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Aegis - A Sci-fi Isekai.

Houseman

The Actual Hero
Sanctuary legend
Messages
766
The following is based on a dream I had based on all the anime that @Vendor-Lazarus is having me watch.
I may have been under the influence of alcohol during the writing of half of this, so apologies in advance. This was not proofread for errors.

---

“...And above all, you must never give up! Pray, remember these values and pass them down to others. They may destroy our bodies, but our ideals will live on. The King and the Prince, they will survive through you.”

“Princess! Don’t leave us!”

“I must. I am duty-bound to save my people. Take this pledge, as I pledge unto you this oath.”

With tears in their eyes, the soldiers pledged their hearts to the princess, who, taking up her silver rapier, turned to fight the Demon King’s army. Using an ancient power, she sacrificed her life to end the war. Though the kingdom lay devastated, those few soldiers faithfully carried out their oath and began to create a new kingdom, one where demon and man could live in peace.

The curtain fell, the actors returned to the stage and took their bows.

I was sitting next to the family of the lead actress, the Princess, whose real name was Ria. I was invited by her and her family to attend, and even drove with them on the way over. The mother had concocted some matchmaking scheme, where, after the play, I was to hurry and get a bouquet of flowers from the cooler in the trunk. Then, when we all met in the lobby, I was to present them to her, as if I were my idea. I had no idea of theater flower-giving etiquette, so I thought it best to follow their lead.

I was in the parking lot, with the bouquet in my hand. It was late out, and dark, so I could see the stars. One streaked across the night sky, leaving a trail of light, but I had no wishes for it. I was pretty content, happy even.

Returning to the lobby, the crowd of people that I had to squeeze through on the way out had only grown, now that the actors had returned from their dressing rooms and joined their waiting families and adoring peers.

Raising the bouquet over my head in an effort to save it from getting crushed, I waded through the crowd until I found her. Each actor had their own little circle of family and friends surrounding them, like eddies in a river, but Ria’s vortex was the biggest, being one of the most popular girls in school. There was a reason she was the lead actress, after all. She was pretty smart, and pretty talented, and pretty. Not only was her family there, but her girlfriends and even male admirers formed her whirlpool. She was already cradling a bouquet in her arms, causing her mother to give me a panicked look, as if her whole plan were already in ruins.

She was still in her Princess costume, a flowing garment of white with a band of red coming down from her left shoulder, joining a band of yellow from the opposite side to cover her chest. She had a mole that I’d never seen before, on a bit of exposed cleavage, on the left, that I tried not to look at, or think about. I tried not thinking about it so hard that I didn’t notice how she had handed off the other bouquet to her mother, and grabbed mine.

To the horror and anger of her girlfriends and suitors, she had hugged me, a fact that I only had time to process after it was already over. When my brain caught up, she was leading me by the hand through the crowd, after saying something about needing to put these in water. Moments later, we were in her dressing room, or rather a single dressing room shared by all the other actresses. The others were in the lobby, so we had the room to ourselves.

The bouquet already had a plastic reservoir of water in it, but, for some reason, she had an empty vase ready and waiting to go. This was probably part of the plan that Ria’s mother had prepared in advance, to get us alone together.

I liked her, sure, but we grew up together. We used to bathe together. She was more like a sister to me. Through adolescence we drifted somewhat apart. She traveled in her own circles and I traveled in mine. She grew prettier and more popular, and I was just “an average”. She was out of my league for me to think of her in that way, but we were still familiar enough so that we could walk home together without thinking about it. But did she always have that mole there?

Now it was just the two of us, and she was twirling around, in full makeup and a princess dress with a neckline that the school dress code would have never normally allowed, in a dressing room.

“How do I look?” Ria asked.

“Pretty”, was all I could muster. Most of my brain was otherwise occupied with reading the room and exploring the branching possibilities that such a situation creates.

“You know…”, she began, looking more nervous than she ever did on stage. “There's a tradition among the drama club where, after opening night, whatever happens in the dressing rooms, stays in the dressing rooms.”

Yes, this was one of the possibilities that I was mentally preparing for.

Turning around, she revealed a shoulder. “This dress has a zipper on the back. Could you get it?”

At that moment, my thoughts were not of that which was in front of me, but rather, I felt overflowing love and thankfulness towards Ria’s mother, who devised this plan and put us in this situation. Right then and there I mentally vowed to care for her, in her old age, as if she were my own mother, nay, as if she were a holy woman, and I her devotee.

An earthquake brought us together, or rather, brought her into me. The vase with the bouquet fell off the counter and shattered, as did many other breakable things in the room. Ria was thrown off balance, and fell into me, and I, into the wall behind us. Before I could ask if she was alright, an explosion deafened me. I had thought that it blinded me too, but then I realized that it was probably just the lights going out in this closed room.

Holding Ria with one arm, I felt for the door with the other, and opened it. A little light seeped in, enough for me to see the connected room, and into the hallway. Something was on fire down the hall. It was moving. It was a person.

