Disclaimer: I don't own anything that doesn't belong to me.
Also, fair warning; this is in the same continuity as my previous Kamen Rider story, Quiz Chronicle, so…
The room was nice and cozy, a roaring fireplace helping to fill it with warmth and light, a portrait of some innocuous landscape hanging over the mantle. The walls were covered in bookshelves, a large chandelier hung from the ceiling, and the floor was carpeted in a rug made from the hide of an unidentified animal. A large armchair was positioned just next to the fire, and in it was the only incongruency in the otherwise domestic setting: a humanoid white-skinned monster of unimaginable horror, its menace is somewhat diminished by the ill-fitting spectacles on its face and the book held in its hands.
The alien abomination glanced up, feigning surprise. "Oh! Hello there! I didn't hear you come in! I was distracted reading one of my favorite books…"
He paused and did a double-take at the book he was holding. "What… Is this a cheap Twilight knockoff featuring Fangires?! Dogranio! I told you I wasn't touching this supernatural romance shit!"
"Our sponsors insisted, Evolt," an old man's voice said from offscreen.
"FUCK the sponsors!" Evolt yelled angrily, throwing the book into the fire where it belonged.
"Evolt, we agreed to keep this family-friendly," another voice said from behind the camera.
"I am being family-friendly, Abrella! No family should ever have one of those books in their household!" Evolt insisted. "They're borderline pornographic… And not even GOOD porn at that!"
"Evolt, do you want the network to pull this show as well?" Abrella insisted.
Evolt groaned and reluctantly shook his head. "No… Still can't believe they turned down Magical Girl Evolto-Chan… It was pure genius, a cerebral and subversive take on the magical girl genre! But I guess it wasn't generic or child-friendly enough for mainstream media. And I bet those executives were transphobic or something."
"Yes, I'm sure that's why they didn't pick up the pilot," Dogranio drawled in amusement.
"We might be able to get it picked up off-world, but in the meantime, this is all we have to work with," Abrella reminded Evolt. "So stay on script."
"Fine," Evolt mumbled. "So, are we doing another take, or…?"
"This is going out live, so no."
"Eh, whatever." Evolt clasped his hands together. "Anyway! My name is Evolt, last known member of the Blood Tribe, one of the most feared and powerful races in existence! And I have to say, it's a pleasure to meet all of you!" He paused. "Not that I'm actually meeting all of you, since you're probably streaming this on your TV, phone, tablet, or other device. Which is probably for the best, since if I were to meet you in person, I would probably murder you for the fun of it. Fortunately for you, you're far, far away, and so can safely enjoy the first episode of…"
He waved an arm over his head, the words "Evolt's Bloody Fairytales" appearing in a shower of fairy dust. "Did the title show up?" He murmured under his breath.
"It did," Abrella assured him.
"Great! Now, allow me to introduce you all to my special guests, who will be listening to my stories along with the rest of you viewers," Evolt continued, glancing to the side.
The camera zoomed out to reveal that sitting on the floor on the other side of the fireplace were several people, most of whom looked angry and confused. There was also an elderly-looking monster sitting in a rocking chair with an obviously fake beard. "These are all some very good friends of mine, and in time, I hope you will think of them as friends as well!"
"We aren't friends," said a frustrated-looking man dressed in a lab coat. "You kidnapped us in the middle of the night before we could get our belts on and threatened to destroy the city if we didn't play along."
"I don't need my belt to punch him in the face," growled an angry-looking man wearing blue pajamas with dragons decorating them.
"Banjo!" Evolt cried, feigning shock. "Why ever would you want to punch your father in the face? On children's television?"
"YOU'RE NOT MY FATHER!" The man, Ryuga Banjo, yelled.
Evolt glanced at the camera. "Ignore him, he's in denial."
"I AM NOT!"
"Anyway! Allow me to make introductions," Evolt went on, ignoring Ryuga. He gestured at the man in the lab coat. "Brilliant physicist and Kamen Rider, Sento Kiryu!"
"You know, I was in the middle of a very delicate experiment when you grabbed me," Sento said tersely. "There's a good possibility that my lab has burned down by now."
"Which is why you should've gone to bed at a reasonable hour instead of staying up late doing science," Evolt chided him. He glanced at the camera. "Let this be a lesson to you all, viewers: always go to bed at a reasonable time. Getting a healthy amount of sleep is beneficial to your well-being!"
