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Project Deva (tentative) - Kohaku's (Current) Opus

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Project Deva (tentative) - Kohaku's (Current) Opus

Post  Kira Kohaku on Mon Aug 01, 2016 9:29 pm

So, as those who have been following the chatbox know, I have been writing. This has actually been a project I've been working on since last...July(?) and has been stalled and returned to multiple times. At current, I am still far from finished, but I can share at least a synopsis of what would be the first Volume out of three.




“I will regain everything that was taken from me.”

It was a simple, yet far too lofty desire. For Alice Oakley, it was an aspiration far too impossible for her human hands to ever reach up and grab. She was nothing more than a single survivor of a brutal, enigmatic calamity.

A month has passed since the event she dubbed “Comet Flash”. With a vast majority of human life on the planet having seemingly vanished, all that was left for Alice is to live the meaningless motions of survival from day-to-day, pushing her arrogant desire into the corners of her subconscious.

However, a single encounter almost as enigmatic as the calamity changes all of that. That encounter with the girl calling herself the goddess Kali brings forth a cascade of the divine leading Alice to find her first hope that her lofty desires may still be in reach. For the first time, her time began to move forward. With the first hint on how to gain everything she once lost, Alice starts a long journey across her nearly unpopulated country.


Book 2 Summary:

The westward journey towards the Stanford Linear Accelerator continued as Alice and Kali say their goodbyes to the New Omaha Settlement. As they drive westward, they eventually come across an abandoned city and take the opportunity for another pitstop before resuming. However, the two are forced back into a deadly battle as an all too familiar hunter resumes their onslaught.

Four months have passed since the incident in New Omaha as the settlers have broken past their dependence on their shrine goddess and have started to live without Amaterasu’s sacred barrier. Certain that any shackles she had as Amaterasu had been lifted, Bridgette finally resumes her own journey westward in order to catch up to Alice.

However, as she comes across another settlement, she finds that she can no longer pass any further west as there are pitch black devils living in the forest that will kill anyone who attempts to pass through. As she tries to formulate a way to pass through, her contemplations are cut short as a young boy ventures into the woods on his own. In a rush, Bridgette jumps into the fray to prevent the death toll from rising again, only to encounter the so-called devil.

Book 3 Summary:
In the aftermath of Alice’s rampage, nothing was left around her. Those who had become the central foundation to her reality in these past five months were no longer with her. The only one left alive, Bridgette, was standing at Artemis’s mercy.

At the fork in the road she faced, there were two options. Continue westward to the Stanford Linear Accelerator and give on Bridgette’s life or turn eastward to New York City to confront Artemis and save Bridgette. Forgo the present for the sake of regaining the past she desired or forgo the past to seize the present she could not detach herself from.

“I’m not going to abandon her. There’s no way in hell that I’m going to lose anything else.”

Even if she would have to shoulder the contradiction that created, Alice would not make the mistake of leaving her behind again. She would return to New York City where it all started and save Bridgette, even if it meant falling straight into Artemis’s hands…and even if it meant breaking herself in the process.



Book 1 - Amaterasu

Prelude - Her Stopped Time
Chapter 1 - A Wish Moving the Gears
Chapter 2 - Paradoxical Greed

Book 2 - Kali


Book 3 - Artemis


Last edited by Kira Kohaku on Wed Oct 12, 2016 7:04 pm; edited 10 times in total

Kira Kohaku
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Re: Project Deva (tentative) - Kohaku's (Current) Opus

Post  Kira Kohaku on Tue Aug 02, 2016 2:46 pm

Prelude

Her Stopped Time


Dust flew as a kneeling girl with her head covered by a hood cleared through some rubble. She had seen something shiny that was buried in that thin layer of broken concrete, asphalt, and building materials. Sitting on the empty road beneath the rubble was an odd looking key covered in soil with a wilted plant and multiple fragments of a broken pot in it.

It was odd. The key held a design different from what anyone would normally see in what used to be the modern era. However, the key itself was not the only issue. The rubble was right next to a building that had no windows and a door that was sitting ajar with no sign of break-in. This was odd when held in stark contrast to the upper portions of the building which looked like it had mostly collapsed with the exception of the first floor in front of her. Actually, the stark contrast could be seen between the single floor and the remainder of the world around it.

The world had faced an apocalypse. One could say it was akin to nuclear winter but the circumstances were far different. It was a surreal and unprecedented natural disaster that culled a majority of the human population. One could even wonder if it was completely natural. As that disaster rained down upon the earth, it almost seemed impossible how it happened. It was like coincidence piled upon coincidence in an unending pile.

The girl lost a lot the day it happened. Yet, she was still one of the lucky survivors of the odd divine judgment that roared from the heavens. So, she spent the past month running and hiding through the now desolate city. If she was lucky, she would find some place with working electricity. If she was lucky, she would find some place with running water. She would scrounge for food where she could find it but it was not too hard to do so. Oddly enough, food was in quite a surplus before the apocalypse so it was not hard to find food that had not gone bad.

Still, the pressure of surviving in a wasteland after an apocalypse could wear on a person.

Her clothes had various tears, such as the rip on the knee of her jeans or the random cuts on the edges of her white hoodie and red t-shirt. Of course, after digging through that rubble, her clothes were covered in dust. Even her body had various small scars from scrapes and cuts that she gained.

She blew and wiped off the dust and dirt on the key before placing it in one of her chest pockets. She stood up and started to slap the dirt off her palms while sighing. "I don't think I'll ever get used to this."

After confirming that her hands were relatively dirt-free, she proceeded to smack the dust off her clothes before removing the hood and letting her fluffy blond hair flow down to her back. "I guess it's a good thing I kept the hood on. Helps prevent the hair from getting dirty during this kind of work."

The girl made way to the doorway and poked her head in to see…darkness. Aside from some of the moonlight peeking in through the door, there was not a single thing in the room that was illuminated.

It was not exactly somewhere that a person would just normally walk into. However, night had already fallen and she needed a place to sleep. So, she steeled herself and walked in silently while groping at the walls in an attempt to find a light switch so she could find her way around.

After a few minutes, her hands eventually hit a switch that caused the light bulbs on the ceiling to light up. She looked around for a few minutes. It looked like an old repair workshop for various electronics. There was a small waiting area where customers could sit and a large area in the back where various electronics were stored. It was not the best type of space, but it would be a nice shelter from the elements for the night. One could not be picky in this world, after all.

So, the girl closed the door and locked it from inside since it was best for her to stay inside without any suspicious people coming in.

Making her way across the area, she came to a workshop table that had been cleared of any objects and lay her bag down onto the table and began to explore the space.

It was pretty normal for what she expected a repair workshop to look like. The closets had various repair materials such as wires, solder, and a soldering iron. She had found no stairs in the space, so it was likely that the collapsed upper floors she had seen were likely accessible only via an external staircase.

There also seemed to be a working mini fridge and kitchenette in a back room as well as a bathroom with a working shower. Whoever had owned this prior to the day it was abandoned must have practically lived in this building. They practically had all of the necessities in their work place. One could wonder why it was abandoned, however.

In the end, that did not really matter. The fact that it was abandoned meant that there was more for the girl to use. It was a perfect base for the time being. She closed the kitchenette area and made her way back to the workspace.

As she made her way around, she noticed an odd and large trapdoor that was sitting underneath a chair sitting at one of the workspace tables. "Hmm? Why is there…?"

She pushed the chair away before grabbing at the handle on the trapdoor.

"Heave…"

With that, she pulled. "HOOOOOOOOO!"

However, her attempt was to no avail. It seemed like the door would not even budge. It was likely locked. She let go and waved her hands to let the blood flow through her hands again and let the imprint from the handle of the door go away.

On second glance, however, there was an odd keyhole on the trapdoor. It had a design one would not typically find in a normal door…

"Ah!" The girl gasped as she remembered the key she had found not even thirty minutes ago. She pulled it out of her chest pocket. "Perhaps…" she pondered out loud as she put the key into the hole. It was unlikely that it would work. After all, she was just using some random key she just happened to find outside of the building.

Much to her surprise, however, the key turned seamlessly. She left the key in the hole and once again tried to pull the trapdoor up and succeeded effortlessly. The ease at which she opened the door actually annoyed her due to the effort she expended earlier to open it.

"A spiral staircase?" She asked as she saw what was in the trapdoor. Should I really go down…? I know there could be some supplies down there that could use but…

The girl had grown wary. I don't like this. She thought. She felt some kind of pressure coming from the area. It was something she definitely did not like. However, she had gone into situations where she felt ominous pressures from multiple times in the last month. There was no point in being afraid and shrinking back every time fear creeped up on her after all. Besides, this trapdoor was leading to some room where she would be sleeping over. She needed to make sure that nothing would come out while she used this workshop as a temporary base.

After coming to that conclusion, the girl hopped down onto the staircase and made her way to the end where she saw some sort of sliding door. She pulled the door open and turned on the light using a switch on the inside.

It was at that moment when she realized what the pressure was coming from.

There was a u-shaped table hugging the wall which was filled with various desktops and laptops all connected to odd cylindrical devices in the room. However, that was not the problem. The problem was what lay at the center of that room.

There looked like a single crack in the air. It was as if the air was completely distorting around that one area as something flowed both inwards and outwards. She walked around, keeping a set distance from the crack. However, she seemed to almost get drawn into it.

Slowly, the distance closed up and as if she was in a trance, the girl reached out to the crack in the air.

As soon as she made contact with it, a grand shockwave emanated from the crack pushing the girl back into the wall near the door. The girl felt the pain of the collision as the breath was knocked out of her lungs from behind.

As she struggled to regain her bearings, she saw the crack expand. "Wha-"

From that crack, she saw a slender hand burst out. It forced open the crack even further, creating what looked like a gaping hole in the fabric of space-time. "Ah. I finally did it. I finally was able to make it to the other side." A young and energetic voice emanated from the hole before a young lady with brown skin and silver hair walked out of the hole and stepped onto the floor in front of her.

Her ornate red choli, skirt, and sari along with her skin color seemed to indicate a certain part of the world where this person would likely come from. However the young girl's knowledge of the fashion of the world before the event seemed to escape her as she stood back up and stared into the eyes of the other figure.

"Alice Oakley, sixteen years old, I presume." The girl in red spoke in an playful manner. It was as if she had no need to confirm and she was only doing it as a formality.

"Yes…?" Alice replied in confusion, seeing as she had no idea who this stranger was or why she knew her name. She tried to think of various possible explanations as to why but no answer she came up with would match what the girl in red would say next.

"I am Kali. If you have not already guessed, I am what you humans call a god."


Last edited by Kira Kohaku on Sat Aug 27, 2016 4:29 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Because Kohaku forgot to italicize thoughts.)

Kira Kohaku
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Chapter 1-First Half

Post  Kira Kohaku on Wed Sep 07, 2016 12:56 am

Chapter 1

A Wish Moving the Gears


Act I:
"Let me get this straight. You're supposed to be a god." Alice said while raising her eyebrow. Plenty of odd happenings had taken place ever since that day one month ago but she could not get used to the fact that some girl from another country had walked through some weird portal and claimed to be a god.

"God, deity, Deva. Whatever word you use to describe it." The brown girl calling herself Kali spoke in a sing-song voice as she sat in a chair while facing Alice.

Alice pinched her nose and pulled another chair from the u-shaped table and sat facing Kali. "I just can't believe that." She sighed.

"But you saw me walk out of that superimposition!" She pointed to where the distortion in the room used to be while sporting a pout. "Is that not enough to believe what I say?"

"Not really. I can believe that you are not normal and the circumstances surrounding you are not normal but I'm not going to believe that you're a deity at your word!" Alice chided at the brown girl. There was a limit to how far she would push her suspension of disbelief.