I looked at Ria, and she was slumped over, eyes closed, blood trickling down her head, down the yellow part of her dress, and onto my hand that held her by the shoulder. I thought that she must have gotten hit with something that fell. Another explosion and earthquake shook us gently, originating from somewhere farther away, most likely.

My only instinct was to get out of the building. Putting her on my back I charged out of the room, and went down the opposite hallway, away from the burning body. This led to the main entrance of the school, a wide-open area with a tall ceiling and large windows, shattered now. Light from the moon allowed us to see, only the shadows were dancing wildly.

Looking up, I could tell that this wasn’t light from the moon, but light from a thousand falling stars. Was this a meteor shower? Is that what’s happening? Rocks falling from space, impacting all over the earth, causing explosions and earthquakes? If that’s the case, then going outside isn’t necessarily safer than inside. No building can withstand a meteor impact, so if one decides to land where you are, you’re dead anyway. Still, buildings do collapse, so I ultimately decided to go outside.

Before I could, though, a peculiar shape was silhouetted against the falling stars. It was unlike a human, having one too many limbs, all of them unnaturally out of proportion. The fifth limb, in hindsight, was actually a tail, which it used to climb through the window frames. I entered the bathroom behind me in order to put a door between me and it.

A female voice spoke from somewhere in the bathroom. “Oh no, she’s hurt! Are we too late?”
A second, older female voice answered in reply. “Patience. All proceeds as written.”

In the dark, I could see two figures at the back of the bathroom, illuminated by the faint green glow of their necklaces.

“Haste! Bring the Princess hither! We shall spirit thee away!”, the older voice spoke.
I was about to ask a question, but the noise of the door behind me being pulled off its hinges stopped me. I ran towards the women, the younger of which ushered me into an open stall.
As I turned around, I saw the older one charge towards the door, wielding a glowing-green sword and shield that she didn’t have before. I couldn’t see, but there were sounds of battle, culminating in an unearthly sound of agony, presumably that of the beasts.

Meanwhile, the younger woman faced us from the entrance of the stall with her eyes closed and her hands in a peculiar gesture, appearing to chant.

“Who are you two? What’s going on?” I asked, unknowingly breaking her concentration.
“Shut up! Don’t interrupt me or I won’t be able to save you two!”, she snapped, obviously flustered.

With an upset look on her face, she began again, this time muttering the words of her chant as if cursing under her breath.

Before she could finish whatever it was she was doing, though, the light of her green necklace popped and darkened, as if it were a bulb that burnt out. Something hit my eye, and I stumbled backwards. Ria, still on my back, landed on the toilet seat, while I caught myself against the sides of the stall. My eyes burned. After I wiped them, I could see that it was not the necklace that popped, it was just pierced, along with the young woman’s chest, by the tail of one of those things, missing an arm, who was looking down on us from atop the stalls.

The young woman was flung aside, cleaning the tail of a corpse and readying it to strike us. In a futile attempt to save ourselves, I reached my hands out to grab it, as if to catch it as if it were an arrow. I thought I did, at first, because the tail never struck us. It was just suspended in the air, an arm’s length away, not moving. The creature howled and attempted to leap away, but it was held in place by its tail, and instead fell over onto the floor. The tail snapped off after being bent at a 90-degree angle, causing another unearthly howl that was cut short by a green swipe of a sword. The older sister had come back, limping and dragging herself against the row of sinks.

She looked at the dead beast, at us, at the other woman, and at the tail, still suspended in midair.

Her composure she displayed when she first fought the beast was all but gone. She was on the brink of tears now, perhaps even on the brink of death, as it looked like her leg was in tatters.

“Pray, forgive us. I fear we have failed you. But not wholly. Fate hath delivered unto you a boon. You have the Aegis with you now. You are the first.” And with that, she collapsed.

For a moment, all was still. There were no beasts, no sounds of fighting, no explosions. Just the sound of my breathing. And of Ria’s.

Ria! I turned around to face her. She was relatively fine, apart from being unconscious with a head wound. The only new addition to her person was a speck of green glowing liquid on her shoulder. The same liquid that was in the necklaces. I put it together that the liquid splashed over us when the younger girl was stabbed through the chest. Since she was behind me, I took the brunt of it. That’s what probably got in my eye.

I thought back to what I saw. A glowing sword out of nowhere, a chant that can’t be interrupted. Could this liquid have some sort of power? I looked again at the tail floating in midair, actually almost impaling myself on it as I turned around. Just when I was thinking that it shouldn’t be doing that, it fell to the floor.

Could that be a coincidence? Could I have done that?

I thought that it should rise, and it did. I thought that it should move like a conductor’s baton, and it did. I thought that it should fly out the bathroom, and it did.

No it’s not a coincidence. I’m doing that.

I went to the bathroom mirror to see if any of that green liquid splashed on me. The mirrors were broken, but one of them reformed from the shards on the floor as I approached it, so I could see myself. Yes, a mixture of the young girl’s blood and green liquid was over half my face, and from the pattern, it must have gotten into my eye. It was smeared around when I rubbed my face, but that was clearly what had happened.

So now what, my thoughts turn into actions? Is this the boon?