"Is this actually happening?" Wondered an incredulous man in glasses and a pajama top with "I Heart Nanba" printed on it. "Are we sure this isn't a dream?"
Next to him, a handsome, clean-shaven man wearing an absurd bathrobe that was an unholy mixture of polka-dots and plaid, flannel boxers with crocodiles and bats printed on them, crocs designed to look like crocodiles, and a puce stocking cap with "BAD MAN" stitched on it opened his robe to reveal a pajama top with "This is not a dream" written on it.
"And that handsome man in the Dragon pajamas is Sento's partner, my beloved son, Ryuga Banjo!" Evolt continued.
"I'M NOT YOUR SON! I HATE YOU!"
"He doesn't mean it," Evolt assured the camera.
"YES I DO! THERE'S NOTHING I WANT MORE THAN TO KILL YOU UNTIL YOU STAY DEAD!"
"Your earnest declarations of hate only make me love you more, son," Evolt said fondly. He glanced at the camera. "And speaking of love, Ryuga and Sento recently had their anniversary-"
"Evolt, we aren't together romantically!" Sento protested.
"Why does everyone keep saying that! I have a girlfriend!" Ryuga yelled.
Evolt shook his head in disappointment. "Son, you should never feel like you have to hide who you truly are just to fit in. You should know that I support you and Sento's torrid homosexual completely not-platonic relationship 100%."
Ryuga screamed incoherently and tried to lunge at Evolt, only for Sento to hold him back.
"Also, I'd like you all to meet my daughter, Misora Isurugi, also known as Internet idol Mii-tan!" Evolt continued, gesturing at a young woman in a pink, fluffy set of pajamas covered in rabbits, clutching a stuffed rabbit in one hand and staring out at the world through exhausted, hateful eyes with heavy bags under them.
"M' not your daughter," she muttered drowsily.
"I raised you for 10 years, I think that makes me your father," Evolt insisted.
"You possessed my father for 10 years."
"Same difference," Evolt said breezily.
"And used me to further your plans to destroy the world."
"Every family has different bonding activities," Evolt said with a shrug.
"Sento, I'm going to cut him," Misora said very calmly.
"As much as I'd like it if you did, you probably shouldn't," Sento urged her.
"We also have Misora's number-one fan and depraved stalker, Kazumi Sawatari," Evolt went on, indicating a young man sitting a little too close to Misora.
"I'm not a depraved stalker!" Protested Kazumi, who was wearing pajamas covered in Misora's face and clutching a Mii-tan body pillow.
"You kind of are," Sento pointed out.
"Yeah, I'm going to want you to move a few feet away from my daughter, you disgusting pervert," Evolt told Kazumi.
"M' not your daughter," Misora mumbled, starting to nod off.
"And I'm not a pervert!" Kazumi insisted. Nobody believed him.
Ryuga frowned. "Wait, does this mean Misora is my sister?"
"If you acknowledge Misora as your sister, you also have to acknowledge Evolt as your father," Sento pointed out.
Ryuga frowned, seriously weighing his options.
"I'd also like you to meet an old friend of mine, Aide to the Prime Minister Gentoku Himuro, who totally didn't get his job through nepotism," Evolt proceeded, indicating the man with atrocious fashion sense. "The two of us go way back. We started a terrorist organization once! He thought he was my boss, when in reality, I was using him the whole time. Also, I murdered his father and killed him once, though as you can see, he got better. Good times. Good times."
Gentoku scowled and opened his bathrobe, his shirt now inexplicably saying, "They weren't good times for me."
"And the lovely lady next to him is ace journalist Sawa Takigawa, who totally isn't a spy," Evolt continued. He paused. "Wait, why are you naked?"
The gorgeous and totally naked woman next to Gentoku smiled willingly. "I like to sleep in the nude." Gentoku nodded wordlessly. While the other men in the group fidgeted and tried to avert their gaze, Misora didn't even bother to hide the fact that she was ogling her. "And it's not like you gave me time to change before transporting me here."
"Hey Abrella, I thought you said you wanted to this to be family-friendly," Evolt spoke to the camera.
