The war hadn’t been easy, up to that point, but they had made it. Not together, and not whole, but they had made it all the same.
Tanya, Viktoriya, Rerugen, and the scattered portions of the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion had made it that far. As needed, their number had been divided or split up, to spread their ability or to train the next generation of mages, but the best of them had stayed together, fighting side-by-side until the death.
In Dacia. The Legadonia Entente. The François Republic. Throughout the Southern Continent, and even as far as the Russy Federation. Tanya had even flown to ‘Akitsushima’ for a few days.
After her last… battle on the Eastern Front and her subsequent recovery, they had been given a bit of time off in one of the larger cities of the Empire, Dresdun, taking a day to rest. Tanya had been sure that as long as nothing unexpected had happened, they would have been able to survive the war, regardless of whether the Empire lost or won.
Regardless of the other members of the 203rd, all of whom Tanya was fond of, Tanya would have survived, no matter what. She had finally been given her choice of rear echelon positions, and any one of them were so close that she could taste the fine leather upholstery in the cushy offices behind lines.
She had been so close to securing her future and shoving a roughly-hewn wooden spike – roughly-hewn so that it had plenty of splinters – up Being X’s ass.
And then… it had ended.
She had been having a drink – an alcoholic one, finally – with the rest of her troops at a local pub, when an explosion sounded above her and a burning sensation had overtaken her body.
As her soul had fled her body, she had remembered the usage of firebombs in the Second World War and the devastation they had caused in Japan. It stood to reason that the Cordiale would use them on the Empire.
And now she was here. A black, endless void.
She clenched her teeth.
No, she had been so close. She had been so close to the rear, where she could survive.
Then, more thoughts occurred to her. She remembered those beyond her immediate person. Koenig. Viktoriya . Rerugen. Neumann. Grantz. All of them. They had died…
No. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t.
Tears stinging her eyes, she beat the floor she was sitting on. They weren’t supposed to die like that, miles behind lines. They were supposed to survive . She was supposed to foster their development and have their prowess reflect kindly on her.
She was supposed to protect people she had grown to call friends in the privacy of her mind.
She sat there, feeling quite numb. Her friends – dare she think it, her family – were gone. Burned to cinders or choking to death on ash.
Tanya took a deep breath. No, she couldn’t have a breakdown in enemy territory. Not now. She needed to figure out what that thing’s game was, and she needed to fight it.
She knew that, in a straight fight, she didn’t stand a chance against him. He could pause time like she was nothing but a cheaply-made cartoon. His apparent obsession with turning her into his prophet was one of her only assurances that he wouldn’t just toss her into hell and be done with her.
Regardless, she’d resist and spite him, as she always had, for as long as he took to admit to himself she wasn’t ever joining him.
With that thought, she took stock of her surroundings and immediately ran what she personally liked to call her ‘diagnostic check.’ It reminded her of the technology of her first life, and it was much less disheartening than calling it a ‘post-crisis checkup on her health and sanity.’
She looked down at herself, hoping that she might have her old body back.
No, still the body of a sixteen-year-old underfed girl. She sighed, and surveyed the body she still had. The Type 95 hadn’t decided to move, either.
Well, she still had that cursed piece of jewelry, not that she’d activate it in his presence. She continued to look around, to see if she had anything besides what was on her.
Nope. She only had a few medals, a rumpled uniform, and…
Tanya groaned and fought the urge to curl into a ball. Now, she’d have to try and fight a being of incredible power without a gun. Sure, she could use her fingers, hands, and arms as scepters to channel mana instead of her guns, but she’d have to rely on pure formulas instead of bullets, and if she messed up a particularly powerful one, well…
She’d end up as an amputee.
She chuckled mirthlessly to herself. As if she’d even get the chance to take a shot at him. Her situation was hopeless.
Viktoriya’s face flashed through her mind, and Tanya took a deep breath.
Tanya would fight. If not for her own survival – because that wasn’t happening – then to avenge her faithful adjunct and her friends.
She scoffed. Had she really become the firebrand soldier bent on fighting any battle, no matter how hopeless, that she had tried to make everyone think she was? No, she had just grown personally invested in those around her instead of only caring for herself, which was completely understandable considering how much effort she had poured into them.
