Title: How to Make Enemies and Ruin Lives
Premise, or Lack Thereof: The Authoress is a cheating cheater
Reason for Banishment: Far too self-referential and filled with difficult to explain in-jokes to work as a story.
Despite the Judas Priest’s vocal protests otherwise, Team Pyrrhic Victory—named so because their achievements were more often than not tainted by questionable motives, ambiguous outcomes, and massive collateral damage—beat a hasty retreat from their former nominal leader as she betrayed the group and seized the Final Gate for herself.
“Put me down, demon!” Alexander Anderson seethed, stabbing at Xelloss without any apparent effect as the latter kept the former in a firm fireman’s hold over his shoulder. “Iscariot never withdraws from a battle, no matter how hopeless it may seem!”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that, Mr. Anderson,” Xelloss replied, his ever-present smile not slipping in the least. “If you die, then who would I have to talk to?” He slowed his pace to match that of Legato Bluesummers, who was beginning to break out in a cold sweat. “How are you holding up, Kitty-kins?”
“I don’t want your help.”
“Wanting and needing are two different things, aren’t they?” Xelloss turned around and began floating backwards. “Oh, nevermind, here comes help now.”
At the word ‘now’, the unofficial fourth member of Team Pyrrhic Victory caught up to the group, drawing the enormous sword strapped to his back and shifting it into the shape of a shield just as Legato’s concentration faltered, blocking the lancets of energy that shot towards them.
“Ah, right on cue!” Xelloss scooped up Legato as well, and the escape resumed its previous speed. “You had me worried for a moment there, Adam.”
“That little cheater,” Adam grumbled, activating the remaining Materia on the hilt of his sword in order to fortify their defenses. “By starting the narrative here, she’s effectively forced us to relive the plot twice.”
“Oh, don’t be such a pessimist!” Xelloss chided. “Why don’t you look at it as a sign that she intends to skip the boring parts, like this extended running sequence?” He pointed towards the distance. “See? We’re fading into the opening text crawl already.”
Dot’s Concept Space presents
The universe as we know it is just an infinitesimal speck among a greater collection. For millennia, these other worlds maintained their own balance between Light and Shadow, unaware of the rich vastness that lay just outside what they perceived to be reality. But that was Then.
Now is an age of great adventures as innumerable Travelers from the infinite sea of possibilities leave the comforts of their old lives to take up new dreams and goals.
Precious few would succeed.
Countless more would fail.
[“Oh, dear, that doesn’t sound very cheerful,” Xelloss mused.
Adam scoffed. “No, she’s just giving herself an out if she loses.”
“But what if she wins?”
“Then we quote ‘Die Hard’ and pose for the final iris out.”]
How to Make Enemies and Ruin Lives
Falling. Falling. She was falling. Or maybe she was flying. She couldn’t tell.
/Welcome, Traveler. You are about to embark upon a path that will determine the fate of many. Choose your companions wisely./
When the Tome appeared, she already knew who to pick. She’d spent days whittling down her choices for the perfect candidates, after all.
She took up the quill and began to write.
a meta multiworld crack crossver
The Traverse Town franchise of Tifa’s Seventh Heaven, like its Midgar counterpart, drew most of its customers due to the attractiveness of its owner. After all, no other Bar in Traverse Town—or anywhere else, for that matter—had a former world-destroying, purple-skinned alien with a fashion sense that tended towards wardrobe malfunction mixing one’s drinks. In more recent days, however, Seventh Heaven became the hottest hangout spot in town not because of its hostess, but thanks to a band of misfits whose exploits were reaching epic, world-effecting levels.
At the moment, said band was on its way to that very Bar to meet up with the others they had met on their journey. “I can’t believe she kept that joke. Only, what, five people might get it, tops?”
“But the thought of Miss Jenova as a bartender is humorous to stand on its own, just like how the mental image of her darling son selling hotdogs would bring a smile on anyone’s face, wouldn’t it?” Xelloss paused in mid-step and blinked. “Say, we’re here already? I thought the initial montage was supposed to run a little longer.”
Adam peered up a few paragraphs. “Yeah, I’ve got the feeling we’re missing something, too.” Then he shrugged. “Hey, if she wants to streamline the narrative, I’m all for it.”
