Full credit to EternalCombOver as it was his fic that inspired this story and his contributor as editor and plot developer
Chapter 1: The Awakenings to a new World
Paradise. If such a thing existed, Stella was certain this was it. All the members of the PSS were enjoying what they called a 'barbecue', if Stella remembered correctly. Each one of them were having the time of their lives, free from any sense of worry. Phobos and Lars were busy enjoying a drinking contest, the otherwise calm and collected soldiers now filled with vigor. Marion and Alexei seemed to have taken part as well, though their rosy cheeks showed the alcohol already kicking into their systems, both of the older men looking rather content watching the younger ones go at it. Bob and Xiaoming were getting busy at the grill with DJ Dully making tunes with his equipment, his entire set up filling the area with the bombastic but strangely pleasant music she had begun to grow accustomed to. Instinctively, she brought a glass of lemonade to her mouth, taking a deep drink as she noticed Rothcol and Nana talking a slight distance away, both happily grinning wider than she'd ever seen. Paradise, it seemed, put a smile on everyone's face.
Despite how pleasant everything felt, she couldn't shake the feeling that something was...odd. Something told her that what she saw couldn't be real. But before Stella could delve deeper into her thoughts, a voice eliciting both joy and nostalgia stole her attention. "Stella… my sweet, sweet, little Stella. I'm so proud of what you've done. So proud of everything you and Nana have accomplished."
"Papa!" she yelled as turned and reached her gloved hand out to the air, expecting an embrace she had almost forgotten. As she stepped forwards, however, she found herself staggering across an icy plain, suddenly in the midst of heavy snowfall. As she regained her balance, Stella let out a gasp. The celebrating members of the PSS were pinned to the ground, multiple pieces of machinery tearing through their backs as their bodies were being buried by snow before her eyes. "… Nana!" she said, taking a step back. "Nana!" she called out again, hurriedly looking around.
A slight distance away under a rapidly darkening sky, Stella caught sight of the familiar black and orange hoodie huddled in the distance. She sprinted forwards without thinking, her only concern being Nana's safety. The ice underneath her gave way, but that only pushed her to run faster, her steps becoming small leaps as she closed the distance between them. She reached out her hand once more, ready to grab hold of Nana's shoulder.
She reached forwards, but once again caught nothing but thin air. Blinking twice, Stella grasped her hand slowly, the black glove covering it moving in perfect response to her thoughts. "… A dream," Stella said, the pale, blue-eyed girl forcing herself to sit up. Her spiked black twin tails hovered above her damaged black jacket and shorts, the white stripes and star logo almost burnt off entirely, though that was the least of her concerns as she began to look around. The wooden building and familiar bedroom she lay in told her that she was, in fact, back in Nana's bedroom. Aside from the fact that she had somehow ended up back in Siberia with Nana sleeping next to her, the fact that she had no recollection of getting there troubled her even more. Her last memories were of nothing but battle, and a few bits and pieces regarding the device known as World Maker and the strange pods around it that were still trying to connect themselves in her mind. Regardless, Stella was fine with slowly discovering what had happened, prepared to stroke Nana's head as she slept. She raised her hand, however, and paused at the sight of liquid staining her gloves. The byproduct of what must have been tears as she slept. She furrowed her brow, wiping them away before she returned her attention to Nana.
Now certain she was truly awake, Stella slowly adjusted to the chill surrounding her. As her senses became sharper upon waking, several questions came to mind. Why were she and Nana back in Siberia? Did that device called World Maker really grant her wish? Whatever happened to those pods, or those supposed clones of hers stored inside them?
No matter how hard she thought, Stella only found herself drawing blanks. Her thoughts were still hazy, so much to the point that she seemed to have stirred Nana from her slumber. She let her hand rest amidst the girl's relatively short silver hair, Nana's yellow eyes creaking open inch by inch as she seemed to be regaining her own focus. "… Stella?" Nana asked, propping herself up on one arm as Stella stopped stroking her hair. She blinked a few times, glancing around the room with visible confusion as she sat up. Stella took that time to examine Nana's apparel, and sure enough, she wore the same black and orange jacket she was used to seeing, with no visible damage done. "… How did we get back here? And what happened on the moon?"
"… I don't know either of those answers," Stella said. "But for now, it looks like we're both alright."
"Alright? Stella, we're clueless. How is that-" Nana began, but was silenced by a rumbling that shook the entire house. Both she and Stella flinched, turning their attention towards the shaking door. The sound of metallic clashing, glass breaking, and small explosions instantly put them on alert. "Armaments?!"
"Let's hope it's just them," Stella said, hurriedly getting to her feet. She held out her hand, and sure enough, a flash of blue light preceded the formation of an almost pitch-black blade, only the silver edge giving it any other form of coloration. "Stay close to me."
