Summary: Death Scythe didn't pass to her, and that meant her father was still alive, somewhere out there. Seira was determined to find him, even if she had to turn the human world upside down in the process. (AU, Seira, M-21, M-24, Regis, Rael)
Notes: Characterization is wildly off, and I managed to forget the entire timeline in the two weeks since I read it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ But hey, first fic in a fandom is always a mess anyway. Incidentally, I'm using the names that I see most in fic, not the official translations (because the official translation isn't consistent with itself anyway).
Chapter 1: For My Family
Seira had been acting oddly ever since they left Lukedonia and came to the human lands.
She had still been her usual elegant, controlled self, of course, but Regis had known her for the entirety of his almost two hundred years. He could read the subtle tension in her hands, no matter what she was holding, and the way she would sometimes look out into the distance for a beat too long.
Something was on her mind, something that preoccupied her and made her restless. Not that Seira was willing to tell Regis what it was, no matter how he asked. Nosiness was inelegant, but Regis had grown increasingly blunt in his attempts to get her to open up — only to be rebuffed every time.
Until, finally, barely a month into their trip to the human world, Seira sat him down in the apartment they — mostly she — had secured for them and drew herself up stiff and straight as if reporting to the Lord herself.
"Regis," Seira said slowly but without hesitation, "there is a matter I must attend to, so we will be parting ways for a time." Ignoring his shocked, gaping stare, she pressed on. "Pay attention to your studies of human civilization and culture, and try not to—"
"Seira! What do you mean, you're leaving? Where are you going? Why?" Regis demanded, jumping to his feet. Seira sighed with an air of resignation, but there was no time to be concerned about his behavior. "Nevermind, that's not important. I'm coming with you."
"No," she said.
"Yes," Regis shot back, crossing his arms.
They stared at each other for a long while, longer than any human would have been able to endure without caving — or at least blinking.
"No," Seira repeated.
Normally, Regis would have at least blushed and backed off a little in shame at the authoritative, rebuking tone she used. But this wasn't normal, and in truth Regis had an idea what Seira was really after. "You're... going to look for your father, aren't you?" he said, shoulders tensing as he glanced up at her.
Seira's expression, unreadable at best of times, had gone completely blank. Even so, she didn't deny it, and that was as good as an admission.
"Grandfather... er, the clan head said it's too dangerous," Regis pointed out, glaring mutinously, even though he knew Seira was well aware of what Gejutel had said. If she had made up her mind to the point of informing Regis of her departure, such a simple argument wouldn't dissuade her. "We don't even know for sure who defeated our parents and our clansmen. But if they could take on two clan heads... You're barely older than me, and you don't have a soul weapon either!"
The look he was pinned with made Regis flinch. It was precisely because she didn't have a soul weapon that Seira had to go. Her father was still alive somewhere out there, still clan head and still holding Death Scythe, and Seira had to find him.
"I'm going with you," Regis repeated instead, giving Seira the firmest, most stubborn look he could muster.
This time, she didn't try to argue, only closing her eyes and sighing a little more heavily than usual. It sounded like capitulation.
It wasn't until the middle of the night, long after he had gone to bed with the certainty that Seira would still be there in the morning, when he woke up to feel the connection between them stretched to the its fullest limit by distance and finally unravel, that Regis realized — somewhere along the line, Seira had learned to lie quite well.
One argument that Regis hadn't brought up, showing how little he understood of the world outside Lukedonia, was that Seira should have had no idea where to even start looking. The human lands were vast, and one girl, noble or not, wouldn't be able to search them even if she spent centuries at the task.
That line of reasoning had been used on Seira in the past, by Gejutel, Karias, Rosaria, and others concerned for her mental state and that she might do something rash — as she was doing at the moment. Just like against Regis's well-founded logic regarding the level of opponent she would face if she got her way, Seira had remained unmoved. Sometimes... logic and reason just didn't matter. It was undignified and inelegant and probably dishonorable to the memory of her clan and father, but Seira could not simply forget and live placidly in Lukedonia.
She had gotten better at pretending she could, however. Good enough that she had been allowed to accompany Regis, otherwise unsupervised, into the human world in preparation for his coming of age. Just twenty years ago, when she had made the journey for her own bicentennial, Rosaria had never allowed her out of her sight. Seira really had learned to lie.
