length, with patterns he did not recognize emblazoned in gold. Also in gold was an emblem on her chest a round circle and three ovoid shapes like the tips of spears arranged in a cross-like pattern reminiscent of a bird (with the circle acting as the bird’s head). The woman’s hair was a light blond and grew long down her back with two thick strands held by silver clasps that draped over her shoulders and ran down to her hips. Her eyes were a light shade of blue, but her skin was a nearly sickly pale color, as though she rarely went outside.

“I am Dianna Soriel, Ixtili of Atlantis. The Mu are long dead, why am I being disturbed?”

“Defend the world from Nazis?” Jack put forward.

“‘Nazis’ is not a term I recognize,” Diana answered, “My defensive capabilities are unreliable at the present. There are no Power Batteries or Rings to use. The Leviathan was destroyed decades ago. Furthermore, the Manhunter Dolems are in various stages of rampancy.”

“Okay, wow,” Jack said, “I think I understood every other word.”

“Do you still wish to activate the security protocols?” Diana repeated.

“How?”

“Third light on the left,” Reika answered, “The green one.”

Jack nodded with a “Better than nothing, I suppose,” and touched the light, which began to flash blue and red.

The walls of the chamber became segmented and changed shape, creating small chambers where large figures were soon teleported in. They stood almost 8ft tall and were sleek metal figures with smooth, un-segmented hands that reminded Jack of mittens on first glance. The head on each figure was large with a visor-like bar as the only segment on the metallic beings that was not smoothed out on its surface.

They also came in a variety of colors. One was black, another was purple and a third was orange. Three of them were 3 different shades of blue (dark, medium and light blue); two more were shades of red (classic red and maroon).

“No Man Escapes the Manhunters,” They boomed in unison.

“Good to know” Jack began, “I’m Colonel Jack O’Neill of—”

“I’m goin’ on break,” The orange manhunter blurted out.

“On break?” A maroon-colored one standing next to it turned with a start and faced the orange one, “but we were just reactivated for the first time in thousands of years.”

“Yeah,” The orange one continued, “and I figure we built up a lot of backlogged break time, so I’m taking advantage now.”

“You can only backlog break time while you’re in the field, isn’t that right, Sarge?” The Maroon one shot back.

“Darn tootin’” The red one, Sarge answered with a gruff voice and an odd Texan accent, “You don’t earn a second of break time until you actually start to work.”

“But you know I hate work,” The orange one whined.

“Which is why I’m giving you DOUBLE duty, private,” Sarge answered, “Any day where you suffer is a day I sleep easy.”

“Hey!” Jack said, “Can you focus, please.”

The light blue Manhunter scoffed, “Clearly, you’ve never met us before. This is all we do. Ever.”

“It’s true,” The Black one said, “They bicker, whine and mock each other and that’s about it.”

“That’s not true,” The dark blue one countered slowly, “Sometimes we go on adventures and meet scary aliens and get yelled at by mean people and—”

“Stop, I get it,” Jack sighed.

“Perhaps,” Reika added, “This was not the wisest course of action.”

“Sir,” The Black one said with a feminine voice, “I believe proper introductions are in order. I am Manhunter Tex, Freelance Unit, Sir.”

“She’s got a point,” Sarge said, “I’m Manhunter Sarge, leader of Red Team.”

“I’m Griff, also of Red Team,” Griff said.

“I’m Manhunter Simmons, and if I may add sir,” the Maroon one answered before turning to the blue Manhunters, “SUCK IT BLUE!”

“Yeah, suck it!” Griff chimed in.

Sarge’s face remained static, but his voiced carried a hint of a smile as he said, “Nice timing, Simmons.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Okay, ignoring them,” The blue Manhunter said, “I’m Manhunter Church, leader of blue team the slow one’s Manhunter Caboose.”

“Hi,” The dark blue Manhunter said, “My name is Caboose; you want to be my friend?”

“And,” Church continued, “That’s Manhunter Tucker.”

“Hey,” Tucker casually answered.

“And I’m Manhunter Medical-Unit Dufrain,” The Purple one said.

“Everyone calls him Doc,” Church elaborated.

“I’m a combat medical Program,” Doc said, “Not a doctor.”

“Same diff, Doc,” Tucker snorted.

“Manhunters,” Diana interrupted, causing all of the machines to turn and face her, “Behave yourselves.”

“Yes, Ma’am,” They answered her and knelt before her in surprising synchronization, silencing their apparent animosity.

Jack felt a headache coming on when the sound of a large machine being scrapped against metal, followed by a loud thump repeated over and over again, drawing his attention to—

The Doctor’s TARDIS, as it materialized in front of them.

When the cacophony and light show died down, the Doctor stepped in.

“Ah, there you are,” The Doctor stepped out of the TARDIS with a grin and confident stride, “Figured you’d go either here or Antarctica—which of course means I went there first by mistake. It’s always the last places you look.”

"Greetings, Doctor," Diana Soriel said, “It has been a while.”

The smile on the Doctor’s face immediately faded as his eyes were drawn to her.

“Oh,” He said quietly, “Oh my…”

Diana said, “I deduced that I would see you again once I entered this state.”

The Doctor remained quiet, letting Diana continue.

“You’ve changed a great deal since then.  You’ve gotten younger,” she smiled slightly, “and I miss the scarf.”

“Regeneration does have that affect,” The Doctor murmured, “Why did you do this to yourself, Diana?”

“Do this to herself?” Jack asked him.

The Doctor nodded slightly, “Diana Soriel was not a computer program when I knew her. Back at the height of Atlantis, she was its Queen.”

“And to protect my people,” Diana said, “I uploaded myself into the primary system of this last City-Ship to defend my people and the future of life on this planet. I committed my memories, biochemical makeup and essence to the protection of my people.”

“The ultimate sacrifice.”

“Yes, Doctor.” Diana said.

“But—”

Diana raised a hand and cut the doctor off, “Because you were not always around, Doctor. You can save this planet time and again, but you do not always save the planet from everything? That is asking too much of you, and those that did drove you way. Their greed and desire for war drew in the Deceiver. He fooled us all and we paid the ultimate price for it.”

Her words were spoken calmly and without malice, but they still carried force with them, cutting into the Doctor like a knife, “With you gone and bound not to return until sometime far into the future, I enacted the RahXephon plan.  With you in mind.”

“You did this, all this, with me in mind?” The Doctor stammered slightly.

“Indeed,” Diana said, “Though more out of a sense of irony than anything else. We knew that the Dark History would consume us. All we could do was leave fail-safes to curb the things that brought about our downfall and protect the other humans not part of the Mu from our mistakes. The RaXephon was part of that system, but also something more.”

“Look,” Jack said, “I know this is really important stuff, but with Nazi’s breathing down are necks, could you cut it short?”

“Of course,” Diana lowered her head slightly, but her face grew darker ever so slightly, “We created an Alternate Reality for the RahXephon to fulfill its goal. We could not have it create a perfect world, but we could create a perfect life for one person. This is the world we live in now. It’s not perfect for everyone, but it is better than before.”

The Doctor grew visibly pale at this, “You did what?!”

“Create a New World,” Diana said, “I’m surprised you did not notice.”

“Y-You can’t just create a Reality like that without—”

“I know, that alternate Reality is gone, sublimated completely into this one,” Diana countered, “None who were in that universe were lost, they just have different lives within this one. This defeated most of our enemies without even having to harm them. As such, we no longer were needed as we were. Thus, we too were integrated back into this new reality. Only our time before the creation of the RaXephon mattered, in the end. All that is left is kept for the maintenance of what we created and chose to protect.

“Finally, we based the RaXephon’s tune on something you always cherished,” Diana’s eyes narrowed, “But could never give: Love.”

The word hung in the air like smoke.

“Love?” The Doctor’s expression lightened slightly.

“It is appropriately whimsical, I think.” Bitterness tinged the Queen’s voice, but only subtly, “Basing this new world on something you could never really express.”

After a moment, Jack added a simple line that garnered odd looks from everyone: “Still better than three quarters of an orphan.”

To which he followed with: “I guess I’m the only one who watches Venture Brothers here.”



Signum awoke with a start to meet the penetrating gaze of a pair of icy, scowling eyes.

“And where exactly have you been?” the owner of the eyes demanded.

Signum picked herself up from the slouch she fell in from the couch, towering over the tiny redhead giving her the evil eye. The scowl of Vita’s skull and crossed-bones t-shirt matched her overall facial expression.

“I was out, Vita,” Signum ran a hand through her disheveled hair, slowly rousing herself from her slumbering state.

“You were out to see him, weren’t you?” Vita barked.

Signum paused before she said, “Not entirely,” before adding in a telepathic communication “I also took care of Wodan Ymir. His slaughter of our targets ended last night.”

Vita telepathically responded, “At least there’s that, but—”

Another girl, even smaller than Vita, wheeled in with a tray on her lap full of warm food.

“You shouldn’t sleep like that, Signum,” she said, “You’ll catch a cold.”

“I’m sorry,’ Signum answered.

“So” the girl’s face grew a Cheshire grin, “Who’s ‘Him’?”

Vita’s silence allowed Signum to quickly answer, “His name is Harry Dresden, Hayate. I believe I have developed affection for him.”

“Harri Du-re-su-den?” the girl, Hayate, took her time pronouncing the name, “really? Where’d you meet?”

A pause followed before Signum answered, “We were opponents in kendo.”

“Oh?” Hayate purred, “Did he beat you and now you can’t rest until you cross swords with him again?”

Another pause followed, “Nothing as dramatic as that, no,” Signum said, “Also, I defeated him three times so far.”

“Ah, so now he is—”

“Not especially,” Signum cut her off, “But he is a tenacious and intelligent opponent.”

“I swear”, Vita sighed, “You watch too much anime, Hayate.”

“Have you asked him out yet?” Hayate asked Signum, earning the taller woman a death glare from Vita.

“Not yet,” Signum answered, “The timing has not been right. He is also from out of town.  Commuting for him is something of a problem.”

“That’s too bad,” Hayate’s face fell, “Doesn’t mean you should give up, though.”

“I had no intention of doing so, master.”

“Please,” Hayate, “Just call me Hayate.”

“My apologies.”

Seven is one of those numbers wizards like to remember. It sticks in the human brain because of the significance that number holds. That number has power wizards can use, Harry had used it in more complex summoning circles in the past.

Millennium were going to hit seven different places of power around the world, ranging from the well protected to places only the mad would dare to tap.

Thanks to some extraction techniques which would send the White Council of Wizards on edge, the UN had the names of those locations: Roanapur, the modern day pirate haven; New York’s Gotham District, splashed with the blood of titans and gods; Atlantis, the Lost City; Vatican City, Catholicism’s center of power; Tokyo, one of the most unfortunate cities on the planet; Cardiff, home to a Time-Space Rift; and Kaspak, sometimes called Caprona, an island that was itself a sleeping Old One.

Places where White Council members tread carefully.

Harry had to admit that he was a little nervous. This was not helped by the local support brought in by the Vatican’s special Anti-Demonic forces known as Iscariot, nor the “Mercenaries” they brought along as well.

He actually felt rather safe with the hastily assembled ensemble he found himself with. Dubbed “The Irregulars” by that monstrous woman Eiko Megami (after her first suggestion “Londo Bell” had been outright rejected), Harry had to admit that all things considered, the group was rather odd, and that included the group Harry currently found himself surrounded by.

Thankfully, he knew a few of them. One was his good friend and repeatedly ally Michael Carpenter: knight of the cross and wielder of one of three holy swords which greatly evened the odds against even the most vile of supernatural horrors. A tall man with a muscular build, but still shorter than the lanky Dresden, his face was awash with small proto-wrinkles, of many laughs and many worries.

Buffy Summers, Willow and the Hellboy rounded out those he had met prior, though only the first two he knew well enough to give him comfort. They were dressed in a similar manner to what he had seen before, though this time Buffy held a rather odd ax-like weapon in her hands that almost radiated with power. Beyond that, the other members of the Irregulars brought here at behest of the U.N. were three robots—honest to god Robots. They inhabited human-like shells at the moment, but two of them would be switching out to stockier robotic frames when the fighting started.

He’d been assured that his “Hex Field” had been compensated for by the machines electromagnetic shielding—but Harry still worried.

The robot nearest Harry was of average height, had blond hair, a rather large nose and was dressed in combat fatigues similar (but markedly different) to the ones he’d seen the other soldiers wear.

Next to him was Heracles, whose physique fit the title—tall and well built. His military-cut blond hair and blue eyes were a little off-putting having grown up with images of Hercules actually looking Greek. But, again, he was a robot. He could alter his appearance as he wished.

Which didn’t really explain Brando—a big guy to be sure and muscular, but built more like a barrel with brown hair, a darker complexion and flat nose. Shorter than the others, Harry looked at him and wondered why anyone would want to look like that if they had total control of their appearance as they did. Still, the air around the machine was more akin to Michael than either would care to admit.

Both robots were dressed in sweats. When the time came, they would upload themselves into their “War Bodies” designed by the UN for combat uses. The three had previously worked in the previous administration’s war in central Asia.  Despite its decisive brevity, soldiers were still stationed there to keep the peace and rebuild, but it was apparent to all that this was building into a quagmire. Still, all of them were positively normal next to Daisuke Umon. His armor was a dark, multicolored ensemble that, aside from the helmet, only brought two words to his mind: Power Ranger.

Harry felt Michael Carpenter step in front of him before he saw the reason for the action:

“Are you Harry Dresden?” A powerful voice with a mild Irish accent struck Harry like a bolt, causing him to turn to meet its owner.

The man before him was easily 7ft tall if he was an inch. Harry himself was no slouch in the height department, but he still felt dwarfed by the man. The fact that he had Michael Carpenter’s broad shoulders made him all the more intimidating.