The duo nervously made their way out of the bedroom, their entrance to the small hallway that lead to the living room accompanied by the sound of glass shattering and objects smashing against the walls. Stella hurried forwards, forcing Nana to keep up with her in a jog before they stopped at the precipice of main hall, both taken aback at what they saw.
Blue and purple flames encircled one another, two girls who looked incredibly similar to Stella circling around each other back to back. The first girl, who had purple flames erupting from her left eye, looked almost exactly like Stella in terms of her physique, hairstyle, and even clothing to an extent, the most notable differences being the fact that like her flame, she had purple eyes, and instead of single belted shorts, she wore two white belts crossed over one another to hold somewhat more revealing short shorts. She spun quickly, small fangs in her mouth showing as she dragged a massive bladed lance through the floor, a trail of purple energy spewing up from the tip as she moved.
The purple-eyed girl spun on her heel with a wide swing, the barrel of her lance revealing the fact that the weapon was in fact some kind of cannon that instantly reminded Stella of her own weapon. Her opponent wore black and white shorts over black greaves that had white laces reminiscent of boots and a sleek black vest similar to Nana's, though it ended underneath her shoulders with nothing more than small straps, her arms covered by what seemed to be gauntlets. The girl's face and hair, practically identical to Stella's save for slightly less hair length and generally rougher features, were clearly exposed as she tore a massive black claymore out of the floor upon turning to face her opponent, the blue flames erupting from her eye accompanied by a crown of the same fire flaring wildly around her head.
Before Nana or Stella could move, the two massive weapons collided, a shockwave erupting from between the two and shaking the building once more, damaged furniture breaking down even further against the walls as pieces of the damaged roof came down. The clash was only temporary, as the crowned girl easily forced the massive lance upwards, a powerful blast leaving the cannon and tearing through the roof. Nana let out a gasp of shock, but Stella focused even more closely on the combat instead.
In the time the lance's shot flew up, the crowned girl managed to draw a massive black pistol with a seven-shot barrel holstered behind her back, firing off a series of shots with minimal aim in her opponent's direction. Thin streaks of blue energy tore through her opponent's legs and stomach, but the damage seemed to do little more than spur the girl into action as she stepped forwards, drawing a curved and serrated sword that highly resembled Stella's own Black Blade and moving to slice through her opponent's midsection. The crowned girl stepped back as her claymore dropped down, letting the momentum take her just of the blade's range. The fighters locked eyes, their flames flaring once more, before both lurched forwards.
The massive weapons collided once more, both fighters letting out an angry shout as they sent one another skidding backwards, bits and pieces of the walls cracking and deforming as they were bombarded by another powerful shockwave.
"They'll destroy the house at this rate!" Nana said, rushing forwards. She stopped between them, her hands raised.
Both combatants stopped in place, surprised at the newcomer's sudden appearance. "You...finally...awake?" asked the crowned girl as she slightly lowered her massive claymore.
"Way to state the obvious, genius, but we aren't done yet! Move aside!" said the other girl with a smirk as she slammed Nana aside with the blunt side of her sword, launching her back to where Stella stood. Reacting almost instantly, Stella managed to catch Nana before she even began falling, preventing any further harm.
As Nana steadied herself muttered a quick "Thanks," to Stella, she hurriedly drew her pistol, more determined to stop the fight from escalating any further.
But before Nana could do anything of the sort, her body was pulled back by a gloved hand as Stella herself rushed forward, getting between the two fighters as the girl with purple flames in her eye lunged at her opponent. The crowned girl gripped her weapon tightly, blue flames dancing around her body like some kind of aura as she stomped forwards and stooped low, delivering a powerful swing to counter her opponent's advance when a flash of light nearby caught both fighter's attention.
A sleek trail of blue fire followed Stella as she did a lightning fast midair corkscrew, her right hand now consumed by her signature weapon, the Rock Cannon, a large black cannon with claw-like contours focused around the barrel as her left hand held the Black Blade reversed. As her midair spin continued, she intercepted both attacks simultaneously, two impacts rocking her body. "So… heavy!" Stella grunted as both her arms were crushed against her body, the crowned girl's massive sword slammed against the Rock Cannon while the lance-like cannon of the other girl threatened to knock the Black Blade flying clean out of her grasp as it grinded against the weapon. Her left eye erupted with a surge of blue fire as she let out a grunt of effort, strength she hadn't expected to use so soon after waking back up coursing through her body.
A faint whiff of blue embers accompanied an almost untraceable spin sent both of Stella's assailants tumbling away from her. The crowned girl was sent into a roll from her almost crouched position, the Rock Cannon pushing her weapon away with enough force to drag her along as well. After rolling over her shoulder once and stopping in a hunched position with her sword serving as both a brace and shield, the crowned girl took aim at Stella with her large gun in response to the blade aimed in her direction. The other girl was just as unlucky, the Black Blade redirecting her attack while keeping most of her momentum, sending the massive lance-like cannon and its wielder careening towards a wall, though she managed to skid to a stop before colliding with it. Disoriented for barely a moment, she let out an annoyed grunt as she spun around and took aim at Stella with her weapon, energy beginning to charge in its barrel to match the Rock Cannon pointed at her, already prepared to fire.
