The first thing I noticed when we teleported was being in midair. That didn't last long, though. With a small thud and a couple grunts of pain, the three of us all collapsed to the ground in a massive heap. Before I even began to take stock of my surroundings or my compatriots, my stomach began to turn as I remembered the consequences I'd been bottling up due to the system purging.
Wrenching off my Gas Mask, I rolled onto my hands and knees and began vomiting onto the dusty, hard ground. Just like before, my previous meal was now on the ground and covered in a thick, black miasma, signifying the removal of the Demonic Energy. God, I love this [Artificial Heart]...except for when it almost gets me killed. I guess it makes sense, though. It's not a real heart, so the Demon Realm Silver treats it like it would any other non-organic object, though given what I just did to Druella, I doubt I'll have to worry about that too much from her again. The Demon Lord, on the other hand, may decide to forgo all nonlethal approaches with me from here on out.
Getting my bearings after our short tumble and putting back on my Gas Mask, I took some Fixer to fix my addiction and checked my status on the Pip-Boy to see that I was still healing slightly, but otherwise in fine shape. My chest still ached like a motherfucker, though, so I'd have to move more carefully for now.
Rolling back onto my ass, careful not to touch the vomit, I saw that it was much darker than when we had left Magicor. The sun had just risen over the horizon when we left, but now it was still dark, with the moon still in the middle of it's descent. Looking around a bit more, while it was rather difficult with how dark out it was, I could make out a series of deep canyons, which we were at the top of, that seemed to be made of some kind of sandstone. Wanting to confirm my jump was good, I looked to the West to see...bingo! Standing tall just before the horizon dipped was Mount Malak. I could tell that's what it was based on the glowing tip, signifying it was an active volcano just like Mount Malak, and there aren't any other active volcanoes on this continent...to my knowledge.
Hold on, this means my jump was accurate, and if that's the case...shouldn't it be close to midday? Unless...timezones work differently here? Then that must mean that this planet spins in the opposite direction compared to Earth. Very interesting. I heard coughing all of a sudden to my right as Anastasia massaged her throat, still recovering from being choked. I'm still kinda shocked by that, by the way. Druella has always been a malicious snake, but she still seemed to follow the "No Killing" Doctrine her mother likes to preach so much. The fact that she'd try to straight up kill Anastasia...I'll have to ask her about it.
"Ugh…", my other passenger groaned out as she began to wake from her little nap. "Where...Where are we? My Lord?"
"I'm here...I'm here, Ender.", Anastasia got out as her coughs lessened.
"My Lord, are you okay?", Ender asked in a pained voice, trying to sit up.
"Yes, we both are...thanks to Six here.", Anastasia responded before giving me an appreciative smile.
"...I see, but...how?", Ender inquired, standing up to look around. "We have clearly teleported, but without any sort of Spirit Tunnel. How is this possible?" Anastasia just seemed to chuckle at that before briefly explaining.
"Another one of Six's mysteries.", she said, looking to me before asking. "Are you alright, Six?"
"Yeah...Yeah, just fine.", I responded. I honestly didn't know how to properly go from here. I had been treating this girl with disdain and suspicion galore before this, but now...now she had almost gotten killed trying to protect me. She betrayed her superior, a being much stronger than her, because it was the right thing to do. She's definitely earned her second chance, but I don't know how to go about giving it to her. I guess I should just...start over.
"That's good. I was worried you'd have some internal damage, what with how hard you hit that building.", Anastasia stated with relief before sitting up.
"We must have traveled pretty far west, my Lord.", Ender explained before adding, "It is still dark out, and we have quite a while before the sun rises again."
"I say we take this opportunity to rest a bit until the sun comes up. Then we can continue.", I suggested as I stood up and began to collect various dry sticks for a basic fire.
"Why should we listen to you?", Ender asked coldly before adding, "My Lord is the one with authority here, not to mention, it won't be hard for Druella to track our warp. We should leave as soon as possible."
"Ender, please...Six is much more experienced with this stuff than I am, and besides…", Anastasia retorted kindly before trailing off. Ender gave her a look to continue, but I beat her to the punch.
"You were out cold, so you missed it, but I put a neat little hole in the middle of that bitch's fucking forehead. Right before she strangled Phantom of the Opera here.", I explained, gesturing to Anastasia at the end. She had a small look of surprise, but that quickly shifted to vaguely concealed anger after hearing my last sentence.
