Beyond the Outer Gates Lies... Aftermathmetics?

"What did you do?" Georg demanded threateningly. He tried to loom over Circe. Unfortunately for him, despite the difference the nearly four year age gap, he wasn't that much taller than the girl. But the arcane energy sparking wildly around his hands did give him an extra air of menace.

Circe flinched. Not because she felt threatened, but because she was sad and regretful that she had angered her crush. But then she balled her fists and glared back it her mentor.

"I stop our enemy from interfering with our leader," she said with all the intensity she could muster.

"Dresden is..." Georg started.

"Our enemy," Cao Cao cut him off.

"What?" Georg asked dangerously. And Jeanne frowned.

"That skinny piece of shit is our en-em-y," Hercules scoffed, "And you are supposed to be one of the smart ones."

"If Dresden had not been in Kyoto, or at least had not sided with the Devils, we would..." Cao Cao paused, "Well, we would not have succeeded, as Wukong would still have intercepted us.. But we may have killed one or more of the Devils. We would still control the Kyubii. And Oakley would not have turned traitor and Mulan and Remus might still be alive."

"Alice White would still be a Hero," Siegfried added, "And Leo's Jabberwocky would have been more effective."

"I expected Dresden would try to interfere," Cao Cao concluded, "So I ordered Circe to use her new technique to stop him. And if possible, kill him. Which she did."

"What was that anyway?" Georg asked his besotted apprentice.

"A spell that... aggressively interferes with unbounded mana," she said, "Against a calculated spell, it will do almost nothing. But against the 'artistic' spells of most monsters, or a wizard, it will destroy the spell and potentially the caster."

She finger-quoted the word artistic. Then she frowned.

"It's not quite ready yet," the girl admitted, "Without my Shards of Akasha, I wouldn't have been able to stop the wizard."

"So Dresden is dead?" Georg sighed, "The once in a generation wizard, destroyed."

"We don't know that for sure," Siegfried said, "While the explosion looked nasty, the Reapers have not been able to confirm his death. He might be clinging to life."

"Or he might be the Leviathan's newest Evil Piece," Jeanne snapped.

"I get why fanboy is so upset," Herc frowned at her, "But what's got your panties in a twist?"

"We killed a Human," she jammed her finger into his chest.

"A Human who chose to side with Devils," Cao Cao looked at her in genuine confusion.

"Ha!" Jeanne barked. They all looked at her like they did not understand.

"Dresden and those Devils were defending themselves," she said, "Despite that, they were trying not to kill. Except for the Draugr, and who can blame them. You say that Dresden was siding with the Devils? What the deep blue FUCK do you think Shalba Beelzebub is? Devils, Reapers, and undead monstrosities that we should have been trying to kill, not working with."

"You are right, you know?" Jeanne said directly to Cao Cao, "Harry Dresden is our enemy. Not because of what he does or who he sides with. No, Dresden is a mirror. We see ourselves reflected in him. See our flaws and our hypocrisy."

A few of the Heroes flinched.

"We work with Devils because we must," Cao Cao countered, "Dresden chooses to be their ally. And more."

"Bullshit," Jeanne sang, "We chose this, as much or more. Because it is easier. And frankly, it's stupid. You supposedly want to defeat some big monster to show that we are strong and Heroic. But all you are showing is that you are too weak to get to the monster on our own, and willing to work with even worse things to get there."

"'You'?" Georg frowned at Jeanne, "Not 'we'? Are you going to turn traitor like Oakley?"

"First," Jeanne growled, "Oakley didn't betray anyone. She was lied to..."

Seig raised an eyebrow.

"Fine, you can't lie to her," Jeanne rolled her eyes, "Deceived, mislead, but not 'lied'. And lets not forget, ENSLAVED. Frankly, I'd be more disappointed if she didn't fight against us."

"And second," the blonde swordswoman deflated, "No, I'm not turning traitor. I still believe in our goal, even if we are going about it wrong. And I believe that not all of you are beyond redemption..."

She looked most of the others in the eye. Some longer than others. But Hercules not at all.

"And last, someone needs to protect the lower echelons from being treated as canon fodder."

"What of the fact that Devils and Fallen killed your father?" Cao Cao asked carefully.

"A Devil and A Fallen started a fight because they could not set aside past grudges," Jeanne argued dangerously, "My father died saving people. It is past time I learned some lessons from that, wouldn't you say?"

With that, she stood and walked to the door. She paused by the door, and looked Fergus in the eye again. The Irish Hero, who had been observing the events silently, gave her a small smile and a nod.

"Oh, and in case you forgot, your little light spears won't work on me," Jeanne took a parting shot before she disappeared.

"Do we kill her?" Herc asked.

"No," Cao Cao said, "If she is still willing to work with us, she is too powerful to sacrifice."

"And she's not entirely wrong," Seig stared pointedly at the larger teen.

"So what do we do?" Circe asked, both happy to be included and angling to replace Jeanne.

"Continue the current operation," Cao Cao said, "Shalba will continue to stir things up in the Underworld, and we must be ready to help or even take over. To that end..."