"That's enough. We're not your enemies… but I won't let you destroy this place," declared Stella, standing directly between the two fighters.
As both strangers turned their gazes to Stella, neither of them could hide their surprise at the sight of blue flames emerging from Stella's left eye. The girl with the crown of blue flames slowly lowered her pistol, but kept her guard up with her claymore, whereas the purple-eyed girl started smiling in glee.
"Well, it's about time you two woke up. Sorry about the ruckus; Beast here was just raging about how I ate the last of those sweets called chocolates in the cabinet over there. Isn't that right, Beast?" said the purple-eyed girl with a smile. She lowered her giant lance cannon and holstered her sword, looking over at the girl she called 'Beast' as the flame in her eye dwindled to a barely noticeable level.
Beast slowly nodded, the flames surrounding her and her crown disappearing entirely. "Overreaction... our... apologies," she said as she lowered her claymore, letting it reside in the floor as the weapon's own weight seemed more than sufficient to drive most of the tip into the ground. She leaned back against it, using the weapon as a brace while the girl with purple eyes suddenly placed an arm over Stella's shoulder with a grin.
"So, I BRS," the purple-eyed girl said. The flame in Stella's eye vanished as she gave the girl a questioning look, getting a giggle out of her. "It's not that crazy a name, but it's sure confusing sometimes. Am I copying how she talks or am I introducing myself when I say it like that? Hmm… But hey, it's better than being called 'Beast' by a long shot, huh? I mean, that little pistol can't have too much range to it, right? Guess good names only like picking people with good Cannons," the girl continued as she leaned her face closer to Stella's. "I'm betting you must have a good name… oh, and I guess I could learn the name of the other sad sack over there. Can't blame her, though; I'd be sad too if I was that weak," she added, pointing at Nana with a smug grin plastered on her face that only grew at the sight of Nana's annoyance, a slight frown forming on her face.
"… My name's Stella, and that's Nana… my sister. Judging from your abilities, are you both...clones of Sing Love too?" asked Stella with some hesitation in her voice. As obvious as the flames seemed to make her observation, she was looking for more than just a simple answer from the duo.
"Fellow...Clones?" repeated Beast with astonishment on her face as the flames in her eye subsided.
"Of course, just as I had thought! Although, it seems you're a way more successful version than that failure over there," snickered IBRS as she made a glance at Nana, who could only clench her fists in resignation to that fact.
Tired of IBRS' insults, Stella pushed IBRS away and walked back to Nana. She placed her arm around Nana's waist, glaring back at IBRS almost threateningly. "Nana is my precious sister," Stella said. "She's special in things that even... Sing Love knows about."
"Stella..." Nana said, conflicting feelings rising up within her. Nana knew she always envied her sister's abilities, ever since Stella rescued her from LLWO. Whenever Stella stood up for her, it seemed more like pity than sisterhood. But on the other hand, she couldn't help but feel lucky to have a sister like Stella by her side despite everything she did to her so long ago. This feeling had become the dominant of the two as she spent time with her, and gave birth to a new desire. Nana knew she had to get stronger and change, for both herself and Stella's sake.
"Okay, okay, didn't mean to make you mad, Stella," IBRS said, taking a step back. Stella couldn't help but notice her hand trace the side of her jacket suspiciously close to the hilt of her curved blade, though she showed no signs of aggression. "And...sorry, Nana. It's only been me and Beast here, and we've been on edge since Mother tucked us in too tightly. She said we failed to meet her expectations and all that," remarked IBRS with a self-mocking smile. Beast herself could only grit her teeth to the bitter truth.
"... I know what she's like. Sing Love's heart is one that only desires satisfaction... like her 'game'. But I'm not like her, and neither is Nana. We won't abandon you," said Stella with a sympathizing smile, sincerity in her voice. As much as she wanted to deny it, she was a clone of Sing Love, and thus understood the being that called itself her 'Mother' to a fair extent. For she had discovered a sad truth hidden deep within her own fight with Sing Love. A sad truth that had only been hinted at by the memories of her Father, the late professor Gibson, explaining to her his own meetings with the alien before the war began. Knowing this, Stella, try as she might, couldn't convince herself to kill Sing Love at the end of their battle. Antagonistic as Sing Love had made herself out to be, Stella couldn't help but feel sorry for her. Sing Love had no Nana to steady her path like she did, and she could only imagine what would have happened to her had Nana not brought her to this very house when she had hit her lowest point.
Beast widened her eyes before muttering a single "Thank you." She gave a small but grateful smile whereas for IBRS...
