The pain shooting through Shulk’s body was indescribable. Pushed back onto a jagged rock by a monster, feeling his side rip opening. Watching the blood and some of his innard begin spilling to the side… It felt as if he didn’t actually exist in that moment. Didn’t exist as the wound was torn further.
Egil was at his side, he noted through the pain, the monster’s last squeals of life leaving him dizzy. Egil was holding him gently, trying to hold in everything spilling out of Shulk’s body, to no avail.
He looked panicked and Shulk was honestly scared, too. He was going to die, and it was going to be permanent this time, wasn’t it?
“Egil.” Even knowing that, his thoughts went elsewhere. “Promise me you won’t do anything to make you hate yourself more.”
“What?” Egil was shaking, Shulk noted vaguely. “What do you mean, Shulk?”
“I don’t want you… to eviscerate me to save me, if it’ll make you feel worse.” He let out a sigh. “Just tell everyone else I’ll miss them, okay…?”
“Shulk? Shulk…!” He shook his shoulders, but it was getting hard to stay awake. “Stay with me, just a while longer…”
Shulk had stopped talking halfway back to Egil’s lab, and had stopped breathing at the doorstep. Egil held him close, ignoring the trail of blood that had followed as he carried the Homs to an operating table.
He had studied the Face Pilot blueprints since Shulk first brought up the idea of being turned into something similar, had them burned into his head from the past operations. As he looked down at Shulk, feelings evaporating, there was only one thing for certain.
Running a hand through Shulk’s hair, he ignored how it shook. “I will save you, Shulk. You won’t go dying on me yet.”
Calm, he had to be calm. No shaking hands, shaking hands could lead to him only making it worse. He would treat this as he had treated any other Face Pilot. And, as with any of those, the first step was tearing him to shreds .
When Shulk awoke, he could tell something was strange. He felt so heavy, lethargic… Was this what being dead felt like? The feeling of a final death?
He sat up with a groan, rubbing his eyes…
And that was when he realized he wasn’t dead.
He pulled his hands away, staring at them. Hands blue and silver metal, reminding him of Fiora’s hands when she was a Face Pilot. He put the hands on his body… Firm as hers had been, too.
He had been operated on, no longer just a Homs. Despite his pleas to Egil to not do that. This was what he had wanted, but… Was it what Egil had wanted? Had his hand been forced?
“Shulk…” He was pulled from his thoughts by Egil’s voice, shaking. “You’re awake.”
He looked to Egil and he looked so exhausted , as if he hadn’t slept since Shulk had died. And he wouldn’t look directly at Shulk, always diverting his gaze when Shulk tried to meet his eyes. Biting his lip, nervous and guilty.
“I am awake…” He stood, stumbling on his new feet a bit. “You… turned me into this?”
“I didn’t want to lose you, not… not so soon.” Egil shook his head. “I know Homs don’t live long, but the idea of even that being shortened… I couldn’t stand it.”
“Egil…” He kept his voice soft as he stepped forward. “Thank you, for saving my life.”
“Look…” He put his hand on Egil’s chest. “I can still touch you, still talk to you. And you did what I asked you to, a while back…”
He looked to the side, where a mirror stood. The first thing he noted was the added height, the mechanical feet of his body rocking heels. He saw that was just part of Egil’s design flare, then…
The chassis was made of blue and silver metal, and had an intact stomach area like Fiora. No stomach hole for storage like Mumkhar or Gadolt would have had, then… But that was probably for the best.
He liked the body, if he was being honest. He almost wanted to pull himself apart to study all of it, but if he said that, he felt it may cause some… not-so-great feelings for everyone involved, so he kept it to himself.
Instead, he looked back to Egil, a smile on his face. “And now we kind of match.”
“I suppose so.” Egil nodded, wringing his hands together. “I hope the… color is alright. I remembered you mentioning it to be your favorite, and took the liberty of--”
“Egil.” He held up a hand, smiling. “It’s perfect, thank you.”
“Ah, of course.”
“But now… for the hardest question.” Shulk sucked in a breath. “Does anyone else know?”
“...They all do.” His voice was quiet. “They saw the blood trailing… they walked in as I was finishing the procedure.”
Shulk hummed and nodded, thinking about that for a moment. “...Were they mad at you?”
“They were horrified, demanded an explanation.” Egil let out a long suffering sigh. “I simply told them the truth, and hoped they would believe me.”
“Well?” He looked at him, head tilted to the side. “Did they believe you?”
“After much screaming and Fiora beating on my legs like I had said I ripped your head off myself, yes.” He let out a small chuckle. “Funnily enough it was Sharla to see reason first and calm the others.”
“Really?” Shulk whistled. “Maybe you’re finally starting to grow on her, Egil!”
He waved a hand in the air. “I wouldn’t go that far. She still told me she would be keeping an eye on us from here on out.”
“That’s just Sharla being Sharla.” Shulk snorted. “...How are they taking it?”
“They’re camping outside of the lab, waiting for you to open your eyes.” He turned to look at him, holding out a hand. “Shall we go? Fiora said she was going to have quite a bit to say to you when she got to see the new body of yours.”
Shulk took it, a smile on his face. “Let’s, I just hope it isn’t too much for my newly-resurrected self.”
Egil rolled his eyes, but Shulk could see the small smile on his face. “You slayed a god after dying once, you can handle your friends crowing you a bit.”
“Hey! An angry Fiora and Reyn are scarier than Zanza ever could be!”
“Oh my.” Egil clicked his tongue. “I suppose I should be more afraid of Homs than I thought.”
Shulk snickered, free hand against his mouth. “Maybe you should.”