Tanya had almost said what she wanted to take with her when another thought struck her. She didn't really know how the Elenium Type 95 Computation Jewel worked – Being X had forced the malfunctioning piece of junk to work – much less how it might react to similarly cursed items.

She asked, "Why not just send me down with all of these items and powers? I'd be able to finish off this 'Demon King' in five minutes."

And that was with quotation marks, thank you. She didn't know what this Demon King character was doing, and he could be like her. He could have been forcibly reincarnated and unable to fully control the surroundings around him.

She'd see if his ideas had merit and if he could protect her from Heaven. If he could, she'd break her contract, rule free wish or not.

Her first priority was safety, after all, and she hadn't had the luxury of choosing sides in her last life. She'd chose to align with a nation that wasn't bent on throwing itself at every nation around it

Aqua groaned, tired of the questions the little girl kept giving her. She was like, twelve, or something. Literally no one expected anything from her, so why was she asking these questions?

Face pointed toward the overhead light, she said, grudgingly, "Because, little girl, we don't have the power. Sending people into a new life with their memories, bodies and a whole new language is taxing on our stores of mana." Tanya's eyebrows rose.

She'd be learning another language? That sounded important, and like it shouldn't get skimmed ov-

Before she could ask about that, the girl continued. "Sending them with a relic of awesome power means we spend a whole lot more mana trying to do that, which means we are limited to how often we do it and how much we send."

Suddenly acutely aware of the Computation Jewel around her neck, she prepared to ask another question. The girl in front of her looked desperate, and she was more likely to let things slip that she shouldn't if she were trying to get her to move on.

Careful to keep the worry out of her voice, lest the blue-haired girl begin to suspect something, she asked, "Would that kill – err, destroy – the soul of the person? If you sent them with more than one relic?"

Aqua began to wail obnoxiously. "Noooo. It'd take all of our mana, and we'd be unable to do much afterwards, but we could."

Tanya nodded. She was ready, now, and this time, she'd defy Being X, and live for more than twenty years. "Fine then," she said, quickly stuffing the contract into her clothing. "I choose…"

She had thought over her options and goals. What was she going to do? Stay alive? Join the Demon King? Beat the Demon King?

She, of course, lacked knowledge about the world she was going into, but if it was like either of hers, then she'd be facing the wrath of nations armed with guns, tanks, and Aerial Mages.

Even the best could be worn away by numbers – the defeat of the Bloody Valkyrie showed that – which meant she needed allies and power. With that in mind, she had gone through her options.

First, the ability to Shapeshift.

While she really, really, really wanted to be her old self once more – more than ever before, considering how tantalizingly close it was – she knew that that power wouldn't really be conducive to her continued survival. Sure, she could avoid people or nations, for a while, but eventually, she'd be boxed in by the paper trail she left and caught.

Besides, Shapeshifting seemed like it would take too long to fully utilize, and she had her 'Optical Decoy' formulas if she really needed to look different . She could change organs and become a living weapon, sure, but that would be after years of hard work and training. Years she might not have, considering the fact that wherever she was being transported to was at war.

Second, the girl in front of her, Aqua.

While she could try to take her, Tanya didn't know if she could, and she might get her ability to reincarnate once more revoked in the uproar she might cause. Plus, she wasn't going to be ruled by emotions or sentimentality and pick a self-purported goddess just because she might be like Viktoriya.

Which left…

Tanya held up the paper in her right hand. The Circlet of Greatness.

It was best. She really did need any and all options that could be afforded to her, and in any world like the two she had left, power would allow her to get on the fast track in any army she joined with.

She could always use said power to escape, assuming the worst happened.

Aqua looked like she might cry tears of joy. She wouldn't have to listen to this annoying brat's questions any longer.

Aqua ran over to the desk by her chair. She slapped the paper on top of it and poured a tiny bit of mana into the paper. The paper disappeared immediately, and Aqua began to get a few provisions that she would need for her next life.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in heaven, a large red button appeared next to Being X.

He hadn't been stupid. He had known that people might try things like taking two relics of awesome power, or trying to take the Heavenly being on duty with them into the testing world of his relocation and reincarnation project.

So, he had developed a failsafe. A large, red button with a sticky note that read "Press to Break Rules." If he didn't press it, then the rules didn't get broken.

He'd reincarnated The Atheist with their memories in a world that wasn't being plagued with a Demon King using this button, and he had also taken second helpings from the Heavenly Box of Eternal Winter.

Being X really did like ice cream.

Unfortunately, the moment the button materialized next to him, glowing red and blaring loudly that rules were about to be broken, Being X was trying to sleep.

He'd been having wonderful dreams about The Atheist finally admitting that he was God, and then going on to conquer that world while spreading his holy word, hand in hand with him.

Being X didn't like having his dreams interrupted.

So, without looking to the side, he smashed the button, quite used to smashing the alarm clocks that he made for himself so he'd actually get out of bed and deal with the stresses of being God.

This was no alarm clock.

The button was depressed, and several things happened at once.

