Hey, 9 reviews already! That's nine more than I expected this fic would get. Yay for me!
Anyway, time to answer the reviews.
To Rc1212: Thank you so much for the warm words! I'm glad Konoka made you crack up and that I can write Madoka well, I was so worried about them.
To cooking samurai: Hey, don't worry, everyone has to learn sometime! And as for what might happen to Mao…well, all you have to do is to read on.
To TheFireDiamond: Wait, I really did? Thanks! And yeah, I cried when Almaz died. And when Beryl was killed I think I just broke. Aurum deserved what was coming to him. And as for True Heart…well, he remembers some things, but the personal stuff escapes him and Mao, save for the whole "I destroyed the universe" thing. And I couldn't just let Gig get killed. He's the most awesome character Nippon Ichi has ever created!
To The Ansem Man: Thank you so much for the kind words! And I will try my best not to disappoint.
To DiLost: You have a point, but Mao did destroy the universe. Who's to say he didn't destroy some other neighboring universes?
To marze09: Your wish is my command.
To Zdood: …I knew I forgot something. Thanks for pointing it out!
Also, some timeline notes: I know I said this was before the Kyoto arc. However, I never said it was set a little while before Chapter 26!
On to the story!
Disgaea: Presence of Hope
Episode 2: This Is Mahora
Unfortunately, Mao got lost.
Perhaps it was because of the fact that Mahora Academy was a labyrinth, even beyond what he expected. Among other things, he saw that there was a fairly popular coffee shop on campus, as well as a grocery store and a fully-fledged concert hall. And other such things, as well.
As a result, he found himself buying not only sunny-side-up eggs with salt and pepper, but also a teetering stack of comic books from the bookshop, a used PSP and a laptop from the used goods store and a lesser, but still teetering stack of other books.
As expected, it cost him a lot, but the unexpectedly large amount of money he found in his pockets helped. The bad news was that he came away from his little spree about three million yen or so short, and still as lost as he could ever get.
"Dammit," he grumbled. "Now, where the hell am I?"
He looked up…and up…and up…and up, staring at the giant robot.
A small trickle of drool flowed down his chin.
"Hey, look!" someone remarked. "It's Hakase-sama!"
A young, nerdy-looking girl poked her head out from the cockpit, a megaphone in hand. "Can everyone please get out of the way?" she yelled. "I need to test this new robot!"
"Interesting…" Mao murmured, wiping the drool away with the back of his hand. "Well, it's settled, then! I'm taking this giant robot!"
Somehow, the girl had heard him from the cockpit, as she turned her megaphone on him and yelled, "Like hell am I letting you!"
About fifteen minutes later, he and Satomi were discussing science with each other as they stomped around the campus in the cockpit of a giant robot. Thankfully, they had managed to clear out a route where they could safely do so without worrying about civilian casualties.
"Impressive," Mao remarked. "I still say it can be improved if we add bazookas to its arsenal, though! That way, we can completely massacre anyone who stands in our way!"
Satomi sweatdropped, wondering exactly what had this strange boy been reading. "Perhaps, but this robot wasn't made for that purpose," she finally said. "I had an entirely different reason for making it than to have it brutally defeat all in its way."
Mao snorted derisively in reply. "A robot as impressive as this, and you're not going to use it to do what it's supposed to do?" he asked. "What kind of self-respecting mad scientist builds a giant robot for a purpose other than to have it beat its opponents into a bloody pulp?"
"The kind that's not allowed to do so unless it's authorized," Satomi answered. "I do make robots for battle, but an overly-large one like this might take up far too much of the battlefield."
"That's the point! You have to intimidate them somehow, and what better way than through a humongous mecha that could stomp them into the ground at any second?"
Somewhere in Mahora Academy, Evangeline Athanasia Katherine McDowell, the Dark Evangel, the Queen of the Night, the Tidings of Evil, the Advent of Evil, the Visitation of Woe, the Puppet Master, the Ice-Cold Vampire Child, Maga Nosferatu herself, sneezed. Loudly.
"Someone's talking about me," she muttered to herself, but took no further heed of it.
Satomi shrugged. "I see your point," she admitted, "but think about it. How would I be able to avoid my allies if I'm in a robot this big? I wouldn't be able to see them, first off, and I'd run the risk of stomping them into bits as well as my enemies, or perhaps even innocents."
