Sunday, July 21, 2013

Insert Reincartnated Evil Here

Production at any price
Admiration of those who earn
With blood on their hands
We will never learn
A gift of today's world
Heroes to us!
-Kalmah, Heroes To Us


Soma Cruz panted for air as he leaned against the doorway, staring up at the malicious blood red moon in the dark night sky. Bats flitted back and forth through the air, sending flickering shadows across Soma's face. The moon seemed so close Soma half believed he could reach out and touch it. Turning his gaze away from the moon, he stared up the crumbling stone staircase that led up to the throne room of Dracula's castle. The throne room itself was located in a high tower that stood separate from the rest of the castle. A long set of stairs reached from the castles top floor, over a grassy, statue filled courtyard several hundred feet below to the spire where the throne room lay. The stairs had most likely been ivory once, but centuries of wear and weathering had turned them an aged yellow color.

Soma sucked in a deep gulp of air and straightened up. He had fought his way through the castle for hours, cutting down hordes of demons that stood in his path. His long white overcoat was covered with dust and stained with blood of various hues, some of it his, most of it his enemies. It hadn't been easy, but he'd finally reached the top floor of the castle. All he had to do now was defeat the insane missionary Grahmn and he, Mina and everyone else trapped in the castle could go home. Rested, Soma adjusted the oversized Claimh Solais sword on his back and started up the staircase, his eyes fixed on the door at the top.

Before he was even half-way up the stairs though, there was a bright flash of rainbow-colored energy right in front of his face. Startled, Soma stumbled and nearly fell backwards down the staircase. By the time he'd recovered and blinked the stars from his eyes, the light was gone and there was a boy his age dressed in a blue tunic and holding a large red book in one hand standing a few stairs above him, looking around almost appraisingly. When he noticed Soma he blinked, as if just now seeing him.

"Oh, hey." He said casually. "What's up?"

Soma blinked, unsure what to think of this nonchalant newcomer. "Who're you?" He asked suspiciously, his had creeping towards Claimh Solais' handle.

"Who? Me?" The stranger grinned, looking up from the open book he was now flipping through. "I'm Matthew. Matthew Slaymaker. Hey, could you do me a favor and hold still for a minute?"

Before Soma could respond, the stranger slammed the open book into his chest, knocking Soma backwards and sending him tumbling down the stairs, knocking crumbling bits of stone off to plummet to the ground far below as he fell. Soma groaned in pain as he came to rest at the bottom of the staircase and got slowly to his feet. His white overcoat had gained a fresh layer (oayer) of dust, and his newly collected array of bruises were doing their best to impede his progress.

Matthew sauntered down the stairs slowly, his eyes fixed on The Book of Prophecy, doodling in it with a quill pen. "Very interesting..." He said slowly. "The Power of Dominance, is it?"

Gritting his teeth against the bruises, Soma charged back up the stairs, Claimh Solais drawn and ready to strike.

"And what's this called?" Matthew asked, still not looking up. "The Claim Soles?" He flicked his wrist and instantly an identical twin to the diamond sword in Soma's hand appeared in his.

Soma's eyes widened with shock as sparks flew when the two sparkling blades met in mid-swing and gasped in pain as Matthew sent him tumbling back down the stairs with a shove.

This time Soma managed to halt his fall before he reached the bottom of the stairs. Tears of pain were gathering in the corner of his eyes as he stood. His bruises were screaming at him, but he still had plenty of fight left in him.

"Legion!" he barked, raising a hand and three tentacle-like appendages sprouted from his back, each firing a beam of blue energy at Matthew.

Matthew didn't even blink. "Chronomage," he responded smugly, waving his wrist lazily.

Instantly, the color spectrum inverted and time stood still. Frozen in place, Soma could only watch in horror as Matthew strolled towards him, twirling his version of Claimh Solais, the sparkling diamond blade reflecting the light of the red full moon evilly.

What's going on? Soma throught desperately. There was only one Chronomage in the castle and I absorbed its soul! I thought I was the only one with The Power of Dominance! Just who is this guy?

Matthew stopped not two feet in front of Soma and shrugged apologetically. "Sorry," he said, pulling back with the Claimh Solais like a baseball bat. "But I can't have you getting in the way around here. Fore!"

With that he swung Claimh Solais as hard as he could. Soma screamed and blood sprayed from his body as he died and Lily let out an outraged gasp sighed as the "Game Over" screen showed it's mocking face once again. She shot to her feet and stalked out of her room, DS still in her hands.


Lily had gained a reputation as quite a gamer over the past few weeks, something that had come by quite by accident.

Two weeks ago she stood in the one of the Library's many training room, staring dejectedly at a training dummy several feet away, covered in rips and scorch marks inflicted on it by her Pin's Psychs. She had started this training regimin in the hopes that it would prepare her for her next conflict with Matthew Slaymaker. She had even attatched a dummy 'Book' to the dummies hand and spent several hours practicing shooting the book out of the dummies hand. But it was one thing to shoot at an immobile target and yet another to hit one that was constantly in motion, and she doubted she'd be able to convince Matthew to stand still and let her hit him for anything.

She sighing, she decided to take a break and go find Charis and Karissa. Normally, she would have sought Ben out for companionship first, but Ben was still trapped on cleaning duty as punishment for his recent rampage in Metalocalypse.

Hey, Charis," Lily said, opening the door to her lab. "What's-AAH!" Lily ducked just in time to avoid a miniature missile that screeched over her head to impact on the wall behind her, creating a small crater.

