Rating: PG-13 i guess
Warnings: nothing rly.
Notes: previous chapters up here! finalized version will be posted to FFNet later. also what? a new chapter so soon? consisting of entirely original content? NO WAI.
Episode 015 – Between Heaven and Earth! The Tale Engraved in the Lines!
The sword was raised up, and they couldn’t move. Even with the head turned away from them, and that terrible, terrible eye no longer staring at them (past them, not even seeing them), they couldn’t move. Even when Rockman’s body was engulfed in a pillar of white-yellow light, they didn’t move, only reeling back in shock as it blocked off all their vision.
When they could see again, they recoiled in shock on seeing that the armor had disappeared, and only Rockman himself was standing over Condor, his back still facing towards them. It took them a few moments to process what had just happened.
“He…he dispelled Berserk’s power on his own?” Harp Note mumbled incredulously. Never before had she seen him do that-the power of Berserk had seemed to come and go as it pleased, and she had never seen Rockman with any semblance of control over it until the fight today. Even I he did have some control over Berserk that Harp Note wasn’t aware of, the way it had so easily overpowered him back at Dombra Lake, even communicated itself through him…honestly, seeing Rockman able to do this was a surprise (a pleasant sight, but still a surprise). But before she could rush over to him to make sure he was really alright, a bright yellow mass of denpa materialized next to him, sparking angrily.
“What do you mean by this, child?!” it exclaimed, a horrible medley of voices crying out. “The insolence of subverting our will-!”
Was this…Berserk? Was this what Rockman constantly had to deal with? Somehow, seeing it, hearing it in person..it made all of her please sound like empty nothings against some implacable force like that…
“Listen to us, boy! This scum of the Shinobi, it…!”
“…That’s enough, Berserk,” Rockman responded, more calmly than anyone had expected him to. After being so forcibly taken over, and in the aftermath of such a brutal fight…how could he face this thing (not even face it, he wasn’t even looking at it, dismissing it the same way it had dismissed them) in such a way?!
“You dare reprimand us? After condescending to use our power?!”
“I said I was willing to work with you to keep your power out of selfish hands, Berserk. So long as it doesn’t go out of control, and that others weren’t hurt beyond what was needed….I would have been fine with that. But…to go this far, just to satisfy your pride, to continue a grudge from a war that ended so long ago..I can’t let that sort of thing happen!”
“You…you would deny us our honor, to finish off that wretched being that caused such trouble?!”
“If he causes trouble again, we’ll stop him,” Rockman stated. “If we do what you want, we’ll be hypocrites, anyway.”
“What do you mean? Do you mean to make a fool out of us?” Berserk demanded. “We are above this lowly servant! We are gods above this common being, what we do matters not! Our honor as the tribe of Berserk is what matters most!”
“Look around you! Look at how scared everyone is of what you’re doing!” Rockman countered, his hand clenching into a fist. “Can you really say doing this stuff will bring you honor, when the reaction you’re getting is this?! It doesn’t make us any better than what Condor was doing just now!”
For once, Berserk was struck into silence by the child’s words. Still, Rockman continued to speak, still not turning around to look at anyone.
“To control people through fear…is not what a god does. That’s what I said, and to go back on that by causing needless death…I won’t do it, Berserk! I won’t use your power in such a way!”
“Talking about yourself this way…you would put yourself in such a position? Calling yourself by such a title in front of others?”
“You have no problem with doing it, do you? So quick to label yourself as a god after winning one battle, right? If one battle is enough, then don’t forget who defeated you!”
The words were surprisingly harsh coming from Rockman, but the clear emotion in his voice was heartfelt and genuine-his shoulders were shaking as he spoke his next words.
“I have a power that most people don’t have. The only reason I have it was because I wanted to protect someone…and I couldn’t do it alone, so War-Rock helped me. I got this power, so I help people who need it. That’s…that’s what a god is supposed to do, right? People ask gods to help because they have powers to do things they can’t, right?”
Rockman paused, then sighed.
“I’m not a god. I don’t get offerings or anything like that to ask for my help. But I help anyway. So a god, with more power than me, and more incentive…they should help, should rule by kindness rather than fear, I think…”
“Nonsense…” grumbled Berserk, but the voices were half-hearted and had no real force behind them. The OOPart’s materialized consciousness stewed in silence as Rockman got down on one knee in front of the red denpa bird who had yet to move. Instead, it had been staring up at Rockman the entire time, transfixed.
“When you’re like this, I don’t call you Condor Geograph, right?”
“No,” the being replied, sounding shocked at being addressed so formally. “I am designated as Condor, now.”
“Nnn, I thought so. And Condor…you served under the Shinobi, right?”
“Of course! I am, will always be, the servant of my people, the one who created me to observe and rule over others. Which is why I am surprised that you, child of Berserk, would even deem of treating me with anything even close to respect.”
“Child of…no, I’m not from…”
“Whether you are of Murian blood or not,” the bird continued sternly, “You have been touched by its power-indeed, to master and control it to such an extent as you have, you can no longer claim to be a neutral party in this war.”
Rockman paused, absorbing the sudden declaration before responding.
“No, I guess I can’t…not when the war you’re talking about isn’t going on anymore.”
“Blasphemy! The people of Mu have been warring since my creation-why else should I be reawakened but to serve out the task allotted to me, to control my assigned territory?”
“Condor…” Rockman gave the bird a sad glance before shaking his head. “It’s been a long time since you were made. The Mu…they’re not around anymore, at least not in a way to give you orders.”