Next to him was a stark contrast, a tiny, nun who looked to be in her 80s or 90s, moving with simple grace. Her face was worn with the wrinkles of many smiles, at the edges of the habit, Harry noticed the edges of scars, the kind of scars one only got in heavy combat where things didn't go your way.

“Yes,” Harry answered.

“Michael,” He said, turning to Harry’s friend, “It’s good to see you again.”

“Likewise, Alexander,” Michael answered with a slight tenseness in his voice, which brought Alex’s eyes into a narrow focus.

“No need to be like that, Michael,” Alexander said, “I just want to chat with… the wizard.”

Harry clearly picked up on the pause, as though he swallowed a curse or insult during it.

“Pardon my caution, Alex,” Michael answered, “But I’ll stay here.”

“Aye,” Alex said, “Your choice, then.”

The nun’s eyes narrowed.

Alex turned his eyes back to Harry, a scowl of suspicion overtaking his face, and his glasses quickly reflecting the lights around him, “I hear one of the Swords of the Cross was bequeathed to you. Fidelacchius, if I'm not mistaken.”

“I don’t pay attention to rumors much,” Harry answered, averting his gaze from the giant.

“If Shiro Yoshimo did indeed leave it in your custody, you must have made a good impression on him. He was an excellent judge of character,” his smile faded as he added, “and he is greatly missed.”

Before Harry realized it, he had been backed into a wall by the man, “Of course, if you fail to live up to his judgment and the sword falls into the hands of Satan’s ass-wipers, I’ll have to lop off your head for betraying his trust.”

The man’s smile returned, but it was equal parts cheer and threat, as though he had just said a friendly “hello” to him.

"Does that come with a silver platter?" Harry said, "I assume we're going to be Catholic about it, so might as well go all the way."

Anderson smile disappeared and a growl slowly crawled out of his throat, but before another word could pass between them, the Nun's voice cut through them.

“Alexander Anderson,” She said. Her voice that was both quiet and powerful at the same time, “That is quite enough. These are our allies in this battle.”

“Aye, Mother Heather,” Anderson backed away casually from the wizard and the knight and walked towards the Nun, with whom he had a brief, but quiet conversation.

Harry released the breath he did not know he was holding and noticed Michael release the hilt of his sword—which Harry noticed he had been clutching the entire time.

“Michael,” Harry breathed, only a few entities had shaken Harry quite like that—not quite Fairy Queen level shaking, but still a decent jostle, “Who or what the hell is that asshole?”

“Harry, we’re in the Vatican, please watch your language.”

“Right, whatever,” Harry grumbled, “So who is he?”

“Alexander Anderson,” Michael Carpenter answered, “The Vatican’s #1 monster killer.”

“I thought that was you.”

“It’s not a contest, Harry,” Michael smiled. He was about to say more when a new voice cut in.

“He’s certainly restraining himself today,” a white haired pretty boy in a red leather duster walked up to the two Americans as he interrupted, “usually, he’s all: ‘Executioner Anderson’, ‘Bayonet Anderson’ or ‘Off with its Head Anderson’ when I’m around at least.”

“Are those seriously his nick names?” Harry asked Michael, who only gave a nod.  Inwardly, Harry thought of all the people who he had seen with titles, epithets or nicknames before blurting out, “I guess if I had his PR agent, you’d be calling me ‘Dino Rider Dresden’.”

“Or ‘Burns it Down Dresden’” a white haired pretty boy said as he approached the group, “From what I hear at least.”

“So who are you, exactly?” Harry asked, not really liking the look of that guy, he was far too pretty for his liking and reminded him just a bit of his incubus half-brother Thomas. He was athletic like a runner or a swimmer, but definitely showed signs of strength in his shoulders. His red leather coat was a complemented by a similar vest and pants.

But what really ticked Harry off was the two women on either side of him. They weren’t draped over him or otherwise indicating that they were with him, but they followed him and were incredibly hot. Simple jealousies are simple.

The first woman had short, cropped black hair and wore similar military fatigues to the other soldiers, but was nonetheless very distinct. Her mismatching eyes had that effect. The small scar over her nose did nothing to distract from her beauty—and then there was her primary weapon—which looked like a bazooka with a large bayonet on the end of it.

This struck Harry as all sorts of wrong, as well as deeply stupid.

The other woman, a curvy blonde, was dressed far less practically. Leather pants did not make good combat wear, though Harry couldn’t tell leather from pleather from vinyl in the clothes department, so he was just making a guess. Her top was basically a corset for all intents and purposes—a sleeveless, shoulder-less corset. His Wizard senses definitely tingled around the blonde woman and the pretty boy.

“Dante,” The pretty boy answered, “Demon hunter. The Vatican outsourced to a few independent agencies for this party.”

“Great," Harry grumbled, his dislike for Pretty Boy growing by the minute.

“The Vatican does this from time to time,” Michael answered, “Training its Iscariot members is a long, difficult process. To be honest, the Knights of the Cross technically are independent contractors.”

Harry mused that the nature of the Holy Swords would preclude such training for the most part.

“Alright, now that everyone is here,” Mother Heather said at the conclusion of her conversation with Anderson with a quiet force that brought the room to silence, “I can brief you on why the Irregular and special contractors have been brought here. We’re very lucky here, in that our prayers have given the identity of what millennium wants from this place.”

She motioned to a statue the archangel Michael carved from the finest marble, standing in full glory.

“The demon Samael has been released from its prison by the enemies we are preparing to face. Here we have another such demon that we believe they will also try to release.”

“This demon got a name?” Buffy asked with a shrug.

“Unfortunately, he has several,” Mother Heather said, “Amon will suffice for this ne'er-do-well. Most of you will be stationed in here to protect it. The corridor has been reinforced with mundane and blessed barriers that will force those forces that break through the line out front into this corridor. Use the bottleneck to your advantage.

“Ms. Rosenberg? Mr. Umon?”

Umon nodded in acknowledgment and Willow answered, “Present!”

Mother Heather gave Willow a warm smile, “You will accompany me and Father Anderson outside, to combat the larger part of their forces,” She said, “Mr. Heracles, Mr. Brando--please get into your combat bodies and join us shortly. The rest of you will be taking your orders from Mr. Carpenter as needed, though I will be in radio contact with you if need be.”

She nodded once and Umon and Willow followed her. The two robots followed in suit, but in a slightly different direction.

Harry surveyed the area and still found the amount of space in the hall remarkable. The open area around the statue was more than enough to move around—though Harry’s wider spells would have to be controlled to prevent friendly fire. A fifty foot radius would do a lot, but it was cut in half by man-made trench—sandbags around layered steel walls up to Harry’s...the top of his stomach, really, but on a normal person, that would bring it up to their chest easily.

The Hallway facing the wall was only 10ft wide and long. A decent bottleneck should they break in.

Though if they had anyone else like Wodan Ymir, Harry had his doubts that the armor and shielding would hold out and allow the bottleneck to hold.

“Hey, Michael,” Buffy asked, “Who was the Nun who kept Anderson in check?”

“And more importantly, how did she do it?” The blonde woman Harry did not get the name of added, “that guy has tried to take Dante’s head 4 times already.”

The woman in fatigues smirked and added, “it keeps getting funnier every time he tries.”

“Yeah,” Dante scowled, “It’s really hilarious how he tries to kill me.”

"Well, you did arrive after she cowed him," Buffy said, "But knowing him, that really shouldn't have done anything."

“Mother Heather?” Michael scratched his short beard, “She’s just extremely sweet is all. A little kindness can go a long way, you know.”

Harry could actually hear Dante rolling his eyes before he let out a groan.

“I bet’cha,” Hellboy leaned back a bit and turned from Michael, “he respects her for her service in the Paris Combat Revue back in the 20s.”

Buffy only got out a “The what?” before the radio on Michael’s belt crackled to life: an Old World War II model designed to survive magical interference (Harry doubted such a thing was possible, but there it was).

“We have word from Japan that they’ve made their first move—be on your toes!” The voice on the other end said—some soldier Harry had yet to meet, he ventured.

“TSAB Alert—a massive number of teleportation signals have been detected. They’re coming in!”

From the large, narrow windows, Harry could see glowing rune circles hovering in the air—many almost 30ft in the air. From these circles, many things dropped in: the Hellfrogs Harry had seen at the party were mixed among black armored warriors with demonic looking helmets and almost mechanical movements. These warriors marched like and acted almost like photo-negative storm troopers. Harry hoped their aiming skills remained the same.

And then there were the machines. Massive black robots with flared shoulders, two horns on either side of their head, which housed a single red ‘eye’ that consisted of a long slit. The arms of the machines had 3 protrusions on them that ended in blunt sticks.

Harry gave a quick blink as his mind put the pieces together.

Hellboy whistled, “Well, those are new.”

Harry tightened his fist in frustration, “their first attack was a purge.”

“What?” Dante turned to the Americans as Buffy echoed Dresden’s scowl.

“Getting rid of what they don’t’ need,” She said, “They let that woman be captured.”

“Now we get to fight the cream of the crop,” Harry snorted, “Joy.”

That’s when the earth shook. From the narrow window outlooks, a new beast joined the fray from the largest of the summoning circle: a black creature with a similar monocular eye that formed a narrow slit, each of its forearms and hands were replaced with massive steel-like scythes and a row of three red-lined fins down its back and capped off with a row of metallic horns curving towards its face in a single row.

Its beaked moth opened revealing serrated teeth and a set of thin, insectine pinchers on either side of its mouth, letting loose a pseudo-electronic howling shriek. It stood clear over most of the buildings and was by far the largest living thing Harry had ever seen.

“Gigan!” The radio barked, “They revived Gigan!”

Mission 11
Reinvigoration

 

Gigan’s shriek grated against Harry’s ears. Harry had never before seen or dealt with a kaiju before and concluded one thing: they were loud. Some of the glass facing the monster cracked from the force of the noise alone. He caught a glimpse of a flying saucer with the face of a horned giant soaring up behind it before he heard Hellboy snarl loudly, “Okay, folks.  It’s party time!”

Harry’s attention turned to the hallway and watched it fill with the Hellfrogs he saw before. The hail of bullets, lightning and quickly following them, his spells easily put the monsters down. Translucent green liquid burst from where the monsters were hit, quickly coating the walls and floor with the slime before Harry’s busts of flame vaporized the liquid, their ashes quickly replaced the substance which passed for blood in coating the hall.

Harry would have called it almost unfair, but playing fair more often than not got you killed.

The Hellfrog charge came to an end as abruptly as it began, leaving the hall thick with smoke.

From this smoke, a new figure strolled onto the battlefield. 4 more identical figures followed the first, joining it and standing in a “V” formation.

Harry spoke before he could properly analyze them, he blurted out: “Evil Power Rangers?”

Though they all wore the same color, their helmets had an animal motif to it that was not easily identifiable.

Harry turned to Buffy, “They weren’t in the briefing, were they?”

“No,” Buffy said, “They look like a new type of Kaijin.”

Hellboy scratched his chin, “Or could they be--”

“Well,” Dante said, “If these Emo-Rangers want to dance, I say we let them.”

Harry grumbled about the pretty boy’s use of his epithet, but it was soon drowned out as he and his lady friends opened fire.

Lightning and bullets flew towards the black figures—who stood there as though the torrent as a light breeze with some snow. Harry gave them a closer look and saw slight yellow rippling around the points of impact.

“Now, now,” A young voice echoed through the hall, “that won’t get you anywhere.”

From behind the Emo-Rangers a boy of about 14 years old from Harry’s guess stepped out. He was lightly built and dressed cleanly, though his hair was messy. Black pants and white shirt did little to hide the fact that the boy was almost an albino—white skin, gray hair and red eyes.

Harry was pretty sure this “Boy” wasn’t human. If he was one of the more advanced super soldiers, they wouldn’t last long.

“Besides, the reunion would be ruined if the Anubis Drones killed you all,” The boy continued.

Hellboy kept his gun aimed at the boy, “And who are you, Shorty?”

“Oh,” The boy smiled, “is that a question for the ages.”

“Are you sometimes a photographer,” Harry said, “sometimes a race driver and sometimes a nurse—because, I gotta tell you there’s these girls I’ve met in the last week who--”

“I’d like to think I’m a bit more grandiose than a Robot or a Fangirl,” the boy looked around at the architecture lazily, “Today I am Kaworu Nagisa. Before that, I was simply Him. Before that I was called Mephilas-seijin, Ryo Asuka, He Who Walks In the Light of His Soul. . .  Once, people even called me Satan.”

Harry heard Michael’s gauntlet-protected fists clench around his sword.

He let that sink in before he continued, “Which is of course, ridiculous and insulting, being lumped in with those lesser beings…”

Harry was rather annoyed.  If this thing was half the stuff it claimed to be, they were in deep trouble. But it was being so coy about its identity that he couldn’t be sure if it was telling the truth or just talking out its ass. It was pretty clear that this was one of the few extremely powerful entities that could lie.

“So why are you here?” Buffy asked the boy.

“A job’s a job,” Kaworu said, “But I’m choosing to interpret it in my own way. I’d rather not have these empty hulks tear through your defenses. What I intend to do here is something you would greatly appreciate. And, obviously, it can’t happen when you’re dead.

“So, I’m going to ask you nicely. Step aside and let me give you your surprise.”

“We do not make deals with devils,” Michael challenged, “especially not in a house of God!”

“May I ask a question?” The remaining Robot, Harry believed his name was Gesicht, asked, his P-90 remaining fixed on the enemies before them.

“I see no harm in it,” Kaworu answered.

“Is this objective,” he motioned slightly to the statue, “what Millennium ordered you to retrieve?”

