Makai Senki Disgaea: Returned
4: Celestia's Decisive Battle
Then, the darkest day in Celestia began.
The clouds surged and were quickly stained black.
As far as the eye could see, thick clouds covered everything, and night fell.
Sometimes lightning ran within the clouds, and they shone blue-white.
The body-shaking tremors grew stronger and stronger.
The top of a huge silver mass appeared, attempting to break through those evil clouds.
It was so large that its shape couldn't be determined. It just looked like a broad slab whose surface seemed to curve ever-so-slightly. As more of it appeared, they at last understood that it was a flat, circular shape.
Flonne pointed at the sky and shouted excitedly, "Laharl-san, it's a UFO, a UFO!"
"I guess there's no denying that, huh."
Laharl furrowed his brow and nodded, but in contrast Etna shrugged her shoulders and shook her head.
"Actually, do you know what UFO means?" she put in. "It's Unidentified Flying Object. But if it's right in front of your eyes, I don't think it's unidentified."
"It doesn't matter what it's called," Laharl said.
"I think it does."
"Then what would you call it?"
"A flying saucer."
"We don't know if it's a saucer or not," Flonne said.
"None of that matters, dood!" Kira shouted, irritated with the three who stood arguing over trivialities despite the unusual phenomenon. "I went to the trouble of creating this tense atmosphere, and you don't feel any of it, dood!?"
"Well, the arrival scene is just going on and on." Yawning widely, Etna pointed at the sky.
Although it covered most of the sky, half of the body of the saucer still had not appeared.
"The other problem is it's too big."
It had to be flying at great speed, but because their perception of its scale was so off, it only looked to be moving slowly.
Then, having been a spectator during the battles until now, Lamington stepped forward and stood before Kira.
"Where were you until now?" Laharl asked.
"I hid my presence completely."
"This guy is unexpectedly cheap."
Without paying any mind to Laharl and Etna muttering complaints behind his back, Lamington posed a question.
"What are you thinking?"
Even before the Seraph, Kira smirked without any timidity. "My part is finished now, dood. From this point on, it has nothing to do with me, dood."
"What do you mean by that?"
"My task was to buy enough time to create a dimensional rift so that the main force could arrive, dood. With a battle that showy, even the Celestians' magical power would be hindered and they wouldn't sense the appearance of a rift, dood."
"And in exchange, you had these guys remove your conscience circuit," Laharl said. He sent the two fallen Vijan flying with a kick. They rolled off sounding just like empty cans.
"You've figured it out exactly, dood." Kira applauded and smiled coldly at Laharl.
"You, you're making a fool of me." Laharl's forehead twitched.
Etna looked at him and, apparently seeing there was no way around it, asked in his stead, "By main force, do you mean those?"
"What else but them, dood? It's these Vijan, dood."
"What's their goal?"
"They came to conquer Celestia, dood. And the Netherworld and the Human World while they're at it, dood."
"I knew it, they're aliens, aren't they!" Without a thought for the situation, Flonne's eyes brightened, and she took hold of Laharl's shoulder beside her and shook him. "Laharl-san, there are aliens, and a spaceship! It's amazing!!"
"However you look at them, I don't think these are people,1" Laharl said.
"Laharl-san, you mustn't discriminate based on appearances!"
"But they aren't people," Etna interjected.
"But, that's a real weakness," Laharl said to Kira.
"What is, dood?"
"If I say I'll kill you, those guys will stop attacking, too, right?"
"It's no use, dood. They have nothing to do with me, dood. They removed my conscience circuit. I made a distraction. That's the end of our fifty-fifty contract, dood," Kira declared to Laharl without any hesitation.
"Anyway, this will be the end of you all, dood. Prepare yourselves, dood." Kira smiled coldly.
Lamington turned his gaze on Kira. "It would be best if you did not underestimate Celestia's strength."
Smiling serenely, Lamington slowly spread both hands.
In response, several hundred white forms flew up all at once from the direction of the town at the bottom of the hill. Their white wings made their white robes flutter, and it gave the appearance of white flowers blooming. As could be expected with the light of the sun obscured, their brightness stood out. However, they carried spears and swords.
"Ah, the Celestial Host's come out." Etna turned a glance on Laharl.
Flonne's eyes shone. "In a situation like this, smaller spaceships will come out of the mother ship and stage a counterattack!"
"You can say that, but... Even I don't know what aliens would be thinking."
"Ah, they're really coming out," Etna said.
From the mother ship which even now couldn't be fully seen, something like a black mist gushed forth.
"Those aren't spaceships," Flonne said.
"Those, those are Vijan," Etna said.
"They're so small, they look like minnows," Laharl said.
The swarm of Vijan went for the Celestial Host. In the sky above, they met from either side, and here and there were scattered flashes. Hostilities had begun.
"Prince, aren't you going to help?"
"The enemy's just really huge. It shouldn't take any effort."
Laharl had decided to look on from above, and Kira watched him with a bold smile, his eyes shining.
The battalion of angelic soldiers which had taken off divided into five units in the sky.
They rose headed directly for the mother ship, but however high they climbed, they did not seem to get any closer.
Meanwhile, something approached from the mother ship.
At the command, the Celestial Host spread out all at once.
What had flown out from the mother ship was a group of Vijan. The little specks that looked just like a school of silver minnows came closer. The difference was that there was no buzzing sound to hurt the ears.
At last the vanguards clashed with each other.
Flashes of light flickered, and they perceived that the Celestial Host had commenced magical attacks against the Vijan. In return, the Vijan sent the angels flying with body blows.
Lights flashed with a pop-pop-pop like fireworks, and ten or more seconds later the sound of the explosions reached them.
The battle continued, and it couldn't be clearly determined how circumstances would turn out.
Suddenly, Flonne raised her voice. "Wah, they've started combining!"
When they looked, several of the Vijan were gathering together. They became the same size as the angelic soldiers. At a quick glance, their numbers did not seem to have decreased much. The number of Vijan was just uncountable.
"But, they aren't changing much......"
Certainly, their size had changed, but their shape hadn't.
"Now a mysterious ray is coming out of their eyes!"
From their enlarged eyes a beam came out and cut down the Celestial Host.
"There's no mysterious sound wave, is there....." Flonne gave away her dissatisfaction with the soundless beam. "If they don't transform more definitively, and destroy things impressively, it's no good!" the former angel railed unexpectedly, raising up her fist.
Seeing Flonne's reaction beside her, Etna spoke up with a smirk. "Hey, Flonne-chan."
"What is it, Etna-san?"
"For a little while the Celestial Host has been doing nothing but getting beaten and falling."
On the tail of her question, angelic soldiers came falling and crashing to the ground nearby like insects being done in by mosquito-repellant incense.
"Flonne-chan, is it okay for you not to go help them? Or so I was thinking."
"Ah......" At once Flonne pressed the palm of her hand to her mouth.
"I- I was just thinking maybe it's about time I went!"
"She was definitely just fascinated by the aliens, this fallen angel," Etna muttered quietly, turning her face away.
Flonne hurriedly made as if to fly off, but on looking at the sky, her legs froze again.
At last, the entire shape of the mother ship had appeared.
"So it really is a saucer."
As Etna said, it was certainly a perfectly round shape. It was so huge that its diameter was an unimaginable number of kilometers.
