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Let them hear

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When all is done and over, Kouji punches a wall. Then another, and another, and another, and the ground, until he cannot feel his hands anymore, until his knuckles are purple and red and blood spills from in between his fingers and on his clothes and on the tattered remains of Chrono’s jacket. He can hear his own voice, thin and fading and far away, screaming with each hit he lands, with each finger that cracks under the pressure of his blows, with every millisecond he spends with his eyes closed and remembering his weakness, the uselessness and impotence of being a prisoner in his own body, pulled as if with strings to play a role he didn’t want, forced to watch as the one he had swore to protect twisted and changed and broke under his own words.

(What right does he have to scream, when Chrono’s voice goes unheard?)

His world is gone, just a black void of failure and memories, himself wrestling with the phantom touch of a long gone creature in his mind. Control slips from his hands, consciousness falling off him little at a time, and in desperation he bites at his tongue to keep himself awake. His desire to live is gone, taken away along with Chrono, but falling now would do little to help; he fell once, long ago, and now he fell again and ruined everything he had done to fix his previous failures.

A new voice joins his screams, the distance between his reality and theirs so great he can’t make sense of words. It is just a murmur, a familiar voice calling for him from the dark, but what right does he have to go to it? A familiar voice that could mean safety, could mean sarnity, but why should he be safe when Chrono is not? When once again his failures come to him in the shape of disaster and destruction and there is nothing he can do about it.

He hurts. His body hurts. His very soul hurts, as if someone had stabbed a sword into his healing wound and twisted and pulled, dragging out everything he had worked so hard to keep hidden, to keep inside and away from those he cares for the most.

He can’t hear the familiar voice anymore. He can’t feel himself anymore.

He has failed.


He wakes.

He didn’t think he would. He doesn’t know if he wants to wake at all.

His memories are blurry, confusing, stuck past a fog of pain and despair he wouldn’t put past his old self. He knows Chrono was taken, knows he failed, remembers with an awful clarity the moment when the mark on Chrono’s hand became complete and turned white. Yet, that’s all. He doesn’t know where he is, or what happened afterwards, only a dull ache in his body reminding him of his loss of sanity.

He opens his eyes.

White. He recognizes the ceiling as the hospital he spent a long time in, right after Chrono had come back from his brief time with Myoujin. It is the same room, even, the same crack right above his bed slightly bigger than it was, the same rhythm of the drip in the IV, the same window in one side.

He turns his head. The bedside table holds his phone and deck case, battered from when he- not-he threw it at Gastille. Taishi is on the chair at a corner of his sight, reading a book, and the door looks impossibly far away behind him.

He tries to get up. Tries to move his arms. Tries to flex his fingers past the sting of pain.

But he can’t.

“Wouldn’t do that if I were you, Kou- Ibuki.” Taishi is by his side in an instant, book falling to the floor. The image is oddly familiar, from a time long ago, and for a moment he thinks he might be back in his childhood. “You were thrashing around, so they had to restrain you. I’ll call the nurse- can you talk?”

“Miwa-”

“Yeaah, you better not.”

His voice sounds closer now, but his throat is raw, as if he hadn’t had to use it in months. That makes no sense, it hasn’t been months- has it? He has to know, needs to know how long has Chrono been away, how much time has he lost by being unconscious.

He can’t move.

“While we wait, I’ll fill you in, okay? You have been unconscious for three days- don’t look like that, you were recovering. You made quite a mess of yourself: a broken wrist, most of your fingers too, three missing nails, bruises just about everywhere and I think you got a concussion too? I don’t remember, Anjou probably knows more, or your aunt, she should be by soon… At least the doctor was discreet enough, but the cops might get involved by tomorrow, uh…”

"Chro-,” Kouji tries to say, only to start coughing as soon as he speaks. It hurts, even through whatever drugs are running through his bloodstream. It hurts.

“Sorry, we haven’t found him yet… He wasn’t carrying the tracker the creepy rich kid of Kai’s gave him, so we have no leads, but we are looking! We will find him soon, don’t worry yourself too much.”

