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Hopebringer

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Chapter 1

I floated in a white voice, unfeeling of anything. There wasn't anything to feel, no sensation of touch, no sound, no scents and nothing but endless white to see. Hell, I’m not even sure I had a body right now. Then again, its not that surprising. I didn't remember much, but I did know that before I came here, I had been on a plane that had experienced difficulties over the north sea. Guess the difficulties were the type that led to one way trips straight down. I was...oddly OK with that. Then again, I guess if I was dead there really wasn't anything I could do about it…

Good evening.

The voice came from everywhere and nowhere.

“HOLY…” I yelped, although how I managed that without a mouth I don't know, “Whos there?”

Ah, of course. One moment please.

The space twisted and a figure appeared before me. If I had a tongue, I’d probably have choked on it considering I immediately recognized it, despite the fact I wasn't much of a comic buff, outside of some interest as a result of watching the Marvel movies. Still, I recognized the girl before me thanks to research into aspects of Death for various stories over the years. Still, I never expected to meet Death of the Endless.

“Huh...not what I was expecting I admit,” I said, “So I really am dead?”

“Eh, sort of, not really,” said Death, “You would be, but I pulled you here before you died.”

I frowned. Or tried to. I didn't have a face.

“What do you mean?” I asked, “Your Death, right?”

“Nope,” said the girl who apparently wasn't Death with a grin, “I just like this form. My name is...not actually something you three dimensional beings can comprehend, so you can call me Agent.”

If I had a face, I would have paled. I remembered what used that name.

“Aww shit, your a ROB,” I said.

“Close enough,” said Agent, “I am indeed a hyperdimensional, nigh-omnipotent life form beyond Human understanding and I did indeed bring you here because I want to make a deal.”

“What kind of deal?” I asked, “I assume that its one that results in me getting dropped somewhere ungodly dangerous with powers and a mission to save the world?”

“Pretty much,” said Agent cheerfully, “Your aware of everything that usually comes from this, so I’ll skip the explanation. So, interested?”

I sighed, although how I managed it I don't know.

“Better than dying I suppose,” I muttered, “Alright, where am I going and what powers?”

“What, no questions about why I chose you?” asked Agent.

“Your a being beyond my comprehension, I’m sure you have reasons that are equally beyond me,” I said, “Besides, does it matter?”

“Guess not,” said Agent, “So, I’m afraid that I can't tell you where your going due to the rules I have to abide by, but I can tell you that the powers I’ll grant you can come from anywhere in one particular world.”

“What world?” I asked.

“The one you were reading before the plane went down.”

I blinked, then choked as I remembered what I was watching.

“You want to give me a power from DXD?!” I spluttered, “Why?!”

“Why not?” said Agent, “It gives a wide variety of useful powers and most of them would work rather well where I’ll be sending you. So, any preferences?”

I hesitated. This...this was one hell of an opportunity. I could take it to become a literal God. Fuck, I could actually become Yahweh!

“No you couldn't,” said the ROB, “I am somewhat limited, so you won't be getting the power of any God from that world.”

“Ah, fair enough,” I said.

Even so, that didn't change the fact I could obtain a stupid amount of power if I so desired, power enough to kill a God. However, that...honestly didn't appeal to me. Yes, I could gain the True Longinus or one of the Heavenly Dragons, the whole idea of being able to do nothing but destroy wasn't one that I liked. Instead, I had a different idea.

“If I said I wanted Sephiroth Graal, would you turn me into a girl?” I asked.

Agent blinked and shook her head.

“No, I’m not a ROB who enjoys screwing with people,” she said, “But are you sure? The world your going to is...dangerous and the Graal doesn't exactly have much in the way of combat power.”

“True, but the ability to heal and resurrect is always helpful,” I said, “Whatever the world, I think a powerful healer would be more useful than another idiot with the power to blow things up.”

Agent snorted.

“Well, your not wrong,” she said, “Still, I don't entirely like the idea of sending you into the world with no way to defend yourself...oh, I know. I’ll throw in the rest of the abilities that come with the Graal.”

I blinked.

“What abilities?” I asked.

“I’ll make you a Dhampir.”

I blinked.

“Ahhh…”

“No, I’m not going to turn you into a crossdressing trap or a girl,” said Agent, “I meant what I said before. There will be some changes, but I’m sure you can deal with them.”

“I...guess I can’t really argue with that,” I said, “So, are we done?”

“That we are,” said Agent, “Ready to see where your new home will be?”

“Um, sure,” I said.

“The world is very much like your own,” said Agent as a portal began to spin into existence, “There aren't any supernatural beings, no Gods, Monsters or Magic. Instead there are Superheroes and a glowing idiot flying around saving lives.”