"Forward, men!" General Idea shouted from atop a filing cabinet upon which several mortars and rocket launchers were being manned. "We must crush the communist spies once and for all if we are to acheive victory in this war!"

"JARED!" Charis screamed from where she was hiding behind her overturned desk. "Get these things away from me!" The desk was covered in burns and scorch marks from where several advancing toy tanks had fired on it.

Just then, the LPGB's unmanned Predator drone whined into the room, fully armed and making a beeline for the desk Charis was taking shelter behind. Without hesitation, Lily raised her hand and was preparing to shoot the drone out of the sky with Excalibur, when it suddenly veered off-course and crashed into the wall as the rest of the LPGB collapsed where they stood.

A second later, a harried-looking Jared scurried into the room and hurriedly started scooping up handfulls of deactivated army men.

"You idiot!" Charis raged, standing up from behind her overturned desk in order to better berate Jared.

"Sorry, sorry!" Jared winced, scuttling around the room, avoiding eye contact with his fellow techie.

"That's the third time this week!" Charis shouted, turning her desk right side up. "If this happens again, I'm going to melt all of them down and force-feed you the result!"

Jared was bending over and trying to pick up the Predator drone without dropping any of his soldiers. He wasn't having much luck.

Charis sighed and turned to Lily once Jared had retreated back to the safety of his own lab. "Sorry about that." She winced. "Did you need something?"

Lily shrugged. "I was just wondering if you were free and wanted to hang out."

"Oh, I would trust me," Charis said, bending over to pick up the objects that had been knocked off the desk when it tipped over. "But I was working on a project even before I was engaged by the idiot brigade." She straightened up and looked around her trashed lab. "Despite everything they managed to mess up, it doesn't look like they really broke anything, so I should be able to salvage almost everything. So, no, sorry." She gave Lily an apologetic grin.

"Oh, well do you know where Karissa is, then?"

Charis shook her head. "I actually haven't seen her for a while either."

"Oh, well, thanks anyway. I'll let you get back to your work!"

"See ya!"

Lily sighed as she closed the door to Charis's lab. So Charis was busy and Karissa was MIA. Mabye Ben had managed to get off work early somehow.

When she found him, Ben was in a foul mood. It wasn't leftover resentment at Justin Cloudbreeze for screwing with his favorite band, no, sticking him in a room with Shirley was just about the worst fate imaginable and it easily quenched his thirst for vengeance.

It wasn't anger at Michael for Blacklisting Metalocalypse either. Ben's hero worship of Dethklok ran so deep, he considered himself unworthy to even set foot in the fandom, so he never visited that world either.

Neither was it the fact that he'd been sentenced to cleaning duty as punishment for his rampage. Ben got into trouble so frequently he was almost constantly on cleaning duty, so he was used to it by now. In fact, Ben had gotten so good at cleaning, that most people considered him the semi-official Library Janitor. No, what pissed Ben off was the fact that Michael ordered him to wear a frilly pink apron while he worked.

"W-w-w-WHAT?" Ben had spluttered on hearing this and seeing the apron. "Why?"

"Because," Michael had replied calmly. "Given the amount of trouble you get into, it seems the usual punishment isn't enough of a deterrent for you to learn to discipline yourself. Mabye this will get the message through your thick head."

So over the next several weeks a glowering Ben stalking around the Library pushing a mop became a common sight. It also became apparent that he was in no mood for jokes either when Tyler was seen fleeing down the hallway with nuclear fire consuming the seat of his pants. Anyone who inadvertently caused a mess could usually count on wringing coffee out of their clothes for a while.

Ben was in a foul a mood as usual when Lily found him, but when he saw her, his scowl morphed into a smile and he reached up to pull his headphones off. The headphones were just one of the little things Ben did that never failed to reassure Lily about how he felt about her. He normally never removed them for anyone, and would only turn them down if a Leader was speaking, but only for Lily would he take them off completely.

"Hey," he said, glad for a distraction. "What's up?"

"Well, I was going to ask you if you were still busy but I guess I just got my answer."

Ben grimaced. "Yeah, I've still got to finish mopping this hallway and the cross-hallway, and then Michael wants me to wax it too. Sorry I can't hang out with you. Why don't you go find Charis or Karissa?"

"Charis is busy, I can't find Karissa at the moment and I've trained all I care to."

 "Bored, huh?"

Lily shrugged. "Don't mind me. I'm sure I'll find something to do."

"Well, why don't you try this?" Ben asked, pulling his DS out of a pocket and handing it to her. "That should keep you entertained for a bit."

"You sure?" Lily asked, flipping the device open. Ben shrugged and gestured at his mop and bucket. "Hey, I'm too busy with this to play any games anyway. I've got more games in my room if you don't like that one. You know where they are, right?"

Lily nodded, and slipped the DS into her own pocket. "OK, thanks, Ben."

"No problem!" Ben said, slipping his headphones back on and muttering along with the song under his breath as Lily walked off.

Lily took to video games like a duck to water, quickly blowing through Ben's library of DS games before starting on his older Game Boy Advanced collection. She had nearly finished Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow when Matthew invaded the fandom and interrupted her play-though.

Soon, she was standing in Michael's office, explaining the situation to the situation to the Leader.

"So Slaymaker popped up again, did he?" Michael asked, leaning back in his office chair.

Lily nodded. "He's still got the Book of Prophecy and he's killed Soma Cruz, the game's protagonist and stole his powers."

"He killed a canon character?" Michael frowned. "You'd better get him out of there right away. What's Aria of Sorrow about, anyway?"