Taishi tucks the blanket around him, making Kouji feel like a child. He feels so useless, for all that he is Messiah’s chosen, he couldn’t do anything to stop that- to stop it.

His gaze goes to his deck. He doesn’t want to know, but the anxiety is building up inside him, the need to see if Messiah’s blessing is still with him or if it was taken as well. He thinks he knows what he will see, if he looks, but he needs to make sure, to know that he didn’t mess up so bad as to lose their best hope of bringing Chrono back.

He tries to reach for it, but he can’t move.

“Don’t. We are already working on it, alright? Just, stay here and heal, you can join the search once the psy- once the nurse decides you can leave. You’re in no condition to move, so follow her words, okay? I should leave now, since Kai was calling, but I’ll be back soon, wait for us, yes?”

Taishi pats his shoulder, takes the deck from the bedside table, and turns to leave. The nurse comes in at that moment, scowling, and she waits until he is gone to come closer to look at his IV and start making questions and comments that make him so very tired.

He doesn’t want to be awake. He doesn’t want to sleep either, to go into the world where Messiah’s warm presence should be if he was still worthy, but he knows it won’t be around.

(He doesn't even want to live.)

He saw his deck, saw the disgusting black matter oozing from it, he heard that creature’s voice, he knows what happened even if he doesn’t want to accept it.

The hazy, vague glow around his deck, around his soul, that marks Messiah’s blessing, Messiah’s presence in his life, is gone. Each card shaped for him and him alone, soulless, voiceless, gone.

Gone, just like their hope.



...


He wakes.

He didn’t think it was possible.

In that world of nothingness where his identity slowly left him, where his being was eaten away and left only rot behind, he thought he would die. He thought it was all over.

But now, he wakes.

He wakes, and he would give up everything he has to never wake up again.

Gyze is gone. Gyze is silent. The void inside him, rotting his mind, is quiet and unmoving.

There is an emptiness in the depths of the world. Three glowing lights that should not be there, three awaiting to be lit.

Dust looks at him from above.

He can’t scream.

Chapter Text

He needs to wake up.

Maybe he already did. He sure doesn’t feel like it, floating in the haze of nightmares and dreams, of creation and destruction both. He stands on a bridge atop an endless void, looking down at the sky and up at the earth, stars and continents shaping stories he doesn’t know how to read.

He is in Cray. That much is clear, or maybe it is not and he is simply stuck in a never ending illusion, where everything feels real yet twists unnaturally to reshape his being. If he looks to one side, he can see the ancient ruins that make up Dran’s home, growing distant with each step he gives, Gastille’s curse or maybe his own unworthiness keeping him from them.

Dran had yelled at him. Told him to wake up, to stay above the miasma seeping from his hands, to run and not worry about them- but he couldn’t. He wouldn’t, even as that creature wrapped its limbs around him and pulled him closer, even as it devoured him and offered him on a silver plate to Gyze’s will.

Even now he sees it, like a parasite growing from Messiah’s carcass, slowly crawling out and sinking its claws on the land, reaching high and above for the distant planet that is Earth. He hears it, a shriek so high and loud it breaks his ears, makes him curl up deeper into Gyze’s presence to escape and hide and runaway, makes him fall lower into the dark void where he can’t hear Dran’s voice.

Oksizz, it called itself. Not even a fragment of Gyze, like the Zeroth, not even a keeper of balance like Messiah had been- is, but rather just an hungry mass of chaos that took everything in its path. Everything it sees, a target. Everything it touches, gone.

It is not natural, so disconnected from reality even Gastille keeps himself away from it. An abomination, he had said, pulling him away from Messiah’s fallen form, leaving him in this bridge where he can’t tell up from down or right from left.

This bridge, where even his sense of time is distorted.

He wonders how long has he been here. The constant ticking of the clock he has heard since youth, the ever present knowledge of when and where he is, is gone. He wonders if this is a dream, or reality, if he is really in Cray or in Earth or just somewhere else he doesn’t know.

He needs to wake up.

So he does.