"I wonder how many Vijan are inside of that?" Flonne said.
"I definitely don't want to count them."
Flonne and Etna's conversation had gone off-topic.
And, having been a spectator until then, Laharl groaned, "This is going to be a harder fight than I thought."
"Don't you mean, the Celestial Host is losing?" Etna asked.
"Hmph, if they're like this in an all-out war, then they probably aren't anything much, these angels," Laharl muttered.
"Ah, Prince, are you thinking of invading Celestia now?" Etna replied.
"I-idiot! Even if he was thinking it, an adult would never say that!!"
"You really were thinking it, weren't you." Flonne scowled at the flustered Laharl.
"There's no way I would be thinking it!"
"Eh? Why is that?" Etna asked him in surprise.
"Who would think that angels are weak!?"
I mean, there's no way I could think that knowing how strong Flonne is!
Laharl desperately gulped down his words.
Meanwhile the battle was turning steadily worse for the angel's side.
The number of angels being shot down and falling began to increase, and the battle continued to create victims. The angelic soldiers and Vijan who had been shot down caused secondary damage, the number of destroyed houses and civilian angels crushed beneath them growing.
At the outset, it wasn't only the low-ranking angelic soldiers, but the senior soldiers could not help but go forth as well.
"There is no helping it. I suppose I shall go," Lamington said quietly, and spreading his four wings, he flew upwards.
"Those are some showy wings, huh." Grimacing, Laharl watched Lamington fly away. "Oi, Flonne. Is Lamington strong?"
"I haven't seen him fight either." Flonne shook her head. "After all, until the incident before this, there had never been any fighting in Celestia."
"That's for sure. Well, if he fell at one hit from my fist, then I don't think he can be anything much......"
Laharl hummed with his arms folded.
"Well, fine. I'll have a look at how Celestia's leader fights," Laharl murmured, looking upwards in anticipation.
Lamington flew up into the sky and dispatched orders to the Celestial Host.
It wasn't with words. Just as with his first order to sally forth, he sent them with his thoughts. When he had to go so far as to correct them with words, it went something like this:
"Form ranks. Don't be broken."
In response, the Celestial Host formed ranks in perfect order, and headed for the mother ship.
They informed him all at once about the enemy's power and the attacks they took. Lamington listened to all of it, understood it, and issued orders.
"Concentrate your Mega Stars. Break through the enemy and aim for the mother ship."
The now numerous ranks released Mega Stars simultaneously, and showered the Vijan descending upon them in a blue-white light. Once the foremost ranks had invoked their magic, without a moment's delay, the rank behind them stepped forward and unleashed a second attack. On and on like a Gatling gun, they continued unleashing Mega Stars.
The Vijan who took the attacks and stopped moving came dropping to the ground. Watching from below, it was like a downpour of rain.
However, the Vijan, too, piled on their attacks, and those who slipped through the Celestial Host's counterattack headed off to the destruction of the town. Their number was by no means small.
"Uwah, it's hopeless, isn't it~" As usual, Etna was enjoying herself.
"Laharl-san, please go help them," Flonne implored him.
But, Laharl's reply was blunt. "I don't want to."
"Don't you have any love—any desire to save anyone!?"
"This is Celestia. Lamington says that he's handling it, so it wouldn't do for me to help without him requesting it."
"But, at this rate—" Anxiously looking up at the battle in the sky, Flonne could not find her words. She could see that still many of the Celestial Host were having their wings struck and dropping.
"Don't you believe in Lamington?"
"Eh?" At Laharl's question, Flonne's eyes opened wide and she stared at the speaker of those words.
"If you believe in him, then watch." After this declaration, he added, "Well, if it turns out he can't win, then it's all right if I lend my strength."
"Because if you wait until the last moment, he'll owe you a bigger debt, right?"
"Y-yeah. That's it," Laharl said in agreement to Etna's words.
"He's as soft as ever," Etna muttered, turning her face away and covering her mouth.
"Did you say something?"
"Nope, nothing." Under Laharl's glare, Etna feigned ignorance and whistled.
"Hell......" Laharl gave Etna one more glare, and then looked up at the sky.
"Well then, what will you do, Lamington?" Laharl muttered as he carefully watched the status of the battle.
"This will not do."
Meanwhile Lamington was overseeing the battle's progress. And, concerned about the damage on the ground, he murmured in his perpetually calm voice, "It would not be advisable to let this drag on any longer."
Readying himself, Lamington turned towards the mother ship and flew off.
Just then, there came a call from below to hold him back.
"Please wait, Lamington-sama."
Those who had come up were the three Seraphic Guards—the highest ranking angelic soldiers who guarded Lamington. Their weapons, too, were significantly high-quality articles.
"We will go, so please do not overexert yourself."
They sought to somehow change his mind, but Lamington issued orders as though disregarding them.
"Unify the soldiers and direct their attacks."
"Do you intend to go no matter what, sir?"
"I have my own responsibility as a leader. And then—" Lamington abruptly turned his gaze to the figures below. "I have no wish to show unbecoming behavior before the King of the Netherworld."
"But, we cannot let our leader go by himself."
Hearing the determination in the voices of the Seraphic Guards, Lamington gave in.
"Well then, establish a barrier around me."
"Understood." The three bowed their heads and encircled Lamington.
"Here I go," Lamington said quietly as though he were just stepping out for a moment, and he drew Raijuu's Fang out of thin air. It was an incredibly dangerous sword whose edge constantly discharged an electric shock.
He levelled it, and with one flap Lamington flew out headed straight towards the mother ship. The three Seraphic Guards rose in position with him.
"What's he mean to do?"
From below, Laharl watched Lamington's actions with a grim face. "You don't think—"
"Lamington-sama!?" Flonne raised her voice reflexively as though she, too, had understood what he was doing.
Continuing to climb, Lamington scattered the advancing Vijan troops as though they were nothing, and pushed on towards the mother ship.
The three Seraphic Guards encircling Lamington began to revolve slowly clockwise around him. Following as he rose, they increased their speed, and soon it became impossible to perceive their figures. The Vijan, too, were overcome by their momentum and could not get close.
As their revolutions grew faster, the electricity released by Lamington's levelled sword spread to protect the four of them, and they all glowed a blueish white.
The four who had become a ball of light increased their speed even further, and were drawn into the mother ship.
"Geh......" Laharl groaned in spite of himself.
"It's appeared! Lamington-sama's Triplex Attack!!" Flonne cheered and pumped her fist.
"That's what that technique is?" Laharl asked.
"I thought of it just now." Flonne puffed her chest up proudly.
"Isn't it weird for it to be called a Triplex Attack when it's four people?" Etna said.
"It's fine, if it sounds cool!" Flonne insisted.
In that instant, a flash covered the sky. Lamington had plunged into the heart of the mother ship.
A few seconds later a great noise came crashing down.
The shockwave became a wind and blew down, and fell upon them so strongly it nearly snatched Laharl's scarf away. Two prinnies were even sent flying by the wind and went rolling off.
Flashes spread from the center of the mother ship where Lamington had attacked, extending like snakes in all directions. With a thunderous roar, the center exploded.
Laharl turned to the excited Flonne and pouted in displeasure. "H-hmph, my move is more amazing."
"Which special move do you mean?"
"W-wait and see!"