What if I wanted everything to go back to normal, would that happen? If I just close my eyes and wish that I were back in the dressing room with Ria wanting me to pull her zipper, before any of this happened, would it work?

I closed my eyes, and wished.

“Go on. I want you to”.

I jumped at the sound of Ria’s voice. There we were. The two of us. Ria’s exposed shoulder. The lights were on. Everything was fine. Nothing bad had happened.

They say that after a person has a near-death experience, they reevaluate their life choices, and think about how they could do things better. They resolve not to let things go unsaid. They take risks and buy the car they always wanted, even if they can’t afford it. They say that you only live once, but these people wholly embrace the concept, after having faced death.

I, for my part, spun Ria around and kissed her. At least, that’s what I wanted to do. I only got so far as spinning her around, before I saw the green speck on her shoulder.

“What’s all that green stuff on your face?” she exclaimed. “That wasn’t there just a moment ago. And your eye. It’s green.”

And then the earthquake hit. The lights went out again. The vase fell for a second time.
This time, though, I was holding her, so we didn’t stumble into the wall, and whatever had hit her head the first time didn’t make contact. It turned out to be a stone bust, which shattered behind me.

I wanted the lights to come back on, and so they did. Taking Ria by the hand, we went out near the main entrance. This time, Ria was conscious, and terrified, but not so much that she couldn’t follow my lead. Looking up at the meteor shower, I wished that they would stop. This time, I got a sharp pain in my eye, which scared Ria more than the burning body did.

“What happened? Are you alright?” She asked. “Your eye, it’s bleeding”. When I pulled my hand away from my eye, it was, in fact, covered in blood and dripping down my wrist.

The beast appeared in the window again. I wished for him to drop dead. It didn’t, and I got another pain for my troubles as well. Did I use up all my power?

The beast came at us this time, since we didn’t hide in the bathroom. As a last ditch effort, I did what worked the first time, I immobilized it’s tail. The beast hung in midair, suspended and dangling. None of its limbs were long enough to reach the ground, nor did the tail snap off like the first time, since the angle wasn’t severe enough. It just howled and raged ineffectively.

The women kicked open the door to the bathroom, ready for a fight. Instead, I was just kneeling on the floor, and Ria had apparently fallen backwards in fear of the beast. When I turned toward them, there was a moment of confusion before they snapped into action. They dragged us into the bathroom and ushered us into a stall in the back like before, as the younger one began her chant.

This time, the beast did not attack us. Neither I nor Ria interrupted the chant. Green light enveloped us, and we briefly lost consciousness.


---

I awoke on a bed. The place was clean, spacious, and well-lit. I was in some sort of barracks, where rows of identical beds stretched from wall to wall. On closer examination, this was probably a hospital ward, because I was hooked up to an IV, and in a thin gown instead of my clothes.

The younger woman was sitting nearby, staring at me. Now in the light, I could see that she was blonde, wearing sweat-pants and a tank-top, with her necklace on top. Probably not the clothes she battled monsters in. In fact, that could have been days ago. How long was I out?

“Where’s Ria?” Was the first question I blurted out.

“First, what’s the last thing you remember? It wouldn’t make much sense for me to tell you if your mind hasn’t recovered yet.”

“I was at school. I watched a play. There were earthquakes, a meteor shower, monsters… and then you and the other one pushed us in the bathroom. You were chanting, there was a green light, and then I woke up here.”

She pouted. “There was more after that green light. You don’t remember that?”

I thought, and tried to remember, but nothing came to mind. “No, just what I told you”.

“The Princess is in her own room. You’re in the male ward right now. The both of you got exposed to fatal doses of toxic chemicals and we’re trying to flush it out of your system.” She took an accusatory, annoyed tone. ”Can you explain how that happened?”

“You got stabbed by that beast, and your necklace broke and splashed us.”

Even more annoyed now, she bends over me. “When was this? I don’t remember anything like that happening.”

“After that happened the first time, I… guess I went back in time? So the ‘you’ that’s here now wasn’t the ‘you’ that died?” I remembered that I had powers. “I was able to do things. Like levitate stuff.”

I tried levitating a bed, and it worked, a little bit. The bed slipped out of my mental grasp after a few seconds. “See? That’s because I got that stuff splashed on me, right?” Just then I connected the dots. “Wait, and you’re saying that it’s a toxic chemical?”

She smiled proudly “Yeah, but it’s only toxic to us. People like you are fine with it, just as I suspected. Though the plan was never for you to absorb it like eye-drops.”

“Wait, so saving us was some sort of plan? Did you know this would happen in advance?” I said, coming off more accusatory than I meant to.

She looked annoyed again. “You did it twice, so didn’t you know in advance too?”

I wanted to argue, but then something else occurred to me. “Wait, does that mean that you two are time-travelers too?”

“Yep! We plucked you from the past to save the future!”

“Couldn’t you have saved the past instead, so that the future doesn’t happen?”

“That would have probably just created a new, crappier future, instead of this one.”

I wanted to argue, but decided I didn’t really care about that. “Fine. Can I see Ria? She only got a little drop on her, so if I’m fine, she must be too.” But before she could answer, I interrupted. ”Wait, did you call her a princess? You know that’s just a costume, right?”