As it turns out, being with the Apostles is not much different than being with normal people. They live, and sleep, and move and eat like any normal human. Of course, they have their quirks that puts them apart from humans, but they are… well, they just are.

He is captive by his own body, surrounded by the black and silver that is Gyze’s self. He is stuck in a gilded cage, treated like a king and a prisoner both, but he is still here. He is still alive, even if not completely himself, even if his sense of everything is distorted and giving him mixed signals.

He- or Gyze, since most of the time the control of his own body is gone, has been here for four days now; so Valeos had said when he woke from his nightmare/reality in that other side that was his mind. Dust had been out, then, a huge construct feeding on both himself and Gastille, but it had soon left after the Bishop had realized he was awake.

Now, he sits here. In this huge couch, holding a cup in hands that move against his will, with Gastille taking a nap right besides him. That is what he does most of the time: meditate, then nap, then wake up and go back to meditating. He had been told he was looking for someone, but Darkface had been vague enough in his wording that he doesn’t know who it could be.

Valeos serves him- not-him, them another cup of coffee, then carefully takes the tray from the table to throw away what is left of his dinner. Thirty hours have they been awake, he himself unwilling to go back to sleep while Gyze simply doesn’t see the need to sleep at all; thirty hours of Valeos’ fanaticism tending to their very need, thirty hours of Gastille napping and meditating, of Darkface watching video feeds and marathoning a Brazilian TV drama.

Chaos Breaker isn’t here. He should be worried about that, but his worries for his friends feel so far away, like a ringing in his ears so annoying he wants it to end; Gyze floods him with blankness every once in a while, making his worries fade into a pleasant hum and his consciousness lay back, not far enough he will go back to the bridge, yet not near enough he feels the need to struggle for control.

A deep part of himself tells him to fight. He doesn’t feel strong enough for it (or maybe he just doesn't want to).

An alarm sounds somewhere near, and Darkface is up and carrying heavy equipment to his side. He- no, Gyze looks at the man, impassive, watching without a care or question as he connects his their arm to the machine and attaches some electrodes to their head and neck (Gyze had gone through his mind looking for a reference as to what the black patches on his skin were, the first time. It had left him feeling odd, the panic raising inside vanishing quickly along with his questions and since then he had tried to guard his head against Gyze’s mental limbs. He is tired). There is a beep.

"Amazing, Gyze-sama!” Darkface motions wildly with his arms towards the screen, showing numbers and graphs (a query is thrown his way; he bounces it back with the equivalent of a shrug. He doesn’t understand either), and then raises Gyze’s- his other arm to put it on the machine. “Even if only three Dragons have awakened, you have almost full control of your new body and mental faculties- Can you speak yet? No? That’s alright, maybe the next one; I am just glad you are still awake, your body was starting to show signs of deterioration while you were resting- no, this one, not the Zeroth, they are fine. Think of it as aging, yes, but at a pace most human bodies would not be able to stand- this one is really strong so it might not show, but you might have some problems moving around later, especially in the thin atmosphere of this Queen-forsaken planet. That’s fine, too, Her Majesty had problems with it as well-”

Darkface goes on and on with his speech, occasionally pressing buttons and moving dials on his machine, but Gyze’s attention is already elsewhere. Gastille groans, eyes behind an arms and trying to drag a blanket to his side; he fails, human arms too short in comparison, and ends up rolling off the couch with a yelp.

Gyze smirks; inwardly, he laughs at the man, some feeling of pleasure at others’ suffering bubbling around him.

He tries to stop. This is not him not him not Chrono or is it us not.

He fails.

He fails and falls back, closer to the abomination, closer to Messiah’s dying self, and screams.

It goes unheard. Yet it also doesn't.


When he comes back to, there is a blond man staring at him. Red eyes, a huge hat, a clawed arm that is falling off him.

Luard doesn’t seem to care his arm is a mangled, bloody mess, dragging it behind him, leaving a trail of ripped scales and thick purplish goo on the ground. He just… looks at him at them and at the sky and at Messiah. He moves slowly, leaning on his staff for support, struggling to pull something behind him.

Kazuma.