"From what I've heard the Castlevania games revolve around the centuries-old conflict between Dracula, and the vampire-hunting Belmont family."

"From what you've heard?" Michael asked.

Lily shrugged. "Apparently the Sorrow games break the usual tradition, since the hero is a high school student named Soma Cruz. Also the game takes place in the near future, as opposed to the past, decades after Dracula's final destruction."

"OK, so what's it about?"

"When Soma and one of his friends go to watch a solar eclipse, they get sucked into the eclipse itself, where Dracula's castle had been sealed. Only there he finds out that he not only has the ability to absorb the souls of the monsters he kills and can use them for his own, but that he is Dracula reincarnated."

Michael raised an eyebrow. "Really?"

"According to canon, he was supposed to nearly become Dracula himself, but avoided fate with the help of his friends."

"Sounds dangerous."

"The fandom is just this side of the Blacklist," Lily admitted.

Michael frowned. "You'd better take Ben with you then."

Lily shook her head. "I'm not a Rookie anymore, Michael. I can take care of myself." She didn't want to tell Michael the real reason she didn't want to go with Ben.

Michael considered it for a long second before nodding. "Be careful."


Lily jammed her Plothole Generator into a pocket and looked around. She was standing in a dark granite hallway, filled with demonic, ominous statuary. Apparently she was on the top floor of Dracula's castle, one of the game's final areas. She pulled Ben's black DS out of her pocket and flipped it open, using the in-game map to figure out her exact location before starting down the hall.

Her footsteps resounded loudly in the empty hall, providing an appropriately ominous counterpoint to the flickering shadows cast by the pale blue flames burning in the wall-mounted braziers periodically placed on the walls.

Lily frowned as she ascended a staircase made of the same dark stone as the rest of the hallways. Something was wrong. According to the map she was already halfway through the area, but she had yet to encounter a single demon, monster or an enemy of any sort. The Top Floor area should have been swarming with some of the strongest enemies in the game, but she had yet to encounter a single opponent. She was getting nervous.

Suddenly, something clattered behind Lily and she whirled, hands raised, Pins at the ready, prepared to annihilate whatever was sneaking up behind her.

There was nothing there. She turned slowly, surveying her surroundings. It had been easier in the game when she could actually see her enemies. Whatever was going on there, it was creeping her out and she wanted to finish this mission as soon as possible. She continued her journey warily, keeping a weather eye on the shadows.

Finally, she spotted the glow of moonlight coming from a bend ahead and when she turned the corner she found herself standing at the foot of the stairs Matthew had killed Soma on. At the top of the staircase was the engraved blue door leading to the castle throne room, and most likely, Matthew.

Giving one last wary glance behind her into the castle's gloom, Lily started up the stairs tentatively, her white sneakers blending in with the colorless stone stairs. She wouldn't put it past Matthew to try the same trick he had with Soma and pick her off while she was exposed like this.

Surprisingly, Lily reached the top of the stairs unmolested. The enchanted blue door stood before her, pulsing gently with magic. These specific doors were used in the game to indicate a boss battle area. Lily guessed that Matthew's leaving it up like this was his way of making a joke. Reaching out, she gently pressed a hand against the barrier and it rose with a rumble.

The throne room lay on the other side of the barrier. The floor was covered in blood flowing from the eyes of a giant bust of the Virgin Mary that stood behind the throne at the top of a dais. Marble pillars lined the walls, bearing tattered curtains that stirred deadly despite the fact that there was no wind in the room.

Matthew lay sprawled casually across the throne, one leg hanging over the throne's arm, flipping through the Book of Prophecy idly. He looked up as Lily entered and sighed in exasperation. "You again?"

"Matthew Slaymaker," Lily began formally. "You are hereby charged with two counts of Fandom mutilation, the murder of a canon-"

"Yeah, yeah, yeah..." Matthew waved a hand dismissively. "Let's just get this over with." He said, standing from the throne.

Lily took the opportunity to assess her opponent. Matthew wore what appeared to be a miniature version of the black and blood-red armor worn by the giant Shadow Knight demons and if the way the armor bulged was any indication, Matthew had bulked up, most likely by using the Book of Prophecy to graft the strength of a high-level demon into his body, probably a Red Minotaur. He still had Claimh Solais slung over his back, dangling in between two spiny, bat-like wings that Lily guessed he'd stolen from a Demon Lord. His fingernails had grown and sharpened as well, and had a purple tint that suggested they were a Skull Millione's and thus, poisoned.

"Looks to me like someone's over-compensating," Lily said, running a critical eye over Matthew.

"Starting the smack-talk early, are we?" Matthew raised an eyebrow, amused. "Guess you don't like wasting time, do you?"

Lily shrugged. "Not really, and that's why I'm prepared to offer you the same deal as before. Surrender now, and I'll see what I can do about getting you an early parole."

Matthew just shook his head in disgust. "You Society Agents," he said. "Always running around, acting too high and mighty. Who gave you the right to burst in and screw with our lives, huh?"

Lily started to reply, but Matthew cut her off with a wave of his hand. "I'm not in the mood to get a lecture on morals from a traitor. So are we going to do this or not?" he (He) asked, closing the Book of Prophecy and standing from the throne.

"If you insist," Lily sighed. "It would be a lot easier on you if you'd just surrender the Book of Prophecy and turn yourself in."

"As if I'd do that," Matthew snorted. "I've got big plans for this baby!"

"Such as?"

"Oh, you'll see," Matthew smirked. "Providing you survive! Beam Skeleton!" With that, Matthew thrust a palm forward, a beam of bright blue energy surging forth.