Kaworu blinked, “Very perceptive. I assume you figured it out.”

“I have.”

“So is that a private conversation,” Harry asked, “Or can anyone join in?”

“Go ahead and tell them,” Kaworu said, “It doesn’t hurt me to let them know the truth, though I was hoping the fabled Anung Un Rama would already know.”

“Hey,” Hellboy spat, “Happy to disappoint.”

“It would appear that Millennium has hedged their bet. A few of the targets they are ostensibly here to capture are simply decoys meant to spread out our forces so that they can more easily claim their true objectives,” Gesicht said, “and this is one of those targets.”

“So this was a waste of time?” Dante sneered.

“For them, that is the plan,” Kaworu said, “They want War, first and foremost. Rather gaudy, actually. To be honest, I’m simply using their opportunity to take care of my own agenda. Your intelligence was right on the target.  But it is what I want, not what The Major wants.”

Kaworu tilted his said to the side, “come to think of it, some of you shouldn’t be too adverse to what I aim to do.”

“You wish to release a powerful demon from its imprisonment,” Gesicht said, “there are few situations where that would be a positive outcome.”

“Tell me, do you know the name of the demon imprisoned behind you?” Kaworu smirked.

“Don’t know,” Buffy said, “Don’t care. You’re pretentious. Are you going to kill us yet?”

Kaworu let out a small laugh, “If things go well, I won’t have to.”

“Which probably means the thing in the statue will do it,” Harry grumbled, “I hate cat-pawing.”

Kaworu didn’t answer.

“I really hate cat pawing,” Harry repeated as he raised his staff—

And was promptly bowled aside, along with the defensive wall they set up by a multi-layered translucent barrier with a color scheme similar to a light oil slick in water—a sickly rainbow of colors. The barriers stopped just short of the statuary, but knocked them all off their feet with one push.

With a wave of the hand, Kaworu said, “Leave us, Drones. Go terrorize the peons for a bit.”

The Drones turned and left without a single word as Harry and his allies slowly pulled themselves up.

“Inside that prison is the still living demon Amon Sparda, Dante. Your father,” Kaworu’s voice remained soft despite the intensity he put behind it, “Knowing that, do you still want to stop me?”

Kaworu did nothing more as chaos erupted around him. Though bullets, lightning blasts, spells and the occasional missile were all directed at Kaworu’s form, they all failed against the strange shield.

“I never knew my father,” Dante barked, punctuating his words with bullets, “Don’t really want to know him either.”

“There’s a reason why I wished to talk you out of fighting me,” Kaworu sighed, “simply put, you have no chance of defeating me. And I do not wish to grievously harm any of you. But if I defend myself—”

A spear thrown by Buffy slammed into the field, holding for a moment before being blown to pieces.

“If you insist,” Kaworu resigned himself, raising one hand and a light shown forth, but aimed not at Buffy. Instead it struck the blonde woman who came with Dante. She stopped dead, grabbed her head and screamed, falling into a fetal position as the light followed her.

That scream haunted the dreams of everyone who had them in the room for months to come.

Dante, Hellboy Michael and the woman in fatigues rushed Kaworu and began to hack away at the shield, with only Michael having any progress, Amoracchius deforming layer upon layer of the shield, but it remained standing as a whole. Buffy and Gesicht were about to join them when Harry grabbed their shoulders.

“I have something of a plan,” Harry said.

“Be quick,” Buffy snapped. Gesicht simply nodded.

“There’s a spell I recently learned that may be able to get past that shield,” Harry scowled, “But I need to do the full incantation to get it right. Could you cover me until then?”

“Wait a second,” Buffy said, “Who taught you this spell?”

Harry sighed, “Eiko Megami.”

“Figures,” Buffy replied, “She insisted I learn a pair of moves. But with that barrier up, they’re not much good. Let’s hope you can break it.”

“We’ll cover you,” Gesicht said and moved in front of him.

“Hopefully, those guys can keep him-” Buffy’s words were cut off as the field expanded and slammed the quartet of fighters against the wall, leaving imprints on their backs. Kaworu also let the light fade from his hand, allowing the blond woman to drop; her eyes open in a wholly unhealthy state, tear stains outlining her face. The quartet dropped with her, unmoving.

“Me and my big mouth,” Buffy sighed.

“I told you,” Kaworu said, “You have no chance of defeating me. Just let me pass.”

“Do you think you can grab Lady and run back here?” Gesicht asked the Slayer.

“I’ll have to dig deep into my bag of tricks, why?”

“I have a Zeronium shell in my left hand.”

“I should probably know what that is.”

“It is a refined form of Sakuradite that is a powerful explosive. It might damage the field he generates, not as much as Michael sword, sadly.  But it would kill Lady and Michael if it struck him in the current configuration.”

Buffy gave a curt nod, and began to mumble, “Chi in the right hand, Magic in the left…”

A sound similar to muffled thunder hit Harry’s ears, but his concentration did not break. His mind focused, he began the spell:

Obscura praeter crepusculum.
Coccina praeter cruorem profluens.
Sepulta in flumine aevi.
In magno nomini tuo,
spondeo me in tenebris.
Nam quicumque aduersa,
Qui stultis,
sit nostra potestate cogi, i
ta ut omnes perdidit.

The ringing sound of Kaworu’s shield striking matter hit Harry’s ears as Buffy rolled out in front of Gesicht with the woman in fatigues, Lady, in tow and a cut over her eye, forcing it shut.

Gesicht did not wait for her even to slide to a halt before he lifted his hand and let forth a rocket: the explosion almost broke Harry’s concentration and clearly blew out the walls around the demon, and knocked Hellboy and Dante back towards the others, groaning from the explosion rousing them from the concussed state.

The smoke had barely cleared when Harry saw Kaworu’s outline and wasted no time, he completed the incantation: “Draco Tyrannicida!

The flash of green-white light nearly blinded Harry and his shield flickered in the wake of the heat produced as a scorching sound echoed in the remains of the hall.

When the light faded and the dust began to settle, there was nothing left before him. Everything the green-white light touched was reduced to rubble. He couldn’t tell how big the crater because of the smoke, but Harry was certain about one thing—Anderson was going to kill him

A deep, gravelly laugh interrupted his fretting, “Most amusing,” the voice said through the smoke, “I did not even consider you could get me to reveal my base form. You humans never cease to surprise me.”

The creature, he assumed it was Kaworu, was ugly. Not mind numbingly horrifyingly inhuman to be sure, but just ugly. It had cat like ‘ears’ that were more tufts of flesh than true ears. Its blue eyes were thin pointed ovals held in an 'V' shape. The body was pear-shaped as well as the color and texture of tire rubber with about the same thickness. It had no mouth either, but a vertical stripe on which a light traveled up again and again in a steady pattern as it talked.

“You managed to touch me with your fire, wizard. You should be rewarded,” Kaworu raised his right arm up, fist clenched and slapped his left hand on his right elbow.  A stream of lightning rocketed forth and struck Harry’s shield full on, and shattered it. Harry’s mind went fuzzy for a few moments as his body was blown aside. He was knocked aside into Buffy, bowling the smaller woman over. He glimpsed Gesicht in a similar predicament, blasted aside by the lightning, “but not today.”

Nothing stood between Kaworu and the statue as he casually strode up to it and caressed its check.

“Maybe this time,” he murmured before literally disappearing, blinking out of the scene. An evil, echoed laugh following his absence and faded.

“I guess that means we lost,” Buffy said as she picked herself and Harry off the ground.

The others followed, though Dante and the woman called Lady had to drag the blonde in the corset to the side—she had thankfully lost consciousness.

Michael readied his sword, pointing it to the statuary—though nothing happened for a few long seconds.

“All that for so he could cop a feel on a statue,” Hellboy scoffed.

“He probably infused it with his power to break the seal,” Harry corrected, “so let’s see what’s inside the piñata.”

The first cracks began to appear in the façade, followed by another and another, until the entire surface shattered and crumbled away, revealing a monster as much like a stereotypical devil as anything Harry had scene before, it was almost reassuring. Though it was still quite different. It was more black and pale skin-tone than the classic red, which only brightly shown from the skin folds between its bat-like wings. It had hairy legs with claws like those of a bear on its feet. The tail was a classic demonic ‘arrow’ in shape. The hair on its head formed a shape reminiscent of a bat, with a wing protruding from either side, and two antennae sticking out from its forehead. Sharp claws, a mildly protruding jaw with sharp teeth rounded out his overall humanoid shape.

It looked up at the remaining defenders and screamed its roar before charging them, claws extended.

 


It was a living nightmare. The devil ran towards Harry without stopping despite the best efforts of some of the most powerful monster hunters on earth. Buffy was the first to get in for an attack, only to be met with the creature’s open palm. If danced with a blue glow just moments before her clothes and hair burst into flames. The shock easily sent her reeling back and screaming.

Hellboy brought his massive stone first down to stop the demon, but beast not only dodged the blow, but grabbed Hellboy’s arm and using his momentum, tossed him into a wall in one fluid action.

Not even slowed down, the beast was next obstructed by a hail of bullets from Dante. In response, the antennae, which Harry thought were horns, turned and unleashed a blow bolt of light that struck the pretty boy full in the chest, Dante was knocked him off his feet and was left with a sizzling burn on his chest. The bolt quickly passed to Geisicht where the blast burned through the armor before lighting a small explosion like that of a decent-sized firework which bowled the robot over.

The woman called Lady thrust with the bayonet at the end of her rocket launcher, but the monster ducked aside, grabbed her by the head and tossed her. At Michael.

He had a choice: keep his sword up and impale the woman on it, or move it aside and try to catch her. Harry knew what he was going to do before he even did it. He didn’t drop the sword, but he still caught her and only suffered a minor stumble in doing so.

Just before the devil kicked them both in the gut and sent them flying back into a nearby wall just behind Harry.

Before he could form a spell, the devil was on him, holding him by the throat about a foot off the ground, the other hand kept a firm grip on his wrists.

Then the devil spoke.

After a moment, Harry believed it would be best if he responded somehow.

“Listen, Buddy,” Harry said, “I have no idea what you just said, and I’m sure as hell it wasn’t Latin or Italian. Can you do English?”

It snarled at him.

“I can do grunt, too” Harry said, “um... Urgh, Argh Grr?”

The devil’s face grew twisted, “Do not mock me!”

“Okay, good, talking, much better than ripping out my throat.”

"Wizard, you will answer my questions clearly and distinctly, is that clear?”

“Okay, but you only get 20.”

The monster briefly squeezed his throat, sending Harry’s legs into reflexive kicks. None of which had any effect on the Devil. Harry's vision clouded and when the demon relaxed his grips, little explosions of color took up obscuring his vision.

After it scanned the room quickly it asked.

“Where is this place?”

“Currently on loose theological grounds given that you haven’t burst into flames yet.”

It squeezed again, “I do not appreciate your jokes.”

The stars returned to remind Harry that some Loony Toons gags had a basis in reality.

“Ya know,” Harry said, “You’re not the first to say that.”

“Answer my question!”

“The Vatican!”

The creature paused.

“What year is it?”

“2005.”

The creature dropped him, leaving Harry to flop unserimoniously onto the hard floor.

“30 years…” the creature murmured and became lost in thought.

This was all the opening that was needed.

“Hey, Bat-head!” Hellboy’s gruff voice grabbed his attention long enough for said face to be overtaken by Hellboy’s stone right hand and knocked back the monster, "I don't appreciate dislocated shoulders." Hellboy rolled his right shoulder to the sound of a secondary pop. "Hurts like hell, ya know."

Before the devil could regain its footing, lightning coursed through the floor and up the devil’s body. It screamed at the top of its lungs, its body twisted in agony.

“I’m not down yet,” The attacker, Trish, coughed out as she leaned against the statuary.

“You’re outnumbered and outgunned,” Dante said, pointing his pistols at the devil, “so why don’t you just calm down a bit. Dad.”

On the other side of the Devil, Gesicht knelt next to a puddle of blood, holding his assault rifle in his remaining hand, while the stub where the Zeronium shell was kept was occupied with guarding the exposed circuitry of his chest. “You have lost the element of surprise, Amon Sparda. a.k.a. Devilman. a.k.a. Akira Fuudo. Please surrender.”

“‘Dad’?” Devilman sneered, “Don’t make me laugh. I have no son. Everything I ever cherished is dead and gone. All I want to know is one thing: Where is Ryou Asuka? Where is Mephistopheles?”

“He is not here,” Gesicht’s aim did not waver, “And from a cursory DNA analysis, I can conclude that this young man here is indeed related to you by blood. Most likely a son.”

The devil’s face became awash with confusion and anger, “You’re lying.”

“I am a robot,” Gesicht said, “who specializes in detective work. I can detect DNA samples at range and run minor tests to determine relations. Your DNA matches an earlier sample I acquired from Dante.”

In response to Dante’s confused look, “You shouldn’t have brushed you hair before we got started.”

“Gee,” Dante sneered, “Thanks Big Brother.”

The confusion and anger on the devil’s face grew and he looked away. Harry saw Buffy readying some attack but put a hand on her shoulder. Mostly, it was to steady himself as he got back up after being held in by the neck by an extremely powerful demon for so long. It also severed to hold her back as she gathered both Magic and Ki into her hands for God knows what sort of attack.

Harry felt rather sorry for the monster. Learning you’re a father and that you basically missed out of it entirely would be rough for anyone, even a beast like him. Harry watched to see how he handled it.

“Son or no,” Devilman scowled, “I won’t let anything stand in my way!”

“Coward,” Michael’s gritted his teeth.

Devilman snorted.

“You’d just throw your family aside like that?”