I frowned as I tried to parse that out, before the portal cleared, revealing a city beside a bay blocked by a large tanker and an oil rig barely visible in the middle of said bay. The moment I saw that, I put the pieces together and blanched.

“Oh hell, your sending me to WORM!?” I spluttered.

“Yep, pretty much,” said Agent, “Want to change your mind?”

For a moment I was sorely tempted. Suddenly, the idea of a spear capable of killing Gods was much more attractive. However, I took a deep breath and shook my head.

“No, I’ll stick with the Graal,” I said, “Just...tell me what my chances are.”

“Well, if things play out as they are ‘meant’ to, the chances of Taylor winning are 9/10 against,” said Agent.

She sighed.

“Look, I don't expect you to run out and beat Zion by yourself, I doubt you could do that even with a Planet Level Sacred Gear, not without excessively large amounts of collateral damage that is. Your job is to just help. In my experience, its not the most powerful person who helps win, its the person who helps. A simple act of kindness can change the course of an entire war and Earth Bet is in dire need of that kindness.”

I stared at the screen for a moment, before I steeled myself and took a deep breath.

“Fair enough,” I said, “I...I’m not entirely sure if I can do much, but I’ll try.”

Agent smiled and nodded.

“Thank you,” she said, “Here.”

She held out a hand and a simple, clay cup appeared in her hand. I raised an eyebrow.

“I thought it was golden?” I asked.

Agent shrugged.

“It seems more appropriate,” she said, “Besides, I rather like the Indiana Jones movies.”

I shrugged and took the cup. The moment my fingers touched it, it glowed and vanished and I felt something settled within me. I shivered slightly as a wave of warmth washed over me, making my hair momentarily stand on end and my eyes itch. A moment later, I felt my canines extend slightly and, when I opened my mouth and felt them, I found that they were a lot sharper. A slight flex of will made them extend into fangs.

“Huh, neat,” I said.

“I’ll give you an understanding of how to actually use your powers to get you started,” said Agent, “You won't actually have to drink blood to survive, but it will make you stronger if you do. You might even be able to gain Parahuman abilities if you drink their blood.”

“Huh, thats cool,” I said, “So, when will I arrive?”

“A little before the winter holidays of 2010,” said Agent, “Unfortunately, I couldn't acquire any identity as I used the points I could have used for that to gain access to the more powerful Sacred Gears and to hide you from some of the more dangerous threats. I also made it a point to give you a fake Corona Pollentia and Gemma which should fool most everyone who can see it. I also had to ensure that no other Shard would ping off it in the event of a Trigger happening near you.”

She muttered something under her breath that sounded vaguely rude.

“So, what am I supposed to do about an identity?” I asked.

“Considering the sheer number of Parahuman incidents resulting in people getting displaced, it shouldn't be that hard to sort it out,” said Agent, “You’ll need a source of income, but considering what the Graal can do…”

“Not that hard,” I said, “Alright, what about Thinkers?”

Agent gave me a flat look.

“You aren't Human, are completely outside the Shards experience and have a literal Miracle in your Soul,” she deadpanned, “Theres no way that any of them will be able to get much on you. Plus, that thing can resurrect the dead. Bring Hero back to life and you’ll probably have the Cauldron worshipping you.”

“Or locking me in a box somewhere.”

Agent shrugged.

“You’ll manage,” she said, “So, are you ready to go?”

I turned back to the portal and took a deep breath, before stepping forwards.

“Oh, by the way, I added a new function to the Graal,” said Agent, “I think you’ll like it.”

I paused.

“Wait, wha...WHOAAAA!”

I yelped as Agent shoved me through the portal. There was a bizarre sensation that I couldn't describe in a million years, before I found myself face planting into a pile of sand mixed with rotting seaweed. That would be an unpleasant experience for a Human, but considering Dhampirs have better senses than Humans, it was even worse for me. I shot to my knees, gasping and spluttering as I tried to get the sand and seaweed out of my mouth.

“Blarg, that wasn't nice!” I groaned as I ran a finger over my tongue, “I need a drink.”

I grimused as I ran a hand through my hair and pulled out a slimy bit of seaweed.

“And a shower.”

I ran my fingers through my hair again and paused as a few strands fell in front of my eyes. I frowned and pulled more forwards, staring at the platinum blonde strands. Considering I had brown hair before, it was rather jarring. I quickly pushed my hair out of the way and patted myself down. Despite Agents assurances, the change in hair colour had me a bit worried. Fortunately, I didn't have anything I shouldn't, nor had I lost anything, so I turned my attention to the rest of my body.

