Good Afternoon All,
Hope everyone is having a good week thus far; it is approaching the holiday season so personally my spirits are lifted slightly higher than normal. Not much to say up here this week, though I will ask you to read the notes section at the end of the chapter to clear up a few questions you may have had popup while reading. As always, if you have something you liked this week or just want to drop a little general praise it is always appreciated; every little bit of positive fuel helps move this train along!
Please do enjoy yourself.
The next few weeks in Kuoh Town passed without significant incident. Every Friday night Sasuke and Rias continued their double date tradition with Kiba and Asia, both couples becoming increasingly at ease with both their partners and with each other as time went on. Training continued to hone the abilities of all those under Sasuke's tutelage as spars became increasingly fierce among the combatants. At times one sparring partner may fall slightly behind their partner (this was common among his Yakuza lieutenants, as some of the more natural talented developed skills faster than their partners), and Sasuke would take a few days to give the struggling student personal training to raise their level appropriately so the spars could continue unhindered.
Issei's training (aka daily beatings) with Vali were starting to show results as the rook aspect continued to raise Issei's toughness and strength. Vali impatiently and roughly taught Issei, but was thankfully able to also immediately release that frustration out on his student/victim and thus remain fairly satisfied on the whole. Sasuke was always careful to never burden him with any paperwork or administrative duties, and planned to never do so. Not that he was actively pacifying the at times petulant Albion user, but more so that there was not reason to needlessly antagonize his right hand when he had a much more capable (and willing) assistant in Asia to help out with any such matters.
Meanwhile, Sasuke oversaw the construction of the new SS training course that was as close to impossible as he could make it. While he had yet to meet anyone that was his true equal in power thus far, Sasuke knew it was only a matter of time until it occurred. The day it happened, he planned to be as sharp as a freshly ground kunai, not rusty in his skills from months of disuse. Sasuke scowled into the distance as multiple crews of devil workers endlessly labored to construct the hellish course, even as powerful magic users followed behind them and set up enchantments behind hardened barriers that would bombard the course taker as they navigated the obstacles.
Sasuke paused as his cell phone rang.
"Kakashi-sama, apologies for the interruption. There has been a disturbance in the city, and one of our major bases of operation has been destroyed."
Sasuke raised an eyebrow and effortlessly leapt up to the top of a nearby work crane, looking out at the city. A large plume of smoke arose from the Southern portion of Kuoh town; the explosion had likely been masked by the sounds of sparring and the noisy construction crews. Even as Sasuke looked on, another black plume rose from the Western part of town as a distant explosion could be heard. Excited chatter could be heard in the background of the call as the local yakuza leader hissed menacing words to shut them up.
"I humbly apologize for the interruption Kakashi-sama, but reports have just come in tha-"
"That another headquarters has been destroyed?"
A brief pause of surprise from the other end of the line.
"Yes Kakashi-sama, the Western Office has just been de-"
"It will be handled."
Sasuke hung up on the local Yakuza leader as scenarios raced through his head. He realized that his flimsy cover of "Kakashi" at the Yakuza would take very little digging to unearth, but he hadn't expected outside parties to come looking for him so soon. Was it the devil lords that had made an early move after his dismissal of them in the last meeting? No matter, they would be dealt with either way. Sasuke jumped to the middle of the huge training field and unleashed a bit of his killing intent, just enough to give all his students an icy slap to the face and get their attention. Everyone immediately ceased their sparring matches to crowd around Sasuke.
"Oi, what' the big idea, I just had Blanco on the ropes over here!"
"What is the matter Saint-sama, has something happened?"
"What troubles you master? Has someone angered you?"
Sasuke raised his hand to silence further inquiries.
"There have been attacks on multiple Yakuza facilities as of a few minutes ago. Given the power and speed of these attacks I believe it to be an entity or group from the Supernatural world, thus precautions are necessary."
Sasuke turned to Kiba.