“Everything I ever cared about was torn apart by an angry mob,” Devilman barked, “I saw men rend each other limb from limb out of fear and hatred. I gave up everything for humanity, and not only did they betray the very ideals I fought for but they took away what I loved after I chose to fight for them!”

Devilman pointed a single finger at Michael, “I did not throw my family. My family was torn from me by you miserable humans. It is only for her memory that I did not kill you all when I was freed. Do not try to lecture me about cowardice. All I want now is to have Mephistopheles’ blood on my claws!”

With that, Devilman shot through the roof before anyone could act.

It was Dante who spoke up first as Lady went to rest a comforting hand on his shoulder: “Well that could have gone better.”

As he finished a giant metal fist slammed into a nearby wall, opening a massive passageway to the war outside they were missing.

 

Beyond the metal fist, black and severed from one of the Nazi machines Harry thought, he could see the battle raging outside. Smoke rose from several buildings and the sound of firefights echoed through the streets. He could see in the darkness the black outlines of horn-eared mecha with single red eyes lay strewn about, damaged and smoking.

In the distance, standing over the buildings were two huge silhouettes, one towered of the buildings. The other towered over the firsts.

Next to Harry stood the remains of the once mighty fighting force, none of them looked too good. Dragon Slave took a lot of juice, but he could still stand at least. Dante and Lady were helping Trish along. Whatever that monster had done to her was pretty bad, that much he could tell with just a glance. Hellboy was bleeding from the lip and had a few bruises about, but moved like it was nothing. Buffy had several burns on her torso and her hair was noticeably shorter on her now sunburned-red face, but grimaced through it. Gesicht was pretty banged up and missing a hand, but didn’t show any problems in his moves. Michael was probably the best off of the group. A few scrapes, but he still held himself strongly.

Harry didn’t know how he did it.

A hissing sound grabbed Harry’s attention. Steam rose from the exhaust of a rose-colored, crude machine with angelic white wings.

My goodness,” a light, feminine voice that echoed with a tinny din from inside the machine, “Are you all alright?”

“Mother Heather?” Harry heard Buffy murmur.

“Yes dear,” She answered, “Are you all alright?”

“Our fighting strength is effectively halved,” Gesicht said.

“Oh dear,” She sighed, “And the relic?”

“Good news or bad news?” Buffy said.

Mother Heather said nothing.

“Well, they got it and released the demon inside, but it won’t be furthering their plans other than keeping us busy.” She said.

“The minions of Satan never were much for teamwork,” Mother Heather relaxed, her machine echoing her vocal relief, “Still a loss, but one that could have been worse.”

Harry maintained his frown, “It helps that this entire battle is, to them, a distraction from their main targets. I’m guessing that they only need to really get three of them.”

“Three?” Dante turned to Harry.

“Rule of Three,” Harry scratched the bottom of his chin, “one of the more powerful numbers in magic.”

“Hey,” Buffy said, “didn’t their use to be some witches in San Francisco who used that power to their advantage?”

“Yeah,” Hellboy, “the Svear. Wish they were still around.”

“What happened?” Dante asked.

“Ax murdered just before that partial blotting out of the sun over L.A. back in … well, back in ’03,” Hellboy said, “Nice ladies too.”

“Well,” Mother Heather said, “On our end we’re not much better. We’ve--"

Heather's machine suddenly jerked up, aimed the massive gatling gun in its hands at a shadow in the distance and opened fire. Harry took note to the cross-like top given to the weapon, and watched as one of the black clad horrors of Millenium jerked and fell as the bullets tore into him.

Smoke rose from the slowly spinning barrels.

"We've by and large beaten them back," Mother Heather continued, "but that giant monster, Gigan, is just too much for what we have left.”

Harry felt several sets of eyes turn to him, "What?"

Hellboy said, "Can you do that thing again?"

“Okay, I got maybe one more hit like that in me, but I think I’ll pass out if I do it,” Harry rubbed the back of his head.

“Eiko taught me a few tricks too,” Buffy added, “Might get enough build time to actually pull it off in battle this time.”

Lady just tapped her rocket launcher.

“That’s not going to be enough firepower to damage it significantly,” Gesicht said.

“And if I hit the eye?” She countered.

Gesicht blinked deliberately, Harry figured he was crunching the numbers, “distraction for approximately 15 seconds.”

“Better than nothing,” She hoisted the tube to her shoulder.

“I’ll support you, Mr. Dresden,” Mother Heater smiled serenely, “I still have some of the power the Lord has granted me in reserve. I will gladly share it with you."

"Um," Harry said, "Thanks."

Mother heather turned to the others, "The rest of you, if you please, ensure that we aren’t disturbed. There may still be a few of the black warriors about.”

The machine hissed and opened, the entire front part of the machine rising up and revealing the frail woman inside it. Instinctively, Harry moved to help her out, which she accepted with a warm chuckled.

“My son, I’m coming out to help you

“Doesn’t mean I shouldn’t return the favor.”

Mother Heather's smile remained peaceful but color moved to her checks and it gained a girlish flair as he helped her down, “Haven’t had someone do that since Ichiro back in my younger days.”

Harry pondered the name for a moment, but had more pressing matters to deal with.

“I’ll start up, since I have the largest build up time.”

Buffy and Lady nodded.

Harry poured his focus into the spell once again, but out of the corners of his eyes, he could not help but notice two things.

The first was Mother Heather glowing with large, white wings sprouting from her back as she lent him power, which seeped into him like a warm summer’s breeze.

The second was Ms. Summers' incantation. He watched as energy gathered in the palm of her hands: one red, the other blue. She brought her hands together in an “x” like formation and brought both spheres to her right hand. She leaned back as the spheres began to lose their stability.

Harry took that as his cue.

Draco Tyrannicida!” he roared, followed closely by Buffy’s own cry: “CROSS SMASHER!

The two spheres swirled together, forming a maypole of magic and ki which struck the giant just below the eye. Harry’s own spell engulfed the monster’s entire head just after Lady’s rocket shell connected with the eye.

Gigan shrieked and fell to his side, collapsing several small buildings as he did, the lens over its eye shattered to nothingness, revealing the red, camera-like iris beneath.

Gigan fixed his gaze on Grendizer and a red beam lanced form the lens, burning into the robot’s armor.

The space-born mecha fell to its knee as Gigan pointed its two hooked arms at Grendizer. Two small spikes on either side of the massive scythes that formed Gigan’s hand launched forward, drawing massive chains behind them. The first set wrapped around Grendizer’s upper arm. The second lassoed Grendizer’s neck, locking on their targets.

Gigan shrieked in victory and the spikes along the belly of the beast began to rotate, revealing their true function: a rotary saw.

The chains began to shrink, drawing Grendizer towards the saw link by link.

Harry now noticed the many nicks and gashes worn into the adamantine hide of Grendizer. The robot was on the ropes when a voice echoed over the rubble filled canyons of the city.

Hey, Cyber-Chicken,” The voice belonged to Dante, who stood on the chains connecting the monster to the robot, “Ever hear of Polyphemus?”

Dante drew his guns and ran along the chain, firing at the monster’s face, just before the red beam lanced out to strike him. With a smooth back flip, Dante vaulted the beam. Dante smiled, “So you can understand us. But can you understand a fake out?”

 

Gigan cocked his head to the side and suddenly shriekded in pain.  By his foot, Michael drove his holy sword through Gigan's foot, pinning the monster in place.  Michael's entire body was aglow with divine light as he held the nearly two-hundred foot monster in place. 

Still in the air, Dante holstered his pistols and drew the broadsword strapped to his back with equal fluidity, just before his entire body shifted into something more demonic and fiery. But at that distance, Harry couldn’t make out its features, though it did remind him slightly of the monster from the statue.

“Too easy,” Dante murmured as he brought his sword down on the red-hot chain links. His blade dug into the metal, but did not pass through it, to Dante’s surprise.

Equally surprising were the two other blades that pushed down on his sword, “I thought you were the son of Sparda,” Anderson sneered, “Not the son of a fairy princess.”

Dante's smirk returned, "Bibbity-Bobbity-boo."

With a roar, the two warriors poured all their might into their blades and sliced open the chain link, which quickly snapped under the strain Grendizer put on it.  At that, Michael released the pin and let Gigan stumble and fall to the earth, shrieking all the while. 

Duke Fleed began to flick controls inside Grendizer, and took the opportunity when he saw it.

“Screw Pressure Punch!” Duke yelled, pointing both fists at Gigan, which had jagged edges flip up and cover both sides.

The flying fists bored into Gigan’s black hide as it tried to scramble to its feet, scrapping along the monsters sides and sending it to the ground before the fists swiftly returned to Grendizer’s arms.

Duke maneuvered the robot into a rapid roll and grabbed his lost harken blades, lost in the massive melee and sticking out of the ground like metallic tower. He stood up before the great Cyborg and raised the arms of his mighty robot:

“Anti-Gravity Storm!”

The white beam struck Gigan as he began to pull himself up and lifted the cyborg in the air. He then threw the harken blades with such force and spin that the blades became a spinning circular saw to almost all who could follow its movements. The blade raked against the Cyborg’s body as it flew by, and struck the opposite side with its razor’s edge as it returned to Grendizer’s massive hand. Gigan fell to earth with a thunderous impact, and did not get back up.

From Harry’s angle, he could see the head cleanly fall from the cyborg’s shoulders. Harry waited a moment, half expecting the monster to explode for some reason.

Michael grabbed his shoulders, causing him to jump a little, “Alright, Harry, can you tell them about the distractions?”

In all the excitement, Harry almost forgot about his realization. The sight of a giant robot, a real giant super robot, in battle with a monster was something his inner twelve year old that forced all of his attention to watch the battle. He wasn’t alone in his awe of the machines. Virtually everyone besides Michael and Gesicht had apparently been enraptured by the combat between the two behemoths.

Harry still had things to do.

Chapter Text

They’re trying to kill you.”

“No, working with them will prevent those grey cloaked dorks from trying to kill me.”

“You sure about that?”

“That’s the deal, anyway.”

“. . . This plan sucks!”

“I know, Chase. I know. But it’s the only one we got left.”

“Can’t fight, can’t run. Normal’s out the window.”

“How sad is it when that’s our normal?”

“Just come back, alright? Molly needs you. She can’t lose her mother again.”

“I’m not—“

“Yeah you are. She doesn’t say it, but you totally are now.”

“I guess that makes you ‘dad’.”

“I figured that when I tucked her and Klara in last night. That and if you’re the mom, I’d definitely be the dad after—”

“Shut up,” she suppressed a smile, but then sighed. “We’re growing up, Chase. I guess we gotta face the real world some time.”

“Then let me—“

“No. They just asked for me, so I’m going. Alone.”

“Then take some of my gear! I’ve been working on—“

“I’ll take a vest, but that’s it. We don’t want them being too familiar with us and you need that stuff to protect the others in case those dorks move while I’m out. Keep them safe, Chase. Please.”

“Alright. But I want to keep you safe too. Someone’s got to do it.”

“I’ll take care of it. I won’t let Molly lose her mother again.”



You’re having me lead a squad of super heroes?” Karrin Murphy couldn’t believe the words that just came out of her mouth. “I’m a Sargent now, I don’t even—“

“Believe it,” Captain Mathew Bluestone said with a light smile, “We got more experienced cops than experienced capes or soldiers, and few capes are leadership material if you ask me.” He handed her a manila envelope, “You also work with what has been classified as supers on our system, repeatedly. Experience like that is hard to come by. But it’s not all sunshine and Roses, Sargent. Of all the qualified officers for this job, you drew the short straw.”

She opened the file and looked through it as Bluestone continued, “You’ve got mostly raw recruits on your team. And you get the wildcard.”

Murphy was still having trouble wrapping her head around the idea of her leading a team of super heroes. Special Investigations had run into a few super-powered humans for a while, and there were reports going back beyond even the Kolchak files to a guy who called himself “The Blue Beetle” operating in Chicago back in the late 1960s. She had even worked on cases with Officer Dragon on three separate occasions and survived.  A gold track record.

But aside from the Beetle, none of the oddities she met really fit the image she had of a Super Hero. Harry came close, but even though he named his car after the 60s hero, he didn't fit the image.  No cape, no mask, no smile. Illinois had plain clothes guys with powers, things people would call monsters working for the common good. It didn’t have true super heroes. It didn’t have Michigan’s Icon or Static. It didn’t have New York’s Spider-Man or Superman. It had Officer Dragon and Harry Dresden.

Beyond that, the few that did try setting up turf there (that didn’t get snatched up by UNIT or got a firm talking to by Officer Dragon for breaking anti-vigilante laws) didn’t last. Most tried to ‘fight crime’ or ‘monsters’ for about a year or so before they either quite, screwed up or otherwise disappeared. She briefly thought of the Alphas, a werewolf ‘gang’ that protected the college campuses and how they beat the odds. Still, the fact that there were so many that each one had to be delegated to a sub-division, and even to an officer on loan for this upcoming crisis, shocked her. Most of them also had ‘costumes’. Or rather, colored combat armor.

She wasn’t proud of it, but she was caught off guard by it all and couldn’t help but gawk when she first got there. Then she bumped into what she could only assume was Superman (bit red ‘S’ on the chest and blue suit tipped her off). He looked rather young for a guy, smiled politely, asked if she was okay. When she managed to nod, he smiled, told her that the feeling of being overwhelmed would pass and he looked forward to working with her. No sarcasm. No digs. Genuine support and kindness. He reminded her of Michael Carpenter.

It made her forget that she was about to go headlong into an unprecedentedly huge terrorist action for five seconds. Now that she found out she was going to lead a team she was only just meeting brought all that nervousness back.  She could only page through the files and it couldn’t help but bring a smile to her face. Masks, redacted names, code names, powers and abilities lists, personality profile briefs. It read like a partial Wikipedia page.

