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"Do you believe in Destiny?"
"Gah!" She shot awak, eyes squeezed shut just as soon as they'd cracked open once she saw the blinding light of what she guessed was morning.
Blinded like that and on her back, she flailed weakly and desperately. For her weapons, for a particularly sharp rock, she had no idea, she only really knew for sure that her body burned like it was on fire and her muscles ached into the bone. Her hands found nothing besides steam and water, and she flared her Aura expertly to both protect herself and call on her weapons at the realization. Nothing came, though, and she rolled onto her stomach, forcing her aching, weary limbs to hold herself up and grunting from the effort.
"You know, watching this is rather funny, but I'm getting bored. So…" The voice was snide, and hisses and clicks undercut each pandering intonation, sickening in the same sense her first bout had been when she'd shattered her opponent's nose and painted the floor of the Mistralian arena red.
Her stomach turned then, and turned now as well, but then a strange relief washed over her. Like a cool bath after a long day of training, or a hot meal to end a long day of work. Her muscles eased, her trembling ceased, and the burning fever she felt across her entire body lifted like a veil. Her eyes cracked open again and as soon as the pain of the brightness hit her, the brightness faded. Like shadows cast over wherever the infernal, nigh blinding light came from, dimming it until the formerly bright, noonday light surrounding them had faded to a late evening shade of ruddy oranges and blood reds mingling together into violets and pinks that stretched around her infinitely far.
"Yeah, I suppose even a Human would dislike my brother's… Aesthetic. Too many bright whites and silvers, eh?" She turned to the voice, now she could see to do so, and recoiled at what she saw, crawling away and falling onto her behind, scrabbling even further while the thing chuckled. Shaking its great, black, horned head the creature sighed, "Ah, you Humans, always such… Amusing and insulting reactions to seeing me."
The creature towered over her, and would have even if she'd been standing, though it was not a physically imposing creature. Or at least, not in the sense of being muscled and standing straight and taut. Instead, it was thin and wiry looking, with small muscles and horns that curved back and then spined randomly in other directions, like antlers made of the blackest nights she'd lived through, hued a strange purple in a way she couldn't explain properly. As though it had been made of pure blackness and shadow, and then light burst from it. The result was a violet that at the same time appealed to her somehow, and disgusted her, both deep down inside herself where her more primal emotions lay.
Its posture was as lacking in natural intimidation, shoulders slouched forward and head cocked to the side, inspecting its silvery fingernails as if looking for dirt and not even bothering to meet her fearful, surprised gaze. Somehow, that made it all the more terrifying, for its lack of concern for a trained, adept Huntress sprawled on the ground in front of her. Every inch of it was also unclothed and, while its muscles were well defined and, in a word, flawlessly chiseled, there was no normal beauty to it. Yet even as she observed that, something primal inside her stirred in revulsion and attraction to it.
The emotions all fought inside her head until it felt ready to burst, and the creature snapped its fingers, the emotions suddenly deadening. Like pain felt through adrenaline, echoing in the distance but not truly there any longer.
"Are you quite finished coping with what I look like?" The creature asked snidely, turning pure, bright violet eyes on her. She blinked, mouth opening and closing, and the being sighed almost tiredly, "For the love of the Grimm, you Humans… So caught up in appearances. A wonder your primary conflict is with people having different ears, or some other such nonsense."
"F-Faunus." She gasped, pointing a finger at the tall being when its brows rose at the name, "You mean the… The problems with the Faunus. Am I right?"
"Yes, the Demihumans. Er, Faunus I suppose, as you call them now. No matter to me, I suppose, you murder each other regardless of paltry naming conventions. Eh?" The creature laughed then, a normal, barking laugh laced with hatred and derision. Shaking its great, horned head the being turned its eyes on her and asked, "Now, are you quite done reacting to me? I've calmed as much of it as I could, but I feel the need to ask."
"You've… Calmed it?"
"Yes, I created those emotions, after all. Fear, rage, lust, pain, all to drive you forward to survive even at the cost of destroying those before you." The being answered, clicking its ethereal tongue in sudden realization and then snorting, "Ah, you don't recognize me. Of course not, why would you? My brother, now, he would probably be recognizable. By my illustrious, repudiated, repulsed self? No, never."
"Understand? No, I would wager you don't. Not yet, I'll remedy that affliction of ignorance you are suffering under momentarily, though." The being snorted at the face she made at the remarks, but neither of them commented on it. Instead it made an outlandish, overly and flamboyantly flourished bow and introduced itself in a voice of faux-humility and servility, "I am the Brother of Darkness, Grimm progenitor, derivation source of all the more fun elements of, well, your race, and co-creator of your species. You may call me God, if you wish it."