"Who cares about them?" Mao asked, and she saw his eyes briefly flash a sinister purple. "As long as you can make completely sure your enemies are dead, you don't have to worry about collateral damage."
"Mao-san," she said, using his name for the first time since they met, her tone completely serious. "If 'collateral damage' includes taking lives, I would rather use this robot for heavy lifting."
"No buts," she cut him off, then sighed. "Mao-san, I liked talking with you. It's been a while since I could discuss issues like this with somebody outside of the Engineering Club or someone who isn't Yue-san. Negi-sensei is…well, despite his intelligence, he's still only a kid."
Mao's expression softened slightly. "Just a kid, huh…" he murmured.
"But," she continued, "I assure you, I could never take the lives of my allies or of innocents, just to show off the power of my inventions. Perhaps you should reflect on that."
"Since when did discussing giant robots lead to stuff about morality?" Mao asked, sounding rather exasperated by this. "Oh, look, there's a restaurant. Now, how do you get off?"
It took a ladder and three attempts to get off the exterior of the giant robot (the last one with grease and a crowbar), but he finally managed to knock off the drooling and actually get on with the landing.
"I'll see you around, Hakase!" he yelled after the giant robot as it stomped off into the distance.
A chubby young woman poked her head out of the restaurant, then blinked at him. Somehow, this managed to get his attention.
"Yeah, I think it's safe to come out," he told her. "So, what's this? Chao Bao Zi…what a strange name for a restaurant!"
The woman shrugged in reply, then came out from her hiding place.
'It's nice to meet you,' she greeted him, a smile on her face. 'Would you like some soup?'
Mao blinked at her. Well, he did feel hungry…why not?
"So long as there's no hot sauce," he finally said.
The woman nodded in reply. 'One hot sauce-free soup, coming right up. Take a seat, it might take a while.'
As it turned out, the soup was worth every second of the wait.
'So, how was it?' the woman—he'd learned her name was Satsuki—asked.
"The flavor…it's sour, but has a hint of spice in it," he answered. "The texture is smooth, with just the right amount of creaminess as well! It practically explodes in my mouth!" He leapt to his feet. "There's no doubt about it! This is the Armageddon of Soupiness!"
'I'm glad you liked it, Mao-san,' Satsuki cheerily said. 'It's on the house this time, but I'll expect you to pay for subsequent meals.'
Strangely enough, he didn't really mind.
"Oh, hey, it's that girl."
"Yeah, her. Damn, she made good hotpods."
"You know her, Meanie-san?"
"It's Gig! And yeah, I did. Once. It involved some guy named Thor, a hammer, and a really shitty day. Tell you all about it when science pervert does save the universe."
Mao left Chao Bao Zi, feeling renewed and ready to get back to the dorms.
He didn't expect to get lost in the labyrinth that was Mahora Academy again. Unfortunately, he did, and had wandered around for an hour or so before winding up at the World Tree Plaza.
Dammit, he thought, swearing under his breath. Where the hell are those dorms again?
"Hey!" someone called out, startling him in the middle of his thoughts. "What are you doing here? It's almost 6!"
He turned to find a young girl with bells in her hair, blinking at him. "Who are you?" he asked, his voice neutral. There was something strange about this girl…
"Hey, I know you," the girl remarked. "You're the kid we brought to our dorm. Feeling any better?" As she spoke, she leaned in, bringing up her hand to his forehead.
He quickly slapped the hand away. "Of course I am," he snapped. "I wouldn't be walking around if I wasn't!"
Honestly, though, he would've walked around even if he wasn't feeling any better, but he didn't mention that to the girl. He didn't see any need to.
"Well, jeez, some way to show appreciation for someone being concerned about you," the girl retorted, quickly drawing her hand back and glaring at him. "Didn't anyone teach you some manners, you little brat?"
"I don't care about that," he replied. "What matters is that you haven't answered my question yet. Who are you?"
"First tell me who are you," the girl responded.
"No, you first!"
"You go first."
Silence fell over the two of them as they glared at each other, both daring the other to blink and lose this impromptu glaring contest. Or at least it felt like a glaring contest to him.
