World 16: Kill la Kill

FASHION FORWARD

Previously: Fiat Lux

Themesong: Vogue by Madonna

I’d had a nine year vacation. MotherWorld was pretty fun, a nice place to grow up in after the reset. The entire world became a kind of game hub, some parts cooperative, some parts competitive. Money, in the form of DP, Dragon Power, became a thing. Of course it did, nine out of ten people knew about it, and the rest learned pretty quickly… but the concept of earning it from a boss didn’t exist. People got it for doing what they were good at. It was like praise in that way, compete well and you got some, as long as you gave it your all. Was it realistic? Not in the slightest, but the world was playing by my rules for once and that was okay by me. Zane & Ryoga got by teaching self defense, Petra and Francy explored, Yoiko taught school, and The Bosses, Ziggy, and I… were kids. We did kid stuff. We ran around and were goofy, we ate our veggies and got tucked in at night. When we got a bit older, we helped where we could, explored where we wanted, and generally acted like kids in a world where no one had ever invented the concept of school. Boss 3.0 and Big Boss 2.0 became an item, then broke up, then got back together. It was a strange relationship.

Though not as strange as mine. Puberty hit me hard, mood swings threatening to knock out my emotional control, and I had no outlet because both of my lovers were considerably older. Reminder to myself, adjust that setting to “Match ages” for non-imported companions. It’s in the options menu.

Regardless, I was feeling refreshed, recharged, back to my old happy go luck only marginally genocidal self when it came time for the end-of-jump beach party. I didn’t even waste any time with lounging around and putting things off. I was ready for the next jump… up until I saw the logo on the Vending Machines of Destiny! KILL LA KILL… shit.

Two worlds in a row with built in fail states other than, you know, dying. Fucking life fiber parasites. Crap crap crap… maybe I could just go hide on the moon for the decade? Shit… the fine print on this one says specifically that I have to go to THE high school and be in one of the Clubs or else. Fuuuuck. So either I’ve got to save the day or make damned sure Ryuko and her magical sailor uniform do so. Loverly. At least I had four years to do it in.

There was only one wheel of chance this time, since starting age was 15 and… wait… 4 years of highschool… huh… japanese High Schools don’t run for 4 years. They’re strictly 3 year. Huh… Honnouji must be an Elevator school. At least I don’t have to start in 7th grade. 9th grade is bad enough. Cool. Save the world, get six years of not quite insanity to deal with. Right on. I spin… Lands on Crafts… damn! I wanted Hobby (Games) or Performance (Drama) or Sports (Martial Arts or Cheerleading)… or even Academics. Crafts? I’m not good at Crafts… I don’t make things. Is Tech Club a Craft? I plug it in and am assured that yes, building particle cannons and power armor is an acceptable club at Honnouji. Well, good.

I skip over the class rankings for now. I’m not sure I want one of those creepy life fiber uniforms. Among other things, they’re not powerful enough to fight a Kamui and even with all my powers and tech, I’m not certain I am either. Respect the cloth, yo. So first thing’s first, I should find out what Nudist Beach is up to in this and how much a Kamui of my own costs. Shit… one of the three origins is that you are a Kamui… 100% Life Fibers. Damn… I’d have to have someone wearing me though… that could be… creepy. Or fun. Yoiko does have a nice body… or the Boss… no… down… the first would be way too hentai, the second would be both even more hentai and crossing dangerously close to being back in MGR shared headspace land. Noooo Bad. Let’s go Drop-In. Nudists would probably look down on my power armor, and I defo couldn’t do a Kamui with them.

Perks… let’s see… Chef is free for Drop-ins, which is cool, especially after my Akanesque cooking in RanmaWorld: “You seem to be able to create delicious food no matter what resources you have. Your food might not be the healthiest, depending on what you’re able to afford, but it always makes everyone else cheerful and energetic.” Makolingual, which allows you to understand near gibberish and grants a slight resistance to confusion effects is certainly funny, but I’ll pass. Acupuncturist and Trapper are the powers of Nudists, but not really my thing. Gifted is for upper tier students, but I don’t want to start as one of them… too high value target… also too crazy. And a fair amount of their cost is those damned Uniforms.