"Aww…" Kali paused for a bit while letting out her whine. But in the next instant she stood up, punching her palms as if she was pumping herself up. "I got it!" In the next instant, her outfit completely changed from her traditional Indian garments to clothing identical to what Alice was wearing, down to even the last cut and tear. "How about that?" She proclaimed, folding her arms and puffing her chest out with pride.

Alice looked at Kali with an expression of shock as she examined the perfect replica of her own clothing that Kali was wearing. She had even walked over to Kali and started touching the new clothing. "AhahAHAHaha! Stop it! That tickles." Kali began to bend forward as she started to uncontrollably laugh due to being tickled. The feeling stopped soon after as Alice's hands were removed from the girl's clothes. "Dammit, Alice. That was cruel. Why'd you have to do that?"

"Well, I had to make sure that you weren't just using some sort of illusion."

"Beh. Why do you have to be such a cynical skeptic, Alice?"

"It comes with the territory. It's normal for a person to be cynical or even pessimistic after Comet Flash.”

"Ah, you mean that day one month ago when catastrophe struck both sides of the coin…"

"Yeah, that day when both sides of the coin…wait…" Alice's voice tapered off. "What do you mean by both sides of the coin?"

"Ah, right. I guess you humans would not know about the two sides of the world."

"You know, I'm not exactly in the mood for your cryptic talk. Answer the question, Kali. What do you mean about the two catastrophes?"

Kali gave a smug grin. "Oh? I thought you didn't believe me when I said I was a god. Yet here you are ready to eat up everything I might say to the point where you are actually demanding answers. My, my, your cynicism dropped quickly."

Alice found herself cringing at the moment that Kali called her out. "It's not like I'm dropping my skepticism. It's just that any information helps. It's my job to judge whether what I hear is accurate, in the end."

Kali chuckled. "So you're you're actually willing to listen to me? Are you also convinced about me being a god too?"

"Alright. I'm not fully convinced that you're a god but I am at least convinced that you are not a normal human being. So, I'm willing at least hear you out." She sighed. She did not like it. She felt like what she was doing was the equivalent of backpedaling. But in the end, Kali had some information about the incident that eliminated a vast majority of the human population that Alice did not want to lose the opportunity to gain.

"I'll live with that much." Kali sighed as she sat down. "Now, where to begin with this…?"

"Perhaps start with who you are, Kali. We can work our way to the catastrophe from there." Alice took her seat as she waited to listen to the self-proclaimed god's words.

"I guess that's as good a place as any. So, I'll start with this question." Kali raised a finger in front of her face. "How many pantheons do you think have been devised since the beginning of mankind's history?"

"What does this have to do with--"

"Just answer it, Alice." Kali had a stern expression as she prodded Alice for an answer.

"Fine." Alice sighed. "I guess as many pantheons as civilizations that have existed throughout history. The number is not something I can discern myself and I think historians would have probably undershot their numbers since there are likely civilizations or tribes which may have never properly marked their existence upon the world."

"I should have guessed you could not give a number. That specific number does not really matter in the end anyway. So let's get straight to the point. All of the pantheons that humans have devised throughout their history exist."

Alice once again raised her eyebrow. Kali had dropped a single bomb that would have made theologists either roar with anger, stare in utter shock, or squeal in a fit of total curiosity. "So you're saying that all of the gods and mythical figures people have created over the world's history exist…you do realize how ridiculous that sounds, right?"

Kali scratched her head and giggled. "I will admit, it would probably sound ridiculous to the average human. But let me clarify. All of these pantheons either have existed in reality or continue to exist in reality."

"That doesn't really help make it sound any less ridiculous."

"However, they do not exist alongside humans or within the same side of the world as you humans."

"Not only did you ignore me, but you also completely lost me."

"Was it really that confusing?"

"No, it was more along the lines of you explaining things from the middle."

"Damn, so even that was too far for a human to comprehend." Kali looked to Alice, making it completely obvious that she was stifling a chuckle.

"You're looking down on me, aren't you?!" Alice pointed while directing an angry glare at her conversation partner.

"I'm a god. It's in my nature." Kali let out the chuckle she could no longer hold down before calming down. "Besides, you were the one who said you would at least hear me out. Interrupting me like that is pretty rude."

"Ehh…" Alice twirled some hair from her bangs in embarrassment from being called out. She stared listlessly at her fingers with her hazel eyes. The girl had practically no communication with others for about a month due to focusing purely on living as a vagabond. As such, her social skills which she had developed in her daily life had shown signs of fizzling away. "Fine. I was being rude." She sighed.

However, before she could beckon Kali to continue her explanation, she could feel an uncomfortable feeling of hunger coming from her stomach. Rather reluctantly, she asked for a change of scenery. "Kali. Would you mind if we moved up to the ground floor? I haven't eaten in a while and there's some food in the mini-fridge I can prep relatively quickly."

"You humans and your need for food." Kali's expression returned to that of a childishly smug look of superiority. "I guess I can acquiesce for a bit."

Act II:

Alice blew at the steam coming from the cup of instant noodles she had taken from the mini-fridge and prepared. She dug a fork into the web of noodles and pulled out some noodles which she then put into her mouth. After chewing and swallowing, she gave a minor grunt of approval. "I guess it's not bad but I can't complain even if it is easily-prepared food for college kids with no time."

"This is quite the meager offering you have given me, Alice." Kali said before taking in the remaining instant noodles in her cup and drinking down the hot water broth. She put the cup down on the waiting area table in between them and leaned back onto the surprisingly fluffy couch. "Offerings should generally be more grand or at least more juicy and sweet. We, gods, generally tend to love our sweet foods."

"Live with it. This was what I found in the fridge and frankly, there's no way in hell that I'm taking the risk of going out when it's night to search for better food to appeal to your tastes." Alice dug her fork into the cup again and twirled it to catch as much of the solid contents as possible in one go. "The moment I decide to leave to search for food, I risk losing this place as a temporary shelter for the night and furthermore, I risk the possibility of being attacked by other survivors."

She picked up her fork and stuffed what she had tangled onto the fork into her mouth into her mouth before chewing, swallowing, and then averting her gaze downwards. "It's not fun. Running from shelter to shelter hoping to live to see another day is like a living nightmare. Even with the workshop completely locked up from within, I can't rest easy at all."

"Don't worry about it, Alice." Kali sighed. She was joking around but she realized she may have just ended up pushing Alice's buttons. "I'm not really going to ask you to go obtain better food. Gods really have no need for sustenance. If anything, eating is something we do more as a luxury."

"Even so, there's still the problem of having to--"

"Let's just forget about that then. You eat your noodles while I work on my explanation. Maybe that will take your mind off things for a bit." Kali sat back up and leaned forward towards Alice.

Alice sighed. "I guess so." She dug her fork back into her cup and awaited Kali.

"That's good." Kali gave a warm smile as she started to get ready to give some answers. "Let's start with the nature of the world, then. We all, gods and humans, live on the same world and at the same time, we live in different worlds. Think of it like two worlds superimposed onto the same location. However, neither world has the ability to directly interact with or intervene with the other. While you live on Earth, you never interacted directly with the world of the divine. However, it still existed in the same place. But it could never physically interact with it. Meanwhile, the world of the gods, which goes by many names like Heaven, Yomi, and Amaravati, acts the same way. It exists in the same location as your world but we could never directly interact with it."

Alice put down the cup as she finished the last of her noodles. "What do you mean, directly interact? So actions from neither side would affect the other world?"

"Not necessarily. What I mean is that we are unable to do something like punch a building and make it collapse."

"That seems oddly specific."

"It was just an example. My point is that we cannot simply take an action and have an effect on the other world be a direct result of it. However, due to the overlaying of the two worlds, actions in one can indirectly affect the other. Think of it like having two layers of water separated by a thin, impermeable and elastic film. If you punch the water, some of the effects of punching the water will rebound through the film and cause ripples on the other side. It's similar to that."

Alice thought for a bit while taking in everything Kali had said. "Can the same be done by humans? Moreover, can an effect cause chain reactions?"

"To an extent, yes. I mentioned how multiple pantheons of deities have existed over time before, right? Well, some have been wiped out. Over time, smaller pantheons have died out and their gods along with them. This usually coincides with the death or diminishment of a culture. For example, during the destruction of multiple native cultures and the permeation of Christianity in the Americas  during the Age of Exploration, multiple gods had died out due to the loss of faith. Similar effects have happened over time in conjunction with the opposite where actions taken by the gods have led to wavering or strengthening of their respective faiths while damages to the gods can result in natural disasters being brought down upon their followers. These kinds of events can have chain reactions that bounce back and forth."

Kali crossed her arms and took a breath as she watched Alice take everything in. Alice looked stunned. However, this was not because of what she was hearing. "You're not going to say what I think you're going to say, are you?"

The two calamities.

The two overlaid worlds.

The indirect effects placed on each other.

Given this, there was only one logical follow-up. There was only one thing Kali could be leading up to.

"I am. In summation, the apocalypse you refer to as Comet Flash, the piles of coincidences upon coincidences which ravaged the human race, are an aftereffect caused by the calamity that tore apart Amaravati."

Act III:

It was a clear night. Though light pollution ruined the possibility of seeing a starry night, Alice could still see some celestial bodies that were dotted erratically at the sky.

It seemed that even the blinding lights of the city could not counterbalance those stars' will to shine on the world below them.

Alice stood, leaning forward on the balcony railing, as she stared into the sky while tapping her fuzzy-slipper-covered feet on the floor of the balcony in rhythm. The breeze of the summer night brushed past her, causing her to shiver when it made contact with points of moisture that she had not properly dried off after her afternoon shower.

All seemed quiet in the area. Aside from the TV blaring in the background, there was only an occasional sound of cars running in the distance despite the large highway hugged by roads that stood only a block away.

After staring upwards for quite a bit, she looked down in front of her to peer at the three-way intersection hugging the park on the opposite side. The pathway, the tennis courts, and the baseball field were all devoid of people.

She picked her arms and chest off the balcony railing and walked back into the house through the open sliding door, kicked off her slippers, and lay on her bed, across from the television.

"The coma of the comet, C/2013 US10 Catalina, will be engulfing the Northern Hemisphere of the earth in 10 minutes, and is supposed to produce a large meteor shower. This was predicted to not happen until the end of October. However, due to an odd shift a few hours ago in the comet's orbital path, the comet will actually end up passing Earth three months early. It's quite the romantic little event, don't you think, Evan?"

The twenty-four hour news cycle led to a lot of banter like this. Even with everything that would happen around the world, twenty-four hour news would end up getting repetitive and the 'reporters' would end up going off-topic or talk amongst themselves.

"I would say it's a bit more mysterious than romantic, Ella. The majority of astrophysicists would tend to agree. After all, they are also baffled enough to actually try and find out what would cause such a drastic shift in the path of the comet."

The banter continued. Past a certain point, Alice had drowned out the sound. All she could sense was the sensation of her body on the large bed. Her brain was refusing to process the visual and auditory stimuli that emanated from the television in front of her, though. It was all the same. It was always the same.

But there were still 10 minutes left. A meteor shower was out of the ordinary, after all. Even if these kinds of anomalies were merely ephemeral, they were things she relished in.

Alice shut down the television as she shifted her body to lay on her front and pick up the phone that was laying nearby on her bed next to an open particle physics textbook behind the closed quantum mechanics textbook. As she held out the phone in front of her, extending her arms, she searched the name of the comet in her internet browser.

As per the normality of the internet, a wide variety of topics popped up. Some described the fact that not only had the orbital path changed but acceleration and velocity of the comet had also increased. Some were crazy conspiracy theories that some hidden organization had developed some dangerous technology that would allow them to control the movement of moving objects in space. Some even pointed at the fact that the comet was still very close to the planet,

"There are too many rumors." Alice sighed as she scrolled through the pages on their phone. "People really do go completely overboard at the first sight of an odd happening."