"Kiba, inform Rias and Sona of the situation and have them on standby to assist. I find it unlikely their assistance will be necessary, but if the entire town is at threat they may need to assist with evacuations."
Kiba nodded and took off in a blur of speed, his knight aspect shining through.
"Asia, Xenovia, Issei, travel to the Southern branch and assist where you can. The enemy has moved on to other locations so there should not be a significant enemy presence there."
The three nodded seriously as Asia began calling up a magic circle to transport them.
"Vali, travel with them and keep them safe. If anyone attacks the group, feel free to respond with lethal force. If possible, attempt to draw any attackers away from the civilian population to minimize casualties."
Vali nodded eagerly, a shark like grin passing over his face as he blurred towards the Southern branch. He was obviously hoping at least a few of the aggressors were still around to play with.
Sasuke took a minute to shift into his Pillar Lord aspect, blond hair and warm colored ruby eyes overriding his usual aspect. On the slight chance that these aggressors had not yet made the connection between Sasuke and Kakashi, Sasuke hoped to throw them off with his efficient disguise.
Gathering up his power, Sasuke blurred over to the Western Branch.
As Sasuke neared the smoky ruins of the building that had once doubled as the Yakuza Western branch of operations, the first thing he noticed was the lack of bodies. The question was had the attackers made efforts to spare their victims, or had they collected the dead bodies for reasons unknown? Sasuke slowly sifted through the debris, only finding the bodies of members unlucky enough to be killed in the initial explosion that had destroyed much of the upper portion of the building. Sasuke slowly grinned mirthlessly as the pieces fell into place. Whoever this attacker was knew about the connection between Sasuke and Kakashi; these attacks were nothing more than elaborate bonfires to draw his attention.
The only question was, where were the ambushers?
As if the Universe was carefully listening to him, a familiar spear of light hurtled towards him at incredible speed. Effortlessly dodging to the side, Sasuke looked up to examine his attacker.
"Not to appear rude, but would you kindly identify yourself? We are here for Sasuke Uchiha, and you are obviously not he."
Sasuke stared at the odd collection of enemies as he pointed to the fallen angel.
"My name is of no consequence Kokabiel, though I am curious as to when you started working with human allies of all things."
Kokabiel laughed in a slightly insane manner.
"Indeed! Who would have ever believed a glorious fallen angel such as myself would ally with such filth? In truth though, we only work together on occasion to accomplish a shared goal of ours, nothing more."
The lead human's face twisted in a sneer.
"And after our shared goal is complete, we will gladly attempt to kill each other at the first opportunity."
Sasuke turned towards the raven haired human.
"Who are you?"
The dark haired youth gave him a cocky grin.
"It is appropriate for the executioner to greet their victim; I am known as Cao Cao, leader of the Hero Faction."
Ah, this is the one Vali mentioned having some contact with. Thus far, Sasuke was not particularly impressed with this Cao Cao; there was a fine line between arrogance and stupidity on the battlefield.
"What do want with this Sasuke Uchiha?"
A bespectacled member of the other group spoke up.
"That is really none of your concern, especially since you won't even give us your name or why you are here."
Cao Cao laughed.
"Come Georg, are you really so scared of a slightly powerful devil? We outnumber him four to one."
Cao Cao turned to face Sasuke.
"Sunshine up there has history with Sasuke after he showed up, kicked his ass and sent him running away screaming like a little girl."
Kokabiel gnashed his death as his eyes glowed, obviously barely restraining himself from attacking the smirking human.
"As for me, I just want to meet the traitor and have a brief talk with him right before I kill him."
Sasuke raised an eyebrow.
"Oh? How is it that he is a traitor to you if you have never met the man before?"
Something ugly passed across Cao Cao's face.
"He is a traitor to his entire species, to humanity! He has brokered a truce with the local devils and works with them to this day, even as millions of humans around the globe suffer in contracts to those filthy swine. That's not even speaking of the fallen angels that regularly kill humans for sport, or the angels that have failed those they were supposed to protect so utterly. The sooner all non-humans are wiped out from existence, the better."