He extended a leather bag toward Fergus. The oldest youth in the room took the bag and looked inside. It was full of shards of silvery metal.

"Leo has expressed an interest in metalcraft. We may as well put Shalba's unintended gift to use. We need as much time as we can get in the Underworld. To find the seal. And just damaging the Maou's authority is an end in and of itself."

I woke up to Lash pressuring me to quote Evangelion. I refused, but hoped that mentioning it would sate her.

The last thing I remembered was pain, and watching a javelin stab through Ise's body and armor both like they weren't there.

But I felt good. Too good. There was a grip on each of my hands, and a soft weight across my legs. Other than that, the pain was gone. Though my right hand hurt from the grip being too desperately hard.

"So whose Peerage am I in?" I asked without opening my eyes.

"None, yet," Sona said from past my feet, "Though it was close. Without your improvements to Asia's Sacred Gear, you would have died. But thanks to the incorporation of your first aid potion, she was able to keep you alive until we could remove the splinters. After that, she was able to heal you."

"The splinters were that bad?" I prompted in surprise.

"Some of them were so hot they partly melted the tweezers," Reya said from my left, confirming she was holding that hand, "Some were so cold we got frostbite through the tweezers when we removed the first few."

"There were others that vibrated, trying to dig themselves deeper into you," Sona picked up, "a few carried enough voltage to knock out a lion or tiger. And the worst were so acidic they ate through not just the tweezers, but the first glass tray we put them in."

"Five elements," I noted, "Goth Hermione's Sacred Gear?"

"Yup," Oakley confirmed from roughly the same location as Sona, "Shizu caught a glimpse of Circe. She's working with Mr Azazel, showing him what she remembers of the magic circle."

Finally I opened my eyes, "What's the situation?"

I saw that Tsubasa, holding my right hand, was asleep and starting to stir. And Serafall was the one on my legs, though my Maou was only pretending to be asleep.

"After your staff exploded," Sona gestured at the table she was sitting at. Three pieces of oak, twisted and broken, comprising at most eighty percent of my original staff's volume.

"Ophis grabbed Hyoudou, and vanished," my King continued, "then the Heroes, the Reapers, and the renegade Devils left."

"We're able to finish off the rest of the Draugr," Oakley pointed out.

"Lady Rias and Akeno immediately started trying to track Issei," Reya said, "But she did spare a moment to tell Asia to help you."

"Shizukesa was instrumental in that," Sona said, "Her telekinesis removed the shards when we were running out tweezers, and her vision allowed her to find ones that we could not see."

"I'll have to thank her when she escapes from Az," I said softly.

"Yes," Tsubasa was finally awake, looking at me through misty eyes. Thankfully I was alert enough to not meet her gaze.

"Sorry to say," Oakley said, "But things ain't good out there."

I glanced at the skinny brunette in askance.

"Shalba might not be bothering us, here right now," Serafall sighed, "But he has his followers stirring up trouble, causing riots. And even summoning random monsters to make more trouble. And, of course, blaming all that, and the Jabberwocky and Bandersnatch attacks, on the Maou."

"How long was I out?" I asked, worried how thing had gone downhill pretty quickly. Unless I had been out for a week.

"About 27 hours," Reya glanced at her watch, dragging my hand up.

I considered that. Then I looked directly at my King.

"What are we going to do?" I asked Sona.

"We?" she asked, evasively, "This is not your fight. And your coat, staff, and shirt are all destroyed, even if I was thinking of hiring you."

"Then I'll just get Rias to hire me," I told her, "I'm a big boy, Sona. While I won't say no to you having my back in a fight, I don't need you getting overprotective. You're my girlfriend, not my mother. I know the risks, and have been in fights before. You know that."

"And I'm not asking you to hire me," I said more angrily, "You are my friends. They are my enemies. Of course I'm in for this fight."

Sona smiled sadly, and nodded.

"Akeno and I are going back to Earth tomorrow," Serafall sad, deeply in her serious mode, "We are going to pick up the rest of Sona and Rias's Peers, and Irina. You could come with us, and grab the rest of your gear, and any spares you might have."

"Sounds great," I said, "We can also let the school know we don't know when we will get back."

"Yes, of course," Sona's head jerked up, dismayed she hadn't thought of that.

"Are you sure about this, Harry?" Reya asked.

"I couldn't protect Ise, and let the Zeroes make all of you worry. Damn right I'm sure."

"Don't count out the Oppai Dragon yet," Oakley drawled, "In fact, if y'all are feeling up to walking..."

"I'm going to need at least some pants first," I told her.

We all went out to the courtyard. And yes, I was fully dressed.

Rais's Peerage had all gathered. And I guess Shizukesa and Azazel where not working on Circe's new trick this exact moment, because the Fallen was helping the red-head assemble a physical mandala in the paving stones.

"Dresden," Xenovia was the first to notice us. She said my name as both a greeting to me and an alert to the others.

"Harry," Asia glanced at Rias, and received a nod. The blonde Bishop hurried over to me.

"How are you?" she asked nervously, looking me over.

"Fine," I reassured her, "Great, even. I understand I owe you my life."