She looked like she was holding back a laugh and turned away. Barely recovered, she said “Follow me. Just to be safe, bring your IV too.”

We walked through a clean, modern building. It was less futuristic than I would expect, which prompted me to ask what year it was. She told me that she wasn’t at liberty to say, which worried me.

We took an elevator up a few floors, and when the doors opened I beheld an extravagant, ridiculous scene. The whole floor was carpeted in plush red. The windows were stained a deep brown, there was a huge, ornate gold fireplace, and in the center of the room laid the biggest bed that I have ever seen in my life. Upon it, Ria waved to me, looking like a doll relative to the size of the huge pillows flanking her. And, actually, the huge dolls flanking her.

The older woman met us at the entrance. In contrast to the blond one, her hair was red, and she wore something that looked like streamlined knight’s armor.

“Geez sis, this place looks ridiculous”, the younger one said, brushing past her. “Did you make the bed that huge on purpose?”

“My Princess shall want for nothing. Let it not be said that she sufferth the most minor discomfort.”

Ria looked like she had been dealing with over-the-top solutions to her “discomforts” all day. The Ria I know would hate being treated like an actual princess.

“Halt, scoundrel!” The older one clapped a hand over my eyes as I entered the room, “You are not permitted to lay thine eyes upon Milady in her private bedchambers.”

I must have been on some form of sedative at the time, because otherwise, I would have instinctively used my powers to throw her out the window. It’s good that I didn’t. Instead, the younger one tackled the older one for me.

“You idiot! Do you know how lucky you are to still have that hand attached to your body! He just told me how he went back in time just by thinking about it! He could kill us all if he wanted to!”

While they were rolling around on the floor, I approached the massive bed. Even at the side of it, she was still a good 12 feet away from me. I had to raise my voice so that she could hear me at such a distance. “How are you feeling?”

She began to crawl across the ocean of bed. She was wearing a loose sort of gown, which revealed a lot as she crawled. “Oh, perfectly fine. I couldn’t dare ask for anything else”, she gestured with her eyes at the pair. “I heard you were in a coma? How are you?”

“Oh, I was? I guess I don’t remember, but that makes sense. Sorry to have worried you, but I guess I have powers now? Do you?”

She was almost to the edge, when both the sisters came between us.

“Now that you’re both awake, let us debrief you!” The younger said in a flustered hurry.
“Verily, but pray, but let us do this in a less intimate place. And prithee, keep your briefs!”

And with that, my IV and I were ushered back into the elevator. In my chemically subdued manner, I asked what the big deal was. She didn’t answer, and wouldn’t meet my gaze.

---

I was given new clothes to wear. Tights for warmth, shorts, a tank-top, and a hoodie. It seemed like something the younger sister would wear for a jog. In fact, these might just be her own clothes. Ria was given a nice, chaste, robe. We met in a room with a whiteboard where the sisters “debriefed” us.

“Listen up! I’m going to do this, because if she does it, it would take forever”. The younger one was gesturing towards the older one, who did not look apologetic at all.

“I’m Leona. That’s Mayu. First, it’s the year 206 AC. After Cataclysm. The year that the aliens invaded is year 1. If we hadn't rescued you from your time, you would have grown up to be great heroes who taught us how to fight back against the invaders, and created the society we have today. Moving on”

Wait, what? No, don’t move on, that sounds too important to just skip over. That’s what I would have said, if not for the sedatives.

“In the year 150, we discovered Aegis, this liquid which gives us the power to control reality. It’s actually derived from the blood of the Invaders, which is why we can’t directly exert control over their living tissue. But recently, they stopped sending the flesh-and-blood ones, and started sending machines instead, so our supply of Aegis will eventually run out. Moreover, our genes are becoming more and more incompatible with Aegis. Because of these two problems, we needed a way to get more Aegis and someone who can use it more efficiently than we can, so we started using time-travel.

However, there are limitations to this. One! We can’t travel back before 1 AC. Two! Producing offspring with these heroes only messes up our gene pool even more, because a lot of them are our ancestors. It’s like inbreeding, or something. So for that reason it was decided to scuttle the time-travel program.

So this is our last chance. We’ve gone back in time for the last time, and you two, the greatest heroes from the year 1, are our final hope!”

Ria boldly asked one of the questions that was on my mind. “How does time-travel work? If you go back in time don’t you change the future as well?”

“Great question! Gold Star!” The younger one pointed at Ria. “Every time we travel through time, we actually go to an alternate universe. So everything that happened in this universe still happened, you still grew up and died as heroes, it’s just that we created another universe that you disappeared from!”

I mustered a comment. “How can you be sure you returned to the same universe?”

“I just said, every time we travel, we go to a different universe. It’s not the same, it’s just similar. There’s the original universe that we left from, and the universe we came back to. They’re different.” She drew an explanation on the whiteboard, showing four branching paths, the original one where we became heroes as a straight line, a branch where they went back in time, but failed, a branch where I went back in time using Aegis and they succeeded in saving us, and new branch that we traveled to.

