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Kurome ga Kill!

Chapter Text

When Tatsumi embarked on a journey to the Capital with his two friends in search for wealth and fame, this was not at all what he was looking for.

After splitting up with his friends and arriving alone, his request to join the Imperial army fell on deaf ears, all his money was taken from him by a scoundrel, and he had to spend his first night sleeping in the streets... That is, until a kind-hearted girl named Arya offered him to sleep at her mansion. Just one day after this stroke of luck hit him, however, a group of attackers appeared out of nowhere, standing on thin strings high in the air, seemingly looking for nothing more than the deaths of everyone in the building.

As Tatsumi was watching from a window, three guards were down at the garden, arguing whether they should protect the family or go after the assailants. One of the figures standing on the strings has already spotted them. "There are three guards down there..." He whispered. "They're targets... Kurome."

"Eliminate." Said one of the others.

The three guards look up just in time to see two of the figures descending and landing next to them - one, a tall man in heavy armor; The other, a black-haired little girl looking no older than twelve, holding a katana.

"We can't let our guard down... Not even for a -" One of the guards started. Before he could finish the sentence, the girl was already behind the guards, and one of their throats were slit open. The armored man then impaled a second guard with a large spear that he summoned seemingly out of nowhere.

"Who the hell are those people? Are they even human!?" The remaining guard screamed as he began to run away, only for a bullet to pierce a hole into his skull.

"Running away in the face of an enemy? Pathetic." Said the one who shot him, still standing on a string.

"Who wouldn't run away from us?" Said one of the others.

"They annihilated those trained guards in a second!?" Tatsumi said to himself. "I have to protect Arya!"

Running out the building, Tatsumi quickly found Arya along with another guard running towards a smaller building at the garden. "Arya! I'm here!" He exclaimed.

"Tatsumi!?" Said Arya.

"You came here at just the right moment!" Said the guard. "We're going to hide in that warehouse until more guards come here! You'll have to stay outside and deal with the attackers!"

"What!?" Tatsumi started. "That's crazy!"

Right after he said that, the same katana-wielding girl appeared right behind him.

"Damn it!" Said Tatsumi, drawing his sword. "It's now or never!!"

"You're not a target." The girl said, hopped over his shoulder and landed behind the guard.

"Fuck! She's coming for me!" Said the guard, drawing his submachine gun and opened fire at the assassin... Who simply dodged all his bullets.

"Target acquired. Eliminate!!" The girl said, easily slicing the guard in half, before looking at Arya, who was on the floor with tears in her eyes. "Eliminate!" She said once again.

"I'm not letting you!" Said Tatsumi, attacking her from behind with his sword.

"Move out of the way or I'll kill you." She said, completely calmly.

"I won't stand aside and let you kill Arya!" Tatsumi yelled.

"Then die!" Said the girl.

This swordfighter is on a whole other level... Tatsumi thought. There's no way I can beat her... But I'm not letting that stop me! If I can't save one girl, how can I expect to save my village!?

The black-haired girl dashed at Tatsumi, who blocked the hit and attempted to counter, only for her to jump over his sword and kick his shoulder, before immediately stabbing him in the chest. He gasped and fell down. "Tatsumi!!!" Arya gasped. His attacker slowly began to walk towards him with her sword still pointed at him.

"You're not even going to fall for me playing dead, huh?" Tatsumi grunted as he began to stand up.

"I know I didn't pierce your flesh." She said, still completely calm.

In response, Tatsumi took a broken stone statue out of his shirt. "That was because my village protected me!"

The girl was unfazed. "Eliminate!" She said again, running at him.

"Wait!" Said Tatsumi. "Why do you even want to kill this girl!?"

The girl didn't listen, and was just about to cut Tatsumi in half... Right before she was grabbed from behind by another, grown woman with a very skimpy outfit, blonde hair and cat-like ears and tail.

The black-haired girl was still unfazed. "What're you doing?" She asked in a tired voice.

"We're not in a hurry." Said the blonde. "I owe this lad over there a favor."

It was only then that Tatsumi realized the tall blonde woman looked exactly like the woman who tricked him into giving her his money yesterday, just with longer hair and cat features. "You're that girl with the huge boobs!" He screamed at her.

"That's right, I'm that beautiful big sister!" She said in an awfully cheerful tone, before immediately turning serious. "You think we're trying to kill an innocent little girl?" She said as she walked into the locked warehouse and shattered its door with one kick. "Would you still want to protect her, after you see this?"

The inside of the warehouse was filled with corpses. Corpses of brutally mutilated people, some still strapped into torture devices. "What the hell... Is this...?" Tatsumi muttered.

"They lure miserable people from outside the Capital into their home..." The blonde said. "Then, they torture them to death. This is the true nature of the family owning this household."

Tatsumi barely listened to her. All he could notice was one corpse hanging from the floor, which had no visible injuries, but was completely naked and covered in blood. "Sayo..." Tatsumi whispered. "Hey, Sayo... Are you awake...?"

"So one of them is someone you knew..." Said the blonde. While she did, Arya got up and attempted to run away, only for the blonde to grab her back. "Don't you think you have a chance at running away!"

"The people of this house did this...?" Tatsumi asked.

"Exactly." Said the blonde. "The guards all knew it, but they didn't say a word."

"You're lying!" Arya cried. "I didn't even know this place existed! Don't tell me you're going to take the word of these murderers over the one who saved your life!"

Just then, Tatsumi heard someone weakly scream from inside the cell, and he was screaming his name. "Tatsumi..." He said. "Tatsumi, is that really you...?"

"Ieyasu!?" Tatsumi gasped, seeing his other friend barely alive inside the warehouse.

"This girl invited Sayo and me to sleep at her house..." Ieyasu whispered. "But when we woke up, we were here... This girl tortured Sayo to death!" He cried.

"What the hell is your problem!?" Arya screamed in rage. "You two are just worthless hicks from the countryside. You're no better than cattle! It's my right as a noblewoman to treat you however I want! I couldn't let a girl with such beautiful hair live whereas even I struggle to keep my own hair straight, that's why I made sure she died an agonizing death! She should be grateful that I paid so much attention to her at all!"

"You're all a bunch of sadists that pretend to show kindness to your victims..." The blonde cat-woman growled. "I'm sorry I got in your way, Kurome."

"Eliminate." Was all Kurome said, drawing her sword again.

"Wait." Said Tatsumi quietly.

"After all of this, you still want to protect her?" Asked the blonde.

"No." Said Tatsumi. "I'LL KILL HER MYSELF!" He said, drawing his own sword and cutting Arya in half.

"Thank you, Tatsumi..." Ieyasu whispered. "That was great." He tried to get up, only to cough up blood and drop back down.

Tatsumi ran up to him. "Ieyasu, what's wrong!?"

"He's dying from poison." Said Kurome. "That girl's mother loved to use it to torture people and wrote all about it in her diary. It's too late for him."

"Tatsumi..." Ieyasu whispered. "Sayo... Never gave in to the torture she went through. She was resisting to the very end. It was so cool... And I, the great Ieyasu, want my own death to be just as cool." He said, closing his fist.

"Gotta give it to him, his willpower was impressive." Kurome said.

"What the hell is wrong with these people..." Tatsumi cried.

"Let's get out of here." Said Kurome.

"Say..." Said her blonde friend. "How bout we take this lad with us?"

"Hm?" Asked Kurome.

"Our hideout's always open for new members." Said the blonde. "He looks like he's got luck and guts... And skill as well." She said, grabbing Tatsumi by his shirt.

"Wait a minute! At least let me bury them!" Tatsumi cried out.

"Don't worry, I'm going to bring them to our base." Said the blonde.

Minutes later, Tatsumi and the two assassins met up with the rest of the group. "Finally, you're back." Said the man in armor.

"We should retreat now." Said one of the others, a man with green hair and a coat.

"What were you're doing!? You're late!" Yelled the sniper, a girl with pink hair that looked only two or three years older than Kurome. "And who's this!?" She said, looking at Tatsumi.

"Just a new recruit." Said the blonde.

"WHAT!?" Tatsumi gasped.

"Oh, didn't I tell you?" Said the blonde. "Starting today, you are one of us. Welcome to Night Raid, Tatsumi!"

"I didn't agree to this!" Tatsumi yelled.

"Give it up." Said Kurome. "Leone isn't going to stop once she's started."

"You know me well, buddy..." Said Leone, petting Kurome's head. "Brad!" She said to the armored man. "You take care of him!"

Without a word, the armored man grabbed Tatsumi under his wrist.

"Let me go!" Tatsumi screamed. "I'm not going to become an assassin!"

"You'll get used to it." Said Brad.

"Mission complete. Let's head out!" Said Kurome. The entire group then immediately jumped away, continuing to leap between buildings into the night.

Chapter Text

"Let's go out there and find success in the Capital!"

"Let's earn the wealth we need to save our village from poverty!"

"And if we die, we swear we'll die together!"

"To think that we used to tell those things to ourselves..." Tatsumi cried, standing on top of a cliff lush with grass and flowers. "And now... I'm all alone."

The moment he said that, his head fell backwards as it was shoved between Leone's boobs. "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING!?!?" He screamed.

"Can't have you stay sulking forever..." Said Leone, whose appearance seemingly shifted back to what she looked like when Tatsumi first met her. "It's been three days since we took you in. Are ya going to become part of Night Raid or not?"