I stretched, feeling my new and improved vampiric muscles stretch, and held up a hand, flexing my fingers as my nails lengthened and retracted slightly. The difference wasn't massive, no sprouting massive talons for me, instead going from well trimmed to long and pointed. Despite that, I knew that they were as sharp and as strong as a steel blade.

Self examination done, I stood and looked around. Considering I was surrounded by rusted ship hulls, it didn't take a genius to deduce that I was in the Ship Graveyard. I grimoused slightly at the stench of seaweed and rotting fish that filled the area and started looking around for a way out so I could find somewhere to hole up and take stock. As I did, I paused in front of a piece of glass that was large and clean enough to act like a mirror and took a look at the new me.

Despite assurances that she wouldn't turn me into a girl or a trap, it was apparent that getting turned into a Dhampir had caused some changes. My formerly dark hair was now platinum blonde, almost white, and my eyes were wine red. Not only that, but I seemed to have been airbrushed, with every tiny imperfection in my face smoothed out and my pale skin from spending most of my time locked in my room had gone from a slightly unhealthy mark of a shut in to a more healthy looking pale, although I did have dark lines under my eyes. Finally, my body had gone from just skinny to well toned and, when I flexed, I actually had some visible muscles.

I frowned, before shrugging and moving on. I wasn't entirely pleased by the changes, but I couldn't argue with them. The only slight issue was that my eyes were kinda memorable, but I could deal.


 

Eventually, I found a ship in decent shape that didn't seem to have anyone squatting in it (probably because there was no easy way inside unless you could fly) and jumped on board with a little help from my wings. Said wings were large, batlike and had dark red webbing that was the same colour as my eyes, as well as some rather large claws at the tips of the fingers that looked as sharp as my claws and about twice as nasty. Those could be handy.

I put my wings away and made my way inside, quickly finding a room with some dusty and extremely old furniture still inside and, after making sure it would support my weight, dropped into a metal chair with a huff. I sat still for a moment, staring up at the ceiling, before I sat forwards and held out my hands. I hesitated for a second, before reaching into my Soul and pulling out my Sacred Gear.

The Holy Grail appeared in my hands without so much as a twinkle, looking for all the world like a clay cup from an exhibit on peasant life in Ancient Egypt or something. To anyone else, it would be hard to believe that it was something as powerful as the Holy Grail, but I could feel the Divine Power inside it. It was surprisingly comforting considering I was half monster, but I suppose it was only natural considering it was my power.

I closed my eyes and focused, turning the cup idly in my hands as I prodded at the power, trying to see how it worked.

“Lets see, if I do this and this and...that oughta do it,” I muttered and opened my eyes.

Sure enough, the cup was now full to the brim with faintly glowing liquid that was somehow completely clear, blood red and shining like a rainbow at the same time. Don't ask me how, I just put it down to Sacred Gear bullshit, which is even worse than Parahuman Bullshit. I hesitated for a moment, before downing the liquid.

Immediately, my eyes went wide and I nearly started choking as the ice cold fluid burned its way down my throat. I could literally feel it flowing through me, suffusing my entire physical being and even my Soul, which was a very odd feeling indeed, granting my body the ability to regenerate from practically anything. What? You think I’m going to rely on anything less in a world like Worm? Please, I’m not that dumb.

“Hoo boy, thats some good stuff,” I said as I patted down my hair which had stood on end from the energy surge.

I took another few breaths, before settling back down and studying the cup in my hand. I wasn't sure if I wanted to start playing with the other powers, but there was one more I wanted to try. I wanted to see if I could bring someone back to life and my main target was Hero. If I could do that, I’d have a way to actually make myself a place in the world without having to rely on luck. Hopefully at least.

I sighed, stood and stepped out of the room, heading for the bowels of the ship where there’d be plenty of room. I didn't want to risk getting caught in an explosion if there was one.


 

It didn't take me long to find what I was looking for, one of the ships empty holds and I quickly moved to the middle and closed my eyes. It took a moment, but I figured out what I needed to do. The Grail filled with liquid, this time pale blue and glowing, and I emptied it onto the floor where it flowed under its own power until it formed a large Magic Circle with me in the center. I took a deep breath, focused my mind on who it was I wanted and began to speak.

Let silver and steel be the essence

Let stone and the archduke of contracts be the foundation

May you place your trust in me as I will trust in you

My fate shall be yours to determine

Your self be mine to maintain

Let the path of right and wrong lie before you

That you may choose of your own free will

Open the Gate. Shut. Shut. Shut. Shut.

The four cardinal points are accounted for

Now may you come forth at my call!