For a moment, he thought he was going to win this for sure. Then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw Negi Springfield riding on top of a large stick, and blinked out of confusion.
What was that? he briefly wondered, only to be interrupted by the girl's yell of "I WON! I WON! I WON! Beat that!"
"Dammit, stop rubbing it in my face!" he yelled at her.
It had been a long afternoon, and Mao was just about ready to drift off to sleep and forget all about the strange things that had happened that afternoon, when…
"Mao-san!" Negi declared, startling him out of his half-asleep state. "Asuna-san and I talked to the principal a while ago, but you left before I could tell you."
"Tell me what?" he groggily asked.
"He says you should try staying in another room tomorrow," the younger boy told him. "And if you don't like it there, you can go to another room. Sounds good?"
"Yeah, yeah," he muttered, not really listening. "Sleepy. Go'way before I throw something at you."
And with that he buried his face in the pillow and snored away, ignoring any more of Negi's attempts to wake him up.
A scream. That was what his dream started with.
No, wait, that wasn't quite right. It wasn't one scream, but many. It was the screams of those who never had a chance, the cries of the voices who would never be able to speak again.
He was trapped in darkness, tormented by screaming and crying. Covering his ears wielded no success, so he was forced to endure,
"What's going on?" he asked.
"What do you think?" a malicious voice answered.
He froze. That was his own voice—yet, at the same time, it wasn't. His voice could never sound that cruel and sinister.
"What's the matter? Can't recognize me? Aww, I'm hurt," the voice mocked. "Seems that girl did a more thorough job on you than she thought. I don't remember much either!"
He would have responded, and was about to do so when the source of the voice stepped into his view. Somehow, even in the darkness, he was able to see him clearly.
"But you know what? That's fine," his lookalike remarked, sending chills down his spine. "You'll just be easier prey."
He grinned as screams echoed in his ears.
"AGH!" he yelled, abruptly sitting up and breathing heavily, taking in his surroundings.
A nightmare. That was all it was. He was still in their room, still at Mahora Academy. He wasn't trapped in darkness, thank…well, whatever was looking out for him.
He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes. It was still dark, but he could hear a slight buzz of activity outside. Once his eyes had adjusted, he noticed that Asuna—the girl with bells in her hair—had left and that Negi was still fast asleep, while Konoka was muttering something about "first to…zzzz", which was somehow weirdly familiar to him. He couldn't quite place it.
"Damn," he muttered. "What the hell was that about?"
"Lord Mao!" someone cried.
"Wha—" He looked around, startled, then realized that the voice was just that—a voice. "I'm never going to be able to sleep now," he muttered, then stepped off the bed, shaking his head to clear any sleep from it. "Might as well start the day, even if it is earlier than I expected."
Yet, he couldn't quite shake the familiarity of the voice. He was now sure it was some sort of memory, from a long time ago, but he had completely forgotten as to whom it belonged to. He also couldn't figure as to why it would suddenly push its way just now.
Damn amnesia, he thought, then glanced around.
Now, he hadn't been able to really take in the details of the dorm room before, but now that Konoka wasn't trying to push a wet towel onto him or he wasn't feeling far too sleepy to do so, he noticed, among other things, an ermine sleeping on a pile of panties and a strangely familiar-looking staff.
With a start, he realized that he had seen that staff before. In fact, it was the very reason as to why he lost an impromptu glaring contest to Asuna yesterday.
"So it wasn't just me after all," he remarked, a smirk playing on his lips.
Negi had a lot of explaining to do once he got back from another little trip.
Setsuna, in the meantime, found herself pacing back and forth outside of her room. Thankfully, her roommates were asleep, so they didn't notice her slipping out of the room.
What was that strange dream about? She knew dreams could sometimes be weird (she had once been told of a dream that had, among other things, frogs made out of chocolate), but her dream had gone way past the point of weird. In fact, it seemed like a memory.
But…it wasn't any memory she knew about. Already, the details were fading, but she could recall a white-haired young boy, with a strange fascination with science that had him doing things that bordered on outright perverted. And…and there was a young woman, with long dirty white hair and neon green eyes that somehow reminded her of her Ojou-sama.
Except, well, Ojou-sama was never that violent, not even when she got mad.