For starters, the red lights that lined the blank room that he had made for his rest began to blare. He shot out of bed, eyes widening and fighting the urge to let his swearing become screaming.

Those lights meant one thing. The Atheist was being tampered with.

He rushed quickly to his view of that world, searching frantically for a person that wasn't there.

Around Tanya, the black, inky void began to flash between red and the normal black.

A ring of symbols, resembling the ones that she was told the Type 95 often created, appeared at her feet, and Tanya began to float into the air. Content that, if Being X was going to show himself, he would have by now, Tanya began to monologue.

Among other things, it was cathartic to vent her frustrations to enemies that wouldn't be able to do anything about either their death or her retreat.

She glared down at the panicking Aqua below her, who seemed to be alarmed by the red flashing. "Well, Aqua, I would just love to stick around and enjoy your sparkling personality, but I don't think I will. This is the second time I've been reincarnated, and I'll show Being X that there isn't anything that can get me to acknowledge him as god."

Laughing maniacally, Tanya reveled in the look of terror on Aqua's face. It was fun to pretend to be some stereotypical, cartoonish villain, but she meant what she said. Regardless of what happened, she'd never call Being X 'god.'

He'd had his chance.

With that last thought ruining her mind, she floated off towards the light that had opened up, content in knowing that she'd not have to interact with Being X for a good, long time. Heaven had used up its mana, and she'd be free, for a bit.

-OxOxO-

Aqua gulped. The girl – no, Tanya was her name – disappeared.

Aqua began to sniff sadly. Really, how should she have known that that girl was The Atheist? The one that the higher ups talked about in hushed whispers and that everyone kind of feared.

She was one of the only people, period , who had decided that when faced with the power of God, she'd still doubt him. After sixteen years, she hadn't broken, even under the onslaught of an entire world.

Aqua had just violated one of the only rules surrounding the girl. Don't interact with her .

And she hadn't just interacted with her. Oh no, she'd used Heaven's power to reincarnate her, and she had two relics.

Yeah, Aqua was definitely dead.

As the red light faded, the area around her changed subtly.

The void didn't grow any less black, and the overhead light didn't become less white, and the chairs didn't stop existing, but it changed all the same.

The chairs became tarnished, less polished. The light began to flicker. Not often, but noticeably for a place that was supposed to be the definition of perfection. The all-encompassing void around her didn't seem to be so all-encompassing.

That would be the mana depletion.

Heaven, of course, wouldn't stop existing. Nothing could do that, but things could deteriorate substantially without enough mana.

As a red telephone materialized on her desk and began to ring, Aqua gulped. He wasn't going to like this.

She gently picked up the phone, hopeful that by doing so, the voice at the other end of the line might be less angry.

Her hopes were quickly quashed.

"AQUAAAAAAAAAAAA!"

She recoiled from the phone, and, after fumbling with the thing when it had flown from her hand in shock, she dutifully held it up to her ear. "Y- Yes, Boss?" she asked, hopeful that maybe she wouldn't be demoted past her current position.

She didn't think that was supposed to be possible – she was only able to take in souls from a single country on a single version of the planet called Earth – but she wasn't sure He might bend the rules to punish her for this transgression.

"What did you just do?"

Whimpering, Aqua began to explain. How the girl had slapped her, and how she hadn't even known who the girl was because she didn't have her book. She was even able to convince herself that it wasn't entirely her fault, when the facts were all laid bare.

Aqua concluded her attempt at mitigating her involvement in the affair by saying, "And really, whose fault is it that I didn't have access to her file? You really should have been more considerate."

That had, apparently, been the wrong thing to say. The only sound that echoed through the telephone was heavy breathing. After a moment, His voice echoed through the receiver.

"You listen very carefully, water goddess. I would very much like to demote you to a position that obligates everyone else to ridicule you. Fortunately for you, you have subordinates who appreciate your way of running things. Be nicer to Eris, would you?"

Aqua felt a vein bulge at that, but He continued on anyway. "Regardless of your subordinates… mark my words, I will find some way for you to regret this decision."

The line went dead, and Aqua set the phone down, pouting. Really, it wasn't entirely her fault. Right?

Aqua huffed. Like that overblown, self-important windbag had said: He couldn't demote her, so she didn't have anything to worry about.

On the other end of the phone, Being X was trying not to panic. Heaven would survive sending The Atheist there, as it had survived her first reincarnation and the reincarnation of hundreds of others.

It might not survive her getting that wish .

Alright, he couldn't do much about it now. He would fix the contracts, of course, and label the button better. Maybe put an unbreakable glass box around it.

He then remembered something he could do. Smirking, he brought up the book that told of the laws surrounding the reincarnation project.

While that self-important, insignificant, minor goddess might be annoying, Being X didn't think he would demote her to a position where everyone would be obligated to humiliate her.

Deities had more important things to do than interact with her, like picking their noses, watching paint dry, or making a working supercomputer using nothing but abacuses and gravity.

No, he'd remove a few restrictions . He wouldn't do anything directly, no, but if someone decided they wanted to take her…

Well, he wouldn't stop them. One less thorn in his side, as far as he was concerned.