Finished surveying her available resources, she looked around, into the black, inky void, wondering if this was some sort of purgatory where she’d slowly be driven mad by her own mind. It didn’t seem like some sort of eternal damnation, like Being X had promised so many years ago.
She was still alert, of course. This could be some sort of test. What the thing was testing for, she couldn’t fathom, but she’d play his game. For now.
Grimacing, she chose to travel in the direction she thought she had been facing when she had arrived. Hopefully, she’d find… something while walking.
Unknown to the misplaced protagonist was a simple fact: Being X was taking the day off.
No directing mortals, no taunting The Atheist, no having to deal with the various deities, no worrying about The Atheist getting to safety and out from under his heavenly thumb, no having to try and brainstorm ways of saving…
Well. He wasn’t doing anything stressful. Nothing like that.
Just one day to relax and try to find some peace.
Naturally, everything had happened while he was gone.
Without his careful guidance, the mortals’ firebombs had been used on the city of Dresdun, the place he was allowing his lost lamb to rest before he began the next round of attempted conversions, instead of some other city closer to their frontlines.
And with their attack, they had killed The Atheist.
Not that Being X knew yet. He was trying to take a nap.
Tanya continued to look around, unaware of her nemesis’s sabbatical, and she eventually found a small area lit by some sort of overhead light. There were two chairs, a dark brown one and a light one. There was a desk next to the light chair, and a girl sitting in the chair, dozing.
Tanya slowly crept into the edge of the light, wary of a trap. She looked at the girl sitting in the chair.
The girl seemed to be beautiful, by western standards. She had a full chest, wore slightly revealing clothing, and had shockingly blue hair. She was currently hugging the light blue hagoromo that seemed to be trying to float in the air.
She also reeked of mana. It was on a scale that Tanya had only known in Being X and, when they prayed, herself and the so-called ‘Bloody Valkyrie.’ Tanya chuckled when she thought of that girl.
Her thoughts slowly spiraled towards what had happened after she’d killed her. The fall, her capture, her r-
She shook her head and bit down on the inside of her cheek. She wouldn’t allow memories of the past to distract her, not here. Never, if she could help it…
Back on track, Tanya continued to study the girl, for a moment. Then her eyes began to drift down, to the creamy expanses of-
Tanya violently shook her head, biting her tongue this time. She wouldn’t fall prey to and be distracted by the hormone-driven thoughts that puberty and her sexual preferences had been inflicting on her for three years, either.
She had better things to do – like trying to survive – than to let her thoughts stray in the middle of enemy territory.
After taking a calming breath, Tanya activated a few basic Observation formulas that she could utilize without needing a Computation Jewel. She searched the chairs, the ground, around the girl, and everywhere in sight that wasn’t the inky expanse that surrounded them.
She found nothing that might resemble a trap or illusion. She found nothing at all, in fact. Nothing indicated this was a trap, or that Being X was nearby.
She had memorized his mana signature the one time her Type 97 had been nearby during one of his ‘sermons,’ and the memory of that signature was the only reason she hadn’t immediately assumed that he had reincarnated himself into the form of the Bloody Valkyrie upon her repeated meetings with that crazy madwoman.
Still suspicious – what if the girl turned out to be some sort of fighting machine? – she walked closer to the girl. The possible lackey didn’t move, or even seem to notice Tanya’s presence.
Tanya nodded – she hadn’t been rendered unconscious by the girl yet – and she snapped her fingers in front of the girls face. She needed answers, and-
Raising an eyebrow, she began to poke the girl, who remained unmoving. Tanya tilted her head in confusion, and pressed her finger into the girl’s cheek.
She still wasn’t waking up. Tanya furrowed her eyebrows as she tried to think of a way to wake her up.
Tanya shrugged as she raised a hand. It wasn’t her fault the girl was such a monumentally heavy sleeper.
Tanya’s hand fell, and a loud smack issued from the point of impact. A mark stained the cheek of the girl, who remained unmoving, besides a slight shift in position.
Tanya stared at her own hand, trying not to get whiplash from glancing between it and the girl.
Had… had she even hit her, or was she hallucinating this entire experience?
Now wary of the sleeping embodiment of blue, she enhanced her arm, hand, and upper body with mana. The Reinforcement formulas were, when kept weak, some of the easiest to do without a Computation Jewel.
“Here goes nothing,” Tanya muttered, lashing out with as much power allowed to her by her mana and body.