“I got the short straw when I have Spider-Man on my team?”

Bluestone shook his head, “Read it again.”

She did, “Oh, Woman. But the costume looks just like--”

“The original Spider-Man’s been retired for over a decade,” Bluestone said, “Before my time. She says the original one is her father, and the other Spider-Women don’t argue the point.”

“Other Spider-Women?”

Bluestone shrugged, “Its New York, we’re up to our neck in UNIT tied Vigilantes. Hell, Batman Incorporated started here. Our own SWAT team for masked maniacs.” Off her puzzled look, he added “You get used to it.” Part of her realized then just how accustom she had become to certain weird things got when cases involved Harry, and she knew she missed out on a lot of it sometimes. This really was on another level.

Karrin opened the door to meet her ‘team’, and a red giant with the face of a human skull with deeply sunken eyes greeted her. She screamed in surprise, despite herself. The skull creature screamed in almost the same pitch, but the massive red beast had the added indignity of falling over and landing on its butt. The shock of the fall traveled up Karin’s legs and made a loud ‘cracking’ noise on the floor. A moment of silence followed before the room partially burst into laughter.

“It’s not funny, Mayday!” A muffled voice spiked through the laughter.

“Oh, come on!” The woman standing on the ceiling, Spider-Woman, managed through her laughter, “Big Metal Man gets spooked that easily? Comedy classic!”

Captain Bluestone walked into the door to get them at least acquainted and just through a stern look managed to quiet the room, but in those first few seconds she did not get a good impression of the people gathered.

“I’m sorry!” the deep voice of the skull thing had calm softness to it that Murphy only heard once before—from a surfer who she pulled over as a rookie. “I-I just. Well. We’ve been here for a bit and I wanted to see if anyone was coming.”

Murphy couldn’t help but look him over as he stood up, he easily dwarfed Dresden, over 7 feet if he was an inch. He has a strong, muscular, V type build on top of that, making him more imposing. His skull-like face with inset eyes was quite unnerving, especially considering he was blood red and metallic.

“Because, ya know,” a gothic Asian girl with a black staff in her hand sneered as she leaned against the wall, “It’s not like being abandoned or used by authority figures is something that happens to guys like us on a regular basis. No big deal.” She eyed Murphy with a look she’d seen from Molly Carpenter a few times, given to either Molly’s dad or to Harry Dresden.

“Alright kids,” Bluestone said, “This here is your Commanding officer, Karrin Murphy. She’ll be leading you in the containing this invasion and civilian rescue operations during the attack. That good with you?” He eyed the contrite goth girl as he said it.

“If meet’s UNIT’s quota, I’m good with it.” She shrugged.

Bluestone turned to Murphy without regarding the goth girl and said, “Well, Sargent, they’re all yours,” and left.

The young heroes (Murphy was shocked by just how young some of them looked, she doubted one of them was older than 17) regarded her for a moment, none of them speaking for a small eternity. She decided to speak up first, “There’s a bit of rush going on with an effectively unstoppable terrorist threat out there that’s going to hit the city in moments. Between that, New York being a high density target and a lack of higher ranked people with experience in this sort of thing, I’ve been made your commanding officer. I got your files about a minute before walking in the door, so you know about me as much as I know about most of you. Sargent Karrin Murphy, Chicago PD. I’ve worked on some odd cases in my time, but running the rear of a defensive line is going to be a new one on me. So I need your help on this one.”

A mild surprised look went over the goth girl’s face, the faintest hint of what could be a smile peaked out. But she decided to be sarcastic anyway, “Can you ask nicely?”

This earned her a punch in the shoulder from the girl next to her. In contrast to her subcultural comrade, she was dressed in something akin to military grade equipment, but built for a different form of combat than SWAT. The purple highlights to what looked to be a modified version of Class V Military grade body armor were a bit much, but the lighter construction of it all seemed to work for the bow-woman. Said other girl walked towards Murphy with a firm smile on her face and gave a little salute before she spoke, “Kate Bishop. Call sign ‘Hawkeye’. I’ll be your second in command on this mission.” She extended her hand to Murphy and she took it. Girl had a very firm grip, “I’ve worked with most of these guys before, so I can help you through where needed.”

Murphy acknowledge her briefly before the next one spoke up – the skull faced one she first met.

He stumbled over an ‘um’ before he started, “My name’s Ken. Uh, my ‘work name’ is Mettle. I’m your Brick for this mission. Um. That means I’m really, really strong and tough. I’ll handle the heavy lifting, I guess.”

“Good, because I guessed that to,” Murphy gave him a smile. Without features on his face, she could only really guess that he appreciated the little joke.

A yellow hand got her attention next as it peaked out from within Mettle’s. It connected to a young woman in what appeared to be a yellow diver’s skin with a massive helmet. The suit was lined with black highlights and one very clear symbol on her chest: Biohazard.

“Hazmat,” she snarled. Hers was the muffled voice, and the large helmet around her head was the obvious reason for that. “I’m your offense.” Her hand glowed white, “Hopefully. They didn’t give me much time to practice their ‘anti-super soldier’ ray thing.”

As Hazmat clung to Mettle, the main source of laughter when Mettle fell dropped down in front of her, the one Hazmat had called ‘Mayday’. But her attire made it clear who she was: Spider-Woman. This was it, a true red and blue superhero with a full face-covering mask. Looking at it closely, she could tell it was a light armor of some sort. It probably couldn’t take a bullet from a high caliber weapon, but overall protection was covered. The young woman hopped down and extended a hand to greet Murphy. “The Spectacular Spider-Woman at your service.”

“Spectacular?”

The girl’s fists went to her hips, “Hey, there’s like a half-dozen Spider-Ladies out there. Gotta make your mark.”

Murphy simply nodded, still getting used to the idea of superhero franchises beyond Batman Inc. as she turned to the last member of her ‘team’.

“I don’t have a codename,” The goth girl’s voice was cold, “Call me Nico. I’m your magic user. After Kate, I’m the girl you go to for getting things done.”

Murphy kept her game face on, “Any magical specialization I should know?”

Nico smirked, “I speak softly and carry a big stick. If there’s something the others can’t do, I could probably do it if you ask nicely.”


The plan was a simple one all things considered. Each squad would have a section of the city guard. They knew from places like Rome and London that they would be dropping via stealth Zeppelins with one primary goal: kill as many people as they could. They’d also be raiding at least one unknown site to steal a store of occult or magical power. Her sector, right in front of the Empire State Building, was one possible site. Though another team was guarding the 86th floor, they had the ground. Waiting for the Super Nazi’s (something Murphy was still having trouble wrapping her head around) was a pretty tense affair as most of the people in their area had evacuated, which filled the Most of the places around them were businesses: restaurants, independent lobby groups, architectural firms and so on.
Of course there was also a Starbucks on the corner of 33rd and 5th avenue that she couldn’t help but stare at every now and then. Not many residences to defend, so they didn’t have to worry about people, except maybe a stray morlock.

Especially after she saw Mettle come out of it with a few cups. He locked the door behind him and calmly walked up to her, scrambling over the makeshift fortification of sandbags and steel plate fencing, a store bought Spider-Man mask over his normal skull face. He handed her a cup.

“You looked like you could use some tea,” He said.

Murphy could only stare at him, “Did you just rob a Starbucks?”

“Well, technically I quartered it, but I totally paid for ‘em and left a tip too,” a nervous quality overran his voice.

Murphy pressed him anyway, “Who’d you tip?”

“The jar.”

After a while, Mettle added, “Back when I had,” he took a moment, searching for the right word, “skin, I had a part time job at one, so I know how the machines run. Besides, Tea just needs hot water anyway. I figured you could use something to keep you awake and not over-energize you either. So, Tea?”

“And the lock?”

“Bent the chain back into place after I snapped it. It took me a little time to get it just right, but it should work still.”

Murphy took the young monster man at his word and accepted the tea. It was fruity, warm and not too sweet. She preferred Coffee, but Mettle had enough things to worry about. “You’re a thoughtful guy, Mettle.”

His body shifted, if he still had lips (and wasn’t wearing a mask) he’d probably be smiling. He accepted her complement with a nod and shrinking shyly from her before turning around, “Got your tea too, Jenny!” He called out to Hazmat who responded with a slightly more vulgar version of “Thank God.”

She watched green smoke escape her helmet as she opened a flap of it the lower portion to drink through a straw. Nico shifted slightly near Murphy, “Who knew waiting for war to erupt in a major city could be so . . . Dull.”

“Ever been on a stakeout?” Murphy turned to the witch.

Nico’s face soured, “Not really my thing. I tell little old ladies their fortunes and whether some norm’s being cheated on by his girl or boy or whatever.”

Murphy tilted her head in a half shrug, “Sorry, the wizard I’m used to working with is a P.I. He knows it better. Basically, long boring waits with an air of nervousness running through it? You can get used to it.”

“I’d rather not.” A moment later, Nico added, “Wait, what Wizard?”

“Harry Dresden.” Murphy watched her reaction to the name. She knew a bit more about the world of Wizards and magic than Harry believed she did. She knew his name carried weight for a lot of reasons: former bad-boy Wizard who went and became a Wizard Cop and big shot in the White Council’s war with the Red Court.

She tightened her grip on that odd staff she held. “After all this calms down, can you get me in contact with him?”

That nervousness she heard in Mettle was much more pronounced in Nico’s request.

“He is in the phonebook—”

Her face hardened and Nico cut her off, “There’s a few problems with—”

Murphy returned the favor, “But! I’ll tell him about you anyway.” That calmed Nico slightly. Murphy then added, “If you tell me what the problem is, I can get him a bit better prepared. So what’s wrong?”

Nico cast a quick aside look before she answered, “I think the White Council wants my head.”

Murphy knew that was no exaggeration. When the Wardens of the White Council felt you did something wrong, they came at you with one draconian system. They had their laws and if you broke them, off went your head. She hated them for this. Part of it was for what they put Molly Carpenter through. Dresden managed to save her life for her unknowing, well intentioned infraction. But mostly, she hated them for breaking the law right under her nose, in her city, and she couldn’t touch them for it. She knew the reasons, she knew the justifications, but it just rotted her gut anyway.

“Harry’s got experience on being on the other end of the sword,” Murphy softened her voice as best she could.

Nico nodded, nervous, “Good. Good.”

“Can you think of a reason why they’re after you?”

“I can think of four,” she answered, “And I think one of them might be spite.”

Their radios crackled to life before Murphy could learn more, “They’re here!”

“And it’s a lot of them,” Spider-Woman’s voice added.

Murphy snapped to her feet and readied her weapon. Hawkeye called out the direction the first wave would come from. “We got Hellhounds, Kaijin.”

“And Labors!” Spider-Woman added.

Labors, piloted humanoid vehicles over 25ft tall. That’s just what they needed. Murphy growled.

“Confirmed, they have labors on the ground. Four, pretty crude design. Half the size of normal to boot. But they have Gatling guns.”

“Alright, Hawkeye, snipe at your discretion. Spider-Woman, slow down those labors. We can’t focus on them until we take down the ground troops.”

“Roger,” Spider-Woman answered. The man made canyons echoed the high pitched whip of her web-line as she swung off.

“Mettle, you’re on defense. Put down anything that gets too close. Hazmat, Nico, you’re with me.”

“In what?” Nico hadn’t quite caught up to the action descending on her.

So Murphy gave her a simple explanation that Harry would have definitely approved of as an action one liner, “Blowing all these Nazis back to hell.”

 

 


Mission 13
Sacrifice

 

 

 

Murphy took a kneeling position at the barricade, her knee bumping against a duffel bag she brought along from Chicago. With super powered Nazi’s on the offensive, she wanted at least one ace in the hole. But for now, her main arm would do. The P-90 was mostly to push the hellhounds back. It would take a lot of fire to put them down, which is exactly why Hazmat was on the team.

As she strode towards the oncoming wave of hellhounds, Murphy already could see waves of heat coming off her small frame, and the cement melting underneath her boots.

“Stand back,” she snarled, “the gloves are coming off.”

She pealed each glove off, as an intense blue glow of Cherenkov light. The gloves hit the ground with a wet, rubbery thwack as she flung her hands towards the horde. The light around her flashed into a brilliant orange that caused Murphy to finch away, and the horde to stop in its tracks. They turned away instinctively covering their faces beneath their claws and curled up in a fetal position to protect their vitals as best they could. Even their tentacle ‘hair’ got in on they act, but it did not matter. In the next second, their skin boiled away in billowing black smoke under the red-orange light. The glass of the surrounding buildings melted away and the cement below became soft beneath them. It wasn’t long before the monsters burst into flames, consumed as they writhed in agony.

Hypersonic Boom!” Nico shouted at the top of her lungs and a shockwave rolled through the horde, tearing their crumbling bodies to pieces. Thirty hellhounds were left as blackened, burning rubble underneath the combined assault.

They all couldn’t help but stare in shock at her accomplishment.

“Yeah, yeah,” she picked up her gloves “Living weapon of mass destruction. I kno—“

Her words were cut off when a hellhound burst from the sewer grate to her right and snapped at her with its jaws. A scream of surprise and pain was cut off as she hit the ground, her lungs emptying.

Murphy got a few rounds off to distract the monster before Mettle intervened with the force of a freight train. He didn’t say a thing, he simply tackled the hellhound away from Hazmat and began to ram his giant, metallic fist into the creature’s face, bones cracking under the pressure of each strike. It clawed back at him, the bones re-weaving themselves with frightening speed. Mettle kept the pressure on and managed to wrap an arm around the creature’s head as Jenny scampered clear, clutching her arm.