"She tried to what!?", Ender asked in anger.
"You heard me. She tried to murder your precious Lord while she protected you.", I reiterated, leaving her to look to Anastasia in surprise.
"My Lord, why would you risk your life for me? That's my job.", Ender asked in mild frustration and confusion.
"No, you're more than just a Mamano shield to me, Ender.", Anastasia responded, looking her in the eyes. "I love you. I love both you and Six, and if I were to lose you too…"
"But that man is the reason why our friends are not with us anymore!", Ender responded in defiance. "I have feelings for him, too, but he is too dangerous to leave be."
"You know I can hear you two, right?", I asked with a deadpan, setting the sticks and twigs I had collected for the fire onto the ground. Given my relatively high [Survival] knowledge, finding enough quickly wasn't a challenge.
"I know, Ender, and I miss them, too, but we wronged Six first by trying to capture him.", Anastasia said, trying to placate Ender. "We've talked about this, remember? We don't need to manipulate someone into love. I know now that we Mamono can find love without our powers."
"I remember what you said, though I don't know if I entirely believe it yet, my Lord.", Ender responded, but continued before Anastasia could say anything more. "But, if this man really did save your life…" Trailing off, Ender approached me with Anastasia right beside her. I was a little apprehensive, to be honest, ready to materialize a weapon and return fire if need be, but my fears were assuaged when Ender simply...bowed to me.
"For saving my Lord's life, as well as my own, you have my thanks.", Ender said simply, causing Anastasia to smile beside her.
"Don't mention it.", I waved her off before sitting down to begin lighting the fire with a lighter. "Honestly, I'm surprised you came and defended me when you did. If not for you girls, I'd be quite literally fucked, so...thank you." Both girls quickly sat down in front of the fire I was lighting after I said that, though Anastasia looked positively elated.
"Indeed, you are most welcome, Six.", Anastasia responded before continuing, "And I was hoping that you'd perhaps let us continue to accompany you for the time being, if you don't mind."
"Sure thing.", I answered after putting away my lighter and pulling out my used weapons to begin cleaning and repairing them. "You've earned it in my books, and besides, I doubt you have many places left to go now that you've defected."
"Yes, we are likely to be imprisoned if we are found by the Demon Lord's forces, or even worse, hanged if our involvement with Druella's demise is discovered.", Anastasia responded, her eyes dark for a split second before hardening with resolve. "Whatever the case, we've already prepared ourselves for it. This was the right thing to do, I know it was."
"Uh-huh, and you?", I asked Ender, checking to see if she was as determined as her Lord.
"...I am not sure myself, but what I do know is that no one can replace my Lord, and I will go through Heaven and back to ensure her safety. No matter who or what the threat is.", Ender answered, vaguely ending with a threat.
"Come now, Ender, Six isn't the kind of guy to up and attack someone completely unprovoked.", Anastasia explained.
"Yeah, unlike you.", I shot back. I'm grateful to them for saving me, but if she's gonna throw threats around, I'll throw some right back.
"Maybe, but that doesn't mean you aren't hiding things.", Ender responded before adding, "I assume you didn't just teleport us so close to Mount Malak for no reason."
"No, I didn't.", I affirmed before continuing, "We're heading to Dragonia, hitting Mount Malak on the way there to meet Igni, the First Fire Elemental." At that, their eyes widened big time as they stared at me as if I'd just grown a third arm.
"What!? Why?", Anastasia asked in confusion.
"Long story, but just know it has to do with me getting home.", I responded, trying not to divulge too much information.
"And where exactly is your home?", Ender asked before adding, "Where in the world do you live that you need to speak to a Primordial Being just to get back?" Before I could respond to shoot down her question, Anastasia joined in.
"That's not the only thing you've been hiding from us, Six.", Anastasia started before continuing, "The advanced equipment and weaponry, your high resistance to Demon Realm Silver despite your average Spirit Energy reserves, your extensive knowledge in healing and combat, your near immunity to certain Demonic Spells, the ability to teleport without a Spirit Tunnel, and now the ability to turn invisible? I was content with your explanations at first, but the more I spend time with you, the more I begin to doubt what you've told me about yourself is true."
I was kind of taken aback, though in hindsight, I guess I did make it rather obvious that there was more to myself than what I had told them to hold them off.