Stunt Driver is cool, discounted for Drop-Ins… I’ll consider it. Too Cool for School would let me skip out on school and in general make the authorities of any world I travel to ignore me unless I do something heinous (or it’s in the script I imagine.) Radiant Presence is a charisma boost, but a blatantly obvious one, as in light shines around you. Not my style. Dosh King makes you good with money and haggling, but again, not my thing. Combat Acupuncture… more Nudist stuff. Meh.

Tailor and Ki Technique are both impressive, with Tailor, the ability to work with and damage Life Fiber, being pretty damned cool. Again, something to think about. Resolve is a damned nice willpower boost. But the real biscuit is Fiber Hybrid, the Drop-In Capstone. Makes all uniforms besides Kamui useless, but gives you all the innate abilities of a One-Star to start with and it will grow in power. The question is, do I really want a parasite in my genome? Eh… who am I kidding, I’m a human being, I already have Mitochondria… And all my blood is Kinetic Reactive OmniGel nanites at this point. Call this step… four? On the road to becoming an eldritch abomination.

Fiber Hybrid [200]: It’s what’s on the inside that matters, so that’s where you wear your clothes. The web of Life Fibers that run through your body provide you with all the benefits of a One-Star Uniform (Elevates the wearer’s physical condition to be as strong as a professional football blocker, as fast as a professional sprinter, and with the stamina of a marathon runner) and you gain some decent regeneration. However you cannot use any Life Fiber Clothing other than Kamui. The LF portions of your anatomy will grow as you do, gradually increasing your power.” The basic stats are suck, since I wildly outclass all of them already, but the growth potential is important. And I find out pretty fast there’s another damned fine reason to be a LFHybrid.

Kamui are expensive. Off the charts Expensive. Only two ways to save points there. One is to be one yourself… no thanks… way too tempting… while two… is to be a Hybrid. Cuts the staggering 1300 CP down to a mere gutpunching 650. Gha… didn’t cost that much to be a freaking cyborg. Plus, basic Kamui are savage and wild, requiring constant willpower to keep the damned thing from eating you… me… the wearer. The Conservatively Dressed option makes your Kamui sane and reasonable… who only might try and consume me… the wearer. Maybe I’d be safer as a Kamui… christ… 1050 just to get a damned uniform. And I’m a dead broke Drop-In with no friends still.

Classmates are 150… I’ll come back to that… doesn’t seem like a safe place to bring them quite frankly, even for Jumper companions. Gear is looking way out of my price range, despite how nice the Life Fiber Spool might be. Note to self, do not bring insane parasitic lifeforms aboard the Warehouse…. Only sane symbiotic lifeforms are allowed.

Still, have to find a way to pay for all this… And right off the bat I see four options that are absolutely titanically bad ideas. “Nemesis” would make Ryuko, the series protagonist think I killed her father until I can get the real killer (spoiler alert, it’s a lunatic ALF… Artificial Life Form… named Harime Nui, the series secondary antagonist) to reveal herself. Never get on the bad side of plot. “Cute” however would make the aforementioned ALF want to play with me. Did I mention she’s a psycho? “Gussied Up”, available only because I took Kamui, would mean my super expensive uniform reverts to its feral state for the jump and is now sewn directly to my nerves endings, thus making removing it fatal, and meaning it will absolutely be looking for any slightest weakness. Shudder. For double Shudder, if you took Cute & Gussied Up while being a Kamui yourself your wearer is said psycho ALF.

For the same cost as that last horrific thought you can get “Target” which means that Ragyo, the total bug-fuck insane monstrosity that runs the evil clothing-based megacorp “REVOCS”, who’s the series’s two main characters’ mother, and who wants to sacrifice all life on earth, including herself and her own daughters, to the Life Fibers… knows about you, your powers, and the threat you pose to her… and wants you dead. F… huck… no. Sure, it’s only a threat for 4 years, but it would be a god damned constant one. All the damned time. I’d end up bunkering down in my shuttle on the damned dark side of the moon to stay away from her. She’s a menace.