A mild smile grew onto her face as she finished saying this. Watching humanity in all of its wide array of traits from sane and rational to absurd and irrational was enjoyable. She loved it. She loved the quirkiness of humanity. It was probably what made her so easy to approach and what made it so easy to trust people.

Love breeds trust, trust breeds openness, and openness paves the way to see a wider world. It was that philosophy that allowed her to love all who she met. It was her philosophy to break out of her monotony and see more.

After allowing herself to get lost in her reaffirmation of her own philosophy, she got out of the bed and placed the phone in her pocket.

Just three more minutes. She thought as she made her way back onto the balcony with her slippers.  

As she walked back to where she was standing before, she heard a car coming by and stopping near the house in the garage driveway. She looked over to see two figures walking out of it and waved at them. "Mom, Dad! Stay where you are or you'll miss the meteor shower!"

There was an obvious sense of anticipation and elation coming from the girl's voice as she called out to her parents from the balcony on the second floor. "Actually, I think it has already started, Alice!" Her father had said as he pointed up at the sky behind Alice.

Alice turned back towards the sky and sure enough, the meteor shower had started. The night sky was littered with various streaks that quickly flew. So, she walked further inwards to the opposite corner of the wide balcony.

She stood, entranced, as she watched the streaks make their way across the sky. However, that trance was cut short by a bright spot in the distance that lay in the dome of the night sky. She could only assume that it was the nucleus of the comet that had passed by but it seemed as though it was still fairly close to the planet. But in that case…what was the streak she saw coming from a completely different direction?

If that tailed light off in the distance was the comet in the news, then where was the meteor shower coming from?

Questions like these began to arise in Alice's mind. However, she never had the time to try and find answers.

In an instant, the bright spot she was watching lit up. With that, a deafening sound roared and a grand pressure pushed into her. As windows broke all over the area due to the shockwave, and an obvious outcry of panic swept through the area, Alice just stood and continued to stare at the light. Due to her distance from the balcony door, none of the broken glass had come anywhere close to her.

But through all of the commotion, she continued to stare. Through all of the commotion, she widened her smile to a point where one would consider it almost demonic. Through all of the commotion, the adrenaline pumping through her blood was almost palpable.

The light then expanded. It expanded until it encompassed everything.

Alice began to wonder. Was this it? Was this the moment that would break her away from her monotonous life?

It was sublime. It was as if she was getting a chance to peek at the brightness of Heaven.

…or perhaps, it was…

"Divine Judgement," she uttered before the light swallowed everything completely whole.

Act IV:

Aftereffect.

Out of everything that Kali said, that one word frustrated Alice the most.

"Aftereffect…you mean everything that happened to us that day was merely an unintended consequence of something else entirely!?" A prickling feeling ran through Alice's body as she shouted that. She was livid. Despite that, a feeling of weariness took over her body. No matter how much, she wanted to grab Kali and hold her up by the neck of her clothes, Alice could not find the strength to do so. She could only find the strength to shout at the goddess. "Was there any point to what happened to us?!" She continued to shout as she grabbed at her jeans and clenched her fists tightly.

"As far as I know, there was none." Alice felt her grip on reality falling away again as she heard Kali's words. "Our world was destroyed and yours was damaged even further in the aftershocks." At this point, Alice had lost the strength to even shout.

"Then why the hell didn't you do anything, Kali?" Alice's voice was no longer even normal. It was as if she was trying to choke out the words as she poured out her feelings from her mouth while she cried. "Aren't you supposed to be a god? Why didn't you try to stop this from happening? Why did you allow people uninvolved with your damn world to lose so much?"

"Despite what people have been led to believe, we gods are not almighty. That sense of power we tend to have in the myths borne by humans are mainly exaggerations made by those few humans who are born with the ability to see into our realm."

"…" Alice stared at Kali while wiping away her tears.

"In the end, we were unable to even stop the calamity on our end and we don't even know what the cause was. When all was said and done, Amaravati was ravaged, many gods were killed, and the overlaying began to distort, creating multiple cracks in between the worlds, allowing gods like me to pass through."

"So you don't even know whether the calamity on your side of the world was intentional or an accident…"

"Essentially."

"Aaahh…dammit…" Alice stretched out her limbs before shifting her body to lay down on the couch face down. She crossed her arms and buried her head into her arms while attempting to wipe off her tears and calm herself down. "This just isn't fair…"

"You're right. It isn't fair." Kali said while she got up from the couch she was sitting on and moved away from the waiting area towards the workshop area. It was evident at this point that Alice was crying into her arms and Kali did not want to exacerbate her feelings much further. The best option was to leave her alone. "Even so, we still have to live with the unfair world we've been forced into."

The awkward silence permeated the room for over half an hour as Kali decided to try and switch into various different outfits seeing as wearing her traditional garments would look odd and wearing clothes identical to Alice's would look even more odd.

In the end, after switching between multiple clothes, she settled on a loose-fitting black t-shirt, blue jeans, and a white button-down sweater. She flapped her arms a bit and swing her upper body around as she broke into her new clothes. "This should be good enough." She muttered before sinking into one of the chairs in the workshop area.

"Hey, Kali." At some point, Alice seemed to have rolled over in the couch and was reaching her arm up to the lights on the ceiling. "Do you know how many of the other gods survived?"

"It's hard to say. Due to the catastrophe, we have lost any contact we have with each other and I was unable to find many that were not dead. Some lived, of course, but there are plenty who are unaccounted for. My guess is that some of them entered the tear in the overlay and came here." Kali said as she got up, crossed her arms, and walked back to the waiting area. "I'm surprised, though. You actually took everything I said at face value."

"It's still hard to believe but I can't say in full honesty that I can discredit everything you're saying no matter how much I want to." Alice sighed.

"That's fine." Kali sat back into the couch and looked at the girl lying on her back on the other couch. "Reality is the kind of thing that hits hard despite the fact that most people need to take time to let it all sink in. Plus, I guess it would be ridiculous of me to expect you to trust me immediately. I'm not going to force it."

"That's a relief." Alice said as she got up and stretched. "Well, it's starting to get late here so it would probably be a good idea to turn in for the night. We can figure out what our next step will be in the morning."

"That sounds like a good idea." Kali said as she watched Alice walk towards the bathroom area. However, that initial plan came to a huge halt as they heard the sound of frantic knocking coming from the door.

"HELP! SOMEBODY'S AFTER ME! LET ME--" It was the scream of a younger girl which was soon cut off by the sound of an explosion off in the distance. "AAAAAAAHH!"

After the sound of the explosion and the girl's scream, the frequency of the knocking increased as she began to sound more frantic. "LET ME IN! HURRY! PLEASE!"

Kali, hearing the scream immediately ran to the door and was just about to reach out and unlock the door. However, that came to a halt when Alice grabbed her wrist and stopped her hand. Kali looked towards Alice only to see her shaking her head.

"What are you stopping me for, Alice? We have to let her in before she gets hurt!"

Alice donned a stern expression before shaking her head.  

"What do you mean, no? We're talking about a little girl here? Are you actually going to callously deny her safety?!"

"Get a grip, Kali."

Kali just stood, stunned at Alice's indifference towards the girl crying for help.

"It's nothing more than bait. We're being baited into letting her in."

"WHAT DO YOU MEAN, BAITED?!" Kali was angry. It seemed Alice was being completely callous and had zero intention of letting the girl in. It annoyed her. It irritated her. Was this girl really that selfish?

"Think about it." Despite being shouted at, Alice remained in a state of complete calm. "This entire building is completely sealed off. Not even light can get in or out the moment I locked the door from inside. The only way one would ever even guess that someone is inside here is if they were watching this area since it was opened. In other words, she's acting. Plain and simple."

"Alice, there's--" Kali was about to point out all of the flaws with Alice's logic before the voice on the other side interrupted her.

"Tch. It was that easy for you to notice?" The girl on the other side of the door clicked her tongue.

"Huh?" Kali's jaw dropped at that moment.

"Somewhat. But it was still a bluff. You could have poked holes in my argument if you wanted to. Luckily for me, you admitted it yourself that you were pulling an act." Alice gave a smug smirk as she crossed her arms in front of the door. "As you can see we are not going to let you in."

However, at that moment, the characteristic loud noise of an explosion came from outside. As the noise quieted down, the voice began to speak. "Then, I'd like to let you know that I am fully capable of blowing that door down. If you don't want your shelter to take damage and be useless, I would suggest that you open the door now."

Act V:

"Do you really have only cup noodles?" A twelve-year old girl with twin-tailed red hair said while holding a conductor's baton and the cup in one hand and a fork in the other. She was wearing a black vest over a cream colored turtleneck as well as loose pants which were all oddly undamaged.

"Right? I asked the same thing earlier!" Kali bubbled up in response.

"Please don't, Kali." Alice planted her palm onto her face as she sighed. "Now is not the time to complain about that."

"No. The brown lady, Kali was it, is right." The young girl said before taking in another fork full of noodles. "You really should be more hospitable to your guests, blondie."

Alice could feel the unpleasant sensation of her top and bottom teeth grinding against each other as she listened to the young girl speak in a haughty manner. "You're not the one who should be complaining about hospitality. You're the one who barged in here so stop making a circus out of this."

"But, you willingly let me in here." The girl said with an innocent-looking smile that made Alice feel sick. "I didn't barge in."

"You threatened to blow this place up, idiot! KEY WORDS: YOU THREATENED US! So, stop complaining." Alice said while the girl took another final forkful of noodles and then put the cup down on the table. From the shifted expression on the girl's face, one could suggest that Alice's annoyance may be contagious.

"Urgh…fine, I'll give you my name then." She said while swinging the conductor's baton in her hand.  "Bridgette Tana."  

"And what are you after, Br--" Alice's question was cut short by Bridgette standing up, reaching over the table, and promptly smacking her head with the conductor's baton. "Ow. What was that for?!"

"Really, blondie? Do you not understand basic etiquette?" Bridgette sat back down in her seat and crossed her arms while waving the baton in her hand. "You're supposed to give your name to someone who introduces herself to you. Introduce yourself."

"You are absolutely insuff--"

"I'm Kali."

"…and now you're getting dragged into her pace." Alice sighed.

"You know we're not going to get anywhere if you don't at least introduce yourself. Why are you being so stubborn about this?"

ARE YOU SERIOUS! DO YOU REALLY THINK WE CAN TRUST SOME GIRL WHO THREATENED TO BLOW US UP A FEW MINUTES AGO WITH OUR NAMES?!  HELL, I CAN'T EVEN TRUST YOU YET, KALI!

Alice suppressed her urge to shout at Kali and pull her out of Bridgette's pace. "Fine. Alice Oakley."

"There? Was that so hard?" Bridgette asked with a smile so fake that Alice felt even more sick.

"It was irritating," the blonde muttered hoping Bridgette would take notice. Alice could feel the blood speeding through her body as she suppressed the urge to lash out.

"You really need to lighten up, Alice…Alli…Lisi?" Bridgette paused as she started throwing out random nicknames.

"Oi, does 'Alice' really need a nickname? It's only two sylla--"

"Aaaaagh, forget it. Thinking of a nickname is too much of a pain. I'll just keep with blondie."

"Aaaand we're back where we started…wonderful." Alice rubbed at her temples to loosen up before trying to communicate with the infuriating girl. "So, what is it that you want, Bridgette?"

"You really don't want to beat around the bush?"

"No."

"Haaaa…" The red-head closed her eyes, leaned back onto the couch, and sighed. "All right."

In the next moment, she opened her eyes. In that moment, the atmosphere around her changed. It was as if a mask had been replaced with an even flimsier one. A simple pressure threatened to break through as the girl spoke, putting a hand to her chest. "Miss Alice Oakley and Miss Kali, I am hereby evicting you from these premises. Feel free to take your belongings before you leave through the front door."

Alice felt a cold sweat dripping down the side of her head as the words left the girl's mouth. "You…what…?"