Excalibur!" Lily cried, countering with a blast of lightning from her own hand. The two energy streams crackled and sparked as they collided and canceled each other out.

Matthew pulled Chlaim Solais from it's place on it's back and sprang from the throne at in human speed. Lily responded instantly, triggering her Top Gear and Ice Blow simultaneously. In a flash, she teleported several feet to the side and a giant shard of ice several feet tall sprouted from the ground where she'd stood an instant before, angled perfectly to impale Matthew mid-charge. With a contemptuous sneer, Matthew swung Clhaim Solias with ease and shattered the icicle into millions of shining fragments.

Before Lily could respond, he half-turned and used one of his bat-like wings to clobber her to the ground. Lily hit the ground so hard she actually bounced once, earning a gasp of pain as she slammed into stone, the blood on the floor staining her clothes. Even stunned, Lily retained the presence of mind to roll out of the way as quickly as possible and not a moment too soon, as a boulder smashed into the ground where she had lain only seconds before and shattered into fragments.

Lily was covered in blood as she rolled to her feet, but she ignored it, shouting "Live Slow, Die Fast!" and making a throwing motion with her hand. In response, one of the limp, stained curtains ripped from its bracket and entangled itself around Matthew, snagging on his claws and tangling around his wings.

As Matthew stumbled around trying to free himself from the enveloping fabric, Lily took several steps back and raised both her hands high above her head, the purple Wild Line pin on her wrist glowing as it charged. "Wild Line!" Lily shouted, swinging the giant glowing sword down with all her might. At that same instant, the diamond blade of Chlaim Solais tore through the curtain trapping Matthew and shot up the block the blade. The sword exploded into motes of light and Matthew slashed through the rest of the entrapping curtain and was free in an instant.

"Skull Millone!" He spat and the indigo claws sprouting from his fingertips extended even farther outward, giving the resulting swipe a surprising range. Lily saw the blow coming though and the puff of air generated from Top Gear's Psych activating was dispelled from the slipstream of Matthew's extended blow.

There was a rustle of fabric not two feet to his left which gave Matthew just enough of a warning to open his mouth in time. "Buer!" he roared at the same time she shouted. "Excalibur!" A cloak of fire surrounded Matthew just before the lightning bolt struck it and was carried away. Lily was forced back from the heat, using a hand to shield her face from the blazing barrier Matthew had enveloped himself in. Within the raging inferno, Matthew smirked.

Got her.

The ringing in Lily's ears from Matthew's activation of the Buer Soul ended just in time for Lily to hear the words "Bomber Armor!" and the hand she held up lowered just in time for her to see the large black round explosive flying towards her. Her eyes widened in shock, then slammed shut again as the resulting explosion blew her clear across the room, through the door and back out onto the stairs.

Lily flailed around wildly, trying to find something to grab onto to halt her tumble down the stairs, but all she got was a numb, bleeding arm when her elbow connected painfully with the stone edge of the stairs. She got to her feet slowly, her battered body screaming at her, but she gritted her teeth and shook the stars from her vision just in time to see Matthew floating in the air several yards up the stairs, the Demon Lord wings on his back beating gently. "I've gotta say," Matthew smirked. "It's been real, but to be honest, you're starting to get on my nerves." He raised a palm. "So, not only will I have the Book of Prophecy, but I'll be the executioner of one of the most heinous traitors the Sues have ever known." His smirk changed into an evil grin. "This is gonna be an honor."

Lily's eyes widened.

"RED MINOTAUR!" Matthew roared and instantly, an obscenely large battle-axe appeared in his hand. Despite having grafted incredible strength into his muscles with the Book of Prophecy, not even Matthew could control such a gargantuan weapon with just one hand. Fortunately, he didn't need to as gravity did all the work for him. Still half-stunned from her tumble down the stairs, Lily could only watch in horror as the giant axe descended relentlessly towards her. It fell slowly at first, but picked up speed until it raced at her, growing so large it consumed Lily's entire field of vision.

Forgetting she was standing on a staircase, Lily stepped backwards reflexively, stumbled when she discovered there was nothing directly behind her to support her weight, and fell. The axe roared past, barely missing cutting Lily's foot off at the ankle and crushed straight through the staircase instead. It was too much for the decrepit stone staircase to handle, and it crumbled under the trauma, dropping Matthew and Lily towards the ground several hundred feet below. Matthew snapped his bat-like wings out to their full extension and his fall stopped immediately, leaving Lily to plummet to the earth alone.

Matthew's smirk had been disturbed by his short-lived impromptu sky-diving lesson, replaced by a wide-eyed look of shock, but it reasserted its position on his face as he watched Lily's tumble. He was looking forward to seeing her splatter. Just before Lily reached the ground though, she vanished from sight.

Matthew's smirk morphed into a scowl. That teleporting ability of hers was starting to get on his nerves.


Ben grimaced and shook his hand to work the writers cramp out. He'd had more time to work on his project that he'd thought. He had hated having to send Lily off on a misson alone, but if if the project panned out, the nobody would have to go on a solo mission ever again. He pulled out his Communicator and turned it on. "Hey, Michael? You there?" There was no response for a moment before the Head Agent's face came on-screen. "What do you want, Ben?" Michael's voice sounded just a tad irritated. "I'm busy."

"Can you meet me in your office in five minutes? It's important ."

Michael sighed. "It better be," he said, before breaking the connection.

Michael's shortness didn't faze Ben one bit. He couldn't really blame Michael, given all the trouble he'd caused, Reaching out, he gathered up the scribble-covered papers strewn across his desk and collected them into a folder.