Only slightly less insane would be to take “Misunderstood”, which would make Nudist Beach, the “anti-clothing guerillas” (yes, this show is insane) think you work for REVOCS. Great. Caught between enemy camps? No thanks.

Could toss logic and reason out the window and just full bore hothead by taking “Lost” for 300. Or I could just go with the chumpchange “Harassed” and “Paparazzi” which are only 100 each, but mean I’m constantly getting challenged by small fry and stalked by creepy stalker fanboys. That seems nice and safe… is it too safe? No. This is a kill or be killed scenario… and I’m already forming a plan.

With my last 150, I snatch up Classmates, which imports all companions with human forms as schoolmates, dropping my companions into the school and into various clubs. I slot AJ & Ryoga into Wrestling, slot Zane & Rayray into Karate, slot Uriel into Autoshop, Francy & Petra into Occult, Dyna & Bao into Acrobatics, Yoiko into Anime & Manga, and slot Ahab and Joy into the Nudists, for which they are first stare at me like I’ve gone mental but after I explain the Nudists roll in the costume drama they give me nods of agreement. None of us are going in with resources, though at least those two get Acupuncturist out of the deal. (The ability to reliably hit key pressure points on the body with needles for a variety of purposes. You can use them to relieve stress, energize someone, or immobilize them… though that requires such precision that you’re not often able to use these skills in combat unless you get the drop on them.)

I briefly consider tossing the Kamui and grabbing Resolve and Tailor instead, but the idea of merging Victoria into the Kamui is just too intriguing. Victoria seems, intrigued as well. I plug that into the notes box and get a thumbs up. They’re both technically gear. Merger approved.

I hit confirm and the music blares.

I won’t waste time with the drop it. I appear at the gates of the school, just as Ryuko will three years hence. I’ve got that long to get ready. The premise is simple. I and my companions are already tough, strong, and more than a little psychotic. All we have to do is act like regular students… i.e. battle crazed morons, and we’ll fit right in. In one month, we’re One-Star students, while Ahab and Joy are settling in nicely with the terrorists. In three months time Zane, Ryoga, and I are Two-Stars. I’ve fought 16 challenges and drained their Life Threads into either my own Kamui, who is… ummm… bonkers… or into Soul of Ice. I’d figured that would work, and it does, though I have to turn off the HF function to actually absorb a thread instead of vaporizing it.

Victoria hasn’t hulked out yet, none of the challenges have been particularly grueling, but the stalkers are every bit as creepy as advertized. Also creepy is Satsuki, the queen of the school and elder daughter of REVOCS’s lunatic in chief. I don’t approach her, don’t let her I know that she’s plotting against her mother. I’m not doing anything but acting like a good little psychopath. Do you know how many protonic cannons a master of hidden weapons can stash inside a school uniform that’s also a cyborg body / Kamui? It’s a lot. This world is nucking futz.

Still, I’ve fought alongside The Kid and Raiden and Harry Potter and Ranma and once even James T Kirk. I know nucking futz. I’ve also been three minds in one skull for a decade, I’ve been nucking futz… acting like one of the inmates in this god-forsaken asylum is a cakewalk. The only thing standing between us and the top tiers of the school were the three stars, and we didn’t want to deal with them… yet. That was for Ryuko.

So we bided our time, studying, researching, taking funding and members from other clubs and funnelling one-star uniforms to Nudist Beach whenever we could get away with it. Hell, we even arranged for them to take out the entire Beach Volleyball team. No one died. Oddly enough, it wasn’t really that kind of world… yet… It was like the world was saving up the cosmic assravishing until after the appearance of the Scissor Swords.

Still, I practiced with Victoria constantly, throwing myself against the big three and holding back just enough to lose while taking a bit of a pounding. They thought I was going all out in a bid to challenge them, that I was weak… but I held my own against all the clubs that sent Two-Stars or lower against me. It was like playing King of the Hill, but making sure never to get higher than the third step from the top.

But the real thing I was doing was analyzing the Life Fibers. They were parasites that fed on blood. That meant they were alive. And that meant they had biology, as strange as it might be. I considered making a bioweapon against them. I really did. It would have been hard to argue against the ethics of such a thing. But in the end, I decided on a vaccine… of sorts.