Laharl turned his back on Flonne and folded his arms.
"Oh Prince, are you jealous?" Laughing, Etna elbowed Laharl.
"What are you saying!?"
As if to drown out Laharl's voice, the explosive sounds continued.
"Ahh~, he's done it......" Etna said.
Lamington broke through the mother ship, and seemed to be commencing yet another attack. The sounds of destruction continued to roar.
"But, if that thing comes falling, won't that be the end of Celestia, too?" Etna said.
The mother ship was of such a scale that it seemed like it could crush all of Celestia. It would be precisely like putting the lid on a pot.
"Your Majesty, wouldn't it be better to run, dood?"
The prinnies had already cheerfully begun preparations to escape.
"Eh, we still have time," Laharl said, but he muttered in frustration, "In the end, I'm not making an entrance, huh."
"That's too bad. The role of the lead character's been stolen from you," Etna teased.
"Seriously, I don't even know why I came—" Laharl muttered, but just then he smirked. He shifted his gaze to the sky above and said to Etna in delight, "That might not be the case."
Laharl was pointing at the mother ship.
Even looking from the ground, it was plain that a huge hole had opened up right in the center of the mother ship. However, it didn't appear that it had taken any damage. Its altitude had lowered, but that didn't mean that it was falling, but rather slowly descending.
It hadn't been destroyed at all.
"That's one sturdy ship," Etna spoke up, impressed.
"Hmph. If it wasn't, then I wouldn't make it my opponent." Laharl struck a hand to his chest and laughed loudly.
Even though Lamington continued to attack the mother ship and destruction continued all over, it did not fall.
Meanwhile the Vijan flying about the surrounding area were defeating the Celestial Host. The number of angelic soldiers and Vijan falling to the ground increased steadily. Because of the shock waves from the explosions on the mother ship, their falling grew to a typhoon greatly surpassing the earlier downpour.
"At this rate even if the mother ship doesn't crash, the town will still be destroyed." Laharl's expression had naturally become one of enjoyment.
"You're terrible, Laharl-san." Flonne looked at Laharl with eyes full of criticism.
"What's with you all of a sudden?"
"Why do you look like you're enjoying yourself? Even though so many people are being hurt!"
"Flonne-chan, that's a demon's natural reaction. There's no helping it." Etna seemed to be enjoying herself, too. "When you put destruction or battles in front of us, it makes our blood boil with excitement. That's a demon."
Her fists clenched, Flonne was about to protest, but Etna went on.
"However you say it, that's a demon, and that's the Prince, so if you deny that then that means you deny the Prince himself. Flonne-chan, can you do that?"
"I can't deny or affirm it......"
"Flonne-chan, before long you'll have to become a woman who knows the difference," Etna suggested teasingly.
And, just then—
"Something's coming this way, dood!"
The prinnies were pointing to a spot in the sky.
Laharl looked up, and he saw something several times larger than even the combined Vijan fly out of the mother ship and come falling towards the surface.
"What is that? Its design is different," Laharl said.
As it came closer, they were able to see its shape. Somehow it seemed similar to the small alien ships, but it didn't have the simple shape of the Vijan.
"I feel like I've seen it somewhere before, but......" Flonne tilted her head and seemed to be trying to remember something, but suddenly her eyes opened wide and she pointed at the ship. "Ah! That, that's mine!!"
"What the heck are you saying?" Laharl looked puzzled.
Flonne continued, sounding disappointed, "But, Laharl-san, you—2"
But, as if to interrupt her, a loud guffaw roared from the spaceship which had descended right before their eyes.
"Who is that, with that vulgar laugh!?" Laharl raised his voice, plugging his ears with his scarf.
At the same time, the spaceship's hatch lifted, opening a hole.
All of those present readied themselves.
Then, from inside a figure in a retro space uniform appeared with a loud laugh.
"Finally, the boss makes his appearance. Who are you?" Laharl demanded, and the person in the space suit put his hands to his helmet.
He removed the helmet, and beneath it was a magnificently bald head. And a mustache.
The man nodded in apparent satisfaction at everyone's surprised faces, and glared at Laharl.
"It's been a while, boy."
But, Laharl only folded his arms and hummed. "Uhh, who were you again?"
"Prince, look, it's that guy. The bald guy who was the Earth Defense Force's something-or-other."
"You shouldn't call him a 'bald guy.' You should remember his name— um?" As though unable to remember it either, Flonne tilted her head. "Umm, was it James-san?"
"No, didn't it have a sound like Cantan3 or something?" said Etna.
Etna and Laharl tried to remember it somehow. In contrast, Flonne quickly abandoned her efforts and changed the topic of argument.
"Umm, I can't remember, but anyway, that ship is mine!"
"Why is it yours?" Laharl said.
"Laharl-san, didn't you say that you were going to give it to me!?"
"Did that happen?"
"Hey! Don't just go taking my things!!" the bald man roared, his head colored completely red in anger. "Gah! That's enough already!! I'm General Carter of the Earth Defense Force!"
He took off and threw aside his space suit, and beneath it was a moss green military uniform. On the breast was a row of showy medals.
"Ah, come to think of it, that was the name, wasn't it," said Etna.
"You got it wrong on purpose, you brats!"
"No, I remembered it when I saw the medals on your chest," said Laharl.
"Because one look at that mess of gaudy, poorly-made medals, and you can't forget," said Etna.
Laharl and Etna nodded in agreement.
Realizing that he was being toyed with, Carter's fists shook. But, he quickly thought better of it and opened his mouth calmly.
"In order to protect the Earth from you cursed demons, I led the Defense Force and struck a preemptive attack against the Netherworld. It was obvious that you all were dangerous beings. It was an opportunity to know God's justice."
"Hmm, his story's come out," said Etna.
"But, it's incredibly self-centered," said Laharl.
"Please let him talk!" Shaking her fist, Flonne shushed Etna and Laharl.
"But, attacked by you brats, and betrayed even by the angels, I abandoned the flagship Gargantua and at once withdrew to an escape pod. However, I was threatened by that ill-natured demon, and because of engine trouble I couldn't stop accelerating, and at 80% of the speed of light I was headed towards the edge of space......"
"Ill-natured demon? Is he talking about you, Etna?"
"As if. You mean it wasn't you, Prince?"
"I didn't have that kind of time."
"I guess that's right."
Because Carter had initiated Gargantua's self-destruct mechanism just before his escape, everyone had evacuated in a hurry. The Defender of Earth, Gordon, and Jennifer, who were unable to fly, had both been there, too, so Laharl had had to carry them and run. He had had his hands full.
"You don't think, it was him?" Laharl muttered distastefully.
"That part doesn't matter!" Flonne raised her voice as she normally didn't, and glared at the two. "That was the escape pod at Gargantua's nose. Although the shape has changed a little bit...... Laharl-san, you gave me the Gargantua, but it was destroyed."
"Wait a minute! He's the one who made it blow up," Laharl said.
"Anyway! That is mine!!"
"You girl! Don't go deciding my ship is your own!!" Carter shouted at Flonne, and then continued his story. "All right!? But, God did not abandon me!"
"He's prepared to attack Celestia, and he's saying things like 'God'!"