"I DIDN'T EVEN SAY I WAS -"

"I can tell you have a talent for killing..." Said Leone, poking his nose and patting his head. "Big sister guarantees it ❤︎"

"Talent isn't the problem..." Tatsumi muttered.

"At any rate, I should show you around the hideout!" Said Leone, grabbing him with her elbows again and turning around to see a large building that was sculpted out of a mountain side. "We're in the mountains ten kilometers away from the Capital", she casually explained.

"Why leave it so open? Aren't you assassins for hire!?" Tatsumi yelled.

Entering the building, the two were met with a purple-haired woman wearing a purple cheongsam and a pair of glasses, who was sitting next to a table at the meeting room and reading a book. "So, have you made your decision yet?" She asked.

"Not yet, Sheele." Said Leone. "How bout you give him some encouragement?"

"Well..." Sheele thought for a moment. "The base's location is secret, so... If you don't agree to join us, we're gonna have to kill you."

"What kind and encouraging words..." Tatsumi murmured.

He looked over at the book Sheele was reading - the cover was designed like a children's book and read "100 ways to curb stupidity!"

These guys are a bunch of weirdos... Tatsumi thought to himself.

"HEY, WAIT A MINUTE!" Tatsumi heard someone screaming and turned around - it was the pink-haired sniper. "LEONE, WHY ARE YOU LETTING HIM INSIDE THE HIDEOUT!?"

"Cause he's one of us?" Said Leone.

"YOU JUST SAID HE ISN'T ONE OF US YET!" The pink-haired girl yelled. "HE DIDN'T EVEN GET THE BOSS' PERMISSION!" She turned over and examined Tatsumi with her eyes for a few seconds. "Not qualified." She said, turning her head. "Just by looking at his face I can tell he's nowhere near our level of proficiency."

"SAYS THE FOURTEEN-YEAR-OLD WEARING A DRESS!" Tatsumi yelled.

"Don't worry about Mein... She's like that to everyone." Leone said quietly.

Next, Leone led Tatsumi outside, to what appeared to be a training ground where a heavily muscular man with a pompadour and another man wearing a red mask and a hooded cloak covering his body were swinging wooden rods at one another - the one with a pompadour was sweating profusely, but his partner wasn't sweating at all.

"These are the training grounds... Or as I like to call them, the stress release area." Said Leone. "And these two guys reeking with sweat over there, are Brad and Hantarr."

"They both look extremely skilled and powerful!" Tatsumi said to himself.

The muscular man noticed the two observers and pinned his staff to the ground; His partner did the same. "Hey there, Leone! Oh, and that guy from before is with you!"

"Wait, you know who I am?" Asked Tatsumi.

"Oh right, this must be your first time seeing my face." Said the muscular man. "When we first met I was covered head to toe with armor." He held his hand out. "The name's Brad. Nice to meet you!"

"H... Hi?" Said Tatsumi, shaking Brad's hand. "And you must be..." He turned around to see the other man, only to see he wasn't there.

"Careful there..." Leone whispered. "This guy's a fag."

"Come on, don't talk like that about me..." Said Brad, blushing. "He might misunderstand it..."

Oh my Gods, please tell me she's wrong... Tatsumi thought.

Meanwhile, the green-haired man with the coat was out in the forest near some hot springs. "This is where Leone is bathing..." He whispered to himself. "I don't care how long it'll take me, but I swear I'm going to see her breasts!"

"How about I'll break your fingers instead?" Said Leone, appearing right behind him and casually breaking two of his fingers. "When will you learn, Lubbock?"

"Damn you! I can still do this!"

"Then I'll break your arm too." Said Leone, before turning back to Tatsumi standing behind her. "Oh, and this idiot is Lubbock."

"I feel like I had enough already..." Tatsumi grunted.

"Ahahaha..." Leone chuckled. "There's a couple of pretty girls comin' up next, so you should look forward to it~"

Looping back to the base's back yard, the two were met with three people: A man in a white coat and a metal mask covering his mouth, a blonde young woman with a cowboy hat... And in the middle, the same black-haired swordmaster Tatsumi fought, eating candies off a bag she was holding. "These two are Natala and Doya." Said Leone, pointing to the masked man and cowgirl respectively. "And the one eating candies is Kurome, but you already met her."

Hesitantly, Tatsumi tried to approach Kurome, who immediately gave him a cold dead stare and said "You can't have any."

"Kurome may not look like it, but her past's pretty fucked up..." Leone said. "And Natala can't speak, so I think Doya's your safest bet."

"O...Kay? Tatsumi said before looking at the cowgirl. "Uh... Hi?"

"Hoi there, partner!" Said Doya in a distinct foreign accent. "Did ya make your decision yet?"

"Uh... No?" Said Tatsumi.

"Then I'd rather save the welcomes to when you actually earned them." Doya said, turning away from him.

Are these people really expecting me to join them without hesitation? Tatsumi thought to himself. One of them literally tried to kill me just days ago!

Kurome eyed Leone. "Oh, by the way, the Boss is here too."

"Yo." Said someone Tatsumi didn't notice before - a woman with short gray hair, an eyepatch, a black suit and a large mechanical arm.

"Welcome back, Boss!" Said Leone. "Have you brought any souvenirs with you?"

"Didn't you go over your operation time three days ago, Leone?" Said the Boss in a completely calm voice.

"Crap!" Leone whispered and started to run away, only for the Boss to launch her arm as a grappling hook and grab Leone with it.

"Dragging a battle against strong enemies is dangerous, Leone. You have to stop that." Said the Boss as her grappling hook arm was dragging Leone. "By the way, who's this kid?"

"That's right, Boss! I wanted to recommend you on recruiting him!" Said Leone.

"Does he have talent?" Asked the Boss.

"Like hell he does!" Said Leone. "Go ahead and give it a try!"

"YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT IT LIKE IT'S A PART TIME JOB!" Tatsumi yelled.

"The wage is pretty damn high..." Said Doya.

"Kurome, get everyone in the meeting room." Said the Boss. "I want to hear all the details about your previous operation... Including everything you know about this young boy."

Minutes later, everyone Tatsumi met was back in the meeting room - except, for some reason, Hantarr.

"I see..." Said the Boss, after hearing the team reciting the details of their mission back at Arya's mansion. "I understand what you're saying. So then, Tatsumi... Are you going to join Night Raid or not?"

"Aren't you going to kill me if I decline?" Asked Tatsumi suspiciously.

"Most likely not." Said the Boss. "But we won't let you leave either. We'll probably send you to one of our workshops to do hard labor... But you wouldn't die. Now that it's settled, what do you think?"

"I..." Tatsumi clenched his fist. "I wanted to become successful in the Capital in order to save my village, which is suffering from poverty and hunger. Now I see even the Capital is rotting."

"The countryside is poor and suffering because the center is rotting." Said Brad. "Don't you want to uproot the problem from its source, like a real man?"

"Brad used to be a skilled Imperial soldier." Said the Boss. "He became one of us because he was made aware of the Empire's corruption."

"Our work is to cleanse the Capital of evil." Said Brad. "I find it much better than working for those rotten people."

"But just killing individual evil people wouldn't change the entire nation!" Tatsumi protested. "That'd do nothing to save remote villages from poverty!"

"In that case, Night Raid actually fits you even more." Said the Boss.

"How come?" Asked Tatsumi.

"Far south of the Capital stands a force whose sole purpose is to destroy the Empire..." Said the Boss. "The Revolutionary Army. It started out as a small resistance movement, but has grown into a large-scale military organization. Eventually, they were able to form a small unit made to handle covert jobs such as assassination and information gathering... And that unit is us, Night Raid. Right now we're exterminating the Capital's vermin... But when the Revolutionary Army takes action, we will be the ones to go after the Empire's rulers who are the source of the corruption, and take care of them ourselves."

"Take out the rulers of the Empire?" Tatsumi whispered.

"That's our ultimate goal." Said the Boss. "But we have a long way before we get there. I can't say anything for certain yet, but we have a master plan to ensure our victory. And when the time comes, this country will change for sure."

"And that new country will treat its people well?" Asked Tatsumi.

"That's the idea." Said the Boss.

"So the killing you're doing right now is targeting the trash of society that is evil people..." Said Tatsumi. "You can really say you're assassins of justice!"

For a few seconds, no one said anything... And then, everyone started laughing. "What are you doing? What's so funny!?" Tatsumi screamed.

"Tatsumi..." Leone whispered. "No matter what you call it, what we're doing is murder."

"The purpose doesn't matter. This isn't justice." Said Sheele.

"Any one of us could be killed at any moment for our actions." Said Brad.

"Each person here has their own reasons, but we are all prepared for it." Said the Boss. "Is your opinion still the same?"

"Will I be rewarded in the end?" Tatsumi asked quietly.

"Of course." Said Najenda. "If you play your part properly, we'll be able to save your hometown."

"Then I'll do it!" Said Tatsumi. "I'll join Night Raid! If this is your goal, then I'm sure Sayo and Ieyasu would've done the same!"

"You may not be able to actually return to your village though..." Said Mein.

"As long as everyone there will be able to live in peace because of it, then it doesn't matter." Tatsumi said decisively.

"Then it's decided!" Said Najenda. "Welcome to a path of perpetual carnage, Tatsumi!"

Suddenly, a device Lubbock was wearing on the back of his hand started stirring. "Najenda! We have intruders!" He said.

"Where and how many?" Asked the Boss.

"Based on the reaction from my barrier, there's probably eight of them!" Said Lubbock. "And they're all running closer to the hideout!"

