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Bet Your Life

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In the airspace above Pandemonium, Beelzebub waited patiently for the next Grandcypher crew to arrive. He didn’t really know why he was doing this, but couldn’t really find a reason to leave either. Some crews beat him, some were crushed by him like the small flies they were, so there was no shortage of excitement, especially since he would recover from any wound. Though it was rather strange that they all came on an airship called the Grandcypher, which appeared to look exactly the same each and every time. That was not a matter of concern, however. All he needed to focus on was growing stronger and proving himself to be the greatest being in all of creation, forcing all others to acknowledge what he already knew.

 

All of a sudden, out of the corner of his eye, he saw Richard mysteriously floating towards him with a blush and a euphoric smile upon his face. “Oh? Have you been sent by a Grandcypher to challenge me? All by yourself?” Beelzebub laughed at the very thought. Surely not. It was only a matter of figuring out what this latest crew was playing at.

 

In return, Richard only maintained his weird smile. “I am from a Grandcypher, yes, though I’ve come to fight you of my own accord. What motivates me is not profit or loyalty but rather… Love!”

 

That made Beelzebub blink, confused. “What in my name?”

 

“I would explain, but I believe that something like Love is beyond your comprehension.” Richard replied with a small shrug. “Now, prepare yourself.” He raised his gun at Beelzebub and pulled the trigger.

 

As Richard fired at Beelzebub, the astral smirked condescendingly. Mere bullets were no match for his magic. He held out his hand to annihilate them.

 

As his magics were sent at the bullets, however, the projectiles themselves grew a deep blush and a euphoric smile highly reminiscent of their owner, pushing through and penetrating Beelzebub, who spat up blood. “What...? But how?!” He demanded. 

 

In response, Richard only shook his head knowingly. “It would seem that, today, I was dealt a good hand. This must be Fate! And your Fate is to be a weak, witless worm.”

 

Enraged by Richard’s meaningless explanation, Beelzebub brought down his mighty fists, throwing countless punches at Richard in the blink of an eye. Richard, however, simply dodged them all cooly, clicking his tongue as Beelzebub finally paused to catch his breath. “Ha-hah! It seems that you’ve had the bad luck to activate my trap card!” From the deck held in his left hand, Richard pulled a card that appeared to be from a children’s card game. “Not the best play, my friend.”

 

Instants after Richard said that, an immense burst of magical energy appeared from Beelzebub’s center, spreading out with a deafening roar. For a half a minute of pure agony, Beelzebub screamed as he felt like he was being pulled apart, his toughened skin tearing in several places. When it was done, Beelzebub dropped to his knees, the wind knocked out of him. “You... who are you?”

 

“I am known as Richard, and I am a simple gambler.” Richard twirled his gun with a wide grin. “Against me, you’ll have to bet your very life.” He turned to face the screen, to Beelzebub’s confusion. “Though, I suppose our dear reader here already knew that.”

 

“What are you-“

 

“Ssssssh, don’t worry about it. Now, come at me with all your might- that is, if you want to stand a chance against me.”

 

Despite the continued aching of his body, Beelzebub couldn’t help but scoff at that as he stood up. “You’ll regret making it so easy for me.”

 

“Will I, now? Prove it if you can.”

 

As Beelzebub drew magical power into his hands, bringing in so much so quickly that the strain was evident even upon his face, Richard simply stood there with a small, confident smile. “Do not… mock me!” Beelzebub shouted, before activating his destructive power. As a horrifyingly vast wave of dark energy was sent forth, he shouted out the name of his attack. “Chaos Legion!” In the next moment, Richard was swallowed up by it and appeared to be consumed by an explosion of pure darkness. As the air was filled with a cloud of dust in the aftermath, a few moments passed before Beelzebub began to grin. “Looks like even he was no match for-“

 

Before Beelzebub could finish speaking, however, a familiar silhouette appeared through the dust, walking towards him on the air. “No… impossible! It can’t be!” Beelzebub cried out, both frustrated and perplexed.

 

“Oh, but it can!” Richard’s charming voice and wide smile called out as the dust began to clear, making him visible. He had suffered no clear injury, and even his clothes only seemed scratched and ruffled in places. “I’ll admit, that one hurt a little bit. But this is where you say your goodbyes. I did tell you that you’d be betting your life, after all.”

 

Completely exhausted, Beelzebub dropped onto his hands and knees, only barely able to lift his head to look up at Richard, who continued walking towards him and paused right in front of the astral. “This… I refuse to accept this! Not from a worthless person like you!”

 

“Really? That’s too bad then, because I don’t remember asking.” With that, Richard raised the barrel of his gun to Beelzebub’s forehead and pulled the trigger once again.

 

For a moment, everything went dark.

 

In the next moment, Beelzebub found himself in an infinite dark plain, with nothingness in every direction. As he looked around, alarmed, Richard appeared in front of him once more. “I’m guessing you have a lot of questions.” The gambler chuckled.

 

That gave Beelzebub pause, and he looked Richard up and down. “...Who are you really? You’re no astral, but I can’t think of anything else that might explain your power.”

 

“It’s simple really.” Richard replied, throwing his cards into the air as though he had no more use for them. “We are in a type of video game called a Gacha Game, ruled by the Gacha God. I am the one and only avatar of the Gacha God in this universe, a force stronger than Bahamut himself. I possess the combined might of every last character, playable or otherwise, in existence in this world.”

 

Beelzebub shook his head in disbelief. “Stronger than Bahamut? A lie. The power you used against me didn’t even compare to his.”

 

“Five.”

 

“What?”

 

“I used only five percent of my power against you.” Richard stated with a grin. “That’s quite an achievement on your part, though. Normally when I’m with the crew of a Grandcypher, I only use a infinitesimal fraction of my power to avoid any suspicion that I’m special in any way, shape, or form. Amusingly, many now think me the weakest person aboard the airship, but that sort of thought is to my advantage, so I allow it to continue.”

 

Beelzebub shuddered, a chill going down his spine at the look on Richard’s face. “That aside… where are we now?”

 

“Ah! We’re in Gacha Hell, where we avatars of the Gacha God can take anyone from any Gacha so that they no longer appear to players as their tortured consciousness is absorbed into the void.” Richard answered with an unnervingly cheery tone. “Usually it’s used to punish truly game breaking characters and enemies. Though, in your case I made a special exception.”

 

“Why did you bring me here then?”

 

The blush and bizarre smile from their first meeting reappeared on Richard’s face. “Ah… Therese-san promised me a date if I managed to kill you, so… well, I figured I may as well do her one better and kill you permanently. I wasn’t lying when I said it was all for the sake of love, you know.”

 

Uneasy, Beelzebub took a step back, then another, before breaking out into a full run away from Richard. “Oh? You think you can escape me? But there’s nowhere to go. And besides…” Richard appeared right in front of Beelzebub again. “In this place, I am everywhere I want to be. Now, your consciousness… I will end it.”

 

Beelzebub could only stare on in horror as Richard’s body warped, twisted, and stretched into the eldritch madness of his true form. For the first time in Beelzebub’s life, he felt not just fear, but regret.

 

Minutes later he would no longer feel anything at all.