"...Okay, I'll admit, I haven't been telling you or Elt the full truth, but that's only because I didn't fully trust you at the time.", I explained.
"Do you trust me now?", Anastasia asked, looking me dead in the eyes with a caring look on her face. "I want to help you find your way back home, but I can't help you if I don't know where we're going exactly. We can offer insight that may be beneficial to you in your search, and besides, it's not like we can take the things you tell us back to the Demon Lord. I highly doubt that would be enough to forgive our transgressions against the Demon Lord and her daughter.", Ender nodded at what she said, with no hint of emotion behind her once angered face.
"...You wouldn't believe me if I told you.", I responded, halting my cleaning as I looked down to stare at the fire.
"Try me.", Anastasia responded with that same smile as before. The one hardened with determination and resolve. Am I really considering this? I mean, I did say I'd give them another chance, but this seems a bit too personal of a problem to share so soon after making up. Although, they will likely be with me for a while, and what would I have to lose by telling them? Worst case scenario is they think I'm crazy, but as she said, taking this information anywhere else will get them lynched, either by the Order or by the Demon Lord's forces. We're in the same boat now, so...
"...Fuck it. Fine, I'll tell you.", I relented, resuming my weapon's care routine. "I suppose I should start by saying not all of what I told you about myself before is true."
"I figured as much.", Anastasia said with a giggle before suggesting, "Then why don't we take it from the top?"
"Alright, but don't blame me if you think I'm a nutjob.", I agreed before going for it. "My name is Six, and about a month or so ago, I was transported here from another world, and my goal is to make it back to my own world. That's where my home is." At that, their faces changed slightly, though not as much as I was expecting.
"Another world? You mean like Wonderland or the Cat Kingdom?" Anastasia asked before adding, "I suppose that would explain the need for magic, though we don't necessarily need one of the First Four to do it."
"No, it's not like those worlds.", I explained, having learned about them after hearing about them in the Monster Girl Encyclopedia. "Those realms operate along the same point in time as this one, making getting there a relatively easy affair as long as I've got the power for it. My world, however, is on a completely different point in time, though they are on the same track. Parallel, yet entirely separate in it's creation and subsequent expansion Post-Big Bang." That got a reaction out of them both, as looks of surprise adorned both of their faces.
"I don't necessarily understand everything, but if it's that far separated from our world then…", Anastasia began, trying to comprehend the gravity of my situation.
"In order to get back, not only do I need powerful Space Manipulation, but I also need powerful Time Manipulation as well.", I explained before adding. "That's why I need to contract with the First Four Elementals and get their power. I need Void Magic."
"Then why head to Dragonia?", Ender asked out of genuine curiosity. "None of the First Four reside there, and last time I checked, they are friendly to the Demon Lord."
"I am unable to channel that powerful of magic through my body, so I need a really powerful Magic Stone to do the job for me, so I was planning on-"
"Stealing the Dragon's Tearstone!?", Anastasia finished for me before adding, "Are you out of your mind!?" Well look at that, I didn't know it was so well known.
"Well, I don't know about stealing it, but maybe just...borrowing it.", I responded, slightly taken aback at her sudden outburst.
"Dragons are not known for parting with their horde easily, and the Dragon's Tearstone is one of Deonora's most prized possessions.", Ender explained to me with narrowed eyes. "Only a man with a death wish would even consider trying to steal that stone." Great, of course I had to go and pick the one that would be a pain in the ass to get. Way to go, Six, ya fucking moron.
"There has to be another way, Six.", Anastasia pleaded to me before explaining, "Not even Druella could stand up to Deonora's might, and while she may be a kind-hearted dragon, she's still a dragon. You will surely die!"
"I figured as much.", I responded with a sigh as I moved on to another weapon. "I'm fully aware a dragon could take my head off with a look, but I don't have many options. Besides, I was hoping I could maybe get into her good graces before asking."
"That's assuming we aren't arrested the second we walk into the city.", Ender added with another narrow glare.
"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.", I responded before resuming my previous train of thought. "Regardless, that's my situation. You wanted to know, so there it is." I don't know what I expected to be their response. Maybe outrage for getting them into this mess, or maybe even the expected response towards someone who is insane. However, I got neither.
"Kukuku, you really are a lot more trouble than I took you for, Six.", Anastasia giggled before looking me dead in the eyes. "I'm in."