"They're probably mercenaries sent to track us down specifically." Said Najenda. "There's no other way. Don't let a single one of them get out of here alive!"

"Let's go!" Said Mein, taking out her gun and running out of the base.

"Uh... Hehe..." Tatsumi laughed nervously.

"Spacing out already?" Asked Najenda. "This is your first mission. Go out and eliminate them!"

Tatsumi was running fast in the forest outside Night Raid's base. Noticing Brad ahead, he tried to catch up with him. "Hey, Brad!" He yelled out.

"Oh, Tatsumi! You're gonna come with me?" Asked Brad.

"Yeah!" Said Tatsumi.

"In that case, just call me handsome, or bro!" Said Brad.

"Alright, bro!" Said Tatsumi.

"Let me show you something cool in return." Said Brad. "Stand back!"

Tatsumi moved away from Brad, who then slammed his open hand to the ground and screamed "INCURSIO!"

Once he did, Brad's sword opened up and expanded, changing shape and covering Brad's body, before forming into the armor he was wearing when Tatsumi first met him. "THAT'S AWESOME!!" Tatsumi exclaimed.

"I know, right??" Said Brad. "This is my Teigu, Incursio."

"I have no idea what that means, but it sounds amazing!" Said Tatsumi.

"Alright!" Said Brad. "Now I'm going to tell you what your first job is! Listen closely - It's very important!"

In another part of the forest, three dark-skinned bandits were surrounding Kurome. "The fact that she's here means their hideout really is somewhere nearby." Said one of them. "Coming here was worth it after all!"

"I gotta admit, she looks kind of cute." Said one of the others. "Maybe we could have some fun after we kill her. Be careful not to damage her body too -"

Before the bandit could finish the sentence, Kurome was already behind him and his friends. Two of the bandits had their throats slit open, and the third had a gash in his shoulder. "Staying calm in enemy territory? Big mistake." She said to herself.

"She's too fast!" The last remaining bandit grunted. "At least I could take her down with -" Before he could finish the sentence, a naginata blade impaled him through the chest. Natala walked up behind him and pulled it out.

Somewhere else, another bandit was running away as fast as he could. The enemy knows we're here! The bandit thought. But now I know where their hideout is...! I'm sure that information by itself could have immense value...!! I'll just run away and tell the Capital that I found their hideout!!

A large distance away, Mein was aiming her rifle at the running man. "He's very far away..." She muttered. "I can't shoot him down without having to expose myself."

While she was speaking, another bandit jumped up behind Mein with a sword in hand. "I've got you!" He said...

Right before Sheele appeared behind him with a giant pair of scissors and chopped him in half. "Sorry about that..." Sheele murmured.

"Thanks, Sheele." Said Mein. "That's a nice danger. I'm going to reach just fine with it!" She said, firing a beam of energy from her gun which vaporized the bandit who was escaping and burned a trench into the ground between them. "Right on point!" Said Mein. "The more danger I'm in, the more powerful I'll get!"

"That was Mein's Pumpkeen just now..." Said Leone, calmly sitting on a bandit's corpse. "I can't believe she uses such a bothersome weapon. All I need to do is turn into a monster and crush people to death. It's not that hard."

In an underground cave, Lubbock was standing in front of a female bandit who was tied up and hanging from the ceiling by wires coming out of his gloves. "Let me go!" She cried. "Please, I'll do anything!"

"Not gonna happen." Said Lubbock. "I know a man who died because he fell for a woman's charms." Saying that, he fastened the grip of his wires, cutting the woman into pieces. "What a waste of time..." He grunted. "Being in my position is always such a pain."

Meanwhile, Tatsumi was laying down behind a bush, keeping keen eyes on a rabbit that was hopping on the hill. Listen to your surroundings... Brad told him. If the enemy were to run away, they'd likely get through here. Even just slowing them down will be good enough - just somehow fight back.

"What a total newbie role." Tatsumi grunted. "Is the enemy really going to -"

Before he could finish the sentence, a bandit wearing a tiger mask came out of the woods. "They even stationed someone here, too?" He grunted.

"I can't let you pass!" Said Tatsumi, drawing his sword. I have to kill someone I have no resentment against... He thought. But if I hesitate here, I'll die.

"You're just a little boy..." Said the bandit. "But I'm not going to hold back on you!" He said, drawing his own sword.

In another part of the forest, Mein was balancing herself over a wooden log. "I wonder if that newbie died already..." She said to herself.

"I don't think that'd be an issue." Said Sheele.

"You don't usually evaluate people that way, Sheele." Said Mein.

"He fought Kurome and survived." Sheele remarked.

"Well, that's true..." Said Mein.

"And after Kurome fought him, she said he has immense potential." Sheele continued. "If he keeps training, he might have enough strength to rival a general..."

Tatsumi was standing over the bandit with the tiger mask, who had a large cut in his chest. "How's that..." He said, panting. "These are the techniques I built up along with my friends who died!"

"Let me go, I beg of you!" The bandit cried. "If I die, my village is going to..."

This guy's also fighting for his hometown? Tatsumi stepped back.

However, before the bandit could finish his sentence, his head was hit by a bullet and exploded. Doya appeared behind the corpse, blowing the smoke off her gun. "All in a day's work." She said, smiling.

She shot that guy without even batting an eye... Tatsumi thought, stepping back in fear.

"HIYA!" Said Brad, showing up from between the woods. "The enemy came over here, didn't they? Leave the rest for me!"

"I've already dealt with him, actually." Said Doya.

The night after that, Night Raid once again assembled in their base. "That was great work for your first battle, Tatsumi." Said the Boss. "But as Doya reported, you still have a lot to learn. In order for you to continue to survive, you'll need someone to teach you a few important things. Team up with Kurome and learn from her."

"What!?" Tatsumi gasped.

"Kurome, you copy?" Asked Najenda.

"Yeah." Said Kurome, still munching on her sweets.

"If you think he's gonna get in the way, you can kill him." Said Najenda.

"Okay." Said Kurome, completely calm.

Wait, WHAT!? Tatsumi thought.

"You're lucky to have someone like Kurome train you." Said the Boss. "Do your best and you won't die!"

Chapter Text

That Kurome is insane... Tatsumi said to himself, resting on his bed. She looks like she doesn't understand the difference between sparring and a battle to the death!

Suddenly, the door was open, revealing Mein, Lubbock, Sheele, Brad and Natala standing outside. "Huh?" He asked. "Are you all going somewhere?"

"Yeah." Said Brad. "We got a new target requested from the Capital."

"Requested?" Tatsumi asked. It took him a moment to remember something the Boss said: We also take requests from citizens for targets in the Capital. We're going to find something for you; Always be ready to be called upon.

"Please take good care of the place while we're gone." Said Sheele.

"What, me?" Asked Tatsumi.

"Don't worry, Kurome's going to babysit you!" Mein laughed. "We're not going to abandon you all alone in this big scary house!"

Why does she feel the need to be so overbearing...? Tatsumi thought.

"Laaaaateeer~" Said Mein, leaving the room.

Seconds later, Doya walked in. "I'm still here too, partner! How bout we go out and kill a couple targets of our own?"

"For real?" Asked Tatsumi, mildly excited.

"I'm just talking about hunting some fish for dinner, but you'll find out the hard way that it's not that different!" She said.

Before Tatsumi knew it, he and Doya were climbing up a mountain through a thick forest. Doya didn't look even a little tired. "Uh... It's nice to get away from base sometimes, but I think that might be too much!" Said Tatsumi.

"Don't worry, kid! There's no human living anywhere near those mountains!" Said Doya. "Oh, there we go!"

Looking forward, Tatsumi saw they were on the shore of a hot spring with a small waterfall flowing into it. "Whoa, this is a nice place!" Tatsumi said in awe.

"But don't get your eyes off our target, Tatsumi!" Said Doya. "The forest and the mountains are the only place we can get supplies, so you'll have plenty of time to visit this place again!"

Tatsumi started to say something, but then Doya started to take her shirt off. "WAIT, YOU MEAN NAKED??" He freaked out.

...And then he could see Doya was wearing a bikini underneath her clothes. "I didn't know you've such a dirty mind, boy!" She chuckled. "But that's not it. Being fully clothed in a lake would fuck up your mobility, that's all. Now get down there and catch them extra-sized River Tuna!"

"You can't possibly mean those exceedingly rare and dangerous fish that can bite through iron like -" Tatsumi started, before being interrupted by the sound of a gunshot as Doya fired a single bullet into the lake and four dead River Tuna popped out of the water. Doya then continued to fire a couple more times, with each individual shot causing similar numbers of fish to appear.

"Don't think it would be that easy for you, Tatsumi!" Said Doya. "You ain't got no gun, so you gotta dive down and catch them big fishes with yo own hands!"

Excited, Tatsumi took off his shirt in one swift movement. "BRING IT!!"

"So you only caught two fish??" Leone chuckled as she, Kurome, Tatsumi and the Boss were eating dinner later that day.

"For his first time, that's actually pretty good..." The Boss remarked.

"But didn't you rip out your shirt and scream: Bring it?" Said Leone.

"That's not good at all..." Kurome said to herself.

She looks like she doesn't think about me at all... Tatsumi thought. And I can't tell what she is thinking, either...

"Leone..." Said Najenda. "Tell me about the request you've received a few days ago."

"Our targets are Imperial Police captain Ogra and an oil merchant named Jamal." Said Leone. "Here's what the client told me..."