"No," she shook her head, "I wouldn't have been save you without everything you've done for me. And you were hurt trying to..."

She trailed off, tears forming in her eyes.

"Okay, we are ready to go," Azazel said.

Rias stepped into the circle. She raised her left hand, and a crimson red King Piece appeared on her palm.

"Hyoudou Issei, Servant of House Gremory," she said, slipping into Japanese, "Pawn of my Peerage, my love. I, Gremory Rias, Command you to stand before me."

Mana began to flow out of her and wrap her Piece. That Demon Power flew down. It filled the lines and runes of the mandala. It grew lighter, brighter. The other members of her Peerage stepped up, each revealing their Piece and providing more power to the spell.

"it's stabilizing," Azazel said softly. Then loudly, "It connected!"

A column of energy, the color of Rias's hair and about six feet in diameter, erupted from the center of the circle. Rather than shooting straight up, it twisted and curved skywards.

'Like a summoning of Shenron,' Lash noted.

'Yes, the similarity isn't lost on me,' I told her.

But it didn't form into a dragon. It kept whirling randomly up until it disappeared into space.

Then it pulsed so brilliantly it flash-blinded us. When our vision cleared, the pillar was gone. And the circle was still empty except for Rias, who was looking around.

'Not empty, my host,' Lash said, 'look down.'

There was something new in the circle. Or eight new things. Small crimson statuettes. Four normal Pawns. Four that had stubby little arms that were each holding a downright tiny figure; one a Pawn holding a Rook. Then, obviously, a Pawn holding a Knight, one holding a Bishop, and one holding a Queen.

"No," Akeno gasped. Asia fell to her knees, weeping. Koneko started to sob, too.

Rias stepped forward, and collected the Evil Pieces. She was keeping it together, as a noble and for her Peers. I could tell she wanted very much to cry as well. Kiba, Azazel, and my girls were all misty eyed, too.

"Next time I see Cao Cao or Circe, they die," I growled, "Or worse."

"'Noted'" Sona and Lash said at the same time.

I woke up looking at an unfamiliar... sky? I guess it was a sky. It was a random mix of purple, red, and colors I couldn't name. There were orbs of lighter colors that looked like stars, only larger. It was like the Dimensional Void, only not.

Then some sort of car floated by. It looked like an old car from the 50s, except with seven wheels.

I felt weird. I wasn't sure how to describe it. It was unpleasant. It hurt, but it wasn't pain.

"What's going on?" I asked. I tried to reach up to brush my hair back. But nothing happened. I looked down, and my right arm wasn't there. I was sitting on what looked like a giant, red, ceramic tile.

"Traitor Cao Cao attempted to kill me," Ophis's voice said. I turned to look at her.

"He threw an embiggened mistletoe toothpick, soaked in the blood of Samael. In my weakened state, it might have killed me. But you intercepted the attack, Sekiryutei. Why? I am not your ally."

"Well, you were part of our group, right?" I told her. "Even if you weren't totally our ally, you were with us. And you were friendly with Asia and Irina. But really, I just saw a girl getting attacked and I acted on my own."

She frowned at me in confusion.

"Where are we?" I asked.

"We are riding on my enemy..." she said flatly.

"Zoom, zoom, iyaan!" the voice of Great Red rumbled under me.

"At the far edge of the Dimensional Void, where our universe bleeds into the Outside."

"Huh," I grunted, "Umm, why?"

"The poison. It was killing you. I removed your arm, and with it most of the poison. It is still fatal to dragons, in even small amounts. But here, the rules of our universe are weakened. So we were able to keep you alive. We need to find a way to remove the rest of the poison. And then we can restore you. Until then we must stay here. You to stay alive, and we to keep you alive."

I felt a strange tug in my belly, and filled with regret and worry.

"But you can do it, right?"

"Of course. Maybe. I owe it to you. And I don't want Asia to be sad."

I nodded. And then realized something.

"What about Ddraig?" I asked, noticing my partner was not just silent, but I couldn't feel his presence, "Is he okay?"

"The Red Dragon Emperor is sleeping," she told me, "We kept the poison from him, but needed to seal them separate to keep the remnants from reaching him."

"That's good," I sighed in relief.

"So what do we do now?" I prompted.

"You relax and stay calm," she told me gently, "do not interfere. Do not allow the poison to spread or separate any more than is necessary."

I leaned back and looked around. There was mostly emptiness. The occasion random object. A shadow that would see us and then flash away as if afraid.

Then I saw a pile of bones. No, not a pile. A mountain, a skyscraper of bones, most like nothing I'd ever seen.

"What's that?" I asked in wonder.

"Burger King," Great Red rumbled. And then chuckled.

I thought I saw a flash of something shiny at the top of the mountain. Then Great Red turned away, and the mountain vanished into the distance, faster than we seemed to be moving.

Author's Note: And so the end of Volume 11's adaptation. I have to split my notes into an outline for the interlude chapters and the adaptation of Vol 12. And after that we will be outside the DxD novels and the rest of this will be original (or as original as a recursive fanfiction can be). Assuming this continues with GB returning.