Ria raises her hand and asks if it’s possible to go to a universe where the Invaders never existed.

“Probably, but that’s just running away. That won’t save lives in this universe”

Didn’t you say you just left your original universe? So who cares! You’ve already run away once!

Ria smiles concedingly “I guess saving one universe full of lives is better than saving none of them.”

“Precisely! We measure morals in terms of lives saved! After we save this universe, feel free to save your ‘‘original timeline’ from its calamity and live out the rest of your lives as carefree teenagers!”

I muster another question. “What if it takes years to save this one? Our friends and families won’t recognize us”

She seemed actually mad at me. “You’ll go to a universe you disappeared from, or a universe you never existed in. I don’t know, I think it’s sentient or something. Don’t worry about it."

WHAT IS? WHAT’S SENTIENT?

Ria patted me on the shoulder as if to say “It’s okay, let’s just go along with it for now.”

“Anyway, your mission is to master your powers, and save this universe’s world from the threat of the Invaders. Okay! Training starts now!”

Men I’ve never seen before came and practically carried us out of the room.

Shortly after that, my IV was disconnected, and I was allowed to sober up. I thought about wanting to slap Leona with a ghost hand, wherever she was. I like to think that it worked.
 
Last edited:

Vendor-Lazarus

Arch Disciple
Sanctuary legend
Messages
647
Two misspelled words that I could find:

The women kicked open the door to the bathroom, ready for a fight. Instead, I was just kneeling on the floor, and Ria had apparently fallen backwards in fear of the beast. When I turned toward them, there was a moment of confusion before they snapped into action. They drug dragged us into the bathroom and ushered us into a stall in the back like before, as the younger one began her chant.
I tried levitating a bed, and it worked, a little bit. The beg bed slipped out of my mental grasp after a few seconds. “See? That’s because I got that stuff splashed on me, right?” Just then I connected the dots. “Wait, and you’re saying that it’s a toxic chemical?”
Otherwise, pretty interesting all in all. Maybe a bit too lighthearted, and skipping over some more intricate environment details, but it's just the right amount of ecchi, romance, comedy, mystery. Maybe flesh out the fight scenes to cause some suspense. I have to say that repeated time-travel is not my favorite trope. It easily turns bad or convoluted. You've managed to hang a lamp on it, but it still throws up questions that will go unanswered. Though many won't care about that negligable minute detail.. Right, one final thing. Does the MC have a name? I think I missed it.
 

Houseman

The Actual Hero
Sanctuary legend
Messages
766
Two misspelled words that I could find:





Otherwise, pretty interesting all in all. Maybe a bit too lighthearted, and skipping over some more intricate environment details, but it's just the right amount of ecchi, romance, comedy, mystery. Maybe flesh out the fight scenes to cause some suspense. I have to say that repeated time-travel is not my favorite trope. It easily turns bad or convoluted. You've managed to hang a lamp on it, but it still throws up questions that will go unanswered. Though many won't care about that negligable minute detail.. Right, one final thing. Does the MC have a name? I think I missed it.
Thanks. Fixed the misspellings.

No, the MC does not have a name. I like to call him "Nomato", as in Nomatophobia, fear of names.
 

Houseman

The Actual Hero
Sanctuary legend
Messages
766
I was guided outside, and got to see some of my new surroundings. The building I came out of looked like a hospital, clean, white, and tall. The cement and grass looked perfect as well. Everything inside and out was pristine, sanitized. Looking around, there were other buildings, roads, and even cars. Every building was either rectangular, or square, and made of the same shining white brick. Apart from the bricks being the most striking feature, the buildings also lacked the sloped triangular roofs, giving the area an industrial feel.


I learned that we were at a military base, and priority was given to function, rather than form. The bricks were all created using Aegis, which is to say, they were willed into existence, and then assembled following designs. The entire compound and all the technology was made in the same way.


Leona and Mayu were one of the few remaining who have the necessary compatibility to use Aegis to create matter from nothing. Those who can use Aegis were called priests, and were given tasks related to creation. Those who also fought, like the sisters, were given the title warriors. These heroes were the most effective weapons against the Invaders, and the war effort was based around supporting these two groups.


It was assumed that I would be a warrior, since, in a past life, I was a great General. There was actually a statue of me in another city, apparently. I was depicted as holding up the head of an Invader, which I used as a sort of prototypical Aegis container. The word itself, as well as the scene depicted in the statue, derive from the myth of the Greek hero Perseus, who beheaded Medusa and used her head as a weapon.


I was taken, by vehicle, to a firing range at the edge of town, which was really just a flat slab of concrete, pockmarked by various impacts. I could see a faint green glow emanating from the ground and curving up above my head. The town was protected by this dome, not itself a physical object, but a shield of energy maintained by a group of priests. That I could see where it terminated meant that I was, quite literally, at the edge of town. Beyond that was considered a wasteland.


Leona was here, waiting for me.


“We’re going to be doing some target practice to see what you can do. Here, use this”, she said, handing me a vial of Aegis. “Every time you do something, a proportional amount of liquid is used up. This is your ammo, so be sure to keep track of it so you don’t run out. If you turn it sideways, you can see a numerical representation of how much is left.”