Luard looks broken. Hopeless. His eyes dart from side to side, seemingly having a hard time focusing on a single thing. He keeps muttering something, too low to hear past the abomination’s screech; he doubts he would understand it, even if he did.

Luard looks at Kazuma’s battered body, pulling him closer to himself. Kazuma, who stirs ever so slightly as four bleeding gashes across his back close and heal with a glow.

(‘You are an idiot,’ Luard says. He has heard those words from Kazuma enough times he can tell it is the exact same words Luard tells his other half.)

He tries to reach for them. Tries to pull himself towards the Dragwizard, towards his friend, tries to rip himself from Gyze’s hold and walk past and away from his prison. Tries to get to them, to Luard and to the bruised limp body held in his bleeding claw.

But he can’t.

Luard makes the few steps to the bridge, to the border between worlds. Looks straight at him as in question, then above where he knows Gyze looms in the space between realities. Kazuma moves, reaches to grab Luard’s claw with his hand, speaks some words he still can’t hear.

He screams, yells at them to get away, to go back, to not get involved. He wants- he needs them to be free to leave to not awaken Ultima, this child will not he won't.

Yet Luard’s decision is made.

With a last look at Gyze, he steels himself. Touches Kazuma’s head, picks up the now unconscious body with his good arm, and after a glance back at his world, leaps into the void.

He watches, helpless, as the world shifts and warps under Luard’s feet, showing him the way. He watches, and then turns back to Cray to see if something changed with Luard’s disappearance, see if there is someone around he cannot warn about what happened.

Ok- stop saying its name- Oksizz swipes at him, and at the Sanctuary that would begin corroding under its touch. He makes Gyze, makes them swipe back at it, pushing it back to Messiah’s carcass (you are stronger than this is useful).

With a last longing look at Earth, he dives back into his- Gyze’s consciousness.


 He turns inwards and shoves the dimly-lit golden glow of Ultima away from Stark’s own silver.

Not on his watch.

Not yet.

Chapter Text

It is impossible to watch someone for years and not develop some sort of attachment towards them. That had become painfully obvious for Luard when his connection with Kazuma tensed and almost vanished, a few years back, even if he had always been telling himself that he didn t care about the human that had chosen him.

He can accept it, now.

At the beginning, when he had been reluctant to fully form the bond between Cray and Earth most people in the planet were so obsessed with, he had been angry that someone -a little kid, at that-, had dared call for him and begged him to respond. He hadn’t wanted to. Kazuma had not been even half worthy of his skills, no one had been, so he had tried too hard to block the odd need to offer a hand, to reach back and change the fate that was a simple card game.

Cardgame . His people had been reduced to a game .

Granted, most of Cray saw the game as an extension of themselves, their earthian avatars another piece of their own lives they were to be proud of. He had seen the outline of the so-called Vanguards at times, lingering close to their chosen ones as a thin and weak hand that moved worlds and altered destinies, like they had any right to.

The civil war had been bad. Luard had locked himself in the lab, ignoring the summons that called everyone to the battlefields, and continued his experiments behind the reinforced wall. Most of his companions had done the same, and many others of higher ranking had kept their Vanguards far away from the Earthian tournament that would decide the outcome. No need to get involved, even if some had to struggle more than others to keep themselves away.

The bond goes, after all, both ways. While Earthians could influence discussions and skirmishes, they could influence their Vanguards’ moves as well. Vague hinting to stay away from certain people, to not go into places or follow certain choices offered to them. And just like that, whole armies had stayed behind in the back lines of war, not seeing the need to answer for calls that didn’t really need them.

As much as Luard had tried to not let the bond fully manifest, it had done so in the end. Their emotions resonated with each other, without even trying: Kazuma’s own thoughts and resentment towards adults, Luard’s passive aggressive defiance of just about everything. They were a good match for each other, maybe not as much as the King’s knight with their ghostly general, but enough that attitudes began seeping through the cracks if they weren’t paying enough attention.