"She said she was kicking us out."

"I heard her the first time, Kali." She said before taking a deep breath. "Look, Bridgette. What makes you think that you can--"

"Did you already forget what I threatened you with?" Bridgette asked while taking her baton and pointing it towards Alice's forehead. "Combustion is something I can do wherever and whenever I want at this point. I could burn you to a crisp right now."

Kali raised an eyebrow at the sound of that while Alice let her retort start to fly. "That's just ridicu--"

Bridgette's eye twitched before she let off a huge sigh. She knew she was not getting across to this skeptical blonde without at least a simple demonstration. Without a single word, she grabbed one of the empty noodle cups sitting on the table and tossed it up gently. With that, she lifted the hand with her baton above her head. "Vulcan, Burn."

As soon as that simple command left her mouth, the falling cup instantly set ablaze and burned out, becoming nothing more than a few ashes that landed on the redhead's vibrant hair.
She looked towards the two girls only to see the blonde's chest vibrating slightly while her face was strained with a hand covering her mouth.

She was stifling a laugh. She was definitely stifling a laugh at the failed theatrics. Bridgette was so sure and focused on that that she failed to notice the brown girl giving her the reaction she wanted, staring in disbelief at the display.

While gritting her teeth, she wiped off the ash in one motion with her left hand and pointed the baton back at the laughing girl with the other. "Leave. If you haven't figured it out at this point, I hold the power in this room."

"…and now you're going to threaten us saying that you'll incinerate Kali and I if we don't comply?"

"Good. You do have enough of a brain."

"Getting told that by someone three years younger than me is not something I'm happy about."

"I frankly do not give a damn about what makes you happy." Bridgette tapped the tip the baton onto Alice's head. "You understand what I want and you are in no position to object so take your baggage and leave."

Alice looked to Kali who quickly nodded back before they both stood up. The two made their way back to the workshop area. As Alice reached out to the bag, she directed her hand towards the zipper. However, Kali grabbed her wrist and shook her head. Alice looked straight into Kali's eyes with a look of annoyance and then sighed.

She picked up her bag and turned around to see Bridgette continuing to point the conductor's baton. Without even a word, the two opened the door the the building and walked out before the sound of the door slamming behind them echoed through the barren, desolate streets of Manhattan.

Act VI:

Finding an empty building was never too hard. Alice had easily found one across the street. It was tattered and run down but it had a roof so it was sufficient for the time being. Though, Alice could not help but be unsatisfied at the fact that she had lost a perfectly good shelter to some brat. As she sat on the floor across from Kali, she opened up the back pack she was carrying and reached in to pull out a sheathed combat knife.

"You realized I had multiple knives in my bag, right?" Alice waved an unsheathed combat knife in her hand in front of her. "If you hadn't stopped me, I could have disarm--"

"Do you legitimately think that?" Kali stared at the blonde, giving off a hint of annoyance. "You're pushing the blame off onto me when I stopped you from rushing in and getting yourself killed."

"Maybe."

"Oi! Don't just avert your eyes and turn your head!"

"Alright, alright." Alice sighed at the goddess who was chastising her. "I get it. You're right."

She was fully aware that there were far too many uncertainties regarding the girl. The girl had caused, by some process, a combustion at the tip of her baton. Beyond that, Alice and Kali had zero knowledge of its limits. Was the baton necessary or was it simply used to avoid any problems cause by the action's degrees of freedom? Did the baton need to make contact or was that simply for theatrics? Would removing her baton disable her or only make her more volatile? Even the invocation she muttered before the action was up for questioning.

"Wait…isn't  Vulcan the name of--"

"Oh, so you did notice that. I thought you were too busy laughing at her."

"Just so you know, I'm not so easygoing that I'd immediately close my senses to laugh at a funny scene."

"If you're that attentive, then why did you provoke her?"

"Hey, when you've lived for a month running around the ruins of New York, you'll take whatever moments of humor you can get."

"In other words, you lost control of yourself and broke into laughter."

"When you put it that way, it makes me sound like I have zero self-control."

"I'm not going to comment on that."

"Oi, I'm supposed to be the one pulling the straight man routine here." Alice took a deep breath as Kali’s piercing glare bore into her gaze. "Alright, let's drop this. We have something else to focus on. Vulcan."

"That would be the name of the Greek and Roman god who governs fire, metalworking and the forge."

"That's what I thought, but you said the gods of extinct cultures also went extinct. Wouldn't the same hold true for the gods of Hellenistic faiths?"

"You can pin that on what you would call the Renaissance period. There was quite the revival of Hellenistic culture to the point where you don't even need to walk too far in Florence to see those kinds of artwork."

"Is that really enough to revive a pantheon?"

"I would not really call it a revival." Kali scratched her head and gave a quick pout. "It's more like it was never dead. It was just minimized--hidden in the dark behind the pantheons that rose to prominence and then revitalized when interest was directed towards it again."

"So it isn't necessarily worship that gives you life. Simple exposure is enough. As long as people even read the tales of those faiths even if it's purely for study."

"Exactly. Even gods like Zababa and Šulšagana exist purely due to the studies of historians and the fact that they were once worshipped. In a sense you could say Amaravati is an amalgamation of the reflections of human minds."

"So, that means even more obscure gods could exist…or…have existed…wait…does that mean that more of them will die out due to the world's population's dwindling?"

"It's hard to say. Amaravati is like what you would call a ghost town. It took me a long time just to find that overlay I came out of."

"Well, that doesn't really matter." Alice sighed as she rested her head on her palms. "Why did she invoke Vulcan? He certainly was not there the whole time. Was he waiting in a remote location?"

"No, he was likely there the whole time." Kali held up her hand and stuck out her index finger. "Most likely, he was using the baton as a medium and letting the girl command his power."

"Wait a minute. Isn't the very concept of using a god's powers supposed to be the epitome of blasphemy for any religious system?" Man could never surpass God was a cardinal rule of many religions, especially Christianity and Judaism. The very thought of being able to wield God was a disgusting prospect to many religions who revered Him.

"Hardly. There are plenty of tales of heroes being granted their strength from the gods. You could consider this a natural progression. In the end, the gods who descend from Amaravati are unable to use their powers on the human side of the world." Kali held her palm to face the side, towards a wall. She narrowed her eyes, while focusing towards the wall nearby. But, nothing happened. "As you can see, we're powerless on this side of the world without certain conditions."

She continued to wave her arm around as if trying to force something while keeping a firm pout on her face. “It’s such a paaaaaaaain. Being this powerless is soooo annooooying.”

“Some god you’re turning out to be.”

“Like I said, gods born in Amaravati are restricted when they enter the human side. There are two conditions in which we are able to use our abilities. The first is through a process of tuning where we resonate with a human who we allow to wield us. Though, the main problem with that is that we lose autonomous use of our powers. It’s annoying to say the least.” Kali sighed as she rested her elbows on her legs and supported her head with her hands. “The other is when we are in the effective range of a sacred ground.”

“A what?"

“Well, it’s what I referred to as an overlay earlier. Overlay and superimposition are the annoyingly sterile and technical terms, but we prefer the name, sacred ground. Doesn’t that sound much more romantic? It’s a location where a god’s blessings become more real.” Without even waiting for a response from Alice, she placed her palms together and spread her fingers out so that they never touched the opposite hand. “Think of my hands as the two worlds. Because of the proximity of the two worlds at my palms, I would be able to cross between sides at that location and would be able to use my divine powers to the fullest at my palms. But as I move further away on the human side, onto the fingers for example, the ‘distance’ would increase and I would lose my own hold on my divinity.”

“And become powerless.”

Kali raised her head and nodded.

“So, the effective range of the sacred ground in the basement was too small for you to take advantage of it on the ground floor…?”

Kali nodded again.

Alice felt her back muscles starting to relax as she let herself fall onto her back, releasing everything in her hands to her side as she lay with her arms sprawled out to the side. “So, what now?” As much as Kali had divulged, all that meant was that she now held an awareness of how the gods’ abilities can be used. But, in the grand scheme of things… “That really doesn’t matter, now that I think about it. You’re a goddess who can’t even use her powers. That’s it. It doesn’t change the fact that we were just tossed out of a good shelter by some brat.”

“It isn’t just the shelter that’s annoying you, is it?”

“Tch.” Kali was on point with her guess. If Kali was telling the truth, that shelter may have held more value than just as a simple luxury. There was something more that Alice had desperately needed. Luckily for her, she still held the key to everything, but there was no guarantee that anything she could seek would remain intact when Bridgette got bored of her luxurious new base. But now, there was no way for her to regain that lost opportunity.

“You could gain it all back, then.”  Kali picked herself off the ground and started to walk over to Alice.

“Huh?” Alice refused to let herself sit back up at the sound of such an egregious comment which stood in blatant contradiction to her mindset. Was Kali able to propose a method to reclaim that building? Alice had her doubts. Her only option at this point was to move on past the fact that she lost the shelter.

“I don’t just mean the shelter. Everything you have lost in the past month.” Alice found her ears perking up at the sound of those last words. It was something she hated to admit, but Kali had definitely caught her attention, if only slightly. “I can help you gain it all back.” She said before offering her hand to the girl lying listlessly on the ground.

Rather than taking Kali’s hand, Alice forced herself to sit up and look into Kali’s eyes. “How much…do you know about me…?” She asked while narrowing her eyes.

“I know enough about what you actually want that I can make you that offer. I know about your life for the past month. I also know about the fact that, two weeks ago, you were almost rap—“

“Alright. That’s enough. You know a creepy amount about my life.” Alice gave an exasperated before rubbing her hand on her head. “What’s your proposal?”

“Become an attuned with me.”

“I thought so.” Alice took Kali’s outstretched hand as the two pulled her up to her feet.

“Does tuning yourself with me sound so unappealing? I mean, a tuning is the only thing that can allow a normal human to fight against a god. ”

“It sounds shady. Really shady. Like I’m-about-to-get-possessed-shady. Well, if it wasn’t for that brat, I’d be standing in that view of complete paranoia now.”

Kali gave a short chuckle. “Well, I can’t blame you for that. But I can give you one final push.”

“And that is?”

She walked over to the combat knife that had fallen to the side and picked it up before walking back to in front of Alice and holding her knife out in front of her. “The aspects I govern as a goddess are blackness, destruction, and time. Make of that what you will.”

“Heh. Hahahahaha~” Alice crossed her arms beneath her chest as she gave out a hearty laugh. As her laugh finally subsided, she looked back to Kali and the knife with a heavy stare. “So, what do I have to do?”

Without a hint of hesitation, Kali took the knife into her left hand and slashed into her right palm. It was a shallow cut, but a red puddle began to ooze out of it. “We’ll use the knife as our tuning fork. All you need to do is cut your dominant hand, grab mine, and declare your heart’s desire. With that, the turning will be complete.”

With as little hesitation as Kali had shown, Alice took the handle with her left hand and ran the blade across her right palm. As she winced in pain, her hand moved forward and grabbed Kali’s. “I…”

Act VII:

“Vulcan, I’m tired.” Bridgette turned her body around to face into the couch while laying and curling her body on it. Her eyelids were half-closed as her head laid on someone’s lap and a gentle tanned hand stroked her now untied hair. “I’m tired of everything.” She let a deep sigh out as she let her eyes trail up slightly. “This freedom is tiring.”

The tall, tanned boy continued to look on as he stroked the hair of the redhead resting on the loose, baggy cargo pants covering his lap. His free hand straightened out the shoulder of his relatively tight, bland, bronze-colored t-shirt before moving to rub his short black hair.  On each wrist was a pair of silver-colored bracelets spaced a few inches from each other. “Well, you should have expected that. But, you really should not throw your power as an attuned around like that. Using it to kick two girls out into the cold was a bit much.”