I did, and holographic numbers appeared on the side of the vial. ‘1000’, it read.


While I put the vial around my neck, Leona used hers to fashion a target some distance away. She also conjured a glowing bow and arrow, which she drew and fired. The arrow caused an explosion which turned the target into powder.


“Try to do something like that. Break the target however you want. Just use your imagination.” she said, building me another target, closer this time, for my benefit.


“Couldn’t I just…” I began, but then, to my surprise, the target exploded in the manner that hers had. I didn’t create a weapon or fire anything at it, I just thought about it exploding, and I did. I should be more careful with my thoughts so I don’t accidentally destroy something while daydreaming.


Leona was upset again. “You need to learn not to attack things directly like that! It doesn’t work on our enemies. Aegis is derived from their blood, and aegides can’t directly affect other aegides! That’s why you have to create a weapon first! Do it again”. She made me another target, even closer this time.


I thought about what weapon I wanted to create. It would need to be something that could strike from a distance, like a bow and arrow, but I didn’t know how to use those. A gun, maybe?


I materialized an actual gun. It wasn’t glowing like her bow, or Mayu’s sword. I looked at Leona, expecting her to scold me. Instead, she just shrugged. I aimed at the target, and attempted to fire, but the trigger wouldn’t move. Did I even make a real gun? Is this just a gun-shaped object? Or wait, perhaps I have to turn the safety off? Inspecting my creation, I pressed a switch which released the magazine, startling me when it fell to the floor. Wrong switch. Picking up the magazine, I saw that there were even bullets inside. Did I create all this? I didn’t even know how guns really worked, never having handled them in real life. To think that I could create something, but not even know how it works or what’s inside, that’s disturbing, to say the least.


I made the gun, the magazine, and the bullets vanish. It was all too complex for me. Leona yawned. I just needed something to attack the target with. I thought about all the different kinds of weapons I’d seen in games and shows. Then I had an idea. What if it wasn’t a weapon, but just an attack itself?


I took a stance I had seen in anime, and thought about saying the words, but thought better of it, since Leona would probably make fun of me. Instead, I skipped the preparation, just brought my hands forward. A green beam of light exploded from my palms, so bright even I had to close my eyes, so powerful that I felt pain in my teeth. I stopped emitting the beam as soon as I could, mostly out of surprise. The whole thing lasted about a tenth of a second.


When I looked at where the target used to be, but couldn’t find it. Instead, there was a gorge cut into the ground. It cut through the concrete and into the dirt below, and continued on past the edge of town, carving a crescent shape into a hill in the distance. The affected area shimmered with heat.


Feeling that I did something wrong, I turned to Leona to apologize, but she had already grabbed me by the collar and necklace, turning me to face her. She turned my necklace sideways to read the number. It still said `1000`.

“You didn’t use any? But you expended so much power! It was expected that you’d be more efficient at using Aegis than we are, but you still have to have used some of it. You can’t get something from nothing. Unless… Oh crap, this is bad!”


Moments later we were back in the hospital. She had teleported us there, apparently. I wasn’t ready for that, and felt dizzy, so I sat down on a bed behind me while she ran off. Moments later, she teleported back into the same room, this time with a doctor in tow. The doctor had closed her eyes, I noted, which probably helped with the dizziness. Was it really so urgent that seconds couldn’t have been spent walking normally from place to place? The thought itself was raising my blood pressure and heart rate, which probably wasn’t good in any context in which a doctor is involved.


The doctor checked my vitals and took my blood, then told me to lay down and try to relax before shooing Leona out of the room. I thought of Ria, and wondered what she must be doing right now. I could have probably conjured some magic mirror that would let me see her, but decided against it. What if she was in the bathroom or something? Those thoughts were not relaxing.


About a half-hour later, the doctor returned with some papers on a clipboard. Leona hovered over her shoulder.


“We noted this before,” the doctor said, “but you have Aegis in your blood. It’s normally toxic to us, so we attempted to flush it out, but that didn’t work. Actually, with the amount that you absorbed through your eye, if it were a problem, you would have been dead already. For us, just a drop on the skin would be enough to warrant a month’s stay, but since you and Ria are different, it’s fine. It’s a toxin to us, but you two could probably drink it like water and survive. Don’t do that, by the way.

But your cells seem to be absorbing Aegis, and bonding with it. From the blood sample we took, around a third of your red blood cells are… we don’t have a medical term for this, but your blood resembles the blood of the Invaders, which is where Aegis comes from. I’ll need to run some more tests to be sure, preferably tissue and bone marrow samples, but we think your body is actually producing Aegis on its own.”


Leona cut in. “And this is dangerous, because you’re using your own Aegis as a source of power, as opposed to the distilled form in these vials. Look at mine.” She held hers up in front of my face. It read `260`. “All the teleporting around I did used that much up. Going back in time to get you used up at least two whole vials. You can’t get something from nothing, so every time you use your powers, you’re using up your own blood. See how that’s a problem?”


I felt fine, but yes, I could see how that would be a problem.