“You lie! You seek to deceive me with your cruel words!” Even so, the bird’s voice faltered, unable to deny Rockman’s words. The boy had proved himself to be stronger, and by the laws ingrained into the denpa being, he had to accept those words as truth.
“Condor.” Rockman paused, not sure how to continue. “The Shinobi, as you knew them….they’re definitely not around, now. But they left their colonies and their culture and so many other things, so much information! And right now, there are people who want to use the Shinobi’s secrets for bad things. I need to be able to stop them. I need to get to the OOParts before they do. And right now, the Shinobi’s OOPart is the only one left. Everyone is going to go after it now…which means I don’t have much time left. If you know anything, anything at all, any sort of information that the Shinobi guarded…please, tell me!”
Rockman bowed his head down, much to everyone’s surprise.
“You…even after you have proven yourself superior to me, you would bow your head?!” exclaimed Condor in surprise.
“How disgraceful!” muttered Berserk. However, Rockman paid the OOPart no mind, and continued to focus only on Condor.
“I’m not above doing some things to get information, really. Besides, since you’re the one with the information…I guess that makes you the superior in this situation.”
If the Murian beings had solid bodies at that moment, there would have been the noise of two sharp intakes of breath. For the young boy between them, the one who held the power in this current situation, for him to willingly give up control…!
“Boy!” hissed Berserk. “You…do you see the foolishness of what you are doing?! Prostrating yourself in front of one of these tools…by all means, even you shouldn’t be kneeling in front of them!”
“Maybe not, but…It’s been a long time, Berserk. Too long to let grudges like this go on. Neither you or the Shinobi or Dinosaur have a physical presence in this world anymore outside the OOParts. There isn’t any reason for those other Murian beings to go to war for your sake now, they can only protect what you’ve left behind. And if you keep forcing them to do this, and drag others into your conflicts, you’ll either drive them away, like Dossy, or get them destroyed…all for nothing!”
There was a sad expression on his face as Rockman finally turned to look at Berserk.
“They’ve served you all loyally this whole time. Don’t you think they deserve better than that?”
Rockman smiled wanly at Berserk as that furious word was spat out, before turning back to Condor, who had been watching in muted shock.
“Condor, it was your job to serve the Shinobi, right?”
“…Yes, it was. To watch over the lands that they had under their rule, and to keep those people loyal through their fear and worship…that was my duty. In the end, I was more of a patrol bird than a god…”
“Yeah, but in the end, your job was to protect what belonged to Shinobi and whatever their secrets were, right?”
“Then you and I have the same goal. The Shinobi people are gone, but their OOPart and other secrets are still around, and like I said before, there are people who want to steal them. I’m fighting with Berserk because I don’t want the power of Mu to fall into the wrong hands. But since Berserk is with me, and Dinosaur has been taken by Gori, Shinobi is the only tribe that hasn’t been found yet. I already told you what this means…” The child took a deep breath. “So…”
To everyone’s shock and amazement, Rockman knelt down on both hands, pressing his forehead to the ground as he bowed down to Condor in a pleading and reverent gesture not unlike how the chief had addressed the young boy just minutes ago.
“If you know anything, anything at all about the Shinobi or where I could find their remnants, please, please tell me!”
There was silence. A sense of disbelief and awe seemed to permeate the air of the flower field. And at first, it seemed that Rockman would get no answer to his humiliating plea.
“…Boy.” At being addressed by Condor, Rockman looked up. “You seem somewhat informed of our ways, the roles I and my kind had played. And with that knowledge, I am surprised that you would address me with such respect, even after our battle. As you know, I am one of many duplicates, granted the exclusive purpose of surveillance and subjugation. All of us are the exact same, the only difference being our assigned territories. All of us, created so impersonally, none of us even intended to serve personally the people that made us, only able to speak with them briefly, if we’re lucky to be chosen to report. And yet, you expect me to hold some sort of valuable information, some unique tidbit of value to such dismissive people, people with enough arrogance and power to call something a god and set it loose on the weak and ignorant and feel no danger to themselves?”
“Haah…” Rockman sighed. “I should have guessed. Thanks, anyway…”
“Foolish brat…you acted this way for nothing,” growled Berserk.
“Mnn, I don’t think so. It’s better that things went this way without causing extra trouble for others..I’d rather not delete anything if I don’t have to…”
“And leave this wretched thing to its own devices?”
“I don’t think Condor will be much of a problem anymore, right? He knows about the Shinobi not being around anymore, so there’s no point in him terrorizing others now. It’s like what Dossy did: he has a chance to be his own self now, figure out what he can do now that he’s not a Brachio of the Dinosaur tribe. He’s a lot happier now, don’t you think?”
“Tch…” Berserk crackled indignantly. “You are far too soft and forgiving, child!”
“Mnn, but what would have happened to you if I wasn’t?”
As Rockman started to laugh, Condor regarded the blue warrior with a speculative eye.
“Boy.” The words had cut straight through the laughter and Rockman turned to look at Condor once more, confused.
“Eh? Condor? What is it?”
“…You..you claim to have the same mission as me, despite holding the power of a completely different tribe. Normally, I would disbelieve those words, but….you have spared me, even gone so far as to wish me well. I don’t think you understand just how incomprehensible this would be to those who created me. But…you seem genuine.” There was a pause before Condor spoke again.
“..I think it is no betrayal of trust to show you the secrets of this land. Even if you do not work for us….I doubt the Berserk Tribe will get anything from you to gain an advantage over my people.”
“Condor!” Rockman brightened instantly, a surprised expression growing on his face.