"Network standards for this sort of thing are ridiculously contradictory, fickle, and hypocritical," Abrella replied. "So long as she doesn't stand up and expose herself, we should be fine."
Sawa immediately tried to stand up, but thankfully, Gentoku pulled her back down.
"We also have another former subordinate of mine, Nariaki Utsumi, who stabbed me in the back after I generously turned him into a Kamen Rider," Evolt continued, indicating the man in the "I Heart Nanba" pajamas.
"You murdered my master! As if I would ever give my loyalty to you!" Utsumi cried indignantly. "And you're one to talk about betrayal, you've betrayed every person you've ever been involved with! In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if you were planning on betraying your new "friends" somewhere down the line!"
"Not if we betray him first," said the old monster with the fake beard.
"All the best friendships are based on the threat of mutual betrayal," Evolt agreed. "Say hello to dear old grandpa Dogranio Jaboon, who isn't actually my grandfather and totally isn't the infamous Gangler crime boss Dogranio Yaboon in disguise."
Ryuga frowned and leaned next to Sento. "Sento, that is the infamous Gangler crime boss Dogranio Yaboon in disguise, right?" Sento groaned and rolled his eyes.
"Howdy, kids!" Dogranio said cheerfully, opening the safe on his chest and rummaging around it. "Who would like some candy?"
"I would! I would!" Eagerly exclaimed a silver and black monster wearing pajamas covered in trains and rainbows. Dogranio was more than happy to give him some candy, and distributed some to Gentoku, Sawa, and Misora, who had raised their hands.
"You're really going to eat that?" Asked the alarmed Sento.
Misora shrugged, unwrapped a piece, and popped into her mouth. "I need the energy to get through this."
"I'd be more than happy to taste-test to make sure they aren't poisonous," Kazumi offered eagerly.
"Touch my candy and I'll cut you," she said deadpan.
"… Would you really?" Kazumi asked hopefully. Everyone gave him disgusted books.
"You know, Misora, if you want energy I can make you some coffee-" Evolt suggested.
"I've had more than enough of your 'coffee' for a lifetime," she said coldly.
"Fair. And last but not least, Z, the Emperor of Darkness!" Evolt finished, nodding at the monster in the train and rainbow pajamas.
"Happy to be here, Evolt!" Z said happily.
"Probably the only one who is," Kazumi grumbled.
"By the way, Z, would you happen to have any relation to the Dark Empire of Yodonheim?" Abrella asked Z.
Z frowned. "Gosh, I don't think so… Maybe Morc would know…"
"Oh, and of course we can't possibly forget my producer, Rainian Agent Abrella, without whom none of this would be possible," Evolt spoke up, nodding at the camera. "Abrella, do you want to come out here and say a few words?"
Evolt shrugged. "Oh, all right. Viewers, I highly recommend you check out his website, where you can find plenty of official merchandise for this show you are currently watching along with other fine, totally legal products."
"The link flashing on the bottom of the screen will take you to my website," Abrella spoke up as a hyperlink appeared on the bottom of the screen. "It is also completely legal and on the books, because I am no longer a heinous criminal mastermind who is completely and totally reformed."
Ryuga leaned toward Sento. "Sento, I think he actually still is a heinous criminal mastermind who isn't even remotely reformed."
"Wow. I had no idea. And they call me a genius," Sento said deadpan.
Ryuga frowned. "… I'm pretty sure that was sarcasm, but I'm not 100% certain." Sento sighed.
"So, I should probably explain what we're doing here-" Evolt began.
"Tormenting us for your sick amusement?" Utsumi sneered.
"Well, yes, that," Evolt admitted. "But not just that. Recently, it occurred to me that I've been remiss in my duties as a parent-"
"YOU'RE NOT OUR DAD!" Ryuga and Misora yelled.
"And I felt the need to rectify it," Evolt continued. "Now, from what I remember during my time possessing Soichi Isurugi, it's customary on Earth for parents to read their children bedtime stories."
Misora trembled in rage. "Don't. You. Dare use memories of my father against us."
He ignored her. "Since I missed out on pretty much all of my son's developmental years, I figured I needed to make up for lost time-"
"I'M NOT YOUR SON!"