This school was probably getting to her. She would've transferred out, were it not for her duty to Ojou-sama.
A brief image of her and her beloved walking down an aisle carpeted with red, both in snow white (though Ojou-sama had a more radiant glow to her, as opposed to Setsuna herself) popped up in her head, before being quickly beaten down with the logical, rational part of her mind.
No, she could never marry her. Her duty was limited to watching over her, keeping guard over her. She could not afford to distract herself from it with these thoughts. Besides, she had already grown out of her childish years, she didn't need it to make a return now.
"Ojou-sama, I shall protect you to the best of my ability," she murmured, refreshing her memory of the vow she made long ago. "I will protect you, even if it costs me everything. I will protect that pure, innocent smile until the day I may die, and may heaven help they who dare hurt you, for I will leave no stone unturned, no nook overlooked in my search for them. None shall be able to hurt you, not while I am around to protect you."
Her fingers closed on the hilt of her sword. "I will give everything for you, Konoka-ojou-sama."
Mao blinked as he walked out of the dorms, looking up at the sky. He had the strangest feeling just now, like something important had happened.
"What was that?" he wondered.
…hmph, he'd find out later. For now, he had quite a few things to do, among them getting some more comic books. This Captain America guy seemed very interesting…
Somewhere in the world, as he and the rest of the Avengers (and some of the Justice League) looked over the newest bunch of comic books that had been sent to them, Steve Rogers sneezed.
Little did any of them know, Mao's arrival signaled the start of an adventure that would trump anything Mahora's most creative students could ever think up.
And Mahora's most creative students are very good at their chosen field of work, so that's saying something.
NEXT EPISODE PREVIEW!
Raspberyl: When all hope is lost, who do you turn to? When the one you thought would never fall falls, who shall answer the call?
Mao: Oh, here we go again…
Raspberyl: Dawn breaks over Mahora, and the amnesiac Mao, the newest student in this prestigious school for delinquents, finds himself searching for clues to his past! Soon, more and more hints turn up that he was (gasp) an honor student!
Mao: You're kidding me. I'm not a student at Mahora or a delinquent! I never will be! Stop dragging me into this!
Laharl: I thought you said your rival didn't get as carried away as Etna!
Raspberyl: What's Mao, defender of Mahora, to do?
Mao: That's the last thing I want to do!
Raspberyl: Does he run away from this new clue to his past? No! Instead, he presses on, looking for leads and hints that point more and more to the truth behind his arrival!
Negi: I don't think he's doing much searching, actually...
Raspberyl: But things soon get complicated with the arrival of one of the most badass delinquents in the universe, Raspberyl!
Mao: Damn it, Beryl, you're supposed to be dead! Stick to the ending!
Raspberyl: Suddenly, Mao finds himself confused around her! Not only that, but she seems to have known him before he ended up in Mahora! Who is this awesome delinquent, and why does he want to defeat her so badly?
Mao: I didn't think even your memory was this bad. Apparently I was wrong.
Raspberyl: All these questions, answered, and more on the next episode of Defenders of Mahora! Episode 3: "The Badass Delinquent Arrives At Last!" Finally, it's my time to shine!
Laharl: Ha! Fool! Everyone knows the true badass here is the original main character, and that honor belongs to me!
Mao: Ha! Idiot! Everyone knows the third game was much better than the original in so many ways!
Laharl: Oh, yeah?
Mao: I'll prove it to you!
Almaz: Oh, here we go again…
Writing setup chapters is like pulling teeth. This one was especially hard to write, but I managed as best as I could. Sorry if it's kinda low in quality, I'll make up for it somehow.
Gig knows Satsuki? Well, yeah, in this continuity, they do. They're pretty good friends—Gig occasionally swings by Chao Bao Zi to get some hotpods from her, and maybe catch up with each other. Their first meeting involved a lot of violence and an unprecedented amount of badassery on Satsuki's part, but they're friends now. They both respect each other, though it's more begrudgingly on Gig's part, and besides, he'll tell you he's just there for the hotpods.
Speaking of Satsuki…well, her strange way of speaking in the manga (almost no speech bubbles whatsoever, so it's probably she's probably "talking" through some sort of physical means) has been interpreted here as 'italicized and in single quotes'. I have it as headcanon that somehow, everyone manages to understand her despite the fact that she rarely ever talks, like Zazie.