Michael looked up from a stack of paperwork on his desk when Ben walked in. "We have over 30 Agents currently on active duty and apparently I'm the only one capable or required to do paperwork," he said with a sigh, dropping his pen and shoving a dangerously high stack of paper aside. "Have a seat. You said it was important?"

"I've got an idea." Ben said, sitting. Michael groaned. "Ben, no! Have you forgotten what happened the last time you got an 'idea'?"

"Hey!" Ben protested. "The blood stains came out, didn't they?"

"Yeah, along with about a gallon of gasoline."

"Well this doesn't involve any gasoline." Ben said, opening the folder and flipping through it. "Tell me," he said. "What is the one thing the majority of the Society has in common?"

"We're all insane?"

"I said majority, not everybody." Ben chuckled. "No, what I was thinking of was the fact that over-half the Society are self-inserts, and thus, Authors."

"So?" Michael frowned.

"So, the fact that the Sues sorely outnumber us has always been the biggest obstacle standing between us and victory."

"Well, there's not really much we can do about that, is there?"

"More than you'd think," Ben said, selecting a few sheets of paper from the folder and sliding it across the table.

Frowning, Michael picked them up and started reading. "You've created a character," he said at last.

Ben nodded. "His name is Avak."

"I still don't get what you're getting at."

"Think about it!" Ben urged. "As Authors we have the power to create! Why not create more characters to boost our numbers and give us an edge?"

"But we can't just churn out characters like an assembly line!" Michael protested. "And what makes you think this will even work? "

"I developed Avak as a test case, a prototype, so to speak," Ben replied. "You can watch and evaluate him for a while, and if you decide he isn't worth the effort, we can always scrap the project and I'll find another use for him in one of my own fics. I already talked it over with Avak in my Imagination. I told him if he didn't want to become an Agent, then he could become a character in some of my original fiction where I guaranteed him a happy ending.

"What if they go Sue?" Michael asked. "I mean, there's no way for you to guarantee that won't happen."

"Actually, there is." Ben said smugly. "After Avak agreed to become an Agent, I took him to the Hall of Personae so the Great Personae could screen him and filter out any overly Stuish traits."

Michael leaned back in his chair, pondering Ben's proposal for a long moment.

"You said this Avak is just a test case?" He asked at last. Ben nodded.

"All right." Michael sighed. "I'll squeeze him into the next testing session, but you're going to take full responsibility for his actions. If he snaps and ends up going Stu, I'm going to hold you accountable."

Ben nodded. "Understood."


Matthew sat crouched on a ledge jutting out from the castle walls, high above the courtyard down below, scanning the ground for Lily. His irises had turned red as a result of his using the Book of Prophecy to give himself the eyes of a Peeing Eye demon.

He shifted slightly on his perch, stretching his bat-like wings to work the kinks out of the joints. He had sat nearly motionless for several minutes, waiting for Lily to emerge from her hiding place. He considered bombarding the area with a salvo of Bomber Armor explosives in an attempt to smoke Lily out, but decided against it. If it didn't work, all it would do was drive Lily even deeper into hiding.

For all he knew, she'd already retreated from the fandom entirely to lick her wounds and prepare for a second attempt later. If that was the case, he may as well leave now. He'd already gotten what he'd came for, and there was no reason to give Lily an edge by remaining where she could easily find him.

Standing, Matthew spread his wings and prepared to fly off when movement on the ground caught his eye. Lily had emerged from her hiding spot and stood in the middle of the open courtyard, apparently fiddling with her communicator. Matthew frowned and dropped back into a crouch.

What was she doing? Bad reception? Either way, Matthew wasn't about to allow a golden opportunity like this to pass by. Lily was completely exposed and apparently defenseless. From this heigth, he could swoop down and kill her in a single blow before she knew what hit her.

He stood, spreading his wings and drawing his sword silently, although at this distance it was unlikely Lily could hear him anyway. Flexing his grip on Chlaim Solais' handle, Matthew bent his legs and sprang into the air, beating his wings once to gain some height, then folding his wings flat against his body as he plummeted towards the ground.

Lily was still preoccupied with her communicator, shaking it and holding it up to her ear, completely oblivious to his approach. A mad light grew in Matthew's eyes and an insane giggle was welling up in his throat. He was less than 30 feet above her now. He pulled his sword back and swung (swing) with all his considerable strength, intending to separate Lily's head from her shoulders when she vanished into thin air. Surprised and thrown off-balance, Matthew had no time to halt his descent and crashed head-long into the ground. The bone-crushing impact would have killed anyone else, but since Matthew was a Stu, he was merely stunned.

Lily's trap had worked perfectly, Wild Line's charging period ending just as she activated Top Gear, teleporting several feet into the air as Matthew crashed to the ground. The giant energy blade flared to life and Lily wrapped her hands around the handle as she descended, using the momentum of her downward fall in addition to put even more force behind the blow. Suddenly, a figure appeared from nowhere, grabbed the Wild Line blade, and with an effortless swing, sent Lily flying. She crashed into one of the courtyard's numerous statuary, the Wild Line blade fizzed into nothingness. Sparks lit up behind her eyelids as the back of her head struck stone and everything went black.


Valerie's workload had been considerably lighter over the past several days, mostly because Ben had been too busy with cleaning duty to raise Shirley's ire. Since she no longer had to drop everything every 15 minutes in order to deal with various puncture wounds or stuff Ben's intestines back into his body, she had the opportunity to finish other projects she'd had sitting on the back burner for what felt like forever.

