❯ hack//Illness – The Fallen Church ( Chapter 1 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Hello, all! Before I actually begin my fic, I have a few things I would like to say.

First, this fan fiction was inadvertently created by The Youkai Nightmare. Her new .hack story reminded me of a dream/idea I had a few months’ back. Upon further reflection, I saw that it could easily turn into a story. So I thank you for that, Youkai. *bows*

Second, this story is not based on .hack//Sign, but actually based on .hack//Legend of the Twilight. I would like to make that very clear, since both stories have different characters and timelines. .hack//Sign happens before .hack//Legend of the Twilight. Twilight is a continuation of the Sign story. But I won’t go into specifics unless someone asks me to do so.

Third, this is my first fan fiction actually outside the Zelda theme, so if things seem a little weird, please keep in mind that I’m used to writing under a different subject.

Thank you, and enjoy!

Disclaimer: .hack//Legend of the Twilight and all things related to that subject do not belong to me. They are property of the manga artist Rei Izumi and story creator Tatsuya Hamazaki.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Someplace in the United States of America

The apartment room, located several stories above street level, was dark despite of the glorious summer sunlight. No light is turned on in the room, and the only illumination came from a computer screen, which continuously flashed one message, as if desperate to find someone to pay attention to it. In front of the screen slumped a small body wearing an odd headset that circled its head and covered the area from the bridge of the nose up.

Someone knocked on the door, but the figure doesn’t move in the slightest. Seeming to recognize a problem, the person knocks again, harder.

“Kel?” the person, a woman, called through the door. After a pause, she asked, “Are you okay?” And after pausing for another moment, she said firmly, “I’m coming in.”

The woman opened the door, and gasped at the limp figure at the computer. “Kel!” she shrieked, and ran to the figure. Pulling her daughter away from the computer, she swiftly reads the flashing message, hoping for a clue about Kel’s sudden collapse.

There were two words on the screen, and they terrified the woman more than anything else ever would.

System malfunction.

Eyes going wide, she dropped Kel and ran to the phone, nearly tripping several times in her hurry. Soon she was on the phone with the hospital, sobbing out the problem to a doctor.

The girl, Kel, was oblivious to it all. Her eyes were open, but they were glazed, not reading the words that flashed both on her computer screen and on the visor hiding her eyes. Over and over, she mouthed one thing, the same thing playing over and over in her ears.

“Welcome to the World.”

~*~*~*~*~*

Six years later, The World

Shugo walked quickly in order to keep up with his friends’ eager pace. This was difficult, as there was the churning crowd of people in the marketplace to consider. Even so, he was determined to keep them in sight, and therefore shoved through the crowd as best as he could. Suddenly, his friends took a sharp turn and left the main street of the marketplace, leaving the crowds behind. Shugo jogged for a brief moment, and finally caught up to them.

“Where are we going?” he asked curiously. Rena, his sister, simply shrugged, pink eyes showing as much ignorance of the subject as Shugo felt. Sighing, he looked over at his other companion, Ouka. “Do you know?”

The werewolf smirked. “Of course I do,” she said, her voice mellow. “Why else would I be taking you?”

“Well,” Shugo pressed. “Where are we going?”

Ouka’s amused, violet eyes met Shugo’s searching, aquamarine ones. She grinned. “You’ll see.” she said playfully. Shugo groaned. He hated when people kept things from him! Ignoring Ouka for a while, he turned to his sister.

“Do you know why Mireille’s not here?” he asked, changing the subject.

“She sent me an email saying that she had a deal coming up for a rare item, and so she would be busy getting ready for it.” Rena said. “She said that she would meet us back at her secret hideout after we finish with whatever we’re doing with Ouka.”

“Oh.” Running out of things to say, the trio lapsed into comfortable silence, enjoying the scenery. Even after two years of playing The World, Shugo was still amazed at it all. As the biggest RPG in the world, The World had quite a reputation to withhold, and they did the best in order to do so. Every last piece of The World was extremely realistic, including sights, touches, smells, sounds, and more. And the company continued to refine the game, making it more and more breathtaking.

Finally, the trio reached a Chaos Gate. Upraised a few steps above the rest of the street, the Gate looked like a gigantic, sliver ring with a glowing material stretched within it. The Chaos Gate allowed users of The World to transport themselves to different areas depending on the keywords you entered. Ouka walked up to it, Rena and Shugo a step behind her. Smiling slightly, she entered the words, “Fallen Church”, causing the Gate to react instantly. In just a fraction of a second, the three of them were in an entirely different area.