Also, no, I will never pair up Satomi and Mao in this story. This isn't my rabid shipper side talking, because I don't have one (remember, I ship everyone with everything). I just can't see them interacting in any other context other than friendship (although that is something Mao will never admit), at least not in this story. Don't worry, I'll make up for it somehow!
…and it may be incredibly obvious by now exactly who Setsuna was in a past life. If you still haven't, yes, I haven't managed to give something away! This calls for a celebration of sorts.
And as for the "2 millennia and 3 years" thing…I'm retconning that one to "a few billion years or so". It was an oversight on my part and also a really big "wtf self that is a basic fact HOW COULD YOU FORGET", too. However, I do think that Gig told Mao that it was just 2,003 years for kicks. Rest assured, Madoka and Death reprimanded him quite severely for that, and Mao figured out he was lying when he read something about dinosaurs, which, as we all know, died out around 65 million years ago. I think. Dammit self STOP FORGETTING THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW BY NOW.
And yes, the Marvel universe still exists. I should probably just say the DC universe exists alongside it too (and on the same world!), and that the comic books are real (well, sorta) accounts of their adventures. However, the companies got quite a few things wrong, plus there's the fact that there's so few Marvel vs. DC comics and a lot of them depict their relationships with each other pretty inaccurately. Superman and Captain America respect each other, for one thing, and team up on many occasions. Wolverine does kinda like the fact that he gets so much publicity, but Deadpool is catching up to him and is really happy about it. Also, they are aware of all the weird stuff that goes down in Japan, and thus try their best to avoid said country whenever they go on vacations.
…also, just for kicks, I'm going to go ahead and add this little omake.
Teachers at Mahora: Yatterman
Ai looked up from the food she was eating. "Yeah, Gan-chan?" she asked.
Her husband wordlessly pointed to the giant mecha that was stomping its way through the campus.
"It's the Doronbo Trio again, isn't it?" Ai asked. "I know, for one thing, that mecha is not in any of my files. And I keep a very comprehensive file on all the robots this place makes."
Gan sighed. "I thought they disbanded three years ago," he commented. "What are they doing now?"
Ai shrugged. "I don't know, but since the Doronbo Trio's back in action…"
"Then Yatterman needs to get back in action as well," Gan realized, a smile on his face.
"Just like old times?"
"Just like old times. Man, I hope the Robotics Club doesn't get there before we do, I don't wanna have to clean up after them again."
"All right, then, let's go!"
Together, for the second time in their lives, the two teachers transformed into the crime-fighting duo, Yatterman, and rushed out of their modest home with Yatter-king and Yatter-pelican.
"YATTA!" they cried.
Somewhere in Mahora, Hiro suddenly sneezed, then pumped his fist into the air and cried, "YATTA!"
At that exact moment, Chisame Hasegawa looked up at the sky, by coincidence, and stared at the sight of the two teachers.
"Why are Gan-sensei and Ai-sensei riding a giant dog robot that's being carried by a giant pelican robot and wearing suits straight out of the 70's?" she cried. "This is just plain impossible!"
Satomi Hakase, who was already quite used to this (and she rightly should, something like this occurred on a regular basis! This kind of thing occurred only in Japan), only shrugged. "Impossible is nothing," she replied, returning to her Robotics Weekly magazine and trying not to drool over the Iron Man suit and the (admittedly low-quality) snapshot of the more technologically-updated Batman suit.
Damn, she had to call up Tony Stark-sama and Bruce Wayne-sama some time. It had been a long while since she'd actually talked with them. Apparently it seemed they had taken her advice the last time she did.
With that, she flipped the page.
…yes, I just did. Yes, it's canon. Yes, I'm booting everything I can into this story. No, I have no shame in doing this. To write for Disgaea, you have to have lesser shame than a normal person. Also, it's kind of a given, as I've been posting lately in the All-Purpose Negima Fanfiction Thread. It's a madhouse, and I love it for that.
Hmm, I think I'm done with this really long author's note. Gah, that is a lot of tl;dr, not counting the omake. Thanks for reading my rambling!
Effy/Little Miss Independence/LoveIsWeird out.