“Mind you, I doubt this secret will be of much use in finding whatever powerful object these ‘OOParts’ are. All I can give you is a general accounting of the history of my people. A paltry offering, considering the great honor you are bestowing on me by willingly bowing down, but…”
“No…this is great, Condor! Any information would help at this point, and I’ve been interested in learning more about the Mu in general…” Their violent history…it went far beyond what Orihime had told him. To learn more about it…maybe he could understand Berserk more.
“Very well. Prepare to take to the skies once again, Rockman. This secret is hidden to those not of the Mu, but with your companion, you should be able to view it.”
“I see. Let’s go then, Condor.”
“Wait.” Both Rockman and Condor turned to look at the chief, surprised that he had chosen to speak after staying silent for so long. He bowed to the denpa bird in much the same fashion that Rockman had earlier.
“Nanska! Please, take me with you as well!”
It took everyone a moment to realize the implications of the request.
“E-EEEH!? You’re kidding!” exclaimed Harp Note. “After what Condor did to you? How do you know that he won’t try to use you again?”
“Agame-san, she’s right-besides, aren’t you tired? You need to rest after what your body went through…”
“You give this old shaman too little credit, young ones. You think I could run such a cheerful and active village without a strong constitution? Besides, I’m happy that this happened, as much as I regret the trouble that was caused.”
“You are…happy?” Condor voiced the confusion evident in everyone’s minds first. “Happy that I subverted your will, forced you into battle, and struck fear into the hearts of your people?”
“Not because of that. I’m happy because I was able to experience a piece of our history. To think that our ancestors would have experienced this sensation with the gods they worshipped! It gave me such insight into the days of old! I feel honored to have been able to go through this, even if it wasn’t pleasant…and you say that you know more of our history? To see into the past of our most honored ancestors…that is the greatest honor for a shaman such as myself! Please, I request of you…take me along!”
“I-I’m not so sure about this…” Harp Note tittered nervously, eying the Murian denpa being nervously.
“Tch, it’s fine! We can just beat him again if he starts giving trouble!” War-Rock grumbled, sounding somewhat irritated.
“That will not be necessary,” Condor suddenly boomed. “The tribe of secrets we may be, but the Shinobi did instill a rigorous moral code unto me. I have lost, thusly I will submit so long as my tribe is not endangered. So long as you hold up your claims to protecting the secrets of the Shinobi, I will comply with your demands. And if you should allow it, I will also comply with this chief’s wishes and inform a descendant of our colonies of their true heritage.”
“…Alright, Condor. I trust you.” Rockman’s words seemed relieved, almost happy at this concession, even as everyone else flinched in surprise. Everyone in the field tensed as Condor approached the shaman and bowed to him, before the two disappeared in a pillar of red light. As Condor Geograph emerged and began to spread his wings, there was a thrill of anticipation, but he did nothing but fold them again, and the shaman’s voice could be heard laughing when he opened his beak.
“So, this is what our ancestors experienced! I can see why they would have seen the Mu as gods!” HE shook himself off as Rockman and Harp Note sighed in relief, as it seemed that the shaman was in complete control.
“That being said…Condor tells me that the hidden secrets associated with our village are only visible to those wielding the power of Mu. You should be fined, with the presence you called Berserk, but your friend…”
“I’m coming anyway!” Harp Note insisted, stepping close to Rockman. “Don’t expect me to sit idly by!”
“Understood. It may be best for you to stay close to your ally, then.” With a nod, the thre of them took off, leaving Cancer Bubble and Luna behind.
“Watch over the Class President, Cancer Bubble!” Rockman’s voice could be heard echoing back to them as the three disappeared over the horizon. The FMian cringed, expecting more harsh words from the girl next to him, but instead she was staring off worriedly into the distance.
“Hey…there’s something really bad going on right now, huh? Something dangerous?”
“I’m not really supposed to say anything, buku…” Cancer Bubble admitted. Half-expecting a glare sent in his direction made him continue, however, even when she had no visible response to his answer. “But it gets me really worried, buku! I promised that I’d help whenever possible, but it’s really hard for me to keep up, buku!”
“Is that so…” Luna continued to stare into the distance, a worried expression on her face.
On foot, the distance from the village would have taken at least an hour to traverse. For the denpa-humans, however, such a distance could take only mere seconds. It was only an instant later that they arrived at a wide plain, completely featureless and flat saved for the wide sloping hills that surrounded it. It looked like nothing more than a completely ordinary valley.
“What is this place? There’s nothing here!” Harp Note exclaimed, looking around doubtfully.
“Like Condor said, only those with the power of Mu can see this secret. Stay close to your friend…and come! Come see the history of my people!”
With that, Condor Geograph began glowing with an earthy green light, like the leaves of a forest. As if in response, Rockman began to glow with an electric yellow light that seemed to resonate with Condor’s aura as it slowly enveloped both Rockman and Harp Note next to him. The two auras radiated outward towards the vast land beneath them, and the ground itself seemed to light up in return. Bright lines glowed and carved themselves into the land, drawing out pictures and patterns on the earth.
“This…this is-!” Harp Note yelped in surprise as Rockman looked on in awe.
“The Nanska Lines,” Condor proclaimed. “A recording of positions and lore of the people of mu, as dictated to the people who resided here.”
“A-amazing…” Rockman mumbled, looking at the large symbols glowing like constellations in the night sky. “They’re so huge…”
“They were made so that they could be seen by historians on the Mu continent. Just as futures and prophecies were divined from the stars above, the people of the Mu sought to engrave their past into the earth, so that they, residing in the skies between them, would always remain in the present.”