"And since the two of us are the last known members of the Blood Tribe in existence – – well, okay, I am the last member of the Blood Tribe in existence, he's more of a deformed inbred mongrel that you lock in the attic and don't talk about or quietly take out back and shoot-"
"I decided that I should help educate him on his cultural heritage by telling him some of our people's most important myths and legends," Evolt continued, as if Ryuga hadn't said anything.
Sawa blinked. "That's… Kind of sweet?"
"Well, coming from anyone else," Sento agreed.
"But then why are WE here?!" Utsumi demanded.
"And what's with the whole TV show set up?" Kazumi added.
"As to the second… Abrella realized we could probably make a profit out of exploiting my extinct species' fairytales to entertain an apathetic, content-starved populace, and there's a possibility it might help me find out if any more of the tribe exists in this universe," Evolt explained. "As for the first… I thought it would be funny."
All the humans groaned. Dogranio chuckled in amusement.
"But enough exposition! I do believe it's time to begin storytelling," Evolt declared, taking out a small, blood-red cube and tapping a sequence on the sides. It shimmered and levitated in the air before projecting a series of characters resembling the markings on the Sky Wall into the air. Evolt adjusted his spectacles and examined the floating text. "And I think, for our first episode, the best story to start with would be the very first one… The origin of the Blood Tribe, and the creation of the Pandora Box."
This immediately got the attention of all the humans except for Misora, who was busy masticating on a chocolate bar. Z clapped his hands giddily, eager to begin.
Long ago, the gods decided to create the universe in their own image, a decision which most people would later agree had been a terrible idea-
"Why?" Z interrupted.
"I'm getting there," Evolt replied testily.
The gods envisioned a perfect world, one which truly reflected their divine magnificence. As such, they were confused when the universe was NOT perfect, but in fact a disastrously flawed, even ugly creation.
"Why?" Ryuga asked in confusion, interested despite himself. "I thought it was made in their own image."
"It was," Sawa intuited. "Except the gods weren't perfect."
Evolt nodded, pleased. "Right on the money."
Naturally, the gods refused to admit that they themselves might be at fault, and searched for an excuse as to why their grand endeavor had been a flop. One of their number, possessing an unusual degree of self-awareness and insight, suggested that perhaps they were not as perfect as they thought, and proposed that they tear down the universe and start from scratch.
Her name was Pandora.
"Pandora… As in the Pandora Box?" Sento asked, his scientific thirst for knowledge overwhelming his distaste at being forced to be here.
Evolt nodded. "Yes, though the box didn't exist. At least, not yet."
The gods, not being particularly good at taking criticism, reacted badly to Pandora's suggestion. They violently murdered her for daring to question them, brutally ripping her apart and bathing the stars in her blood-
"Sounds like fun," Misora said deadpan.
"You call this a fairytale?" Asked the distraught Kazumi.
"Oh, and YOUR fairytales are squeaky-clean?" Evolt shot back. "Before they got sanitized by moral guardians and Disney movies?"
"… He has a point," Gentoku admitted.
"Don't agree with him!" Utsumi hissed.
"I thought this was supposed to be family-friendly," Ryuga complained.
"As previously stated, the standards for what is and isn't 'family-friendly' don't really make a lot of sense," Abrella reminded them.
Unfortunately for the gods, this turned out to be an even greater mistake than creating the universe in the first place had been. The shock of her death, the sheer brutality in which she had been torn apart, caused Pandora's remains to be imbued with incredible anger towards her murderers, a rage which swept the cosmos and infected the newborn universe with an indelible stain of hatred.
Now, the smart thing for the gods to have done would be to indeed destroy the universe and start over. However, doing so would mean admitting that they'd been wrong and she was right, so naturally they couldn't do that.
Dogranio snorted. "Typical gods."
"The Gaimist pantheon isn't like that," Sento said firmly.
"Give them time," Dogranio said cynically.
"You think of them as gods?" Asked a surprised Gentoku.
"Why wouldn't I?" Sento asked in confusion.
Gentoku shrugged. "Well, you're a scientist, so…"
"I've met members of the pantheon," Sento pointed out. "Their powers, abilities, and existences have been empirically proven. They are incredibly powerful, immortal, extradimensional beings who seem to derive power from people believing in them, are able to grant immortality of sorts to those who serve them after their death, and can perform what can only be considered 'miracles.' If I don't call them gods, what SHOULD I call them?"
Gentoku opened his bathrobe, his shirt now saying "I dunno."