Jamal's been giving Ogra bribes, so he'd frame and punish someone else every time Jamal committed a crime. My fiancé was framed for one of Jamal's crimes and sentenced to death. He heard Ogra talk about it while he was in his jail cell and sent me a letter telling me this before he was executed. Please, somehow, help me clear this regret from my heart...

"And here's the payment she gave us for our job." Said Leone, dropping a large bag of gold coins on the table.

"How did that random woman get this much money??" Asked Tatsumi.

"She was smelling of venereal disease." Said Leone. "She must've gotten that money from selling her body."

"Did you make sure it was actually true?" Asked Najenda.

"I've been spying at them from the roof of the merchant's shop. They're guilty." Said Leone.

"Alright then..." Said Najenda, igniting a cigarette with a device in her arm. "Night Raid shall accept this request. We will deliver punishment upon these heinous monsters and make an example out of them. Taking out Jamal would be no problem, but Ogra's a formidable opponent, even for us. He is known as Ogra the Demon, because his masterful swordsmanship makes him an object of terror to the criminals of the Capital. He spends most of his time patrolling with his subordinates, or at the garrison headquarters. Jamal gives him bribes at his private room. On his days off he leaves the headquarters and spends the day drinking on main street, near the palace."

"Looks like the best time to attack him would be at his day off then." Said Tatsumi.

"However, the security in main street is tight." Said Najenda. "For a known and wanted criminal like Kurome it would be exceedingly dangerous."

"Should we wait for the rest to come back then?" Asked Kurome.

"We don't know how long it's going to take them to finish their job though, right?" Leone remarked.

"If that case, just send us!" Said Tatsumi, slamming his hand unto the table. "We'll take care of them!!"

"You really think you can kill Ogra yourself?" Najenda said with a smirk.

"Not that I'd have a problem taking him down, but it almost sounded like you want to take him on by yourself..." Said Leone, also smirking.

"The way things stand, you have no chance." Said Kurome.

"There may still be innocent people being framed for crimes they didn't commit while we're here debating this!" Tatsumi shouted. "If that's the case, I'll handle him myself! I know what it's like to see the people you love being taken away from you. I don't want anyone else to experience this!"

"Understood." Said Najenda. "This determination isn't something I can argue with. Go out there and strike the Demon down."

"Well said, Tatsumi!" Said Leone, patting Tatsumi's head. "It's great that you're so dedicated!"

"Kurome, Leone, I'm leaving the oil merchant to you." Said Najenda.

"You got it, Boss!" Said Leone.

"Take this, Kurome!" Said Tatsumi. "I can stand up when I really want to!"

"You think that's going to earn you respect?" Said Kurome with a cruel smile. "Your willingness to do it means nothing until you've completed your mission. If arrogance is your only asset, you really will die."

One day after that, Tatsumi and Leone were back in the Capital, watching people walk in and out. "If you go straight that way, it'll lead you right to main street." Said Leone.

"Got it!" Said Tatsumi.

"Do you want to hear a story before you go?" Asked Leone.

"Uh, okay?" Said Tatsumi.

Leone took a deep breathe and started:

When Kurome was only a child, her parents sold her and her sister off to the Empire's training program. Both of them went through intense training on how to kill people, where only the best of the best came out alive. Kurome used to be a perfect assassin who worked at the Empire's service without failing once... Until one day, she was sent to assassinate the Boss. She was a terrifying opponent, but ultimately, the Boss managed to defeat her... The only reason she hasn't died was because one of her former comrades who betrayed the Empire has told the Boss about the torture she went through and pleaded for her to be captured alive. Kurome was furious at first, of course... But her former friend was gradually able to convince her to defect from the Empire and join the Revolutionary Army who cared about the people. Aside from that person, almost everyone Kurome grew up and trained with was already dead...

Tatsumi didn't say anything.

"Do you get what I'm trying to say?" Leone asked him.

"That I'm just an amateur who should shut up and listen to the professional killers?" Tatsumi said.

"Not quite..." Said Leone. "If you're successful today, you'll understand."

"Don't doubt me! I'll definitely succeed!" Said Tatsumi.

"Have fun hunting!" Said Leone.

The oil merchant Jamal was walking down a balcony in his large villa. "Man, I really need to stop eating so much meat..." He murmured to himself. "I feel like it might be giving me indigestion."

"Don't worry, Jamal..." Said a voice behind him. "This was the last bit of meat you'll EVER eat."

Saying this, Leone grabbed him by the neck from behind, and Kurome landed from above in front of the merchant and stabbed him through the heart.

"You should be grateful that such a beauty is the one who killed you!" Said Leone. "Alright then... I wonder how's Tatsumi doing with his tougher target."

"Nothing like a good cup of Sake after a successful interrogation." Said captain Ogra, walking alone through main street. "I'm the king of this city! I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, and no one will speak up!"

"Master Ogra!" Said a young man's voice from behind the police captain.

"...What?" Asked Ogra. Turning around, he could see a single young man in a hood.

"There's something I have to tell you." Said the young man.

"Spit it out, then!" Ogra grunted.

"It might be a little problematic to talk about it out in the open..." The boy said.

Looking around for a moment, Ogra spotted an empty alleyway and led the boy there. "We can talk about it here..." He said.

Sayo... Ieyasu... Tatsumi prayed in his mind. Lend me your strength!

Then, he immediately knelt down. "Please allow me into the Capital's defense forces, I beg of you!!" He cried out. "I must earn money to save my hometown, sir!!"

"I should've expected this was going to happen..." Ogra grunted. "Just apply through the normal process, dumbass!"

"I did..." Tatsumi whispered, sending a hand to his sword. "And they didn't let me in."

"It's to be expected..." Said Ogra, "If you weren't strong enough to pass the entrance test."

While Ogra was talking, Tatsumi ran past the captain and slashed his sword, leaving a deep cut at Ogra's chest. "I know no fear..." He whispered. "I fight with everything I've got. I didn't think anyone would dare attack me..." Then, the police captain collapsed on the floor bleeding.

"I did it!" Tatsumi rejoiced. "Now, I just need to give my report..."

Then, just in time, he noticed Ogra standing back up and striking Tatsumi with his own sword. Tatsumi was sent flying, but he braked with his feet.

"Did you really think..." He panted. "That I, Ogra the Demon, could be killed by a snot nosed little shit like you?? You're just weak trash. Only the strong matter in this world! I am the one who passes judgement on all! Do you think you could judge me!?!"

"Don't just say whatever you want!" Tatsumi jumped into the air and struck Ogra from above, only for the captain to push him down with his own sword.

"You belong to those fools calling themselves Night Raid, don't you...?" Ogra grunted. "If you know so much about me, someone must've paid you to kill me! It was the bitchy fiancé of the guy I executed the other day, was it?? I knew it would've been best to kill her as well... It's not too late to do so either! I'm going to find her... Then, I'll find the rest of her family and arrest them. I'll force her to watch as I execute them one by one...! But first, I'll have to kill YOU!"

The second he said that, both of Ogra's arms were cut off by Tatsumi with a desperate surprise attack with his sword. You're just like all the others. He thought. A man who went mad with power. Trash like you... SHOULD BE CUT TO PIECES!!!

Before Ogra could react, Tatsumi was already behind him, and his upper torso was sliced up with Tatsumi's blade.

"Good job dealing with that target!" Said Najenda as Tatsumi went back to base that night.

"Not bad, eh, Kurome?" Tatsumi said, flexing his muscle. "I've finished my mission and reported it back - and I did it without even getting hurt! Now you'll have to acknowledge-"

Before Tatsumi could continue, Kurome walked up to him and pulled up his shirt. "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?!!?" He screamed.

"Natala! Doya! Hold him!" Said Kurome. Without a word, both of them ran up to Tatsumi and stripped him down to his underwear.

"What the hell's going on???" Tatsumi cried. "Are you really trying to -"

"Thank goodness." Said Kurome, smiling. "I've seen people who refused to report they were wounded to look tough, and died because their wounds were contaminated. But you really are uninjured... The first mission is always the one with the highest mortality rate. You were splendid."

"Even Kurome was hoping you'll live..." Said Leone. "I bet she would've been lonely if you had died."

"Learning to always have your guard up keeps you alive." Said Najenda. "Hunting for food teaches you how to kill. Everything you've been doing was beneficial to you."

"...Really?" Tatsumi asked. "I really misunderstood you, Kurome. I'm sorry."

"It's alright..." Said Kurome. "Just keep this up and stay alive."

"Sure I will." Said Tatsumi. "Please keep having my back, Kurome!"

"Saying this while you're almost naked is real ironic..." Leone chuckled.

"YOU WERE THE ONES WHO STRIPPED ME!!" Tatsumi yelled.

"Okay." Said Najenda. "Mein's going to train you next. Do your best!"

"Huh?" Tatsumi asked, still in the process of putting his clothes back on.

"I bet this is going to end up the same way..." Leone whispered.

"I HAVE TO WORK WITH HER???" Tatsumi screamed.

Mein, who was still outside, looked back at the base. "For some reason I just got goosebumps..."

Chapter Text

"Finally, we're back at the Capital." Said Tatsumi. "When you look at it up close, a lot of people have a sour look on their faces..."

"They live under a tyrannical regime and an economic crisis. Of course they'd be sour." Said Mein.

"Are you sure this is okay for us to be walking around in broad daylight?" Asked Tatsumi.