Fire Soul!” Nico shouted and engulfed the two in flames. Mettle pulled himself away from the hellhound as the flames lapped off his body. The hellhound was nowhere near as fortunate. Incinerated to dust in moments.

Mettle left the creature before it dropped and rushed to Hazmat’s side, “Jenny! Are you okay!”

She clutched her bleeding arm and the clutching hand glow blue. A sizzling sound reached Murphy’s ears as the girl grit her teeth and a pained hiss escaped her mouth. When the sounds stopped, she stumbled a bit into Mettle’s arms who steadied her. “Wound cauterized,” Hazmat said before she turned her glowing hand to the ground. A single flash of power seared the ground, “Blood sterilized. Aside from radiation I haven’t re-absorbed yet, the area’s clean.”

Murphy did a quick check to her radiation badge. It hadn’t tripped yet.

“Jenny! The hell?! I could’ve healed your arm,” Nico looked like she was a hairs breadth from wagging her finger at the girl.

“Toxic blood, remember?” Hazmat hissed, “Didn’t want to risk it. Or waste it.”

Murphy put a hand on Nico’s shoulder, “Focus, people. Now many more of those might come out from the sewer? We got any eyes or tracking down there?”

Nico tapped the staff, “We can. Pixies, check for hounds.

A dozen tiny, glowing, purple pixies fluttered into existence around Nico, then quickly dove into the sewer. Seconds later, they returned.

“A lot,” She said, “Like 20.”

Murphy did a quick inventory of her gear, pulling a grenade off her vest, “I don’t have enough Grenades for that.”

“Yes you do,” Nico put a hand on it, “Jamie wants big boom.

A red light emanated from deep within the grenade as she removed her hand.

“You’re . . . Really good at this magic thing.”

“Not really, no, now drop in the hole before that wears off!”

Murphy nodded, ran to the hole and with a sweeping motion, threw the grenade in. She smiled with relief as it followed her arc and moved away from her down into the darkness.

Murphy whistled sharply, “Everyone, behind the wall! Move it!”

Mettle grabbed Hazmat and with a simple hop made it over the wall. Nico stumbled over it rather awkwardly as Murphy herself dived behind it in a perfect tuck-and-roll. “Down!” she yelled and ducked, covering her head and ears. The others mirrors her motions just before the grenade went off. The sewer grates and manhole covers around them burst upwards from the ground and the entire block seemed to jump from the force of the blast. Murphy took a moment to look at the destruction, catching a gimps of a lizard like creature constructed of flames slithering out of the openings, before evaporating into dust.

“What the hell was that?” Murphy managed.

Nico Shrugged, “I think that was a salamander.”

“You think?!” Hazmat growled.

Before Murphy could get clarification, Spider-Woman’s voice crackled from the radio, “Drones are on the way. Finally burned through the web wall.”

Murphy clasped her radio, “And the labors?”

“I got one to hit another, but they’re all still standing so far. Been playing keep away more than attacking.”

“Feel free to attack if you find an opening, Mayday,” Nico called out.

“Yeah,” Spider-Woman said, “Big ‘if’ there.”

Murphy spotted the first of the black clad kaijin march down the street. Clicking her P-90 to secondary fire mode, she finally got to test out the little devices they gave her. There was no recoil from the weapon. Just a flash of light which traveled towards one of the soldiers. The bolt of energy crawled across the glossy black armor, the kaijin staggered and then fell to the ground with a hissing cry. It felt unreal, using the blaster to off one of these bastardizations of science.

And far, far too easy.

Hazmat soon joined them as Mettle took her back behind cover as the kaijin began returning fire in earnest. Large white bolts of light with a surrounding rainbow hue like the color distortions of a grease slick in water launched from her hand and had similar effects on the kaijin. Staggering and dropping as their lives ended with a mechanical clumsiness.

The soldiers had no cover, they didn’t even think to duck as their fellows died around them. When Nico brought a thunderbolt down upon the remains with the cry of “Jupiter Thunder Crash!” it was almost overkill. That blow alone took down 4 of the kaijin. The last of the kaijin fell as Hawkeye radioed in to let them know a labor was almost there, robbing them of any sense of temporary victory.

The first sign of them came when one fell over at the corner a block down from their position, its body smoldering as black smoke billowed from the husk that it once was. Its joints clogged with webbing.

A second labor strode out behind it, web-lines trailing off the machines along with some minor damage dealt to the hulls. It was an oddly designed machine, much smaller than the standard labor, perhaps 14ft tall. One arm replaced with a large cannon. On the back was a turret with two Gatling guns attached which operated independently of the main body.

An imposing figure to say the least. But it didn’t immediately open fire on the fortification.

Murphy turned to her Radio, “Hawkeye, Spider-Woman, what are your recommendations?”

“Jam the Guns,” Came Spider-Woman’s voice.

Hawkeye added, “And aim for the joints!”

The machine pointed its cannon at the fortification, but before it could fire, Nico cut it off with a cry of “Put a Cork It!”

From seemingly nothing, a gigantic, brown cork sealed the barrel of the canon. However, it did little to stop the shell, which tore through it fiercely. There was still more recoil than normal and the labor fell to the ground. The shell went wide and struck the Empire State Building full on. Chunks of cement rained down upon them—with some chunks as big as a basketball. Nico again cried out, “Shield!”

And the chunks of concrete turned into herring. Living, flailing, splatting herring. They rained on them in a slimy, fishy mess.

Murphy was absolutely stunned. This girl pulled out huge bits of Magic, stuff that would impress Dresden for sure. Then this happened.

“What the hell was that?” Murphy felt one of them explode on her helmet as it fell.

“Staff of One. I panicked and used a word I already did,” She eyed her staff with annoyance, “So, it registered a complaint.”

Murphy’s face soured as she realized that her team’s witch was the lovely combination of powerful and unreliable, though it explained the really odd spell names she’d been throwing around.

A flash of blue caught Murphy’s attention as Hazmat unleashed a concentrated blast of radiation at the Labor as it rose. The paint peeled and small sparks ejected from the joints, but little else impeded its progress.

“Guys, if I go any hotter, I’m gonna start hurting everyone else,” She looked around quickly, “Other options would be nice.”

The Gatling guns on the back spun around with frightening, mechanical speed. Hazmat let out an “Eep” in surprise. Before anyone could act, Mettle was already there, pushing the guns up and bending them aside. The metal screamed as he exerted himself. Then, with one swift jerk, he tore the roof off the mech, exposing the pilots. They were both humans. Regular people in Nazi uniforms who were quite baffled at their current predicament, but their confusion did not last.

The main pilot re-aimed the arm at his two new targets while the other went for his side arm and pointed it at Murphy, but neither got to act before Mettle slammed the unhinged top back on the mech, bringing it to the ground and crushing them both. The booming slam of metal on metal covered up the crushing of bone and squeezing of flesh only just.

Mettle fell back and looked at the wreckage, “They’re dead.”

He slowly took the mask from his face and repeated himself.

“They were gonna kill us, Ken,” Hazmat rubbed his shoulder, “Don’t worry about it. Besides, you’re a black Jew who just killed a pair of Nazis. That totally works out karma wise, right?”

“I expected monsters and robots,” Ken’s voice was hollow, “Not people.”

Mettle effectively collapsed on the ground, sitting as it weighed on him.

Hazmat kept trying to reassure him, but to little effect.

Murphy stepped up to him, “Ken, I know it’s a hard thing to deal with. There’s a rush from it and guilt and worry all knotted up inside. When we get back, we’ll take you to someone you can talk to about it. But until then, can you go on?”

Mettle looked to her. Even seated, he could look her in the eye without looking up. “I think I can.” His voice was hollow.

Murphy offered him a hand, “Then get up, this isn’t over yet.”

Before he could take it, the radio crackled to life again, “Big labor coming in!”

Hawkeye’s voice was cut off by the labor’s stomping movements. It was a more traditional design and size, over 26ft tall. Heavy plated armor form skirt like structures around the body, legs and even shoulders rising in huge spikes. The head had two ear-like horns atop it, flanking a cyclopean red eye. A trio of odd cylinders raised jutted out from above the wrist.

It raised its gun and pulled the trigger, letting lose a dark purple blast of energy.

Murphy ducked, but at the rate it was moving that would do little good. But instead of a searing, burning death, she got a light show. By sheer dumb luck, Hazmat was in front of her and had raised her arms to protect her face. The beam struck and dissipated around her, errant rays burning holes in the cement and glass around her.

She however was unharmed.

Everyone took a moment to catalog what had just happened.

“Holy crap!” Hazmat looked at her hands, “I didn’t even know I could do that!”

The machine attempted three more shots, but Hazmat managed to deflect all three, gaining skill with each one. The last one she managed to ‘slap’ up into the air, rendering it harmless.

“HA! Maybe you’d like some return ---“

But before Hazmat could finish, it launched a pair of missiles at the group. Mettle moved fast, leaping at Hazmat and Murphy, but that left Nico vulnerable, especially when the twin missiles split into 4 each. The entire fortification was saturated in explosions. Mettle’s shirt was torn up by the blast and shrapnel.

As was Nico.

When the dust cleared, Murphy called out to her and ran to her side. Mettle began apologizing profusely, adding to the cacophony.

Murphy looked her over and for someone who just took a barrage of grenades around her, she was remarkably intact. The only visible damage was a few shrapnel cuts that didn’t look more than surface level deep.


Nico coughed and rolled to the side, “Damnit I hate when Chase is right,” she grumbled.

Murphy picked her up, “Tell me you have an anti-robot spell in mind.”

“Not . . . specifically,” Nico coughed, then shot a glance at the empire state building, “But, I do have an idea.”

Looking back on the Labor, Murphy saw Mettle holding onto one leg to keep it pinned on location, while Hazmat blasted the beam cannon away from the machine, going so far as to deform the metal of its hand, while Spider-Woman webbed up the face and was starting to impair the joints. Without turning, she shouted, “Do it!”

Nico nodded, mumbling, “This is so gonna backfire somehow.”

Murphy began to dig through the piled sandbags while the others went to work.

Mettle, for his efforts, ripped the armored shell off the Labor’s leg, giving Hazmat the opportunity to blast it, fusing the knee joint. With his hands full, he was unable to effectively counter or dodge the massive fist that came down shortly afterwards. The tubes on the forearm glowed with an atomic iridescence and were shoved into his chest, sending him flying into the Starbucks.

Hazmat broke off and chased after him, leaving Spider-Woman an open target for the labor’s next move. It reached to its belt and pulled another tube from its side. A short, tight flame of light burst from the tip. With one swing, the beam cut through the web line Spider-Woman swung from. She managed to recover, but only just.

“A light sabre? Really?” Spider-Woman swung onto a nearby wall, “I knew you guys were crazy, but man, I didn’t think you were that crazy! Lucas Films is totally gonna sue you guys!”

It swung at her again, but she leaped away well before the beam came down. “And you’re not even that good with it! Wait, is the Star Wars Kid in there?”

It swung a third time, again missing her, “Or maybe Mister Magoo?”

It charged forward, the beam held like a lance, but it only succeeded in slamming itself into the Empire State building. “Oh! I know! Leroy Jenkins! You’re gonna wake up a Raid boss at this rate.”

Murphy kept digging, through the sandbags, keeping the faith that her special surprise remained intact.

Overhead, Nico raised her staff into the air, focusing her effort before crying out, “Fallen King

Nico wobbled leaning on her staff for support. Murphy stopped digging and ran to the girl’s side before she lost her footing completely and fell like a marionette with its strings cut into her arms.

“Wow. I nearly tapped,” She said.

Murphy knelled down, bringing the girl down gently, “Did it work.”

“It damn well better have,” she gritted her teeth and pulled the staff close to her, which then disappeared into her body. “Because I need to recharge. I’m not much good now. I got maybe a handful of other spells I can use without the staff, and not much power left for any of them.”

Murphy got her moving to better cover, and was about to ask her more questions when a roar cut her off. She had heard roars before in her time, but none had this savagery or power. The figure that formed around it, she first thought it was a man, then an ape. But there was only a single word to describe the shade that stood before her.

Kong

The ghost of King Kong slammed a fist into the chest of the Labor. It was only 5 feet shorter than its metallic adversary, but the sudden appearance of the ghostly ape caught the pilot completely by surprise. Kong easily bowled it over and stared pounding on the chassis.

The tubes on the labor’s arms began to glow again and it attacked Kong in the side. The ape howled and leaped back, more surprised and pained than truly hurt. The machine began to right itself slowly and two oblong objects launched from the gaps in its shoulders. They expanded into fan like blades, which spun with frightening velocity before hurdling themselves towards Kong. One missed and imbedded itself in a building. The other slices into Kong’s shoulder before doing the same. That hurt and truly angered the shade. It pounded its chest and charged the machine. Completely bowling it over. It put one hand on its head, another on the offending arm, and pulled with force enough to audibly strain the metal. With one final yank, it tore the arm from its shoulder with a tremendous roar of tearing metal. The massive ape then repeatedly clubbed the labor until the head and chest cavity completely collapsed and the machine stopped moving.

Kong dropped the arm and placed a foot on its fallen foe. It roared and beat its chest, a sound like a massive drum being struck, letting it echo through the canyons of New York once again.

Murphy turned to Nico, who barely held herself up on her hands, “Guess it worked.”

“Yeah,” she breathed, “’course, I have almost no control of the big guy, so—“

Before Nico could finish, Kong turned to them and eyed Murphy. Its scarred face held a deep stare she found very hard to read. The force of this things presence was hard for them to take. Murphy had faced down a lot of monsters in her day. She once tackled a troll back when she was just a rookie. But standing in front of this massive creature and its gaze was far more intimidating. She stumbled on the sandbag pile and tripped.