“It was necessary. We can’t trust anyone.” She closed her eyes and clenched her small fists. After a few seconds, she relaxed her fists, opened her eyes, and pulled out her conductor’s baton. As she stared at it, she moved to rectify her statement. “No…you’re the only one I can trust, Vulcan. After all, I know you…and you know me.” Sure of what she said, she started to smile.

“So, you still can’t trust anyone else.” Vulcan spoke under his breath before sighing. “Do you really think those two would hurt us? Wouldn’t it have just been better if we simply asked to enter without trying some roundabout method like we did?”

“I don’t know. So, I just got rid of them.” She grabbed at the hand stroking her hair with her free hand and started to tighten her grip on it. That was all there was to it. “At least we have this. Though, I’m not sure what to do from here.”

“Then, just rest. You’ve done enough for now.” As he said that, he felt the hand clinging to his lighten and fall away. With that, his hand started moving across her hair once again.

“Yeah. I’m just going to—“

The sound of a knock on the other side of the now closed front door roared over Bridgette’s soft voice before she could finish. While Vulcan’s eyes darted to the door, Bridgette immediately got up off his lap and stood up to her feet, with her baton at the ready. “Vulcan.”

Without a word, he nodded. His form immediately burst into a cold flame that writhed and wriggled until it quickly jumped into Bridgette’s conductor’s baton, leaving no traces. After quickly swinging her baton to the right, she gave a quick nod before walking to the door. But, she never signaled her approach. Instead, she stood in absolute silence, waiting.

“Come on, li’l Bridge~ I know you’re theeeeere. At least have the decency to say ‘who is it’ when someone knocks on your door. It’s proper etiquette, after all.” Bridgette could feel her hand clenching more tightly on the baton while her teeth began to grind against each other. However, it was not even the voice of the mocking tone behind it that started it all. Her demeanor remained calm until that one word sounded off. Etiquette. That annoying, suffocating word.

Realizing that the voice was only trying to rile her up, she exhaled deeply before regaining a grip on her calm. “You don’t have to be so clingy, Blondie. You may have an attachment to your home but eviction is eviction. You don’t need to act like a pest that can’t be bothered to leave the home after being thrown out of the window.”

“That’s no way to greet a house guest, little girl. Did your parents not raise you up with better understanding of manners?” Bridgette was sure it was the unintentional side effect of being poked at by someone older, but Alice was managing to hit the right beats to make her grit her teeth even further.

“How about I burn you to cinders right now?” She placed the tip of the conductor’s baton against the door.

“Now, now. Do that…and I guarantee that you will lose your home and your life. I’m more than happy to take you down with me.”

Bridgette stood in silence for a bit. She was certain all Alice was doing was pulling a bluff. But even then, something in her mind was telling her that it was not a bluff. She pondered for a second before finally deciding to take the plunge. “I’m calling your—“

Don’t do that, Bridgette. Vulcan’s voice resounded throughout her head. There’s a likelihood that she is Kali’s Attuned. If that’s the case, then she definitely isn’t bluffing. In which case, we need to confirm Kali’s location. If you can’t figure a way, then act under the assumption that this is not a bluff.

Bridgette nodded. In the end, Alice held the discussion in the palm of her hands. Bridgette could try as much as she wanted, but if she could not confirm Kali’s location, she would be stuck in the same position no matter how much she pushed.

So, you can’t think of a feasible method, either, huh?

Bridgette confirmed Vulcan’s thoughts by shaking her head slightly, biting at her lips.

Then there’s no need to rack your brain over it. Let’s just open up and work out what we do while we act. Alright?

Bridgette nodded. At the very least, even if he was unable to provide solutions, his voice seemed to have a relaxing effect on Bridgette. Without a single hint of tension, she opened the door.

Before her was the very same girl she had kicked out, a blonde girl in a hoodie and jeans with a backpack strapped to her back. However, there were two differences. The first was that the girl calling herself Kali was missing. The second was the imposing figure of the combat knife in her right hand that was emitting an uncharacteristic black air from the edge of its blade.

So, she really did become Kali’s attuned. Vulcan’s voice once again echoed in Bridgette’s brain before she clutched at her baton even further.

Kira Kohaku
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Chapter 1-Second Half

Post  Kira Kohaku on Sat Sep 10, 2016 12:53 am

Act VIII:

Alice’s plan to draw Bridgette out of the building had gone off without a hitch. The shift from nothing going her way to things starting to move in her favor was a bit too startling for her tastes. Much like the frog sitting in a pot of water as it boils, she preferred to allow herself to get used to things that gradually build up.

“Now that you’re out of the building, come with me.” Alice beckoned towards the smaller girl with her free hand. “I’d rather not stand right in front of the building as we talk.” As Alice spoke, she moved until she was standing behind the center line of the road.

Bridgette took one step and paused. She then took another step and paused. This kept going on until she was only two feet away from Alice. From what Alice could gather, Bridgette seemed very reluctant to play along with her. She could understand why. From Bridgette’s perspective, she was taking far too risky a gamble with all of this. She could lose what she had just gained here and possibly more. On the other hand, Alice stood with the most to gain and the least to lose here.

“I’m sure you would rather me cut to the chase so I’ll simply give my demand. Allow us to return to that building. Of course, by us, I mean both I…” With her right hand, she simply held the knife with the tip down in front of her. A black essence continued to leak through the edge as if it were a wound and floated upwards. “And Kali here.”

“It really wasn’t a bluff.”

“It really wasn’t.” Alice said, confirming Bridgette’s suspicions with a smile. “And in contrast to Vulcan who you simply use to manipulate flames, Kali and I can wield something far more potent. In other words, it would be in your best interest to avoid confrontation. Because I would subjugate you in the end, just like if neither of us were attuned.”

Alice’s words dug deeper and deeper into Bridgette’s mind. That was something she could easily tell from her trembling free hand, her continually tightening grip on her baton, and the twitches of her facial muscles.

“NO!” With only that shout as a signal, the girl’s conductor’s baton flew straight to Alice’s face past the knife. Alice did not even have time to fully deflect the incoming attack fully. She pulled back her hand and knocked Bridgette’s away the best she could. However, the feeling of heat still passed by the side of her head.

An unpleasant smell wafted to her nose from behind her. Her nose felt like it wanted to shut the open nostrils in order to avoid the sulfuric smell permeating her vicinity. As her eyes turned to the right to see that part of her hair had been singed. It was only a few on the side, but it produced a pungent scent, nevertheless. She side-stepped to her left, all while keeping an eye on Bridgette and the effective area of her attack. The smell was far from pleasant, but she needed to endure it for now.

“You’re all the same. You’re just like those shitty adults.” Her sight of the area around Bridgette became visibly distorted. It was as if that small space was bending and twisting around Bridgette while the asphalt at her feet transitioned to liquid.

“Infrared radiation…?” Alice muttered, identifying what she was viewing. “Just how much heat is she producing?!”

“I try and hold even the tiniest bit of freedom and you come to take it away. I’M TIRED OF IT ALL!”

Is her ability to create and manipulate heat being amplified her anger?! This is bad, Alice!
Kali’s voice echoed in response to Bridgette’s tirade.

That’s a lot of anger. I’m not sure I can quell it all. I mean, she’s quite…expressive for a twelve year old.


Then, just subdue her. If we can’t quell it softly, then we just need to shut her down in one fell swoop. Just….

I won’t kill her, Kali.

Without waiting for Kali’s response, she charged in with her knife, leaving behind a black trail. The blonde who carried the power of a destroyer ran unabated by the terrifying sight of the young girl and without hesitation, swing her blade, pointing downwards the whole time and moving upwards.

But, that was far from enough. Without entertaining the thought of parrying, she jumped back five feet in one stroke. The blade missed, but the black trail extended from the tip of the blade, boring into the ground, and following through as her slice made a full arc. Alice could not tell how deep the thin crevasse was, but the black essence had cut at least eight feet deep.

I said not to kill, Alice!

Calm down, Kali! It was obvious she would dodge that attack!


“And you continue to be the same. The moment, I call you piece of shit adults out, you lash out like this at me! Just die.” As she spoke, she pointed her baton forward, parallel to the center line, planting her feet into the melting asphalt and letting out another heat wave like the one that burned Alice’s hair.

NO! This is—!

Before Kali could finish that thought, Alice immediately side-stepped a good five feet. In a flash, half a mile of road was vaporized down the center line.

This is bad. We can’t give her the chance to keep using that attack!

You don’t need to tell me twice. Alice once again charged down that road, closing the gap between her and Bridgette. As soon as Bridgette was in arm’s reach once again, she swung her blade again. Unlike before, the black trail did not spread out wildly. It stayed on the confines of that blade. Yet, Bridgette simply took a step back to dodge. With each swing Alice threw out, Bridgette took another single step back to dodge by a hair.

“And the worst part is that adults like you don’t even put their heart into it. Someone who survived for a month alone should not be doing things like swings this wide or slashing with the dull side of the knife.” Bridgette said with a smirk, continuing to dodge each of Alice’s slashes. “It makes it easy for me to do things like this without worry.”

She raised her baton above her head while continually dodging Alice’s attacks. All of the heat that was gathered around concentrated around the baton. With another jump, she moved back ten feet.

“So, just vanish.” She swung the baton down in a fierce arc. In that instant, a thunderous roar rang out as a great spherical inferno swirled and concentrated before the baton. Then, without warning, the a great light shot out from that sphere straight towards Alice. All Alice could do was reflexively point the blade of the knife in front of her before the light completely enveloped her.

But, at the moment the light enveloped Alice, it turned a pitch black, starting from the point of contact with her knife and spreading outwards until it encroached upon the entire scorching light. With a single flick of Alice’s hand, the entire now blackened light fragmented and scattered before disintegrating into that evening sky. All one could see on Alice’s face was the smile of someone who was watching everything dancing in the palm of her hand. Keeping that smile engraved onto her countenance, Alice charged towards Bridgette, brandishing her knife.

Bridgette immediately tried to pull back but found her feet unable to move. As she looked down, she saw her shoes covered entirely in now solid asphalt. Her body was no longer generating heat and the cold air had drained heat from the asphalt and solidified it. She could no longer escape like she had before. “Dammit! You plan—“

But, before she could even speak, Alice had closed the distance and started to thrust…and the sound of flesh being pierced echoed throughout that empty Manhattan street.

Act IX:

Alice could feel a searing sensation from her left shoulder as a warm liquid began to drip down it. As she looked to the knife, she could see exactly what had happened. It was a surreal sight. The knife had extended, bent around behind Bridgette and stabbed right into Alice’s left shoulder. At the same time, Bridgette’s baton was touching Alice’s knife at the handle.

“That was too close for comfort, blondie. Did you forget? Vulcan is also the god of metalworking and the forge.”

Alice began to wince in pain and grit her teeth as Bridgette continued to gloat about her victory.

“That means your knife is well within my capability to avoid, even if my feet can’t move.”

“Haa…” Alice breathed out as she struggled to ease in the searing pain and let her consciousness stabilize.

“You thought you had this whole thing going according to your plans, now look where you are now, you filth.”

“Heh. Somewhere there.”

“What…?” Bridgette’s eyes widened as soon as she realized exactly what was happening.

“Everything went according to what I expected. Even the fact that you would not have the guts to direct the blade to my heart.”

“N-No…Go aw—“

“So…just go to sleep, you unruly brat.” She pulled out the oddly shaped knife, cast it aside, and then grabbed at Alice’s head. Pulling her own head in, Alice slammed her forehead against Bridgette’s with all of her strength and all of Bridgette’s strength left her body as she slumped forward and fell against Alice’s chest.

Act X:

Alice was surprised at how quickly that knife wound had healed and how quickly the knife returned to normal. She was glad that she would be allowed to start doing what she wanted without too much delay. As such, she picked up the fallen baton, took the now unconscious red head, albeit without her shoes as they were stuck to the ground, and took them all inside. Once she had shut the door to the workshop, and put her backpack on the table and left Bridgette on the couch.

