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Justice Society of Japan

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Author’s Note: Dialogue that is meant to be characters speaking english is written <like this>. Everywhere else, the characters are assumed to be speaking Japanese.

[FRONTCOVER: A dynamic groupshot, where the main characters are fighting suits of animated armor. The title reads “A Fight at the Museum!”, and a caption informs the reader that this issue is “NOT A DREAM! NOT AN IMAGINARY STORY!” Featured most prominently are Simon the Digger, Lightning Farron, and Shulk. Simon is clutching a drill, and ducking under a samurai armor’s katana, Lightning is parrying the same blade, and Shulk is slicing a suit of european armor in half. Meanwhile, you can see Shinji Ikari in a dress suit backing away from another suit of armor brandishing an axe, about to strike him while a girl with orange hair tries (and fails) to pull the Axe away]

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Congratulations, child.” said the man “In just a few short weeks, you’ve robbed me of my fleet, robbed me of my dignity, and robbed me of my daughter’s heart. It’s only fair that you should rob me of life.”

The boy remained silent.

Come now, what’s wrong?” said the man. “I’m the one who took everything from you. Your home, your dreams, your family... you should have every right to wish me dead.”

Yet the boy remained silent still.

What is it that you want, then? A fair trial? Justice? Any judge with a sane mind would give me the death penalty for what I’ve done, assuming your government doesn’t keep me alive to try to steal my secrets. But I could always escape. No, I would always escape, because every time you would refuse to put an end to it. And I would become your shadow, haunting at every turn. For years and years your existence will be such, denying you the chance to put down your sword for fear of losing your loved ones. And then one day you’ll slip, and you’ll be at my mercy. And then I will ask you a simple question. Why? Why didn’t you kill me? Why-”

*SNAP*

Simon the Digger jolted awake to find himself staring into the flower-shaped pupils of Nia Teppelin, his girlfriend and former princess of the Spiral Kingdom.

Si-mon! Don’t tell me you’ve fallen asleep again!

“Oh. Sorry, dear.” Simon said. “I kinda had trouble sleeping last night.”

“Well that is what happens when you stay up all night playing video games.”

“Guilty as charged.” Simon chuckled softly.

Nia gave Simon a wistful look. “Conscious or not, I’m glad you came anyway.” She twirled around, gigging. “I’ve been wanting to see this exhibit ever since I was a little girl! I can’t believe it actually came all the way to Tokyo!”

“Yeah, its... really great.” Simon held back a sigh. At the end of the day he wasn’t all that interested the Garrett Memorial History Museum, even if there was an exhibit on King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. He figured that King Arthur (assuming he ever existed in the first place) was probably a pretty cool guy, but seeing all those weapons and pictures on display like that was just kind of boring. If given the option, Simon would much rather be doing something exciting, like attending a monster truck rally, fighting a supervillain, skydiving, or fighting a sentient monster truck supervillain while skydiving (“Man, wasn’t that a weird day?” Simon thought to himself as he pondered that particular memory). Plus, Simon always worried that a supervillain would try to steal something and that he would end up getting blamed for the collateral damage.

The fact that the only way he could get in was through a formal party for the exhibit’s opening didn’t help things. Simon never knew exactly what to wear to formal events; as far as he was concerned, a blue jacket over a loose, white shirt was all the clothes a guy needed. So he panicked and pulled out the first thing that caught his eye; a golden tuxedo that he swore Kittan gave to him as a joke. Nia thought it looked fine, of course, but then again she’d probably say the same thing if Simon was wearing a gorilla suit. She’s funny like that.

“Are you okay?” said Nia. “You seem a bit... what’s the word? ‘high-strung’?”

“Ah, it’s nothing.” Simon lied. “It’s just a bit stressed, that’s all.” That much, at least, was true. Trying to juggle being a superhero and running a repair shop is no easy feat, especially when you don’t have superpowers or a secret identity to fall back on.

“I know you work hard, Simon. But life isn’t all about patching oil leaks and punching supervillains. You need to take it easy every once in awhile.” She gently Took Simon’s hand. “You know as well as I do that Kittan and the others can handle the shop just fine...”

“Yeah...”

“...and if a disaster breaks out somewhere, you can leave it to Super Young Team.”

Simon’s eye twitched momentarily. “Y-yeah.” he said. “They’ll do just fine.” He considered turning his cell phone back on, but ultimately decided against it.

Suddenly, an unfamiliar voice called out. “Nia? Ohmygosh, Is that you?!”

Simon and Nia turned to find a dark-haired young woman with purple eyes in a frilly red dress waving at them.

“Lyra?” said Nia.

“I knew it! It is you!” the other woman said. “I mean who can forget hair like yours? It’s even more beautiful than I remember it! Ohmygosh, it’s been like, what? Three years?”

Nia’s face glowed with a flash of recognition. “LYRA!” she shouted, seizing her into a full-body hug. “I thought I would never see you again!” Tears of joy streamed down the Nia’s eyes.

“Ha ha, not so tight, Nia.” said Lyra. “Everyone’s staring at us. It’s probably making your boyfriend jealous.”

“Oh, sorry.” Nia backed off, and brushed off her dress.

“So... is this someone I should know?” said Simon.

Nia smiled. “Si-mon, this is Lyra, remember? From the book club?”

“Oh, right.” vague memories of the two swam to the surface.

“So I’m guessing you're finally done with your tour of Europe?” said Nia.

“But of course!” Lyra smirked. “I had a magical time there, I can’t wait to tell you all about it!”

“Well, I don’t want to get in the way of this reunion.” said Simon, “How about I go get us drinks while you two catch up with each other?”

“Fruit punch for me, if they have it!” said Nia.

“I prefer a champagne, if you please.” said Lyra. “And don’t worry, I’m not going to steal away your girlfriend or anything.”

Simon smiled. “Alright, you two lovebirds have fun. I’ll be right back.” As he walked away, he thought he could hear Nia say something along the lines of “Why would he be afraid of you kidnapping me?” Followed by a hearty laugh from Lyra.

Simon looked around the room for a bit, until he finally found a young man in a white suit with messy red hair carrying a tray of champagne glasses.

“Nice tux.” Said the waiter.

“Ha ha, very funny.” Simon replied.

“No, I mean it. It actually looks really nice with your blue hair.” He pointed at Simon’s unkempt mop with, as far as Simon could tell, absolute sincerity.

“Uh... right.” Simon took a glasse, and began to hand the young man a tip, only for him to refuse.

“No thanks, I don’t actually work here.” The young man said. “I’m just filling in for the guy who does.”

“Ah.” Simon considered forcing the issue. But as uncouth as he was, Simon was vaguely aware that probing the psyche of random waiters is not something you typically do at these sort of events. So he did his best to ignore his instincts and left to try to find the punch, assuming there was any to begin with.

As he continued to search through the crowd of rich people in formal wear, he noticed that security was a good deal tighter than he expected. Rather than your standard rent-a-cop, the guards stationed around the perimeter of the exhibit hall were much more professional-looking, standing to attention with firearms concealed in such a manner that civilians wouldn’t notice them but would be obvious to anyone with any kind of combat experience. Their sunglass-hidden eyes were hawkishly eying the guests as they passed. He approached one of them, a short young lady with fire-engine red hair.

Simon examined the stylized, trident-shaped emblem on the guard’s uniform. “Yep, just as I thought.” he said to himself. “Black Knights. Someone must be pulling out all the stops today.” the guard pulled down her shades to glare at him, prompting Simon to take his leave. “But that doesn’t make sense, those guys are supposed to fight supers. What are they doing here?” Simon looked down at the floor as he lost himself in thought. “Are they expecting a villain to show up?” he asked himself. “But if so, why did they go ahead with the party? Or maybe they’re not expecting anyone in particular. Maybe they’re just here to protect someone impor-”

Simon soon got an answer to his question when he crashed right into a well-dressed gentleman, sending his glass crashing to the floor.

“Oh, sorry about that, mister-” He began to say, when suddenly a pink-haired woman in a black suit shoved a very large pistol right into his face.

“We have a possible 10-31 in progress.” she said into her comlink. “Prime Minister is safe for the moment. Squad alpha, pattern delta. Squad beta, charlie, standby for further instructions. Over.”

“Wait, did you say the prime-?” Simon began to say.

Ka-click! The woman flipped the safety off her gun.

“Ah-ha... I’ll shut up now.” the young man gulped.

“Please calm down,Inspector Farron, Simon here is a national hero. Even if he did want to kill me, I’m sure he’d do something more clever than fall flat on his face.” Simon looked up to see the Prime Minister extending a hand towards him. He was wearing a big smile, the kind only a politician can keep for any length of time.

“Uh. Thank you, mister Ikari.” Simon said, blushing with embarrassment as he picked himself up off the floor.

“Please, call me Gendo.” said the Prime Minister. “I believe this is the first time we’ve met?”

“Yeah... I guess it is.” Simon glanced nervously at the woman’s gun, which was still pointed at his face. “Say, I don’t mean to be rude, but can you ask your bodyguard to-”

“Certainly. Please put the gun down, Inspector.”

The bodyguard sighed as she holstered her weapon. “False alarm. Code green.” she said into her commlink.

“You’ll have to excuse her. She’s a bit jumpy, but I assure you she’s only worried about the safety of my son and I.”

“Yeah, I’ll bet.” Simon scrambled to figure out how to continue the conversation. “So uh... your son... his name is...”

“Shinji.”

“Yeah, Shinji. How’s... he doing?”

“He’s still not talking to people, if that’s what you're asking.” Gendo’s smile fell. “It appears he still hasn’t learned to cope with his mother’s death.”

His face turned towards the far wall, where a teenage boy was moping in front of a display of medieval tapestries depicting ancient battles, trying his best not to be noticed by anyone.

Poor kid...” Simon thought to himself. “It’s not his fault that his mother couldn’t control her powers. And to survive an explosion that leveled a city block....”

“He looks lonely.” Simon’s mouth said before his brain caught up with him. “Doesn’t he ever hang out with kids his own age?”

“After a decade of moping, you’d think so, wouldn’t you? But the sad truth is that he just doesn’t seem to want to.” Gendo shook his head. “I’m not sure if he’s being isolated by others who harbor anti-meta resentment, or if he’s purposely isolating himself because he’s afraid.”

“Of what?”

“Of himself, obviously. And what he might become if he ever lost control.”

Simon racked his brain in an effort to come up with something positive to say. “...but... but that’s ridiculous, right?” he said. “Even if he did inherit the meta... thingy, aren't the odds of ending up with the same power, like, one in a-”

“He’s metagene positive. We tested him as right after the incident.” Gendo paused to let this sink in. “And given how ingrained the incident was in his psyche, if he does develop powers they’re likely to be related, if not identical to his mothers’.”

The prime minister’s bodyguard pulled him to the side. “Sir,” she said. “I believe there’s a policy against giving away state secrets to vigilantes...”

“Our private life was not a state secret, last time I checked.” Gendo said.

“Yes, but the press-”

“...will figure it out eventually. The superhero community, however, deserves a head start given how their reputation was tarnished during the last incident.” Gendo nodded. “Relax, Inspector. You worry about my head, I’ll worry about my career.”

The Inspector sighed. “If you say so, sir.”

“But enough about me.” the Prime Minister said. “How are you doing, Simon? I’ve heard talk that you’d be proposing to your girlfriend soon. Did I hear right?”

Simon froze. “Aaack! Nia!” he said. He then looked at the president’s champagne glass. “I’m sorry sir, but I’m in kind of a hurry right now. Say, you haven’t drank out of that, have you?”

“Why no, I-”

Simon snatched the Prime Minister's glass right out of his hand. “Sorry sir, gotta run! I promise to vote for you next year!” he shouted as he went off to find Nia.

“...what a curious young man.” Gendo said as Simon left.

Inspector Farron could only plant her palm in her face and sigh.

Meanwhile, Simon arrived at where he left Nia only to find that Lyra was nowhere in sight. Instead he found her talking to a pair of teenager men; one blonde and short, the other raven-haired and thin. The first one was wearing a suit and carrying what looked like a large, oddly-shaped guitar case on his back, while the second was wearing a school uniform, which Simon recognized as belonging to Ashford Academy, a private school not far from here.

“<...it’s a shame they couldn’t find Excalibur.>” The blonde said in what sounded like English tinged with a thick British accent. “<Still, the sheath it was carried in is still quite a rare find.>”

“<Assuming it’s the original, of course.>” Said the other teen in what Simon believed was an American accent.

“<Well, some simple tests should clear that up. If we can find anything magical about it, we might be able to prove that it’s the real deal.>”

“<And if it’s ordinary?>”

“<That wouldn’t rule out the possibility of it being genuine. After all, it was the sword that was supposed to be magic, not the sheath. After all we can always compare it to->”

“Um, <execute-> no, wait, I mean <excuse me a second>.” Simon interrupted in what little high-school English he could remember. “I got the drink, Nia. Where’d Lyra go?”

“Oh, Simon!” She said. “Lyra had to go to the ladies room. Did you remember to get the punch?”