“So until we know more,” the doctor continued, “don’t use your powers. Even if you were to use up a third of your blood, you might survive, but it could be that your tissue and bones are infused with Aegis as well. We noted that your eyeball was exposed to Aegis. We can probably assume that your optic nerve, and perhaps even your brain is affected. Using your powers could make your brain cells disappear, in the worst case scenario. But like I said, we need to run more samples to make sure.”


If this is happening to me, then… “Ria!” I exclaimed. “She might be in the same danger! You need to warn her too!”


“The warning hath already been received,” Mayu said as she entered the room. “The Princess is retired to her chambers. T’would follow that her ‘condition’ is less severe than yours, but through observation, we ascertained that her use of Aegis also comes from within.”


I sat back down, relieved. I didn’t even realize that I had stood up. I hung my head.


Someone put a hand on my shoulder. It was Leona. “I’m sorry I got you into this. Taking you from the past was my idea. Whatever happens, I’ll take responsibility for it. Even if it turns out you can’t help us, I’ll make sure you and Ria have good lives here.”


Something about those words made me suddenly aware of the gravity of the situation. Our old world was gone, destroyed by invaders from another planet. All our friends and families, everyone we ever knew were dead, 200 years in the past. Even we were supposed to be already dead, resting peacefully in a hero’s tomb. We were saved from that fate only to be the failed last-ditch attempt at saving the world. Is that really it? Are we supposed to just sit around and wait for the Invaders to kill us all when humanity inevitably runs out of Aegis?


I didn’t realize that Leona had hugged me. She had hugged me because I was crying. I think she was crying too. Even Mayu was looking away, holding back tears.


We were broken from our solemnity by some sort of alarm that made everyone in the room jump.


“Leona, to arms at once! Our camp is beset by the enemy!” Mayu shouted.


Leona let me go and wiped her eyes looking annoyed at something other than me for a change. “I’ve never even heard that alarm at this outpost. The barrier should keep them away, shouldn’t it?”


An explosion nearby confirmed that it did not. We could see the smoke from the window, being 10 stories up. I recognized the flat concrete plane from the firing range. There was, or used to be, a building next to it, but it was now obscured by smoke. I just happened to catch a nearby guard tower as it buckled and collapsed.


I turned around and Leona and Mayu were gone. The doctor excused herself, needing to make emergency preparations. For the first time since I came here, I was alone. But that also meant that nobody was around to tell me what to do.


I went to see Ria.


---


Taking the stairs this time, since the elevator seemed more risky, I stopped at Ria’s floor, which I remembered as being the penthouse. Coming in from an entrance near the elevator door, I didn’t see her in her huge bed. I thought she might be buried under a pillow or a plush doll, but upon closer inspection, I could see that she wasn’t in the room at all. Another explosion.


Her windows didn’t face the same way that mine did. If she were curious about the explosions, she would have to leave the room. I didn’t pass her on the stairs, so unless she took the elevator down, maybe she went to the roof? I decided to go up and check. If I didn’t find her there, I’d just use my powers to go to her. I didn’t care anymore.


Fortunately, I did find her on the roof. She was watching the smoke. She turned, and gestured me over when she heard my footsteps on the rooftop’s gravel.


She began as I approached. “Did the doctors tell you too?”

“Yes”, I replied.

She sighed. “It seems like only yesterday, but I still remember my lines”

“Your lines?”

“The play. I sacrifice myself to save everyone else. This situation is a little like that, don’t you think?” Her voice was distant, dream-like. The same things that were weighing on my mind were also weighing on hers.


“Unlike that play”, she continued, “I don’t have a duty to save everyone. The king and prince had given their lives for me, and then it was my turn. I barely know these people. This isn’t really my world. Our world”. She held my hand, as we watched the smoke together. “You’re the only one here who really knows or cares about me. And you’re the one who I care about the most. But you’re still here. If anything, I feel that I have a duty towards you. So I want you to decide. What do we do? How do you want us to live?


Like they say, we can live peacefully as civilians for the rest of our lives, or we can use up our bodies and fight. It’s our lives. We should decide what we do, not them.”


She turned to face me, grabbing my other hand. “Allow me to fight, and I will. Tell me to stay back, and I will. What should I do?”


I looked away. I wasn’t used to people relying on me like this. I looked towards the smoke. There were smaller explosions now, green bursts, visible in the distance. People were perhaps already fighting and dying while I was mulling over this decision. I hadn’t even thought about risking my life and fighting anyway, but Ria had already come to a resolution. She was looking toward me for direction, but in reality, I took direction from her. If she wanted to fight, then screw it, so would I.


“You’ve seen those vials they have?” I began. “They’re small right? We have way more blood than that.” She beamed. “Let’s go, Princess.”


---


Ria knew how to fly, apparently. I didn’t, so rather than have her try and lift me, I decided that I’d copy what Leona did and teleport instead, after telling Ria that I’d meet her there. I went back to the firing range, as a familiar spot. There were sounds of a battle nearby. The building that used to be there was crushed, and in its place stood a building-sized mix between a salamander and a dragon. It was black, and covered with some sort of thick coating. It reared up on its tail, revealing two columns of sword-like legs. Mayu could be seen batting them away with her sword and shield, while an arrow, presumably from Leona, struck its underside. It seemed not to react, and crashed down with its body, causing another plume of smoke. I ran towards it, clearing the smoke and rubble out of the way.