She then turned away and looked to her knife. “You can come out now, Kali.”

Almost as if on command, Kali suddenly appeared right behind her in an embrace, rubbing her cheek against Alice’s. “That was wonderful for a first tuning, Alice. It felt exquisite. Though, it could have done without the stabbing part. After all, I can’t regenerate your clothes.” She said, tapping on the sleeve of her hoodie with a bloodied hole in it.

“Kali…we have bigger issues to deal with.” She said as she put the combat knife into a sheath in her bag and attached the sheath to her belt. “How do we get Vulcan out of this baton?”

“Oh, that?” Kali jumped off before turning Alice’s head to face a specific corner of the room. “He’s over there. Probably ended the tuning shortly after little red fell into her little headbutt-induced slumber.”

Alice turned her head to where Kali had directed to and as she had said, there was a tall, tanned man standing in that corner, looking at them. She walked to the man who was behind the counter and spoke up while avoiding a focus on his well-defined muscles. “Since Bridgette is in no condition, let’s make a deal here.”

Rather than say anything, he simply nodded.

“In all honesty, the shelter was only a bonus. The real reason I wanted to return was this.” Alice pulled out the key she had kept with her and pointed to the trapdoor.

“So, that’s where the key to that door was.” Vulcan sighed before placing a palm on his head. “Bridgette and I figured the key to that was lost so we left that alone.”

“There’s a sacred ground underneath where Kali had emerged from. We want to do some investigation.”

After staring at the trapdoor for a bit, Vulcan gave a nod. “Fine. As long as you share any information you gain with the two of us, I’ll convince Bridgette to let us share this temporary shelter without any looming threat of violence.”

“That’s all we needed.” She moved to the trapdoor and reopened it with the key. “Let’s go, Kali.”

“Of course.” Kali said with a childish giggle. As the two walked back down the spiral staircase, the opened the door at the base of the steps to once again find the room with the computers.

“So, what do you think, Kali. Do you think you’d be able to reverse time by at least a month?”

Kali walked to the center and stood, contemplating for some time. “The quality of the sacred ground has decreased since I came through it, but it should still be enough to move a few years back in time. But there’s a problem.” Before she could let Alice get excited enough to demand that time be rewinded, Kali cut in with a caveat. “I can’t travel back past the right after the calamity. I don’t know what it is, but there is some sort of block preventing me from returning to earlier than the night of October 15th.”

“So….”

“My guess is that something about that event itself is preventing temporal movement across that point.”

“Well, I guess that option is off the table.” Alice sighed. She knew from the beginning that regaining everything she lost would not be that easy.

“I can provide you the option of traveling back to the start of the calamity’s aftermath if you wish. It would not be an ideal choice, but you can at least regain one month of lost time.”

Alice frowned. She had not considered a partial solution like the one Kali had proposed. While it was true she could regain that lost time, she did not like the idea of starting from any point after the calamity. In the end, she was a greedy human being. She wanted it all. For that, she could not settle for less.  

As Alice clenched her fists, unable to speak out her decision, Kali spoke up again. “Though, there probably is something you can investigate here.”

“The sacred ground is not normal, is it?” Given a chance to take her mind off the decision, she immediately took the opportunity to just stop thinking about it and go with Kali’s current lead.

“You caught on pretty quickly.” Kali turned back to Alice. “As you can guess, it’s unnatural for a sacred ground to form in a place like this. After all, this is nothing more than an underground computer room.”

Without even waiting for Kali to continue, Alice started opening drawers and pulling out files.

“Oh, so you’re going to investigate everything you can here?”

“I have had a month with no leads to anything. If there’s even the faintest hope that I can get something, I’ll gladly pursue it. After all, I have plenty of time to pursue a single wish.”

A Single Yearning:

“I will regain everything that was taken from me.”

Interlude I:

"Are you alright, boy?" A black-haired woman in an ornate red kimono and a fan in her hand sauntered towards the boy who had been thrown into the cavernous wall in front of her.


"An invisible force?" The woman placed a finger underneath her lower lip and stared up at the ceiling of stone with lights strung up all around above herself. "Perhaps crossing over at this sacred ground caused a pressure wave."


"You seem to be producing a lot of questions, boy." The boy seemed to be well enough to be on his feet so she stopped walking, standing only three feet away from the boy.


"Does my manner of speech truly perturb you so?"

...

"Archaic? Do forgive me. I am not too accustomed to speaking English but I will try to loosen my tone." The woman took a deep breath. "Let's see. Does this seem too formal to you? Am I being informal enough?"


She gave a short chuckle at the boy's words. "I will admit, I was being a bit passive-aggressive to you there, boy. But, I am glad that at least my current manner is satisfactory."


"---------? As insistent as you are about your name, I think I will stick with 'boy'. It fits an impudent child like you much better."


"Well, it is natural for me to look down on a child. While I may be a goddess, I am at least willing to speak like an equal with humans who show some level of maturity."

...

"Did you just call me delusional?"


"Listen here, boy. I am far from delusional. If you want me to prove what I'm saying just ask. Honestly, this is the reason why I call you an impudent child."


"That's better. I would be happy to prove it to you." The woman opened up the free hand in front of herself. In her hand, a small flame formed. The flame immediately dropped down to her palm before quickly spreading all over her body. Her kimono and her hair were set ablaze. Yet, anyone who looked at her would only see her entire figure unscathed with flames going around the border of her body and the ends of her hair in contact with the flames taking the color of heated metals.

It was as if the sun, personified, was standing in that cavern, beaming a warm light upon all its surroundings. "I am surprised though. I was afraid my abilities as a goddess would be drained on this plane but it seems this sacred ground is quite high quality."


"Oh? I was expecting awe but that is an interesting expression too." As if all that came before was an illusion, the flames flickered away, leaving nothing but the woman's unscathed figure. "Such a twisted smile. I would never expect to see that from one so young."


"It does. It looks like you found something you have been searching for a long time. What is that your will dictates you must do? Will you tell me?"


"Right. Right. I get it. I started to slip back into the other mannerism. Then I will ask the question again. What is it that you want to do?"


The goddess tilted her head. "Is that all? What you desire seems to be nothing more than a clean-up of the remainders. Given how much thirst you seems to have for it, I would be inclined to say that you were the one who led both worlds to destruction."


"Yes, I am well aware that it was not you." She sighed. "Is all you really want to do the equivalent of cleaning up that which failed to be destroyed? How unambitious..."


"AHAHAHAHAHAH~ Haaaa…" The goddess let out a laugh. It was not one of mockery of taunting but one of pure levity and joy. "Now, that is more interesting. It's not every day one tells a goddess that he wishes to kill her and usurp her….and for that reason!"

The goddess exhaled after enjoying her hearty laugh. "Forget about the fact that those who have declared that never end up coming out of it well. Do you even have a plan? Do you even think your desires are even possible? Isn't 'man cannot surpass the gods' a cardinal rule of reality?"


"I see. You have no idea. Even so, you've caught my interest."


The goddess quickly closed her fan and pointed it at the boy. "Walk by my side. I wish to see whether you will ever succeed. Will that black hole of a self that you are usurp me…or will you end up chasing after the stars forever and never grab any of them?"


She pulled her arm back and crossed her arms underneath her ample bosom. "There really is nothing large in it for me. But at the same time, I lose nothing either. In that time, I can do what I wish while I amusedly watch you try to usurp me."


"I would regret being unable to achieve my own ends…but that result, too, would be something interesting, would you not agree?"


"Excellent. I will enjoy having you at my side, ---------."


"I guess it would be unfair if I did not give you my own name."  The goddess stretched her hand out towards the boy. "Allow me to introduce myself. I am Amaterasu."

Kira Kohaku
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Chapter 2-First Part

Post  Kira Kohaku on Sun Sep 18, 2016 9:17 pm

Chapter 2

Paradoxical Greed

Act I:

“Aliiiiiice!” A hyper soprano echoed down throughout the stairwell and computer room. As the voice continued to resound, a set of fast footsteps made their way down the stairwell until they reached the entrance to the room.

“What is it, Kali?” As Alice turned back the swivel chair away from the computer she was facing to see Kali walking up to her.

“Whoa, Alice. You…don’t look like you’re well. Please tell me you got some sleep.” Alice’s face almost seemed to be losing its vitality. Dark circles were forming under her eyes and she seemed to be looking more akin to a ghost from a Japanese horror movie. The effect was only compounded by the glare of the computer screen in the back creating shadows all over her face.

“Haaaaah. What? Is it morning already?” Alice picked up her hand and covered her mouth as it opened up to let out a great yawn, while unconsciously closing an eye.

“So, you haven’t slept at all.” Kali sighed as she planted her palm onto her face. “At least you’re not drinking tons of coffee to keep awake.”

“Hell, no. Coffee is a spawn of the devil. You couldn’t even pay me to drink that disgustingly bitter mud water.” Alice put down the papers she held in her hand on the table as she began to flail her arms around in conjunction with her rant.

But, before Alice could continue her rant any further, Kali interrupted. “Alright. That’s it. I don’t care what sort of strides you made or leads you found.” She moved over to Alice and picked her up in both arms before she could even react. “You’re going to sleep. You can explain everything to us after you get some rest. Got it, Alice?” As if Alice were a princess, Kali carried her to the ground floor up a spiral staircase. Before Kali had even noticed and before Alice could muster up the energy to even say anything, it seemed Alice had already long since fallen fast asleep.

“Geez. Somebody sure is quick to dreamland. Sleep well, Alice.” She said, continuing until she emerged through the trapdoor.

Act II:

“Mmmm…” As Bridgette’s eyes forced themselves awake, the intensity of the overhead lights began to sting them, forcing them shut. She could not help but groan as her body shifted away while trying to suppress a faint, yet ever-present stinging pain in her head. At the same time, she felt the comfortable feeling on her back of what were likely couch cushions.

“You finally awake, sleepyhead?” A familiar, warm voice reached her ears as she felt a familiar hand stroking her hair. As she forced herself to open her eyes back up, she saw the welcoming sight of Vulcan stroking her hair while giving her a simple smile. “Does your head feel alright?”

She groped around her forehead and pressed, while looking at the lights in the ceiling. “Not…really…” Her voice seemed to be trailing off as the pain in her head slowly but surely faded. She turned her head back to face Vulcan once again, clenching her free hand into a fist. “We lost, didn’t we?”

Without dropping his smile, Vulcan spoke. “We did.” It was a simple, matter of fact statement. In this kind of situation, there truly was no point in skirting around reality. They had been the losers of their conflict with Alice. That was reality. “They also took the baton. Oh, and your shoes are stuck on the road.”

“…” Bridgette sat herself up slowly and breathed a deep sigh. They took her one weapon. That was to be expected, as it was what she used to threaten and attack them. Those who were labeled adults did not tend to like it when their stranglehold on authority was threatened. In the end, what Alice had done was identical. Of course, that meant that Bridgette had nothing to change her unfavorable position. “So, what happened after…well…” She rubbed at her head to signal Vulcan.

“We made a deal. All they really wanted was to investigate a sacred ground in the basement and use this as a temporary base while they did that. They ended up even promising to share information with us so long as we let them stay and do not attack them.”

Bridgette raised an eyebrow at Vulcan’s words. “But…that does not sound like the deal a winner would…”

“It seems like they have no intention to interfere with us. As long as we don’t try to harm them, they will leave us alone.”

Bridgette could still not help but find it uncomfortable. Even if it was reality, it was still odd to her. Alice and Kali, as the victors should have taken everything from her. That was how adults normally did things. That was how she normally did things. However…

“Speaking of those two…where did they go?”

“Ah, I think Kali went down to check up on Alice. She’s been down there since last night.”