Simon looked down at the singular glass he was carrying. “Aw crap, I knew I forgot something...”

“Oh that’s okay. I wasn’t that thirsty anyway.” Nia assured him. “Anyway, I’d like you to meet some new friends Lyra introduced me to!” he gestured to the blonde. “This is Shulk Lowsley, a real-life wizard!”

Shulk laughed. “Oh no, you’ve got it all wrong; I’m not a Magus, I just work with the Mages Association. Can’t actually do any magic, to be honest.”

“Oh, I’m sorry about that!” Nia said. “I just assumed-”

“It was an honest mistake.” Shulk said. “Believe me, you’re not the first to think that. In fact some people have even asked if I graduated from Hogwarts.”

“Is that a real place?!” Nia said enthusiastically.

“Um... no. No it isn’t.” Shulk gave the woman a perplexed look.

“Awwww...” Nia sighed. “Now where was I? Oh yes, and this other young gentleman is Lelouch Lamperouge. He’s going to be one of Lyra’s students in the upcoming semester.”

“Lyra has a teaching job?” Simon asked.

“Of course, silly! She got a job at Ashford! Didn’t I tell you? ” Nia said. “Oh wait, no I didn’t. Hmm.” she frowned, looking somewhat disappointed.

Lelouch smirked. “We were just talking about how excited we were to see this exhibit. The vice president of the student council has been looking forward to it for weeks.”

“I’m guessing he’s big into chivalry?”

“You... could say that.” said Lelouch, glancing off to the side. Simon followed his gaze until he found a group of students in Ashford Academy uniforms. One of them, a diminutive, purple-haired boy, appeared to be giving a pep talk of some sort to an orange-haired girl wearing a wide-brimmed sunhat (“Indoors? That’s unusual” Simon noted). While a very full-figured student watched with amusement. “Excuse me a moment.” Lelouch said before walking off to deal with the teenage crisis was brewing.

“I think I need to get going too, I’m afraid.” Shulk said. “I need to have a chat with the curator concerning the tests. So long.” And with that, he too departed.

Simon scratched the back of his head with free hand. “Man, I feel like such a killjoy...”

“Aww, don’t feel bad, Simon; it’s not your fault.” Nia said, taking the glass from his hands. “You know I’m always happy when you’re around!” she took a sip from her glass, and scrunched up her face as soon as the bitter juices came into contact with her tongue “*cough* *cough* I mean, I guess I don’t really like champagne, but I’ve always wanted to try it!”

“I guess that’s one way to look at it.”

“See? You’re feeling better already!” Nia’s eyes glimmered as the string quartet began a new piece. “Oh! Canon in D! I love this one!” She curtsied and extended her hand. “Simon, would you have this dance with me?”

“Um... I’d be delighted to!” he said as Nia escorted him towards the dance floor.

Simon’s anxious heart began to pound as the room filled with the sound of Pachelbel. Time seemed to stand still as the two lovebirds began their dance (with Nia in the lead, since she was the only one who knew how). They looked into each other’s eyes, and for one moment, they forgot their troubles. They forgot about the Spiral Kingdom, Lordgenome, and Kamina. They forgot about champagne, supervillains, and the Super Young Team.

For one brief, magical moment, the pair forgot all else in the world but each other.

...And then suddenly a huge pillar of flame burst out of the ground at the spot they were about to waltz into.

The hall was thrown into an uproar. Some patrons fled the room screaming their heads off, others began to take photos with their cell phones, and others still stood in place, too paralyzed in fear to do anything.

“<Oh dear.>” said Shulk. He then pulled the case off his back, and began fumbling with the locks while making a hasty apology to the museum curator. “<Sorry about this Miss Robin, but it seems that something’s just come up...>” With the last lock removed, the young man pried the case open to reveal a very large, oddly-shaped metallic red sword decorated in bright blue stripes, with a large circular hole near the hilt. While it appeared to be very unbalanced, it was deceptively light, so Shulk had no trouble holding onto it with one hand as he slid his finger along the circular stripe near the hole causing a glowing user interface to appear in the center.

“<That’s a strange device you have there.>” said Nico Robin, the museum curator. “<Is it some kind of special magus weapon?>”

“<Well... yes and no.>” Said Shulk. “<The Monado is a mystic code from ages past, and it is designed to be used as a weapon, but I’m actually trying to use it as a scanner...>” The blade chimed as Shulk finally found what he was looking for. “<Brilliant!>” he said as he held the blade up so that he was looking at the flame through the blade’s opening. “<Just as I thought, a prana signature!>”

“<A what?>” said the curator.

“<It’s a... magic thing.>” said Shulk. “<And it’s a strong one too, though nothing apocalyptic. My guess is that we’re either dealing with a powerful magus, or a moderately powerful spiritual being of->”

But Shulk’s explanation was cut short as he was wracked by a sharp headache. He clutched his forehead and closed his eyes, dreading what was about to come next. “<Oh no... not now...>”

When he opened them he found himself on a street corner, watching a fight between Nia’s husband and an armored figure in a horned helmet. The room was littered with corpses, including several of the Black Knights and a handful of costumed vigilantes that he didn’t recognize. He couldn’t identify them, however, as he soon found himself in a dreamlike trance, unable to do anything but watch the ensuing battle.

Armed with only his drill-necklace, Simon was trying to hold his ground against the knight, but the Knight effortlessly blocked every single one of his blows, before shoving a brilliant black blade though Simon’s stomach. He thought he heard a woman screaming in the background...

…the vision faded and Shulk was back at the Museum, with nary a moment passing in between.

“A spiritual being of what?” the curator asked.

“Uh... well...” Shulk grappled with what he could possibly say to politely end the conversation before deciding to just dart toward the pillar of flame, calling back “Sorry about this, I’ll explain later!” as he left.

The Inspector, meanwhile, was busy making emergency calls to the Tokyo Metropolitan Police. “I’ve already contacted the rest of the Metahuman Crimes Division, and the Black Knights have begun to evacuate the citizens,” Inspector Farron said to the Prime Minister. “We should leave. Now.”

“What about Shinji?” said Gendo.

“If he hasn’t left already, he’s probably cowering in a bathroom somewhere.” The Inspector took a moment to assess her situation. “Don’t worry, I’ll get him out of here. You get to safety.”

 

“No.” Gendo said, shaking his head. “Stay here and take care of that... thing, I’ll try to find the boy.”

“I don’t mean to be rude, sir, but that’s an incredibly-”

“Don’t worry about me.” he pulled a small pistol out of his jacket. “I can handle myself. Just make sure that thing gets nowhere near Shinji.”

“...If you insist.”

As for simon and Nia, they just stared at the flames dumbfounded.

“Is it time for you to go to work?” Nia asked.

“Looks like it.” Simon pulled a small earpiece out of his pocket and handed it to Nia. “Try to get everyone to safety, then get Kittan to send the Lagann over.” He thought about this for a moment. “But just the Lagann this time. I don’t think there’s enough room for the Gurren as well.”

“Right!” Nia nodded appreciatively before giving Simon a peck on the cheek as she left to do just that. “Just try not to get hurt!”

Simon was soon joined by Shulk and the Inspector, the latter of which didn’t seem too enthusiastic about the others’ presence.

“Let me handle this.” she said. “I’m a trained professional who can take down a meta with her bare hands.You’re a vigilante who built a robot in his garage and a kid with a plastic sword.”

“Well tough. I’m not leaving and you can’t make me!” said Simon.

“I can probably have you arrested.” the Inspector said.

“I’ll take that chance.”

“You’d better not!” said Shulk. “If you don’t get of here with the others you’re all going to die!”

“Is that supposed to be a threat?” asked the Inspector.

“If so, it’s not a very good one.” said Simon.

“No no, It’s not that!” Shulk said in a hurried tone, “I get these... visions, you see. And in one of them I saw you killed by an armored warrior in a horned helmet, just a few moments ago!”

“And you expect us to buy that?” said the Inspector.

“In a world full of talking gorillas and aliens who fly around in their long johns?” said Simon. “Sure; I’ll take that risk. If the guy with horns shows up, I’ll duck out and head for cover! Simple!”

“Simple minded, maybe...” said the Inspector.

Simon chuckled. “Well if the helmet guy does show up, I can at least count on you to stop him, right Farron?”

“Just call me ‘Lightning’.” the Inspector said “Rolls off the tongue better.”

“...that’s not your real name, is it?” asked Simon.

“That’s not important.” Lightning replied. “What is important is that we figure out what we’re up against.”

Suddenly, the Monado started beeping wildly. “Heads up, there’s a subspace rift forming in the center. Looks like someone’s trying to teleport in...”

“Can you stop him?” asked Lightning.

“I don’t think so.” Shulk experimented with a few of the settings on the Monado. “Even if I jammed the caster’s signal, that’s no guarantee that he won’t try again...”

“Make that ‘she won’t try again’. Look!” Simon shouted as the flaming pillar began to unravel, revealing a masked sorceress clad in shapely golden armor and a bearskin cape hovering in the air with nothing but the withered, white-grey threads of her long, braided hair betraying her true age.

“Something tells me you’re not Merlin.” said Simon.

“Correct.” said the sorceress in a raspy, bone-dry tone. “I am Morgaine Le Fey. I don’t suppose any of you have heard of me?”

“I dunno. Should I have?” said Simon.

“She’s one of King Arthur’s mortal enemies!” said Shulk. “And possibly his half-sister, the mythology is a bit fuzzy on that point...”

“I see my reputation precedes me.” said Morgaine. She eyed eyeing the weapons that Shulk and Lightning were carrying, and said “I see you planned on using force. How very...” she paused to come up with the right words. “...human.” She shook her head with disapproval. “I don’t suppose you’d be willing to just hand over Avalon if I promised not to hurt anyone?”

“Which Avalon are we talking about here?”, replied Shulk, “Last time I checked we didn’t have any mystical islands here in this museum.”

“No, no, not that one. I meant the sheath that Excalibur once rested in.” she pointed to a large display case in the back. “You three are rather uninformed for sellswords...”

“We’re not mercenaries...” said Lightning.

“Yeah.” said Simon. “Light over here is an officer of the law, and the rest of us are what you’d call “concerned citizens”.”

“Fascinating.” said Morgaine. “To think that humans in this day in age are so eager to throw their lives away.” She raised her hand, and a circle of flame surrounded the group. “My offer still stands. Your safety for Avalon. The choice is yours.”

“Not a chance, lady!” said Simon. “You’d probably just use it to blow up the moon or turn everyone into frogs or something!”

“So be it.” Morgain flew higher still into the air, and began to recite an incantation as a green fireball began to form between her hands.

Gehénnam, adolebit omn-

Without warning, Lightning leapt dozens of feet into the air, past wall of flames that surrounded her, and towards Morgaine. Mid-flight, she flipped a switch on her gun, and with a quick flick of the wrist the pistol unfolded into an ornate sword with a curved edge, which she swung at the sorceress as she passed by. Though Morgaine was able to dodge it made her lose focus, causing her spells to fizzle out, releasing the others from their fiery prisons and sending her crashing to the ground.

Once they landed, Lightning then switched back to her weapon’s gun form, and fired off a few rounds at the sorceress, followed by conjuring up a couple of glowing, white spheres, which flew towards Morgane at blinding speed. The bullets bounced off a shield that Morgaine hastily threw up, but the energy spheres exploded as they collided with the barrier, sending Morgaine back even further.

“Okay that was awesome.” Simon said.

“Im...possible.” Morgaine coughed. “A L’cie?! I thought the Fal’cie were extinct!”

“A Fal’ what?” said Simon.

“Long story, not important.” replied Lightning. “For now, just pretend that it means ‘wizard’ because it would make just as much sense. And keep your mind on the battle.”

“Okay.” he turned to Shulk. “Say, this wasn’t the horned guy you were talking about, is it?”

“Well, I don’t think so, but-”

“Right, then!” Simon grabbed a chair and smashed a display stand full of antique weapons, grabbed a morningstar, and started rushing towards Morgaine with the weapon held high. “Now it’s my turn!”

But just when he was a few feet away, he ran face-first into an invisible barrier that Morgaine set up. “Foolish mortal, did you really think that I would go down that easily? The L’cie did surprise me, I must admit, but I will be taken by surprise no long-”

Ignoring Morgaine’s rant, Simon tore off off drill-shaped necklace, and shoved it into the barrier, gritting his teeth as he did so. A continuous shockwave of green energy began to form around Simon, and much to Morgaine’s shock she felt her barrier about to give way. She flew back up into the air just as Simon was about to fully pierce it, leading to Simon accidently punching a large hole in the wall, revealing a stall in the men’s restroom on the other side.

This was extremely frightening to the brown-haired kid hiding the restroom stall, who let out a short scream of terror.

“Oh fu-” said Simon, realizing what he had done. “Uh, sorry! That was an accident! It won’t happen again!” he tried hiding the Morningstar behind his back.

The kid, not reassured in the slightest, backed into the stall door.

Okay, gotta think quick. How would bro handle this?” Simon took a deep breath. “What’s your name, kid?”

“...S-Shinji.” said the boy. “S-Shinji Ikari.”