Kazuma became good at theory and evasion, in exchange of his love of sunlight and most social skills. Luard lost part of his single minded motivation, in exchange for an even finer eye for detail and insight than he had before. Maybe they weren’t a perfect match, when skills were concerned, pushing some to extremes and dimming others that might have been useful, but no one really cared enough to see their slow descent into madness.

So when his connection with Kazuma almost snapped, once again, before becoming so tight he was drawn to Earth in a painful way, soon after that giant monstrosity had manifested in the other continent, Luard had gone to see what had happened. Because he cared. A little.

(A lot).

So maybe that hadn’t been his best idea. But it had also been a really good idea.


Kazuma waits for Chaos Breaker to stop laughing. He could be waiting for ages, but surely Hoshizaki Noa’s body is still human enough it needs to breathe? But no, the dragon continues laughing, curled up on the floor and holding its stomach as it kicks at the ground, its voice so loud he wonders how no one comes to see what’s happening.

He really just wants this to be over with. His hand burns, his body can’t move, and the giant invisible scythe that may or may not be holding him down is heavy. He can now say he understands why Shindou always, always winced or stumbled after a fight -when it’s not just Imagination, fights hurt . A lot.

(He didn’t get to feel it until now.)

Unfortunately, Chaos Breaker doesn’t seem in any mood to move, right now.

Kazuma tries to look up. The scythe blade digs into his neck, blood dripping down to pool with that he already spilled. Pain . So much pain.

He wonders if anyone is coming. He didn’t tell anyone he had seen Chaos Breaker, didn’t have anyone to tell him not to engage the enemy. The Zeroth hadn’t manifested, either, so chance is no one will be able to do anything until Chaos Breaker decides his fate.

If he wants to survive, he’s on his own. And his own is not able to move, pain forcing him to stay in place unless he wants to die.

Finally, after what feels like hours, Chaos Breaker stops laughing. The sudden change of expressions is unnerving, going from one extreme to the other, and Kazuma is suddenly looking at Hoshizaki’s feet as the dragon comes to stand before him.

“Alright, let’s get this over with~”

He wonders if he will die. No one has died, yet, but it would be just like his luck to make him the first casualty of this war. He can just see it, the headlines. Cardfighter dies from too much cardgames , or something. His name won’t even make it to the news. Cardfighter crushed to death by imaginary fiend. Onimaru second child dies in accident.

He would have liked to say goodbye.

Different World Ride.



Well, he’s not dead. He doesn’t know if this is better or worse than being dead, though. Maybe it would have been better to die. He wonders if he can manage enough control to throw himself off the window.

Don’t be so dramatic, I won’t do anything , Luard says towards him. He has been poking the cast for a while now, trying to get his fingers under it to see how tight it is and how bad their leg is. Not too bad, if he remembers the x-ray correctly, but  Luard is definitely not listening to him. In anything.

Their back is worse than their leg. The thin wound in their neck got healed by Luard-magic, somehow, but their back is still ripped to shreds by the invisible claw-thing of both Chaos Breaker and… that ugly thing, in Cray (he thinks he saw Shindou. He must have been dreaming). It will probably leave scars, ugly and unsightly, and he doesn’t want anyone to look at it.

Look at the bright side. You now have war scars. Luard doesn’t even wince as he moves, even though he can feel the sharp pain stabbing through their body with each small twitch. The nurse had been amazed by his pain tolerance long ago, but now he doesn’t think so: it hurts . Like hell. He doesn’t know how Luard can ignore it. A pity we can’t move- ooh, what is that? Why is it doing that?

Kazuma can almost hear the ‘ooh, shiny!’ when Luard looks at the monitor. He can’t help it. The idea of Luard, his partner in crime for all these months and partner in his dreams for years, being amazed by human technology is…

He laughs. Even when Luard turns a curious word his way, he continues laughing. This is a mess . A disaster. And he laughs because, what else can he do? He can’t, he doesn’t feel like doing anything.

Luard hums to himself, probably deciding to ignore Kazuma's hysteria, and takes out a notebook to write down something in senseless squiggles. He thinks he can understand what it says if he pays enough attention, but catches sight of something else and his laugh turns even more hysteric and wild.