"Y-You're a god?!" She spluttered, managing to half-rise, mouth gaping, at the being as it straightened and nodded. Unsure of what to do at the proclamation, but knowing the truth she'd heard and terrified, she threw herself to the ground, prostrate and afraid. Face pressed to the ground she couldn't discern, she pleaded, "I-I'm so sorry, I didn't- I didn't know. I-I could never have reacted like I did if I had, I swear!"
"Ah, much better! But get up, you petty little creature, I didn't pluck your soul from that literally blasted tower to grovel at my feet. No, I am above such pettiness, even if my wretched brother is not." She looked up - dared to look up, that was - and met the deific creature's gaze with a confused one of her own. Finally it tutted and gestured with a finger for her to stand, a command she obeyed dutifully. In a soft tone, like he was afraid to frighten the woman standing before him, the deity explained, "You, my dear, must know something. You are dead."
All the breath left her lungs in a sudden exhale of shock, the noise sputtering past her lips indignantly in a, "Whumpfl?"
"You Humans tend to die when your chest is, well…" The creature paused and slid a finger down along the center of his chest, above his sternum, and Pyrrha looked at hers in confusion.
A large, ragged and fleshy hole sat in the center of her chest, the width of her little finger, and in it she could see blood, muscle and broken bone. Around it was a purple bruise, the blood vessels under her skin burts and the muscle understandably abused by the wound's suffrage. None of which she could feel, somehow, though a glance to the God's smirking visage told her why that was. And additionally, that she should be very grateful for it, which she knew she couldn't convey properly in her state of disbelief and shock. Looking back to the wound, her fingers trailed up, between her breasts and pulled them away so she could see it better.
"T-The arrow. I… I got shot, fighting at Beacon. Protecting Beacon, but..." Her eyes returned to the self-proclaimed God's face and she swallowed anxiously, hands falling from her leather armor as she remembered what he'd said. "I died. You said I died, and… I have the wound for it, so I suppose I am dead. Aren't I?"
"Oh yes, very, very dead indeed." The being shrugged at the proclamation even as Pyrrha's stomach bottomed out and she recoiled, letting out a shaky breath and hugging herself. Seeing this, the being actually seemed… Unsure, for a moment, and added, "If it matters, what you did saved a lot of lives. Petty, wasteful, doomed little lives, true, but lives nonetheless."
"I did?" The deity simply nodded, clearly out of his element dealing directly with people. A braver, less inescapably dead, Nikos whose soul didn't likely sit in the being's hands might have asked why that was if he was a creator of the species. Happy at the news, the Mistralian champion let out a shaky breath and smiled, murmuring, "Then Jaune is well, and all is not lost, at least."
"Beacon was, yes, but not everything you would probably care about. Give me a moment…" The being turned aside, eyes flickering and fingers at his side curling, uncurling and flicking, as though it was reading something. Or flipping through something, like she would on a Scroll. Finally, the god turned its gaze on her and explained, sounding bored all the while, "The robot girl is very dead, as you know. And many others died as well, throughout the little Kingdom and your academy both."
"I see." She frowned, taking a breath and asking, "And my team? M-My friends?"
"Alive, to the last, though… Scattered, somewhat, and broken in various ways." Pyrrha wanted to ask more, but didn't. Afraid of angering the already bored god so graciously answering her questions, when she knew the being was already tired of the questions. "I am, but I will answer regardless. The blonde lost her arm, and the Faunus girl,, Balaclava, Batavia, no... Belladonna? Whatever. She fled for guilt and fear. The rest were scattered into hospitals and, even now, are filtering back together to whatever end they desire."
"Yang was dismembered?!" She shouted, flinching after a moment and murmuring an, "I-I'm sorry. I was just… Shocked."
"Indeed she was, and indeed you were." The being rumbled, sounding demeaningly amused as it did. Head cocked to the side for a moment to regard her, the giant eventually just shrugged. In a lighter, airier, and somehow ever more sinister sounding voice, the being went on, "You see, none of this is the reason you, well, yet exist frankly. My brother and I made an agreement to leave this world bereft of our influence and magic, yet I'm sure you, of all people, are aware magic yet exists."
"Ah, you are a clever one, aren't you?" She scowled slightly, before she could catch it and school her expression into something more flat and even, but the god noticed. Chuckling, he nodded his great, violet, horned head and went on, "Yes, child, you are right. The Maidens. A result of my deceitful, oh so beloved brother's meddlings. We agreed to leave the world you so aptly name as Remnant behind, long ago. I kept that word and, only recently, found out that he did not."