They stepped through the swinging doors, attracting looks of surprise and alarm from those gathered. Ishida Uryuu from the Bleach world was the first to speak up. “What happened to you? Where’s—”
“Gave into darkness, backstabbed everybody, stole the Ultimate Power, plans to use it for Evil,” Adam sat down at the bar and Jenova poured him a whiskey, “blah blah blah.”
Wolfwood cursed and lit a new cigarette. “What’d she go and do that for? She’s the Keybearer.”
“As long as there’s still worlds to be sealed, yeah.” Adam downed the first of many drinks. “You see the problem?”
“So—now what?” Jenova asked.
“Well, I was expecting this to happen, so I’ve got a contingency plan.” Adam refilled his glass. “But first, I need to get roaring drunk so I won’t think about how much trouble she’s caused with her little stunt.”
“While you infodump for the NPCs here, I have to report back to my Lady.” Xelloss gave the group a little wave. “See you later, shall we?”
Xelloss stepped off the Astral Plane at the outskirts of Wolfpack Island. While Beastmaster Xelas was more lenient about her subordinates—Xelloss in particular—popping in for a direct audience, the sudden influx of those so-called ‘Heartless’ and the resultant anarchy prompted Xelas to reinstate the War-era security measures.
In his mind’s eye, Xelloss could almost see an image of himself in false sepia tint walking along this very road with the human girl whom he had arranged to become the Keybearer, but before he could get too far into his reminiscing he was put on the defensive by a figure wearing a black hood.
“This is a new look for you, Zelgadis,” Xelloss greeted, parrying the spells thrown at him with effortless ease. “Did those gloomy folks in Organization Thirteen give you a new name, too? What would that be, anyway? Gladzisex, perhaps?”
“Shut up,” Zelgadis snarled, although now that the luckless golem had lost his heart it was hard for Xelloss to gain any benefit from the pale shadow of hatred that the former was emanating. “Where are they?”
“You’d have to be more specific than that.” Xelloss began to retreat, pulling Zelgadis towards the island’s defenses. “I know a lot of people, and depending on who you’re asking for, I might even be able to tell you.”
“Don’t play dumb with me!” Zelgadis drew a Flare Arrow and aimed it at Xelloss. “Lina, Gourry, Amelia, that dragon girl—what did you do with them?”
“Oh, them! They went on a very, very important adventure. Miss Amelia wanted to go looking for you first, but they figured that as long as you’re both after the same thing you’ll cross paths eventually, right?” Xelloss opened one eye and immobilized Zelgadis with strands of raw magic. “As much fun it is to play with you, I’ve got a meeting to attend. Wouldn’t be polite to keep my Lady waiting, after all!”
It was then, just as Xelloss was about to continue forward, that he realized Zelgadis was a mere distraction. He raised his staff to counter the Named spell headed his way, but he was already too late; the twin pillars of light struck him square in the chest and he became rooted to the spot, as if the entirety of his Astral form was forced into that tiny physical frame. If not for his Mazoku nature, even his consciousness would have been frozen as well.
“Aw, it wasn’t as effective as I thought it’d be.” A small girl with bright orange hair stepped into view and sliced through Zelgadis’ bindings with a dagger bearing elaborate runes. “But I suppose I’m still a few centuries too young to do a complete knockout.”
Zelgadis slapped the girl’s hand away when she approached and staggered to his feet on his own power. “You followed me!”
“Well, duh. I knew I couldn’t count on you for anything.” She turned to face Xelloss. “Letsee now. I wonder if Madame Authoress was willing to risk letting you have one of the Pages.”
Zelgadis readied an Elmykia Lance. “Hold it right there. You are not moving another inch until you tell me who you are and what you’re up to!”
“I’m not really obligated to say anything to anyone, least of all you, but I suppose I wouldn’t mind dropping a name.” She gave Zelgadis a tiny curtsey. “Call me Elaine.”
If Xelloss could move, his eyes would have opened in surprise. Now he knew why the girl looked familiar. After all, she had been part of why the Keybearer had caught his attention in the first place.
Elaine gave Xelloss a fanged grin. “I warned you that Madame Authoress is a sore loser, didn’t I? Now it’s too late.”
Meanwhile, Adam had, in one sentence, alienated just about the entire Bar.
“Are you kidding?” Adam had scoffed in response to a query from the back of the from about tackling the situation head-on. “All of you put together wouldn’t last two paragraphs, and that’s being generous.”
Gaara twitched, a visible vein forming in his forehead. “That weak little girl, against all of us?”