"How do you do that?" Asked the dumbfounded Utsumi.
Gentoku pointed to his shirt.
The gods tasked six demigods, each of which were served by six heroic vassals, to travel the universe, gathering up all of the spilled blood in an attempt to clean up the mess they'd made and restore some semblance of balance to the cosmos.
Sixty-six? Sento frowned. Something about that number nagged at him…
After many trials and travails, the sixty-six champions managed to gather up all the tainted blood from every corner of the universe. To repay them for their service, the gods then proceeded to brutally murder all of them.
"Wait, what?" Kazumi asked, startled.
"Starting to see a pattern with these guys…" Ryuga grumbled.
"Why would they do that?" Asked an appalled Z.
"Because the gods are jerks, weren't you paying attention?" Dogranio jeered.
"It was a cover-up," Sawa posited. "Their treatment of Pandora already proved that they were very egotistical. They didn't want anyone to know that the disaster was their fault, or even that there had ever been a disaster in the first place. They did their best to sweep the whole thing under the rug so nobody could ever connect it back to them."
"Correct!" Evolt said in approval. "That's not all of it, though…"
They then used the remains of the sixty-six champions to fashion a vessel strong enough to contain the tainted blood of Pandora. This unholy ark took the form of a cube, each of its six sides made from the carcasses of the demigods, each side adorned with ten bottles forged from the corpses of the heroes that had served them in life.
Everyone stiffened. "Hold on," Sento said slowly. "Are you telling us…"
They called it the Pandora Box.
Everyone made disgusted and horrified faces. "Are you telling me that whenever you had me purifying a FullBottle, I was fondling a dead guy?!" Misora squealed.
Kazumi blanched. "I did not need that mental image, Mii-tan."
Gentoku opened his bathrobe, his shirt now saying, "That's messed up, bro."
"Evolt… Are you seriously telling us that that's where the Pandora Box came from?!" Demanded a shocked Sento.
"Wait, I thought Pandora's box was made by the Greek gods and contained all the evils in the world," said a confused Z. He considered this for a moment. "Although… I guess this is kind of the same thing…"
"Eh, lots of cultures have stories about things like that as an explanation for why there's all sorts of bad stuff in the world," Dogranio explained. "Except in this case, there actually IS a box people can blame their misfortune on."
"Actually, the mythical Pandora's box is real," Sawa interjected, much to everyone's surprise. "It was a Precious with a Hazard Level of 8000 – – not to be confused with the Hazard Level associated with Nebula Gas exposure – – but it's no longer a threat ever since Arch Priest Gajah absorbed the darkness within it and used it to create an incredibly powerful monster called Desperado. Both were defeated by the Boukengers."
"That so?" Dogranio asked, mildly surprised. "Huh. Maybe we should look into acquiring some of these Precious, since the Lupin Collection may be off limits now…" He murmured under his breath.
"Wait, so… Pandora had more than one box?" Z asked, still confused.
"Different Pandoras," Sento told him.
"Why would two people from completely different mythologies have the same name?" Asked a puzzled Ryuga. "And both of them are associated with boxes of pure evil?"
"It's less implausible than you think," Abrella spoke up. "The oldest stories often have the same roots. The oldest and most powerful stories have a way of repeating themselves, over and over again, throughout history, among peoples all over the universe. They want to be told. They want to be remembered. There is a sort of… Pressure on the collective unconscious, causing them to crop up again and again, no matter how far apart they are from the point of origin."
Misora frowned. "You almost make stories sound alive."
"And who's to say they aren't?" Abrella countered. "Perhaps not in the same way you and I are, but… Have you not heard of authors who swear that their stories take on a life of their own, that in the course of writing they find themselves taking a path vastly different from the one they intended? Of characters practically writing themselves, and new details or developments unfolding as if from thin air?" He shrugged, though the viewers couldn't see him from behind the camera. "Of course, there's always a more mundane explanation. Much like how the repeated instances of magical fruits causing discord and strife in your culture originate from incursions from Helheim Forest, it's possible at some point in the past you were visited by those who had knowledge of the Blood Tribe and the Pandora Box. Stories were exchanged, and warped in the retelling across generations so as to become almost unrecognizable from the original telling. Happens all the time."