It was an utterly graceless fall without humanity or dignity. She hit the sandbags hard, face first no less, her chin stung, letting her know that it had been scrapped. Instinctively, she kicked herself up, thinking the monster would be on her in an instant. But that’s not what happened. As she rose, Kong fell back, a surprised look on its face. It bared its teeth to be sure, but in an inhuman smile. It hooted and beat its chest, creating a different sound: a cupped clapping. It reached a hand towards her and Murphy at first pulled back, but on seeing the frown stopped herself. It reached out with a finger and stroked what little hair stuck out from her helmeted head.

Slowly, she removed her helmet and let her hair fall out. It grunted in appreciation and patted her on the head. It was a heavy pat, but given the creature’s size, surprisingly gentle.

The shade stood up, apparently tiring of the distraction and grabbed the husk of a Labor. After dragging it into the center of the road, it threw it aside, and over a hundred feet away. Then it returned, keeping an eye on Murphy the whole time, who dared not to move.

“I think he likes you,” Nico said, “You’re like a kitten to him.”

Murphy only mustered a quiet, “Great,” as an answer.

“Could be worse, I heard he chewed people when he’s really mad at them.” Hazmat added as she and Mettle gathered behind her, along with Spider-Woman.

“Blondes,” Spider-Woman added, “Go figure—“

Spider-Woman stopped and muttered under her breath, “Oh crap.”

Kong watched the small scene with only mild interest. Something else snapped him to attention. He barked a warning call.

“Guys, something Bad is coming this way,” Spider Girl said, “Big and bad.” She reached to her ear and barked into the radio, “Hawkeye, keep your eyes peeled, something’s coming.”

A rooftop exploded nearby them. Showing the street with light debris.

A barrage of orange-yellow energy beams followed. Mettle stood in front of Nico as Hazmat blocked the blasts that would have struck Murphy. Spider-Woman was already in the air, dodging with her usual lithe speed, but with far more desperation in her movements. Kong’s screams were intense as the beams struck and tore the shade’s structure apart. It stood its ground and did its best to shield the humans, but each blow it took was taxing. Murphy raised her P-90 up to try and find their attacker, but whatever it was moved too fast.

Until it stopped to survey its work. It looked like one of the kaijin, but the armor was more highly stylized and white as opposed to black. Triple layered shoulder pads and stabilization rudders on the back helped it fly with, and Murphy was shocked to see it, a jet-pack keeping the armored being aloft. It held a twin barreled long rifle that was easily 7ft long.

“Oh, look at them standing so tall,” the kaijin’s voice was feminine and light, “far easier to my lovely Beowolf to knock down.”

Murphy opened fire, but she only grazed it (she hoped) as it started flying about again.

That’s when the second one arrived.

The sound of a machine gun blaring caught her attention first. Mettle was already intercepting the bullets as the red and black figure rushed towards her. Another kaijin, Beowulf, rushed towards them. This one with a large horn atop its head and heavily armored, almost like a beetle and shined in red and silver.

“C’mon!” Mettle yelled as he braced himself for the charging Beowulf. Its horn glowed with a blue, internal light almost like red hot steel. Mettle latched onto the attacker, crushing the gun in one hand and holding its shoulder back with the other. Beowulf’s horn touched the tip of Mettle’s armor, but did nothing to it. The sound of metal on metal was all it made, though the kaijin could see smoke rise from the place it touched, it was quite faint.

It shifted its free arm and unveiled a new weapon. A large spike. Ramming it into Mettle’s gut with all his might, we was rewarded with a grunting noise from his opponent. That’s when the explosive shell behind the spike triggered, driving the pile bunker’s spike into Mettle and cracking his shell. He fired the pile bunker again, widening the crack. And again and again, until the clip was empty and blood seeped not only from the wound, but Mettle’s skull-like face as well.

Mettle’s grip weakened, and Beowulf kicked free of the young man. The chest plates on the kaijin pulled back, revealing its trump card: titanium ball bearings fired from magnetic launchers in the chest cavity. 

Mettle’s cracked hide could do little to stop the barrage as it peppered his chest, creating a golf ball like texture on his chest. Cracked, bleeding and dimpled, his eyes rolled up in his head as he first fell to his knees and then fell to the side.

“Ken? KEN!” Hazmat’s voice cracked as Beowulf ejected the cylinder from the Pile Bunker and reloaded with nary a word.

Hazmat’s hands shone with light once more and she threw a massive bolt at the red-clad cyborg. Most of the blast diffused before hitting him, but what did scorched him and got him to stagger. Before she could do anything more, he was on her and with a simple shoulder block, sent her tumbling to where Ken lay, her helmet cracked, and its visor shattered.

“Tell me you have a plan,” Nico’s voice danced lightly, like it was walking on eggs.

Murphy swallowed, “I have a one shot big gun half buried under sand bags.”

“And there’s two super soldiers here,” Nico stepped back her steps faltering, “Great.”

“If you can work on some distraction,” Murphy didn’t get to finish that sentence. Nico lifted into the air a good foot and flew off, way from the cyborg. The words “I’m sorry” echoed behind her.

As Spider-Woman disappeared in a cloud of dust and rubble, forced there by a kick from the white cyborg, it left only herself and Kong to face the two cyborgs. And Kong was not in good shape. Many wounds covered his spectral form, his face a mask of pain. He did not need to breathe, but he still did so heavily, every movement a labor intensive activity. The wounds drooled a translucent green slime she heard Harry talk about before. Ectoplasm. She tried to assure herself that it was just a ghost, an echo of what once was.

But she couldn’t.

She took her simple sidearm and opened fire. The bullets bounced off the white Superhuman’s armor, to no effect. The red one, the one that opened up Mettle, pushed her down and held her down with one foot. She knew it could crush her with just a single action. But she soon realized that he wanted her to watch as its partner tore Kong apart. It screamed with each blast of energy from the long rifle it held.

But it saw her, its face turned to concern, then anger. Shrugging off the assault, it swept one massive arm across the street and bowled the superhuman end over end and into a store façade. Thankfully, away from the two teenagers it gravely injured. Kong lay in front of her, splayed out like her, one arm out, reaching towards her as she lay as well. She got up slowly to assure the ghost she was okay.

Kong looked at Murphy. It seemed satisfied. It saved her. It reached to stroke her hair once more.

But a blast from above lanced through its torso. The flying white fiend looked at the hole it punched through the ghost with a smug satisfaction.

Kong fell limp. He first melted slightly, his form deforming under an unseen weight like wax in the hot sun, then faded away to nothing.

Many people had theorized why Kong did what he did. Why he repeatedly kidnapped that blonde girl he was always shown with. Looking at the light fade from Kong’s translucent eyes and fade, Murphy understood. He was protecting her. Like a father protecting a child almost.

She weighed her options and they weren’t good—until Nico came screaming down on the red cyborg, flying at full speed. Her eyes were closed tightly, her body enclosed in a translucent energy bubble, and her face full of regret.  She rammed into him with all her might and got him to budge. Murphy used what time she was given to dig, but she wasn’t given much. Before Nico could fly off, the white cyborg kicked Nico to the ground with tremendous force. Slamming her to earth and kicking up a cloud of dust in the process. Murphy heard the familiar, sickening crunch of bones snapping. When the dust settled, she saw Nico laying on the ground motionless. Her right forearm broken nearly clean in half and her eyes staring at the sky with the all the life and vitality of a doll. Her mouth, eyes and nose had blood forced out of them, splattering across her face and chest. The white Cyborg flew back to her hovering spot to better survey the human wreckage.

Murphy quickly scanned the surroundings again. Hazmat had managed to crawl over to Mettle, limping heavily. She didn’t see Hawkeye or Spider-Woman. Kong was simply gone. And Nico lay at her feet. It was just her. And two very smug cyborg supermen. Only one of which had any real sign of injury.

She wondered briefly when they’d kill her. It didn’t matter. She knew she’d spend every last second delaying these Nazis from their goal if she had to—and she planned for there to be a lot of seconds. She did not want to die, but there seemed to be no other choice. She could run, but that would get her cut down even quicker. Even dead she could not live with herself if she did that. She steeled herself as the red one lumbered towards her, but she found herself unable to move as it pulled back with the Pile Bunker, ready to jam the spike up between her ribs.

Then it stopped.

“This one,” It finally spoke, its voice deep and gravely, “There is something within it. A spark. It holds back.”

“Aww,” The white one tilted her head, “That’s no fun. The others went all out. Why are you holding back? Or, more to the point – what are you holding back?”

Green tendrils floated up from gaps in the White one’s armor, tipped with red spheres which Murphy first thought were flowers. Her blurry vision eventually identified them properly as crystals. She then said one word which sent a chill down her spine.

“Sword.”

Somehow, Karrin knew that it was only referring to one thing with her emphasis on that one word. There’s few things that could warrant that sort of spoken capitalization. The Swords of the Cross were one of them. Harry was the keeper of one of them, Fidelacchius, the Sword of Faith.

“Why don’t you use the sword, Hmmm? You totally could. And maybe-just maybe these idiot kids wouldn’t have died in vain, protecting the relics of a hundred year old lobotomist.”

“Lilith,” The red one grunted, “Do not speak of the mission.”

The White one, Lilith, stuck her tongue out – a forked, crystalline thing that snaked out from underneath the helmet.

With those words spoken aloud. She could almost feel it. All that she had to do was call on it and it would appear before her. It was a palpable sensation. She could almost picture it in her mind, cutting down these monsters for what they had done would be a simple task for the Sword.

But beneath the glory of the idea, her gut turned. It didn’t feel right. Unearned, unwarranted. Damn close to Unmaking the Sword.

Through the monster’s grip, she forced her voice out, “Frankly, you’re not worth even taking it out of the box.”

Part of her felt that she’d die on that one line, in a very Dresden-like manner, but she need them distracted. Anger at an insult can do that. She figured calling a Nazi Super Soldier unworthy of something would be just distracting enough – to allow Mettle to sneak up on at least one of them.

And she was right. Mettle charged the red one with full force. His ribs were exposed in patches under the cracked shell of his ‘skin’. His skull-like face drooled blood from his mouth and his eyes were bloodshot, but focused. He blindsided the cyborg completely with a massive blow to the head, smashing part of the face plate. The force released her from his grip and she rolled out of the fray as fast as she could. Dazed and spinning, the cyborg was unprepared for his continued assault.  The Cyborg faltered, his chest plate cracked, and even his right arm was torn to shreds revealing it to be fully cybernetic.  The dazed Beowulf was left completely unprepared when Mettle grabbed his chest and tore open the armor plating covering it, ripping out part of the tubing and other implantations connected to it with his massive hands. Blood, oil and sparks flew out of his chest as he groaned. 

Which is when Hazmat vaulted over Mettle after climbing up his back in complete synch with her partner. Helmet cracked, suit torn, and her eyes aglow with a golden fury.  She rushed the super soldier, her hands a glow with that white-blue light.  Between flashes of blue, Karin could see the outline of the skeletons of Hazmat and the Cyborg she was aiming at. 

Hazmat’s voice was gravely, but firm, “Ground Zero, Nazi!”

Hazmat shoved her hands right onto the open, damaged sections of the red cyborg's chest. On contact, the his chest hissed with a sound like red hot metal sinking into water, but there was a distinct chemical smell beyond the simple burning of metal, rubber and flesh. Instinct kicked in for Murphy: she ducked and covered. There was a mighty flash of light and shockwave from a huge explosion, leaving her ears ringing. When the light died down, Murphy looked up, to see a mushroom cloud nearly filling the street. Despite the ringing, the dull thuds of small pieces of material hit the ground around her. It took her moments to realize they were pieces of the red cyborg.

Hazmat collapsed into Mettle, who listed slowly before he fell as well.

“BEOWULF!” The white cyborg yelled, her voice stained with pain, rang out and let Murphy know her hearing was returning.

And she got back to digging, grabbing the end of a long tube and pulling it with all her might. She did this as the white cyborg prepared to blast her to atoms right then and there. And she would have, had an arrow not pierced her hand and her massive fire arm, pinning the two together.

“Missed me,” Hawkeye’s voice rang out like a victory bell from her damaged perch. Bloody, bruised, but alive, “So your penalty is I cut off your thumb!”

Hawkeye shifted in her odd stance, one shoeless foot held off the ground where the arm partnered to it was tied off in a makeshift sling and held tightly against her chest.

“H-How?!”

“Adamantine arrowhead,” Murphy could see Hawkeye’s smirk from street level, “Thousand a pop. Right now, totally worth it. Especially since I just bulls-eyed that shot with MY FOOT!”

In a single, fluid motion, the white cyborg snapped the arrow in half with a swipe of her free arm and gripped her useless gun as a club. She rocketed off to smack the annoying archer with it—but a tug from behind threw her off course and she careened into the ground.

Man, education is really going down in the dumps,” a quipy, light voice bubbled from the smoke and debris, “Look at this! Kid’s these days can’t tell up from down!”

Spider-Woman, perched on a wall, upside down. Her costume was torn in several places and she had a cut that bloodied one eye among other scrapes, but she was alive as well, “So why don’t you stick around,” With both hands extended, she fired web-line at the stumbling cyborg, webbing her in place.

“I’m sure you’ll find this,” The exposed part of Spider-Woman’s face revealed a smirk, “Shocking!”

With a motion almost to subtle for Murphy, Spider-Woman brought in her thumbs and clicked a small button. An electrical current ran down the web line. Reaching the cyborg, her systems overloaded. Sparks and spasms dominated her body, her scream stuttering under the current.

Murphy had a better opening than she could have hoped for.