"The only ones whose faces are publically known are these five", said Mein, pointed at various wanted posters at a nearby wall.

On them were the Boss, Kurome, Sheele, Natala, and a fifth man Tatsumi didn't recognize. "Eh... Who's that guy?" He asked.

"That's Brad." Said Mein.

"REALLY??" Tatsumi gasped.

"He looked very different before he joined Night Raid." Mein explained.

"That looks a little too different..." Tatsumi muttered.

"Now that that's cleared, we still have a mission to complete..." Said Mein.

"So that's why you brought me along..." Said Tatsumi. "Bring it on!"

"Great!" Mein cheered. "Let's start to inspect the city's condition!"

"I don't know what that means, but okay!!" Said Tatsumi.

A few hours later, Mein and Tatsumi were sitting at a café and eating dinner. "We sure did do a lot of shopping..." Tatsumi panted.

"As I expected - pink clothes are the trend in spring." Said Mein.

"Guess so..." Tatsumi grunted. "It sure is nice to let your hair down at your days off, isn't it..."

"Alright then!" Said Mein. "Mission complete!"

"THIS WASN'T A MISSION!" Tatsumi shouted. "IT'S JUST SHOPPING!"

"Don't get ahead of yourself!" Said Mein, slapping him. "Subordinates aren't supposed to talk back! I'm above you and you're below me! Don't forget that! You should be thankful that I even let you carry my bags!"

"I'm not your subordinate, you're just training me!" Tatsumi yelled.

"Don't underestimate my power when I'm in charge, newbie!" Said Mein, taking out a paper and drawing a roulette with various titles written on it. "I could even banish you to a random manga with this roulette wheel if I wanted to!"

"WHAAAAAT!?" Tatsumi gasped.

"Even your beloved Hatsukiai is on it." Said Mein, pointed at a thin space reading "Hatsukiai" in between two much wider spaces with blood markings on them that both read "Corpse Party".

"But I'm too scared of what happens if I miss it!" Tatsumi cried. "Can't you make that one a little wider?!"

The two assassins' game was interrupted by a large crowd gathering outside the restaurant. "What's all this commotion...?" Tatsumi asked.

"Probably a public execution of someone who defiled the Empire." Mein said in a bitter voice. "That sort of thing happens all the time."

Looking up, the two could see various men and women with dismembered limbs and nailed to crosses in a town square. "That's so cruel..." Tatsumi muttered.

"It's the Prime Minister who's responsible for this..." Said Mein. "It was thanks to his shrewdness that the current young Emperor has won the battle of succession. But I won't end up like those people... I swear I'm going to live on and see this war to its end!!"

So it's the Prime Minister and the Emperor who are responsible...? Tatsumi thought. What kind of monster could they be?

"Internal affairs officer Shoui..." Said the Emperor - a seven year old child in an ornate robe, sitting on his throne. "Thou hath objected our political affairs. For the crime of delaying urgent political measures, we sentence thee to death by dismemberment by bulls!"

Everyone in the room looked terrified staring at the young child, but none dared say a word.

"You'd allow that, right, Minister...?" Said the Emperor to a fat old man who was standing next to his throne and munching on some meat. "Nyoo hoo hoo..." He murmured. "Well done... Emperor Makoto is such a wise ruler."

The young Emperor gave his minister an angry look. "Again with the meat? Thou eatest far too much of it."

"Fufufu... One ought to to enjoy life while it's still good." The Minister said quietly.

"Enough of this!" The defendant cried out. "The Emperor is being fooled by the Prime Minister!! Please, listen to the voices of your people!!!"

"He's accusing you." The Emperor said.

"Have his rumblings confused you, my lord?" the Minister said in an assuring tone.

"Of course not..." Said the Emperor. "For the words thou hast spoken have never once failed me."

"Shoui, my friend..." Said the Minister. "Seems like this would be our final parting."

"YOUR MAJESTY!" Shoui cried out as two guards were holding him. "IF THIS COUNTINUES, THE THOUSAND YEAR REIGN OF YOUR EMPIRE WOULD COME TO AN END!!!"

Before the Emperor could say anything, the Minister walked in front of the defendant. "Shoui... Please don't worry about that lovely wife you're leaving behind. I'll make sure to take good care of her... Every single part of her."

How... How can anyone allow something like this to continue!?!? Shoui thought. Those sins must be punished. Someone... Anyone... Please!!! Deliver justice upon these demons!!

"There's a new request, everyone!" Said the Boss. "The target this time is a man named Iyokaru, a blood relative of the Prime Minister. Using his kin's name, he abducts women from the Capital and beats them to death with the help of his five guards. This is a mission of utmost importance - I'm sending everyone!!"

Tatsumi and Mein were both sitting upon the branches of a large tree, watching over a mansion in the distance. "So Iyokaru lives in this mansion...?" Said Tatsumi. "The security seems top-notch!"

"I won't be able to hit him from this far away..." Mein whispered. "I'm gonna have to wait until he comes out of the compound to land the hit."

"And after that it's my turn, right?" Asked Tatsumi. "You can leave it to me!"

"Hmph... Don't get your hopes up." Mein scoffed, before taking out Pumpkeen and aiming it at the mansion.

She has incredible concentration... Tatsumi thought. I can feel her stance radiating with willpower!

"He's out." Mein said casually.

"Huh? Where?" Asked Tatsumi. Taking out a binocular, he looked in the distance to see Iyokaru exiting the mansion alongside a group of escort girls.

"He's surrounded by people who aren't targets, you can't attack right now!!" Tatsumi shouted.

"So what?" Said Mein in a bored voice. "That doesn't matter one bit."

"No way!" Said Tatsumi, getting a hand to his sword. "Don't tell me you're going to kill those innocent bystanders...!"

Instead of answering, Mein simply pulled the trigger and shot a tiny bullet that flew in a straight line and punctured Iyokaru's forehead directly without hitting anyone else.

"Didn't I tell you I'm a genius sniper?" Said Mein, smirking.

Down below, Iyokaru's escort girls began to run away and scream - at the same time, four guards ran into the forest in the direction where the bullet was fired. "Catch the assassins no matter what it takes!" One of them shouted. "If we allow them to escape, the Prime Minister's going to kill us!"

"They shouldn't have gotten far -" said another, right before seeing the entire Night Raid group apart from Mein and Tatsumi standing in front of them. "Well well, what do we have here..." Said Leone with a sadistic smile. "Now then. Let's get wild!"

"Oh, jizz..." Mein grunted, slowly stumbling over thick roots covering the ground. "It's really hard to walk around in those woods."

"You think our pursuers were all taken out already?" Asked Tatsumi.

"The bodyguards were all trained in the Imperial Fist Temple..." Said Mein. "The best martial arts dojo in the Empire. They may not be taken down so easily. The more connections someone has with the higher-ups in the Empire, the higher grade their security gets. Using a relative's name as an excuse to do as he pleases is the kind of thing that I hate the most."

Did something like that happened to her before...? Tatsumi wondered.

"Okay then." Said Mein. "As a special service, I'm going to tell you a story about my past."

"I didn't even ask..." Said Tatsumi.

"I was born and raised at the West regions of the Empire." Said Mein, ignoring him. "And my family was foreign. I was ridiculed for it my whole life, nobody accepted me. Because of this, my childhood was nothing but misery. But you know, the Revolutionary Army's formed an alliance with the people of the West... If we could build a new country, then diplomatic relations could grow. The people of the Empire could mingle with other races, and there would be no more kids who'd suffer like I did. I won't let this kind of discrimination ever happen again!"

"Mein..." Tatsumi started.

"And as someone with a key role in the revolution, I'll be hailed as a hero and become rich and famous!!" Mein laughed.

"Ahah..." Leone laughed. "I feel so calm and refreshed!❤"

"Those guys were pretty damn strong..." Sighed Sheele.

"Something's wrong." Said Hantarr, who was seemingly missing up until the mission started. "The Boss said there were five guards."

"And I didn't even get to kill any of them!" Lubbock whined.

"There just weren't enough." Said Leone. "And that means half your reward goes away!"

Kurome looked up into the tree Tatsumi and Mein stood on and said nothing.

In another part of the forest, Iyokaru's escort girls were running away in a different direction, having left before the guards came out of the mansion. Suddenly, one of them was hit by a kunai to the forehead, and the rest froze in fear as two figures - a man in a white suit and a giant monstrous gorilla - appeared before them. "Trying to escape?" The man in the suit whispered. "We cannot allow that."

"This is the meeting place." Said Mein, as she and Tatsumi reached a clearing in the forest with one giant tree in its center. "That must mean the mission's finished!"

"It's not finished until we give our report!" Tatsumi reminded Mein, who smiled a little. "That's what Kurome sai- WATCH OUT!!"

Saying that last part, Tatsumi tackled Mein out of the way before getting hit with a powerful punch that sent him flying.

"This guy..." Mein grunted, looking at the tall blonde man who just hit her comrade. "He must be the head guard of the mansion. He's as strong as I expected."

"I've been head guard in this mansion for ten years!" Said the guard. "My skills surely have doubled."

"Full of yourself, aren't you...?" Said Mein. "Let's take you down a peg!!!" She said, firing several bullets at the guard, who simply dodged. "No way..." She gasped.

"Time to purge evil!" Said the head guard. "I'll take you to the Minister alive. I hope you're prepared!"