Just as Vulcan spoke, he heard footsteps making their way up the spiral staircase. In only a few minutes a pair of figures poked up. Vulcan and Bridgette could only call it an odd sight: the sight of Kali carrying a sleeping Alice in her arms. “Ah, you’re awake!” Kali shouted upon the sight of Bridgette sitting up on the couch. “Out of the way, then! The little princess here needs her bed!

Act III:

It had been a good six hours since morning when Kali had kicked Bridgette off her couch to give Alice a place to finally sleep. Unfortunately for Bridgette, she was given a job that left her in a state of boredom: keep watch over Alice while the two gods kept a wandering watch outside the door. It was a restrictive job and at the very least, Vulcan seemed to be against giving it to her. Though, if one asked her, she would say that standing watch was just as boring. The population had been culled to the point where even an encounter of two other people like last night was something one would not even see on a daily basis.

As she thought about it, the very idea of the two standing guard was stupid. Without a sacred ground to act as an anchor to their divinity, they were just as powerless as Alice and she were on their own. In the end, it was all for some fragile illusion they crafted to hold some peace of mind.

Bridgette sighed before walking up to and peeking out of the open door. For a couple minutes, she watched to make sure that she could leave without being caught in the wandering eyes of the gods who were keeping watch. Without much effort, she snuck out of the building.

She just needed some place to be on her own.

Far from Kali’s or Alice’s eyes.

Even far from Vulcan’s eyes.

She could just stare at the sky and lose herself in thought that way.

Act IV:

“So, where did you let Bridgette run off to?” Alice walked up to Kali and Vulcan who were loitering near the entrance, while stretching and letting out a big yawn. She eyed the two gods who were looking back to her with confused expressions.

“We didn’t let her out?” Kali replied immediately while Vulcan just raised his eyebrows.

Alice sighed. She had definitely seen Bridgette stalking the door and walking out as soon as she had woken up. If the young girl had not been turned back into the building, then it was likely that she had snuck out. “Well, she didn’t come back into the building so…”

“If she snuck out, she likely went somewhere empty or open.” Vulcan interrupted. “It isn’t impossible for her to have found some way to sneak by me.”

Having one of the group split away from the rest of the group at any time was far from ideal. Considering that Alice still had Bridgette’s baton on her person, things could get dangerous for Bridgette quickly if she was not found. While it was unlikely that she would be attacked simply due to a lack of people, it was best to stay within a group at all times. “Kali, close up. Vulcan and I will split up to look for Bridgette.”  

With a nod of approval from the other two, Alice took a random path as she began to search. Ignoring what direction Vulcan could likely take, she decided to move northward. The nearest park was under ten blocks away. Considering her lack of shoes or the lack of ability to attain new ones, it was inevitable that Bridgette would pick Bryant Park as her destination. As she walked up the west side entrance, she passed by the scenery of empty benches and chairs surrounded by trees devoid of foliage. It was a glimpse of nature fitting of late Autumn. As she walked past the tables, she found herself standing in front of a large, rectangular patch of grass, which was the center of the park. Lying in the grass was…

“Found you.” Alice said, walking to that figure laying in the grass.

“What do you want? I came here to be alone.” Bridgette turned onto her side to face away from Alice, pointing the bottom of her dirt-stained socks towards the girl who was coming far too close.

“You’re quite a downer.” Alice tapped at her butt and knocked off some dust before sitting down cross-legged next to Bridgette.

“And you’re an idiot. Why are you going after someone who clearly has violent intent towards you?”

“Well, I did ask Kali to strip you of all weapons once when she checked up on me. I told her to be thorough.”

“So, that explains where all of that went.” Rather than staying in position, the girl turned to lie on her back while giving the biggest frown she could. “So, you’re not an idiot, but you’re here to try and manipulate me.”

“Geez, somebody’s quite the pessimist.”

“Shut up. You were the same yesterday. You have no right to judge me.”

“You really do think the worst of people.”

“I think the worst of adults like you.”

“You do realize I’m only a couple of years older than you.”

“That doesn’t discount you from being an adult.”

Alice let out a sigh. “What about Vulcan, then? By your logic, I’m pretty sure he counts as a—“

“He’s an older brother.” Bridgette’s face turned to Alice again, morphing from a frown into a straight scowl.

“So, you’re being arbitrary.” Alice frowned. “Typical brat.”

“So, you’re trying to sound smart with big words. Typical adult.” The two stared at each other for a full two minutes before Bridgette turned her head away with a defiant “hmph”. As Alice continued to look at the girl, she let her muscles relax before exhaling another sigh.

“I plan to recover the world of one month ago.” Seeing that the conversation had completely shut down, Alice decided to take a different approach. She was going to tell this to Bridgette anyway. Unbeknownst to Alice, Bridgette’s muscles began to tense up. “I will bring everything back to the way it was before the world ended.”

“Why would you want to do that?”

The two turned their faces to each other, scowling, signaling disgust at the other’s insinuations. Neither seemed to be happy with what the other said.

“I dislike monotony. It’s a terrible thing that grabs hold of you and never lets go. It’s empty and boring.” Alice let her scowl melt away into a more wistful gaze before continuing to speak. “All I ever wanted was to relish in aberrations and anomalies in my mundane life. When Comet Flash had happened, I had one thought in my mind. ‘Is this the moment I would finally break from my monotonous life?’”

Alice felt her hands clawing into the dirt in the ground beneath her palms. “Looking back, I want to punch myself for thinking that way.”

“If you want someone to punch you, you have a wonderful candidate lying next to you.” Bridgette could not help but give a smug grin as she said that.

“Don’t get ahead of yourself, brat.” Her eyes half-closed as she looked into her smug conversation partner’s eyes before returning them to normal. “Sure, there was an unpredictable first two weeks. Even if some bad things happened, I can’t say I did not relish in that unpredictable nature and the adrenaline rush it caused. But, it’s become mundane again.” If she was not continuing to talk, Alice was certain she would be gritting her teeth. “I guess living in the same world for too long really does bore me. Not being able to meet people for days on end bores me. And…”

She paused and picked up her right hand from the ground and curled it into a fist. “I hate this world. I hate having lost everything. Life may have been boring before Comet Flash, but at the very least, it was warm and I could say there were things that I loved back then.” She clenched her fist as familiar faces of lives snuffed without a trace flashed through her head. “I still had dreams that felt within my reach. I wanted to be a particle physicist at CERN’s LHC or Stanford’s Linear Accelerator.”  

All of that was now gone. Family and friends vanished in the blink of an eye. Society had crumbled with a whimper. There was nothing left for her in the future. The present was bleak. All she had left was the past. “So, I’ll return the world to its former state no matter what I have to do.” So, she would keep on chasing the past no matter how much time it took.

“What a joke.” Bridgette let out a snort. “You really think the past is worth chasing, you dumbass?” Alice detected a sense of bitterness from Bridgette as the word ‘past’ came out of her mouth.

“Yeah. Perhaps for the past few weeks I may have said otherwise. After all, it’s an impossible proposition.” No matter how much she denied it, the very concept of returning to her mundane, but warm past was something she considered to be an impossible prospect. “But now…” A twisted smile started to appear on her face. “I finally have a lead. It may actually be possible.”

In the end, a situation with zero hope was enough to bring a person to inaction and stagnation. If there was no chance of achieving something no matter how much one tried, it was easy to give up. It was probably the better option. But, once a person had even the slightest hint of hope, they were much harder to push down. If there was a chance that she could create a miracle, then she would be far more willing to push herself until she broke. That single glimmer was more than enough for her.

“Just give up on it.” Bridgette continued to scowl as she spoke up. “Returning to the past will only be pointless and painful.” She pushed herself up off the ground into a sitting position.

“Why would it? That world would be far better than th—“ Alice found her words interrupted by the feeling of her throat being slightly squeezed. Bridgette had forced herself onto her knees, stood up, and grabbed Alice’s clothes by the collar as she glared at her from high up.

“Do you realize what you’re saying?! The world would be far better for you. But what about other people?! Some of us like the lives we lead now far better than the lives we once lead? I finally have my own freedom!” Bridgette’s brow was furrowing as she shouted out to the older girl.

“That doesn’t matter.” Alice callously replied, pulling Bridgette’s hands off her collar while she stood up. “I told you. I would return this world no matter what I have to do.” With clarity in her eyes and voice, she made that simple declaration.

“You…you selfish monster.”

“Can you really blame me? You are the same, after all.”

“I’m not you. I have something I’m desperate not to lose. However, I also will do so no matter what it takes. Even if it means killing you in cold blood.” She reached for a pocket on her pants only to remember that it was completely empty.

“I assume you’re looking for this?” Alice waved Bridgette’s baton around in her right hand. “I made sure to have it taken from you after you lost consciousness.”

“Of course you had it…” Bridgette’s glare only became more intense. “What do you want? You’re holding my capability do defend myself hostage, so I assume there’s something you want.”

“Join me.”


“Huh?” The two words Alice let out were the last thing Bridgette had expected to hear.

“What? Is that so outlandish? I would think what I’m offering you is quite the bargain.” Alice scratched at her head with her free hand. “I mean, it’s not like I’m asking to take all the clothes off your back…”

“Why would you even want to have me around? I did try to kill you just yesterday. Moreover, why should I ever want to go with you?” Bridgette’s scowl began to take a shape more reminiscent of a pout.

“I have two reasons, honestly. One, I want some company. It’s going to take a long time for me to put my lead to use so I just want someone aside from Kali to bother me in the meantime.” Alice said with a big, goofy grin on her face. “The second is simple. Firepower. I’m frankly new to being attuned. So, having someone with a bit more experience would be a great asset. Plus, traveling in bands would be helpful and I’d get a wider variety of options to work with.”

Bridgette stared at her baton for a few minutes before turning around and sighing. “Well, that has nothing do with me. Even if you’re holding my medium for tuning, I can just reforge the contract with a new one.” She started walking away, giving a curt wave without turning back. “So, find someone else for your trip. I have no reason to care about it.”

Alice’s smile took a more twisted form. It was not the smile of someone who was enjoying light fun but the smile of someone who was certain of her checkmate. “Oh, you do have some interest staked in this.” Bridgette’s feet ground to a halt. “After all, I said I had a lead. That was not meant to be a bluff.”

“You can’t be saying…” Bridgette turned around to face Alice with the same glare.

“There is a chance that you will lose everything you have gained for my own selfish little game. After all, that freedom you seem to relish was likely something you didn’t have before the world went straight to Hell.” She dangled and waved the conductor’s baton. “If you come with me, there’s a chance you could change my mind or even sabotage my operations. Hell, if you are able to bring enough aberration to my life, I may even get conflicted enough about returning that I give up. Before you met me, there was no chance that the world would return but now, it exists. Right now, I am someone you have to stop. After all, you were the one who said you would do whatever it takes to protect that.”

“…” Bridgette remained completely silent. All she could do was grit her teeth as Alice pushed her into checkmate.

“So, Bridgette. What will it be?”

Kira Kohaku
Level 4 Diagnosis Touch

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Re: Project Deva (tentative) - Kohaku's (Current) Opus

Post  Kira Kohaku on Thu Oct 20, 2016 5:53 am

Act V:

“So, why does she look so annoyed?” Kali raised her eyebrows, while her eyes focused on the two girls sitting on the couch. Alice was stretching her back against the back of the couch while extending her legs and leaving her arms on the top of the couch. Her head leaned slightly backwards as her eyes focused on Kali’s forehead. In contrast, Bridgette sat leaning forward with her head down, her elbows on her knees, and her head in her palms. Her eyes were downcast as she wore a very blatant frown.

Alice shifted her eyes from Kali to gaze on Bridgette for a second before readjusting her body so that she was sitting more straight. “Well…” She picked her arms off the couch and started to poke her index finger’s together in front of her face while forcing her eyes to look in Kali’s general direction though not into Kali’s eyes. “I may have manipulated her into joining us…”

“Huh…?” Kali let an utterance slip as she stared dumbfounded. She could not help but stay silent as she forced her mind to scramble through and comprehend what she had just heard. She pressed at the bridge of her nose, closed her eyes and held her free hand out in front of her. “Wait a minute.”