"Well, aren't you a cute little angel? Thanks for the pep talk, Stella," said IBRS as she walked over and patted Stella's head, ruffling her hair a bit with a somewhat eager smile "At first I thought you two were just going to tag along, as lost as us or worse. Not that I would've minded, although I really dislike dead weight and all but at least one of you could fight and the other did… well, she talked more than Beast, though we still don't know if that's a bad thing. But enough about that! It looks like you two can give us all the answers we, and by 'we' I really mean 'I' since Beast over there doesn't seem to care much for, but like I was saying before, all the answers we need. Like why this world is now full of life different from humans, and no, not animals and plants, they don't count, I mean life that actually matters because it's advanced or whatever it's called to hide how discriminatory the classification is, oh, and you could also tell us why dear old Mother continued her cloning project, too."
Both Stella and Nana looked at each other oddly before turning back to a waiting IBRS who was smiling all the way. It took a few seconds before Stella spoke first with some hesitation "I'll start at the beginning. After beating Sing Love, we found you two in pods...and then, I found the World Maker managed to activate it, which resulted in me giving it a 'wish'."
Nana then continued with her eyes showing suspicion. "Then we awoke here, and found you two… but before I continue, what did you mean by 'continued'? Aren't you two Gray Clones as well?" she asked. Even from the start, Nana had already felt something was amiss. Sure, she may not have been born with perfect memory and at times, her memory failed even when she had met Stella. But the Gray could tell that the two in front of her were nothing like the other sisters she knew and lost back in the war with the Apostles. An even more prominent warning sign around the two was the amount of power both Beast and IBRS possessed, clearly evident that they were something else entirely.
IBRS' smile made a little twitch, but she quickly recovered as she spoke. "Well, Nana, of course we're Gray clones. It's just we are... oh, it's painful to remember. Beast and I, among the first deployed to battle the Aliens for humanity! It was horrible… so many girls gone mad at the start of fighting, so much destruction left in our wake when people went wild! We were among two of the first group that went against Mother and her forces when they launched their attack on Earth, but most of our unit went berserk. We were fighting for our lives against the Aliens and our own allies, struggling to stay alive… but it was too much. We were defeated and captured; I remember it so well. Beast had saved a girl, only to be stabbed through the back… and I, rushing over to save her, got careless and fell prey to Mother herself. Oh… I remember calling out to Beast, telling her to run away when she came so valiantly to protect me, the noble soul she is! But alas, the last thing I remember is watching her drop to her knees, that faithful blade her only support as I lost consciousness… It was so painful. So I figured that mayb-"
"Lies. With that amount of strength, there's no way the two of you part of the Grays and more importantly, were captured so easily. You yourself called me a weakling, even though the first generation of Gray Clones were almost all weaker than I am. In addition, Sing Love never descended to Earth herself… she let the Apostles and her Armaments do all the work for her," Nana said as she glared at both Beast and IBRS with caution in her eyes. "You two are something else entirely, aren't you?" she asked, about to aim her pistol at IBRS, though Stella stopped her hand before she could.
"Stella? Why are you stopping me? You've seen how dangerous they are!" said Nana, her eyes showing clear confusion at her sister's action. Of all people, Nana thought Stella would know not to lower their guard against anyone of such power.
"Nana, I'm sure IBRS has her reasons for lying. Besides, they're our sisters even if they weren't... made by Papa," said Stella, a sad look in her eyes as she recalled her beloved father. A gift from the late Professor, Stella's memory was more stable and still able to recall the precious times she had with him when she was little and he was alive. As she gave Nana a sad smile, she then said with her voice filled with nostalgia "We only have each other now."
Nana widened her eyes and nodded before quickly hugged Stella, surprising both IBRS and Beast, who immediately gave the purple-eyed girl a little glare while Stella herself slowly but happily hugged back. IBRS scoffed at Beast before letting out a sigh, a look of resignation on her face. "Alright, I get the point Nana. Me and Beast here will tell you the truth. Ask away, and Beast will tell you while I will fill in the details. By her telling, I mean she'll spit out some words and I'll craft the story from it. Think of her as memory cues and me as the speaker," IBRS said.
After ending the hug, Stella and Nana turned their attention to Beast, who cleared her throat before speaking, looking down at the floor more than anything else. "Me...IBRS...prototype clones...survivors...Failed project." She made a glance at IBRS who scratched the back of her head and started to explain in a bored tone.
"To put it in a nutshell, both Beast and I were part of an earlier attempt of Mother's 'daughter project'. However unlike your 'birth', she made us using her DNA mixed with the blood of the corpses of what was left of her race as well as the blood of her Apostles. So in your terms, I guess we wouldn't really be one of you, as we're only 'part' sisters… Is that a thing? I feel like there's some special way of saying that? Huh…" IBRS began. She gazed off a bit curiously before Nana cleared her throat, getting her attention again. "… Eh, it doesn't matter. But anyways, as you can see, we're the only ones left. And there were a lot… like… at least more than both hands' worth. But that isn't too important, because again, just two now. The rest either died from the start or were consumed by their own power and imploded. Think of how our Cannons charge, but happening inside of a person and then misfiring. Those were nasty scenes," she remarked.