"Don't joke!" Said Mein, her gun still up. While they were talking, Tatsumi jumped at the guard from behind and attacked him with the sword, but the head guard simply caught it between his hands and then punched him. In response, Tatsumi tackled the head guard and restrained him.

"You little..." The guard grunted.

"MEIN, NOW!!!" Tatsumi shouted.

"Tatsumi... You're sacrificing yourself to save me?" Mein said backing away.

"NO I'M NOT!!" Said Tatsumi. "I thought you were a genius sniper? I trust that you can take him down without hitting me!!"

"LET ME GO ALREADY!!" The head guard screamed, struggling against Tatsumi's hold.

"You're a cocky newbie..." Said Mein. "But I'll do what you want!" She said, firing her gun again and piercing a hole in the head guard's chest.

"You fools..." The dying guard grunted. "You just killed a blood relative of the Minister. Don't think this is over just yet...!" He said before collapsing.

"Seems like you do have a bit of courage..." Said Mein. "I have to admit, you managed to impress me a li-"

Before she could finish, Tatsumi slapped her, pointing at the burned section of hair at the top of his head. "YOU ALMOST FRIED MY FACE TO A CRISP THERE!!!"

"WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU?? I WAS JUST TALKING ABOUT HOW I'M FINALLY ACCEPTING YOU!!!" Mein yelled back.

On the other side of the hill, Leone was watching them and laughing.

"We have to find master Ogra's murderer, no matter what!" Said a muscular Imperial guard as he and his partner were patrolling the Capital's streets at night.

At the edge of the alley they were running around, a tall man in a long coat was looking at a wanted poster depicting Kurome's face. "An assassin and a Teigu user..." He whispered. "Yes, you're the same as me. This makes me happy... Can I go all out here?"

"Hey, you over there!" Said one of the guards, aiming his gun at the stranger. "You look suspicious. Don't move from where you are!"

A split second later, both he and his partner had their heads severed by the stranger's blade. "It seems like the Capital is a perfect place to live in..." He whispered. "No matter how much I kill, there's always more."

Chapter Text

"Please... Please don't kill me!" A woman cried out as a tall man was holding her by the neck over two corpses.

"Come on now..." Said the tall man. "That's what you get for being out so late at night. Didn't your parents tell you about all the scary monsters that come out after dark?"

"Let me go, I'll do anything!!" The woman begged.

"So you'll do anything I'll tell you?" The man asked curiously.

"Yes, I will! Just please, don't kill me!" His victim cried.

"In that case... I want you to tell me what it's like to have your head severed from your body." Said the man. Not waiting for an answer, he swung a blade mounted on his arm and decapitated her. "This is so exciting..." He cried. "I just can't stop doing this!"

"Our new target is a serial killer who's been plaguing the Capital." Said Najenda. "He appears late at night, preys on people and chops off their heads. The exact number of his victim is unknown, but it's numbering in the dozens."

"And at least three of them are members of the Imperial police..." Said Tatsumi. "That person's gotta be very powerful if he pulled that off."

"There's no mistake then." Said Lubbock. "That man has to be Zank the Beheader."

"Who?" Asked Tatsumi, bewildered.

"You don't know?" Said Mein. "You're a country bumpkin, so I guess that's to be expected."

"Pardon me, but I don't know either..." Said Sheele.

"I'm pretty sure you just forgot." Said Mein.

"Then tell me who that monster is." Said Tatsumi.

"Zank the Beheader..." Mein explained. "He used to be the chief executioner in the Empire's largest prison. Because of the Prime Minister, he had to execute many people every day, again and again. They pleaded for their lives before he took their heads... He did this for years, and it seemingly became like a habit for him."

"No wonder he lost a few screws with that kind of job..." Said Tatsumi.

"Eventually, he decided that executing prisoners wasn't enough for him and betrayed the Empire to become a serial killer." Said Mein.

"He vanished right around the time a detainment force was sent to kill him..." Said Brad. "Who would think he'd be in the Capital?"

"He's a horrible murderer!" Tatsumi concluded. "We gotta find him and beat his ass!"

Brad sighed. "Hold your horses, Tatsumi."

"Bro?" Tatsumi asked.

"Zank stole the warden's Teigu before he left." Brad explained. "That's how he became so powerful. Running into him on your own would be extremely dangerous."

Tatsumi stepped back noticing that Brad was getting close to him and holding his chin. I think I might be in another kind of danger right now...

Later that night, Tatsumi and Kurome were back at the Capital's streets. "Our search area is down this way." Said Kurome.

"Huh." Said Tatsumi. "Looks like the people of the Capital are too scared of the serial killer to move out at night anymore. They don't know how easy it would be to -"

Before Tatsumi could continue, Kurome shut his mouth with her hand and pulled him behind a building. "The Capital's city guards are showing up..." She whispered. "We need to be careful."

"Can I ask you something before we start searching?" Asked Tatsumi.

"No, you can't have my snacks." Said Kurome almost on reflex.

"That's not what I wanted to ask..." Said Tatsumi. "I just wanted to know what a Teigu is."

"Things like this one." Said Kurome, showing Tatsumi her sword.

"I don't get it." Said Tatsumi.

Kurome looked both sides and then sat down. "They say that about 1,000 years ago, right after the great Empire was created, the First Emperor was worried. He wished to protect the country he worked so hard to build, but he knew even he would die some day. But weapons and armors could be passed down throughout the generations. So, to insure that his country lasts forever, he decided to concentrate all of the Empire's knowledge and create weapons that will preserve it. Legends say they gathered materials from the most dangerous monsters and the rarest metals, and gathered the greatest Archmages and scientists from all over the Empire. With his power and fortune, the First Emperor created a series of 48 magical weapons known as the Teigu, each and every one of them powerful beyond belief, and capable of taking down great armies on its own. It was said that the Emperor's retainers who were given those Teigu have expanded the Empire's reach and power even more than he did when he was alive."

"So you're saying that every member of Night Raid has one of these legendary weapons?" Asked Tatsumi.

"Not everyone." Said Kurome. "I, Brad, Mein, Leone, Sheele and Lubbock are the only ones. But just as people possess secret skills, so do Teigu... Incursio, for instance, has the ability to blend into its surroundings and become invisible. With such powerful abilities that those Teigu have, there's been an unwritten rule: Every time a Teigu was wielded with the intent to kill, someone has died without fail."

"Speaking of which..." Said Tatsumi. "If you don't mind me asking... What's your Teigu?"

"I was waiting for you to ask." Said Kurome. "The sword I hold in my hand is the March of the Dead, Yatsufusa. It has the power to bring the corpses of the dead back to life. Natala, Doya, and Hantarr are all dead people that I revived with its power. The dead fall under my control and become my puppets, but as you've seen with Doya, their personality remains the same."

Tatsumi's eyes widened. "Does that mean..."

"Yes." Said Kurome, already knowing what he wanted to ask. "Yatsufusa works by creating magical black currents that power its puppets in place of their soul which was destroyed. Because of that, I need to consciously maintain my puppets, which gets progressively harder the more of them I have at my disposal. As of now, I have eight puppets in total, which is my current limit. But once I lose two of my puppets, or become strong enough to handle two more of them, then I'll use Yatsufusa to resurrect your two friends. That's a promise."

This girl is much younger than me, and yet... Tatsumi didn't move. Kurome... What kind of horrible things have you been through all that time...

"Heheheh..." Zank laughed, watching the two assassins from a tower in the distance. "Looks like I'm not the only serial killer in town anymore. My my, what a dangerous city this is... Alright then. Whose neck should I come for first? I got it... I'll start with the most delicious one."

Tatsumi was sitting on a bench, jealously watching Kurome munching her candies while his own stomach was empty. "I don't think he's going to show up..." He muttered. "Either way, we've no choice but to wait patiently."

Kurome said nothing.

"Excuse me for a second..." Said Tatsumi, getting up and walking away. Looking both ways, he broke into a closed bakery, grabbed a small poke, filled it with pastries and left. "I'm kind of on edge tonight..."

Suddenly, he heard a footstep and turned around looking at the last person he thought he'd see there.

"...Sayo?" Tatsumi asked in a trembling voice.

In response, Sayo covered her mouth and ran.

"No, wait!!" Tatsumi shouted as he dropped his bag and ran after his friend whom he thought was dead.

Seconds later, Kurome walked up behind the bakery. "I didn't know you were that desperate." She chuckled, before noticing he was gone.

Tatsumi, meanwhile, was running after Sayo across the city until she stopped at a town square not far from where he started.

"It's really you..." Tatsumi said, panting. "What's going on? How are you alive?"

Sayo simply smirked.

"It doesn't matter anymore..." Said Tatsumi, hugging his friend and closing his eyes. "I'm just glad you're alive..."

Suddenly, Tatsumi heard a grown man's voice towering above him. "Looks like I showed you something nice..." He said. "How passionate."

Tatsumi opened his eyes. In place of his friend, he was now standing in front of a tall and muscular man in a long coat and with an eye-shaped jewel on his forehead. "Hello!" He said.

"AHHHHH!" Tatsumi screamed. "SAYO'S ACTUALLY A STINKY OLD MAN!!"

The old man laughed. "I'd prefer if instead of calling me a stinky old man, you'll use my friendly nickname... Zank the Beheader."

"You're..." Tatsumi growled, unsheathing his sword.

"You've been separated from your partner..." Said Zank. "You just have to stall me until they appear... But will you be able to stay alive for long enough for this to happen? That's what you're thinking."