She hefted the rocket launcher up and out of the rubble. Two switch clicks and one trigger depression later, she let the rocket fly before the white Cyborg could get her wits or footing. It popped out of the casing and a moment latter, accelerated towards its target, and exploded with a tremendous fireball.

Murphy dropped the empty tube. She didn’t have a quip or a line. She was just too tired.

“I’m going to perforate you for killing my Beowulf!” She raised an arm, and orange bolts lashed out from it, striking Murphy in the chest.

She fell back. Her vest protected her internal organs, but damn if being hit with frickin’ laser beam didn’t hurt in all new ways. There was the shock of impact, sure, but it was far hotter than she expected. She felt it ripple across her body in ways bullets never did. She lay on her back, only managed to look at something other than the sky as the white cyborg started blasting away the webbing.

Spider-Woman helped her to her feet, “Tell me you have another shell for that. You can lie. Because I just drained my taser charge on her and I’m pretty sure punching her would only give me more broken bones.”

Before Muphy could answer, Spider-Woman braced the pair of them as a red pulse of energy from where Nico’s corpse lay threatened to bowl them over. Her body shone like a spotlight, towering over the scene and tinting everything red. Her body rose into the air, a black and red elbow length, and fortified glove formed around her arm. The break sealed up almost instantly. A ruby the size of a silver dollar embedded in the palmar.

Her eyes held that color as well. The Staff of One was in her hands unarmored hand once more.

I will not let Molly lose her mother again!” Nico’s voice rippled through Murphy worse than the energy blast did.

Nico rushed the cyborg with frightening speed and with a massive haymaker blow, she stabbed the armored hand into the stomach of the cyborg. The cyborg’s eyes bulged as the glowing fist embedded itself in her flesh. She staggered just before Nico lifted her off her feet by that glowing hand.

“H-h-how?” She managed, her voice gurgling and quiet, “We-we are the pinnacle. The ultimate achievement. The best. How can you do this to us?”

“Perfection’s boring,” Nico growled before lifting the woman over her head completely, letting the blood from her wound drip onto her.

Heeeeeat End,” The words were said with an inherent darkness, a full octave lower than she normally spoke. The cyborg superwoman’s body seize, emanated an eerie glow from within with a red and purple light before exploding in a massive golden fireball. The superwoman was no more than chunks on the ground like her partner.

Nico turned to Murphy, her eyes red and glowing, her face stern. The glow quickly faded and Nico lost her levitation. Her skin lacked color and when she hit the ground, she stumbled and caught herself with the staff.

“Okay, I’m done,” She said, using the staff as a cane as she marched back to the Empire State Building, “I’m sitting the rest of this war out.”

Murphy looked down at her radiation badge. It was tripped.

“Yeah, we’ve all had enough, I’m radioing backup. We need to get the hell out of here.”

Hawkeye slid down a rope to street level, unhooking the zip-line device from her belt, “I hear that. That was my last damn arrow.”

“Also, your arm’s broke,” Spider-Woman added.

“And my arm’s broke,” Kate begrudged.

She had barely clicked the radio on when she arrived like an angel from heaven. Clad in golden armor, akin to a Greek hoplite, but made of plate. The eagle-like helm was matched by wings nearly as tall as the wearer of the armor, extended out as she flew down, and folding to her back on landing. The golden armor contrasted her fair skin and blue-black hair.

She began to walk towards the bodies of Mettle and Hazmat, but took a moment to glance at Murphy, “Sisters. Get inside the Empire State Building and head to the 87th floor. You’ll find supplies and backup there.” She hefted Hazmat over her shoulder and gently scooped Mettle up in her arms, “I’ll get these two to medical attention and return to reinforce your position.”

Murphy could only nod. The force of her presence was at once overwhelming and reassuring. It was disconcerting, but she managed a nod.

“I know I can count on you,” She said and flew off. Somehow, her saying that was reinvigorating to the women. They hefted themselves along towards the Empire State Building’s one remaining un-barricaded, and highly concealed, entrance.

“That,” Nico eventually managed, “That was Wonder Woman.”

“Wait,” Spider-Woman Stopped in her tracks for a moment, “You’ve given crap to EVERY cape you’ve ever met. It’s even in your file! But you fangirl over her?”

Hawkeye lightly slapped her on the shoulder, “Of course she does. That's Wonder Woman!”

 


The makeshift medical station on the 87th floor patched them up, but when the War was over, they needed to check in at a hospital. The refractive armor plate did its work and prevented Muprhy's insides from being cooked, but she still had second degree burns, a cracked rib and one massive bruise from the blast. Once she was patched up and cleared by the doctors, Murphy had to check on the others.

Some were far worse off than others.

Hazmat and Mettle had their own specifically built ward. It was sealed off with a massive metal bulkhead that passed as a door. From the tiny window, she could see the two laid up. Mettle had bandages across his chest and around his face. Hazmat lay without visible bandages, but looked deflated in her bed. Without the suit, she looked like a regular girl. The “No Admittance” sign on the door kept her at bay, but they were at least alive. Inside was a woman in a massive hazmat suit who was apparently part tiger. This only added fuel to an idea that Murphy had about ‘superheroes’: they lead very weird, and often very short, lives.

Looking at them from the hall was a quiet experience for the most part. This quiet was interrupted when a woman sat down next to her. The woman who joined her looked only a little different from the woman who had saved the pair on the battlefield. The build was muscular and she was almost as tall as Harry, but the hair was a different color. The blue-black was replaced by light blonde. The armor was gone, replaced by red, blue and gold sweats. And she looked like hell otherwise. Peeking out from her clothes and across her face were cuts that were deep enough that they should have been bandaged and bleeding, but they weren’t. A patch covered one eye, but otherwise, the wounds she had were uncovered and did not bleed. None of the wounds were particularly dangerous or life threatening, but it was still unnerving to see.

She looked through the chart at the door. After flipping through a few pages, she sighed and turned away from it, her face slightly fallen.

“I guess that means your next,” The woman said.

Murphy managed a “What” as the woman held out a round device in her hand. It looked like a hand brush, where the brush had been replaced by a circular layer of purple crystals.

The woman sat down next to her, “You probably want an explanation. First off: Hi! My name’s Cassie. We met earlier—“

“When you pulled the kids out to get medical care and covered our position,” Murphy liked the surprised look on Cassie’s face.

“Huh,” she managed, “Most people can’t see through the wig. Good eye.”

Murphy thanked her.

“Anyway, I’m doing some follow up to heal some of the minor injuries with this little doodad,” She held up the purple crystalline device. “It’s from my mother’s homeworld. This Purple Ray is basically a super tech first aid kit. It can handle things up to cracked bones, but not much more than that.”

“So why are you—“

“Those two were the last serious cases I could check. Unfortunately, his physiology and her radiation means this is useless for them. But I can help you with the mild concussion you’re sporting.”

“What about—?”

Cassie grabbed Murphy’s head and raised the crystal to her face. The purple crystals lit up and at first, her brain felt like spiders crawled across it. But the sensation quickly passed, replaced by a soothing ease across her whole body.

“That should do it,” Cassie lowered the device, a smile across her face, “Now for some water.” She pulled a Canteen from a bandolier across her shoulder and offered it to Murphy. She took it and Drank. “This thing can dehydrate you.”

After swallowing, Murphy asked “Do I want to know what it does?”

“Accelerates natural healing processes,” Cassie smiled, “Kind of target specific, and it can leave you a bit dehydrated, but it’s a handy tool.”

“And that’s not a common device because?” Murphy handed the canteen back.

Cassie sealed the canteen and stood up. She tucked the device into her pocket as she spoke, “Need radioactive ore in your body to power the thing. “

Murphy shook her head with a light smile, “That’s definitely a limiting factor. But what about you? Why haven’t you used it on yourself yet?”

Cassie shrugged, “I heal fast enough on my own.” She pursed her lips for a moment, shrugged and said, “If I really focus on it, I could probably heal my eye right in front of you, but it’s really gross.”

Murphy stopped herself from convulsing in revulsion, “I’ll be happy if you spare me that sight.”

“Points for the pun.” Cassie’s smile was honest and yet still had some innocence behind it. She’s seen it on children before, but never on an adult. That thought was quickly brushed aside by the rest of Cassie’s words. Given the level of strength and power the Nazi super soldiers showed, it was likely they had some level of healing ability to them as well. Which explained exactly why these young super heroes had fought the way they did, as hard as they did. They had to make it quick and decisive. Otherwise, there was no way to put down those things. The power disparity was just too great.

Murphy let out a breath. “Does that mean all superhero fights are . . . that brutal?”

Cassie’s face took on a neutral expression Murphy herself knew she took when dealing with hard truths or decisions, “Not always. But sometimes. Some things don’t go down easily.”

“Like you?”

Cassie smirked, “Like me. So I do what I can to help the kids along. It’s a legacy thing. I’m old-guard. Family’s being doing the super hero thing for almost a century now,” She waved a hand absently in the air, “Not even counting the whole amazon thing, my family has always done more than just punch criminals and slay monsters. We stayed behind to help rebuild. Of all the jobs I do, rebuilding is the most important.”

Murphy thought on that for some time after wards. Cassie excused herself before that went on for too long. In that quiet, Murphy came to a quick conclusion, and headed to a different part of the Hospital.



Seeing Nico was less difficulty than Mettle and Hazmat. Although, she had an entourage.

It was odd. Dresden avoided Hospitals whenever he could. He said the magic around him played havoc with electronics and Harry going to a hospital would get people killed. Here was this young woman who was just fine with so much equipment around her. Not even a tweak. Murphy didn’t think such normalcy would be off-putting, but there it was. Chilling her spine.

Nico was laid out on the bed, but at least she was taking visitors, but she certainly looked better than the bloodstained, gothic horror she was when she destroyed the white cyborg. She seemed deflated, paler, and tired. At her side was a boy who held her, sitting beside her without saying a word. He noticed Murphy first and whispered something to Nico.

She gathered what strength she could, “Hey, Murphy, right?”

Murphy nodded and approached, first turning to the young man, “And you’re?”

His answer was curt, “Chase.” Murphy briefly wondered if that was an alias of some sort.

“How’re the others?” Nico’s voice was low, cracked and overall exhausted.

“Well, everyone’s alive,” Murphy nodded, letting Nico relax to a degree, “Mettle’s going to be in traction for a while. Hazmat is more exhausted and bruised than anything else, and won’t leave his side. Hawkeye had her arm dislocated. Spider-Woman has some bad burns, but they’re fine. How about you?”

“Well, I died,” Nico growled, “That’s one thing.” She clutched the boy’s hand tightly, her hand now free of its dark casing, “Also, when that Nazi bitch crushed my torso, she got me to miscarry.”

“You were pregnant?”

“Was news to me,” Nico’s voice was hollow, strained, and choking back tears.

Chase’s hand rubbed her far shoulder and pulled her close to him, he whispered assurance to her.

“So, you just checkin’ in, or you got some actual good news?”

Murphy cast her gaze down for a moment before looking at her again, “Mostly, to check on you and the others. I lead you into that, so it’s—“

“My fault for trying to rush an artificial Superman with nothing but my clenched fist,” Nico told her, “But I appreciate the thought. I know the pressures of leading a team of unruly teenagers pretty well,” Nico let that hang in the air for a moment before adding, “Though I’m not used to seeing authority figures be reasonable.”

“Same here,” She said, to their confusion. She let out a tired smile and added, “I’m from Chicago.”

They let out a dual “Oh” of complete understanding.

“I also contacted Dresden. When this all cools down, he can take a look at your case – but it doesn’t look good.”

Nico squeezed Chase’s hand, “Define ‘doesn’t look good.’”

Murphy’s face scrunched up slightly and she put her hands in her pockets. Just thinking of this group running around with their own laws, employing lethal force on their own accord just rubbed her the wrong way on a fundamental level. She had to swallow and accept it a few times already, and that had not helped it taste any better. “They think you’ve broken several of their laws,” She said the last word through gritted teeth, “And from what Dresden has told me, you’re being targeted more for political reasons than anything else. Apparently, another witch in California managed to slip by their radar and now has enough clout and power to escape their reach. They want to give you the lesson they failed to give her. Keep their own house in order in the process.”

The two stared at her, blinking.

“Well, isn’t that all sunshine and rainbows,” Chase growled.

“Also,” Murphy took a steadying breath, “There’s apparently someone on the council wants your magic staff.”

“That staff is bonded to my soul,” Nico paled slightly, “To get it, they’d have to kill me.”

“Again,” Chase added. Nico repeated soon after him, then said with a faint, eerie smile, “Wow. I get to say that now.”

Muphy continued, “On the plus side, the guy in charge of the hunt for you doesn’t like you being screwed over like this, so that’s probably the reason they haven’t gotten you yet.”

“Ya think us beating the crap out of ‘em three times in a row would have done something for that,” Chase sneered.

Nico raised the back of her hand to him and he fell silent, “So do we have options?”

“A few,” Murphy said, “But you’ll have to—“

Murphy’s words were cut off by Nico screaming, grasping her head in pain, eyes building and strained as some unseen force pained her entire form. A chorus of screams echoed through the hospital. Fear like little Murphy had seen before became plastered on Chase’s face, holding onto Nico in a desperate bid to find out what was going on. Murphy moved to join him when flickering, multicolored lights caught her attention from the window. She moved to it and peered out, and did her best to keep her jaw closed. The entire sky was filling up with a rainbow of light. The smoke and clouds did little to obscure it, turning the entire skyline from night into high-noon daylight.

“What is it?” She found herself saying.

As if to answer, Nico began to speak in a voice of hazed panic, “The Moonlight Butterfly! Its wings have unfurled! The Moonlight Butterfly is tuning the song with its wing beats! The Great Discord is repeating itself! The Moonlight Butterfly!”