At Etna's interruption, Carter's eyes popped open and he yelled, "Idiot! Celestia is no more than a den of false angels!! The true God of space has told me to attack and destroy both Celestia and the Netherworld! And, I was given power!! These Vijan!"
"The God of space, huh," said Etna. "More and more, he's saying things he shouldn't in Celestia."
"As proof, these Vijan revere me as their Creator, and came here!"
"Didn't they get it wrong from your head being so divine4?"
"Shut up, girl!" Carter glared at Etna, and then he thrust a finger at Laharl. "Brat, at last your time has come5! I'm going to exact my revenge!!"
"Ah, that's right. So it's been a hundred years already," Laharl muttered.
Carter knit his brows. "What was that?"
"What, didn't you know? Since you invaded the Netherworld and had the crap beaten out of you, 100 years have passed in the Human World," Etna said.
"W-what!?" Carter was shocked.
"Yep, that's right. Gordon's not around anymore."
"While we're on the subject, the Earth Defense Force or whatever it's called doesn't exist anymore either," Laharl said.
"Now it's 'Solar Defenders Gordon Z,'" said Flonne.
"Which means, you're the former General of the Earth Defense Force," said Etna.
"So that's it! With the Urashima Effect, 100 years have already passed back on Earth......" Carter murmured and his shoulders slumped.
"What's the Urashima light conversion6?" Laharl asked.
"That's not right, Laharl-san. It's the Urashima Effect. The closer you get to the speed of light, the slower the passage of time becomes. So, even though Carter-san is human, he doesn't seem to have aged much."
"What? I was sure that was the reason his head was shining so brightly."
"It was like that before," said Etna.
Carter, who had been listening to Laharl and Etna's exchange, clenched his fists and began to tremble.
"You brats! Saying whatever you like!!" Carter bellowed, and he struck his fist against the hatch with a slam. "I'm bringing all of my grudge to bear on you brats!! From here on I'll show you Hell!"
Then, he was about to press some switch.
"Who would just leisurely wait to be attacked!?"
Laharl chanted the spell for a Mega Star, and immediately released it at Carter. Not caring that his opponent was human, he mercilessly struck for a direct hit.
A loud bash sounded, an explosion boomed, and white smoke rose up.
"You're being showy about it~ After that there won't even be a trace left, will there, Prince?" Etna belatedly raised her voice.
But, beyond the clearing smoke was an unexpected sight.
Five Vijan had created a wall and protected Carter. However, the Vijan were practically undamaged, and still hovered in mid-air.
While poised to press the switch, Carter froze with a smile of triumph on his lips.
"In that earlier battle, the Vijan completed an analysis of your attack pattern and power, and the types of magic and their strength. Well done, Kira." Carter nodded to Kira beside him.
"Leave it to me, dood."
Prinny Number 9—Kira had at some point climbed into the escape pod.
"You......" In surprise, Laharl whirled around reflexively and looked to where Kira should have been.
"King Laharl, your reign is just about at its end, dood," Kira laughed.
"Now die!" Laughing loudly, Carter pushed the switch.
"But, hasn't that mother ship about had it?" Laharl looked up at the huge saucer which was exploding here and there.
"You fool, you don't know anything. Watch!"
Just as Carter pointed upwards, a flash covered the sky. One moment later, an incredible sound roared as if to shake the ground, and a shockwave blew down upon them. A power unparalleled by the explosions until now assaulted them.
In the sky above, flames engulfed the mother ship and turned it into a sun.
"I'm watching, but?" With the shockwave blowing back her hair, Etna looked at Cater with a blank expression.
"Lamington's finally done it." Squinting, Laharl, too, looked at the sky.
"That's just like Lamington-sama!"
Seeing Flonne cheering, Laharl glared at Lamington circling the sky, looking discouraged. Why am I feeling like this? he wondered, angry with himself.
"It's over now." Having lowered his gaze to Carter, Laharl smirked coldly. It was a look that said he had found an outlet to drive away this depressed feeling.
Suddenly Carter bent his back and began to convulse.
"He's started feeling sick?" Etna made a stunned face as if to say 'That didn't take long.'
But, that wasn't it. He was laughing. He seemed to need time to let out the laughs which shook him in spasms.
"What's so funny?" Laharl said.
"It's funny that for you brats, the beginning of your end has begun," Carter said. Then, he let out a roar. "Transform!"
"Transform!?" At that word, Flonne reacted intensely. Her eyes sparkled like anything.
Fragments shot out from the exploded mother ship in all directions. Then, the Vijan fighting the Celestial Host covered the sky completely. The fragments broke apart yet again, and in the end they were so small as to be like fog.
However, those fine grains each moved freely.
"Don't tell me, those are Vijan, too?" Laharl muttered in astonishment.
"So you've finally realized it. The mother ship was completely made up of Vijan." Carter let out a loud laugh, and spreading both hands he ordered, "Now, cover Celestia in darkness!"
The Vijan which had covered the surface of the sky increased their density, and covered the heavens precisely like an umbrella. The light of the sun was shut out, and immediately it became as pitch dark as night.
When the Vijan had completely covered the heavens, darkness had arrived. A space emerged where practically nothing could be seen.
But then, to Laharl and the others it was nothing unusual.
Even so, the Vijan still had numbers to spare. Carter shouted his next order.
"Combine!?" Flonne's eyes sparkled even more brightly, and she clenched both fists in front of her chest.
The innumerable Vijan closed behind Carter, and one after another they began to combine.
"Watch! This is the ultimate Vijan-bot!!"
"Vijan-bot!?" Flonne's eyes radiated like disco balls, and her clenched fists trembled in anticipation.
The escape pod which Carter and Kira had boarded rose without a sound, and then moved towards the head part of the robot that was taking shape.
In the darkness towered the completed body of the Vijan-bot.
The escape pod had been enveloped by the forehead and disappeared.
With a whirring sound, the robot's eyes flashed.
The Vijan-bot— An avatar of destruction with enormous fists and a body tens of kilometers high. It was so huge that from the ground the full picture could not be grasped.
"Oi, isn't that just an enlarged Vijan?" Laharl said.
The Vijan-bot raised its arms and levelled its iron-ball fists.
"How's that? Be amazed! It has fists the size of California!!" Carter said.
"What's a California?" Laharl asked.
Etna shook her head. "Who knows? Isn't it some unit of measure?"
"Take this! Super-dreadnought California Punch!!"
The Vijan-bot drew back its right arm and released it on the instant.
Starting with Laharl, everyone who stood there leapt away. But, it was after all a fist with a diameter of several kilometers. Escaping it was not easy. However far they flew, they still felt that they were going to be hit.
The prinnies who were unable to get away were sent flying and disappeared into the distant reaches of Celestia.
Naturally, the hill where Lamington's house was and where the punch struck was completely eradicated.
Laharl and the others who had reached safety in the sky above looked down on the hill crumbling away, dumbfounded.
"What a thing." His breathing ragged, Laharl nevertheless watched the Vijan-bot with a voice of admiration.
"I-it's unforgivable!" Flonne shouted beside him, her fists clenched. "This...... This is—" Overwhelmed with anger, Flonne could not manage to get her words out.
"Go on, Flonne-chan!" Etna cheered her on.
Flonne thrust her finger towards the Vijan-bot. "Nowadays, do you think we're going to put up with that design!?"
"So that's it......" Etna muttered, her shoulders slumping.