The girl was sent sprawling and hit the ground, rolling for a few feet. Seemingly immune to the damage that Tanya had imparted to her, she yawned, and rubbed her eyes as she sat up.
“Stupid Eris…” the girl muttered, grumbling as she sat up.
Scowling, the girl looked back at where she’d been resting, finally noticing Tanya, and tilted her head. “Wait, you’re not Eris. Who are you?”
Years of military training and the subsequent years of her identity being doubted – she didn’t exactly look the part of a hardened war veteran, let alone a military officer – snapped into her mind, and Tanya quickly gave a salute. “Major-General Tanya Degurechaff, commander of the 203rd-”
The girl cut her off, tilting her head, an expression of mild interest coloring her face. “Wait, some war world is using child soldiers now?”
Tanya stopped her explanation abruptly. This girl…
She was, no doubt, related to Being X. The woman knew there were multiple worlds or dimensions, even if she wasn’t him.
“How…?” Tanya began to ask, eyes narrowed in suspicion, when the girl cut her off with a negligent wave of her hand.
“I suppose you wouldn’t know,” the girl said, clearing her throat, “but I am Aqua, a goddess who guides humans who die young to the afterlife.” She supplied this fact simply while standing and walking to her chair.
She paused, and Tanya had to fight to contain her palpable anger. Another being that claimed to be god?
In her first life, Tanya had loudly declared her disbelief in god. She hadn’t thought that god would come down to lecture a middle class office worker on their lack of faith, and she had told that being, to his face, that he wasn’t what he claimed to be.
She had spent every moment of the next near sixteen years regretting that decision. She had had to grow up in a knockoff version of Germany and had to fight as a child soldier with magic.
She wouldn’t be repeating that mistake again, no thank you. She might have made some wonderful friends along the way, but she did not like having to play Being X’s games.
No, instead, she’d see what this… Aqua had to say, and then she would leave her in the dust if she couldn’t make herself useful.
Unaware of Tanya’s thoughts, Aqua had been looking for something, searching the scant furniture for something that wasn’t there. “Usually,” she commented, “whenever one of you gets here, I get a book that tells me your entire lifelong sob story, but I can’t find it…”
Unknown to Tanya, Being X had, once more, been the cause of this. He’d locked up the file of The Atheist when she had been reincarnated, to make sure that none of the others tried something. There were far too many trickster Gods and chaos Goddesses and annoying-son-of-a-bitch Deities that might try to mess with his plans simply because they could.
And, while Aqua knew the files were locked up, she didn’t know that the puny, disgruntled, partially adorable girl in front of her was the fearsome Atheist.
The girl closed her eyes, and shrugged. “Well, what does it matter?” she said sitting on her chair, using the small table at her side as an armrest. “I don’t need your files in order to process you.”
Tanya was, honestly, personally offended by that. She might have gotten caught if this Aqua did have her book, obviously, but why wouldn’t this person care about making sure that things were working correctly?
She was probably some sort of reject.
Tanya smirked. Heh. Reject god.
Aqua continued. “You have two choices. You can choose to start over at square one with a new life, or you can go to Heaven and carry on like an old woman.”
Being X had lied to her, then. There was some sort of afterlife beyond reincarnation. Not that Tanya thought the bastard had been telling her the truth about most things that had spewed from his mouth, considering that he mostly ranted about how awesome he was and how doomed she’d be without him.
The girl leaned over conspiratorially, looked over her shoulders, and began to speak in a slightly lower but no less discernible voice. “To tell you the truth, Heaven isn’t the dreamy place you all imagine it to be.”
Tanya merely raised her eyebrows. She’d never imagined heaven.
“There’s no TV, manga, or games. You have no physical body, so you can’t do anything sexual.” Tanya’s anger spiked. How dare she remind her of-
Aqua just continued talking, ignorant of the angry whirlpool standing inches away. “There’s nothing to do but bask in the sun and sing the praises of the Gods for all eternity.” Tanya continued to glare. As if she’d ever sing the praises of any god.
The most she ever did was reluctantly scream them, when she wasn’t-
Tanya bit down on her cheek again. Not here. She wouldn’t remember here.
Mistaking the anger and fleeting panic on her face as shock, Aqua continued to speak. “Yeah, you don’t want to go to a boring place like Heaven, right?”