“As long as she’s the designated Protagonist, nobody’s got a chance.” Seeing the puzzled looks he was getting, Adam elaborated. “You’ve all got one of those. You know, that one person who always seems to win in the very end no matter how impossible things seem.”
A murmur rose up from the group as they each thought of the people who fell under that designation, and increased as they realized that none of said Protagonists were present.
“If we’re not fighting her, then what are we supposed to do?” Luigi asked, wringing his hands.
Adam finished his last drink and stood. “I hope you like fetch quests.”
Alexander Anderson paused as he approached London, taking in the sights before him. Though the city was, as a whole, still overrun with various undead, some semblance of order had been restored along the major thoroughfares and limited civilian activity was allowed during the day. As the sun was now setting, police had moved in to hurry the reluctant residents back into their homes and secure the area.
He continued forward, making a beeline for the remains of the Hellsing manor. As much as he loathed to admit it, the last time Team Pyrrhic Victory had passed through all the action had centered around Integra Hellsing and her collection of misfits. And with his excommunication a near certainty, he didn’t have any other possible allies. The mere thought of having to fight alongside those heretics again rankled him to no end, but he did need them, even if for nothing more than cannon fodder.
He pushed the door open, and discovering that it had long since been ripped from its hinges, caught it before it could fall to the floor. He inched forward, taking slow, tentative steps as his eyes adjusted to the dark interior.
The—what was the term? Oh, yes—Keybearer’s “Insert” dozed on the sofa in the foyer, curled up with a shawl around her shoulders and cradling a shotgun far too large for her size. He was about to call her attention when she slumped forward and that action caused her to snap awake.
It took a few moments for her to compose herself and wipe away the tears streaming down her face. “Don’t you ever knock?”
He continued forward past her. “Where’s the Hellsing woman?”
“Under arrest. Some asshole on the Round Table blamed her for the disaster and transferred Hellsing’s operations to MI6.”
“And the Nosferatu?”
“Still sealed up in his coffin—” she gestured towards the distance and shrugged. “—somewhere.”
“The police girl, then.”
“On call. Last I heard, she’d gone to Europe to help with the recovery effort there.”
“The—that one with the monocle.”
She shook her head. “He’s gone missing. Nobody can find him.”
Anderson raised a mental eyebrow. It seems the Keybearer took no chances. “And they’ve let you stay here.”
“Well, since I don’t seem to exist in any official capacity, they’re just keeping me under surveillance until somebody makes up their minds.” She forced a laugh. “I’m not holding my breath, but it’s not like I’ve got anywhere to go, either.” She regarded him with curiosity. “So, what brings you back here?”
“You mean you don’t know?” Anderson asked, starting to become suspicious again. Adam had assured him that an Insert unaware of the latest turn of events would be helpful; left unspoken was the assumption that they would otherwise impede the plot by all means possible.
She caught onto his unease and worry crossed her features. “What? What happened?”
Wolfwood still couldn’t quite believe that he and Legato were waiting in a line that snaked back and forth for several rows for their first meal back in Gunsmoke. Heck, he’d been suspicious ever since Legato showed up with that group of strangers and helped Vash subdue Knives. But the change in demeanor didn’t seem fake now that Wolfwood had the opportunity to observe Legato at length.
At last it was their turn to the front, and Wolfwood couldn’t help but grimace at some of the offerings. No doubt much effort had been made to make the food nutritious, but presentation was another matter altogether. However, with neither of them carrying any money, they had to make do.
Wolfwood was so busy watching Legato that it wasn’t until he saw the latter’s reaction when he remembered that they had last crossed paths with the Authoress’ Insert in this very town. He turned towards the person ladling portions of potato salad: sure enough, there she stood, her lips turning a distrubing shade of bluish purple.
“Bluesummers!” Wolfwood hissed, grabbing Legato’s arm and shaking it, letting go the instant Legato’s gaze swung in his direction.
The volunteer next to the Insert steadied her. “Are you alright?”
She coughed, gasping for air. “Mind if I take a break?” She managed to ask between breaths.
“Of course! Go right ahead.”
Legato, with Wolfwood hurrying along behind, followed her out to the back entrance. By the time Wolfwood caught up, Legato was already strangling her again, this time with his bare hands.
“You liar.” Fury was rolling off Legato in almost palpable waves. “How is what she did any different from Knives-sama? They’re the same! The same, you hypocrite!”