"First of all, the design is too old! And there isn't any coloring!! On top of that, the name of your special move is the worst! At this rate no merchandiser is going to contract with you!!"
"What merchandiser would contract with invaders......" Laharl interjected in a low voice.
Carter's shout came falling down from far above. "Idiot! That was an ordinary attack!!"
"They're both at fault......" Laharl let out a sigh and took out his favorite Overlord's sword from thin air. "Anyway, I'll buy the fight we've been sold. I don't care if it's Vijan or P-chan, I'll teach them a lesson!"
He turned to face Flonne.
"I'll make up for Lamington's failure. Just watch, Flonne!"
Without even listening to Flonne's reply, Laharl spread his scarf and flew up.
"Ahh~, the Prince is in high spirits. You cruel woman." Etna prodded Flonne with her elbow.
"There's no one else here, right?"
"I haven't done anything cruel."
"They do exist, women like this who don't know what they themselves have done," Etna grumbled in a mutter full of murderous intent.
"What was that, Etna-san? Please say it clearly."
"You're the one who should speak clearly. If you said it clearly and completely already, I'd feel more at ease, too," she muttered.
Then, Etna waved her hand at Laharl who had flown of.
"Please finish him off properly. If the damage spreads any farther, it's just Celestia so it's okay."
Flonne turned an angry gaze on Etna for giving such an irresponsible cheer, but without saying anything she returned a worried gaze to Laharl.
Celestia was covered in darkness.
Thousands of years ago, after the battle with the Netherworld in which the gate to Celestia was shut up, in the first darkness that fell, the denizens of Celestia had shuddered with a fear surpassing anxiety. And now, like the booming pushing up suddenly, the terror assaulted them again. Earthquakes did not exist in Celestia.
Something such as fear was, to the citizens of this foreign world, an unfamiliar feeling boiling up which they had never before felt. There were those who, unable to control it, ran off, and also those who fled recklessly into the dark cloud and were attacked by the Vijan.
Flonne's parents, too, were assaulted by an indescribable fear.
In the darkness, Elle turned anxious eyes on her husband Telle.
"It's all right. We have Lamington-sama."
At Telle's words, Elle nodded with a bright expression.
"That's true, isn't it?" she said.
"And Flonne and the others, too."
"Laharl-san and the others will fight for us, too, won't they?"
"Of course they will. They're such good children, after all."
With a thud, another quake ran through from floor to ceiling, and the two jumped.
It would not be strange for the house to crumble apart at any moment. In Celestia where there were no earthquakes, even the phrase 'earthquake-resistant construction' did not exist.
Dust came fluttering down from the ceiling. They could hear a creak-creaking.
"Let's evacuate, honey," Telle said.
"Our house is weeping."
"There's no helping it. It'll be all right if we rebuild it."
"No matter the time, it's courage, hope, and love, isn't it?" said Elle.
"That's absolutely right, honey."
Spouting lines that would have nearly made Laharl faint in agony if he heard, the two embraced each other tightly.
"For some reason, just now, a chill ran down my spine," Laharl muttered uncomfortably, wriggling his back as he flew along with his scarf.
In the break when his attention strayed, he was attacked by a beam shot from the Vijan-bot's eyes.
Laharl dodged with agility and continued his ascent. He was aiming for the robot's head.
"If the one controlling it is gone, then this robot will be a good-for-nothing!"
He flew on with great speed, continuing to avoid the beam.
"But man, it's far."
He felt like however long he flew, he would not reach the head. Even looking at the body of the Vijan-bot, it was so big that he could not even tell that he was flying or whether he was making progress. Because there were no seams or anything, nothing to compare against, he had no sense that he was flying.
Abruptly he thought he felt something incredibly oppressive, and in that instant—
Not comprehending at all what had happened, Laharl was blown away.
He shook his head and cleared his hazy senses. The Vijan-bot's body which should have been right there was far off. That being said, because it was a flat, wall-like thing, any judge of distance was a considerable approximation.
He had been sent flying by the Vijan-bot's body as it took one step forward.
"Its entire body is a weapon, huh......"
Because taking just one step forward meant advancing several kilometers, it was the same as colliding with a mass of iron advancing at several hundred kilometers per hour.
"And my goal's even farther away now!" Laharl spat, and he made as if to hit something, but there was nothing nearby. Even his enemy was several kilometers ahead.
"I'm starting to feel like I'm climbing a mountain." So muttering, Laharl fired himself up, again decided the Vijan-bot's head as his aim, and flew upwards.
In that moment, he took an attack to his entire body and was flattened. He suffered extreme G, and even Laharl's consciousness vanished into white for an instant.
This time he had been struck flying by a round fist closing in from the side.
Having lost consciousness, in the middle of his fall he narrowly regained it, turned halfway around, and recovered his balance.
"That worked, a little......" he spat, with the indication that it was far from 'a little.' He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, and there was blood on it. He spat blood and was about to fly off, when from behind a voice called out.
"What is it?"
Having turned around, Laharl caught sight of Lamington and two of his Seraphic Guards. One of the Seraphic Guards was missing. He grasped the reason immediately. The remaining two were considerably beat-up. One of them had had his wings injured and could barely fly.
"One of you was done in, huh."
Lamington nodded silently, and then made a suggestion to Laharl. "Shall we combine forces?"
"What did you say?"
"At this rate we will do nothing but produce victims. Together—"
"I refuse!" Laharl replied immediately, glaring at Lamington. "Against this kind of opponent, I'm all that's needed!"
Then he beat his scarf and commanded, "There's no need for you to interfere! Got it!?"
With that, he flew up.
"That was a failure, wasn't it." Lamington watched Laharl go, and his expression showed a wry smile.
"He has his own sense of honor," he soothed the indignant Seraphic Guard. "Next time I will have to change the manner of my suggestion."
Lamington folded his arms with a worried expression.
"Before that, I shall watch how far he is able to go."
Then, he looked up at the Vijan-bot with a severe gaze.
"However, I wonder why those beings are following that human," he murmured curiously.
Meanwhile, Carter was irritated that he could not strike Laharl as he wanted.
"Hrmm, it's too big and can't hit him."
Although it actually had hit him, his opponent was so small that he was just unable to tell.
"All right, a change in tactics!" Carter shouted. "Vijan-bot, separate!"
In answer to his order, the Vijan separated all at once. Each Vijan which had composed the Vijan-bot broke apart for a moment, and reformed in succession.
In the blink of an eye, they became five bodies of exactly the same shape as the Vijan-bot. All at once their size had become smaller, and their overall height was one kilometer.
Naturally, with the problem of capacity, the surplus Vijan took up a formation surrounding them like tiny battleships.
"That isn't separation!" Seeing it from the ground, Flonne raised her voice.
"That was a division, that," Etna agreed in a cool tone.
"If you don't transform with more flash and flourish, then it's no good!"
"Yeah, yeah, I know." While clapping Flonne on the back and soothing her, Etna looked up at the speck-like Laharl. "I wonder if he'll be all right, the Prince."
Then Carter's shout roared. "Go, Vijan Force7! Beat down that kid!"
The Vijan squadron turned towards Laharl and plunged forward.
On hearing that voice, Flonne's temper flared up as hot as a raging fire. "There's no red! And there isn't any blue or green or yellow or pink either!!"