Beast nodded before continuing with a sad smile "We both... kept... in pods." She then pointed to IBRS. "Maniac," she said before pointing to herself with a bitter look, "Monster." Both Gray sisters looked at Beast with sympathizing eyes before turning to IBRS for further explanation.
IBRS gave a shrug and continued with a slight frown "Simply put, our dear 'Mother' saw Beast here as too dangerous; an abomination, as she put it. As for her thoughts on yours truly... she found me a bit over the edge. Hyperactive, hyper violent, and I think she just didn't like how I spoke! So I guess she tucked us in to maybe improve eventually? Or did she put us there because she couldn't be bothered to kill us? I don't know... and I don't care. Not anymore." There was a hint of anger as IBRS finished her sentence. She then looked at her new sisters and continued with a less serious tone, a wry smile forming on her face. "But enough about our sorry lives! I mean, judging from how you look, you haven't been doing much better. So outside of us becoming a pity party, how about Beast and I tell you what else happened in the past six months?"
It was an unusually calming sensation, lingering on the border of consciousness. She had experienced this time and time again, so much so that even the slightest difference in the area around her became noticeable. But perhaps the most striking difference was how she had gotten here. She didn't remember waiting patiently and entering this state of her own accord; rather, she couldn't remember why she was immersed in liquid and not seated comfortably under the stars.
Thinking back as her long twin-tailed hair flowed in the dark liquid she was submerged in, her mind naturally turned to the most important matter at hand. The game she'd prepared so well had concluded… with her defeat. The memory of battle set her heart aflutter, her body practically tingling as the images of her opponent became clearer and clearer in her mind.
Stella Gray. Her lovely, exquisite daughter that put all the other failures to shame. Beautiful just like her, the mirrored image of her own perfection in every sense of the word, yet filled with such raw emotion that became most apparent in the thrill of battle. Raw emotion that showed the depths of pleasure, agony, hatred, arrogance, and perhaps the best of them all, pride. Those raw emotions, all reflected back at her when she fought her lovely Stella… those emotions she had let die with the human race so long ago. Or rather, that she let die with the humans who betrayed her, one man's face taking precedence among the rest.
Before she could delve deeper into her memories, however, the sounds of machinery working around her dragged her back to her senses, accompanied by an all too familiar voice. "It's time to wake up, Governor," the voice said, gruff and aged but filled with unwavering loyalty. The liquid around her body began to subside as she felt the device she was in slowly lift itself upwards, exposing her bare skin to the light.
Opening her eyes as the hissing of steam flooded her chamber, she let the foggy glass door rise up before she stepped out of the pod-like device, her bare feet touching down on a familiar black and white checkerboard floor that should have been far more damaged if memory served her correctly. Regardless, she glanced back at the device she was in and quickly recognized it, the naked reflection of her magenta eyes, pale skin, and white hair on the device labeled 'Sing Love' slowly retreating into one of the floor panels staring back at her. "… It's rare for me to enjoy beauty sleep, SAHA," Sing Love said as she turned away from the sinking pod. Her right eye suddenly sprouted magenta flames, a massive flare erupting upwards as a sudden heat wave evaporated any liquid left on her body. "You wouldn't interrupt me unless it was something interesting… right?"
"Of course, Governor," SAHA said, the dark skinned old man with short white dreads bowing his head. The flame in Sing Love's eye died down, though her eyebrow went up instead as she noticed SAHA's apparel, a butler outfit she didn't remember him wearing since decades past. "Much has happened since you went to sleep. It'd be best for you to wake up fully before I begin."
Taking SAHA's advice, Sing Love motioned for him to approach. The old gentleman wasted no time handing her a set of clothing he had at the ready, going so far as to assist in dressing her. Wearing a loose white dress with red flower symbols adorning it almost randomly, she sat down on an intricate white chair with obvious Victorian-Era detailing making up most of the back. A matching table rested at perfect arm's reach from her, complete with a saucer and filled teacup at the ready for her convenience. Crossing her legs as she took a drink, Sing Love took one look around and smirked. She was on Her Moon, seated at its pinnacle, the Moon Terrace, the checkerboard platform from which she ruled. She tapped one foot down on the floor, feeling the slight shock from impact, and smirked. "Now then, SAHA… am I to sleep here now, or will we get to the fun?" she asked.
"Fun? Governor, this is Oscar-winning entertainment!" an excited man's voice said.