“Who did what now?”
This time, even Wolfwood’s hackles were raised. He spun, pointing his gun at the new arrival, the other Insert who called herself Julie. “She might be able to claim ignorance, but not you.”
“And what exactly is the big deal about the Authoress going villain?” Julie shrugged, unconcerned. “Happens all the time. Her forays into evil don’t last more than one story arc, so just ride it out and make her clean up her own messes.” She jumped down from her perch, landing with feline grace next to Legato. “My, Bluesummers, you’re going to kill her if you keep that up much longer.”
Legato twitched. “Why would that matter?” Nevertheless, he relinquished his grip, and the Insert dropped to the ground unconscious but alive. “She was never supposed to exist in the first place.” He glared at Julie through his bangs. “And neither were you.”
Julie eased the Insert onto her back. “You’re hardly in a position to discuss existence yourself.”
Wolfwood stepped into Julie’s path, gun still drawn. “And where do you think you’re going?”
Julie smiled back. “Why don’t you follow along and find out?”
Would you like to watch a tutorial of how the Sacred Tome works?
[ ] No
— Tutorial Mode —
Welcome, Traveler! You are now the Narrator for your adventure and your primary function will be to record your progress in the Sacred Tome. However, as you continue along your way, you will gain new powers that you can use to help your teammates succeed on your mission.
[ ] I’m done with this tutorial.
[x] What kind of powers?
This is Sandbox Island. Here you can practice the abilities you have acquired throughout your journey. Let’s start by creating an Insert!
[ ] Okay.
[x] What’s an Insert?
The Insert is a stand-in for you so you can interact with the worlds you visit. After all, you’re on the other side of the Divide, and you can’t cross it just yet. While your Insert can look however you like, we suggest that for your first one you try to keep as close to your real self as possible until you become more familiar with how the Sacred Tome works. Are you ready to begin?
[ ] Not yet.
All right! Hang on tight! Here we go!
Adam took the default entrance into Sandbox Island, not bothering to hide the fact that he was there. While the Authoress had relegated herself to McGuffin status for the moment, it wasn’t like she didn’t know what was going on. Knowing her, it wasn’t unreasonable to assume that she was already making contact with Team Pyrrhic Victory (and everyone else) through her Inserts and spreading the plot over so many different branches that it would take a good while to resolve them all.
He trudged towards the hill where the Sword that designated him as Official Killjoy rested. By restoring his status as an Insert, he knew he ran the risk of becoming one of the Authoress’ minions, but with the way things were going he couldn’t keep coasting on the fact that he was her favorite (or was it second favorite?) character concept.
“I can’t believe I’m back here again,” he muttered as he reached the pedestal. When he’d first gotten the job he couldn’t wait to be set free from the obligations she forced on him, but now he was taking them up again out of his own volition. He removed his current sword, a pale shadow that she’d made for him to use while she worked out the kinks in his backstory—a crutch, both of them had to admit, but it had its uses. And it did look cool, once he figured out how to alter his gait so the sheath didn’t whack him in the ass on every step.
He reached out and found himself hesitating. No matter how many times she had tried the path of Evil, in the end the Authoress proved that she was unable to resist playing the Hero, more often than not in the most epic, melodramatic fashion possible. His role would be, at best, incidental. And unlike his predecessor, he was no fan of pain, but as an Insert he’d have to put up with all sorts of shit—well, more than he had to now, anyway.
And yet she could be unpredictable. For him to be able to counter all of her plans he would need to know what she was thinking, and his guesses weren’t always accurate. Adam detested uncertainty in such volatile times; more than that, he hated to be wrong.
“Fuck it. Let’s do this.”
With that declaration, he grabbed the hilt with both hands and pulled.
After he’d screamed himself hoarse and the bombardment of information had slowed to a manageable level, he crawled to his feet, clicking the sheath in place as it appeared on his back.
“That little cheater,” he complained to himself; he had a feeling he’d make that declaration many more times before the story drew to a close. “She’s stacked the deck so far in her favor it’s not even funny.”
The remaining members of Team Save Rukia—Chad, Orihime, and Uryuu, to be more specific—reentered Soul Society to find it in a state of utter destruction. Hollows of all shapes and sizes wandered the rubble-littered streets and the few surviving shinigami were fighting a losing battle to protect the islands of survivors scattered about.