“Wow…that’s so romantic…” Harp Note sighed, almost forgetting her wariness towards the Murian being. “But…what do they say…”
“Considering their vastness, comparatively little. At one point, the Mu’s reach had extended over the entire earth, and their history likewise had been carved into every inch of every continent. However, time and war have both worn these histories away to nothing but the merest specks of grain in the sands of time, and only these bare bones remain. However, perhaps even this barest of information may help you understand more about us than you currently know. After all, you have been, currently are, and will likely continue to battle us Murians in the near future.”
“I see,” Rockman nodded thoughtfully. “We’d be grateful if you could explain them…”
“I owe you at least that much,” Condor agreed. “It would be remiss of me to give you your due without the means to utilize it. Such a subversion of honor would have been permissible during times of war, but as you have repeatedly emphasized, those times are long behind us.”
As if finally realizing the meaning of the words he had spoken, Condor remained silent for some time, before diving closer to oe of the larger patterns below them. “Come.”
Rockman and Harp Note looked at each other, before doing as they were told, leaping onto Condor Geograph’s back as he circled around the largest glyph.
“This is an image of the continent of Mu, after it was bound to the skies. The power that raised it was so great that it merely did not take a sliver of dirt, it tore bedrock and gouged out a hole from the crust of the earth-it was said that the shell of the earth cracked all over that day.”
“N-no way-are you saying the Mu are responsible for the tectonic plates existing?” Rockman demanded incredulously.
“Mn, perhaps not all of them. The earth has been alive and shifting long before any of us were born. But perhaps there are more cracks in the earth’s surface than there would have been otherwise.”
The low whimsical laughter coming from the bird, an odd mix of Condor’s and the shaman’s, put both Harp Note and Rockman at ease, and they relaxed as Condor flew over some more, smaller glyphs.
“Perhaps you recognize these,” Condor quipped as he began to circle around four of the images. The two children squinted down at the pictures, and as soon as one was recognized, the others were quickly identified in turn.
“Ah-that looks like the footprints Yeti Blizzard left behind on the Himanara Mountains!” Rockman exclaimed first, pointing at a glyph that was indeed shaped like a foot before turning to look at a ghostly face drawn into the ground. “And that face looks like the Murian lifeform that was with Hyde to make Phantom Black!”
“That one reminds me of Dossy!” Harp Note giggled, looking at a reptilian picture. “Or, I guess you would have known him as Brachio, huh? So that last one…” The only one that hadn’t been pointed out was a picture of a bird with its wings spread wide. “If they’re all Murian beings, is that last one you, Condor?”
“Excellent deductions, young ones. Indeed, these are the depictions of the four templates of denpa beings used to create servants of the Mu. The Yeti made for feared soldiers, the Ghosts were the cleverest advisors, the Brachio patrolled the seas and my kind, the Condor, soared along the skies right beside the continent. Our duties were much more than this, of course, but such details are vast and minute. All that is essential to know is that our duties, like my role as a stand-in god, was intended for means of conquest, to ensure our control over the lands the Mu ruled over. That was our express purpose-to be built to serve and nothing more. Perhaps that was why, when the Mu fell to civil war and strife, they broke apart so easily. If all one has is the tools of war, what else would they fall to?”
“No wonder you tried to subdue the village with fighting as soon as you awakened. That was all you were programmed to do…” Rockman concluded sadly.
“Hm. You may be right about that, child.” Condor mused as he next circled around three more symbols engraved in a triad. As if something was prompting him to speak (and given his next words and what could likely have been nudging him, ‘something’ probably was), Rockman blurted out his reaction rather abruptly, enough to startle the others.
“That-that’s Berserk!” he yelped, identifying the familiar sword symbol at one corner of the triangle. To its left was an engraving of a dinosaur skull, its large jaw and prominent snout bringing to mind the shape of Dinosaur’s OOPart; and to its right sat a drawing of an odd four-pointed star, a shape of something that Rockman couldn’t recognize straight off, but reasoned that it must have been associated with Shinobi.
“Ah. The three separate tribes: Berserk, Shinobi, and Dinosaur.” Condor confirmed. “The people of Mu had split themselves into these tribes shortly before falling to war. Originally, they had been formed so that each group would have an equal piece of Ra Mu’s power divided amongst them. The idea was that with the power divided this way, Ra Mu’s abilities could not be abused by one single faction. But somehow, they fell to war instead…”
“You don’t know why, Condor?” Harp Note asked.
“Unfortunately not. Remember, I was one of the Condor assigned to the Earth territories.” The girl sighed at that.
There was only one symbol remaining to observe. It was much smaller than the others, almost hidden in the center of other markings simply due to the sheer difference in size. It was odd and undecipherable, a downward pointing arrow of sorts, but somehow, Rockman and Harp Note both felt that they had seen it before.
“Ne, Condor, what is that shape?” Harp Note asked, tilting her head inquisitively at the mark as she tried to make sense of it.
“That, child, is the symbol of the Murian people. One originally worn by all citizens before the war began to drag on, and it took on new significance. Only those who carried the oldest, most noble bloodline, those whose blood flowed thickest with its latent power would wear this mark. As the strongest of their warriors, they would be the ones least likely to dishonor it by having it torn apart by injury. One could call them a fourth tribe of sorts near the end…”
“A fourth tribe?!” Rockman exclaimed in surprise. “Then there might be four OOParts, not three?”
“Definitely not. I over-exaggerate when I call it a tribe, when in truth it would most likely be called a line of nobility. As the war went on, that group distance itself more and more, becoming more isolated from the rest of the people, and even the war itself.”
“That’s…that’s kind of sad, disappearing all alone like that…” Harp Note mused. Rockman didn’t seem to hear her though, instead trying to focus more on the mark.
“…I’ve definitely seen this before. But where?”