Having finished most of her usual duties, she picked up Seiryu off her desk and started for the door, intending to get some practice down at the Archery range when it opened and Ben walked in. Valerie sighed and set Seiryu down, reaching for the bandages she always kept close at hand for Shirley-related injuries.

"Just have a seat on the bed," she said in a semi-tired voice. "Where'd she get you this time?"

"I'm actually not here about an injury for once." Ben laughed.

Valerie frowned. "Oh?" This was unusual.

Reaching into a folder he carried under his arm, Ben handed her a sheet of paper.

"Project Warpath?" Valerie asked. "What's that?"

"Read it," Ben replied, leaning against the steel frame of one of the beds as the healer read the document.

"OK, so basically you're creating a super-soldier project," Valerie said at last.

"Well, not exactly "Super", but that's the gist of it. With this, we'll be able to create our own foot soldiers."

"OK, so what are you talking to me for? This is something you should talk to Michael about, not me."

"I already ran it past Michael," Ben said, pushing his glasses up. "And he gave the the go ahead to create a single test subject."

Valerie raised an eyebrow.

"Come on in!" Ben called. "This is Avak," He explained as Avak walked in. "He's the first of the soldiers I've created."

Valerie took the opportunity to look Avak over as Ben continued. Avak was shorter than Ben, and appeared to be about a year younger. He had a broad, stocky form that, while not exactly muscular, definately suggested the potential for strength. His eyes were the same color as his messy brown hair. Valerie didn't need to be an empath to tell he was nervous, the way he kept shifting his weight from one foot to the other and looking anywhere but at her was a dead giveaway.

"It's nice to meet you, Avak," Valerie said gently, trying to soothe him, reaching out her hand.

"Nice to meet you too," Avak replied shyly, shaking her hand in a calloused, yet firm grip that bespoke the strength of his arms. His voice held only the slightest hint of an accent.

"This is Avak's base," Ben explained, handing Valerie the folder he was carrying. "How I created him and everything about him are in there."

Valerie hefted the folder. It was surprisingly light "

Ben streched. "Well, I better get going."

Avak's eyes widened in alarm. "You're leaving?"

"Don't worry," Ben chuckled. "She won't bite. I promise. See ya!"

Avak stared plaintively at the door for several seconds after Ben had left before turning back to Valerie, his face pale.

Something wasn't adding up, Valerie could tell. If Avak was supposed to be a super soldier of sorts, why was he so easily intimidated?

Moving slowly and deliberately, so as not to alarm the already frightened teen, Valerie sat down in her chair, putting Avak's folder on her desk, leaving it unopened. She had a feeling she'd learn more about Avak from himself than from his base story.

Avak himself was still standing, looking distinctly uncomfortable. Valerie gestured to a near-by chair. "Would you like to sit down?" she asked gently.

Avak's eyes widened in mild alarm, darting from Valerie to the chair as if gauging the possibility that her offer was a trap. Then he realized his own hesitation and sat down rapidly, blushing with embarrasment and glancing furtively at Valerie then looking away.

Valerie smiled kindly but her mind was working overtime. The only reason she could think of as to why Avak was acting like this was because of something in his past, either abuse or abandonment issues. The problem with that was that both of those pasts had Stu-ish connotations to them. It didn't make any sense, Ben had developed Avak specifically as an anti-Sue weapon, so why was he acting this way?

"Why don't you tell me a little about yourself, Avak?" Valerie asked gently.

Avak nearly jumped. "W-what do you mean?" he asked hesitantly.

"Well, why don't you tell me about your background?"


"Yeah. Like, what did you do before Ben asked you to join the Society. You know, your past?"

Avak bit his lip. "Um... I don't think I have one..."

Valerie's eyes widened. "What?"

"I said I don't have a past," Avak repeated slowly obviously afraid he'd done something wrong.

Valerie frowned. "So... you have amnesia?"

Avak shook his head. "I don't think so... I just don't remember anything up until about ten minutes ago."

Ben created a character with no past? Why on earth would he do that, Valerie wondered. It could just be because he was trying to avoid Stu-ism, but this was taking it to an extreme, not to mention the fact that this boy didn't seem like he could hurt a fly, and he was supposed to be Ben's big plan? What was he thinking?

Avak flinched. "S-sorry," he said nervously and it was only then that Valerie realized she'd been glaring.

"Oh, no, I wasn't angry at you," Valerie said quickly. Avak nodded, but he still looked scared. Valerie sighed. Great. Here she was trying to comfort the poor boy and so far all she'd done was frighten him even worse. She was going to have to have a serious talk with Ben later.

"Hey," she said gently, leaning forward and putting a hand on Avak's knee, causing him to jump again. "Nobody's going to hurt you or anything here, I promise, OK?" Valerie smiled reassuringly. Avak nodded, his fear lessening somewhat and his smile steadying.

"So, let's take a look at your file here, shall we?" Valerie asked, picking up Avak's folder and flipping it open. It contained surprisingly few sheets of paper and what was in there was spartan. Outside of a basic physical description of Avak, the first few pages were bare. Valerie had to admire the almost antiseptic quality of Ben's work. Only the last page presented any intangibles. "Well, this is interesting," she murmured.

"What is it?" Avak asked, leaning forward to get a better look.

"It seems Ben took a page from Amanda's book when he created you," Valerie said, re-reading the sheet of paper.

"Who's Amanda?"

"Amanda is... or was the Author of Lily, Ben's lover."

"Ben has a lover?"