Yes, her actions were certainly dishonorable, verging on treasonous. But her father... her father was out there. And she would find him.
Because she had a lead.
It was slim, but it had been the last straw — when Rael approached her and told her about what he'd overheard his brother and Gejutel discussing.
The ones to defeat her father and Roussare had been the traitors, there was no doubt of that. But Rajak suspected they had not acted alone — not just allying with the modified humans who had fought with them back then, but with those that had created them. The human organization, the Union, which Lukedonia had formed an uneasy non-aggression agreement with... Rajak had been too cautious to brand them in league with the traitors, not without evidence, but Rael had overheard him more than just broadly hint at that to Gejutel.
As two clan heads, they couldn't make any rash moves, no matter what they suspected, and Seira understood that. They couldn't risk starting a war carelessly.
But she, on the other hand, couldn't just sit by.
Rael had also provided her with a list of locations that Rajak had marked as related to the Union. He must have known what she would do, but he hadn't tried to stop her — just looked at her with the same expression of sympathy-anticipation-uncertainty-longing as always.
Once, years ago, Rael had suggested she join the Kertia clan, or at least consider herself an honorary member. So she wouldn't be alone, he'd said. He had been about to say something else, before the cold fury in Seira's face made him abruptly fall silent.
There had been a certain tentativeness whenever he approached her after that. But he'd never stopped approaching. Rael was... pushy like that. That was part of what made him not her type.
Not that Seira could complain. After all, that was proving useful to her.
Now, she had a place to start.
The humans' Union was all-encompassing, spreading its roots across the entire world. Even suspecting them, without knowing which of their many, many facilities to start with, it should have been like searching for a needle in a haystack, one captured subject among untold thousands.
But Seira had a plan.
The city she headed toward served as one of the Union's busiest transit locations. People, goods, and who knew what else passed through there in a constant stream of secretive, concealed activity. That included, Seira thought, even a member or two of their upper management, on their way between larger core bases.
Her plan had been to find the highest ranking Union official she could and force them to reveal anything they knew — about the traitors, about nobles, and if it came to that, if they knew nothing of use, about the areas most forbidden and requiring highest access.
That had been Seira's plan, but...
It was just a spark, a flicker quickly drowned out by warped human energy — of painfully familiar aura, at the very edge of her senses.
Why, Seira wondered, was there someone that felt like her clan in the Union's city?
They had been passing through the main Mediterranean transit hub on their way to their next assignment, when it started — the feeling of being watched. It crawled up both their spines, making M-21 and M-24 exchange a look.
But they were in a city awash with Union agents and personnel on every level, so it was hardly surprising to find themselves under observation. So, ducking their heads, they'd tried to just get out of there as quickly as possible.
Except that the feeling hadn't gone away, not even when they crossed over into Asia. As they cut through a dingy alley of some backwater city, the sensation of eyes on them seemed even closer. M-21's temper was reaching its breaking point, and only M-24's side looks and his own fear of drawing the wrong kind of attention kept him from whirling around and confronting their tail head-on.
He ground his teeth. 'Should we confront them?' he thought, glancing at M-24 again. He'd circled that point several times, but he still couldn't come to any decision.
Would taking the initiative be to their advantage? At least they would find out who it was and make a guess as to why. Or was it better to pretend ignorance and hope whoever it was went away? M-21 glanced at his partner again, but M-24 was absolutely no help, pointedly pulling his hat down lower and continuing to move along briskly.
Right. M-21 needed to stay calm too and think — but they just didn't know enough...
In the end, the choice was taken out of their hands.
Both of them tensed as someone stepped into the alley ahead of them, but the oddness of the figure overrode their suspicion for a moment, and they simply stared in surprise. It was a girl, her long white hair and equally pale complexion shining out of place in the drab, dirty surroundings. As she lifted her head, staring straight at them, her eyes seemed to gleam red.
There was absolutely no way she was an ordinary human.
'A special project?' M-21 thought because there was nothing mass-produced about her. 'But what could she want with us? Even if we drew someone's attention, they wouldn't send something like that...'
Neither to capture or eliminate them, the two possibilities. It would be a waste of high-class resources on two failures.
The girl and the two men stared each other down — unknown to either side, both looking at an existence that didn't make any sense to them.