He can read my mind!? Tatsumi thought. Is this eye thing his Teigu?

"BINGO!" Zank laughed. "That's my Teigu, Spectator! One of its five abilities is Insight. By merely observing your facial expressions, body language and the like, I can guess what you're thinking... My observations are always the most accurate."

"You sure like to talk..." Said Tatsumi.

"Talking is just another one of my hobbies..." Said Zank. "And by the way, I used my power of Farsight to find you. Whether it's foggy or completely dark, I can see clear as day for miles on end!"

While Zank was talking, Tatsumi swung his sword to strike Zank, but he simply dodged.

"You tried to attack me while I was talking??" Zank laughed. "That's completely useless! I can see everything going on in your head! Now you're going to run at me again and slash at me from above, and then use an upswing to my midsection, but that's a feint to get me to expose my windpipe!" Zank was saying this while Tatsumi was attacking him, and could correctly guess every attack before cutting Tatsumi's stomach while he was going for his windpipe. "That's what you were thinking, wasn't it...?"

"You're so strong..." Tatsumi fell to his knees. "You're on a whole other level than anyone I've ever fought...!!"

"That look on the face on the head I'm about to take... It's just irresistible!" Zank laughed. "Most people just have a blank look of surprise on their face. I wonder what kind of expression will YOU show me? Hahaha!!"

"My neck isn't so weak that you can cut it off!" Tatsumi shouted as he got back up.

"Looks like it can't be helped..." Said Kurome, holding unto her sword. "I'm going to have to scatter."

Chapter Text

"The young ones are always so upfront and honest..." Zank laughed as he was clashing swords with Tatsumi, who was covered in wounds while Zank didn't have a drop of blood on him. "I like you, kid! I think I'll keep your head as a trophy!"

Tatsumi didn't have the strength to reply. He simply held his arm in pain and panted.

"I think I hurt you just about enough..." Said Zank. "I love seeing someone with that look on their face while they beg for their life, so I was careful not to damage you too much... Now go ahead and beg for your life! Who knows, maybe you'll even be able to buy enough time for your friend to show up!"

For a second, Tatsumi said nothing. Then, he said: "...You've gotta be fucking kidding me. YOU REALLY THINK I'D GET ON MY KNEES AND BEG FOR A RAT WHO KILLS PEOPLE FOR FUN TO SPARE ME!!? THERE'S NO WAY IN HELL THAT'S EVER GOING TO HAPPEN!!"

If he can read my mind, then the answer is simple. Tatsumi thought. I just have to focus everything into one strike and hit him before he can react!!

"Oh?" Said Zank. "You're a brave boy, aren't you...? I'm sure your wounds hurt. It's as if you want me, a master of beheading, to end your suffering!"

"BRING IT ON!!!" Tatsumi screamed as he rushed at Zank in a full-power attack with his sword. Before Zank could counter, Tatsumi was behind him and the serial killer had a small cut on his cheek.

That attack's speed was far past my expectations. Zank thought. This kid...

"And you have the nerve to call yourself a master of beheading?" Tatsumi grinned, still bleeding from Zank's counter. "Doesn't that mean you failed to kill me? Don't make me laugh, you pathetic dirtbag."

"SHUT UP!!" Zank shouted in anger, rushing at Tatsumi - only for a throwing knife to hit him in the back. "What -"

Before he could continue, Zank was kicked in the back of his head by Hantarr, who landed in a jump from a great height and hit him. "Congratulations for surviving this long against a Teigu user..." He said.

"Hantarr??" Tatsumi asked.

"Who the hell is this guy??" Zank panicked. "My Spectator can't read his mind... Even my Foresight can't predict his movements!"

While Zank was talking, Hantarr stabbed his side with a knife before pushing him back with a spinning kick. "My body doesn't make any involuntary movements at all!" He said, attempting to kick Zank again only for him to stab Hantarr's chest. Hantarr elegantly dodged Zank's next hit, before the serial killer landed a flurry of arm blade attacks that Hantarr was easily avoiding, his movements like a leaf in the wind, before throwing another knife at him. Zank dodged by a hair as the knife broke a hole in a building behind Zank before hitting Hantarr with the arm blade again and sending him flying.

Is this guy even human? Zank gasped. How could that be possible for him to be immune to my mind reading??

Hantarr jumped up again and threw a flurry of knives at Zank, forcing the slasher to block them one by one with his arm blades and then slam them into the ground, creating a large crater and causing a small cut in Hantarr's leg. "There's one answer then!!" Zank yelled. "You've proven yourself worthy of my secret technique: Illusion Sight!!"

Hantarr simply ignored Zank and kicked him in the stomach. "That won't work on me!" He laughed, throwing a knife at Zank's stomach.

"What kind of monster are -" Zank started. However, before he could finish the sentence, a kunai hit him in the windpipe, killing him instantly. Tatsumi looked up, seeing a bald man in a white suit, a wind rose tattoo on his forehead and a pair of sunglasses standing on top of a building with a shield in hand.

"Thanks, Woru." Said Hantarr, who still had a gaping hole in his chest. "I didn't know how long I was going to hold on against that guy."

This bald guy must be another one of Kurome's puppets... Tatsumi thought. I would of died if it weren't for them... But I'm NOT going to let it stay this way!

Chapter Text

"Tatsumi..." Said Ieyasu. "It's about time for us to get going."

"We're heading that way." Said Sayo. "You should go back now."

"What're you talking about?" Asked Tatsumi. "The three of us are supposed to go together!"

"But you've already found friends of your own, haven't you?" Ieyasu winked.

"You can't rely on us forever and you know it!" Said Sayo.

"Don't worry, Tatsumi." Said Ieyasu. "You will see us again... Some day. But right now, you'll have to let us go."

Saying this, Sayo and Ieyasu turned around and walked away without a word.

"Wait!" Tatsumi cried out. "Please... Don't leave me alone..."

Once he said that, the sound of an alarm clock woke Tatsumi up. "What a painful dream..." He grunted.

Then, Tatsumi noticed Sheele sleeping on the side of his bed and murmuring. "Tatsumi's going... To work with me today... Let's... Get along..."

Guess she dozed off... Tatsumi said to himself.

"I still don't think it's a good idea to put Sheele in charge of Tatsumi..." Said Lubbock, eating his breakfest at the conference room.

"It'll be fine..." Said the Boss. "I think they'd get along together just great."

"And what makes you said that?" Asked Lubbock.

"I'm just saying it's good for Tatsumi to have such an experienced teacher." Said Najenda.

"I'm calling dibs on Tatsumi next!!" Leone exclaimed.

"See? She's got talent too." Said Najenda, pointing at Leone.

"That's so unfair!" Lubbock yelled.

"For an assassin, having more experience means being a better killer." Said the Boss.

"You kidding." Said Leone.

"I just tried to say something cool..." Said the Boss.

No response.

"I'm guessing not then." Said Najenda.

Later that day, Sheele was watching as Tatsumi emerged out of a river covered in armor. "Great job swimming with full armor, Tatsumi!" Said Sheele.

"This is really hard!" Tatsumi complained.

"It's all part of the curriculum I came up with for your assassin training." Said Sheele. "I don't have a job at the hideout, so I can concentrate entirely on training you!"

Tatsumi thought for a moment. "Why don't you have a job?"

Sheele looked ashamed. "...Because I can't do any of the jobs right. Whenever I tried to cook food, I burnt it... When I tried to clean the room, I ended up making an even bigger mess... When I tried to do shopping, I accidentally bought salt instead of sugar... And when I tried to do laundry, I accidentally threw Mein in the washing machine!"

For some reason, I don't really mind that last one... Tatsumi thought. In fact, it was sort of done well...

"By the way, Sheele..." Tatsumi continued. "When I met everyone, you didn't seem happy about me joining..."

"I think there was a reason, but I've forgot what it was..." Said Sheele. "I should apologize and -" While she was talking, her glasses fell off. "Damn it, my glasses..." She picked them up.

"If you don't mind me asking..." Said Tatsumi. "Could you tell me why you chose this line of work to begin with?"

"It's a long story." Said Sheele. "I'm going to tell you."

I grew up at the Capital's lower districts, and since I was a child, I was a failure at everything I tried to do. There wasn't a single thing I was good at. People around me always threw insults at me, until... I met one person who still wanted to be my friend in spite of what I was. No matter how much I failed her, she never insulted me or called me stupid. The time I spent with her was the only thing I could say I liked in my life. Until that day...

While I was visiting my friend, an angry guy broke into her house. It was her ex-boyfriend, who was mad at her for leaving him, and violently attacked her. He grabbed her throat right in front of me and started to strangle her. He looked like he was high on drugs while he was doing this... All I could think of was that I had to save her. And I was completely calm. I grabbed a knife from the kitchen, and while the man wasn't on guard, I stabbed his throat. He died instantly... My friend was staring at his body and trembling in fear. But somehow, my mind was clear. The police ruled the incident out as self-defense, but I never seen my friend again.

And then, not long after that, while I was walking the city alone, a group of armed men showed up in front of me. They wanted vengeance for the man I killed, who was a second-in-command in their local gang. "We've already killed your parents," they said. "And now it's your turn." Even while they were saying this, my mind was completely clear. When the first of the gangsters attacked me, I easily dodged, grabbed his knife and stabbed him at a vital spot. Then, using his body as a shield, I killed all of the others one by one. That's when I finally understood... Whatever made me a failure at everything, also gave me an immense talent at killing. If I learned to use that talent, then finally, I won't be useless anymore.