"She's former Mary-Sue," Valerie explained. "What set her apart from the rest of her race was her altruism. Rather than just using her powers for her own ends, she was trying to help people. Ben took her in and she just recently became an Agent here now."

Avak nodded as Valerie continued. "I had a look at Lily's original fanfic a while back when she first joined the Society and I can see a lot of paralells between her personality and yours. Most notably, you both share the same desire to help other people. I suppose Ben had to give you something to start with, otherwise you problably would've been a soulless husk."

Avak cocked his head to one side. "Do you think it would be possible for me to meet this Lily?"

"I think she's out on a mission right now," Valerie replied. "She should be back soon though..."


It was the voices that woke Lily. She started to open her eyes, but the vice squeezing her head in its iron grip discouraged that notion. One of the voices she recognized through the grinding shriek of her headache belonged to Matthew. The other was high pitched and drilled right through her aching skull.

"Hey! Looks like she's finally waking up!" There was the sound of footsteps drawing nearer and a second later someone was slapping at her face. "Hey, hey, hey! Rise and shine, Sleeping Beauty!"

Lily weakly raised an arm to try to bat the slapping hands away and wedged her eyes open. The slapper was a girl with bubblegum pink hair, rich blue eyes, and a cute face that just screamed trouble.

She looked Lily over, shaking her head ruefully. "Seriously, Matthew," she pouted, planting a fist on her hip. "It's one thing to cheat on me, but to do it with something like this? You must be joking."

"Sorry, Holly," Matthew smirked, walking over. "But she forced herself on me."

Weak as she was, Lily still managed a growl and tried to sit up. A sneer distorted Holly's face as she planted a heel on Lily and forced her back down to the ground. Her head struck the ground again, igniting a fresh batch of stars on the interior of her skull and cranking the shriek of her headache up a few decibels. "Stay down where you belong, traitor." Holly spat, then turned back to Matthew, keeping one foot on Lily's stomach. "So," she asked. "What's so important that you had to drag me half-way across the multi-verse to this little backwater fandom just to end up saving your cute, yet sorry butt from this thing?"

"This," Matthew replied, hefting the Book of Prophecy. Holly frowned. "But you've already showed me that before."

"And I showed you what it could do, didn't I?"

"Yes, modify anything it scans and change it anyway you want."

Matthew nodded. "The thing is, I got so caught up in the Book's more advanced powers, that I missed the possibilites of it's most basic features."

"And that is?" Holly prompted.

"The more I delved into the Book's secrets, the more I realized just how similar it is to our powers. The only difference is, whereas even we have limits, this book has none!"

Holly's eyes lit up as Matthew continued. "It's like a reactor. Even if you only put a spark of power in, you still get an entire ocean of power back out."

"So, what are you going to do with it?"

"You remember what I said about the Book's most basic abilities? The Book's most basic power is that of duplication, creating clones of the original data contained inside. I didn't realize the potential at first, underestimating the Book's limits, thinking that at most only two or three copies would be feasible."

"But since the book has no limits-"

"-there are no limits on how many clones can be created!" Matthew finished. "You could create an army with just this book without ever having to worry about running out of troops!"

"So what are you doing here then? Why haven't you already crushed half the fandoms in the multi-verse then?"

"I brought it here for a test run, just to be certain it would work the way I intended it too. It took me longer than I'd anticipated, but I finally managed to use the book to absorb every single demon in the castle."

"I was wondering why this place was so empty..." Holly nodded.

"So," Matthew smirked. "Shall we take her for a test drive?"

"We shall," Holly replied, an evil grin plastered on her face as the two backed away from Lily, Matthew flipping through the book until he found the appropriate demon. "I think a Red Minotaur should do nicely, don't you?" he asked, golden energy swirling around the Book Of Prophecy. "Ready... Aim... FI-GAAACK!" Matthew was cut off as Karissa materialized behind him, Gekkou wrapped tightly around his throat.

"What?" Holly whirled taking her attention off Lily for a split second.

Lily took advantage of Holly's distraction to activate Top Gear and teleport away. Holly spun back just in time to see the statue Lily had been lying against a second before falling towards her, propelled by Live Slow, Die Fast. She threw herself to one side as the statue crashed to the earth and scrambled back to her feet. Matthew had dropped the Book of Prophecy in his struggle with Karissa, and Holly scooped it up, opening the book to a random page and pulling out a gun of all things. A surprising weapon to be available in a fantasy fandom like this, but she had no time to ponder the game's avalabale arsenal.

Raising the weapon, she fired, the bullet whizzing past Karissa's ear. The Agent ducked, releasing her grasp on Gekkou as she did so.

Gasping for air, Matthew broke free and stumble towards Holly. With a flick of her hand, Holly opened a plothole and started helping Matthew towards it.

"Oh, no you don't!" Lily shouted, leaping over the fallen statue and running towards the fleeing couple. In response, Holly half turned, raising the gun still in her hand and firing off several rounds. Lily ducked and the bullets went wide. By the time she looked up again, both Holly and Matthew had vanished.

"Hey," Karrisa called, jogging over, Gekkou safely stashed away in its sash. "Are you OK?"

Lilly nodded "Yeah, I'm fine." She sighed sighed, staring at the place where Matthew had vanished. "How'd you find me?"

"I was the one on monitor duty," Karissa explained. "Sorry it took me so long to get here."

Lily shrugged wordlessly.

Karissa follwed her gaze. "Hey, you'll get him next time."

"Will I?" Lily's tone was unconvinced.

Karissa didn't know how to reply.

"C'mon," she said at last. "Let's go home."