Their hand, that should be marked in gold, is unblemished.

No one will be able to tell.


Earth, day 2: Shiranui’s Kazumi came to visit. Kazuma’s brother, bound with that , I can’t believe my quest would be so easy. Maybe Gastille was right. Maybe they were all right, and I have just been wasting time. For now, I should watch and wait. Surely, Shiranui will appear if the Honored Elder Brother comes to be in danger?

Earth is… interesting. I do not know why the Diffride brand is missing -Chaos Breaker theorized we, Kazuma and myself, were so ‘in sync’ the body could not tell who is inhabiting it. I do not believe that to be it, but maybe there is a grade of truth to its words. But then, what if someone else came over and the same happened? Sir Ahmes has always been unusually close to his Vanguard, and the Emperor has also shown an unnatural respect for his own human since long ago.

I wonder, if Lord Chronojet came here before the Fall, would it have been the same? Shindou Chrono is, after all, not only his Vanguard but also a fragment of his soul. However, the matter of Shindou Chrono and Chrono Dran’s soul is better left aside for now.

I can only watch and make sure I understand this phenomenon. I have my own theory, but I can only hope it is wrong. However, it wouldn’t do for my presence here to be discovered before His Excellency comes to reveal his plans. Now, I will observe. Surely, Kazuma is trusted enough much information will come to my ears if I stay around. If he is not, then…

I will be very angry.

Cray glows bright today. I pray it is a good omen and everything turns out well, even if Ultima has been silent since I arrived this world. Why is it silent? Nothing is making sense lately, surely Lord Gyze's influence has settled on the time stream already, but the physical world too? I do not understand.

I need more information.

Chapter Text

Chrono doesn’t know how long it has been by now. How long since Gyze took residence in his body and his very being, how long since they last slept , how long since he last heard a familiar voice that wasn’t one of the Apostles. His internal clock is gone and his sense of time is heavily distorted, as Gyze doesn‘t bother with time at all.

It is disturbing. For him, who has always been able to tell the time, it is terrifying . Like someone took the sun from the sky and replaced it with Vangarou.

The Apostles don’t help, either. Darkface is constantly stuck to his monitors, taking sporadic short naps when he needs it. Gastille comes and goes and meditates and naps, all day and night long. Valeos experiments with cooking and plays with knives, but the times he does it are so random he can’t use that to tell the time either. And Chaos Breaker…

Well, Chaos Breaker came back a short while ago. All it does is laze around, watch TV and eat snacks. From sunrise to sundown to sunrise. That’s all it does, and offer snacks occasionally.

“Gyze-sama, do you want some of this? No? That’s okay!”

Gyze, being Gyze and unknowingly destroying their- his body, never accepts any food or drink that isn’t coffee or offer to sleep. Darkface’s scans continue showing no change in their health, so Chrono assumes Gyze’s presence has somehow stopped their body’s human needs.

It is weird, being suspended in time. His body doesn’t seem to feel the passage of hours as it used to, the people don’t follow Earth’s 24-hour day cycle, and his own mind is stuck in a timeframe he can’t quite understand anymore. Thinking back to the past will bring up scrambled memories from ages ago or the past few minutes, or even jump towards times he didn’t live: Kazuma as Gyze’s vessel, Ibuki fighting Messiah, or even an odd memory of himself facing something with Chronojet at his side.

He doesn’t understand anything anymore. He confuses this timeline and the others, confuses the past and the future, left and right, light and dark. He looks around himself and finds that everything blurs together, sounds looking so bright and colors tasting of dust.

Even Chrono and Gyze, Gyze and Chrono, he, it, they blur together, Gyze’s desires bleeding into Chrono’s own, Chrono’s emotions digging into Gyze’s core. They merge, and change, and the line that keeps them separate as two distinct beings slowly becomes thinner and thinner.

The only place where he can feel himself is at the bridge between worlds, looking up at the land and down at sky. He sees the miasma corroding Cray, reaching up and up to reach Earth, sees the rotting creature in the distance clawing at whatever life there is around it. He sees Gastille’s people, finally free to do what they desire, armies battling at borders and small groups spreading lies and truths, preaching the future that is to come. He sees the ruins, barrier still strong under the onslaught of attacks, and if he tries hard enough can see the outlines of his friends behind it.