“Well Shinji what I mean to say is that I’m a superhero. You want to help me take down a supervillain?”

“Uh...” Shinji seemed to be confused.

“Of course you do. And the best thing you can do right now is go home and try not to get taken hostage. You do have a home to go back to, right?”

“Yeah... it’s just that-”

“I know it’s looks dangerous out there, but don’t worry; we promise to protect you no matter what. You just need to be brave enough to try.” He knelt down to Shinji and point and his heart. “Don’t belive in yourself...” Then Simon pointed at his own Heart. “...believe in the me that believes in you!”

“Uh...” Shinji slowly raised his own arm, and pointed at something behind Simon.

Dreading what he was about to see, Simon turned his head to find Morgaine Le Fey readying another fireball.

“Uh oh.”

Gehénnam, adolebit Omnia!

Getting in front of Shinji, Simon crossed his arms in hopes that he could shield the boy from the intense heat that was about to hit, only to find that it never came. He slowly lowered his arms to find himself facing a barrier of glowing concentric octagons. Glancing behind him, Simon found Shinji, cowering on the floor with a single arm weakly stretched out towards the shield.

“Did you do that?” Simon asked.

“I-I don’t know.” Shinji whimpered.

The gears in Simon’s brain began to turn. “Do you think you could do it again?” A second fireball crashed against the shield.

Shinji looked down at his hands. They were twitching ever so slightly. “...Maybe?”

“Allright...” Simon glowed with confidence as he picked Shinji up from the floor. “Now listen close, I think I know how we can win this...”

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“Nia? NIA!” Lyra pushed her way through the crowd towards the blue haired woman chatting on her cell phone.

“...That’s right, we need it as soon as possible... no the Gurren won’t fit... yes, I’ll clear some space... okay, good by!” Nia closed her phone and turned to Lyra. “Sorry about that, just needed to take a call. Thank goodness you made it out!”

“But what’s going on in there?!”

“Oh, nothing to worry about, just an evil sorceress of some sort. It happens!” Nia said with a beaming smile on her face.

“...that’s not exactly something to be happy about.”

“I know. But Simon’s in there, so everything’s going to be just fine!”

Lyra didn’t exactly share Nia’s confidence. “Yeah... does your boyfriend have any superpowers?”

“No.”

“Does he have any magic?”

“No.”

“Does he have any weapons? A mystic sword? A shotgun? A powersuit, perhaps?”

“Well he has a robot, but we’re still waiting for it...” Nia’s face suddenly lit up. “Oh, that reminds me! We need to make room for the landing!” The young woman awkwardly tried to climb up a telephone pole, and began shouting. “Everyone! Get out of the way! We need to make room for a giant robot! It’s going to land right here and I don’t want to see any of you hurt!”

Unfortunately, Nia’s pleas were unsuccessful. In fact if anything they more people were showing up to watch the crazy lady scream about god know what.

Lyra began hanging her head in embarrassment. “I think we need a plan B...”

-----------------------------------------------

Meanwhile, a middle-aged american with messy blonde hair that never seemed to stay down was on his way back to his hotel, when he stopped to watch the spectacle with equal parts confusion and curiosity.

<I guess you get the crazy types here, too.>” he thought. “<And here I thought Metropolis was the only place fulla weirdos...>”

Just then, he noticed a pair of voices conversing in perfect English passing by. They were making their way through the crowd, towards the museum that everyone else seemed to be so worried about, and since the man could barely understand anything else that was being said he found himself becoming an accidental eavesdropper.

“<I’m sorry, I can’t do this. I don’t think I’m ready...>”

“<Don’t worry so much. There’s just one guy and apparently there’s at least three other supers backing you up. Just make sure you get into the front lines and get a few good blows in, and the story of the scrappy young upstart will practically write itself. Besides, if you break we’ll just get Nia to fix you up.>”

The man tried to get a glimpse of the speakers, but he didn’t catch anything more than a sunhat and a few locks of long, orange hair.

“<But the costume, it’s so...>”

“<The costume is fine, everyone else is wearing stuff like that nowadays. I mean Wonder Woman’s a paragon of virtue, and do you see how she dresses? Besides, everyone else in Super Young Team has a costume inspired by famous hero.>”

“<But you based mine on ‘Power Girl’? Really?>”

“<Well, admittedly you don’t quite have the rack to pull off the boob window...>”

“Hey...!>”

“...but other than that you’ve got a good figure and you’re pretty strong so you do fit the mold. And the only way you’ll get their attention is if you become a sensation, so why not show off those legs of yours?>”

At this point the conversation was too far away to hear, and he didn’t particularly feel like following them.

“<Kids these days...>” he sighed.

-----------------------------------------------

Mortis Arma reptilia!

A quivering mass of thorns and brambles clashed against Shinji’s shield as Lightning leapt behind it, carrying Shulk into the hallway with Simon.

“Alright, you’re doing good so far, kid!” Simon said. “Keep that up for a few more minutes and we’ll be golden!”

I mustn’t run away, I mustn’t run away, I mustn’t run away.” Shinji’s knees quivered as he tried to focus on using his newly-acquired powers.

“This was a bad idea.” Said Lightning.

“It’s not like we had too many options, none of us are much in the way of defence.” He turned to Simon. “What do we do next?”

“Okay, here’s the plan.” Simon pulled out a crumpled up map of the museum. “Light and Shinji stay here and guard this entrance and keep her distracted, while you and I circle around. Then we wheel over the catapult on the east wall, and use it to I launch you into the air so you can hit her with that big sword thingy of yours.”

“Just one problem.” said Shulk. “The Monado doesn’t work on humans, and while it’s durable, it’s a lot lighter than it looks. You’d be better off swinging a wiffle bat for all the good it’ll do.”

“Okay then... in that case you fire the catapult and I’ll just clobber her in the face.”

“Are you joking?” said Lightning. “We’re fighting a centuries old witch and the best plan you can come up with is ‘punch her in the face’?”

“Do you have a better plan?” said Simon.

“Yes. Hold our position and wait for backup.”

“That could take ages!” Simon protested. “She could have enacted her plan! Or worse, Super Young Team could show up!”

Lightning's eye twitched ever so slightly. “You may have a point there.” she said. “Still, let’s try something a bit less reckless.” she pointed at a diagram of the second floor. “There’s a balcony here that overlooks the main hall. If you two circle around and keep her distracted, I might just be able to get a good shot in...”

“Um, you said something about a distraction?” Shulk point past Shinji’s barrier, towards the the opposite doorway. The young, red-haired waiter from before rushed into the room carrying a metal pipe, and smashed a display case containing a medieval crossbow, swiping a handful of bolts that were also on display as he did so. Morgaine watched with mild amusement as he loaded, drew, and fired the bow, missing by a mile.

“So, yet another mortal has come to play hero?” With a wave of her hand, the young man flew through the air, and crashed through an archery display, dropping his crossbow as he landed. A soft snap could be heard as his tendons ruptured.

“Give up, child. I tire of this already.”

The boy, however, would not heed Morgaine’s words. “Never!” he said. Weakly, he grabbed a bow, and mumbled “Trace... on!”. Seconds later, a large broadsword materialized in his hand, and he began to fumble with a nearby longbow, apparently trying to launch the sword as if it were an arrow, with little success.

Morgaine stared at the boy with disbelief, and then aimed one of her arms at him.“If you truly wish to die a hero's death, then I will gladly comply...”

“Okay, new plan.” said Lightning. “I’ll save the boy, you two head for the balcony.”

“And then what?” said Shulk.

“Improvise.” she tapped Shinji on his shoulder to get his attention, and then sped off once the shield was down, leaving the three young men on their own.

“...well? You heard the lady!” Simon said. “Let’s get to that balcony!”

-----------------------------------------------

“People, I beg you!” Nia shouted. “The only way my boyfriend can beat the evil sorceress is if you all make room for the giant robot! …Yes, I am a space alien. ...No, I’m not crazy, why do you ask?”

Having spent the last few minutes trying desperately not to be seen, Lyra was finally fed up. She stormed her way in front of Nia. “Stand back. Let me handle this...” She reached into her purse and pulled out a tiny perfume bottle labeled “Symphonie de Menthe Poivrée”. “You might want to hold your breath for this...”

After giving Nia a moment to react, Lyra point the bottle upwards gave the bulb a light squeeze, spraying a fine purple mist into the air. Soon, everyone’s nostrils filled with an intoxicating aroma that could be politely described as a pungent medley of peppermint and horseradish. Soon, the crowd began to emit a calamitous caconophy of coughing, and quickly began to part in an effort to escape the stench.

Even Nia, who was more than willing to go with whatever crazy plan her friend came up with, was having a hard time maintaining her composure.

“*cough* *cough*... what was that?” she asked.

“Just some *cough* perfume I bought while *cough* I was in France.” Lyra replied. “I asked a perfume maker for *cough* the strongest *cough* thing he had. *cough* be careful what you wish for, am I right?”

“Yeah, you’re always doing things like that.” Nia made a stifled laugh as she waited for a passing breeze to reduce the odor to a more tolerable level. “Okay...” she said once she was able to breath again. “...Now to rescue Simon!”

-----------------------------------------------

Meanwhile, in a less reputable part of the city, there stands a very unusual building. Supposedly it used to be an aircraft hangar built by a wealthy enthusiast prior to World War II that nobody had bothered to tear down, though the place had been patched up and reworked so many times that only the hollow interior and overly large doorways gave any hint as to it’s original purpose. Too small compared to the surrounding buildings, too large for any practical use, and too old to demolish outright, the hangar remained a local curiosity; trading hands many, many times over the decades. Up until recently, it had been a local landlord seeking to make a quick buck bought up the place and converted it into “Chieftain Motors”, an auto-repair center of ill repute.

But a few years ago the place traded hands again, this time passing into the possession of Simon Doriru, a former street urchin who had worked at Chieftain Motors before achieving national recognition when he thwarted an alien invasion using a robot that he and his late brother salvaged from a junkyard. The place was re-named “Kamina Motors” in honor of said brother, a fact the huge, red, skull-shaped sign hung over the building was all too proud to announce.

Inside, another young man was working on a much smaller mech than he was used to. He wore a thick tuft of blond hair on his head, shaped as if a spike was jutting forward, while everything below the forehead was cut short almost like male-pattern baldness were happening in reverse. His bushy brown eyebrows were furrowed as he tightened the screws on a diminutive, humanoid robot skeleton. It was apparently a kind of toy robot that fought other toy robots or something using interchangeable weapons. Kittan wasn’t sure and he didn’t really care; working on a childrens’ toy was embarrassing, and he wanted to get done with it as soon as possible.

Not helping things was the robot’s owner; a ten-year-old tomboy with a raspy voice who bossed around a couple kids her own age, one of them fat and dopey looking, the other skinny and kinda jitterish. They of course had their own robots, because their parents were also okay with them owning three-foot-tall killer robots (Kittan did note that the robots weapons were weak enough that they only posed a danger to other toy robots, but he was too worn out to give a fuck at this point).

“Hey! What’s takin’ ya so long?” the tomboy tapped her foot impatiently. “I ain’t payin by the hour, so hurry up and fix Peppercat already! I don’t have all day!”

“Yeah, well, maybe if ya just keep yer trap shut I’d be done by now!” Kittan gritted his teeth. He had tried to be patient with the kid, but after an hour of nagging looking over his shoulder Kittan was at wits end. “Stupid Simon and his stupid ‘we fix anything’ policy... kid’s more annoying than my sisters...”

Suddenly, Kittan’s pocket began vibrating, and the sickeningly sweet theme song of that pony show that his sisters watch began to play. Kittan then realized just why everyone was so ready to accept choosing his ringtone as collateral in last night’s poker game, as the tomboy began to snicker.

Flush with embarrassment, Kittan deftly pulled out his phone and slammed his finger on the “answer” button in one swift motion. “Hello?”

“Kittan? It’s Nia.” said the voice on the other end. “You’re not busy are you?”

“Eeehhh... of course not!” Kitan gave the impatient tomboy waiting nearby a smug look. “I’m just, ya know, doin’ stuff. Whazzup?”

“Simon’s in a bit of a jam right now; I need you guys to send the Lagann over so that he can stop Morgane Le Fey, an immortal sorceress straight out of medieval legend from achieving her vague but no doubt malevolent goals.”

“Sure! Anything for you, sweet cheeks! Hold on a sec.” He reached for a megaphone lying on a nearby workbench. “Allright; hold up, gang!” Kittan said through the megaphone, his booming voice echoing throughout the room. “The boss needs Lagann to fight some kinda kooky magic thing! Prep the canon, on the double!”

“YOU GOT IT, BOSS!” shouted a pair of burly, square-jawed men wearing sunglasses. Their names were Jougan and Balinbow, though Kittan could never remember which was which. They lept off the Mech they were working on and dashed towards a pair of hand-cranks sticking out of the back wall. With all the Machismo they could muster, the twins began twisting the cranks, and a large, red-and-blue cannon began to rise up from the ground, while the roof of the building began to split apart, revealing the bright, blue sky overhead.