“…” Berserk was silent, oddly not chiming in with some irate remonstrance or sharp reminder of some detail that Rockman’s “inferior human mind” couldn’t recall. It felt wrong, seeing the being subdued like this, but he couldn’t think of anything to say.
“Hm. If you did see it before on your searches for Murian artifacts, I wouldn’t be surprise. If anything survived to present day, it would be relics of those nobles. They grew strong in their isolation, their developments not even shared with others of the Murian empire. Their solitary natures were their strength. Much unlike us, who require the willing partnership of a source of denpa…they were leagues beyond the rest of the tribe. If anyone would know the innermost secrets of Mu, it would be one of them. Perhaps you will find more evidence of this, now that you know what to look for.
“Mhm. Thank you…thank you very much! You were a great help, Condor!” Harp Note exclaimed, once she realized that the small symbol was in fact the last that had to be observed.
“Mn. Thank you…” Rockman’s voice was distant and pensive-he was certain he’d seen that mark before. But if even Berserk wouldn’t tell him…What sort of secret could it hold, that solitary tribe?
The village was in ruins from Condor’s attack. Luckily, no one had been hit directly by the lasers that had drawn that mark into the earth, a paltry imitation of the majesty of the Nanska Lines. But homes had been set ablaze and many of the festive preparations were destroyed. IT was a starc contrast to the bright and happy village that had inspired Misora’s songs. Seeing villagers pick up after the attack, searching through ruins for belongings and people, expressing worry and fear, it was something to touch the heart-especially when they expressed fear and horror on seeing Condor Geogrpah reappear in the skies.
“God…! It’s God!”
“God is back?!”
“Was that offering he snatched away not enough to appease him? That poor girl, she’d only been here visiting…”
“What could he possibly want now…?”
It was a humbling sight.
“Look at how scared they are…” Harp Note murmured, sadly looking on.
“Maybe we should have untransformed before coming here…” Rockman concluded, looking guilty.
“…No, this is fine,” Condor concluded, and began to circle downwards towards the town. Screams of horror could be heard as they spiraled downwards, that soon faded to confused and curious murmurs as Condor Geograph showed no signs of attacking.
“People of Nanska!” Condor proclaimed, spreading his wings wide as Rockman and Harp Note jumped off of Condor’s back, landing to stand on either side of him. The whole scene seemed to have a sort of regal effect, as if the two smaller Denpa-humans were apostles standing by their god.
“People of Nanska, those who served under my masters for so long-the people of Mu who you revered as gods…I have done you wrong.”
At the end of that sentence, the villagers visibly relaxed, before growing confused. What could such a shift in demeanor mean?
“I came, proudly declaring my superiority over your people, unaware that the masters I served under no longer existed, that the cultures and customs of the people I once ruled had changed, that I had intruded on a society I no longer had a place in. And by doing so, I brought disorder and chaos into what should have been an orderly, well-run village. For that, that would have warranted deletion in the eyes of my people, and as I am coming to learn, they no longer have a part in your village any longer. For that, I…I apologize.”
Everyone paused to look on in shock. What a great change from his behavior before, so humble compared to his self-proclaimed status as a god! It was enough to silence everyone, leaving Condor to continue talking uninterrupted.
“I will return your shaman to you. As such, I doubt that this will make amends for my ungodlike behavior, however…” A flurry of chatter erupted amongst the people, and that gave Rockman time to turn to Condor Geograph.
“That’s more than I expected you to ever say, Condor,” he admitted. “Why do you feel the need to apologize all of a sudden? It’s not like you knew that the war was over, and you were doing the duty you were given, so…”
“I’m not quite sure myself, boy. But…revisiting the history of my people…I wonder how much about them I truly knew. How much of them had already been lost to war long before I even was created…What sort of orders have I been following and…what sort of ‘god’ did that make me? Forgetting about my true duty to monitor and safeguard these people, and instead succumbing to the lust of power that being a god brings…is that what happened to those I served, who could have been said to surpass God themselves?”
“Wow, Condor,” observed Harp Note. “You decided all that so quickly…how?”
Instead of addressing Harp Note directly, Condor gave her a pensive look, before turning to Rockman instead.
“Boy. Your words to me when we fought, and when you brokered that deal with me…you held a very different ideal of a god than I. A god that would use its power to aid in ways that the ones below it are unable to…a god that does not demand, a god that is benevolent. It puzzled me-it still puzzles me now-that one with power such as yourself would us it in such a way that benefits you so little…could make you weak, in other words. Why? Why would you do such a thing?”
“Condor…” Rockman felt like he was suddenly put on the spot, and he momentarily felt lost. But as he began to talk, it felt lie the answer came naturally to him.
“I guess you could say that this is my strength, Condor, not what makes me weak. I wouldn’t have become Rockman if there weren’t people that needed my help. I became that hero for them. That will to protect them…that’s a strong power in and of itself, you know…”
“And so it is this power that has bested me and the power of Mu, that holds the voices of a portion of its people under its sway…?”
“You dare imply we are subservient to him?! This boy-“ Berserk’s rantings stopped as Rockman gave them what seemed to be an amused, if tired smile, and they harrumphed. “This boy has taught us some things, we admit. But to be his inferior-!”
“Does it matter?” Harp Note interjected, cutting the tribe off. “IT’s still your power, whether he uses it or not, so this ‘inferior-superior’ stuff doesn’t matter anyway, right?
“She has a point, you know,” observed Rockman. “What’s happened so far…I wouldn’t have been able to get through a lot of it without you. I’m really grateful for that, Berserk.”
That seemed enough to stun Berserk into silence, and Condor spoke once more.