All this -the defenses, the attacks, the disaster- both horrifies and pleases him. Gyze likes the destruction, but Chrono doesn’t want them to lose. Chrono likes determination, but Gyze doesn’t like that they aren’t giving up.

If he dives deeper yet, he will find the Zeroth- or well, the Zeroth’s essences. Four and a half, as Ultima glows dimly near the bottom, allegiance clear but intentions not. It gets harder with each time he tries, to push Dust and Stark away from it; some part of him needs Ultima to waken, another wants it to stay dormant. Fighting the conflict in his mind is a fulltime job, now, be it in keeping Ultima away, or even putting none or two spoons of sugar to their coffee.

If he dives even deeper in, he will find Gyze.

It is here where the distinction is the most clear, the ocean under his self still and unmoving, while winds howl wildly around him, taking pieces of him with it so far he will never be able to retrieve them. If he stays here, he will be ripped apart; if he goes down, he will drown in Gyze’s compelling and overpowering self. To be swallowed by the still water, pulled deep into the sea and lose himself to the power present, or to stay up here and slowly break apart by his own contradicting memories .

Between his sanity and his identity, he is not sure which one he wants to keep.

He is pretty sure the decision was already made. He is just waiting for him to make it.


Valeos watches impassive as Darkface runs his routine scans on the Lord Gyze, translating the results for everyone to hear. Gastille listens, asking questions when needed, and helping the Lord move when necessary.

Chaos Breaker finds all this infinitely boring.

It -he, its body is male, right-, he rolls off the couch, stretching his stiff limbs as he stands up. Maybe it is because he was originally metal, or because Hoshizaki Noa’s body is so young and inexperienced, but this body got tired more easily than Kai Toshiki’s ever did. Not that his interactions with his dear previous partner had been all that long: watching past the barrier between worlds, and only when the possessed Tatsunagi allowed it, didn’t leave much time for them to bond.

He prefers Noa, if he has to be honest. Noa had chosen him, almost willingly allowed Chaos Breaker to reshape his personality until he was unrecognizable by his own parents, and then completely given up his body so he could complete his mission. Even if he took it without asking, that is still enough for him to put Hoshizaki Noa way above Kai Toshiki in terms of Vanguards.

He is proud of himself. He raised Noa well for the short time he had to influence him. The cute façade -a remnant of his old self- had acted as lure enough times for Noa to utterly destroy the competition and had gotten him out of trouble enough times that even his teachers felt bad about catching him making trouble. Had he gotten more time, he might have convinced Noa that bringing the apocalypse was the right thing to do, but between the Messiah hovering close and all its followers and traitors…

Well, maybe now they can go back to their old ways. If, the Deletors leave anything for them, that is. He knows his other bodies are running amok, but he needs to complete his plans before thinking of going back.

Chaos Breaker watches as Gastille and Valeos help the Lord Gyze get dressed after the check up. Darkface’s scans get more and more invasive by each day, but the Lord doesn’t care, at all. He wonders how suppressed Shindou Chrono is, for the Lord Gyze to have no sense of shame or even the smallest instinct of self preservation.

Would it be the same, had he brought Luard back? Would such a thing as Shouji Kazuma make Shindou Chrono come back to the surface and struggle for control against Gyze?

Hah. Friendship . As if.

The coat, when buttoned up, makes Shindou’s body look very, very thin. Not even the custom tailoring (Gastille’s doing) can fix the lack of care Shindou had for himself for who knows how long, and the Lord Gyze insists on not taking any food to fix it. That doesn’t seem to be much of a problem, as Darkface’s scans reveal: after recovering from the atrophy of the first days, the body is completely healthy.

Well… Almost completely healthy.