“Hey, what’s the big idea? Get back to workin on my bot!” said the tomboy.

“Hey, relax, this will just take a sec.” Kittan said. “And if you promise to stop complainin’, I might just let ya ride with me.”

“Ride? Ride what?” said the girl.

-----------------------------------------------

“Uhh, boss?” said the skinny kid, “I don’t think this is such a good idea. It’s dark and cramped and I wanna go home. Can I please get out?”

“No way! This is gonna be awesome!” said the Tomboy. “‘sides; these guys are professionals. They’ve probably done it a zillion times already.”

“Ya got that right, kid.” Kittan said as he finished strapping the parachute to the Lagann’s frame. “Now let me show you how real badasses make a delivery.” He turned towards the shaft of light at the other end of the cannon. “Hey Leeron! You all set there?”

Just outside of the canon, an effeminate, blue-haired man crunched some numbers on his laptop. “Adjusting for additional weight, aaaand...” the computer made a soothing chime. “Looks like you’re ready to go, sweetie!”

“Right!” Kittan shoved a pair of noise-cancelling headphones over his ears. “Headphones, ON!”

On!” the kids said (some more reluctantly than others) as they followed Kittan’s example.

“Music, ON!” Kittan shouted.

ON!” Balinbow and Jougan (or was it Jougan and Balinbow?) shouted as they turned on a pair of heavily-worn radios, whereupon the speakers started blasting the sound of Freddie Mercury singing the chorus of “Don’t Stop Me Now”.

“Canon, FIRE!” Kittan pointed dramatically down the length of the cannon, while the tomboy’s cohorts ducked for cover.”

FIIIIIIRRRRRE!” A scrawny man standing directly behind the canon slammed his fist into the large, red button that was sitting right in front of him with an almost childlike glee.

Back in the canon, the world exploded as the Lagann and it’s passengers were shot into the air, high above the Tokyo skyline. The entire city was stretched before them, from the Tokyo Tower to all the way across the Tokyo Bay.

The tomboy looked upon the scene with awe, recording the whole thing on her smartphone so that she could brag about it later. “Man, won’t Tenryou be jealous.” she said. “Am I right?”

The cohorts were less enthusiastic, with the fat one sweating nervously as he tried to keep his cool, while the skinny one took one look at the city below and ducked back into the cockpit.

“Sweet view, am I right?” said Kitan, who was slightly embarrassed to realize the lengths he was going just to impress a bunch of kids, and how much more successful his love life would be if he put half that effort into impressing a potential lady-friend. “Now here comes the fun part.” He grabbed the ripcord on the parachute as the forces of gravity began to catch up with the Lagann. “I gotta pull this here thing at the exact right time; too early and we miss our target, too late and we end up in full body casts!” He took a deep breath as he watched for his stopwatch to reach the exact right moment. “One... two... THREE-”

-----------------------------------------------

Through her binoculars, Lyra stared at the mecha careening through the sky in disbelief. "You've gotta be kidding me... and you say you guys shoot your robot out of a canon?"

"Yep!" said Nia.

"...that seems impractical. And dangerous."

"Oh don't worry, it's perfectly safe!"

Lyra continued to watch as the Lagann's parachute got caught on a fast-food restaurant sign, nearly causing the contents of the mech to spill over onto the street. "I can see that."

One emergency trip to the hardware store later, the girls managed to get the Kitan and the kids who were inexplicably traveling with him down from the Lagann via a ladder.

"That. Was. AWESOME!" said the Tomboy of the group. "You're a heck of a lot cooler than that floozy mechanic that Tenryo hangs out with!"

"Thanks, kid!" said Kitan, quietly ignoring how he had no idea who that was.

"I gotta show this to Peppercat! Oh man, I'm totally coming back to you guys! Hey, do 'ya can do some mechanic stuff and let Peppercat transform into a hoverboard?"

"Uh... maybe?" Kitan grinned nervously. "Maybe I could talk to Leeron about that... it would be kinda expensive though."

"How much!?"

"I dunno, maybe like, thirty thousand yen or-"

"DEAL!" The tomboy then grabbed her cohorts (who were still stunned by the whole ordeal) and started dragging them away. "Come on! That money's not gonna earn itself! Now start looking for plastic bottles, that might be worth a bit of scratch..."

"...are those kids are going to be alright?" said Nia.

"Oh yeah, they'll be just fine!" said Kitan, not completely sure of himself. "Besides, they left that little toy of theirs back at the shop. If they don't come back to pick it up, I'll just call the police or something."

"Well... I suppose you're right." said Nia. "...Just promise me they won't get hurt."

"What, do you want me to follow 'em?" Kittan scratched his head.

"...maybe?" said Nia.

Lyra shot Nia an incredulous look. "Oh yes, a grown man following around a bunch of prepubescent children. That won't be mistaken for anything..." Lyra shook her head. "Don't you have a boyfriend to save?"

"Oh, right!" Nia reached into her purse and took out a small, golden drill-shape necklace, and started climbing up to the Lagann's cockpit.

"Hey, waitasecond." Kitan said. "Isn’t that Simon’s necklace doohicky?"

“It’s her father’s.” said Lyra.

Kitann looked at her, dumbfounded.

“You know, Lordgenome? The Spiral King? Guy who nearly leveled Tokyo about a decade ago? Honestly, I wasn’t even there; how the hell do I know more about this than you?”

“Uhhhh...” Kittan glanced down at his watch. “Oh look at the time I really gotta get back to the garage!” he pointed at Lyra and gave what he imagined was a smarmy wink. He said “Call me sometime, we’ll do lunch.” before dashing off to catch the subway.

Lyra rolled her eyes. “Moron.” she whispered to nobody in particular.

-----------------------------------------------

Sparks flew as steel met steel in the exhibit hall. Morgaine Le Fey had proved to be more nimble than Lightning had expected, and now the pair were locked in an epic sword duel as the red-haired young man just watched helplessly from the other side of the room, too weak to even pick himself up off the ground.

“Funny. I never really imagined you as a swordsman.” Lightning said to her opponent as she parried a series of ferocious attacks. “I always thought you were more into treachery and dirty tricks.”

“Don’t believe everything you read.” Morgaine continued her relentless assault, slowly backing Lightning towards a display featuring several suits of armor in a thick glass case. “The centuries it took me to master the art of the blade were nothing to me.” She then relented long enough for Lightning to leap backwards onto armor display in an attempt to gain higher ground.

Just as expected...” the sorceress thought to herself. She then stretched her hand towards the display, and said “Arma, venit ad vitam!”

Immediately, the arms of the suit right below Lightning shot up through the glass and grabbed her by the ankles. Before Lightning could react, she found herself being flung across the room, and crashing into a priceless tapestry depicting a humbled Sir Gawain offering his head to the Green Knight. She heard something a crack as her skull collided with the concrete wall behind the tapestry, which subsequently fell from its mount and buried her in a pile of princeless, centuries-old yarn. A quick check of her possessions confirmed that despite her massive headache only thing that was actually broken was her communication device. “Damn it. I’m getting too careless; a blow like that should have killed me...”

As she struggled to get back onto her knees, Lightning’s mind ran through all of the possible moves her opponent could make next. She concluded that whatever Morgain did next, it probably wasn’t a good idea to stay in one place for very long. So Lightning cut a hole in the tapestry in order to free herself, just in time to see the heavy iron mace that was about to crash through her skull. With her free hand, Lightning grabbed the hit of the mace, halting it mid-swing.

Taking a good look at her attacker, Lightning wasn’t surprised to find that the figure that was now struggling to free it’s weapon from Lightning’s grip was the same suit of animated armor that had originally caught her off guard. She was even less surprised to discover that the suit had been joined by at least a dozen of it’s ilk, all brandishing swords, axes bows, and polearms of various make.

Lightning looked up and glared at Morgaine, who was now floating above the assembled legion. “Cute.” Lightning said. “So you’re going to try to win by numbers, now?”

“Well I never promised a fair fight.” Lightning thought she could see her golden mask crack a smile. “It’s always enjoyable to toy with a mortals, and truthfully this is the most fun I’ve had in ages...”

Lightning didn’t even bother coming up with a snappy one-liner. Instead, the pink-haired officer threw herself at her opponents, sword in one hand and a spell readied in the other.

-----------------------------------------------

“Remind me not to get on her bad side...” From the balcony, Simon watched as Lightning turned into a hurricane of steel and magic. Her sword cut through the antique armors like they were butter, while the ones who somehow managed to avoid the blade were enveloped in a series of bright white explosions before disappearing entirely. Soon, all that was left in the ruins of the museum were Lightning, Morgaine, and the young man in the corner who still lacked common sense to leave.

“...what was the plan again?” said Shinji.

“I’ll tell you in a moment...” Shulk look at the battle below, then at Shinji, then at Simon. “Now would be a very good time for a vision...” he silently bemoaned. A then took a deep breath, and exclaimed “We’re going to make a bridge, and then Simon is going to punch her in the face.”

Simon cracked his knuckles. “I like this plan.”

“A bridge? But out of what?” Shinji asked.

“I was just getting to that.” Shulk replied smoothly. “You’re going to create a barrier that Simon can walk across. Then, right when Lightning is about to strike Morgaine, Simon is going to leap off the end and strike her with that drill of his. If we time things just right, the bulk her shield’s energy will be diverted to stopping Lightning’s attack, letting Simon pierce through the other side.”

“B-but I’ve never done this before! How do you know I can hold it for that long! What if he misses! What if he-”

“Shinji, relax.” Simon put his hand on Shinji’s shoulder. “We both know you can do it. It’s like I said; we both believe in you. Now you’ve got to believe in us.”

Shinji felt his eyes drawn to Simon’s. He looked at them, and felt a sense of absolute trust flowing through him. “All right... I’ll try.”

“That’s what I like to hear!” Simon slapped Shinji on the back. “I just know you’ll make a superhero someday!”

Shinji felt breathless. “A... super-”

“Actually, Shinji brings up a good point.” Shulk toyed with the Monado as he interrupted the two. “Landing the blow will require split-second timing, but fortunately I have just the thing for that!” A glowing symbol appeared on his weapon’s interface, as it began to radiate a brilliant blue aura. “One of the Monado’s more useful functions is that it has a connection to the Speed Force. And more importantly, a connection that can be shared with others.”

“Speed force?” Simon crossed his arms “What’s that?”

“The Speed Force is a semi-mystical extradimensional energy source which is capable of accelerating matter to superluminal speeds without-” Shulk then remembered that he was talking to a teenage boy and a man who expected a shorter answer. “What I mean to say is that It’s a magic... thing... that makes you go really fast.”

“Oh. That makes sense.” said Simon. “Anything I need to know before you juice me up? Like, don’t cross the streams or something?”

“Just keep in mind that the Monado can only tap into the Speed Force for ten seconds at a time. Though at the speeds you’re going, it’ll feel more like ten minutes.” Shulk glanced down at the battle. Lightning had finished off the suits of armor, and was now back in close quarters combat with Morgaine, though as Shulk expected Lightning was having a bit of trouble with Morgaine’s shield. “Now’s our chance! Shinji, ready the platform!”

“Right!” Shinji trembled as he focused on the space in front of him.

“Simon, you ready for this?”

Simon removed his necklace. “Ready as I’ll ever be!”

“On three:” Shulk held the Monado up high. “One! Two! Thrrrrreeeeeeeeeee...”

Shulk’s final syllable slowed to a crawl as the Speed Force rushed though Simon’s body. He glanced at his watched and found that it too had slowed down; the second hand appeared to be stuck at five seconds to the minute. Examining his surroundings, Simon saw that things looked more or less the same except that everything was frozen in place, and the world had a deep, bluish tint. He was startled by a thunderous noise coming from behind him, and discovered that a bridge of transparent light was forming behind him, past the balcony and over the warriors locked in a majestic dance below.

He looked at Shinji, still frozen in place. “Huh.” he said, not expecting to be heard by anyone. “Looks like you pulled it off...” Simon casually began crossing the bridge of light, untill he was finally standing right over where Morgane and Lightning were fighting. He glanced down at his digital watch, was surprised to find that the digits on his watch had also frozen in time. Simon began to wonder if he wasn’t somehow violating the laws of physics, but then he remembered that this was happening because of a wizard’s magic sword left it at that.

Just then, Simon’s train of thought was interrupted by a crack of thunder, as Lightning’s sword collided with Morgaine’s barrier for the upteenth time. A small tear opened on the other side of the shield, which continued to grow as the shield’s energies contracted to a single point. Simon almost wished he could watch the spectacle a few more times, but he knew there were more important things to worry about, as the shield’s tear soon began to retract. Clutching his drill tightly, Simon let loose a fearsome battle cry as he lept off the edge of the bridge.

“YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!”

Simon Watched as Morgaine began to walk towards the berserking mecha pilot and began to recite a quick emergency incantation, but for Simon it looked like she was still going in slow motion. And just before the barrier could fully close, Simon’s fist managed to slip through the barrier and strike Morgaine’s armor-clad face with the full power of his spiral energy-infused punch that dented her mask and sent her flying across the room, where she crashed into a catapult display with enough force to reduce it into a pile of splinters.