"Really? Just like that?", I asked, surprised for what seemed like the fifteenth time that day.
"Yep, if that's what it takes to get you back home, then so be it.", Anastasia responded before reiterating. "If you'll have us, then we'd be happy to help you out." Ender nodded at that, which just made me even more surprised. To the point where I actually felt...rather touched.
"Umm, wow, okay then.", I sputtered rather dumbly, causing them to giggle once more. "The more the merrier, I suppose." Maybe this wouldn't be so bad after all. Once our banter died down, we were left with an awkward silence as the fire crackled and I continued to work on my weapons and gear.
"So, Six...watcha doin'?", Anastasia asked simply and with a hint of something sweet in her voice.
"Cleaning and maintaining my weapons and gear. Gotta make sure they don't jam while I'm in a jam.", I explained, continuing what I was doing, glancing up to look at her.
"Oh, I see...I suppose that makes sense.", she remarked, slightly fidgeting in place. Looking her over a bit closer, I noticed her partially translucent, pale face was starting to go red, as if she was heating up…
Oh, I think I see what's going on here.
"Is something wrong Anastasia?", I asked rhetorically. "You seem like you're a bit...frustrated."
"Well...I was j-just wondering.", she nervously began to twiddle her thumbs and fidget even more as she continued, "Now that we are, you know, back on g-good terms, we could...you know...unwind?"
"She wants to fuck you, and she's not the only one.", Ender said very bluntly, causing Anastasia to freak out. I was almost confused at first. She was never this nervous when we first met, not until I shot...oh.
"Listen, Anastasia, you can calm down, I'm not offended in any way.", I spoke clearly to calm her down, which seemed to work. "I understand that this kind of thing comes naturally to you girls, so you don't have to worry about making me mad. As long as you aren't trying to rape me, we're cool."
"Then, could we-!", Anastasia almost jumped at the opportunity I had seemingly given her, but I was quick to shut her back down.
"Ah, ah, ah, cool your jets, woman, I didn't finish.", I interrupted before continuing. "While I may be fine with your harmless antics, I'm not exactly okay with letting you girls handle my package yet, if you catch my drift."
"O-Oh, I see.", Anastasia's face immediately drooped before she asked, "May I ask why that is?"
"For one, we may be on good terms now, but I'd like to be a bit closer before we do something like that.", I explained, switching to another piece of gear to work on before continuing, "However, my main issue is Demonic Energy. As I've told you before, and I'm sure you understand now, I need to be in my best state of mind to get home, and becoming an Incubus with a dependency will only make things much harder, pun intended."
"You know that Demonic Energy is unavoidable, right?", Ender asked before adding, "Not to mention, it will only transform you if you are at the end of the Second Monsterization Stage. Are you really going to make my Lord and I wait because of that?"
"I'm aware, but I'd still not like to take the risk.", I responded, but before Ender could retort in frustration, I responded to her first point. "You wouldn't wait forever, though. After all, I may have found a way to make myself immune to Demonic Energy." Once again, their faces adopted looks of shock as those words left my mouth.
"Are you serious, Six?", Anastasia asked, almost completely forgetting her lewd thoughts.
"Yep, I've been able to determine from my time in Magicor that both Spirit Energy and Demonic Energy are molecules exclusive to this world. It seems that life here simply adapted to make use of it much like how it adapted to make use of water and oxygen.", I explained, causing their faces to contort into looks of total confusion as I spoke. "If I can map out exactly what elements Demonic Energy is made out of, as well as isolate and chart the new, non-Earth elements, I should be able to blacklist it and make my heart filter it out completely rather than partially."
"I-I'm not sure I follow.", Anastasia responded before asking, "What are you going to do?"
"I'm going to science the shit out of it.", I responded cheekily, knowing full well that any kind of further explanation would require a fucking chemistry class.
"Science? You mean that fringe, ridiculous school of study that doesn't acknowledge the use of magic?", Ender asked, almost scoffing at my response.
"Call it whatever you want, it's what got me in this world to begin with, and it's also what has let me do various things without the use of magic so far.", I responded, causing her to go silent as they both pondered what I had said.
"Let's change the subject.", Anastasia responded, wanting to stop any more potential arguments from breaking out. "We still have some time to kill before the sun rises, so Six, why don't you tell us a bit about your world."