"You're just saying whatever you want, jeez." Etna was at her wit's end. "Even though he went off in high spirits, at this rate, against this enemy, the Prince won't be rewarded."
Grabbing Flonne, who was brandishing her fist and seemed about to rush for the Vijan-bots, by the collar and pulling her back, Etna gave a sigh.
"I wonder if we should go help him already."
She thought for a moment on what to do.
"Well, I guess once his situation's hopeless. That might be easier and better."
Grinning, she returned her gaze to Laharl.
"They're coming out in groups again."
Laharl looked at the considerably smaller Vijan-bots and smiled broadly. It'll be easier if they're smaller. The number isn't a problem, he thought.
"Well then, which should I take out first?" he said in anticipation, and decided to do away with the lead first.
As he flew for the head, he began chanting a spell. In proportion to his opponent becoming smaller than before, the attack range of its fists had shortened. Thanks to that, even as he approached, he didn't have to worry about suddenly being knocked flying.
He approached until he was outside the range of its fists.
"I'll send you flying right off! Giga Star!!" Enveloping his fist with magical power, he immediately let it loose. "This magnitude is different from that restrained magic earlier!"
A blue brilliance flew straight headed for the first Vijan-bot.
The moment he saw it hit, the tiny Vijan which had moved out into the surroundings closed in, and formed a wall.
The wall of tiny Vijan was completely knocked down, but thanks to it, the magic was weakened to half strength as it was on the verge of hitting the Vijan-bot.
The blue-white light which had driven into the Vijan's torso extended tendrils of electricity and was about to explode. Each Vijan which composed the robot was destroyed haphazardly, but other Vijan flew into the destroyed parts and filled in the openings.
After the brilliance had disappeared, the Vijan-bot stood there completely undamaged.
"Damn it! Don't interfere!!"
Losing his temper, Laharl ignored his opponent's distance and dove in.
"In order to show the difference between me and Lamington, I have to win completely here and look cool doing it!"
With a bellow, he released a string of Giga Stars.
One after another he struck the walls of Vijan that were thrown up, and continued to advance.
He destroyed eight walls, and at last in front of his eyes was the figure of the Vijan-bot.
Having reached out about to release a Giga Star, what came out of Laharl's hand was only a faint pop.
There were limits to magical power. Laharl had used up his power all the way to its limit.
Then the five Vijan-bots advanced on him with a thud-thud. Behind him yet another wall of Vijan stood in his way. Even if he were to run, he couldn't.
"You bastards, five against one is cowardly!"
Surrounded and having lost a path to escape, Laharl clenched his teeth.
"I don't want to hear that I'm 'cowardly' from a demon. Besides, the basis of heroes of justice has always been group beatings!" Carter shouted triumphantly.
"That's why, I hate battle groups!"
"Once I've taken care of you, and killed all the Celestial Host, I'll make Celestia mine!"
"Like it'll go that smoothly!"
Laharl swiftly feinted that he was escaping upwards, the turned his body and headed down. From there, there was plenty of space between the robot's legs.
But, just as he was about to slip through, the knees drew near.
Taking a kick from the knees, Laharl flew up, and then he was attacked from three sides—straight on, an uppercut from below, and finally one attack from above.
He was crushed, tossed upwards, and knocked down.
With the final attack, the worn-out Laharl was knocked down to the ground, and he sunk deep into the earth.
"Did you think a boy like you could win against me!?"
Carter's loud laughter came crashing down.
Having crawled out of the hole he himself had dug, it was all that Laharl could do to roll out of the way to avoid being trampled.
"I- I can't win......"
Laharl collapsed onto his knees and looked up at the Vijan Force.
"All right, Vijan Force, go! Reduce Celestia to ashes!!"
Carter's triumphant shout thundered through the pitch dark Celestia.
The Vijan-bots turned towards the town and commenced their invasion.
Forming ranks, the super-gigantic robots had every house crumbling just from their footsteps, and angels were thrown up and flew into the air. With the beams shot from their eyes, they turned the surroundings into a sea of flames in an instant.
It was as if a scorching Netherworld beach had appeared in Celestia.
"Look, look at this power! I'll become the king of the world!!"
Carter let out a loud laugh.
Laharl could only watch this powerlessly.
"Damn it......" He struck his fist into the ground.
After all my big talk, it turns out I wasn't able to do anything. Laharl bit his lip and cursed his own lack of power.
Then, he thought he heard footsteps from behind, and he was addressed by a quiet voice.
"Are you all right?"
"You again......" he said, sounding annoyed as he looked up at Lamington. "I thought I told you I didn't need any help."
"No, that is untrue. Can I not request that you work together with me?"
Dubiously, Laharl looked at the other's face, whose expressionlessness surpassed calm.
"What did you say?"
"Celestia is on the brink of crisis. It needs your strength."
"Hmph." Laharl stood up, tottering, and and as if to say that there was no helping it, he gave a cool nod. "If you're going to keep saying it, then it's no use. I'll lend you a hand."
"Thank you." Smiling, Lamington bowed his head.
"Well then, what'll we do?"
"Unless it is a magic more powerful than what we have used until now, we will not inflict any damage."
At that suggestion, Laharl furrowed his brow. "You want to use the keepers?"
"There is nothing else."
"I'd rather not, but there's no helping it."
Lamington looked at the tottering Laharl, stretched out a hand about to treat him, and then stopped.
He had realized that Flonne was running closer.
"Are you all right, Laharl-san!?" Flonne looked at Laharl, her voice worried.
"These wounds aren't serious."
He tried to act tough and hide it, but Laharl's wounds were considerably deep.
"I'll heal you now."
"I told you, I'm fine."
Easily holding down Laharl as he tried to push her away, Flonne scolded him, "That won't do!"
In the blink of an eye, Laharl was lying down with his head resting on Flonne's lap.
Any argument was futile, and Flonne chanted a Mega Heal and put her hands to Laharl's forehead. In a flash his wounds closed, and he was healed.
At Flonne having gotten so close, Laharl stiffened. To the extent that he himself found it strange, he had lost the energy to resist.
"Now, let us replenish your magical power."
Lamington took the opportunity to call his Seraphic Guard, and before Laharl could say anything, the Seraphic Guards transferred their magical power.
"I'm not thanking you."
At Laharl's blunt words, Lamington answered with a smile that said he'd expected them. "Of course. Because I, too, am doing this for Celestia's sake."
Having somehow or other recovered with the two's assistance, Laharl leapt to his feet with a proud hmph.
"Well then, let us begin," said Lamington.
"Flonne, stand back."
Laharl turned to look over his shoulder, and Flonne was clenching her fists forcefully.
"Those poorly-designed robots, please take them out!"
Etna waved from behind her. "Prince, do your best, okay?"
"You, are you seriously saying that?"
"Look, it's the honest truth. I wouldn't be able to beat those things, so I'll have to have you do your best, Prince," Etna said, smiling. It was about the same as if she had said, 'Die for me.'
Leaving the two with that, Laharl faced the approaching Vijan Force.
"We summon the spell keepers!"
Laharl and Lamington put their voices together.
Lamington closed his eyes lightly, spread both hands, and stretched them in front of him as if to embrace something.
"Earthen Giant Sigma, come!"