"The God of Light, yes?" She tried, the God of Darkness nodding his head pleasedly at her guess. "He lies, but you are supposed to be the evil one… Are you not?"
"Just because I am destruction does not make me evil." The god shrugged, "Or are you evil when you destroy those creatures of mine you call Grimm? Or when soldiers destroy other soldiers? Are they evil? How about those Hunters, as you call them, who go out and destroy entire tribes of nomadic raiders? Even now, these things all happen quite often. Which are evil, then, hm?"
"I'm sure you don't, and it doesn't matter. I did not pluck your soul from the world at large to debate morality." She nodded understandingly, and the god spread his arms, like he was presenting a present to her. "Congratulations, young little Huntress! You're being granted a second chance to live out your life, for my own amusement."
"I-I am?" A second chance to live? To see Jaune? To fight and protect the people she cared about? It was almost too good to be true, and for a moment, she couldn't fight the smile that stretched across her face. Head shaking slightly in disbelief, she murmured, "Thank you, God. I… Just thank you, so much. I'm undeserving."
"Quite right, young Pyrrha Nikos." The being agreed, lacking any sort of humility, even if according to the deity it held honesty in spades. One virtue was more than enough for a literal god, perhaps, she supposed. Smiling brightly, it added, "And you are to be the first person from your puny, experimental little world to leave the planet and journey to another galaxy! With your mind and powers intact, no less, and the blessings of a god of destruction."
"I… What?" Leave the planet? Another galaxy? Confused, she asked, "So I am… Not to return to Remnant?"
"Oh, no, of course not. I promised not to interfere in that world after we left and, unlike my brother, I do not lie. I keep my word, unless I'm tricked into giving it." He snarled that last bit, harsh enough and sudden enough to make the diminutive by comparison woman swallow and step back anxiously. After a moment the great being relaxed and sighed, going on, "No, you died on that world when that witch of a woman shot you. Ah, speaking of…"
The god snapped his fingers and she hissed in pain, blood flowing fresh from the wound and breath fleeing her as she sank to her knees. A hand clutched to her breast, desperately clawing at the fire between her bosom and her heart, and then as suddenly as it came… It went. The blood ceased flowing, bubbled away into the air, and steam emanated from the center of her bust. Looking at it, she saw the wound writhe without feeling, deadened by the god's magic and wriggling with it. After a moment the skin knit itself together and her breathing evened out and eased, the ache ebbing away as she stared at immaculate, flawless skin.
"Sorry about that." The god intoned cheerily, smiling when she looked up at him, "I wanted to heal it, and my healing abilities need time to flow. Which meant your wound had to be allowed to, well… you saw, and I wager you got the gist."
"I-I do, yes." Time progressing meant her wound would hurt and, in truth, try and kill her. He'd healed her, though, as readily as he'd relieved her body's aches and pains from the Vytal Festival and the battle around Beacon before her… Expiration.
"Anyways, as I was saying, I won't be sending you there. I keep my word." Her disappointment must have shown, for the god tutted and rushed to add, haughty and tight but not losing his demeaning, sickening edge all the while, "Now, now, I would think saving lives and exploring a galaxy would be to your tastes. And besides, you're dead! Beggars can't be choosers. Er, especially the dead ones."
"I see." It was a air point she supposed. "And I suppose my choices are rather plainly 'Do as I say or I will kill you'?"
"Eh, I would phrase it more as let you die, but…" The god shrugged uncaringly and Pyrrha sighed, avoiding its gaze before her nerves rattled under them again. Even looking at it seemed to rattle something deep in the back of her mind, but looking aside, at the expanse of ruddy colors and dim light, didn't. "In any event, it's a win on all sides! I get to watch you thrash your way through a strange new land, and you get to… Exist! Win win, I say."
"I have a condition." She said as sternly as she could, managing a bit more than a murmur. Louder, she said, "If I do what you want, you have to give me something in exchange too. Beyond my living, as that is part and parcel of your… Entertainment, I mean."
"You're not exactly in a position to negotiate from power, little girl." The god sneered, the woman grimacing but not deigning to respond. After a moment the deity sighed and pinched the bridge of its nose with the fingers of one hand, the other waving in the air between them dismissively. "Oh… Whatever. Finding another suitable candidate for my viewership would take far too long. What do you want?"
"My weapons and armor, repaired and enchanted with your power. As well as your watching my friends, and offering them whatever little help you can." She said the words quickly and flatly, meeting the god's perplexed and amused gaze only after she'd finished.
The quaking in her knees and the beating of her heart wouldn't matter now, after all.