“...you know, I could have handled that myself.” said Lightning.

Simon was about to say something snarky to the contrary, but thought better of it. “Yeah, but this was better.”

“You just destroyed millions in priceless artifacts. How is that ‘better’?”

“Well I...” a bead of sweat dripped down Simon’s face as he struggled to come up an answer. “...just thought the sooner she’s taken out, the less likely civilians get caught in the crossfire.”

“True.” Lightning grudgingly agreed, “But do you really think a five hundred year old sorceress is going to go down with one lucky punch?”

“...maybe?” said Simon.

“Well unfortunately, you’d be quite wrong about that.” the pair turned to find Morgaine standing among the ruins of the catapult, brushing the splinters off her robes. “Just as I was wrong about going easy on you.” She touched the dent in her armor’s face-mask left behind by Simon’s devastating punch. “Despite your lack of discipline, you are clearly formidable advisories, and therefore deserve to be treated as such.”

“Uh... thanks?” said Simon.

The air hung still as Morgaine clasped her hands together. Lightning felt her stomach churn as a sickly green aura began to surrounded Morgaine. “Voco, Modredum!” she said. “Disperdes inimicos meos!” With those words, her aura abruptly changed from green to red, and a vortex of crimson Lightning began to form in front of her, drowning the room in a cacophonous din.

It was so loud, in fact, that the noise reached all the way to the balcony, where Shulk and Shinji were still watching.

“WHAT’S SHE SAYING?!” shinji screamed over the thunder.

“I DON’T KNOW! SOMETHING ABOUT MORDRED... CALLING... I THINK IT’S A SUMMONING SPELL! SHE’S TRYING TO SUMMON MORDRED!”

“WHO’S MORDRED?!”

“THE GUY WHO KILLED KING ARTHUR. NOT THE SORT OF PERSON YOU SHOULD MESS AROUND WITH.”

“WHAT?!” Simon shouted from back on the ground floor.

“I SAID HE’S NOT THE KIND OF GUY YOU MESS AROUND WITH!”

“WHO?!”

“MORDRED!”

“WHAT?!”

“I SAID MORDRED!”

“WHAT?!”

“HE SAID MORDRED!” said Lightning.

“WHO’S MORDRED?!” said Simon.

“THE GUY WHO KILLED KING ARTHUR!” said Lightning.

THE KING ARTHUR?!”

“YEAH!”

“REALLY?!”

“YEAH!”

“THAT DOESN’T SOUND LIKE THE KIND OF GUY YOU MESS AROUND WITH!”

“I LITERALLY JUST SAID THAT!” said Shulk.

“WHAT?” said Simon.

But before this circuitous argument could go any further, the vortex dissipated, taking the noise with it. In it’s place stood a stout figure in glistening silver armor over a blood-red brigandine. On his head, the warrior wore a decorated silver helmet with steel horns, a faceplate that bore no features but a pair of curved slits carved in the front in place of eyes. Finally, in his hand the warrior carried an enormous broadsword with a blue hilt and gold trimmings, which he brandished without the slightest sign of discomfort.

The room went silent.

Slowly, the figure turned to face Morgaine. He then knelt in front of her before speaking. <“Mother, what service dost thou require?”>

Morgaine motioned towards Simon and Lightning, “<Two insolent fools have attempted to take my life, while two of their allies are waiting above. Destroy them for me, Mordred, so that I may accomplish my task.>”

“<Thy will shall be done, mother.>” Mordred bowed his head “<I swear upon my honor, that these fools shall trouble thee no long->”

Mordred felt his armor shake as he heard a loud “clang” of metal behind him, followed by a loud *FWOOSH* accompanied by what appeared to be green flames engulfing his helmet. He turned his neck to find Simon standing right behind him, baffled as to how Mordred could take a spiral-energy punch without even flinching. Slowly, the warrior got up, and turned to face Simon.

“Have you no honor, knave?” Mordred said in surprisingly good Japanese. “Have things truly fallen so far in this day in age that thy people have been reduced to cheap shots and sneak attacks as your primary modus operandi?”

Simon quickly regained his composure. “Hey, all I know at this point is that you’re working for a bad guy, and you want to kill us.” Simon threw another spiral-energy punch at Mordred, only to nearly break his knuckles on Mordred’s immobile faceplace. “Honor has nothing to do with this!”

Simon tried to throw another punch, but Mordred caught the blow with his free hand before Simon could even blink.

“In that case, I shall take great pleasure in exterminating such a tactless cur...” Mordred’s grip soon tightened, causing Simon to grimace in pain at the sound of his fingerbones snapping. He then let go of Simon, but not before slapping him in the face with the force of a truck, sending the young man spiraling to the floor in agony.

“Consider it a blessing that your death shall be quick.” Mordred’s boot smashed into Simon’s chest, shattering his ribs in at least a dozen places, followed by a swift kick to the head. Mordred then clasped his blade in both hands, and raised it above the broken in the manner of an executioner. “It would be against my code to give you anything less...”

Lightning, meanwhile, was furiously trying to load her weapon with an anti-magic bullet. “Think; you’ve been in worse situations before...” she looked down at her gun. “If that thing is a traditional summon or a low-powered construct, an anti-magic bullet might help. But if it doesn’t, he’ll go after me next and we’ll both be out of commission.” she looked back up as Simon. “Either way, we’re in over our heads. No choice but to regroup. Now if I could just get to Simon...”

Just as Lightning considered making a mad dash to save Simon, personal safety be damned, a voice echoed throughout the hall.

“NOT SO FAST, EVILDOERS!”

The entire room turned their attention to a teenage girl on the second floor, standing directly across from Shulk and Shinji. She had green eyes and long, tangerine-colored hair that went all the way down to her hips, and wore a transparent pink visor as well as a pair of “robot ears”; translucent pink antenne that seemed to serve no purpose but to move in response to her emotional state. But as unexpected as her appearance was, more perplexing still was her outfit, which looked like it was assembled from the contents of an upscale cosplay bargain bin. On her torso was a “Power Girl” outfit, complete with her infamous “Boob window”, but minus the sleeves and gloves. Instead, she wore golden pauldrons and metal gauntlets, the rightmost of which had an attachment that looked like a gold lion with a green gem inserted into the slot. The lower part of her body wasn’t much better; while there were similarly-shaped leg-plates, there was also an inexplicable miniskirt for some reason. Overall, it was a very embarrassing costume, and the worst part was that the girl wearing it seemed to know this, as she flinched once everyone started watching her.

“Uh.. Don’t worry citizens!” the girl said. “I, “The Amazingly Powerful Girlborg” will make sure that none of you come to harm!”

The room continued to stare at her in silence.

If anyone other than Lightning had super-hearing, they might have heard the girl whisper “Um, okay. I did the speech just like you said. Now what?”

And if perhaps they were concentrating very, very hard, they might have heard a voice in the girl’s earpiece reply. “<How did they react?>”

<I... don’t know. They’re just... staring at me for some reason.>”

<They must have been awed by your masterful delivery.>”

<Milly, I’m serious! And there’s another supervillain! I thought you said there’d only be one!>”

<Don’t worry, he’s probably just the main villain's elite mook; nothing to worry about. Actions speak louder than words, so just jump down in an impressive manner and start fighting already!>”

<If you say so...>” having apparently concluded her conversation, Girlborg struck another heroic pose, and pointed her finger at Mordred. “I suggest you leave right now, or else I’ll be force to... um, hurt you!”

Mordred was not amused by the newcomer’s boast. “<Since thou speaketh the king’s tongue, I shall make this as clear as I can. I mean thee no offense, milady, for whilst thou might be a fine combatant, to challenge me to single combat is to throw thine life away. Doest thou truly seek death’s embrace, or art thou addled in the mind?>”

“<Uhhhh...>” The Amazingly Powerful Girlborg stood there for a moment, dumbfounded. “<I’m not exactly sure how to answer that.>” The then clenched her first. “<But if there’s one thing I do know, it’s that I’m not going to let your hurt anyone else!>”

“<A noble sentiment, to be sure...>” Mordred withdrew his sword. “<Since thy motives are pure, in the interests of fairness I shall let thee have the first blow.>”

“<...really?>”

“<By all means. Have a go at it.>”

“<Uh... okay then.>” Girlborg nervously hopped down to the first floor, and carefully made her way towards Mordred.

She made it about half-way when a blur rushed past her field of view.

Lightning to stoped not ten feet from Mordred as he pointed his sword at Simon’s throat, causing her to drop a small, pill-shaped device she was carrying, which rolled up to Mordred’s feet.

“Don’t tempt me, wench.” quipped Mordred. “One more step, and I can foresee much trouble breathing in this man’s future.” He picked up the trinket that Lightning dropped, and threw it behind him. “The battle is between me and the girl; though you may feel free to challenge me afterwards...”

Girlborg looked to Lightning for advice, but after a brief pause she simply responded by nodding gently. “...right.” Girlborg said to herself. “No pressure.” Gritting her teeth, she wound up an amateurish uppercut, and after a moments anticipation, launched herself directly at Mordred...

...And much to everyone’s surprise (most of all Girlborg’s), she found that the slightest touch sent the armor-clad figure hurtling through the roof and into the sky, where he soon became a blip off in the distance.

Girlborg looked at her hands in shock. “Did... I do that?”

“Not quite.” Lightning handed Girlborg a silver pill-shaped capsule. “It’s a gravity bomb; nullifies gravity within a meter’s radius. I detonated one right before you hit him; elementary physics did the rest.”

“I see...” he tried to hand it back to Lightning. “Do you want this one-”

“Keep it. You need the edge more than I do, anyway.” Lightning turned her attention away from Girlborg, and went to check on Simon. “He’s got a pulse. Lay him out so he’s flat on his back.”

As she did as Lightning said, Girlborg looked up at Morgaine, who was casually making her way towards Avalon’s display case. “Shouldn't we do something about-”

“I know what I’m doing!” Lightning said. “Alright, looks fine for now...” Lightning held out her arm. She held her hands out over Simon, and they began to glow with a bright light. Girlborg watched in amazement as Simon’s blood retreated into his body and his wounds began to seal themselves up. She even swore that she heard something that sounded like knucklebones shattering, but in reverse.

“Mrmrmmm... I’m gonna kill you... Bizzaro... Lincon.” Simon mumbled as got up from the floor, yawning as if he had just had a bad night’s sleep rather than being an inch away from death. He looked at Lightning, then at his fist, then at Girlborg, then back at Lightning again.

“...oh man, thanks, Light. I really screwed up, didn’t I?”

“Well you’re not exactly an expert at this. But we can talk about that later.” Lightning pulled Simon back up to his feet. “Right now we still need to take care of Morgaine.” She pointed at the sorceress, who was at this moment rounding the weapons gallery, passing the injured waiter as she approached Avalon.

“Okay.” Simon stretched his arms. “Where are the others? Who’s the newcomer?”

“If he was smart, Shulk would have left with the minister's son by now. So I’d say it’s a fifty/fifty chance that they’re heading down here as we speak.” She looked at Girlborg. “As for her, this is...”

“I think I heard that much.” said Simon. “Amazingly Powerful Girlborg, right?” he extended his hand towards the newcomer.

“Uh.. ha ha, yeah. That’s right!” Girborg blushed at the sound her own name as she accepted Simon’s handshake. “Sorry if the name’s a bit of a mouthful. All the good ones were already taken.”

“Hey, do you think if I had a choice I would call myself ‘Simon the Digger’?” Simon grinned. “But I like it. It’s nice and distinct, not to mention descriptive.” He then let go of Girlborg’s hand and pumped his fist at her. “So, whadda say we go kick some evil wizard butt?”

“Sorceress.” corrected Lightning.

“Close enough! Let’s do this!”

“Shouldn’t we at least come up with some kind of plan?” said Lightning.

“The best kind of plan is the one you make up as you go along!” said Simon.

“Because that worked so well against Mordred.”

“Yeah, well you were doing just fine against Morgaine.”

“That’s because I’m at least fifty times as strong, fast and durable as an ordinary human, not to mention I’m trained in handling this kind of thing.”

“Well so am I... sort of. Maybe not that first, part, but I can hold my own in a-”

“I’m a technopath, if that helps...” said Girlborg. Sadly, her input fell on deaf ears.

“Look, you’re a Mecha pilot, and a damn good one from what I hear. But you don’t have the skills to-”

“You don’t know anything about me! You’re just a cop with superpowers, but my brother and I grew up in the streets-”

“Uh, guys?”

“Just because you say you’re a hero doesn’t mean you are-”

“Yeah, well, If you were always such a stickler to the rules you never would have become a L’cie in the first place!”

“Guys, she’s almost-”

“Yeah, and look where that got us; Japan’s most wanted and a month of hiding from the Justice League.”

“You you still saved the world!”

“Look, if you’re not going to, then I’m-”

“And nearly died in the process, I might add.”

“You were just in the wrong place at the right time; that’s what superheroing is all about and hey wait where did Girlborg go?”

Instinctively, the pair of bickering heroes looked to the side, where they found Girlborg standing in front of Avalon’s display case, trying her best to look brave in front of the approaching villain.