"I am a bit curious to hear about it myself.", Ender concurred before adding, "If it really is that far from us, it's likely never been even heard about in this world. A completely new frontier."
"Hmm, I suppose.", I responded, not seeing what it could hurt. "Well, my world is called Earth. There is no magic. There are no monsters, and it was destroyed around 200 years ago in a global, nuclear war." Once again, they went bug-eyed at my statement. I should start keeping count.
"Wait, no magic or monsters?", Anastasia asked in surprise before adding, "And what do you mean by 'destroyed'?"
"It's just as I said, there is no magic on Earth. We rely on science and our own intuition for everything.", I reiterated before explaining, "We also have nothing but standard wildlife and humans, or at least we used to. You'd think a world with nothing but humans would be more peaceful, but it's actually quite the opposite. With no enemies to combat, we made enemies of ourselves, fighting and killing over petty things like resources, nationality, things like that."
"That's awful! You just killed each other for frivolous reasons like that?", Anastasia asked with a saddened look on her face.
"Yeah, at least, I didn't, my dumbass ancestors did. It was mostly a fight over resources, though. They were finite, after all, and with an every increasing population, our world just couldn't sustain everyone. We had hit our carrying capacity as a species.", I explained before dropping the bomb, so to speak, "So, on October 23, 2077, all major nations launched weapons of mass destruction all over the globe, resulting in total Nuclear War. Like that, we had essentially bombed ourselves back to the Stone Age. There's more to it, of course, but that would take way too long to explain."
"All it took was the casting of several weapons to bring your entire world to it's knees?", Ender asked with disbelief. "If that's really all it took, then your world must have not been very well off to begin with...no offense."
"Ender!", Anastasia pouted, not wanting another argument to start.
"You're not wrong in saying we weren't very well off, though we were certainly more advanced than your world is now.", I responded with a chuckle before continuing, "Though, these weapons...they are called weapons of mass destruction for a reason."
"What made them so...destructive?", Anastasia asked, clearly dreading the answer. Time for a scary history lesson.
"They are known as Nuclear Warheads, or more specifically, Hydrogen Bombs.", I began explaining, finishing up working on my last piece of equipment before dematerializing my stuff. "They are massive bombs capable of producing an explosion that can not only leave behind a residual, invisible poison that can kill a grown man in minutes, but also vaporize an entire city or even wipe an island off the face of the map."
"J-Just one can...vaporize a city?", Anastasia muttered in fear as both her and Ender had terrified looks in their eyes.
"Yep, and of the 10 and a half billion humans on Earth at that time, at least more than 9 billion were killed in the span of just a few hours.", I finished, capping off my horror history lesson with a bang. At that, both of them went silent as they processed what I had just said. Honestly, I don't blame them. This place probably didn't even have a global population close to that amount, and hearing that 9 billion people in my world died in, what would comparatively be called, the blink of an eye, is really a lot to take in.
"I...I don't think I want to discuss your world anymore, Six.", she said, staring into the small fire as Ender simply couldn't muster a response.
"That's fine." I responded just as the sun began to crest over the horizon, signifying that we had been talking for quite some time now. "It was well over 200 hundred years ago, anyway, and my world is much different now than it was before, but enough of that. The sun is finally coming up, so I think it's about time we put out this fire and hit the road."
"What are you talking about? There is no road.", Ender asked in a serious tone, recovering from my spooky tale.
"It's a figure of speech.", I responded, standing up and stomping out the now dwindling fire. Taking a better look around now that I had light, it really did look like we were in some offshoot of the Grand Canyon, and over the horizon was Mount Malak, just waiting to be scaled. "Well, we won't get Void Magic by just standing around here. You girls ready to go?"
"Y-Yeah, just still recovering from what you said.", Anastasia responded while Ender nodded.
"Then let's head out.", I finished as I turned and lead us away from our crash/campsite and began heading westward. With a new goal and new companion, as well as a new bond between the three of us, I'm willing to bet my journey is going to be much more enjoyable now that I've got actual companions to count on. Sure, I had Anastasia before, but that was when I wasn't sure whether or not I'd wake up bound or not. Elt was decent, but not the brightest tool in the shed, and Koyoi barely journeyed with me at all.
Now, though, Anastasia has become resolved in what she wants and she's got a ninja girl to back her, and by extension myself, up. I'm traveling with real companions this time.
Just like old times.