"Oh… Fine, but be warned now and plainly that I can not intervene much on that planet. I will not be empowering anyone, or turning aside blades, or some such other nonsense like that." She nodded understandingly, satisfied with just having a god watching over her friends, and relaxed. With little showmanship for the matter the god snapped the fingers of each hand, her sword and shield appearing as good as new in the air before her, clattering along the ground. "The weapon has changed to suit where you go. Dust doesn't exist there, and so a Dust rifle would be of little use. This functions the same, but the ammunition works along local styles. Ammo block, a rare element, you'll need it all explained to you there. Don't fret though, I'm… Making arrangements to make that easy enough."
"I don't understand-"
"You will once you speak to the mechanical thing. Do try not to let it kill you though, hm? Wasted effort if you do, and no third chances." She nodded and the god held its hand out towards her, a little ball of purple fire appearing in its palm. Grinning, the god warned, "This will… Sting a bit. Close your eyes."
She did as she was bade, and hissed as her skin felt as though it had been lit aflame. A moment later it was gone and she fell a few feet, knees giving out in her wide-eyed surprise as she collapsed in a forest clearing, sprawled in the grass. A moment later, her weapons appeared to either side, clattering to the ground to either side of her where she lay. Groaning, the woman rolled onto her hands and knees for a second time and sat up, looking around until she felt something prod the back of her skull.
Turning, she blinked in surprise, looking up the barrel of a rifle at some kind of machine. It held the weapon in one hand, the other hanging limp and a massive hunk missing from its torso, white oil or blood leaking from everywhere.
Blinking, sat on the grass in a strange forest and shell-shocked from everything that had so quickly washed over her, she could only ask, "You're hurt. Do you need help?"
The things strange head lifted back, tilted to the side, and multiple little flats along its black head flanged and twitched in what she guessed was a reaction. Finally, it pointed out quietly, "You fell from the sky, Human Woman. We came from the direction of the nearest Human settlement on this planet, and none dressed as you do."
Looking up, there were no trees above where she'd fallen from, so she nodded numbly and murmured, "Yeah." After a moment she added, "I'm Pyrrha Nikos, by the way."
"We are Geth." The machine intoned in its synthetic, warbling voice. After a moment it asked, "Are you aware of us?"
"You are right in front of me, so… I don't understand the question." Hesitantly, and collecting herself, she rose and glanced at the weapon pointed at her face. The God of Darkness had mentioned her mind and powers would be intact so…
Using her Semblance, she recalled her discarded weapons, the two things slipping soundlessly through the air and resting on her back where they were always left. The machine watched soundlessly, eye flaps - she had no other reference name for them, so there it was - twitching in reaction. She didn't know why, but its flashlight-esque face twitched this way and that, looking at her and then the weapons, and then it lowered the rifle slightly.
"You are a strange Human, Nikos, Pyrrha." It started, the woman's brows raising at the statement coming from two thirds of a robot pointing a gun at her chest now. A realization that had her hands curling into anxious fists and breathing speeding at her remembrance of the last time that had happened. "Your adrenal response is heightening and you seem frightened. Moreso than previous. We would like to know why."
"You would scarcely believe me." She murmured, gently reaching up and poking the barrel of the weapon back up, towards her face rather than her chest. A surprisingly, ridiculously, more comfortable place for it to be. "Such a story told to me even a week prior would have seen my politely recusing myself from one whom I called a liar."
"We would detect the adrenal response and heart palpitations, as well as minor reactions in your face and voice, were you to lie." Beyond Geth, in the far distance, she could hear sounds. Gunshots, for one, cracking out at least a few hundred yards away at something. The machine didn't turn towards them but, after a moment, lowered its rifle and turned, bobbing its head the way she supposed it had come. "There are other Humans from this settlement hunting me and heading this way. If you are from here-"
"I am not, that is to say the last on the matter." She cut him, it, off. In the back of her head, she remembered the God of Darkness' words about how doomed she'd be without who he sent her to. And she was not in the mood to die again, particularly to what sounded like angry hunters after her new acquaintance. Flicking her arms to either side, she stepped past the damaged machine she held her shield and sword loose at her hands and asked, "Do we need to fight? I can disarm and wound them for our escape."
"You have no reason to help us."
"You didn't shoot me when you had the chance." She nodded her head towards the woods, "Even though they would do so to you, and you assumed I belonged here. You only stopped because I was in your path, I suspect. Why?"
"We did not wish to harm you." The answer was quiet and simple, and all the Mistralian needed to tighten the grip on her sword and meet its gaze flatly. "You do not need to risk yourself for us."