Glancing towards the only stairway leading up to the Moon Terrace, Sing Love knew exactly who to expect, the man in question given away by both his dry tone and his choice of words. "MZMA… haven't you found a good place to die yet?" Sing Love teased as the red-haired man approached, clad in the black and red coat-like armor he usually wore, his left eye sealed shut by a black spine-like hairpiece. His right and left sides were asymmetrically clothed save for his jacket, with his right arm being much larger in a dark red gauntlet while his left arm had a more fitting orange glove, his boots sharing the reverse of the pattern.
"Looks like the Devil isn't done with this gun just yet," MZMA said as he scratched his head with a grin. "And even if he was, I'd cut him a deal… there's no way I'm missing out on this."
"Good. So you can die first, then we won't have to put up with you running your mouth all the time," a girlish voice said from above him. He and Sing Love both glanced up to see odd, black and pink triangular robots with bunny ears floating in a large upside down pyramid formation, with a short pink-haired girl wearing black boots, shorts, and a hoodie with matching pink bunny ears riding atop the group. She let out a small grunt as she hopped off the strange robots and descended to the ground, all of them quickly dispersing around the area as the girl pushed herself back up with the massive black and pink claws that served as her arms. "I say we send him out ASAP, Governor. What do ya think?"
"XNFE… while I appreciate your rare support, it's rude to interrupt a conversation with the Governor," MZMA said as he walked past her nonchalantly. XNFE frowned, and one of the robotic drones that carried her flew at the back of MZMA's head. The teen stepped aside and caught the machine, a grin on his face. "Now that's just being petty."
The sight of both Apostles bickering like that brought forth a feeling of nostalgia, though Sing Love certainly wouldn't consider it anything more than mildly pleasant. "Please, continue your banter, MZMA, XNFE," Sing Love said before taking a sip of her tea. Both Apostles snapped to attention, catching sight of a grin that sent a chill down their spines. "It's amusing enough for now… can you keep it up?"
"Ahaha, comedy isn't really my thing, Governor," MZMA said as he hurriedly kneeled down a slight distance from Sing Love, forcing a grin despite the budding sweat on his brow.
"He started it by… being him," XNFE said, her voice noticeably quieter as she kneeled next to MZMA, tugging on her hood so that the upper portion of her face was obscured.
Sing Love simply swirled the last of her tea in her cup before taking another drink, glancing at SAHA as he turned to the younger Apostles with a hint of annoyance beneath his usual stoic expression. He approached them both, glancing back to Sing Love for a moment with a raised eyebrow. She shrugged, letting SAHA know he could reprimand them as he pleased before he addressed the duo, a stern glare taking hold over his old features. "You've both enjoyed enough free time here… now that the Governor is awake, you're back on duty. Take a deployment of our more subtle forces and begin your reconnaissance of Earth, together," SAHA said.
"Eh? To-together?" XNFE asked, color draining from her face as she watched SAHA. He stood there unwavering, and she turned to MZMA, who let out a huge sigh as he hung his head low.
"I always hated 'kid' shows, but…" MZMA muttered. He slowly nodded, standing up as he finally locked eyes with SAHA. "Man's gotta do what a man's gotta do," he continued with a shrug. "Where we headed? Last I checked, 'Earth' had a lot of ground to cover."
"I'll inform you once you're both ready," SAHA said. "Try not to let your quarrels ruin the Governor's plans."
"… I'll do my best to put up with him," XNFE said as she also stood up. SAHA nodded, and with that, the two Apostles turned around and made their way towards the stairs of the Moon Terrace, neither of them wanting to make any more contact with the other unless they had to.
"We need reconnaissance? Hmm… then I've slept for much longer than I thought," Sing Love said before finishing the last of her tea. By the time she set it down, SAHA was already pouring her another cup. "SAHA, it's about time we got to that explanation, or I'll seriously consider more beauty sleep."
Finished pouring her another cup, SAHA nodded. "As you wish, Governor. The changes began almost immediately after your defeat six months ago at the hands of Stella Gray," SAHA began. "After she left your body with me, she and the other Gray called Nana headed to the core of World Maker. It was there she discovered…"
"… Oh yes, the failures. A monster and a maniac, stored away in convenient little pods so they'd stop being nuisances," Sing Love said, glancing at SAHA with a questioning expression. "Well, what did she do with them?"
"Nothing that I know of… before either pod could be opened, Stella used World Maker to grant her wish," SAHA said. "As I placed you into the healing pod, World Maker activated. I fear I was unable to hear Stella's wish, but as per usual, World Maker consumed both your palace and the Earth in a great flash of light. When I went to check on it, Stella, Nana, and both of the pods had vanished without a trace. And, as I'm sure you've noticed, Your Moon has been completely restored. But the most startling development is the abundance of life on Earth after all these years."
"Life?" Sing Love asked, a quizzical expression on her face. "… It's not humans again, is it?"