Grass grew thickly over the large field, except for the cold gray walkway. Tall trees cast the area into a slightly early twilight. Barely any flowers grew, and where they did, their color looked faded. No animal made a sound, nothing moved. It was a barren place, and it sent a shiver down Shugo’s spine.

Without a word, Ouka began to walk down the path, and Rena and Shugo followed quickly. Soon enough, the trees ended, presenting a large, circular field. In the exact center of the field was a church. Towering high above the tree line, it bore a sloped roof and pointed towers. The windows were extremely tall, but also very thin. The doors almost took up one side of the church, and was nearly as tall as the windows. The entire structure was made of a pure black stone, with a dull gray to show designs. The entire picture was one of intimidation.

At that point, a lone bell sounded, loosing its eerie, mournful peal. Rena shivered, and hugged her arms. “What is this place?” she whispered.

“The Fallen Church,” Ouka replied. She seemed just as effected by the picture as Rena was; the wolf ears she bore even when she was not in wolf form were erect and twitching. “It used to be a popular church, and worshipped its god dutifully and correctly. It looked a lot smoother back then, and it was made of white stone instead of black.

“Anyways, one day, or so they say, an evil spirit took over the high priest, and ordered worship to be halted. People did as he ordered, and the god turned his face away from the church, condemning it to a life of evil. As soon as the church’s holiness was gone, monsters invaded its halls, tainting it with evil, and making it the malevolent place you see today. This is where I am taking you.”

“Why?” Shugo asked nervously. The hair on the back of his neck was standing up, and he gripped the hilts of his knives warily.

“Tomorrow is the Holy Day for this church.” Seeing the boy and girl’s blank stares, Ouka smiled. “The one day per year that the god blesses the church, and cleanses it of evil,” she explained briefly. “On the day before, the monster activity is higher than normal, since they can sense the upcoming day, and there is a special event here. The event challenge is to survive the day and the night in the Fallen Church. If you survive to the Holy Day, you get an amazing prize.”

Rena sighed. “So it’s just another treasure hunt errand for Mireille?” she asked wearily.

“No,” the werewolf said. “It is actually a test. The monsters are special here. There all of varying level, instead of being on a set one. That tests your strength. The long time spent fighting tests your endurance. Plus,” a challenging glint appeared in Ouka’s eyes. “The prize is never a set thing, either. It could be an item, or a new weapon, or even a new ability. I think it’s worth it. Don’t you?”

The twins glanced at each other warily. Slowly, Shugo nodded, showing that he was game. “Sure,” he said lightly. “It could be fun. And I’m curious about the prize.” Reluctantly, his sister agreed.

“Good,” Ouka said with a grin. “Then let’s get going.”

Side by side, the three of them walked into the haunted halls of the once proud church.

~*~*~*~*~*

Shugo panted, rubbing sweat off of his brow. Quickly, he slashed at the monster in front of him, making it collapse and dissolve into pixels. He wasn’t giving much time to recover, however. Two more creatures took the place of the fallen one, and attacked simultaneously. Shugo slashed again, arcing both of his knives up and around him. Backing up, he came back to back with his sister, who was using her gigantic sword to keep three beasts at bay.

“How are you doing?” he yelled at Rena.

“Pretty good. You?” She beheaded one of the monsters as she answered.

“Just fine.” He performed a complex move, killing both monsters at the same time. Daring to glance up, he asked. “Where’s Ouka?”

Rena pointed near the altar of the church. The werewolf was surrounded by over twenty creatures, but she seemed to be holding her ground well enough. She was a blur, smoothly moving from punch to kick and sending her enemies flying. Shugo grinned. Ouka was definitely one to fear on the battlefield!

Looking up towards one of the tall, thin windows, he saw that the moon was about two or three hours away from setting. Stifling a groan, he resumed his battles with the various monsters of the church. When the group had entered in the morning, they were attacked almost instantly. As the day bled into the night, Shugo had begun to feel the beginnings of tiredness. The stream of enemies never seemed to falter, and every now and then he had even been forced to use Kite’s bracelet to make the monsters weaker; he was just too tired to keep them all away now. But the bracelet didn’t always save him, and he had various light cuts on his face and arms. With another glance at the window, he thought desperately, When will this damned night end?

Then, just like that, the monsters turned tail and fled. Shugo looked around, confused. Dawn was still an hour away. Why were they running? He stopped questioning it, he used the break in attack to regroup with his friends. Rena also had cuts, but half of her arms had been protected by her armor. Ouka was better off, and was only sweating heavily, as if she had worked out extensively.

“What’s going on?” Rena asked quietly, wiping the blood away from a cut above her eyebrow.

