“So,” Fiora began. “Klaus is alive.”
Shulk nodded. “Living in… another universe.”
“And he wants to meet us,” Alvis finished.
The three fell into silence, pondering. In truth, there only was one answer, really; Shulk was getting very bored of doing nothing but fixing stuff all the time, Fiora missed travelling, and Alvis was just… Alvis, really. A journey would solve all of their problems. What was a small visit to a maybe-dead God along the way?
“Ah, fuck it,” Fiora decided for them, immediately going to pack their bags. “We’re going. Let’s go.”
Neither Shulk nor Alvis had any reason to argue.
Pneuma gritted her teeth, a rare show of Mythra’s irritability cracking through her self-control. “Why won’t this thing work?!” she exclaimed, resisting the urge to slam on these damn elevator controls in Morytha that refused to answer her very clear request to open—
“Here,” someone said—Pneuma looked up, because she did not recognise that voice whatsoever, and came face-to-face with some silver-haired guy that she had never seen before in her entire life. Behind him were two blondes, a male and a female; but before Pneuma had the chance to get a good read on them, the silver-haired guy was pushing her out of the way and fiddling with the controls. “Let me.”
Pneuma furrowed her eyebrows, looking back to Rex in a shared glance of what the hell is up with this guy…?
“Uh,” Pneuma said awkwardly, trying to interject herself into the situation. “That thing isn’t gonna work for anyone other than an Aegis, and I don’t—”
“Administrator recognised: Ontos. Activating elevator to Rhadamanthus…”
Pneuma blinked, Pyra’s confusion and Mythra’s frustration all rolling into one in her stomach at the voice emanating from the control unit. “What—?”
The blonde girl shrugged, resting her hands on the back of her head as she strolled past them into the elevator. “We have something of an invitation. Think Klaus’ll mind if we bring along a plus-one, or, uh,” she paused, taking a moment to count heads, “plus-ten?”
“A plus-ten is the least Klaus can do for us,” the blonde guy said, filing into the elevator as well and motioning for everyone to join him. In lieu of anything else to do, Pneuma followed. “That, and let me punch him in the face.”
The blonde girl grinned, nodding. “I’m so looking forward to that shin-kick I’m gonna give him.”
Silver-hair rolled his eyes, smiling nonetheless. “You two are far too soft on him. I think he deserves more than a black-eye and a bruised shin.”
Blonde-hair-dude winced. “I guess,” he said. “But I’d feel bad if we were violent and he turned out not to be. Plus, we already killed him once, right?”
Pneuma shared a look with Nia, begging for some sort of explanation. Nia shrugged and looked at the trio with a strange mix of incredulity and fear.
And so began the long, long, and very awkward elevator ride to the top of the World Tree.
Zeke and Pandy stepped forward for their introductions, grinning, striking matching poses—
“And I am Zeke—otherwise known as the Zekenator! This is my wonderful Blade, Pandy—”
The blonde girl—Fiora, Mòrag reminded herself—gasped. “No way…” A grin broke out on her face. “You’re the Thunderbolt Zeke?”
Pandy gasped. “My prince, your legend— It’s spreading!”
“Aha! Glad to see people finally recognising my influence,” Zeke said, grinning.
Confusion fluttered over Shulk’s face for a moment, before he appeared to catch on, and turned to Fiora in shock. “You mean— that Thunderbolt Zeke? The one whose legends are only equal to those of the Legendary Heropon, Riki, himself?”
Mòrag heaved a great sigh, resisting the urge to sink into the ground. These three knew of Zeke…? Architect help them all.
Zeke frowned, tilting his head comically. “The Legendary Heropon?”
Alvis perked up then, bringing a thoughtful hand up to his chin. “Perhaps it is not a legend spoken of here… But where we are from, it is said that the Legendary Heropon, Riki, has struck down even the most fearsome of beasts—not just beasts, Gods, even—with naught but a mere biter and the strength of his will to see him through the fight.”
Fiora nodded sagely. “And he has a heart so pure, too… It is said that even the cruellest of beings will have a change of heart after so much as coming into contact with the Legendary Heropon, Riki.”
“You know, once I heard the story of a Nopon girl who was rescued by the Legendary Heropon, Riki,” Shulk said—Fiora’s and Alvis’ gazes snap to him instantly, shocked. “She was—”
“—Hey!” Zeke interrupted. A comical look of betrayal was laid so thick in his eyes that Mòrag had to stifle a laugh at the ridiculous sight of it. “I thought that this was about me!”