"I'm a Huntress." She said quietly, gently even. A title she considered lofty, but one a literal God had once referred to her as, and she would not dare deign to question him. Returning her gaze to the forest, she explained, "We protect the weak, the innocent, and the like. You are wounded - weak - and innocent of any harm I am aware of. Unless you murdered one of them?"
"We did not." The machine's voice was the same, but even so as it turned to her she felt a hint of… Defensiveness. "We were spotted and fled, and were shot as we did so. But we have not harmed anyone here, and do not intend to unless forced."
"Then you deserve protection from people simply killing you for some nonsense." She shrugged, rolling her shoulders to limber up. Quieter, firmer, she asked, "Are we fighting or running? I don't know where we are, but-"
"Running. We can not fight without inflicting harm, and fleeing is possible. Undue harm is ill-advised and not desired." The machine turned without anything further and, after an odd, almost anxious moment to check she had as well, took off into the forest. In spite of the wounds it sported, the machine's pace was quick, rifle on its back and one arm holding the other to minimize more damage coming. In spite of that, it spoke, "My ship is nearby. We can escape in it with time to seal pressurization seals before we leave the atmosphere."
"A-Alright." She grunted, leaping over a log and rolling as she hit the dirt, coming up just behind the machine and falling in there. Ahead of them, a tree's bark splintered violently and Geth steered to the left, raising both arms over its head in surprise.
Instinctively, she grabbed ahold of the machine's good shoulder to keep it in front of her and her body between them and the shooters, raising her shield to better protect its head and ordering, "Lead the way, Geth. I will cover the rear."
"We detect no kinetic barriers. If you are shot-" As if the words were prophetic, she cried out and slammed against the machine as a rapid staccato of rounds cracked through the air. One passe to their left and into the dirt in a little puff while another threw hunks of bark off a tree they passed by and ducked behind to use as cover while they ran. She kept running so Geth never stopped, instead calling back, "Are you wounded, Nikos, Pyrrha?"
"No, my Aura stopped it." Even though it had still smarted when the round struck her shoulder, she was indeed unharmed.
"We do not understand what-"
"When I tell you my story, count my immunity to bullets as evidence." She ordered simply as they broke into another clearing. Ahead of them, the top shimmering gently, a long, blue craft. Like a long beetle, but lacking any legs or horns and instead simply resting on the ground, with a ramp lowered at the back. Sensing movement, she turned and her shield snapped up as a heavier shot slammed into it and staggered her back. "Are we getting in that thing?"
"Yes." She turned at the words and caught a flash of something, between the spaced out trees and across the relatively barren, sparsely shrubbed forest.
A flash before of armor, she realized a moment before a round caught her sword-side shoulder and threw her back. The woman cried out in as much surprise as pain but coming up quickly and keeping her body turned to present the smallest silhouette possible with her shield covering as much of herself as possible. Another small staccato set of rounds struck her, two scoring across her shield and two more whistling past her lithe form, and she turned, fleeing for the 'ship' Geth had mentioned.
"Are you wounded, Nikos?" It asked as she climbed aboard, the ramp closing behind her as she approached the back of the chair set into the front of the ship like it had been waiting for her alone. She grunted a simple 'no' and shook her head, and it turned towards the front of the ship, adding, "We advise you sit down. Geth craft are not suited for organic occupants."
That was very evidently true, the inside of the ship cramped and low. The pilot seat was the only one, with a scant five feet to the back ramp and only four from floor to ceiling. To either side, pipes, terminals and flat work tables recessed into the wall, and the right sported a tall, several inch deep recess she guessed was where Geth could rest to recover or recharge. On the ceiling, electrical work spidered around as much as they did below the gratings of the floor. She elected to sit at the back, leaned against the ramp that had closed behind them as the craft lifted into the air and listed sharply back, the latter fact alone making her very happy to have sat at the back. Overhead and throughout the ship, a strange hissing sounded that she didn't understand, and didn't question.
After several minutes, the machine turned and called back to her, "We have escaped the planet. My ship is cloaked, and will not be tracked. We are safe."
"I see." She didn't rise from the floor, though, nor question what 'escaped the planet' meant. Instead, she called out in as polite a voice as she could manage, "Geth, I'm exhausted. Would you mind if I rested for a time?"
"We do not. And we wish you a good rest, though the compartment of this vessel is unsuited for such." The machine's seat was recessed down and into the floor but it lifted slightly and turned to let it stand and step into the recess by the chair. Small arms began quickly and quietly cauterising the damaged cabling as it continued, "I a setting a route for another nearby settled world where I will procure credits for us to purchase you food. From there we will determine our next course. Is this agreeable?"
"Hm." She nodded, letting her eyes close. The machine didn't speak again and, within moments, she fell into a deep rest as exhaustion claimed her.