“I’m waiting.”

In response to Alice’s snarky reply, she sighed and let her arms down before looking Alice in the eye. “You manipulated her into joining us…”

“Pretty much.”

“And you don’t feel guilty in the slightest?!”

Alice’s eyes darted off from Kali’s forehead and down to the floor. She lifted her back off the couch and slouched forward, resting her head on her left arm and stared at her open right hand. “Kali…do you honestly think I don’t feel guilt?”

“Then why did you do it?” She asked, crossing her arms. “This is…an aberrant action on your part. It’s not something I’d expect from you.”

“Perhaps you don’t know me as well as you thought you did. People aren’t so simple that they follow a set pattern, no matter how many parameters and loops you consider. But…” The girl clenched her fist and looked up to Kali. Her eyes held an almost refined clarity to them as she stared into Kali’s. “You should be well aware of what I want. That wish is something I’m ready to throw everything away for and take any action for…even manipulating a twelve-year old girl so I can realize it.”

“You do realize what you’re saying, right?" Kali looked into Alice’s eyes, refusing to budge even an inch. “If you keep walking with that single-minded resolve, you’re going to end up committing sin after sin and you’ll be forced to bear all of that on your own. Even if you can share that burden with me, the cross will be yours to bear no matter what, weighing on your mind until the very end. Even if you end up achieving what you want, you’ll end up a broken shell of your former self as you try and live in the world you’ve reclaimed. Do you really think—”

“I’ll bear all of that on my own. I have to.” Much like Kali, Alice refused to budge.

“That stubbornness will eventually destroy you in the process.”

“I’ll make sure it doesn’t.”

“Your sins and the sins you would imprint on the world in the process will distort the wish you’re chasing after.”

“I’m not going to let that happen, either.” The two stared at each other while neither would let themselves budge.

Kali sighed before pulling over a plastic chair and taking a seat. She rested her elbow on the chair’s armrest and placed her cheek firmly onto her palm. The look in her eyes had gone from one of a mother trying to be firm to that of an annoyed and disappointed parent. “You’re not going to back down on this at all, are you?”

“Absolutely not.”

“Alice…” Kali sighed again. Her frustration with Alice could not be let out in just a single sigh in the end. “Fine. I did all I could to warn you. If you’re that dead set on this, I’m not going to keep trying to stop you. I should have figured you’d be this stubborn and hard-headed about this.”

Satisfied that Kali had finally decided to back down, Alice relaxed her muscles as she stopped slouching and sat straight up. “That’s my resolve and determination, Kali.”  Alice began to give a light smile. “I would not have tuned with you otherwise.”

“Even so…”

“…” Alice’s smile was quickly replaced with a frown.

“Well, it’s not like I’m going to abandon you. I’ll keep on sticking with you, Alice. That’s why I’m going to warn you one last time.” A firm light began to shine in Kali’s eyes once again. “Resolve is not something inherently positive. You can have all the resolve in the world and it can still net you nothing. Perhaps your resolve may even crush you. Perhaps it will distort itself and the world around it until it breaks the very wish you sought to realize. I’ve lived long enough to see it happen to many people who weren’t prepared for the consequences of their own resolve. Being resolute doesn’t give someone the ideal ending they desire. It’s the same among humans and gods. It’s one of the imperfections sentience brings. I just want you to be aware. If you’re not going to back down, at least be fully aware of what will likely happen.”

Alice’s throat produced an involuntary gulp as she heard the god’s words. She could feel her muscles tense once again. She could only wonder whether this cycling back between stress and relaxation at such a high frequency was detrimental to her mental health. “R-right.” She gave a shaky nod. “Kali…why are you so intent on warning me like this?”

“Well, I want to stay with you as long as possible. In the end, you caught my interest.” Kali crossed her legs and continued without even waiting for Alice’s inevitable confused interjection. “We’re kindred spirits, after all. As for how…I’ll let you figure that out.” Kali let out a grin so smug that Alice could have sworn that Kali would knock her head with her fist lightly, stick out her tongue, and finish it all off with a ‘tehepero~’. “Well, in the end, I just want you to keep my interest. That’s really all there is to it.”

“Because you’re bored?”

“So you figured that much out from me telling you that we’re kindred spirits. But now…that’s not the only reason.” Her smile loosened as any hint of smugness faded away. “I sort of want to see you break the pattern.”

“What pattern?”

“Come on, Alice. Were you even listening to me?” Kali tapped twice at her ear with the tip of one of her index fingers. “Resoluteness. Will that actually net you what you want? I can’t wait to see that happen. But, then that would take all the fun out of the anticipation.” She said with an almost childish giggle.

“Heh. Is that meant to be a challenge?”

“What do you think? Do you want to accept this fickle goddess’s challenge?”

The two stared each other down once again as the goddess presented her challenge to the girl before her. With a cocky smirk, the girl made her declaration. “Of course.”

The two continued to stare even after the girl’s declaration for a good two minutes before the two started to feel their diaphragms lose control.

“AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA~”

The two broke into almost uncontrollable, yet light laughter simultaneously for about a minute before calming down and taking a deep breath. It was as if all of the tension that had sprung up between the two in the past few minutes had just melted away.

“You knew I’d accept that challenge in a heartbeat didn’t you, Kali?”

“Of course. If your stubbornness was the real thing, there was no way you wouldn’t have.”  Kali winked as she spoke. “But, that being said…”

“…?”

Kali’s face began to take on the face of a panicked girl realizing that it was inevitable for some blunder to be found out. “What are we supposed to do now…Vulcan’s going to find out you manipulated Bridgette for your own gain. I mean, just look at her. He’s going to realize something is wrong the moment he looks at her face.”

The girl and the goddess turned to the side to see Bridgette sitting in another couch. At some point during their argument, Bridgette moved away, undetected, to brood in her own corner.

Alice scratched her hair for a few seconds. “I’ll just be honest about it. There’s really no point in lying. After all, the two of them are at our mercy.”

“Alice. Please don’t get high on the power dynamics here. That kind of thing can shift at any moment so relying on them will lead to everything collapsing beneath your feet.”

“I know, but I think we’re overblowing it here. I say manipulation but that was mainly because I led her to deduce that staying with me was in her best interest based on bits and pieces I picked up about her when we talked.”

“That sounds like textbook manipulation to me.”

“The point is that she’s doing this of her own will.”

“Because you lead her to that conclusion.” At this point, Kali was not even yelling. Her tone had reached the level of deadpan.

“You’re not going to let go of this, are you?”

“Just because you have a higher position in the power dynamics it does not also mean you should just start acting and taking that for granted. Regardless of that, Vulcan is going to be pissed off, fractures are going to form, and we may inevitably end up getting burned because you were two careless.”

“Actually…” The voice that responded to Kali’s did not come from Alice. The girl and the goddess both turned their heads to look at the twin-tailed girl who had been brooding in her own chair. It was clear that the voice had come from her. “This could work.”

The two girls continued to watch in confusion as Bridgette’s shoulders began to move up and down in rhythm as she folded her arms and clutched at her chest. Was she…laughing?

“Great, Alice. I think you broke her.” Kali said with a complete deadpan.

“No. I’m not broken. Far from it, actually.” She looked up to the two girls. Her face gave off the smile of person who had realized an obvious solution to a problem before them. It was simple smile that barely showed even part of her teeth. She faced Alice. “I’ll drag you down from your high horse, blondie. If you’re going to restrict me, then I’ll just smash you into the ground as soon as I can. So, watch out.”

Facing the younger girl’s declaration, Alice reflected the smile she was given back to the girl. “That’s fine by me.”

“At this point, I think that’s the best I can hope for, isn’t it?” Kali asked, facing Alice. “Though, I guess this is fine in its own way.”

“There are worse places this relationship between us could be. Let’s just be glad with what we have. Besides, I’d rather not keep a hold on this topic. I still haven’t gotten a chance to inform everyone of what I was able to uncover.”

“Well, we can’t do that without Vulcan here. I’d rather not have any information be passed to him second hand. I don’t think I’d be reliable enough to pass information to him.” Bridgette replied, cutting of any chance of Alice shifting the discussion before Vulcan returned.

The three girls stared at each other for a minute and sighed. “Seriously, where the hell did—“ Alice was immediately interrupted by the sound of the door opening from her side.

“Bridgette! So Alice did find you!” Vulcan ran over from his position in the doorway, letting it close behind him, to Bridgette before taking a knee in front of her.

“Heh. Speak of the devil.” Kali chuckled.

“Are you alright? You’re not hurt, right?” Much like a protective parent, Vulcan’s hands flew all over Bridgette’s body as he checked for spots where she may have been in pain.

“Vulcan…didn’t we agree that you wouldn’t act like a doting parent with me?” At Bridgette’s stern retort, the god stood back up and let his hands recoil.

“Right, I did promise that.”

“Thanks.” The girl gave a soft smile as Vulcan let his hands hang down. “And I’m alright. Thanks for the concern.”

“I’m glad to hear it.” Almost unconsciously, he rested one of his hands on her hair and began to ruffle it around. Much to Alice’s and Kali’s surprise, the red-head did not make a fuss about it at all.

With a single loud clap, Alice stood up from her seat. “Now that we’re all here, I can finally disclose all of the information I have, so listen up.” As everyone looked towards her, she gave off a quick nod to acknowledge that everyone else was paying attention. She moved to the back behind the counter and pulled a whiteboard and a band before leaving it set up, in everyone’s view.

“So…” Alice crossed her arms as her eyes drifted off to the corner for a second. “I guess it’s best to start at the end. So…how do I put this properly…would you believe that physicists and engineers were doing bona fide scientific research on sacred grounds?”

Kali, Bridgette, and Vulcan stared in silence for a few seconds before Bridgette finally spoke up. “No, but given the fact you brought it up…”

“Well, somebody’s being a little savvy.” Alice frowned. She definitely did not like the fact that her thunder was stolen. “But yeah. It seems like sacred grounds were actually quantified some time last year. Though, it wasn’t due to one suddenly popping up. It came about due to induction.” Alice picked up a dry-erase marker sitting on the whiteboard and started drawing a spiral shape. “Much like how an electric current can induce a magnetic field, physicists at Stanford happened upon the induction of an odd phenomenon which we denote as an artificial sacred ground. Though, the scientists erroneously called it a parallel world convergence fields.”

“But, wouldn’t that kind of research draw in tons of attention?” Kali proposed.

“You would think so, but it wasn’t so convenient like that. What the scientists detected at first were various phenomena associated with sacred grounds. Things like increased luck. Of course, scientists normally don’t even bat an eye at those kinds of things and wrote it off at first. As time passed, the scientists were able to find parameters they could measure and even found ways to transfer these convergence fields using the internet. That’s what the facility here was used to experiment in. However, these were new discoveries. It would take time to publish results especially due to a lack of prior research in the field. Not to mention that the entire process of publishing results in general is a slow process…” Alice found herself starting to frown as she remembered the sobering realization of how slow scientific research actually was.

“Still, it seems like this was only a subsidiary facility so a majority of the research data is still missing. There were too many gaps in the dates on the data files and conclusions for which evidence was missing. There was apparently even a period where the amount of information spiked but there are too many missing points. It was likely that majority of the important data was consolidated to the main facility in Stanford to keep leaks from happening with findings only being shared here on a need-to-know basis.”

“In other words…” Vulcan interjected since it looked like Alice would only be going on about how little data that she had access to. “You want to head to Stanford in order to get your hands on this data.”

Kali nodded before slamming her palm onto the blackboard. “We’re heading westward, to the center of the sacred ground induction research: the Stanford Linear Accelerator.”

Kira Kohaku
Level 4 Diagnosis Touch

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