“D-Don’t come any closer!” she said. “I’m not letting you have this! Never!”

Morgaine continued her unflinching walk towards the reluctant heroine.

“I’m warning you! Don’t come any closer or I’ll... I’ll... shoot laser beams at you!”

(“Laser beams?” her earpiece quipped. “Is that really the best threat you could come up with?”)

Finally, once she was within Inches of Girlborg’s face, Morgaine put her hand on Girlborg’s shoulder and asked “Tell me, child. Do you have a lover?”

A face instantly popped into Girlborg’s head. “...y-yes?”

“Then I’m sure he’ll be disappointed to learn of the virus that now converts your flesh to steel and clockwork even as we speak.”

There was a flash of green light, and a sharp pain shot through Girlborg’s arm. She watched in horror as her flesh began to tear, revealing not a simple array of bones and muscle, but a menagerie of springs, sprockets, gears and cogs.

(“<Shirley? SHIRLEY! What’s going->” was the last thing Girlborg heard from the earpiece before it shorted out.)

“I’ll leave you be, for now.” Morgain pushed aside the broken clockwork girl. “I cannot think of a single fate worse than the one that you are already doomed to suffer.” She looked back at Simon. “...Though perhaps it’ll prevent those interlopers from interfering. After all, they don’t want to risk infection, now, do they?”

“Damn it...” Lightning gritted her teeth.

Simon looked puzzled. “Infection? What’s she talking about?” said Simon.

Orthopoxvirus Machina, better known as the Machine Plague.” Shulk dashed into the room, notably without Shinji behind him. “It’s got a one hundred percent infectivity rate, and no cure. First it converts your body to metal, then it destroys your soul. In the end, it leaves nothing left but an empty shell...” he held up the Mondao. “I scanned the girl while she was doing that speech of hers, and as far as I can tell she’s in the final stages of infection.”

“Thought so.” Lightning frowned. “The station would probably have her on file if she was a cyborg, and she’s too human-like to be a robot and still be this inexperienced. Where’s Shinji?”

“Safe with the Minister, and he’s already called for a quarantine though I’m more worried about other potential carriers...”

“Right.” Lightning glanced at Morgaine, who was at this very moment delicately carving a hole in Avalon’s display cause using a magical beam projected from her fingertips. She then looked at a small, oblong-shaped flower vase that was nearby. “Either of you boys play football?”

Simon followed Lightning’s gaze, and then returned a knowing look. “Well, I’ve always thought I’d make a good linebacker...”

“Hold up,” Shulk began, “Are we talking American Football? Because I don’t think I’ve ever played-” but before he could finish, Light and Simon bolted off like a pair of cheetahs just as Morgaine had pulled Avalon out of it’s case.

Running as fast as her name implied, Lightning, carrying the empty flower vase, was the first to make it to the target, weapon drawn and ready to strike. But though Morgaine braced for an attack, instead of stabbing her in the face the Inspector tossed aside her weapon snatched the sheath out of Morgaine’s hands in the middle of an elegant backflip. And when Morgaine turned to retaliate, she found herself taking the full blow of Simon’s spiral-energy powered tackle. Though the sorceress was quickly throw Simon off her back using telekinesis, Simon’s attack provided Lightning with enough of a distraction to stuff the artifact in the vase and toss it in Shulk’s direction.

“Heads-up, halfback!” she said as the vase hurtled through the air.

Shulk dropped the Monado in surprise, nearly fumbling the vase as he realized what he had done. Without taking the time to remove the Sheath, he grabbed the sword and started to run for the exit, ducking hallways in hopes that he might be able to lose the sorceress that would soon be chasing after him.

As he exited the building and arrived safely on the open street, he thanked his lucky stars that he made it out in one piece. But then he heard a sound. Faint at first, but it quickly grew loud enough that he was able to make out some kind of “whooshing” noise. Just as he was wondering what it could be, he was suddenly struck with a vision an airborne projectile hurtling towards him at an unfathomable velocity. He immediately leapt to the ground, vase and sword in hand, crossing his arms in hopes that he wouldn’t scrape his face against the pavement. In doing so, he cleared the way for Mordred, who at that moment had just returned from his trip to the stratosphere in an incredibly violent manner, stabbing his sword into the ground as he smashed into the pavement. The mere shockwaves sent Shulk tumbling head over heels, yet his grip on his possessions remained as firm as ever.

“<‘Twas most aggravating. I shall take care to lower my guard no longer.>” Mordred sighed as he drew his sword from the ground and pointed it at Shulk. “<Now, forgive my presumptuousness, but unless I am mistaken thou hath the demeanor and physique of a scholar, not a fighter. And whilst your weapon is no doubt potent, I highly doubt thou can match steel with one such as myself. So once more I ask thee; lay down thy arms and hand over thy spoils, and we can both walk out of this conflict satisfied.>”

Shulk scratched his head. “<Just one question.>” he said. “<If you’re a really Mordred, why are you speaking in faux-elizabethan? By all accounts you should be speaking Middle English, or perhaps even Old English. You sound less like a serious threat, and more like a Shakespeare impersonator at a renaissance fair.>”

“<What’s wrong with Shakespeare? I like shakespeare.>”

“<Well yes, so do I. But coming from you it sounds a bit... um... goofy.>”

“<Very well then.>” Mordred said in a more subdued manner. “<Would you prefer it if I talked like this?>”

“<Yes, that’s much better.>”

“<WELL TOUGH!>” Mordred shouted, his armor cackling with dark energy. “<I SHALL CONTINUE TO TALKETH IN WHATEVER WAY I WILST, AND THOU SHALT CONSIDER THE MATTER CLOSED!>”

“<Gaah! Okay, you’ve made your point!>” shulk said. His mind began to race as he considered his options. <“I don’t dare enrage him any further.”> he thought. <“even if it turns out the Monado does work on this guy, he’s just too strong... too fast...”> He looked down at Avalon, still stuck in the vace Shulk carried under his arm. <“Perhaps I could appeal to his chivalry. He’ll probably spare me if I surrender, and perhaps that might be enough to prevent my vision....”> Shulk shook his head. <“But who knows what Morgaine will do with Avalon! Is an uncertain future really worth it if it prevents certain death?”> Having come up empty-handed for a solution, Shulk decided to stall for time. “<I don’t suppose you’d be willing to explain your plan?>”

“<Dost thou taketh me for a simple-minded knave? Appealing to hubris may work on Luthor or Sivana, but not I.>”

“<Weellll... It’s just that your mother doesn’t have a very good reputation. In fact in all likelihood she’s only using you to achieve her own ends.>”

“<As it should be! For it is a knight’s duty to obey their sovereign, no matter what the consequences.”>

“<That’s ridiculous! You betrayed the Knights of the Round Table! How do you consider yourself a proper knight after murdering your king?”>

Mordred didn’t even flinch at this question. “<’Twas for the greater good, I assure thee.>” He readied his blade, and assumed a combat stance. “<Now, fight or flee: the choice is yours, scholar.”>

Shulk removed Avalon from the vase, and wedged in a more convenient location between his belt. He then gripped the Monado in both hands, and a shaft of brilliant, blue energy extended from the blade. “How’s this for an answer?”

-----------------------------------------------

From the television in his father’s limo, Shinji watched as the battle between the heroes and Morgaine Le Fey spilled out onto the streets. He tried to ignore the newscasters commentary as he watched Lightning and Simon double-team the sorceress; taking advantage of both their numbers and the newly-discovered limitations of Morgaine’s shield to punish her with a series of carefully coordinated attacks.

Shinji breathed a sigh of relief. “Looks like they’ll be just fine without me...”

Suddenly, the newscaster’s voice picked up, and the camera shifted to the other side of the museum, where Shulk, despite wielding a laser sword taller than his own body, appeared to be taking the beating of a lifetime from Mordred. Shinji watched squeamishly as Mordred delivered his beatdown with a rapid series of kicks and elbow jabs, only using his sword to parry Shulk’s own feeble counterattacks. The only reason Shulk was still alive, Shinji realized, was that he seemed to disappear every time Mordred went for a killing blow.

Shinji looked as his father. He seemed too engrossed talking to someone apparently called “Checkmate” over the phone to be much help. He then turned to the driver. “STOP THE CAR!” he shouted, causing the limo to screech to a stop, and startling Gendo enough that he nearly dropped his phone.

“Heavens, Shinji, don’t scream like that.” He apologized to the person on the other end of the line, and put his phone on hold. “What’s the matter?”

“Those people back there need me!” Shinji pointed to the screen. “I mean, I know I just got these powers and I don’t really know how they work... but...” a nervous tear fell from his eye. “They saved my life and I just ran away! I mean there’s a girl back there who-”

“...is a class-5 biohazard.” Gendo interrupted. “I know who you’re talking about; I’ve been watching the incident very closely, and I’m afraid she’s a lost cause. And chances are the others are infected by now too.”

“But what if they’re not?” Shinji pleaded. “We have to do something!”

“The Black Knights are en route with their armored division, and the police are going to quarantine the area. I’ve sent word to Big Science Action, Super Young Team and the Justice League... but by the time they arrive it’ll already be over...”

Frantically, Shinji unbuckled his seatbelt, lept onto the handle, shoved car door open, and started running back towards the museum. “Look I’m... sorry! I just gotta do this, okay!”

“Shinji? Come back here! SHINJI!” Gendo began to exit the vehicle, but stopped just outside of the car door, seeing that Shinji had hidden himself away in middle of the ongoing traffic jam.

-----------------------------------------------

“Well, maybe we did fail to stop the evil sorceress that even now is telekinetically dangling us upside-down by our ankles, but I think the important thing is that we tried.”

“Please shut up.” said Lightning.

“Yes, please, I grow tired of your wisecracks.” said Morgaine. “And to think a pair of half-wits like yourselves forced me to be so... pragmatic.” she shook her head. “Truly, I must be getting old.”

“Hey, I’m just trying to stay positive!” said Simon. “Besides, she’s already been trying to kill us. What’s the worst that could happen?”

“She could send our souls to Hell.”

“...she can do that?”

“Yep.”

“Like, the actual, literal, capital H ‘Hell’. Not a hell planet or a hell dimension or some kind of virtual hell. The real one.”

“Yep.”

Simon looked slightly worried, but the feeling quickly subsided. “Well... if she does that, then I’ll kill Satan and break outta Hell myself!”

“The sad thing about this world is that’s probably a legitimate plan.” Morgain spread her hands and a magical circle appeared underneath the heroes. “Which is why I am instead going to bind your souls into a pair of eating utensils for my son Mordred, so that three meals a day you will be so very close to my supernaturally succulent foodstuffs, forever reminding you of the simple pleasures of your lost humanity, yet you will forever be unable to taste such things ever again.”

“Thats... pretty damn cruel.” said Simon.

“What can I say, I’m in a foul mood this week. No thanks to you two, of course...” She then placed a fork and a knife in the center of the circle, and began to chant her vile incantation.

Suddenly, Morgaine heard a shrill voice from off to the side. “Simon! I’m coming! Don’t worry!”

“Now what...” Morgaine followed the source of the voice until she spotted a woman with strange-looking eyes and far too much hair running at her driving a robot shaped like a human face. It was probably the eighth most peculiar thing she had seen in her life, and certainly the strangest thing she had beheld today.

“Nia!” shouted Simon. “You came through!”

“I told you I would!” Nia replied. “Don’t worry, I’ll get you down! Just give me a second!”

If Morgaine was familiar with the cultural connotations of such an act, she probably would have rolled her eyes. “Another member of the fools parade, I see.” She pointed her finger at Nia twirled it around. “Wingardium leviosa.

Nia screamed as she found herself lifted off her feet and out of the Lagann, and soon she too found herself with the others, hanging upside-down above the magic circle.

“Yeah, some rescue.” said Lightning.

“Sorry...” Nia tried her hardest not to tear up. “I didn’t mean to-”

“Don’t worry, that attack caught us off guard, too.” said Simon. “And you did get the Lagann here; with any luck, our rescuer will be able to use it to turn the tables.”

“Rescuer? What rescuer?” Morgaine said. “The boy had turned tail and fled, and even now, my son is finishing off the blonde one.” she waked up to the Lagann to get a better look at it, wondering how the bizarre-looking contraption would be any sort of threat, what with it’s stubby arms raised in the air like that. “All that’s left is the girl, but she’s in no condition to fight.” she turned to face her victims once more. “Even if she was still conscious, how would she be able to operate such an automaton with only one arm? And if you ignore that, there is no way that I would allow myself to be beaten by that-”

The Laggan then brought it’s mighty fists down own Morgaine’s head, knocking the sorceress out with a single, swift blow.

“Huh.” Nia stared at the mech in disbelief. “Did I do that? I don’t think I did. Did I press the wrong button and activate the killer AI function?”

“Doubt it. I think we just got saved by someone Morgaine wasn't counting on...” Lightning pointed at the entrance to the museum.

Sure enough, Girlborg slowly limped out from behind the doorframe. “See...?” She murmured. “Technopathy... told you... it would work...” then she collapsed, falling face-first onto the pavement.