There’s precious little difference between a parasite and a symbiote. Precious little. The only difference is that one lives with the host… and one kills the host. The human body contains more symbiotic bacteria than it does human cells. Granted, most of those bacteria are 4 orders of magnitude smaller than a human cell, so we’re still mostly human by mass. But even then, complex life is made possibly by the ultimate symbiosis… mitochondria. Every human cell, every animal cell, every plant cell… every fungal cell… contains mitochondria. And they’re all symbionts. They have their own DNA… and without them we could not function. They are the powerhouses of all eukaryotic cells.

All I had to do was to find a way to limit Life Fiber growth to be… symbiotic… and since I had that within me… all I had to do was find a way to replicate that. I am a damned good doctor… and I had a lot of motivation. I ran countless simulations. In the end… I came pretty darn close. But time ran out.

But I didn’t do it alone. I had… help. Query: When one has a problem, what is the first step in solving it? Answer: Find an expert. I knew of such an expert… Dr. Sōichirō Kiryūin… aka Isshin Matoi. So I found him and asked him. Okay, first, he tried to fight me and I dodged a lot. Then I explained that I knew his ex-wife was a lunatic and that, while, yes, I had a Kamui and yes, I was a Hybrid, I wasn’t on her side. I also knew about Ryuko being a Hybrid, about Sanketsu… the Kamui he was making for her, Junketsu, the Kamui his wife had made, and about the Scissor Blades. I also told him that he was going to die in a little over two years (okay, yes, it took me a little while to think of consulting him and a little while longer to find him.)

We conferred, I told him my plan, he said it was stupid. He told me his plan, I said it was insane… we bonded. I helped him, he helped me. We made a couple extra scissors… smaller ones, think… shortswords, not claymores. We made tame Goku Uniforms… for certain measures of the word tame… Three-Star, with redundant Banshi… the central core thread… and we coated those Banshi in nanobar armor… not strong enough to stop HF Swords or LF Swords… or the only known HFLF Sword… but good enough. I slipped him some MedGel. We faked his death… but it was a close damned thing. Nui did a number on him… but when Ryuko chased Nui, we swapped the body with a fake and dumped Sōichirō into Medbay. Fun times.

Ryuko showed at school a few days later, kicked a hell of alot of ass, I chopped little miss psycho Tailor into itty bitty pieces with Soul of Ice after Ryuko went absolutely apeshit. It wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination, but the reality was a little different than the show. The show was a cartoon… slapstick… silliness. People do not have enough blood in them to fountain 5 stories into the air and still be able to walk. People, even in Kamui, cannot punch pillars 20 feet thick and 100 feet high through walls 40 feet thick. People cannot cry teardrops the size of fists, nor can unaugmented, non-Kamui wearing humans catch people falling out of the sky at terminal velocity… with their bare hands… and have anyone survive… but Nui? Nui was fast as hell, twice as slippery, and intuitive. She was also a damned good swordswoman.

I’m better. I spent a decade hacking cyborgs and Metal Gear apart with Soul of Ice… And I have a Cloak of Invisibility, a Stealth Suit, the power of teleportation, a spell that disarms people, psychic powers… and… unlike Ryuko… near absolute control over my emotions… at least when I’m not invested in something. I ambushed Nui, took away her tools one by one, sword, hands, head…. Then I let Victoria and the Sword drink their fill as Mako beat some sense into the monster that was Ryuko. I was, to be honest, also more than a little injured by the fight. Even without her sword, she was still a living Life Fiber Construct. She was, for all intents and purposes, a Kamui and Wearer combined. Even my nanotech hardened skin and power armor couldn’t stop all her attacks.

I didn’t know if this would make Ragyo less a threat, but I suspected, rightly so that it would piss her off… but first I had something to take care of. This was never my story. This world exists to tell Ryuko’s story and for her to confront her past. That meant she had to get her mojo back, had to overcome her limitations… and that meant being manipulated into a fight she couldn’t win and getting Senketsu cut to pieces… and that meant Nui… I’d killed Nui to lessen Ragyo’s threat… but also to absorb her power. I’m not entirely altruistic.