-OxOxO-

Tanya breathed a sigh of fresh air. Finally, she was free from Being X, for a while at least.

She didn't know how long it would take for their realm to regenerate its mana, but he'd be able to send someone after her, eventually. For now, however-

A loud noise interrupted her thoughts. It sounded like the crack of a whip…

She turned to her left, and saw something she hadn't seen in a long while.

A horse-drawn carriage, with a driver. That driver had cracked some sort of whip, which, she guessed, would motivate the animal.

It was simple. There was a brown horse, and it was pulling a carriage, covered in those typical manila… coverings, just like in old western movies. It had wooden wheels, and barrels hung from each side. By all accounts, it seemed like something representative of the human spirit of adventure.

There was only one problem.

In both of her times, horses were used sparingly, by either the very rich, police forces, and, in her second life, by the military of a certain backwards country that had taken a few weeks to defeat.

If people were still using horse-drawn carriages in everyday life… then…

She glanced around wildly. People, clothed in simple garb and carrying boxes of food, went about their day. Children chased each other around, waving sticks as if fighting with swords . A group of people, much farther away, were dressed bizarrely. The streets were paved with cobblestone instead of asphalt. The streets didn't even look regulated, twisting slightly as it went.

Oh.

She had assumed that, like her first two lives, this one would have people fighting with guns, machinery, flight, and have positions of power that weren't based on how close you were to a king and how far back you could trace your lineage.

Tanya whimpered.

She wasn't fighting in a post-industrial place at all. It was all rural. Preindustrial.

This changed everything.

-OxOxO-

Blazing eyes opened.

Compared to the rest of his aging, decrepit body, they had a vigor to them that made him look ten years younger.

The old man didn't do much, these days. He sat around in his castle, waiting, planning, or conversing with the people here and outside the barrier. His generals were all lazing around, as usual.

No matter what he did, they couldn't work together for long. They squabbled among each other, vying for his place even though he wasn't yet dead. They were expecting it, sooner or later, and he couldn't really stop them from doing so.

Only his prowess had saved him from the few assassination attempts carried out by the more cunning among the Generals that wanted his position – Hans and Sylvia. They were never implicated, of course.

They were smarter than that. They wouldn't have become Generals otherwise.

The more loyal of them – Vanir, Verdia, Ragcraft, and, of course, his daughter – had also been instrumental in maintaining his power. Whether familial or personal loyalty, the latter three could be trusted.

Wolbach and Celestina, too. A formerly imprisoned evil god had been an unexpected boon, but Wolbach had aligned with him immediately when she'd discovered the fate of her followers. Celestina was also aligned with him, if only while she searched for her god.

Oh, and the retired one. He was technically useful, but he was just as lazy as they were, choosing to 'retire' so he could laze around and mooch off of him without having to fight anything, owing to the barrier that protected the castle he drew his power from.

It was cute, how they fought and bickered and lazed about like children.

It was also annoying.

If they would just work together, instead of trying to fight to succeed him or undermine each other's power to kill him, they would have been much more successful against the Kingdom of Belzerg.

Of course, he groused, if that Lich or the General she had replaced fought by their side instead of just draining their money, this conflict would have ended years ago.

But something had… changed.

A quick spell left his weapon, appearing to fizzle out in the air, and he grinned malevolently. The howling of the prophet finally reached his ears, but he didn't need her to tell what was going on.

Heaven was acting against him. They had sent yet another 'Hero Candidate,' and this time, they'd given them more than one of their relics. Doing so, of course, risked them not being able to track his movements for a time, but it also heightened the chance that they would survive against his forces.

More importantly, however, was the fact that Heaven would be out of commission for a while. Sending down a Hero Candidate with so much taxed their reserves, which would make them…

Inattentive.

Instead of having to constantly ensure that Heaven wasn't acting against his forces directly, he could act while they were unavailable.

Licking his lips in anticipation, plans were taken down from the dusty shelves of his mind, long forgotten due to his part-protection, part-sealing in his own castle. Verdia could spend a few months away from the front lines, and Elroad's minister would need to have an 'accident' at the hands of Belzerg, in some way. Yes, things were…

He then paused.

He snarled, remembering what had caused Heaven's inability to stop him.

Sitting on his throne, the Demon King planned. First, he would need to find out who their new hero was.

Whoever they had sent… they would be formidable. Intimidating. Dangerous.

And above all else, they would be a devout believer in the sanctity of Heaven. They would need to be stopped.

-OxOxO-

Here we go! The next chapter is up. We don't know much about the Demon King or why they're even fighting, beyond the Axis Cult and Crimson Demons being annoying shitheads – the light novel is beginning to explore that in Volume 16 – and I hope you like this version.

If you're upset about the variable capitalization of 'god,' 'goddess,' and 'heaven,' I'm sorry, but it is important, so shush.

It really is too bad that Tanya's assumptions make things so incredibly complicated for her. It really is too bad she doesn't find out everything before leaping forward.

That was a hint, by the way.

Anyway, leave a comment – 'What do you want to see from this story?' is a pretty good question, right? – and continue onward!