I found Leona first. She snapped at me, of course. “What are you doing here? We told you not to use your powers!” The Salamander-dragon swiped it’s fat tail at us. Leona moved to tackle me out of the way, but couldn’t make it in time. I wanted to block it, so I did, causing ripples to form through it’s thick hide. I swatted it away, causing a chunk of the hide to rip off, revealing a mechanical structure.


“Oh, this seems pretty easy. Can you not do that, Leona?” She had about three different emotions on her face, but before she could answer, Ria swooped down, punching the beast in what I suppose could be it’s head. It compressed, before rebounding off the earth and bouncing up above us.


“Heh, I didn’t think it would be that easy”, she commented, still hovering in the air.

“I know, right!?”


“Princess! Stop this at once!” Mayu objected.

“Stop me yourself”, she replied, sticking out her tongue, as the creature landed in the distance.


It bounced and rolled to a stop near the edge of the dome. “Hey Ria, watch this!” I called. Seeing that it was far enough away, and couldn’t cause any collateral damage. I hit it with the same beam I used before, but scaled back in intensity. The beam vaporized the rubber-like flesh off the mechanical lizard, stripping it to the bare metal. It looked like a centipede now. Parts of it were melting with a few legs falling off. It wasn’t moving.


“That was totally a move from some anime just now, wasn’t it? You nerd”, she teased.

I didn’t have a witty reply, so I turned to the sisters. “So, was that it? Is it over?”


I was met with stunned expressions. Mayu answered first. “For the while, yes, I think it to be so. Though, to be honest, I hath never beheld the death of a creature of this type”, pointing weakly at it.


“To be safe, we should move the body outside of the dome then, right? It looks like it got in through that hole over here” Ria pointed. Following her finger, I could see a perfect circle cut out from the dome. That was from my target practice an hour earlier. Oops.


Thankfully, I didn’t have any deaths on my conscience from that attack. I learned later that it was just structural damage, and a fuel tank that had exploded. After using our powers, Ria and I both felt fine. The doctors didn’t detect any loss of blood, tissue, or bone, and we consented to having more tests done. Together, Ria and I both made it clear that we were determined to fight, despite the risks.
 
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Vendor-Lazarus

Arch Disciple
Sanctuary legend
Messages
647
“Leona, to arms! We are under siege attack!” Mayu shouted.
“To be safe, we should move the body outside of the dome, then right dome then, right? It looks like it got in through that hole over here” Ria pointed. Following her finger, I could see a perfect circle cut out from the dome. That was from my target practice an hour earlier. Oops Whoops.
 

Houseman

The Actual Hero
Sanctuary legend
Messages
766
“Leona, to arms! We are under siege attack!” Mayu shouted.
This is intentional, although she is technically wrong that the place is being besieged. Since she has a weird manner of speaking, I thought she would say "siege" rather than "attack" in this context.

Oops Whoops.
Also intentional. It might just be a cultural difference. I've seen both used plenty in the USA.

Thanks for reading and correcting.
 

Vendor-Lazarus

Arch Disciple
Sanctuary legend
Messages
647
This is intentional, although she is technically wrong that the place is being besieged. Since she has a weird manner of speaking, I thought she would say "siege" rather than "attack" in this context.


Also intentional. It might just be a cultural difference. I've seen both used plenty in the USA.

Thanks for reading and correcting.
I'm not sure it's clear that it's the old-english speaking one that says it. Maybe spruce up the sentence a bit more, and change it to beleaguered then?
Or maybe "Leona, to arms at once! Our camp is beset by the enemy!"

Yeah, I've mostly used oops..but only because it's shorter. heh.
 

Vendor-Lazarus

Arch Disciple
Sanctuary legend
Messages
647
I do admire you for being able to put your vision down on text in a well off manner.
I've got thousands of ideas, which are clear in my mind..but somehow..it just doesn't come together written down at all. Despite having read ..a lot.. of works.
I'm also maybe just a tad too self-critical. One of the reasons I don't do long posts is because it takes me an inordinate amount of time to re-check, verify, and re-format to make everything polished enough.
 

Houseman

The Actual Hero
Sanctuary legend
Messages
766
I'm not sure it's clear that it's the old-english speaking one that says it. Maybe spruce up the sentence a bit more, and change it to beleaguered then?
Or maybe "Leona, to arms at once! Our camp is beset by the enemy!"
Yes, good suggestion.

I do admire you for being able to put your vision down on text in a well off manner.
I've got thousands of ideas, which are clear in my mind..but somehow..it just doesn't come together written down at all. Despite having read ..a lot.. of works.
Practice helps. The stuff I wrote years ago is definitely worse, and completely stream-of-consciousness without a basic outline or goal.

I'm also maybe just a tad too self-critical.
Alcohol helps!
I was once told that the most important thing is just to get the words on the page.
 
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