I was about half way through when I realized just what the chant meant, but by that point it was to late. The Magic had built to the point where if I stopped it would explode and take a good chunk of the City with it, so I had to complete the Ritual. Still, at least I now knew what Agent had meant by a new function! I could summon Servants.

The moment that thought crossed my mind, my body finished the chant and the glowing circle erupted, blowing me off my feet and sending me flying across the room. I hit the wall and slid down, surprisingly not hurt by the impact. I groaned slightly as I looked down at the Grail in my hand and watched as an image engraved itself on the clay in gold. To my suprise, it wasn't one of the standard ones, instead it was a set of scales. I’d summoned Ruler.

The sound of armoured boots on the metal floor made me look up at the circle as the newly Summoned Servant stepped forwards, looking around in apparent interest. He was surprisingly short, but still had a presence that befitted a Servant with the class of Ruler. His sleek armour was a gleaming gold with a blue underlayer and visor in a helmet that almost reminded me of a Mandalorian. A number of doodads hung from his belt, along with a multitude of pouches that no doubt contained even more bits of Tinkertech and a rather large rifle rested across his back. Every bit of his gear was sleek and looked like something out of a sci-fi movie, which wasn't to surprising when he was the one who wrote the book on Tinkers.

Finally, Hero’s gaze fell on me and he tilted his head slightly. Then, he knelt and removed his helmet, which nearly made me swallow my tongue as it revealed a youthful, feminine face, green eyes and golden blonde hair pulled into a tight bun.

“At your Summoning, I have come forth,” said Ruler, “I ask of you, are you my Master?”

I stared at the girl for a moment, before slowly holding up my Grail to show the Command Seal engraved on it.

“Yeasss, but your not exactly what I was expecting,” I said slowly, “You...are Hero, right?”

Ruler snorted.

“Yeah, I kinda get that,” she asked, patting her chestplate, “But you gotta remember that I became a Cape back when women weren't taken quite as seriously as they are now. It wasn't until Alexandria started making waves that that changed, but by then I couldn't see the point in revealing my gender. Plus, it was always fun to see peoples reactions when they found out I’m a woman.”

“Well, I certainly can't argue with that,” I said, “So, why Ruler? Wouldn't Archer or Caster work better?”

Ruler shifted so she was sat cross legged on the floor and shrugged.

“I think it has something to do with the settings of your Grail,” she said, “While you could activate a War, its also entirely possible for you to simple summon all Seven Servant Classes and maintain them yourself. My job is to act as a mediator, general and, if needed, executioner. Your first Summon would have been a Ruler regardless.”

“Makes sense I guess,” I said, “So does this mean I can't bring people back to life without Summoning their Heroic Spirit?”

Ruler shook her head.

“No, its two different functions,” she said, “You could have simply resurrected me, but accidentally used the wrong ability.”

“That...could be a pain,” I muttered, “Eh, whatever, whats done is done.”

I sighed.

“So, what now?”

“Now we see about getting somewhere to live and some ID,” said Ruler, “Fortunately, I know exactly how to do that.”

I eyed her suspiciously.

“How?”

“I’m going to hack into the governments systems.”

I stared at her, mouth hanging open in pure shock.

“I thought you were a hero!” I yelled once I’d got control of my shock.

“I also used to be a member of the Capinarti,” she said as she started fiddling with what looked like an Omni-tool, “Lets see...oh, they haven't plugged any of my back doors yet. Thats nice. Shift that, alter that, add that and...done!”

She did...something and produced a sheaf of papers from...somewhere that she handed to me with a smug smile. Fucking Tinkers.

I shook my head and started flipping through the papers. They were all of the identity papers I could need which claimed that I was one Adrian Tepes from some tiny town in the middle of nowhere that had got splattered by the Nine.

“Really? You went with Adrian Tepes?” I asked, “Why not go with Alucard while your at it?”

“Well, why not?” said Ruler, “You have the powers of a member of the Tepes and its not like anyone would guess that your a Vampire.”

“Dhampir, but I guess its fine,” I said with a sigh, “It works as well as anything else and I don't really feel like using my real name. Not after I’ve changed so much.”

“Great, in that case, lets go find us a place to live,” said Ruler, hopping to her feet and dispelling her armour to reveal a normal pair of jeans and t-shirt underneath.

I didn't know Servants could do that. Then what she said hit me and I frowned. That...didn't sound quite right. I mean, I knew that we’d share wherever we ended up, but the way she said that made it sound like she didn't intend to just stay Astralized. Then I looked at the papers again and saw that they listed Valerie Tepes as my older sister and her plan suddenly became clear.

“Wait, your not gonna…”

Ruler grinned and glomped me.

“I always wanted an adorable younger brother!” she chirped.

Oh hell, this was going to be...interesting.