Fiora winced. “Ah, I’m sorry…” she said, turning sheepish. “I guess that compared to the Legendary Heropon, Riki, you aren’t that legendary at all.”
Zeke gaped like a fish.
“Yeah, y’know, I’m kinda inclined to agree,” Pandoria spoke up, eliciting a startled laugh from Mòrag. “This Legendary Heropon, Riki, guy seems much more noble than you—”
“Pandy! Even you’d betray me like this?!
“So, are you guys… Drivers?” Rex asked, awkwardly, trying to make some sort of conversation. Well, he supposed they didn’t really look like Drivers, but…
Shulk blinked. “What’s a Driver, again—?”
Alvis rubbed at his forehead. “We’ve been over this, Shulk. Drivers are people who partner with Blades and can awaken Blades from their core crystals. We have been in this world for nearly two months.”
“In my defence, we spent most of our time lost in Leftheria—”
Fiora sighed. “And whose fault was that for breaking the GPS?”
“The GPS didn’t work in the first place! I was just trying to fix it!”
Rex stared blankly at the trio, and quietly sank into the background, accepting that the topic of conversation had long past—and that attempting to return to it now was futile. Maybe finding out if they were Drivers wasn't that important, anyway.
The blonde guy—Shulk, Nia remembered from their, uh, eventful introductions—breathed out a long sigh, electing to sit cross-legged on the floor of the moving elevator.
“I hate lifts,” he complained, before looking up at, uh, Fiora(?). “These ones are even worse than the ones in the Mechonis. How long until we’re at the top?”
Fiora shrugged. “Maybe another ten or fifteen minutes?” she said, without even looking up. Nia frowned. How would she have any idea? “Hey, at least we didn’t have to individually activate each and every lift switch.”
Shulk groaned. “At least that was interesting. This is just boring. Klaus better have a good reason for this…”
Alvis rolled his eyes, a smile growing on his lips. “Have patience, Shulk—”
“Can’t you just teleport us all up there?” Shulk interrupted.
Nia tilted her head, suddenly interested—this elevator ride was far too awkward for her liking, and a sudden teleport would make things so much nicer for them all. Alvis, however, shrugged. “Well, I could,” he said, and a hopeful smile grew on Shulk’s lips, “but. That would then bring up the question of why we didn’t teleport here in the first place instead of travelling through the Cloud Sea for over two months, which, frankly, I am not willing to answer.”
Shulk and Fiora turned to him, betrayal thick in their eyes.
“You mean we could’ve just—?!”
“Why are you trusting us?” Brighid asked Alvis, frowning. “You three are here on your own business—to see this Klaus. For all you know, we could be here to harm this Klaus.”
Alvis was silent for a moment, before shrugging as he inspected his nails. They were painted pink, Brighid noticed. A good colour choice. “Good riddance, that would be,” he finally decided upon saying. “You’d probably be doing this world a favour.”
Brighid stared at him as if the guy was insane. Which, from the actions of he and his friends thus far, she had very little evidence against.
“Alright, nice meeting you guys!” Fiora called as the trio walked away. “See you!”
Rex stared after them, confused. “Aren’t you guys gonna stay with us…?”
“Nope,” Shulk said, sending a short wave back. “Sorry. We’ve got a God to meet, like, now. See you round!”
Shock filled his chest, and his eyes bugged out. “Uh— what do you mean, God—?!” he tried to ask, but received no answer. “Hey!”
But still, they did not turn back.
“Man, those guys are weird…” Rex muttered to himself.
Nia snorted. “Tell me about it.”
Nia sighed, looking around at their surroundings yet again. It still looked like the same place. Everywhere in this damn place looked the same, and she was getting bloody sick of it—
A familiar voice drifted through the halls, and Nia turned her attention to that.
“Why are you writing a note…?”
A sigh, followed by a familiar female voice. “I figure we should take pity on them. It’s almost sad seeing them try find their way through this place.”
Nia bristled. Who the hell did that person think they were, saying that—
“Hey, it’s not their fault that they don’t know the code for the doors here.”
As in, the doors weren’t completely useless…?!