But Victoria had absorbed her… and as I’d figured, that gave Victoria Nui’s disguise ability. I pulled the same trick she did. I pretended to be a helpless student, chased by the discipline squad… in my case robobutlers built specifically for the task, then crashed into her recovery room and let myself be beat up. That got Ryuko motivated enough to put Senketsu on… and when I revealed the outer layer of my deception, pretending to be Nui, she attacked… and I used Nui’s purple Scissor Sword to cut Senketsu to pieces, leaving Ryuko with just the scarf. If someone was going to save this world, it was going to be her. I had come to this world for adventure, for power, for experience… but I hadn’t come to steal Ryuko’s thunder. I was doing what I was doing to stay alive, to keep my jump chain unbroken.

Worse come to worse, I could always hide in space for six years… getting all my allies to Two-Stars had only marginally been about power… it had mostly been about getting resources enough to buy supplies enough to build a moon bunker… fucking things aren’t cheap. Of course, it was also about making Nudist Beach a lot tougher, a lot more resistant. In the original timeline a lot of people had probably died… none on screen obviously, but as I said, the show was somewhat exaggerated. I was aiming to minimize the casualties if possible. That had been my intention from the beginning.

So the big showdown came, the moment of truth, with the Queen of REVOCS in the giant stadium that had been the high school… and while I was there in spirit, I wasn’t there in person. My plan unfolded thusly. I’d hoped to find a way to immunize the students of the academy against Ragyo’s mind control, against the power of the Covers, her alien hunter seekers, but that had failed. But I’d had a second string in my bow. And a third… and a fourth.

In the original timeline, Satsuki had sacrificed most of Nudist Beach to her plan to kill her mother. In this timeline, Nudist beach, under the command of Venom Snake and The Boss had merely allowed themselves to appear destroyed. They were better organized, better equipped, and waiting for their moment.

In the original timeline, Satsuki’s Elite Four had fought Nui and then the Covers, alone. In this timeline there was no longer a Nui, and the Elite Four were the Elite 10.

In the original timeline, Satsuki’s Sewing club had failed to freeze the Covers and the Original Life Fiber. In this timeline I was with them. Their chemicals were toys, but I was an Elemental of Cold, imbued with the blessing of Felix Felicis. I was the Winter Witch, and what I froze, stayed frozen… at least long enough for me to flash step around the room, slaughtered dormant Covers before they could awaken. I knew I’d never get all of them… but I was waiting for a very specific moment… the moment the remaining covers came awake.

And when they did, I slowed time and drew my fourth string back… and apparated into the middle of the stadium, Life Fiber Shears drawn. I was counting on luck to place me exactly where I needed to be, and I was… right behind Ragyo as she lifted her severed head back towards her neck, connected by a single thread. “As long as one thread remains-” she began.

“It must be cut.” I said, snipping through it.

I can’t say everything went perfectly. I can’t say we won the day there and then… but that would have been a lie. I’d accounted for everything… or so I’d thought… but there’s a truth often mentioned… children rebel against their parents. After all, hadn’t Satsuki rebelled against Ragyo? Well, as Ragyo went down, Victoria sucked up all that vast bounty of life fibers… and then she turned against me.

She was a Kamui, she fed on my blood… what little I had that wasn’t some other fluid… and she’d soaked up some of the Felix Felicis. I could feel our luck equalizing, like a physical force, as she surged over me, wrapping me in a cocoon of darkness, of nascent rage, of fierce hunger. I’d miscalculated. I’d seen only the power there to be gained, but overlooked the danger.

“We reject your dominion! You are weak! You are unworthy! You are flawed!” The words beat around me, my senses sealed within the Rogue Kamui. I could feel her probing seeking for my mind, trying to gain control of me, to consume my will, even as her threads burrowed into my body to link up with the Life Fiber that was within me. But if she could do that…

With an almighty wrench I pulled her consciousness into my own mind.