“Boy. That sort of god that you speak of…It almost sounds like an impossible ideal. And yet, you speak as if this kind of selflessness is not unnatural. How could you have such faith?”
“According to the boy and the unearthly one, this is a natural propensity of humans in this era, to want to help others when they are in trouble,” Berserk admitted.
“To be human…” Condor appeared to be in deep thought for some time before he spoke again.
“Boy. As much as I referred to myself and the ones who created me as gods, in the end the ones who made me were very much human. Yet, they eventually followed a very different creed than yourself. My conduct as a whole is a very good indicator of how they were- exacting, demanding, wanting all under their control. I wonder…if things were different, would I have been the kind of god you envisioned?”
There was a period of quiet after he spoke, and after some time Condor bowed his head.
“I have much to learn, it seems. Simply terrorizing a village and calling myself god will not suffice any longer. It is not a practice meant for this era. Although, what to do after this…I’m not sure. But, I will start by returning your shaman to you.”
Condor Geograph began to glow with a bright red light as he spoke, and as the light engulfed him, the form began to shrink, separating into the shaman and the red denpa being as the warm light faded. Everyone stared in awe at the display.
Condor, even untransformed, was a very impressive size, but most of that was due to his wingspan. With wings folded, perched on the ground next to the shaman, he looked very small, only barely taller than the denpa-children next to him, and just as skinny. It was almost galling, that something this size had the power and audacity to call itself a god.
“But what are you going to do now, Condor?” asked Harp Note.
“Mmn. I’m honestly not sure. This role…it’s all I’ve ever known. What to do…”
“Well, I think you can figure it out. Brachio Wave…no, he’s Dossy now. He was lost too. But he’s found his own place now, because of the people he’s sworn to protect.” Harp Note concluded.
“The people he’s sworn to protect, is it?” Condor responded. “Humans…what is it about your kind that forges bonds so easily?”
“That’s how our world is, Condor. Everyone…the bonds that they form with each other is how they live, how they can do so many things…” Rockman’s voice trailed off as he found himself at a loss for words.
“Bonds with humans…hm.”
“You know, Condor…” the shaman began, having listened intently this whole time. “Our people do still worship and give offerings to God. That has not changed.”
“Ah…Agame-san?” Both of the children voiced their surprise at the same time, but were ignored as Agame continued to speak.
“However, we no longer believe that God is someone to be feared. Rather, we believe that God is someone to share our joy and happiness with, to share in the bountiful life we have been given thanks to him. Because our God has given us joy, we send up our laughter to the skies to let him know that his work is appreciated. This is the God that we worship and love. This is the God that you could become, if you wish to try. Do you want to see how your people have changed?”
“How my people have changed?” Condor mused for some moments. “I admit that I am at a loss. And to readily claim your people as mine…perhaps…I will stay-if you will have me.”
“Condor!” Rockman started in surprise. “You…”
“Perhaps, boy, I will discover this strength of yours for myself, that will let me be the ideal god for this era.”
“Is that so...”
“I thank you, boy, for sparing me and allowing me this second chance at life. I am only sorry I was unable to give you much in return.”
“N-no, that’s fine, Condor! You’ve helped us out a lot more than I thought!” Rockman explained, smiling broadly. “You really taught us a lot about old Murian ways!”
“Speaking of old ways…shaman. Is that the same staff that was used in the days of old?”
“The very same!” Agame proclaimed. “This has been passed down the line of shamans for generations!”
“Then, allow me to reveal another old tradition.” Condor bent down, nosing the center of the stylized bird shape on the staff. Light appeared from it, and in its very center materialized…
“A Star Carrier?!” Harp Note exclaimed in surprise.
“No…an Ancient Star Carrier!” Rockman concluded, gazing up in awe.
“A Condor unit was assigned to every Shinobi village,” the denpa being explained, “and they resided with the shaman that ran ceremonies in their honor. Your tradition of keeping a bird perched on there for ceremonial purposes was likely a continuation of this.”
“Wow, Condor,” Harp Note commented. “Maybe this means that you really do have a place here.”
“Perhaps so. If that is the case, then I will be able to live as the new me…” With that, Condor retreated into the “Ancient Star Carrier,” as Rockman had dubbed it, his image appearing on the screen as the device flickered to life.
“You look right at home!” Harp Note giggled, and Rockman had to admit that he agreed. The ancient device did look like it had been made for him-which it likely was, he found himself realizing.
“So what are you going to do now, Condor?” Rockman asked.
“Mmm. I suppose the least I can do is repair the damage I caused-“
“We’ll help!” Harp Note firmly interrupted. “Right, Rockman?”
“Un. Our fight did cause some of this mess, anyway, and I would have to hate to see everyone’s work go to waste...” Rockman concluded.
“You have done so much already, yet you wish to stay and aid us further?” the shaman exclaimed. “Rockman-sama, Harp Note-sama, nanska! I would be honored if you would be guests of honor at our festival tonight!”
“W-well, we were gonna come anyway, so the guest of honor part isn’t really necessary…” The shaman, however, had already turned away to proclaim a welcome to the two guests of honor, leaving the second part of his statement unheard. The boy sighed and ruefully looked to his companion, who seemed unperturbed by this turn of events, and even took Rockman by the arm in delight.
“Isn’t this great, Rockman? Ooh, this is going to be so much fun!”
“Yeah, but none of this is going to happen if we don’t get started with helping out…we should get to work quickly.”
“Geez, so quickly ready for work…” Harp Note pouted even as her denpa partner laughed.
“He’s still nothing like you, Misora!” Harp tittered. “So focused and ready to work!”