Nia gritted her teeth, and stormed off to the source of the voice, darting her way through the corridors—ignoring the calls of her friends telling her not to run off by herself, because she was pissed, dammit—and finally stumbling upon a closed door, with a small yellow paper note sitting on top of the keypad.
the code for the doors here is 46290
Nia narrowed her eyes at the piece of paper, and hesitantly entered the numbers into the keypad.
...Just like that, the door opened.
Nia crushed the piece of paper in her hand. The small sliver of satisfaction made it worth it.
Malos watched, unmoving, as three people that he had never seen before strolled into the Architect’s hiding place.
Father smiled faintly at them. “Ah—Shulk, Fiora, Alvis,” he greeted, nodding to each of them in turn, “welcome.”
Shulk (or so Malos presumed—the blonde guy, in any case) stomped over to the Architect, drew back his fist, and—
“—Hey, kid,” Malos said, figuring that he should at least warn him before he embarrassed himself. “That’s not gonna work—”
—Punched the Architect right in the face, a sickening crack reverberating through the room.
Malos’ eyebrows rose. Huh…
“That,” Shulk gritted out, barely restrained anger in his voice, “was for killing me as a kid, possessing me, manipulating my thoughts for fourteen years so I'd hate Mechonis, killing me again when I was eighteen, and sucking so much at being a God that I had to take over and do your job for you. And for making Dickson my dad.”
Malos’ eyebrows rose impossibly further up. So. His dearest Father was quite the guy, huh?
He shrugged. He couldn’t say he was particularly surprised, given that his entire purpose was to destroy this place, but something bugged at him—
“So you’d let him punch you, but you won’t let me—?!” he exclaimed.
“These three are invited guests, Logos,” Father said, unlike you ringing through the air, as he held a hand to his single eye. Satisfaction was written all over Shulk’s face. Malos could approve of the attitude, honestly. “And they have every reason to punch me in the face, and more— Agh—!”
He was cut off as the girl, Fiora, strolled over and kicked him viciously in the shin. Even Malos winced. “And that’s for all the shit you did to the Mechonis,” she said. “And to Egil, and to the High Entia, and for calling sentient life a mistake, and for only creating life in the first place because you didn’t want to die. I hope that you were less of a selfish dickhead to this universe.”
Father wheezed out a breath, then nodded. "Noted."
Malos looked over to the silver-haired guy, Alvis, in question. “Aren’t you gonna stop ‘em?”
Alvis shrugged. “You know what Homs are like,” he said—but Malos did not, in fact, know what Homs were like, “tenacious types, them. Best to let them do what they want.”
Father grimaced, sporting a shiner of a black eye and a rapidly blossoming bruise on his shin. Malos didn’t think that injuries were supposed to appear that quickly, but considering that this guy was God, it probably wasn’t much worth dwelling on.
“Noted,” Malos said.
He quietly left the room when the conversation stopped being interesting. Seeing some kids beat up his dad was fun, sure, but he had a world to destroy.
“You’ve been quiet, Poppi,” Brighid pointed out, “Are you alright? Did those three freak you out?”
Poppi shook her head, instead raising her arm and grinning. “Poppi is fine! Poppi just quiet in knowledge that she is best,” she said.
Brighid smiled, patting her on the shoulder. “Right you are. Come on.”
Of all the possible appearances Pneuma ever imagined her father having, this… certainly wasn’t close to any of them. Long blonde hair, wrinkles marring every inch of his skin—that much she could understand. But the weird technology in his skin? The massive black hole replacing the right half of his body? And, more importantly…
“Father, why do you have a black eye…?”
Father winced. “I invited some guests, recently,” he said, and immediately her mind went back to that strange trio from before—did they…?
Pneuma frowned. “And the bruise on your shin…?”
“The same guests. Do not worry, these were… a long time coming,” Father said, grimacing, before muttering under his breath, “that Fiora girl really does know her way around a shin-kick. Galea chose well.”
Pneuma frowned at him. What the hell was he talking about?
Father shook his head. “However, that is not relevant. Now, then, shall we get onto the explanations?” he asked. “God, I should have just asked all of you to arrive together, this is the third explanation today…”
“Third…?” Pneuma repeated. And wasn’t it a little strange for him to be using God as a saying—wasn’t he God?
Father shook his head, and went into a long story about the world, its creation, and all the mortal enemies he made along the way.