“I have no idea,” Ouka replied bluntly. “We still have an hour before dawn. The monsters should be everywh–”

“Well done, puny mortals.” Whirling, the three of them quickly faced the altar at the other end of the church. There stood a man with black hair and a goatee. His skin was alabaster white, and his robes were a creamy white edged with gold. He looked human, but his glittering red eyes and the way the monsters surrounded him with unhidden adoration betrayed that assumption.

“It has been quite some time since anyone has been able to last this long.” The man’s voice was as smooth as oil. Overly long canines flashed as he spoke. “You have frightened my children, and they no longer wish to fight. However, I did not possess this body and make this a new home for my people just to see them destroyed. So I have no other choice but to destroy you.” The demon cleric grinned.

Suddenly, the demon convulsed. Its skin darkened and turned leathery as it grew several more feet. Bulging muscles tore its robes, and claws sprouted on its hands. A tail sprang from its tailbone, and its face lengthened into one of a lizard’s. Lastly, gigantic, leathery wings grew from its shoulder blades. The demon now stood at twenty feet. Its roar made the large flagstones that made up the floor quiver.

“Oh shit,” Ouka murmured.

The demon seemed to hear her, because it narrowed its blood red eyes. Leaping into the air, it dove at her, claws slashing. She dodged, yelling in surprise. As she tried to get out of the way, the demon’s tail hit her in the back, sending her straight into a wall. She jerked at the impact, then slumped, blood dripping from a nasty-looking head wound. Shugo saw her HP drop to 5 in his visor subscreen. He gulped. That was one strong demon.

The demon circled above their heads, screeching. It seemed to be choosing who was next. Shugo and Rena stayed completely still, hoping it would leave them alone if they didn’t move. Sweat beaded on Shugo’s forehead, and dripped into his eyes. Automatically, without any thought at all, he wiped it away. Big mistake. The demon saw the motion, and focused its eyes on its next victim. Shugo backed up, and then ran. The demon was much faster, tucking in its wings, at dove at a blinding speed and landed straight on the boy.

“Shugo!“ Rena shrieked, helpless to stop the monster from eating her brother. Shugo struggled, slashing at the monster’s hand. The demon laughed, and it sounded like an unoiled gate.

“Foolish little human,” it growled. “No one can defeat me.” It opened its mouth and lowered his head. Shugo closed his eyes waiting for the inevitable. He felt the razor sharp teeth slowly put pressure on his throat, when a strong voice suddenly echoed through the church.

“Liar don!” A whip of light lashed out from the upper reaches of the church, and slashed through the demon. Roaring, the demon reared, leaving the arm that held Shugo behind. Squirming, he managed to get out of it. The demon had lost interest in him. Instead, it swung its head to the left and right, searching for the attacker.

“Where are you?” it roared in anger. The answer came with a repetition of the spell word, and the loss of another limb for the demon. Screeching in pain, it launched itself into the air, dripping black blood and not seeming to care.

“You bastard!” it growled lowly. Its tongue lashed as it tasted the air for its enemy’s scent. “Do you think you can hide forever? I will find you! I will tear this place apar–”

The demon suddenly stopped its ranting, twisting its head so it could see the eastern windows of the church. The clouds seen out of the windows had been tinged a delicate pink, and gold edged the horizon. Then, as the first rays of the sun crept through the church, a deep, resonant voice stated, “This is sacred ground once more. I forbid such evil to live here. Begone!”

Screaming, the demon dissolved into a black dust, as did the other monsters that had stayed to observe the battled. Sighing, Shugo slowly got up, wincing from the pain of the demon’s impact. Rena ran over and hugged him. “I’m so glad you’re okay, Niisan,” she said softly. Shugo rolled his eyes at his twin sister’s sentiment, but let her do it. In a moment, she released him, and then smiled slightly. Suddenly, a groan sounded from Ouka as her eyes fluttered open. Quickly, Shugo and Rena ran over to help their friend up. When they did, she blink the blood out of her eyes and looked around at the church, which was quickly filling with sunlight.

“What happened?” she demanded. The twins briefly summed up what had happened, including the strange attacks that had saved their hides.

“Did you do that, Rena?” Shugo asked.

“No, it came from above,” she demurred. “Someone else did.”

“But who?” asked Ouka warily.

“That would be me!” A light, airy voice sang out.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

I’m leaving it there. Keep you on your toes and wanting more! Okay, before anyone asks, yes, the first part is important, and no, it has nothing to do with the dot hacker incident. It something totally different.

So, anyways, R & R! ^_^