“Tell me about it…” War-Rock grumbled, sending the group into a small fit of laughter-even Berserk had some small chuckles to spare, surprisingly.
It was expected that Condor would have had a difficult time adjusting to the village life. However, Condor seemed to fit right in, easily identifying old techniques and procedures, and even elaborating on old cultural meanings behind them. It seemed like the little village had not changed significantly over the years, and Condor looked like he was starting to feel right at home once he realized that. Near the end of preparations, even Berserk was relating small bits of information about customs. Granted, such information was…colored, to say the least, considering old rivalries and prejudices; and Condor found himself irately correcting the spirits more often than not. He seemed to be surprised at his own vehemence every time this happened.
The festival went off with little trouble. The children were singing the same song that Misora had learned earlier as fires were lit and plates of food were brought out, and the children were delighted when the “pretty pink lady” began strumming her guitar and singing with them. Everything seemed to reach to the night sky: bonfires lashed and licked at the blackness as sparks flew, the plates of food were stacked higher and higher until they almost seemed to touch the bright, round moon, and joyful voices soared, rising and echoing and dancing along the stars. Rockman wasn’t sure what to make of the Class President’s offering to the “god” (where on earth had she gotten that Rockman plushie? And what did she mean, carrying it around as a “good luck charm…”) nor the inordinate amount of glee she expressed at being able to offer food directly to “Rockman-sama” himself (at least it tasted good this time, although eh could have gone without the half-amused, half-exasperated looks from Harp Note, really), but otherwise he had enjoyed himself. He had almost forgotten to give a status update to Orihime-san, but eventually he found the time to tell her that they had found a Murian lifeform, but no OOParts. He hadn’t told her much else-he wasn’t sure how much he had learned from Condor was stuff she actually knew, nor had he determined how to share the information with her without revealing Berserk’s existence.
Soon, however (too soon), it was getting late. Unlike the Class President, both Subaru and MIsora were expected to be at home that night, and so they said their farewells with good grace before leaving.
“I thank you,” Condor gravely responded. “Before tonight, I had not realized how much of me was in this village-far more memories of this land have surfaced tonight than of Mu. Perhaps I am not so out of place here after all. I may find my place in this new era just yet.”
Before Rockman and Harp Note could respond with more than exclamations of joy, the shaman came in with his own words.
“I want to give you my thanks as well,” Agame –san said. “Not only did you save me from subjugating my village, you helped connect us with a long-lost piece of our history! From the bottom of my heart, I say to you: Nanska!”
Both Rockman and Harp Note blushed, and their silence allowed the shaman to continue.
“I would also have asked you to try and find those two charming visitors-their sudden disappearance could mean that they were in danger-but it seems that they haven’t gone very far at all, hm?” He winked jovially at them, and the two were left stammering.
“H-how…” The old shaman laughed.
“We were descended from those under the Mu, after all. Our people, little changed as we are, still possess the ability to somewhat sense the natural energies of the world, but which you now call denpa. Back then, we called it the ability to sense spirits…but now, it has greatly weakened over the years due to lack of exposure to Murian beings such as Condor here. Still, I could sense some similarity between the waves you give off now, and the ones given off by our young visitors..
Rockman and Harp Note could only giggle nervously until the shaman spoke again.
“Worry not, I will speak of your identities to no one, nor will Condor. Granted, as isolated as we are, I doubt that anyone will come here for information about you regardless!” He laughed, and the two denpa-humans visibly relaxed.
“I don’t know why people of your time are interested in our days of old, but I am happy that you two, at least, mean to preserve it and prevent it from being used for foul deeds. I trust that you know of something, some greater plot out in the wide world, and that you have our best interests at heart.”
“And I as well,” Condor claimed from his place in the shaman’s staff. “I gave you what knowledge I possessed hoping that you would at least not betray them to the Berserk. But if it is true that there is something beyond our intercultural rivalries…then you are worthy of this knowledge, however you are able to implement it against this threat. I leave it to you, Rockman, Harp Note.”
The two Denpa-Humans nodded their understanding, still blushing bright red at the constant praise being showered on them.
“We won’t let you down Agame-san, Condor!” Harp Note exclaimed triumphantly.
“Un! Thank you for everything” Rockman added. With that, the two turned into light and disappeared, their departure only marked with two colored streaks of light in the night sky. Agame and Condor watched them both go, minds still clouded with worry.
“What on earth is it that you two are involved in…? Could the Mu really be responsible for the peril out there in the world?”
“If that is so…I know where my loyalties lie, should I be here when they appear. I will defend and preserve this village to my last breath!” Condor growled softly. As quiet as the words were, the shaman had heard it, and he turned the staff to face him with a smile.
Condor blinked, then turned away, seemingly embarrassed.
“Kami? Not sure if I’m worthy of such a title yet…”
The two children had spent the first few minutes of the journey back home talking about the village and how fun the festival had been, and the awe-inspiring majesty of the Nanska Lines. But after that topic had run through, they had continued on in a companionable silence, certainly welcome after the hustle and bustle of the day. Naturally, such quiet was not meant to last, and it was Harp Note that first broke it.
“A-ano…” It was strange to hear the assertive and energetic girl to be hesitant in starting a conversation, and Rockman could only stare at her quizzically. She stiffened, frowned, then steeled herself as an abrupt shout came out.
“E-eh? What for, Harp Note…”
“Not you!” she bit out impatiently. “That guy!”
“That spirit inside the OOPart!” Ah. As Rockman realized exactly who she was addressing, the aforementioned spirit(s?) materialized itself, the familiar crackling pillar of yellow electrical energy towering over him as the voices of Berserk sneered.