“Of course not!” Tanya snarled.
Aqua nodded. “On the other hand, starting over from square one isn’t so fun either.” Tanya looked down at her body. No, it wasn’t fun to be reincarnated, especially when you had your memories and were locked in a battle with a supremely powerful being.
She nodded hesitantly, a delicate looking eyebrow raised slowly. Aqua proceeded to lean into Tanya, almost yelling, “On that note, I’ve got a great offer for you.”
Thoughts crystallized in Tanya’s mind as she ignored the violation of her personal space.
Was she trying to sell something to Tanya?
Aqua definitely was. In fact, she was slightly panicking.
That book usually allowed her to formulate some sort of way to convince the gullible losers that came in here to do what she wanted.
Wondering how she would convince this girl to go fight the Demon King, Aqua looked down at her – it was hard not to – and noted the military gear and the bauble around her neck. It looked… magical.
Smiling sweetly, Aqua took a few steps away from the standing figure of Tanya. “You like having magic, right?”
Yeah. She was definitely trying to sell Tanya something.
Suppressing the urge to giggle at the thought that this reject goddess might get her to agree to something willingly before Being X ever did, she nodded and crossed her arms. She needed to appear that she was open to whatever idea this ‘Aqua’ was presenting.
She might as well hear it. Maybe it would be better than trying to sneak out of… wherever this was.
Not that Tanya would definitely bite. It would depend, of course, on what she offered and how this deal would be enforced.
She would listen to the girl, though. She seemed to be trying harder and more logically than Being X ever had. Tanya would give the girl a chance for that, if nothing else.
The girl struck a pose, and began to recite a speech that sounded like an ad for a crappy video game for a phone model that was three years old.
“That world, which had long enjoyed peace, is being threatened by the Demon King’s army,” she loudly declared, striking another pose, “Everyone lives in fear of the Demon King’s army’s merciless pillage and slaughter!” As she spoke, she made various gestures to drive home the point, and an additional, golden spotlight shined down as she finished.
The light faded, and she began to speak normally again. “Since that’s the sort of world it is, everyone refuses to be reborn, so the population is declining.”
Tanya internally rolled her eyes. If heaven could contain souls as they praised Being X for eternity, then there was likely a way to create new ones. Otherwise, the universe would have run out of them, eventually.
Probably. She didn’t have a lot of information to go on, but that would be her working assumption.
It was much more likely that the population was declining due to the fact that someone was terrorizing an area, killing thousands. People wouldn’t want their children to be born in a place where they could easily be killed, and would take measures to ensure that they didn’t end up pregnant.
“So we decided,” she explained, “‘Why not send people who have died in other worlds there with their bodies and memories intact?’”
An interesting proposition. Of course, the girl hadn’t gotten to the point of why she would want to start fighting, but Tanya was sure she’d get there eventually. Tanya nodded in comprehension, and the girl continued her speech.
“Additionally, I’ll be doing you a big favor.” Tanya looked up from where she had been mentally scheming, thinking about how fast she could rise in an army with the knowledge and experience she now held.
“I’m granting you the right to bring any one thing of your choosing with you. It could be a tremendous talent or a powerful weapon.” Tanya’s eyes widened.
Having something that she didn’t have to pray to Being X to utilize? Now that was tantalizing.
“You’ll be able to redo your life with all of your original memories. To top it off, you’ll be able to bring one thing of your choosing! And the people of the parallel world will earn them someone battle-ready to help them. Not a bad deal, don’t you think?”
Tanya nodded. This was a good deal for all of the parties involved. The gods also benefited, of course; they didn’t have to keep housing lazy squatters in heaven when they could be praying or spreading the faith.
But most of all, Tanya benefitted. She’d get another life and continue to spite Being X.
If he even knew where she was, anyway. He wasn’t interrupting this proceeding, so she would just marvel at her good fortune in the back of her mind.
The girl now stood, straighter and more serious than Tanya had seen her yet. Tanya steeled herself, curling her fists for a moment, before launching into her questions.
“Ma’am, I do have some questions. Will I keep this… magical focus of mine? I don’t really want to give it up…”
The girl waved her off. “I’m sure that nothing you smelly apes have created could possibly affect the system. You won’t have to give it up,” she said arrogantly.