It was the girl who finally broke the stalemate, raising her chin and narrowing her sharp red eyes. "You will tell me everything you know," she said with the tone of an order, "starting with what you are and the source of your power."
She was speaking to both of them, but her eyes were on M-24. Baring his teeth in a threatening scowl, M-21 stepped stepped forward — and half a step in front of his partner. "You first," he snarled. "Who the hell are you?"
His mind was racing. 'Asking that... One of Crombel's competitors, trying to find out about his work?' he thought. 'Or maybe... Is she even from the Union at all?' But if she wasn't Union, what could she be? She wasn't a normal human, he hadn't been wrong about that. Her presence, tightly controlled as it was, was simply too different. Some country's attempt at a modified human? Or perhaps from one of the other, smaller organizations that existed in secret?
"I am Seira J. Loyard, of the Loyard clan," the girl introduced herself calmly, as if conceding to their demands and giving away that information — giving away her name — meant nothing to her.
Maybe it didn't mean anything. Maybe that's how it was when you had a name of your own — and a name like that, no less. Regal and weighty, carrying an entire history...
This wasn't the time for that, and, grimacing, M-21 shoved away the pointless flicker of jealousy. The important part was the implications. A name like that wouldn't belong to some country's agent. But if she wasn't Union, and she wasn't from a rebelling government, then—
His eyes widened as it occurred to him. There was one kind of opponent that the Union was unwilling to engage — the noblesse.
He could feel M-24 glance at him, waiting for his lead, but he didn't know, what to do, how to respond. Should they try to get more information? Should they run? The standing orders were to not engage a noblesse, but she was the one who had approached them...
It wasn't as if they could answer her anyway — what they were, where their meager powers came from, failures weren't afforded that knowledge.
They were hesitating too long, and the girl — Seira J. Loyard — narrowed her eyes, lips thinning in displeasure. "That information is classified," M-21 said quickly, spreading his hands as if showing his peaceful intent. "We're not at liberty to reveal that to some outside our organization."
She didn't like that answer. "You will tell me," Seira said, her tone cold with the promise of violence. "Why do you feel like a member of my clan?"
Her gaze was on M-24 again, and M-21 growled, stepping between them blatantly now, before the implications of what she was saying registered. M-24 felt like one of her people to her... what exactly had Crombel done to them?
No, more pressingly, what was she going to do to them for that real or perceived slight?
The only thing that the Union respected was power, so if the order was to avoid noblesse and retreat rather than engage, their power must have been concerning even by Union standards. For two failures, no matter how much they had secretly improved, it would be an unwinnable battle.
There wasn't any more time to think or hesitate — the girl, Seira, was growing tense, like a taut wire, ready to snap out. They had to act first.
So M-21 seized the initiative. Hands shifting into claws instantly, he darted to the side — and ripped into the brick wall next to them. Dust and debris exploded through the alley, momentarily obscuring Seira's vision of them and giving them a fractional opening, and a way out through the newly made hole.
'If M-24's powers are really like hers, then she can mind control. We need to avoid eye contact,' M-21's thoughts churned away. 'No, the more important part is we need to lose her!'
Another seemingly careless swipe, and the nearest supports were gone. The entire wall and the adjoined parts of the building began to crumble, rubble raining down on the alley and the girl, who had only raised her arm slightly to shield her face.
M-24 was already retreating hurried through the abandoned building, and M-21 followed, trying to put as much distance between them and the girl as possible before she recovered and gave chase.
Glancing over his shoulder, he saw the clouds of dust and falling rubble part like an invisible blade had cut through them — a simple knife-hand swing of her arm — to reveal Seira, unaffected and unruffled. A cold thrill of terror went down his spine as her unreadable red eyes met his. The focus and intent behind it was more cutting than any Union agent they had ever seen.
It wasn't that he hesitated and left an opening. It was just that she stood completely above their level. She closed the distance in an instance, casually batting aside his instinctive swipe. But she must have been holding back, using only enough power to deflect, not break his arm, and when her hand struck out, it was a grab, not a killing blow.
M-21 ducked aside, just barely, and feigned another swipe. The girl, Seira, raised her hand to block, reading correctly where he would have aimed — except it wasn't his intent at all.
"Now!" At the last moment, he jumped back, leaving her standing there alone as a thick steel beam was thrown toward the spot they had been, courtesy of M-24.