SAHA nodded. "Indeed… shortly after World Maker activated, portals began to open all over Earth. They unleashed beings that resembled humans to an uncanny degree, in terms of physical appearance and mindsets condoning violence and hierarchical systems, though they are all notably paler than usual and much more powerful, their bodies' strengths and durability capable of rivaling those of us Apostles. They even possess the ability to create and wield weapons similar to our own," he continued. "As weeks passed into months, these beings, who we dubbed Other Worlders, flooded the world and began making modifications to existing city ruins to suit their purposes. As they made changes to their environment, the other Apostles began waking from a deep sleep, each one resting in a healing pod just as you were."
"I'm aware of the Apostle's return. My interest lies with these Other Worlders," Sing Love said, hurrying SAHA along. "They've gone and formed little countries or nations, correct?" she asked. Despite not knowing exactly what Stella wished for, Sing Love had a feeling that it had come true in an unexpected manner. After all, Stella was, at her core, just like her. There were only so many things she'd wish for, given that she knew very well what Stella considered important. Her daughter wanted everything she wanted, both in the past and now.
"It's as you've said," SAHA confirmed. "Currently, Earth's been divided between four 'Rulers'. As you'd expect with such a system, they're at war with one another. After some time, our Armaments have managed to capture images of each 'Ruler'."
SAHA waved his arm at the air in front of Sing Love, four distinct images appearing in front of her, each revealing one of the 'Rulers'. Examining them with visible curiosity, her smile slowly grew after looking over each image. "Well… this may be quite an interesting diversion after all. They're all fine additions to the Game," she said. Sing Love nodded, and SAHA waved his hand once more, erasing the screens from existence. "What other information have we gathered on these newcomers?"
"At present, the war seems to be at a stalemate," SAHA said. "SZZU and CKRY were sent in advance to gather as much information on the Other Worlders as possible, and the Gray clones should they encounter them. The other Apostles followed suit, though MZMA and XNFE remained as 'defenses' during your slumber. I'll contact our Earth forces now."
With another wave of SAHA's hand, two larger monitors appeared in front of Sing Love. The first showed SZZU and CKRY in the shadow of a large building, both wearing massive hooded cloaks that obscured the majority of their bodies. On the other, however…
"M-MEFE, we've got a call…"
"… Can't you just let yourself run with the mood, LLWO?"
"Of course I can, but we've got work."
"Is that old fart more important than your fiancé?"
"Well, no, but-"
"Then he can call back later, so shut up and enjoy-"
"Why am I not surprised," Sing Love began, her voice freezing MEFE and LLWO in place, "that in my absence, you two run away to play with each other? …Well? Are you enjoying it? Finally found something 'pleasing', MEFE? Can you unwind now, LLWO?"
"G-G-Governor…" MEFE and LLWO both said, the shock clear in their voice. There was a period of silence as Sing Love grinned at the two's complete lack of composure, before panicked voices clashed with one another.
"Umm, th-this is-!" LLWO began.
"We'll report in as soon as we get a chance!" MEFE said, the monitor suddenly going black. Sing Love chuckled as SAHA shook his head. Almost a complete minute passed before the second monitor came to life again, revealing MEFE and LLWO's face side by side, MEFE's black and purple witch hat slightly out of place while LLWO hurriedly fixed his silver hair so it didn't obscure his green eyes. "S-sorry about that, ahah… w-we're happy to see you awake again, Governor!"
"But I'd wager you'd be happier if I slept in about… oh, I don't know. An hour or two longer, hmm?" Sing Love asked with a tilt of her head.
"N-nonsense! You waking back up means the world to us," LLWO said, pushing MEFE slightly out of the screen as he gave as enthusiastic of a nod to the camera as he could. He cleared his throat slightly before speaking again, his composure quickly returning. "So, please forgive us for our delay… I'll do my best to make up for our lack of preparation."
"… I'll be sure to stay focused too," MEFE added as she fixed her hat. Sing Love giggled before she gave the duo a nod, getting them to relax slightly. SAHA cleared his throat, however, putting them at attention once more.
"You're aware this is more than a courtesy call, correct?" SAHA asked. "The Governor would like an update on the Earth… and on what you've been doing for these past months."
"Of course," LLWO said. "Where should I begin…? How much have you been told, Governor?"
"I'm aware of the Other Worlders, their war, and that they seem to be content getting nowhere fast," Sing Love said. She sighed as she leaned back in her chair, crossing her arms as the slightest hint of annoyance reached her face. "Which can only mean everyone down there lacks initiative, is a weakling, or has no idea how to exterminate inferior opponents quickly. All loathsome qualities denoting a species warranting extermination, in order of least offensive to most."
"I agree, Governor. Fortunately, it seems that these Other Worlders are only afflicted by the first quality," LLWO said. "We've conducted extensive study of their kind in secrecy, moving from place to place as we gather information. After abducting a few of them and running some tests, I can safely say their average abilities are far beyond those of normal humans. Most of our mass produced Armaments failed to inflict significant damage to even the weakest of them, and the strongest we managed to capture held their ground against either MEFE or myself for a small period of time. Considering that their hierarchy is based primarily on strength, I'm convinced those we managed to capture were of unimportant rank, and thus, among the weaker of their kind."