Sasuke chuckled with little humor.
"While you make a good point regarding the misery many humans face, how is it that you are planning to destroy all the other races when their power is exponentially greater then that of humanity? 99 percent of the human race are practically insects compared to the power that the other races wield from birth, and the 1 percent of humanity that is powerful pales in comparison to the numbers the other races can field."
The Hero faction members stiffened in anger at his words against their cause. In truth, Sasuke was on board with some of their ideas but was not necessarily ready to commit mass genocide, especially given his recently improved relations with many of the devils. Besides, he was curious as to how the leader would respond to his attempt at playing the devil's advocate.
"Why bother fighting our enemies directly when they are so intent on destroying each other? It is true, our strength doesn't compare to the armies the other factions can field. Even so though, I can destroy any single enemy in combat, and my followers are also growing quickly in power. Given enough time, we will have weakened the other factions enough that our strength will be sufficient to crush them."
A barrage of light spears whizzed by Sasuke as he dodged them, wincing as one grazed him. Without access to his dojutsu, he was not nearly as proficient at dodging. Eyeing his sizzling flesh, Sasuke grimaced at his enhanced weakness to the light weapons. They did not poison him as efficiently as they would a true devil, but once in his Pillar Lord body he was more vulnerable to them than he was in his human form.
Cao Cao eyed Kokabiel in annoyance.
"I wasn't done talking you swine."
Kokabiel smoothly gave him the finger.
"Either help or get out of the way. You may be content to foolishly write him off, but this devil is dangerous; I don't want him getting away with so much information."
Cao Cao rolled his eyes and leaned against a nearby building with a bored look and a nod to his companions.
Kokabiel began charging up another light attack as Georg and a blond haired young woman began activating powers of their own.
Sasuke drew his katana and blurred, crashing blades with the blonde woman even as her hands began to shake around her sword from the strain. Sasuke dodged even as a barrage of light lances and spells crashed into the ground where he had been standing. Using his full power, Sasuke launched a dizzyingly fast series of attacks at the blonde that she was barely able to defend against, even as he constantly shifted ground to avoid the ranged attacks aimed at him. With a quick flourish, Sasuke disarmed the blond swordswoman as she cursed and made a gesture in his direction.
"Sacred Gear activate: Blade Blacksmith!"
Sasuke blurred out of the way as a forest of swords rapidly expanded towards him, effectively blocking any further aggression towards the blond.
Well, that's what she thought no doubt.
Sasuke quickly began charging up a crackling ball of vermillion energy in his right palm as the swords got closer.
The massive red lance shredded the swords in its path as it approached the shell-shocked blond before she could react. Right before the energy vaporized her, a thick mist enveloped her and seemed to absorb all the energy in the attack.
"Sacred gear activate: Dimension Lost."
Georg's eyes widened as he looked over to Sasuke.
"Quite a display Devil-san; that beam managed to plow through a Mountain range in the Himalayas before dissipating."
Sasuke tensed minutely as he considered his options. Luckily the mist was not an absorption type gear; it appeared that it merely transported objects or attacks wherever the user desired. Still though, in his current form he had far less experience with his combat capabilities and only knew how to use the ruby lance effectively. With the mists ability to nullify his one powerful attack and Cao Cao still an unknown player, he didn't care for his current odds.
Sasuke let out an excited smirk. It had been a while since he felt like his back was against the wall; he took the time to relish the feeling of balancing on the dagger edge between life and death as he engaged Kokabiel and dodged magical attacks from Georg. Endless practice in both his lives came into play as his body used its enhanced senses to the maximum, instantly reacting as a veritable hail of elemental magical assaults came from all directions. Even with his peerless physical prowess, Sasuke felt blind without his dojutsu and grimaced briefly when several attacks hit his toughened physique, leaving scorch marks in their wake. Luckily the elemental attacks were far less effective than Kokabiels's light attacks, allowing Sasuke to absorb the hits with little detriment.