"But there IS an actual Pandora's box in this world," Sawa argued.
"And who's to say that it was actually made by the Greek gods, and wasn't just named after the box from the stories because it was more or less the same thing? Chicken and the egg sort of thing," Dogranio argued. "Or maybe the gods DID make it, but because they're unoriginal and derivative cribbed it from the subconscious monomyth thing or alien visitors like Abrella suggested."
"Also, when I was trapped on Mars for millions of years, I was psychically projecting calls for rescue," Evolt spoke up. "It's possible that your species unconsciously picked up on some of my thoughts, and through them came up with a story about a woman named Pandora and a box containing all the evils in the world." He shrugged. "Of course, that was back on the Old World, so… If we can continue?"
With the blood of Pandora safely contained in the box, the gods threw the vessel to the furthest reaches of the universe, where it landed on the most hostile, inhospitable, godsforsaken planet, one so lethal they were confident nobody would ever find it.
"And then somebody found it," Utsumi guessed.
Sawa nodded. "Somebody ALWAYS finds it."
Despite the best efforts of the gods to erase all traces of their mishap from the universe, echoes always remained. The box WANTED to be found, WANTED to be opened, and, over many eons, sent whispers across the cosmos, tempting the greedy and the ambitious, promising them power and wealth beyond imagining if they could find it. Legends of the box spread, and for millions of years people all over the universe searched desperately for any clue or trace of the box and the power they were convinced was inside.
All of them failed.
But the box wasn't concerned. There were always more avaricious fools who could be lured in by the promise of power. It didn't matter how many failures died, so long as one person ultimately succeeded.
"That… Feels uncomfortably similar to how I felt about the Box after the Sky Wall divided Japan," Gentoku murmured uneasily. "I coveted its power. I told myself it was for a good reason, that I had to claim it before anyone else could use it against my country." He grimaced. "I'm fairly certain Tajimi and Mido felt the same way."
"But that was just because of Evolt, wasn't it?" Kazumi asked. "He was goading everyone on, taking advantage of everyone in a position of power except for your dad getting corrupted by it to make them want it more than anything else?"
"Nanba didn't need much convincing," Sawa muttered in disgust. Utsumi frowned at her, though even the insanely loyal metalworker had to admit that his master in the Old World had indeed been a very greedy and power-hungry man, a trait the Nanba in the New World seems to lack.
"I'm not so certain of that," Gentoku confessed. "Does nobody find it strange that, even after we all knew how insanely dangerous the box was, that it was a tool that could bring about the end of the world… At no point did anyone suggest that we should just destroy the damn thing?"
An uncomfortable silence filled the room. "I'm… I'm not sure any weapon we had actually could have destroyed it," Sento said hesitantly.
"It couldn't have," Evolt confirmed.
"Oh, I'm well aware," Gentoku agreed. "But did any of us ever think to try? Or at least hide the damn thing so nobody could ever use it?"
The uneasy silence that followed his statement was all the answer he needed.
Inevitably, the box was indeed found. Who found it doesn't matter. The only thing that does is that the fool opened it, and was immediately killed by the evil contained within. After millions of years of imprisonment, the blood of Pandora had mutated, evolved. The rage at her death mingled with the hatred of the warriors who had been betrayed, giving rise to a new species of apex predators unlike anything the universe had ever seen before.
This new race, thirsting for revenge against the gods and hungering for the destruction of all things, rampaged across the cosmos, leaving a vast swath of death and destruction in their wake. They were fairly small in number, only sixty-six in total, but it was more than enough to devour entire galaxies. The gods, realizing their retribution was upon them, amassed a great army and threw them in the path of the scions of Pandora before retreating to the heavens and barring the gates behind them like the cowards they were, hiding in their palaces while billions fought and died in their name.
But it was to no avail. The strongest warriors of a trillion worlds were no match for the spawn of Pandora. After annihilating the army down to the last sentient and shattering their worlds, they stormed the gates of heaven, hunted down the gods, and slaughtered them in their places of power, delivering upon them tortures sixty-six times greater than those inflicted on Pandora and the patsies they used to create the box.
Once their vengeance was completed, after they had devoured the gods and razed heaven, this species of limitless horror turned their gaze to the rest of the universe, for while the gods were dead, their hatred and bloodlust had not abated. They vowed that they would not rest until they had destroyed every species and devoured every planet in existence, until they alone were all that remained.