“Oh? Does the girl finally acknowledge our superiority?” Harp Note only snorted in response.
“As if!” she sniffled. “But…you were a huge help today. It would have been really hard to defeat Condor without you. Not that I trust you or anything! That stunt you tried to pull with Rockman-I can’t forgive you for that! But he got you to listen in the end, so I won’t press further. I’m definitely still going to keep an eye on you, but Rockman seems to trust you, so…thank you.”
“Oohhh?” Berserk seemed to chuckle. “As backwards as this ‘thanks’ is, we will accept it.”
“Backwards?! You’re the ones who’s backwards, you outdated fossils!”
“F-fossils?!” Berserk screeched, and Rockman winced at the high-pitched whine coming from them increasingly feeling like the denpa equivalent of nails on a chalkboard. “You disrespectful brat! You dare-“
“It’s all the same with you, isn’t it? ‘You dare’ this, ‘you dare’ that! Yeah, we dare! We all dare! That’s what being human means, that’s what we do! Yeah, that causes trouble, but that’s why we all dare-there’ll always be someone who dares to stop them, too! Maybe you’re too old and set in your ways to see it but that’s what humans do! We change! And maybe you should try it, too! It did good for your denpa beings, it can probably do you good as well! Maybe then you wouldn’t be so insufferable!”
“Y-you…putting us on the level of our servile creations…being so uncouth! And to think, we were considering you as an useful ally-!”
“Eh? And suddenly I’m not useful? You’re just throwing a tantrum, aren’t you, ‘cause you’re not getting your way? Just like a baby! A baby! You’re a ba-a-a-by! Baby Berserk!”
“Oi, oi, you two, you’re both being really…” Rockman sighed as he was ignored, and resigned himself to a less-than-peaceful trip.
Harp Note and Berserk argued all the way home, but for all the vitriol spewed, Harp Note looked quite at peace with herself, and Berserk seemed oddly pensive and quiet despite the lack of any conclusion to the back-and-forthing of insults.
The two children untransformed some distance away from Subaru’s house, far enough away that she wouldn’t have seen them, but close enough that the two of them could hopefully avoid being spotted by any of Misora’s fans. It didn’t save them from being harangued by an irate Cancer Bubble some moments later, rightfully annoyed at being forgotten and left behind at the village, still watching over Luna as he had been told until a confused asked him why he hadn’t left with the other two “gods.”
“What a horrible woman, buku…and you forgot me and left me with her, MIsora-chi, how mean…”
“S-sorry, Cancer, I forgot…” They managed to get him to stop burbling enough to not give away anything to Subaru’s mother, at least. She was surprised enough to see them at the door this late at night, no ned to plant any suspicions in her head!
“Subaru? I knew that you said you were going out, but the whole day? And with Misora-chan, too?”
Subaru blushed slightly, both at worrying his mother and at the slightly teasing glance in her eye.
“S-sorry, kaasan…” She waved him off.
“As long as you had fun and come back safely, it’s fine. I’m glad to see that you’re spending more time with friends, compared to all the time sulking at home you spent after…well! I’m glad you’ve found close friends, anyway.” She gave an approving glance to Misora, who grinned back, before continuing. “I was hoping that we could go out for dinner at that new restaurant that opened up, but you were out the door so early today, I didn’t get the chance to ask…”
“Well, it must have been something important, anyway, if you were leaving so early, so you don’t need to apologize! We can always go out another day, anyway! Maybe invite Misora-chan, too!”
“E-eh?! We can’t do that!” Subaru stammered, sweating nervously as both ladies turned to look at him.
“Why not, Subaru? You don’t want to take MIsora-chan out to dinner?” Akane’s voice was like sweetened honey, and he gulped and shook his head.
“I-it’s not like that! B-but Misora-chan is super famous…imagine all the uproar that would happen if people saw-“
“Her manager would never forgive me, buku…” Cancer chimed in, and Akane frowned thoughtfully.
“Hm, that is true, and causing you unnecessary trouble wouldn’t be any good, Canbag-chan…” She mused for a few seconds before an idea seemed to come to mind.
“Ah, so you really would like to take Misora-chan to dinner, Subaru?”
He turned bright red, stammering incoherently.
“W-we’re not discussing this! Anyways, I-I have homework to finish!” Subaru hastily ducked around his mom to get inside the doorway, before abruptly turning around. “See you later, Misora-chan, Cancer!”
And with that, he beat a hasty retreat up the stairs. His mother only let out a small smile at his actions.
“Subaru may be growing up, but he’s still so easy to tease!” She grinned slyly. “Ne, Misora-chan?” With such prompting, it was easy for the girl to let out her suppressed giggling.
Their laughter could be heard all the way up in Subaru’s room, where he groaned and put his pillow over his reddened face in a futile attempt to block it out.
“Mou…hasn’t it been a noisy enough day already…”
0-0-End of Chapter 8-0-0
Episode Preview: That lead to Nanska didn't bring us to any OOParts, but we did meet Condor and the others, so it wasn't all bad. So maybe Kizamaro's new lead will be useful this time too? Eh? A ninja mansion? Those still exist...? Next time, on Ryuusei no Rockman: Tribe: Training, de osaru! T...training...?
[A/N]: ooOORRGH I FINISHED A CHAPTER IN THE NOTEBOOK SO I POSTED ONE HERE. HOORRGH I'M SO HYPED WHAT
[A/N]: ooOORRGH I FINISHED A CHAPTER IN THE NOTEBOOK SO I POSTED ONE HERE. HOORRGH I'M SO HYPED WHAT