Even as Sasuke began re-evaluating his strategy yet again to eliminate Georg, he saw a flicker out of the corner of his eye and watched with mixed feeling as Xenovia engaged the blonde woman in a furious contest of swordsmanship. At the same time, an armored Vali smashed Georg from behind into the ground, taking the Sacred Gear user out of the fight as he smirked at Sasuke.
"Now now King, its not nice to hog ALL the fighting and leave none for your faithful subordinates."
Letting out a savage yell, Vali surged for Kokabiel as the two eagerly engaged in battle.
Sasuke turned a slightly disapproving look on Asia.
"Asia-chan, its you I rely on to keep these battle maniacs in check. What happened to securing the position at the Southern headquarters?"
Asia's spine stiffened and her head came up as she transitioned to her role as Yakuza advisor seamlessly.
"The position has been secured Saint-sama; the damage was minimal and there were few yakuza casualties. Once we secured the site we left at Vali-san's urging, since he sensed a battle at your location and there were no hostiles remaining in the Southern area. Issei-san was joined by Lione-san, and they are currently guarding the cleanup crews that are underway as we speak."
Sasuke nodded, slightly mollified as he looked to the suddenly much more interested Cao Cao.
"Since their magician has been eliminated, stand by to provide healing support if necessary."
Asia briefly bowed her head in acknowledgment as Sasuke moved towards an amused looking Cao Cao.
"So, somebody else managed to get the muzzle on Vali before I could. Its a shame; he would have proved to be an invaluable tool towards the cause before we disposed of him after the other factions were dealt with. Who are you, really? Vali calls you King, yet that human girl over there referred to you as a Saint."
"I have gone by many names over the years, though I believe you are already familiar with the name I am most commonly known by: Sasuke Uchiha."
Any amusement instantly extinguished as Cao Cao turned to him in a hostile manner.
"That's not possible; Sasuke Uchiha is human whereas you give off the presence of a Devil Lord. I'm just curious as to why you would lie to me so blatantly."
Sasuke considered for a moment.
"If you are willing to sit on the ground with your spear out of arm's length, I will show you. I swear on my power as a Pillar Lord that I will not attack you while you sit on the ground waiting."
Mollified at the binding oath, Cao Cao did as instructed and plunged the spear into the ground while sitting down cross legged and staring at Sasuke.
Sasuke began to resume his normal form as the astonished Cao Cao looked on, his hands tightening into fists at his side. As the seconds passed by and the transformation completed, Sasuke briefly used his dojutsu to scan the battlefield. It appeared that Vali had Kokabiel well in hand and was toying with him ("Cmon Kokey, I know you have more fight than this!") while Xenovia had already finished her fight, the blonde swordswoman unconscious on the ground as a panting and bloodied Xenovia was tended to by Asia. The Magician Georg lay where he landed, still out cold from the crushing blow Vali's armored fist had landed on him.
Cao Cao's voice snapped him out of his examination.
"You are not only a traitor, you are an absolute abomination. It is I that will lead humanity to greatness, not some mutated freak that steals power from the devils to become strong. Luckily I have just the remedy for you."
Cao Cao walked over to his spear and pulled it out of the ground, pointing it at Sasuke as it began to hum with power.
"This spear has the power to kill anything in existence, even immortal beings. It will put an end to such an abomination as yourself with little effort."
Sasuke let out a mirthless smile as he readied his sword.
"We will see."
In case any of you were confused as to why Sasuke fought the first half of the battle in Pillar Lord form, remember that he assumed the form initially for reconnaissance purposes right before going to the Western Yakuza branch to check things out. By the time he found out that they were looking for him anyways, he was already engaged in battle and obviously couldn't ask them for a time out while he changed back to his original form. Also, if you haven't already guessed the blond swordswoman was Jeanne, though most of what I read described her as both annoying and a very minor named character so I didn't bother addressing her by name in the few glimpses we got of her. Which in a way is more realistic; how often do people address those on their own team by their formal names, especially in the middle of a battle?