Chaos Breaker catches the Lord’s eye (the eyebags look worse today), and points down. Shindou’s marked hand is shaking, a blue tint in his fingers, and it is hilarious to see the internal conflict in the vessel’s eyes when he sees it: to cover, not to cover, to hide or not, what to do? He ends up tugging the sleeve down to cover it and, for a split second, Chaos Breaker can recognize Shindou’s worried frown.

That far up, then. Not bringing Luard here was the better choice.

Not long, now.


(He can’t wait to see what comes out of the merge.)


“Kazuma-san? May I come in?”

Luard looks up from his writing and to the door, where Gurguit’s chosen, Taiyou, is shyly peeking in. He puts his journal away before motioning the boy in, looking at the clock above the door with a grimace.

1 PM. He had lost track of time again , and his afternoon visitors would surely be here soon. Not that he has many visitors, not counting the nurses: Gurguit’s Taiyou, Shiranui’s Kazumi and the Messiah’s priest are the only ones who ever cross the door. He hadn’t thought Kazuma was so alone in his own world, but he should have expected it.

I’m not so bad… Am I?

He ignores Kazuma tugging at his mind. He can’t say much, either: he is just as, if not more, asocial than Kazuma even in his best days, and then when he could have met people he decided to go criminal instead. Good old days…

“Kazuma-san?”

The small paladin is sitting next to him, on the chair that the Elder Brother would use when he came by. He doesn’t know why, but that irks him, like he needs to make the Goldy move elsewhere, but he doesn’t know if Kazuma would do that, so he can’t.

Definitely don’t.

Right. “Go- Asukawa. Hello. How are you?” He messed up already.

The kid frowns, looks like he wants to say something, then shakes his head. In a motion that is a mirror of Gurguit’s own, he tucks a lock of hair behind his ear (there is a tiny device there, he will prod Kazuma about it later) and takes out his multipurpose glass tablet.

So, you know clocks, but not phones .

Oh, is that what it is? A communicator, then. He is more of a magic man, he doesn’t look too much into the technology that he has come to take for granted.

“I’ve been listening to talks-” So, even the baby paladin gets to know what’s happening, but not Kazuma. “And, uh… Mamoru-san wants to know, if you will stay around.”

What.

“What.”

“He said that he will understand, if you want to leave and… forget, what happened.”

Luard just… doesn’t know what to say. He looks at the kid, not really seeing him, and pinches his hand. It hurts. This isn’t a dream.

He takes a deep breath.

“Why?”

Goldy shakes his head. He is playing with a dot connecting game on his phone ( anxiety ), fingers moving across the screen in random patterns. It is making Luard anxious.

“Okay, uh… It was kind of, a big fight? Miwa-san says that Ibuki-san said that, everyone who can see Cray will be needed-,” he looks at the window, and Luard looks too. Glowing . “But Mamoru-san says he shouldn’t involve children in wars not their own.”

The kid’s face is completely blank, but his eyes betray the disgust he feels. By children , they probably mean everyone under an age limit, or unrelated, and if what Kazuma says is true then Goldy doesn’t fall under either. Gurguit’s chosen or not, he is just a kid . Shindou’s friend or not, he has to go on with his life.

Even if they were taken to Relics, they are set aside. Overlooked.

He continues:

“The argument is that you would be safe away from it, nevermind that Chaos Breaker came after you-,” which wasn’t actually true, as Kazuma had gone after Chaos Breaker, “and that the less targets we give them, the better. Rin-san, Hayao-san, Kazuma-san; all four of us were taken to Relics, all four of us are in ‘danger’ and should stay away. Chaos Breaker’s attack only made it worse.”

Yet TRY3 are allowed in, hilarious.

“Wait, that doesn’t make sense.” Kazuma is right, but also, what about this danger? “If we are in danger, doesn’t this make it easier , for them to get to us?”

“Uh, there is this theory,” now, and only now, does the kid stop his dot connecting game. He goes through menus, looking for something, and when he finds it his eyes turn even darker. “They said that the Apostles wouldn’t attack anyone who doesn’t have a connection to Cray. So, they won’t attack fighters.”

He waits.

Kazuma waits, as well.

Baby paladin sighs in defeat.

“They want us to quit.”

“That’s bullshit !”