Tanya smiled widely. Aqua thought the smile was created in thanks of her generosity, but any normal person could have told the goddess that the grin was, from one to ten, a fifty-three on any creepiness scale.
Tanya smoothed out her features, and began to speak again. “Another question. When you say ‘original memories’, do you mean the ones that I can remember now?”
She didn’t want to lose what she had remembered and learned in either of her lives.
Aqua rolled her eyes, seemingly annoyed that she had to answer these questions. “Yes, that’s what I meant. Sorry that you couldn’t keep up, little girl.”
Oh, how Tanya wished that she had her gun so she could split the head of this annoying girl open… or at least some way to contact an HR Department and get her fired for insulting a customer.
But she didn’t, and, more importantly, she needed this so-called ‘goddess.’
Tanya smiled. “I have one last question. What do I get out of this besides going to another world?”
This brought Aqua up short. Didn’t she think it was a privilege enough that she got to be reincarnated by her, Aqua?
She groaned, and began to answer the question. “Usually, we save this until you’re already leaving, but if you survive, you get one rule free wish.”
Well, now she had to go. Being reincarnated again might spite Being X, but if she did this, she’d get a single wish. She could do anything. Become immortal. Have her old body back. She could go back to her original life, or to her second life! She could…
She smiled. She could wish that Viktoriya and all the members of the 203rd were alive, or even that the World War hadn’t happened. She could-
Tanya’s eyes widened and she took a deep breath.
She could even take direct revenge on Being X.
All of her second life, it had been her goal to get to the rear and spite Being X by surviving and being reincarnated. As she’d come to command her troops, those closest and most loyal to her had been worked into her plan. She’d wanted to take as many of them as she could with her.
She wouldn’t just spite that once unassailable Being.
No, she could exact her revenge, pound for pound, blood for blood, every single pain and embarrassment for something equally bad.
And, if this new world proved to be too dangerous, she could just run away. She wouldn’t have any documentation, and could likely just fly to some other country.
A wide, insane grin split Tanya’s face. “What are you waiting for, Aqua? Show me- ”
Then Tanya stopped, and the grin fell. What would stop them from simply going back on their deal?
Aqua, oblivious to the fact that the nasty smile on the human’s face had not been one of awe, began to groan. How did she still have questions?
Suspicious once more, Tanya glared at the being. “Wait, how can I ensure that you won’t back out of the deal once this ‘Demon King’ is dead?” she asked, staring at the blue beauties face.
The, apparently welcoming this question, rushed over to her table, from which she pulled out what looked like a pamphlet. “This is a contract. In essence, it details what you need to do, what we’ll do, and how this process will work.
Smirking, Tanya ripped the thing out of the girl’s hands. She’d be studying that. “Alright, now I’m done. Proceed with the theatrics,” she said with a small motion from her hand.
Aqua, relieved that the annoying girl was done, went on to the next stage. “Wonderful! Now, chose! I’ll grant you one power that is second to none!”
Tanya had figured out a few things.
Firstly, every single thing that Aqua offered was completely overpowered compared to anything she had ever heard of, excluding the cursed Type 95.
The blue brat – because that was what she was: an annoying, self-absorbed, water-themed brat – had kept badgering her to hurry up, spouting demeaning drivel to incentivize her.
It was getting on her nerves, but Tanya endured her annoying attempts to get her to hurry and suggested that she go back to sleep while she was choosing. Aqua had thought her suggestion was excellent and had promptly dozed off.
She’d tried to read the contract, but the pamphlet-sized housing for the contract was impossibly enormous. Whenever she turned a few pages, preceding pages would disappear and new ones appeared in their place, creating something that was a few hundred pages long, at least.
She had gotten to the parts she was interested in, however.
She had to stop the Demon King, or the contract would kill her.
Or, at the very least, she had to side with whoever opposed him. There were quite a few loopholes she could see from even the first few pages, but considering the fact that Being X was overworked by his failed business model, she guessed that he wouldn’t be able to write a foolproof contract.
This meant that she could abandon the fight against this person, as long as she helped the people opposing him from time to time. That went for her new ‘Divine Relic’ as well, if she didn’t fight the person…
It would disappear. She wondered if it would also take her Type 95 – and that would be a good thing, considering she literally couldn’t get rid of it. She had tried to damage the thing with knives, but her body’s control was taken from her if she dared to try. When she’d tried to toss it into some unnamed river deep in Russy territory after-
She shook her head and ignored her most recent horrible memories and focused back on her situation.