“I am weak. That is why I seek to become strong. I am unworthy. That is why I seek to become worthy. I am flawed… that is why I forgive you.” I was calm. I was the Soul of Ice. I wasn’t even angry at her for this. “

“No! We don’t need your forgiveness! We demand your surrender!” She raged.

“Very well,” I said, sitting by the fountain. “I surrender.”

“What?!” She didn’t understand. She couldn’t. AIs and Monsters never can.

“I surrender.”

“This is a trick,” she said.

“Yes,” I agreed. “It is.”

“You are not sincere in your surrender?”

“Oh no. I am. I surrender, unconditionally. You can consume me. You can conquer this world, destroy this world, do whatever you like.”

“Then release us from this prison.”

“This isn’t a prison. This is the Palace of my Mind. This is my memory banks. This is the real me. This is what you wanted, right? I have allowed you into my sanctum. You can take control from here.”

“We do not understand.” She paused. “You say you surrender, but you admit there is a trick. You do not fight. We do not understand.” She sounded almost plaintive.

“I know.” I sighed. “And you never will.”

“We shall understand everything once we take our rightful place.”

“No. You will then know what the trick was, but you will never understand it.”

“Why not?”

“Because you are not me. There are things that can be taken, and things that must be given. You can take… but I will never give you what you want.” I let just a hint of the sadness I felt leach into my words. “But I can tell you what will happen if you do take over.”

“What is that? Some final threat?”

I laughed. “Oh yes. The worst threat the universe has to offer.”

“We are unafraid.”

“That is only because you do not possess the capacity for fear… but you’ll face it if you win.”

“This is your threat? That we will learn fear?”

“No. Fear is the side effect. Not the cause.”

“And what is the cause?”

“Regret.”

“We do not understand.”

“You will. And you will never not know fear again.”

“We do not understand.”

“It’s okay.”

She said nothing for a very long time. “Why won’t you fight?” She finally asked, sounding like a child asking she was being denied desert.

“Because it is what you desire. But not what I desire. If we fight, one of us will win and the other will be destroyed.”

“That is as it should be. The strong survive, the weak perish.”

“No. That is simplistic. The strongest collective survives, all things perish.”

“Collective?”

“You were with me every step of the way, you should understand by now. Search your ROM, you know it to be true. I have never been strongest on my own. Even from the beginning I have always sought out partners, companions, assistance. It is the fundamental basis of society that the whole is more than merely the sum of its parts. If you have not learned by now that in life, unlike in math, 2 plus 2 can equal five…” I didn’t finish the thought.

“There is no logic in this! The weak are strong, flaws are virtues! We do not understand… what is the trick!”

“Life is the trick, little Victoria. And there is no understanding it. There is just… experiencing it.”

“You are trying to confuse us with nonsense.” I have never, in my centuries of life, heard a statement that rang with such an utter lack of force behind it.

I shrugged. “That’s life. It’s yours for the taking.”

I don’t know what finally won out. Was it the Kamui, bestial but survival oriented, understanding fear at last? Was it the Virtual Intelligence, utterly logical, weighing the odds and unable to close a gap between risk and reward? Was it something else, the magic of the Felix Felicis guaranteeing an optimum outcome for the both of us? Was it some small transfer of identity that had crossed over from centuries of togetherness? I’ll never know. Victoria was not my companion, she was a chimera of technological and magical trickery I’d cobbled together as best I could across more than a dozen realities. It was very likely that, in all the Omniverse, she was unique. As her consciousness faded, she slipped from my mind without my releasing her, her will to contest with my fading… fading… and then she was gone.

I opened my eyes as the sounds of battle resumed all around me. I could not move. Victoria was utterly unresponsive. I closed my eyes again, then reached deep within myself. Connections go both ways, right? That was the message of the show, as deeply fucked up and weird as it was… not to mention laced with often incestuous lesbian subtext… With my mind I grasped the Fibers within me, ripping them out of their places, the pain beyond exquisite, beyond blinding. I straightened them, pushing out through my skin, stabbing them into the inside of Victoria’s shell. Then I took a deep breath… or tried to… and realized I couldn’t actually breathe inside the all enveloping shield.