She caught it easily, the end colliding with her palm and the length twisting in several places as its momentum was abruptly halted. The girl hadn't even been pushed back an inch where she stood. Only her white hair flared in the wind of the collision.
There was a deafening clanging and rumble as the beam dropped to the ground in front of her, cracking the concrete floor. Seira had been about to follow again, undaunted by the momentary delay, but a large sack came hurtling toward her next.
The faintest trace of irritation tugging at her lips, she sliced it in half with her fingertips. She was already taking a step forward, intending to dart past, when the sack parted and its contents spilled out — a dry, chalky white powder that splattered across her head, shoulders and torso.
Seira stood motionless as the two halves of the sack and the remaining powder plopped onto the ground around her. The silence was stunning, like the world itself was holding its breath not to laugh at her. She sneezed, a tiny, mouse-like sound, sending up a small cloud of white dust.
There was the subtlest trembling in her white-stained shoulders, from fury or embarrassment or frustration.
Then, she straightened slowly and very, very calmly. The stains across her black suit vanished, leaving it emmaculate once more. Reaching up, she brushed back her once again clean hair. When she opened her eyes, there was only an unshakable determination there.
Now, she definitely couldn't let them get away.
"I can't believe that worked," M-24 muttered, as they rushed through the abandoned back alleys toward the center of the city, where they could at least try to use the crowds to stall the girl — the noblesse. Or at least, that was what they hoped.
"Not for long," M-21 pointed out, his brow furrowed in worry and anger. 'Dammit, that bastard Crombel, what the hell did he do to us — to M-24?' he thought furiously. 'Should we report this? We can't handle her alone, but what if they take it as an excuse to send us back to the labs?'
It didn't matter, in the end. They didn't get that far.
"She's coming!" M-24 yelled suddenly, spinning around to look behind them with an expression of shock and uncertainty, as if he couldn't believe his own words. "I can feel—!"
He could feel her presence. He hadn't realized it before, but he'd felt something off from the start, from the moment she appeared before them, and the sense of her location had remained at the back of his mind as they retreated. But now, she was on the move, catching up impossibly fast. To head so unerringly toward them, she must have had the same instinctive knowledge of their location — of his location. She'd said as much, hadn't she?
'Overhead—!' he realized, head jerking up just in time to see a small shadow appear in the gap between roofs.
The girl, Seira, was already plummeting down onto them, before they could even react. She landed next to M-21, the ground cracking and caving in slightly beneath her. He had started to turn, hands shifting to claws — just in time for her to plant her fist into his gut, making him gag.
In a smooth motion, she grabbed his arm and wrenched it behind his back, spinning him around to put him between her and M-24. Kicking his knees out and making him drop until they were about level, she held her free hand threateningly against his neck.
Her fingertips remained slim, the nails rounded and not becoming claws like a Union agent's would have. But the meaning was clear — one wrong move, and M-21 would pay the price.
M-21 threw his head back, trying to headbutt her, but Seira twisted his arm further, keeping him pinned, her expression unwavering. M-24 snarled at her, baring his too-long fangs.
"No, don't!" M-21 yelled, guessing what he would do.
He was right, it was pointless, but it was instinct, when seeing his partner held down and in danger — even if it was pointless, M-24 threw his mind against hers, trying to make her hesitate even for a moment.
Seira's eyes narrowed. She hadn't even flinched, his weak assault rolling off her like a wave against the shore. "That power... really is like one of my clan," she said. "You will tell me — how were you able to obtain it? What did you do to my clansmen and my father?"
Her tone and her expression were chilling. Her grip on M-21 tightened instinctively, making him wince.
"We don't know!" he burst out, trying to glare over his shoulder at her. "You think the Union told us something like that? We don't know what Crombel did to us!"
He hadn't meant to say all of that. Admitting ignorance was like admitting weakness, and giving away that you didn't know meant giving away that you had no cards to play. Now that she knew they couldn't give her the information she wanted, she had no reason to keep them alive.
But instead, he found himself suddenly released as the girl took a step back.
M-24 rushed to his side, helping him up. Backing away, both of them kept a wary eye on her, but she only watched them with an unreadable expression.
After a long moment, she finally spoke, her voice even and calm once more, and with a subtle shift that neither of them recognized. "Crombel..." Seira repeated. "Then tell me everything about him. Who is he, and where do I find him?"