“We’ve got to help her!” said Nia.

“How?” said Lightning. “Last time I checked, we can’t really do much but wait around for the magic to fade-”

And then they all fell to the ground.

“-away.” Lightning got up, and shook her head. “This day just keeps getting better and better, does it?”

Nia started to run for the collapsed girl, but Lightning grabbed her by the shoulder. “Wait! That girl’s contaminated with the Machine Plague! Don’t get any closer.”

“Relax.” said Simon. “Nia’s a physician and I’m a mechanic. If anyone’s going to be able to save that girl, it’s us.” He removed Lightning’s hand from Nia’s shoulder, and together they approached the girl.

“Hm... no bleeding.” Nia examined the girl from a distance as she put on a pair of rubber gloves that she kept in her purse. “That’s a good sign... but that also means she’s already in the advanced stages.” Nia then flipped the girl onto her back, and put her ear on the girl’s chest. “She’s still breathing though, so she’s apparently still alive....”

“Uhgh...” Girlborg moaned “I’m okay, I’m okay...”

“No you’re not.” said Lightning. “You’re infected with a dangerous disease, and you’re missing an arm.”

“Not a big deal... I’ve got a friend who can fix it...” she said.

“A friend?” said Lightning. “You mean someone’s been messing around with your insides?”

“...y-yes?”

“Great...” Lightning facepalmed. “Now we’ve got a potential outbreak on our hands...”

Nia tore off a piece of her dress, and wrapped it around the stump of Girlborg’s arm like a torniquete. “I don’t know if this’ll help... but it might keep you from losing any more parts.”

“Thanks...” the girl said.

“Now come on!” Simon said. “Let’s all pile into the Lagann! Now that the gang’s all here, I’ve got a plan to beat Mordred!”

“Let me guess.” said Lightning. “We’re going to punch him in the face.”

“Exactly!” said Simon.

“And why do you think it’s going to work this time?”

And so Simon told her.

-----------------------------------------------

Shulk let out a short scream as his face hit the pavement, chipping a tooth and no doubt making his black eye even worse than it was already.

“<I shall give you this much, scholar.>” Mordred said. “<Of all the fools I’ve killed, thou, perhaps, are the most dedicated. Tell me, why dost thou perseverest in the face of an impossible test?>”

“<There are... lives... on the line...>” Shulk said. “<Just... promise me... you won’t kill the others...>”

“<Well of course I won’t kill without due cause.>” Mordred replied. “<But given how violent their natures are, I may be forced to do so.>”

“<I see...>” Shulk coughed up some blood. “<I guess... I didn’t... change... anything...>” He clutched the monado with his dear life.

“<Rest easy, scholar.>” said Mordred. “<For soon thou shalt be with God...>” He raised his blade high into the air, ready to deliver the final blow...

But just as the blade was about to strike, instead bounced off an barrier that appeared out of nowhere.

“<What trickery is this?>” Mordred looked around. “<Do the forces of fate haunt me still...>” He then spotted Shinji, peeking out from behind a nearby newsstand. “<...or is there yet a knave who knows not his place?>” He stomped towards the boy, grabbed him by his collar, and hoisted him high into the air. He then glared at Shinji, while the boy himself did his best not to wet his pants.

“Child, thy heroism is admirable, but misguided.>” Mordred said “<One more stunt like that and I shall be forced to-” Suddenly, he heard a heavy clanking noise come from behind him. “-kill you?”

Mordred glanced behind himself, and saw a stout, red, face made out of metal, with stubby arms and legs sprouting out of the sides, grab Shulk and toss him into it’s head, where the broken young man slipped through some kind of membrane. Mordred didn’t have much time to contemplate all this before the Laggan sprang forward and snatched Shinji right out of his grasp, and tossed him to into the membrane.

“<...I know not what kind of weapon this is... nor do I care! Show thyself, so that you may die with dignity!>”

Meanwhile, inside the Lagann, it soon became apparent that the cockpit was not in fact made for six people.

“I don’t like this plan so far...” said Girlborg.

“Trust me, it gets better!” said Nia.

“It’s not like it can get much worse...” said Lightning

“Simon? Lightning? What is this?” said Shulk.

“This, my good friend, is the Lagann, the most powerful mech in the universe! It was our secret weapon against Spiral Kingdom, and now it’s our secret weapon against Mordred!” Simon pointed to the furious knight on the display screen.

“But that’s crazy!” Shinji yelped. “We saw what that guy did to you; he’s freakin invincible!”

“Beat the invincible! Do the impossible! That’s what my bro used to say!” he pumped his fist in the air. “This thing runs on nothing guts and fighting spirit, like a big, robot-shaped Green Lantern ring! So I say we combine our willpower, and show this literal bastard what we’re made of!”

Shulk struggled to look at the Monado’s screen. “That might actually work! It says here that our combined willpower output is bordering on 1.4 Megascotts. If your robot works like you say...”

Lightning sighed. “I should be saying ‘this will never work’, but honestly I’m sick of being proven wrong. Let’s do this.”

“Right!” Simon pressed a button, and the cockpit flipped open, revealing everyone to Mordred.

“So thou thinkst thou can gang up on me?” he reeled back in laughter. “HA! How many times must I prove myself to thou before I hear thy surrender?”

“We’ve got news for you, pal!” Simon said. “For you, the dark ages are just getting started!”

“...really? That’s the best you could come up with?” said Lightning.

“Hey, it’s not like I spent all night practicing one liners in case I run into a knight (Okay yes I do).”

“I see a natural 1 in your future, pal!” said Shulk.

Lightning just stared at him. “...that’s even worse.”

“We’ll hit you so hard, even your mother will feel it?” said Girlborg.

“That’s probably the best we’re going to get...” said Lightning.

Simon flipped down his goggles. “WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK WE ARE!?”

He then flipped the cockpit back down and told everyone to grab onto the controls and think about punching Mordred.

Outside of the Lagann, the mech’s arms suddenly turned into drills, which grew a heck of alot longer over the course of a couple seconds, before fusing and then expanding into a drill that was at least ten times the size of the Lagann itself.

“<Thou could send a dozen such attacks at me and I wouldn’t even flinch!>” said Mordred “<Bringeth it on!>”

And indeed they did. The lagann’s legs then turned into rockets, which propelled the mech at its intended target: Mordred’s helmet. He tried to block the attack with his sword, but it came too fast to him to react. Instead, he was treated to the agonizing sound of steel scraping against steel, with the drill slowly boring into the helmet.

“JUST A... BIT... LONGER...” Simon said through his bared teeth.

Suddenly the Monado began to emit a series of piercing beeps.

“CAN YOU TURN THAT DAMN THING OFF!?” shouted Lightning “IT’S HARD FOR ME TO CONCENTRATE.”

“I CAN’T, IT’S AN AUTOMATED ALERT!” Shulk glaced down at the Monado. “IT SAYS THERE’S A TRANS-SPACIAL GATEWAY FORMING RIGHT BEHIND US! IT LOOKS LIKE SOMEONE’S TELEPORTING IN, AND FA-”

Just then, the cabin shook as what was presumably the thing the Monado had detected crashed into the Lagann, throwing the whole thing off balance, jostling the Lagann’s shell open and sending everyone inside flying out of the mech and onto the pavement. For Mordred, the effect was more akin to a nail being stuck by a hammer: before returning to normal size, the Lagann’s drill shattered a large chunk of his helmet, and sent the knight toppling over. The Lagann, meanwhile, tumbled to a stop somewhat behind Mordred, and the unknown projectile itself crashed into the ground, leaving a small impact crater situated somewhere between Mordred and the heroes.

“Well... didn’t see that coming.” Simon rubbed his aching forehead.

“Technically we did.” said Shulk as he helped Girlborg off the ground. “We just didn’t have enough time to prepare.”

“What was that, anyway?” said Girlborg.

“Reinforcements would be my guess.” said Lightning. “I mean what else would it be: some random girl we’ve never met before who just falls out of the sky for no reason?”

Just then, a young girl, perhaps no older than 10 crawled out of the impact crater. She had medium-length black hair and pale skin, and was wearing a plain black baseball cap, as well as a t-shirt with a stylized depiction of an armored figure, with an english caption below the image implying the figure was named “Wild Tiger”. Despite her clothes being torn in several places, she seemed to be in remarkably good shape for someone who just survived an impact like that. She stood up, looked up into the air, raised her fists into the sky and shouted “<HELOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO STERNBILD!>” before fainting.

“...Next time, just say ‘a sack full of free money.’” said Simon.

“Noted.” said Lightning. She looked over at Mordred, who was now raging with fury, covering the missing part of his facemask with a free hand, and screaming a string of shakespearean insults at anyone who would listen.

“<Thou cullionly plume-plucked whey-face! Thou lumpish earth-vexing ratsbane! I shall wring thee limb from limb until thy bones crumble to dust!>”

Lightning ignored Mordred’s ramblings for the time being.

“So what are going to do now?” said Shinji. “Without your robot, we can’t even leave a dent in the guy...”

“I’m thinking, I’m thinking...” Simon bit his upper lip in frustration.

“Um, actually, I think I might have an idea...” Shulk said, his voice cracking a bit. “But you’re going to have to promise not to interrupt and let me do the talking.”

“Well, you probably do have the most tact out of all of us...” Lightning said. “Go ahead. Let’s see what this plan of your is...”

Grasping Avalon in his left hand, Shulk slowly approached Mordred, taking care to step around the still-unconscious girl lying between them.

When he was about ten feet away, Mordred took notice of Shulk’s presence and said <“SCHOLAR, TIS LUNACY FOR YOU TO COME AND FACE ME ALONE! IT IS TOO LATE FOR REPARATIONS, NOW OUR FEUD MUST BE SETTLED IN COMBAT, WITH OUR ARMOR DRENCHED IN->”

“<Here.>” Shulk dropped Avalon to the ground, and stepped back. “<It’s yours.>”

“<-THE BLOOD OF OUR, wait. What didst thou say?>”

“<Avalon. It’s yours. It’s no longer worth fighting over.>” he took a deep breath. “<Especially since it’s a fake.>”

“<WHAT?!>” Mordred bellowed.

“<We believe that the previous curator of the exhibit, Sir Crocodile, sold it to an unknown party for a hefty sum over ten years ago. We belive that someone is a member of the Clock Tower, one of the three main branches of the Mages Association. I’m here on behalf of Atlas, another one of the branches, to identify if the Avalon in the collection is the real thing or not for the investigation.>”

“<So... thou art a bringer of justice?>”

“<No, I’m just one step in the process. Once I’ve identified that foul play has been committed, Atlas will bring the matter to the attention of Interpol, Interpol will track down the ones responsible (with some nudges in the right direction by Atlas), whatever family is responsible will use their political clout to get the heat off themselves, but they’ll look incredibly foolish in the process.>”

“<And the man responsible for this corruption? Will he face judgement?>”

Shulk shrugged. “<...perhaps he’ll lose some status within his house, but from a legal standpoint he’ll probably get away with it.>”

“<That’s preposterous!>” Mordred exclaimed, crushing the fake Avalon between his fist. <“If thy story is true, then I swear on my honor that I will track this man down and slay him myself!”>

“<...not really sure that’s a good idea, but you’re welcome to try.>” Shulk coughed. “<Now... do you think we could have a-”>

<“A truce? Yes, now that we have nothing to fight over, that would be a splendid idea. All I must do is convince mother, and then I will be off.”> Mordred then began to walk away. <“Fare thee well, scholar! May we meet again, on more amicable-”> Mordred suddenly stopped as his ears picked off a faint rumbling in the distance. <“Hark! I hear the sound of many wheels scraping against asphalt, unrelenting. What in God’s name could the source of this racket be?”>

Moments later, dozens upon dozens of Knightmare Frames poured in from every direction, their chests gleaming with the silver emblem of the Black Knights. The twenty-foot-tall mecha came to a halt in a circle around Mordred, their land-spinners screeching in response to the sudden change in velocity, and aimed their enormous rifles directly at Mordred.

“<Oh silly me.>” Mordred shook his head. “<The answer ‘twas robots... on roller skates.>”

From behind a nearby building, one last Frame emerged. It very different from the others; it could fly for one thing. But rather than the stout, economical shape of the Sutherland models, this Knightmare frame was slim and sleek, almost anorexic if not for it’s bulky shoulder, chest and knee-plates. It’s color scheme was different, too. Rather than the purple-and-black pattern that the other Knightmare Frames wore, this one was almost entirely black, with gold plating on the shoulders, knees and helmet, as well a red, glowing, backpack-looking device that no doubt the source of the Knightmare Frame’s flight.

“<Criminal!>” boomed a voice from the flying Mecha. “<I am Zero, and we are the Black Knights: a global force for justice!” The voice paused to let that sink in. “You have five seconds to surrender!>”

Mordred’s fist clenched in anger. “<Thou call thyselves knights!?>” he said. “<Thou art nothing but charlatans masquerading as->”

“All units, fire!” Zero shouted, and at that moment, every one of the Knightmare frames under his command opened fire on Mordred. For a full minute, nothing but the sounds of the Black Knights’ rifles could be heard, and nothing could be seen but the flash of muzzle fire and the endless spray of bullets.