Laharl looked ahead as though glaring, and thrust his fist upwards towards the heavens.
"Space Demon Genesis, emerge!"
In order to make use of the most powerful magic, they needed to summon the beings called the spell keepers. They existed in order to establish the limits to the use of this foreseeably great power, and to protect the users and their surroundings.
Sigma was the first to appear. He was a clumsy mass of rock. Although he was called a giant, he was smaller than the Vijan-bots.
Genesis was the next to appear. On the outside it was like a poorly-made dragon, and it was characterized by its huge eyes.
"Thanks.8" Genesis greeted Laharl with a cheerful voice incongruous with his face.
"Strike them down with the full extent of your power!"
Genesis glanced at the Vijan, and grinned. "It'll be costly."
"I don't care!"
"Thank you. Well then, here I go."
Genesis joined in with Laharl's spell incantation and amassed power, and all at once unleashed it.
At the same time, Lamington's summoned Sigma also released his technique.
The two highest level spells intertwined, ran across the face of the darkness-shrouded Celestia, and headed for the towering Vijan.
"Go!" Laharl shouted as if to pass on his intent.
The blue-white flash enveloped the surrounding Vijan as it pressed on, surrounding them in coils, and then crashed into three of the Vijan in the center.
In that moment, a flash burst out, and the world was dyed a perfect white.
Because of the destruction and explosions surpassing understanding, neither sight nor hearing were any use at all. Only, they could understand that within the barriers of the spell keepers, an incredible power was administering the very limits of destruction.
"Did that do it?"
Just then, within the diminishing white light, something moved.
"No, it was no use."
Just as Lamington said, the three Vijan-bots had crumbled momentarily, but the unharmed Vijan had gathered immediately, and recreated them just as they had been. What had diminished were only the tens of thousands of small Vijan hovering in the area.
Laharl turned his head and shouted at Genesis. "Oi, keeper!"
"What is it?"
"Do you intend to demand compensation for magic that didn't work at all?"
"I will accept it for precisely as much as I used."
"That's a rip-off! Discount it for as much as it didn't work!!"
"It did not work, but, because magical energy was consumed, it is the same." Genesis refused to listen and make conversation. "Well then, see you. I will claim my due afterwards."
"Ah, you, don't run!"
Faster than Laharl could stretch out his hand as if to catch him, Genesis vanished as though he had been sucked into an alternate dimension.
Lamington saw this after his keeper's figure had disappeared in the same manner.
The restored Vijan-bots approached with heavy footsteps.
"You lot are all out of tricks now!" Carter's guffaw fell upon them. "Now, Vijan! Overrun Celestia!!"
The small Vijan turned towards the town and began descending. They headed for the areas where there were people first.
Abruptly Flonne raised a scream and flew up. "Ahh, my figures!"
Now that I think about it, she did bring that ridiculously huge suitcase, Laharl recalled.
"Are your figures more important to you than your own house or your family?"
"Well, those are the complete set of the incredibly rare, special edition Defender of Earth Gordon family series, the last of the lot!"
Flonne flew to go pick them up.
"Oi, in that mess!?"
Hurriedly Laharl turned to stop her, but he was obstructed by the Vijan's attacks and could not move.
"Out of the way!"
But, Laharl did not have enough magical power left to attack, only his sword.
He held the Overlord's sword aloft and slashed, but it was repelled entirely.
"Damn it, so if I can't put magic into it, the sword doesn't work."
Growling, he slashed again with all his might.
There was a dry sound, and the blade of the Overlord's sword was nicked.
In the one moment when he faltered, another Vijan thrust in from the side. Taking that one hit to his side, he was sent flying.
Laharl had been sent flying to the ruins of a private home somewhere. It had been caught up in the fighting and had collapsed completely.
"It's no good......"
As he tried to get up, he seemed to be out of energy and pitched forward, falling prostrate.
Just then, a voice came flying from somewhere.
"Hang in there, Laharl-san!"
It was Elle's voice.
"You mustn't abandon hope no matter what the time!"
"Gwah!" Laharl bent backwards as though he had been pierced through the heart.
"Laharl-kun, stand up! The future is waiting for you!" Telle said.
"Ugeh!" Laharl's body bent in two as he cramped up.
"Your wounds are terrible, aren't they?"
"Here, I'll administer my special cure-all of love and courage—"
"You guys, whose side are you on!?"
Having fallen flat on the ground, Laharl jumped up and shouted angrily at Elle and Telle who were leaning over him to see how he was.
"Stringing together nothing but the words I hate!"
But, giving no sign that she cared about his meaning, Elle began to look over Laharl's body.
"Here." Without letting Laharl say yes or no, she began spreading a salve on his body.
He could not even muster the energy to protest. But after a little while, strength returned to his body.
"Mm, it's working."
"Yes, it's my special—"
"I've got it, so don't say any more!" Hurriedly he cut off Elle's words. "Now isn't the time to have that kind of conversation!"
Laharl made to hurry for where Flonne was running. From behind him came Telle's voice.
"Laharl-kun, what do you think of our Flonne?"
"W-what is that, at a time like this!?" Laharl asked in reply, flustered.
"I'm asking because of the time."
"W-what do you all think?"
"A-always?" Laharl braced himself for the words on Elle's lips. He wondered what he was going to do if they told him to take care of her forever.
"Please get along well with her, okay?" Elle said, smiling sweetly.
"That's it?" Feeling like she was dodging the question, he looked at Elle.
"Yes," came the reply, with a smile that held absolutely no ill-will.
"Leave it to me," he replied after thinking for a moment, and Laharl ran off towards Flonne's house.
Flonne finally arrived at her as-yet-undamaged house, ran into her own room, and rushed to bundle up her large box. She brushed off the dust which had accumulated on top, and checked the box's contents with a glance.
"They're all right, aren't they?"
Appearing relieved, she scooped up the box and returned to the entrance, where already formations of Vijan were closing in from the sky above.
The moment that she tried to run out of the house in a panic, the Vijan noticed Flonne and swiftly bore down on her.
At once she tried to take out her staff and she was careless of her footing. Her foot slipped on the step in the entryway, and she pitched far forward.
The box she was holding left her arms and flew into the air. What was more, the lid on the box was not tightly shut, and the abundant figures inside were thrown out and danced in the air.
"Ahh! My treasure!!" Flonne screamed.
Hordes of Vijan who had noticed her voice changed direction and came for her.
But even so, Flonne held onto the box, and began gathering the scattered figures.
Like a black cloud, the Vijan were before her eyes and nose.
Just then, Laharl came running and stood in the way between Flonne and the Vijan.
"Relax. I won't let these guys lay one finger on you!" he shouted, and levelled his Overlord's sword.
At that moment, the Vijan stopped moving.
"They're overwhelmed by my power, huh." Laharl grinned fearlessly.
"Now's your chance to run," he murmured over his shoulder to Flonne behind him. But, Flonne was rustling around doing something. "What are you doing? Leave those things!"
"They're my precious figures."
One by one Flonne was carefully packing them into the box.
"Hurry up!" Laharl shouted impatiently.
Then, the Vijan in front of him divided, returning to four bodies, and they stepped closer.
Ignoring Laharl who stood ready, the Vijan came before Flonne and suddenly threw their bodies to the ground.
"Ahh, the Creator!"