The wish was enforced by heaven’s mana, and couldn’t be surpassed by anything. If the wish was voided, then she, as the Reincarnated, would be free to go and no longer beholden to the contract, and heaven would face serious… repercussions.
With that over with, she had started to survey the veritable flood of overpowered… things.
Because it wasn’t just weapons. There was clothing and armor, abilities that sounded fanciful, and even race changes. This world, it seemed, would be much more diverse than her second one.
In that world, it was just humans, as far as humans could tell. Here, there were apparently elves, dwarves, beastmen, and all sorts of other things.
But, eventually, she whittled down her choices to simply three.
Her first option was a power boost. It was probably the best for ensuring her own survival, regardless of whatever happened.
The paper that described the object was titled ‘Circlet of Greatness.’ When activated, it boosted whatever the wearer’s best attribute was by a factor of ten.
Tanya was salivating at the thought of how much mana she would have access to. The downside was that it would also devalue the wearer’s worst attribute by that same factor.
‘You might have the charisma of a god, but if your stamina’s lacking, even charisma won’t help you,’ was the tagline of the card. Tanya had grumbled about extremely powerful perverted beings upon reading that and thought of the practical applications instead.
Sure, her physical capabilities wouldn’t be wonderful , but she’d have so much mana, she didn’t think that anything could kill her, besides Being X.
Not having to pray to Being X every other week and losing her memory would be nice, as well. With that much power, the Type 95 wouldn’t be necessary for much.
Of course, wearing something that looked like a crown might get her a few odd looks, but she was sure she’d be able to wear a hat over it or something.
The next thing she could get was far more… indulgent than the first.
It was a skill called ‘Shapeshifting.’ The more she powered it up, the more she could change her body.
Early stuff would be hair and eye color, with bone structure and muscle density would follow. The final abilities included being able to make pieces of your body into weapons and armor. It seemed good, but Tanya liked being away from the danger, and this ability seemed to lend itself to stealth or physical fighting.
On the other hand, this could help her escape, if need be. She could become anyone and everyone.
And, of course, she could look and feel like her old self again. Which was a big plus.
The last option she had thought of was probably against the rules, but she included it nevertheless.
As Aqua had said that she could take anything that she saw before her, Tanya had thought to take the self-proclaimed goddess with her. Sure, she was more than a little annoying, but Tanya had labeled everyone who wasn’t a superior or trying to be the ideal soldier in the last life annoying, for a time.
She’d even thought that about innocent Viktoriya, when they hadn’t known each other well.
How bad could she be once they got to know each other?
Besides, regardless of her ability to connect with the goddess, the practical bonuses of having someone as powerful as her should outweigh the possible negatives.
As she deliberated, mind whirling between possibilities where each of the things she could take with her, she reached a decision.
Tanya stood, and walked over to Aqua. She nudged her, and she rose easily this time. Tanya didn’t really want to slap her anymore. She didn’t want to risk this opportunity.
Aqua looked around worriedly, probably concerned that that Eris person, likely some other powerful being, was there. Her dark blue eyes met Tanya’s vivid blue ones. “Oh, it’s just you,” she said. She sat up straighter in her chair, and whined, “Do you have more stupid questions, little girl? I really-”
Tanya snarled out a response. “No, you-!” She calmed down, and bit out a response between clenched teeth. “I’ve made my decision.”
She seemed relieved. “Finally. So what have you chosen?”
A/N 1: Well, here it is. After nearly a year of work, I’ve finished a chunk of this story and have finally worked up the courage to post it.
“This is all you have to show for a year of work?” might be your question, and to that I say:
I have over thirty six chapters backlogged, along with a handful of Omakes. We’ve got OCs, a vast timeline of every event to happen in Konosuba, and way too much time spent doing this.
Lol oh well. I hope you’re enjoying this, please leave a comment – it will probably give me the power to write, like, twenty more chapters – and tell me what you want her to choose.
It won’t impact the story – I decided over a year ago, remember? – but I want to know what you all think she’ll pick.
Oh right. I’m releasing the first ten chapters at once, so I hope you enjoy the beginning - and this image!