"… So the weakest of them can outmatch our mass produced Armaments?" Sing Love asked.
"For the time being, Governor. The data I retrieved from those tests has already been put to good use," LLWO said. He took hold of the camera, lifting it up and spinning it around to reveal a massive window that revealed a factory-like complex, robotic arms hard at work creating the Apostles' usual color-coded Armaments, the current model appearing like some kind of purple winged dog. "We've already begun making adjustments to our existing designs so they can better combat these new arrivals. This is but one of many factories we've managed to begin operating."
"You're operating factories with four nations at war?" Sing Love asked as she raised an eyebrow.
"I can clarify that, Governor," SZZU said on the other screen, stepping forwards so her mouth was exposed underneath her large hood. Sing Love nodded, prompting SZZU to continue speaking. "While the majority of Earth's landmass is divided between four major powers, their intelligence network is nothing compared to the one utilized by the UEF during our invasion. They seem to rely on covering large amounts of landmass in an almost barbaric manner, choosing key cities as bases of operation and sharing information between them. In short, they lack any form of instantaneous long-range communication, and have large gaps between their major bases of operation, each with a size befitting of the individual in charge. Though this kind of infrastructure safeguards their cities, it leaves gaping holes in their surveillance. CKRY and I have rarely had to actively hide ourselves during our surveillance runs, meaning his speed was put to good use covering more land."
"As pragmatic as ever, SZZU. Are you hoping someone else comes to take their revenge on you?" Sing Love asked. SZZU gasped, getting a giggle from Sing Love. "Tell me, how did it feel, having Stella throw all of her raw emotions at you? Then, being pushed to the absolute brink fighting for your life against an onslaught without equal… exhilarating, wasn't it?"
"… It was more of an honor than my brother or I deserved, Governor. Yet it could not possibly feel the same unless it was the Governor's chosen once more," SZZU said. "If we were to achieve a similar scenario, I fear it would be lackluster in comparison."
"Of course it would. There's nothing quite like fighting my Stella," Sing Love said, her smile returning. She leaned forwards, a happy sigh escaping her lips. "But, let's not digress… so, the Other Worlders lack a proper infrastructure and communication network… they'll be taken unware, then. The humans had time to prepare, and they could only postpone their inevitable demise. I wonder how our new prey will fare? …LLWO, have you only managed to upgrade the Armaments?"
"They've been my primary focus, Governor," LLWO said. "However, like SZZU, there's a reason I'm not alone."
"At LLWO's suggestion, we both battled Other Worlders that managed to best some of the best of our previous Armaments," MEFE said. "We were easily victorious, but our weaponry placed us at a disadvantage. We were unable to effectively deal with the enemy, their durability much higher than what we were used to. Against multiple opponents, we'd have been at a severe disadvantage… so, I took the liberty of combining that data with all the information we recorded in our battles against the Gray-"
"Stella," Sing Love said, interrupting her. "We're all familiar with my beloved daughter on a personal level… there's no longer any need to beat around the bush. You may address her as Stella when referring to her. All of you."
"… It is an honor, Governor," the Apostles said in unison. Sing Love looked back at MEFE expectantly, prompting the purple-haired girl to continue.
"After combining the new information with everything we gathered while battling Stella, I've developed upgrades to all of our weaponry. Even for yours, Governor," MEFE said. "Of course, I haven't actually worked on your weapons myself… I've sent the plans to SAHA and allowed him to make the modifications himself. In fact, I've even sent him variable upgrades so you could choose which you liked! The other Apostles have gotten their upgrades already, so we're ready for action whenever you wish, Governor."
"That's right. We have a thousand new Armaments per factory, and that number is growing by the day," LLWO said.
"… In that case, it's good that I chose now of all times to wake," Sing Love said. "I do hate having to wait for months on end for something interesting to happen. SZZU, CKRY, relay geographical data to SAHA detailing the locations of all major bases held by the Other Worlders. SAHA, analyze that data and instruct the other six to take positions in groups of two so they can attack one territory each. Leave the strongest to us. That'll be all for now."
"As you wish, Governor," the Apostles said in unison. Sing Love waved her hand, dismissing both screens as she glanced to SAHA.
"I'll begin the preparations right away," he said with a bow. The older gentleman took his leave, Sing Love glancing up over the Moon Terrace to the Earth resting on the horizon.
"What a stage you've set, Stella. I'd thought the underdog act would suffice, but I should've known you wanted more satisfaction. After all, you're just like me," Sing Love said. She smiled widely, the flame in her eye seemingly flickering in anticipation. "I can already tell… this will be quite the game."
In the next Chapter: Our heroines and their new sisters find themselves meeting an ally? Or an enemy?
And thus it begins, please leave any questions or request in the reviews.