Holding onto a figure, Flonne's eyes went wide.
The ignored Laharl stood rigid, his sword held aloft.
"It's the Creator."
"She's a goddess."
The noisy whispers of the Vijan spread like undulating waves, and filled the air. All of the Vijan nearby divided and descended, and similarly threw themselves down.
"W-what's going on?" said Flonne.
"Don't ask me." In bewilderment Laharl lowered his sword.
"Hey, hey, why are these guys prostrating themselves?" Etna came up, cautiously avoiding the group of Vijan.
Flonne and Laharl both only tilted their heads.
"They've understood my greatness—"
"That doesn't seem to be it at all."
While their conversation went on, at some point the surrounding battle had calmed and the explosions and sounds of fighting had vanished.
The advance of the Vijan Force had also halted, and Celestia had regained a perfect stillness.
Suddenly the darkness covering Celestia disappeared, and from the heavens a ray of light shown down on Flonne. The umbrella of Vijan covering the sky broke apart, and light came filtering down. In the blink of an eye the darkness vanished, and Celestia returned to the brilliant world it was meant to be.
The Vijan steadily disassembled, and descending to the ground they began prostrating themselves. The ground became utterly buried in Vijan.
"Hey! What are you doing!? Listen to your Creator's orders!!" Carter bellowed from far up in the sky, but they did not stop.
"Um, why is everyone revering me?" Flonne looked around her as though at a loss for the reason.
"Ohhh, the Creator speaks!"
The Vijan raised a cheer.
"Um, are giblets9 good-tasting?"
"That's not it!"
Etna thrust her open hand at Flonne.
In that moment, the Vijan as one aimed their right arms at Etna. Somehow things like the muzzles of guns appeared.
"W-what!?" Even Etna could not hide her shock at having tens of millions of guns all aimed at her.
"Oi, Flonne," Laharl whispered to Flonne beside him, as if he had thought of something.
"What is it?"
"Say you forgive Etna."
A light burned in the Vijan's muzzles. They were beam weapons on the verge of firing.
"Say it quickly."
"R-right. Umm, I forgive Etna-san."
The moment she had said it, the Vijan withdrew their arms and returned to their previous positions.
Etna let out a sigh of relief and asked uncomfortably, "Flonne-chan, so you're the queen?"
"But I don't remember that happening......"
Flonne tilted her head slightly, wondering, and the lead Vijan stepped closer and bowed deeply.
"Creator, for a long time we have been searching for you."
"Wait a minute. Wasn't your 'Creator' that guy?" Laharl pointed in Carter's direction.
Carter had been reduced to just his escape pod, and hovered in the air.
"Yes. Certainly we thought so. However, we were mistaken. This person here, she is the true Creator."
"You changed that up awfully easy," Laharl said in a stunned voice.
"Umm, why am I the Creator?" Flonne still seemed not to understand a thing.
"We have always been searching for the one who produced us. We had this prophecy: 'The Creator made us in their own image. That person, they brought forth small likenesses.'"
Laharl and Flonne exchanged looks.
"You mean, these?"
Flonne held out the figure of the Defender of Earth Gordon which she held in her hand. That instant, all of the Vijan stirred.
"Ohh, it's just like the prophecy!"
"You really like figures, don't you! I have more of them."
Flonne happily showed them Jennifer and Thursday Mark 3, and Jane. A stirring arose like a rumbling in the ground.
"Ah, but, these are really rare, so I can't give them to you. I'm sorry."
When she said that they were rare,10 Flonne's expression was proud, but the Vijan didn't understand that part.
"Ohh, a word we've never heard before!"
The Vijan fell prostrate all at once.
"Flonne-chan, you've accidentally become an otaku goddess." Etna looked at Flonne with sympathetic eyes.
"Eh? I'm telling you, it isn't like that!" Flonne denied forcefully. However, as might be expected for having more than tens of thousands of people worshipping her, it was not at all convincing.
From the sky above the small escape pod came down, the hatch opened, and Carter leaned his body out of it.
"You bastards! Dispose of these guys alread— what?" Carter bellowed, but then he finally comprehended what the Vijan were worshipping, and he understood his own disadvantage.
"Ngh...... This time I've let you have the cards! But!!" Carter thrust his finger at Laharl. "I haven't lost absolutely!"
"There's no way I'm giving up either, dood!"
Together with Kira he threw down parting threats, and while the Vijan were not attacking, he made to raise the escape pod.
"Wait, Carter!" Laharl shouted and fluttered his scarf, making to fly up.
But then, a low voice was heard from the darkness behind Carter.
"That is as far as you go."
The figure of a tall man stepped from the darkness.
Carter turned around, and his face froze. "Y-you, you're from that time!"
"A hundred years ago, I told you. 'We demons will always be watching you.'11"
The man stretched out a hand for Carter's neck.
"S-stop! What are you doing!?"
"I shall have you do public service, just for a little while. A mere 500 years."
The man who had grabbed Carter by the collar also plucked Kira up with his free hand.
"This prinny I will leave to the Overlord," he said, and turned to Laharl and threw him down.
As he went spinning, the prinny rolled to Laharl's side. Without a moment's delay, Etna stepped on him.
"I'll think carefully about your punishment later." Etna's grinning expression was one of great anticipation.
Kira wriggled his arms, but it was futile.
The man who had seized Carter grinned and thrust a finger at Laharl, and then he disappeared into the darkness.
"Prince, Kriche— I mean, Mid-Boss just took the best part.
"That bastard, for a dead guy he keeps butting in!" Laharl said, but somehow his face looked sort of happy.
Then, a voice called to Flonne.
The one in the green bandana that came running down from the top of the hill was Ozonne.
"Ozonne, are you all right?"
Ozonne came running at Flonne full-speed. "Running away when we still haven't settled this is cowardly. It's time to continue this!"
"It seems like she doesn't remember anything from when she was brainwashed." Etna smiled wryly.
"Laharl is mine!"
"No, he isn't!"
"You're still taking that stance!?"
Laharl grimaced and ran away from the pursuing sisters.
Next Time's Preview12
- ^ The word for "alien" is 宇宙人 uchuujin, literally "space person," which is probably why Laharl makes this remark.
- ^ She's cut off before reaching the verb, but the wording indicates Laharl did something for her.
- ^ Ironically, this is homophonous with Japanese for "easy." Also, I'm not convinced Etna doesn't remember.
- ^ I'm assuming this is some sort of bald joke.
- ^ The Japanese idiom for this actually includes the phrase "hundredth year," triggering Laharl's next remark.
- ^ "Effect" is homophonous with the characters for "light" and "change." How Flonne can tell he has the kanji wrong, I don't know.
- ^ The word used here is 戦隊 sentai.
- ^ This is a shortened version of a phrase that translates to "Thank you for your continued patronage."
- ^ "Creator" is written 造物主 zoubutsushu, and Flonne is mishearing it as 臓物酒 zoumotsushu.
- ^ She uses the word from English, レア rea.
- ^ This is precisely the same as Mid-Boss's line in the game, which was simply "We will be watching you" in the English.
- ^ In the Japanese the title of Etna's series is お金の魔術師 okane no majutsushi, which sounds quite a bit like 鋼の錬金術師 hagane no renkinjutsushi — Fullmetal Alchemist.