But when the smoke cleared, Mordred was still standing, uninjured as ever.

“Oh come on, that never works!” shouted Simon.

“Relax, I’ve seem them do this before.” said Lightning, “Watch this...”

“HA!” he said. “It doesn’t matter how many times thee throwest thyselves against me; for my power is beyond that of any mortal-”

And then, suddenly, a hexagonal prism appeared in a flash of crimson light, cutting him off mid-sentence and freezing him in place.

Girlborg, almost fatigued to the point of collapsing, thought for a moment that she was hallucinating voices, only to realize that she was somehow picking up the Knights’ radio signals.

Good work, but you cut it a little close this time.” she heard Zero say.

Waddya talking about?! we were only off by six seconds!” she heard another voice say.

It takes exactly one minute, eleven seconds for the Absolute Defense Field to ready it’s capture program. After our legally-mandated five-second warning, that means you need to occupy the target’s attention with sustained gunfire for one minute, five seconds. And six seconds would have been more than enough time for Black Adam or Bizzaro to tear us all to pieces.” said Zero. “We were lucky that this villain was fond of monologuing...”

Oh, like you’re one to talk!” the other man said.

She tried to tune out the conversation. It reminded her too much Lelouch’s own lectures. Lelouch’s encyclopedic knowledge on the numbers of absolutely everything was one of his more endearing traits, and she didn’t want to associate him with that mercenary, Zero. After all, who else but Loulou would know that the average villain speech was thirty seconds long, or that hostage-takers have an effective reflex of about 1.5 seconds, or that you could delay most villains indefinitely with a long enough speech...

...and that’s when Girlborg realized that, now that the Knightmare frames had taken care of Mordred, they were now turning their attention to the group themselves.

“Vigilantes!” Zero said. “It is possible that you may be infected with a deadly virus. Surrender now, or we’ll be forced to take drastic measures!” he then repeated his message in English, just in case.

“<Hey, wait a second!>” Girlborg said, “<I thought we were on the same side!>”

“<They are.>” Shulk said. “<Don’t worry, they’re not going to hurt us. They’re just being cautious because you’re infected with the Machine Plague...>”

“<The what?>” said Girlborg.

“<You mean you don’t know?>” said Lightning.

“No!” said Girlborg. “<I just... after those robots attacked, when I went to get breakfast the next day I got a refrigerator magnet stuck to my arm, and->”

“<Wait... what robots?>” said Shulk.

“<You know... that ones that attacked Okinawa a couple months ago... I was on vacation then...>”

“<What. Did. They. Look. Like?>” Shulk began to tremble with excitement.

Girlborg leaned back a little, creeped out by Shulk’s reaction. “<Uh.... I dunno... giant lobsters or something?>”

Shulk reached into his pocket, and pulled out a fancy cell-phone. A couple minutes later, he held it up to Girlborg’s face, where it displayed a picture of a dark-blue, bipedal contraption with an hunched back, no noticeable head or neck, and glowing red eyes, generously decorated with gold patterns. “<Tell me, did they look anything like this?>”

Girlborg took the phone, and squinted at the image as her vision began to blur. It did look familiar, somehow. “<...I think so. I wasn’t really paying attention, but...>”

Shulk immediately snatched the phone away, and frantically started dialling. “<Dickson? It’s Shulk. Listen, I’ve got big news... uh-huh... yes I know that’s important but it can wait. It’s about the Mechon... no, don’t worry, I haven’t gone there yet. It’s about the attack on Okinawa... that’s just it: I think I’ve found a survivor... well yes she is, but she’s also fully sentient. Do you know what this could mean? I mean it is a bit too early to get my hopes up, but Fiora could still be- …ah, right, I’ll keep quiet. Just... try to get here as soon as you can.>”

The last thing Girlborg heard before she fell unconscious was another one of the Knights’ radio transmissions. “This is squad alpha; mission accomplished. Target one is secured and the quarantine was successful...”

-----------------------------------------------

“Roger that, Alpha.” Kallen said. “Beta leader, here. Squad is fanning out, searching for stragglers. I’m moving to capture secondary target.” From the cockpit of the Guren Mk. II (not to be confused with “The Gurren”, a similarly named mech that people kept confusing the Mk. II with for some reason), perhaps the most powerful unit in the Black Knights’ arsenal, she had perhaps the best view of the battle below. The Float System her mech wore was still just a prototype, so it was only reserved for the best pilots. And Kallen was the best. By several orders of magnitude, in fact.

True, the Mk. II’s bright red armor and enormous metal claw made it stand out from the rank and file, but this only caused enemies to make the mistake of going after her first. It was a mistake they usually didn’t live to make a second time; the Guren Mk. II’s arm could emit nearly any form of radiation: from microwaves to zeta beams to green-k. The arm alone was a formidable weapon against nearly anything under the sun.

So it came as a bit of a surprise when Zero refused to let her proceed. “Negative, Beta.” he said. “Target is too dangerous to approach solo. Wait for backup.”

“With all due respect, sir, target has already proven to be capable of long-distance teleportation. We might not get a second chance.”

...very well. But at the first sign of trouble, abort mission. I repeat, at the first sign of trouble, abort mission.”

Kallen turned off her radio. “Right...” she sighed, “...no pressure.” After all she was just going to capture an immortal witch with mysterious powers by using a weapon that would probably be at least seven types of illegal if anyone bothered to actually look at the schematics. Still, as long as she kept a few feet of metal between herself and Morgaine, Kallen figured she’d probably be safe.

Probably.

The MK II touched near where the vigilantes had beaten the Sorceress; about thirty feet from the museum, right in the middle of the road. Plenty of space to maneuver on foot, and she could easily take to the air if she had to. She turned on her monitor and saw that, indeed, Morgaine Le Fay was lying right where they had left her.

Well, it looks that way at least...” Kallen mused. “Still, I’d better make sure. Just gotta turn on this scanner, and...”

...the monitor turned to static.

Huh. That’s funny...” Kallen flipped the switch again, to no avail. “Is the damn thing busted again?”

Suddenly, a hand burst out of the monitor, and grabbed Kallen by the throat. The hand could have been best described as “armored”, if only because there wasn’t a word for “covered entirely in tiny padlocks arranged in a way that resembled crude scale armor”.

“<Sorry about this, ‘luv.>” said a thickly-accented english voice. “<Can’t let you go ‘bout capturing this one. She’d kill you if you tried, and we can’t have that happening, now can we? Especially when I need you so much, miss...>” the voice paused. “<Kozuki? Or Stadtfeld? Oh well, it doesn’t especially matter because they’re both wrong. Or both right. Depends on your point of view.>”

“<What... do you... want...?>” Kallen gasped.

“<What? I don’t want anything! ...no, wait, that’s a lie: I want a lot of things. But for you, right here, right now, I don’t want anything. In fact, I want to give you a gift. A most wonderful gift, in fact...>”

The hand gripped tighter on Kallen’s throat.

“<I want you to see the world as it truly is...>”

------------END OF CHAPTER------------

BETHANY SNOW: Welcome to Chanel 52 News. Our top story for tonight, the case of the disappearing children. All around the world, teenage girls are vanishing at an alarming rate with no apparent pattern. We now bring you live to reporter A. Bug, and his interview with detective Harvey Bullock of the Gotham P.D. on the disappearance of Deborah Blank, 14 years old.

HARVEY BULLOCK: Ah, well, it’s kind of a strange case ya see. Yer everyday middle-class schoolgirl. No ransom note, no mob ties, no nothin. Only thing strange about her was that some girl that used to bully her died of a heart attack a few months ago, but if she had supah-powers we woulda heard about it already. That and she was really into the animes, but it ain’t like that’s a lead or anythin.

AMBUSH BUG: So are you saying that this is the work of a mind-reading, telepathic nerdy pedophile?

HARVEY BULLOCK: Well we ain’t gonna rule it out just yet, but-

AMBUSH BUG: You heard it first, folks! Lock your doors and burn your DVD players! We’ve got a madman on the loose!

HARVEY BULLOCK: Now wait just a second I didn’t say-

BETHANY SNOW: Fascinating. In other news, d-list hero Sora Hibiki has returned to earth after being absent for over a year and a half.

CALENDER MAN: For those not aware of Sora, he’s a young man who wields an impractically-shaped weapon called a Keyblade, which is said to be our only line of defence against monsters called The Heartless, who are probably the cutest eldritch abominations this side of Hello Cthulhu. Assisting him were fellow d-listers G’nort the Green Lantern and Klarion the Witch Boy, though recent developments say that perhaps Sora doesn’t deserve an the credit attributed to him. We now take you to our darkened studio, where our anonymous informant will hopefully shed some light on the matter.

TOTALLY NOT KLARION THE WITCH BOY: Yeah, Klarion was doing all the work. Sora and G’nort was just eating potato chips and stuff. Did I mention Klarion was awesome? Because he totally is.

CALENDER MAN: Fascinating. Back to you, Bethany.

BETHANY SNOW: Now we turn to our foreign correspondent, Dr. W for an update on the Clock Tower situation.

THE 11TH DOCTOR: Thanks, Bethany. I’m here at the ruins of the clock tower known as “Big Ben”, thought technically that’s just the name of the bell. But that’s not important! What is important is that someone blew it up, and we don’t know how or why, but we do know when! Because, erm. It’s a clock. Obviously. Of course, that’s not much if you don’t know where the perp is in the first place, but no worries! I’m sure they’ll find him eventually.

BETHANY SNOW: Thank you, Doctor. Coming up: an interview with Most Excellent Superbat as part of our ongoing special on the Super Young Team. Also: Unicorns; fact or fiction? Here, on Channel 52.

------------AUTHORS NOTES------------

Okay I admit it Simon’s last name came from putting the word “Drill” into google translate.

Yes I am very obviously Simon X Nia. But if you despise mushy stuff, rest assured that romance is only a part of this fic; not the whole thing. Trust me, there’s going to be plenty of action and lasers and robots and magic and angst and dinosaurs and punching and kicking and more angst and guns and conspiracies to keep you occupied.

I am pretty sure that Tokyo does not have a national history museum. OH WELL I GUESS IT DOES NOW.

Also I don’t actually know if Lightning’s rank of “Inspector” is appropriate for a police detective since I don’t really know much about the japanese police force. So there’s two possibilities here: Either I will do the research and covertly replace all references to “Inspector” with the appropriate rank, or I will not do the research and just assume that in this universe her rank is actually correct..

I based Morgaine Le Fey’s physical appearance mostly on her appearance in issue 12 of Demon Knights, while her association with Mordred is something borrowed from the DCAU... though obviously I put a major twist on it, since in the DCAU he’s a bratty kid while here Mordred is as least a teenager, if not an adult who appears to be horribly, horribly overpowered.

Speaking of which, this is not explicitly set in any actual version of the DCU. Rather, it’s a version of the DCU that has anime characters in it, and has always had anime characters in it. The explanation is that these stories come from an alternate universe where DC at some point bought the rights to translate publish Manga in the U.S. during the Silver Age. In order to promote these manga series, they started introducing characters from those series into DC’s comics’ universe, usually as guest stars explicitly from alternate realities, though it was rare for DC characters to appear the original work (though Osamu Tezuka’s “Astro Boy” was a notable exception, as Will Magnus, The Metal Men, and Dr. T.O. Morrow ended up becoming recurring characters). When Crisis on Infinite Earths happened, they still decided to keep Manga and Anime characters in the new DCU, though it was made abundantly clear that these were separate from the “canon” versions of the characters.

A few notable facts about this version of the DCU:

  • Vash the Stampede is currently The Red Hood. Most people in-universe think Vash died during the events of Armageddon 2001, where Millions Knives (who at the time was in the Justice League pretending to be a “reformed” Vash the Stampede) was revealed to be Monarch instead of Captain Atom or Hawk.

  • Fate/Stay Night was never an H-Game. Instead, Kinoko Nasu became a writer at DC, and worked with Gen Urobuchi to incorporate his ideas into “Fate Origin/Fall”, a miniseries with plot very similar to Fate/Zero. He also became a co-writer for JSJ.

  • Andrew Hussie did not go into webcomics, and instead made a bunch of weird (but popular!) batman stories before being handed the reigns to work with Grant Morrison on an Animal Man miniseries about Grant and Hussie’s author avatars making up new, ridiculously overpowered villains to kill each other’s characters so said authors could seize control of the miniseries, and then trying to wrap it into a coherent plot after they call a truce in the final issue.

What does any of this have to do with the plot? Probably nothing!

Also, in real life japan has an extremely low crime rate. But we’re going to ignore this fact because it would be a pretty boring superhero story if nothing interesting happened.

Also also; is GINO (Gendo-In-Name-Only) actually a good guy in this universe, or does he have some kind of hidden agenda? WOOOOOOOO ITS A MYSTERY.

Also also also, before anyone points this out to me I already know that you don’t vote for the prime minister, at least in japan. But Simon doesn’t know that.