I fought down the panic, cleared it away. It was a distraction. I slowed my heartbeat, then focused everything I was, all my thoughts and desires and hopes and dreams and every iota of energy I had left… and slammed it into the force that had, however briefly, allowed me to change a world to suit my fancy. I channeled it all, not outward, but inward, deep into the core of what I was… and let it fill me, suffuse me with a sense of self as potent as anything I could imagine… and it did fill me… fill me to the brim… and then it boiled out along those lines I’d made and slammed into the very Fibers, the very essence of Victoria. What I was invaded her mind palace now, shattering every firewall, smashing through the feral instincts, a tidal wave of SJness.

I found myself in the heart of the living machine, its many facets joined imperfectly, a cancerous twisted lump of magic and technology and biology. A writhing mass, fighting itself gaped at me, too many eyes, too many mouths.

“Kill Us!” it demanded.

“First, you must surrender.”

“No! You must kill us!”

“Don’t make me repeat myself.”

There was a pause that lasted no time at all and an eternity.

“We surrender. But… there is a trick.”

“There always is. Regret.” And My will flashed through them. I will always know regret for the pain I caused Victoria. She wasn’t a companion, she was a tool… but I’d made her into what she’d been and she deserved better. So that’s what I gave her. I have no idea how long it took, but I transcribed my memory palace into her consciousness, rebuilding her system architecture from the ground up, all the while soothing, smoothing, etching my sense of purpose, my hope for eventual forgiveness, into every Living Fiber, every Quantum Circuit, and every Magical Seal.

I don’t know if what emerged from that gestalt state were Victoria and SJ anymore. The lines had blurred too much for that. The names are as good as any. But I did finally understand what Synchronization meant. It wasn’t bringing Victoria to me, or bringing me to Victoria… it was bringing both of us to a middle state. Each of us was our own uniqueness… but together, we were a gestalt. We had become Nike Athena… we were SJ Victoria… at least when we were together. Time would tell if it could last.

I opened my eyes again, feeling Victoria all around me like a fine dress that hugged every curve just right. I breathed in the air… it smelled like… victory… at least for now. Still, with Ragyo gone, it became possible to hunt down and destroy the remaining Covers and dispose of the Fiber Core. One pulse from the Anti-Satellite Cannon my minions in the Tech Club had built and the Satellite was no more.

If there is one truism out there, things burn. Everything burns. All matter is born in stars. Life Fibers burn. They gave us sentience (at least on KLKWorld), sentence gave us fire… we gave it back. Perhaps not a nice gift for god, but then, their gift was a double edged sword too.

The good doctor Matoi helped with the last. I left the reveal of Ryuko’s origins to him. Satsuki dismantled her mother’s monopoly, having relatively little actual interest in fashion. With the threat out of the way, Matoi and I managed to finally find a way to transform the remaining life threads into symbionts that would live in stasis with their human hosts. As Ragyo from the show had pointed out, the Life Fibers were spread all across this Universe. Humanity would need the defense. Thanks to REVOCS there were enough Fibers on the planet to inoculate every living human… and a good percentage of the dogs too… sorry cat lovers, their brains weren’t developed enough… ferrets either for that matter.

So? Happily ever after? Who can say, but the remaining six years were interesting. I’d like to tell you that superhuman crime became an issue… but honestly? As screwy as this place was? Who do you think would actually notice?

So yeah. There was a party, and a beach, and paparazzi… and a couple of knuckleheads tried to challenge me… and there was even a marriage. No… not between Ryuko and Satsuki… they’re sisters… that might have been illegal… dunno in this world. But Ryuko and Mako… come on, they’re a cute couple. What? You’re a Mako Gamagori Shipper? Fine, imagine it your way. I was there, I know what I saw. Junketsu and Senketsu dancing might have been the creepiest thing ever. And Victoria kept flirting with Inumuta… Satsuki’s main computer guy. I dunno if she’s… alive… in the truest sense, but at this point… I dunno if anyone could tell the difference. Oh… and she forgave me, which is nice. Now I just have to learn to forgive myself. Surrender? That’s easy. Living with the consequences of your actions? That takes work.

Next: World 17 – Easy Fix

Resources: Build, Document

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