"Matthew's planning to use the Book of Prophecy summon an army," Lily said bluntly. She and Karissa were standing in Michael's office, who was apparently losing the war with the paperwork covering his desk.

Matthew's eyes widened. "Are you sure? Is the Book even capable of that?"

Lily shrugged. "According to him it is. At least that's what he told Holly."

"Oh, yes." Matthew sighed. "I forgot you mentioned her. So now we have another Sue to worry about."

"You might want to put a freeze on Aria of Sorrow too," Karissa added. "Apparently Matthew used the book to absorb every single demon in Dracula's castle."

Michael groaned. "That's two fandoms we've had to put on lockdown because of this Stu. You'd better catch him quick, Lily."

Lily shrugged. "I'll try."

"Didn't you mention something about him killing a canon character too?"

"Oh," Karissa giggled. "I took another look at the monitors on the way here and apparently Soma re-spawned at the last save point without remembering a thing. Fortunately Matthew didn't meddle in the fandom more, or it would have been harder to undo."

"Thank god for small mercies," Michael sighed. "Anyway, I'll be sure to tell everyone else to keep an extra close eye on the monitors from now on. You're dismissed. Try and get some rest, Lily. You look beat."

Lily nodded and started out the door and down the hallway, keeping her eyes fixed on her white sneakers.

"Hey! Wait up, Lily!" Lily turned to see Karissa hurrying to catch up. "Hey, what's wrong?" Karissa asked.
Lily shrugged. "Nothing."

"Don't lie to me. Something's bothering you, I can tell. Now what is it?" Karissa asked.

"It's nothing, just-" Lily sighed. "That was my second mission," she explained. "And it was the second time in as many missions that I had to be rescued by someone else." Her hand curled into a fist. "How am I ever supposed to prove myself strong enough to fight alongside Ben if I keep needing someone else's help?"

"You think that Ben never needed anyone's help?" Karissa asked in disbeleif. "Why else do you think Shirley follows him everywhere he goes? It's to make sure he doesn't get himself killed!"

"He doesn't always need her!" Lily protested. "He beat both me and Neb without help from anyone!"

"Lily," Karissa sighed, putting a hand on the smaller girl's shoulder. "You don't have to prove anything to Ben! He loves you!"

"I know that!" Lily replied. "But I don't want to be a burden to him! I need to be able to hold my own!"

Karissa was about to say something but she was interrupted by a voice from behind. "Um, excuse me?" The two girls turned to see a short, stocky boy with messy brown hair standing behind them, looking. "You're Lily, right?" he asked shyly.

"Yes, but who are you?" Lily asked.

"I've never seen you around here before. Are you new?"

He nodded.

"I'm Avak."


Ben, Shirley and Jess sat on the floor with their backs to the wall in a small colorless room in a secluded part of the Library. A well worn drumset, several amps and a purple stationary keyboard on rusty legs sat dejectedly in one corner of the room. The keyboard's keys were smoking gently.

"Ooooh..." Jess moaned, massasing her aching fingers. "I haven't played that loud or hard since...I've never played that hard."

"Well, you nearly drowned out Shirley if that makes you feel any better." Ben grinned from where he sat hunched over Bahamut, fiddling with the machine heads.

"If that's the case I'll just have to start practicing on you in my free time, won't I?" Shirley growled.

Ben gulped.

"Knock it off, you two," Jess mumbled from around a stubby pencil as she looked over the clipboard in her hands.

"So what do you have for us?" Ben asked, keeping his gaze fixed on Bahamut.

"Well, so far, all we have is the three of us, and our instruments. We still need a vocalist and a bassist at the very least."

"Not to mention a band name, genre or any original material," Shirley put in.

"Give it time, girl," Ben said, plucking Bahamut's strings methodically. "I mean, we've barely had two jam sessions. The band hasn't even existed long enough for us to write any songs."

Shirley huffed and folded her knobby arms.

"I'm surprised you're so dedicated to this, Shirley," Jess said, glancing up deviously. "I thought your new boyfriend would've kept you too busy for things like this."

"Are you kidding me?" Shirley growled. "Your mutant freak is driving me crazy. Sure, he's giving me some space, but nowhere near enough. This is one of the few times I can get away from him."

"I'll have a word with him," Jess said distractedly, attention back on the clipboard. "Let's take one thing at a time." She sighed. "What genre are we even going to play?"

Ben shrugged, still not looking up from Bahamut. "Doesn't matter to me, so long as it's heavy."

Shirley raised an eyebrow. "That's pretty shallow for a Metalhead like you."

Ben glanced up breifly for the first time in five minutes, before looking back down at the instrument in his lap again. "It's not that," he said. "It's just that I can work with any genre. It doesn't matter if it's Thrash, Death, Power or whatever. I can work with anything."

"And so long as it's not symphonic, right?" Jess asked dryly. The lack of a symphonic element to their music was really going to cramp her style.

Ben shook his head. "I never said that. I don't mind symphonic music, I'm just picky about them is all. We can be symphonic if you'd like."

"So symphonic, yet heavy. What, are we going to play Symphonic Death Metal or something?" Shirley snorted.

Ben and Jess glanced at one another.

"Works for me."

"Same here."

Shirley looked from one of her bandmates to the other in disbelief. "I was kidding!"

"I wasn't."

"Me neither," Jess agreed as she added their new genre to the clipboard.

Shirley sighed."OK, if you keep taking everything people say seriously, we're going to end up being a Psychostick copy-cat band here."

Ben shrugged. "Well, we already have ONE Psychostick..."



Jess ignored them.

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