And, in honor of their progenitor, they gave themselves a name, a name which would inspire fear and terror for eons to come, a name which, long after their virtual extinction, would be used to conjure up boogiemen to frighten children into behaving.
They named themselves the Blood Tribe.
"And that, boys, girls, non-binary individuals, and others, is how my people came to be," Evolt concluded, ending his tale.
Z clapped, noticed nobody else was applauding, and quietly lowered his hands.
"Well, that was a cheery tale," Dogranio commented cheerfully.
"I'm somewhat reminded of the creation myth for my own people," Abrella commented. "Basically, we scammed the gods out of their divinity. Sort of like the human myth of Prometheus, except our version got away with it."
"You call that a bedtime story?" Ryuga grumbled.
"It is for my species," Evolt insisted.
"I'm going to have so many nightmares after this," Misora said deadpan.
"Good," Evolt said happily.
"Evolt… Is that really how it happened?" Sento asked, a little skeptical. "Is that really how the box, and your people, came to be?"
Evolt hesitated. "Eh. Maybe?"
Everyone gave him confused looks. "Maybe?" Kazumi repeated.
"Look, it's a creation myth," Evolt explained. "It might've happened that way, but nobody really knows for sure. It's a story we told ourselves to make sense of our origins and how we are connected to the box. The only thing we know for certain is that the box predated all of us, and we were born from it. It's older than our planet. Maybe even older than our universe." He shrugged. "It may not have been made by the gods from the corpses of some unlucky stiffs, but SOMEBODY had to make the thing."
"I'm not sure whether or not that's even scarier than the story you just told us," Sawa commented.
Gentoku opened his bathrobe, revealing his shirt now said "I'm fairly scared."
"Well, on the bright side, at least the Blood aren't around anymore, except for Evolt," Utsumi pointed out, trying to find a bright side in all this. "And the box is gone, too."
Ryuga nodded. "Yeah. Except for the Blood that might exist in this New World we haven't run into yet. Or the collective of Evolt from other realities trying to invade our universe. Or the white Pandora panel back at the lab Evolt could probably turn back into a full box like his brother did. Or the other box we picked up from that other Evolt who tried to invade during the whole Quiz Chronicle thing. Or-"
"Please stop talking," Utsumi whimpered.
"I'm going to have so many nightmares now," Misora said calmly, so exhausted she didn't really care.
"Wonderful! And hopefully, so will our viewers!" Evolt said cheerfully. He turned to the camera. "And that concludes the first episode of Evolt's Bloody fairytales! Tune in next time for more horror stories from my childhood! Have horrific nightmares, and remember: one day I'm probably going to kill you and everyone you love!"
"Not if we stop you first!" Ryuga declared.
Evolt laughed. "It's cute that you think you can."
"We stopped you before," Sento pointed out.
"You tried to kill me by smashing me between two parallel universes, and I STILL recovered," Evolt pointed out. "It was, however, pretty close, so I'll just have to make sure not to underestimate you next time. I did that an awful lot before.…"
He turned back to the camera and started waving. "Say goodbye, everyone!"
"Goodbye everyone!" Z cried, eagerly waving. The others did the same, but were rather more half-hearted about it.
"And… Cut! That's a wrap!" Abrella declared. "A wonderful job, everyone! A very good first episode, and hopefully, we can maintain this level of quality for the rest of the season."
"I certainly hope we can!" Z said earnestly.
"I don't, but I find this very entertaining, so don't really care," Dogranio spoke up.
"So, can we go now, or…" Sawa asked.
"Yeah, I'll send you home," Evolt promised.
"Until we need you again," Abrella added.
"… You mean this wasn't a one-time thing?" Sento asked slowly, blood draining from his face.
"Nope. You guys will be my audience for the rest of the show!" Evolt announced happily. "Isn't that great? That means I can educate you more about your heritage, Banjo! It'll be so much fun! Real father-son bonding stuff!"
Ryuga's eye twitched. "Hey, Abrella, is the camera off?"
"Yes," Abrella lied, having already guessed what was about to happen, and knowing it would be hilarious.
Ryuga then said something that was decidedly NOT family-friendly and lunged at Evolt.
This time, Sento didn't hold him back.