"After that", Sheele concluded, "I became a mercenary and was eventually hired by the Boss to join Night Raid."

"So that's why you came up with a curriculum for training assassins, huh..." Said Tatsumi.

"That's right." Said Sheele. "It's because I don't have half the skill and experience that you have."

It seems like each one of us has their own motive... Tatsumi thought.

Meanwhile, in the conference room, Najenda was holding Zank's Teigu, the eye-shaped device he wore on his forehead, in her hand. "I'm still not sure what to do with this..." She said. "There's nothing about it in the book. I'm still curious as to what its abilities are."

"Wait a minute, boss..." Said Doya, who stood in the corner of the room. "You don't have a Teigu, right?"

"No, I don't." Said Najenda.

"It's just..." Doya said. "This Teigu is literally an eye. You're missing an eye. And you don't have a Teigu, even though you're the goddamn leader of Night Raid. So... Maybe you should take that eyepatch off and replace your missing eye with this Teigu instead?"

"I... Never thought about it." The Boss admitted. "I'm still not sure if I still have enough strength to wield a Teigu without my eye and my arm, but... I think this is worth a shot."

Somewhere in the North country, the dust settled over a fortified city. Its streets were now filled with corpses - some dismembered and impaled on spears, others frozen within solid blocks of ice. At the city's edge, a naked man was bound in chains and licking the boot of a female Imperial general with blue hair, who was holding a chain connected to a collar he was wearing.

"The Northern tribes were defeated in the blink of an eye!" Said an Imperial soldier. "As expected from you, general!"

The general, in return, looked at the man licking her boots. "Their army, their people, their pride, all easily crushed." She said in agreement. "Is this guy supposed to be their hero? You're worthless. Die!" She said, breaking his skull open with a kick. She got up, and looked over her army. "Is there no enemy out there who can satisfy me?"

Chapter Text

"This place is a lot more lively than your average slum, huh?" Said Tatsumi.

"Their hearts are strong as weeds." Said Leone. "This is what it happens to those who struggle to survive every moment of their lives."

"You seem awfully popular around these parts..." Said Tatsumi.

"This is my hometown." Said Leone. "I was born and raised here. I made a name for myself working at a local massage parlor..."

"THERE YOU ARE!!!" A group of angry men showed up and ran after Leone. "You still need to pay your drinking bill!" One of them yelled. "You have to settle your gambling debts!" Another screamed. "Give me back the money you scammed from me!" Shouted a third.

"Interesting place, huh?" Said Leone, running away instantly.

"INTERESTING? THOSE PEOPLE WANT YOUR HEAD!!!" Tatsumi screamed.

A lone soldier was kneeling before Emperor Makoto in his throne room. "Generals Nakakido and Hemi are gone." He said. "We suspect they might've defected to the Revolutionary Army!"

"Even the military genius Nakakido...?" Said one of the Ministers in the room.

"The Revolutionary Army's going to be a much bigger threat..." Said another.

"If we don't get a hold of this, the Empire -" A third started.

"Do not let your fear get a hold of you!" The Emperor said. "The Revolutionary Army lies defenseless in the South. We can deal with them at any time! Rebels gathering together would just make it easier to clean them up!!" He turned to the side. "Wouldn't you agree, Prime Minister...?"

"Fufufu..." The Prime Minister laughed. "As always, your majesty is a calm mountain within a sea of mayhem. We have a closer problem than some faraway rebel group, and that is the one we should be focusing on. The leader of the Imperial Police, assassinated. My own relative, Iyokaru, dead! Even that serial killer was killed by Night Raid - and now they have his Teigu!! We have to deal with them at any cost...!! I've gained weight just trying to calm myself...!!"

"And what of them?" Asked the Emperor, a hint of contempt in his voice. "Our professionals are looking for their hideout at this very moment!"

"We've lost contact with them..." The Minister grunted. "They're probably dead... But I think I have a better plan."

"Oh?" The Emperor raised an eyebrow.

"I've already called in someone reputable who can finally put my uncontrollable rage at ease!!" The Minister laughed. "The one who has just recently destroyed the Northern Tribes, Great General Esdeath, is now on her way back to the Capital!"

Hearing this, all the other Ministers in the room froze in fear. "B... But Great General Budo is the one commanding the Capital's forces, is he not??" Said one of them.

"To reduce someone as noble as him to a mere rebel-hunter would by an unforgivable wound to his pride, would it not?" Said the Prime Minister.

"Esdeath, huh..." Makoto pondered. "A hero whose power surpasses even General Budo. I'm relieved!"

"She is a woman with a heart of ice who once buried 400,000 men alive at once." Said the Prime Minister. "She will bring to task those hopelessly incompetent Imperial guards. This isn't even a question of life or death anymore! These demons are growing stronger day by day. She'll hunt them down and kill them one after the other!!"

Tatsumi eventually stopped in a near-empty alley. "I'm pretty sure we lost them, right, Leo..." Turning his head to the side, he saw Leone wasn't there. "Oh shit, I lost her!" He whispered. "And I don't know where I am either! And we have a job to do tonight..."

"Oh my..." Said a young woman who was watching him. "My justice senses are tingling!" She turned to Tatsumi. "Hey there, young man! Do you perhaps need help with anything?"

Those clothes... Tatsumi thought.

"I am Seryu the Ubiquitous, fresh leader of the Imperial police and a warrior of justice!" The girl exclaimed, affirming his suspicions.

The Imperial police... Tatsumi thought, remembering the vicious captain he has killed.

Then, he noticed what looked like a living doll of a puppy tumbling around the policewoman. "Oh, are you hungry, Coro?" She said, petting him. "Just hang in there a little longer..."

"Uhm... What is that...?" Tatsumi said.

"It is my Teigu, Hekatonkheires!" Said Seryu. "But do not be worried - he only ever harms those who embrace evil!"

I read about him in the Boss' book...! Tatsumi recalled.

"I almost forgot - what seems to be the problem?" Seryu asked.

"Oh, right." Said Tatsumi. "I'm just... Well... Lost. I know the name of the bar where I should meet my friend, but I can't seem to find it..."

"We can't have that!!" Seryu said. "Thankfully, it's right on the path of my patrol! Come with me and I'll show you the way!" She grabbed his hand. "This way! Let's get you where you should be, okay?"

Hekatonkheires seemed to jump around and bark angrily. "Do all Imperial policemen have a Teigu...?" Tatsumi asked.

"Of course not, silly!" Said Seryu. "As a matter of fact, I'm the only one who owns one. Coro is... Ah, that's just how I call him. He only obeys a user who is perfectly compatible with him. I got him when I was just at the start of my police service - among the higher-ups no one seemed to be compatible with him, so they had to get lower ranks to test him as well. When I was tested, Coro seemed to respond to my strong sense of justice - and now he's my beloved partner! Isn't that right?"

"I... I see." Said Tatsumi.

"Well then, looks like we made it!" Said Seryu, pointing at the bar he mentioned.

"Thank you very much..." Said Tatsumi.

"Don't mention it!" Said Seryu. "And if you ever chance upon evil, don't hesitate to call me to the rescue, and I'll immediately come to utterly destroy it!"

"Ahahahaha, that's reassuring..." Tatsumi sighed.

"Let's go, Coro! Are you still hungry?" Said Seryu, starting to hop away. "If you are, how do five death row prisoners sound to you?"

The new leader of the Imperial police is a Teigu user... Tatsumi thought. She certainly seems dangerous. I'm gonna have to tell the boss...

At another part of the Capital not far away from where Tatsumi got lost, Leone was bouncing a severed head in her hand while standing over three brutally dismembered corpses, in her beast form. "I hope your debt money was really worth it..." She said to herself. "Sorry Tatsumi, but I just couldn't let you see this eyesore. What kind of big sister would I be then?"

After dark, Tatsumi and Leone were standing on top of a building at another district entirely. "So this is the Redlight District, huh...?" Said Tatsumi. "The air definitely feels different."

"That straightforwardness is kinda cute, kid..." Said Leone. "Alright then, let's get to work! Lionelle, transform!"

Once she said that, Leone's buckle belt burst into flames that then covered her body, making her hair, arms, and teeth all transform into those of a demonic lion. "Alright!" She said. "Transforming always gets me pumped up! Now let's sneak in - we got some killing to do!" Then, she grabbed Tatsumi and began to leap across the buildings' roofs at incredible speed. Before Tatsumi knew it, the two crushed into the attic of a certain building. "We made it!" Leone cheered.

"You call that sneaking in!?" Tatsumi asked sarcastically.

"Over here! Hurry up!" Leone scolded him. Looking through a hole in the roof, she and Tatsumi could see the room below them was full of prostitutes and smelled of drug smoke.

"Ohoho... Very nice." Said one of two men standing at the entrance. "Hey there, girls! Remember to keep making more money and we'll keep giving you more incense!"

"Oka~~~~y!♡" Said the girls.

"Uh, boss?" Said the other man. "You should take a look at this one."

The boss, as well as Leone and Tatsumi, looked down and saw a white-haired girl who lied on the floor and looked completely stoned. "I think we broke her..." The second man whispered.

"Hahhhh... I need more of your drugs~~" Said the girl, crawling on all fours and tugging on the sleeves of the boss' pants.

"Take her out..." Said the boss. "We'll just have to get another one."

The second man nodded and broke the girl's skull with one punch. "We're just gonna have to call up another stupid bitch from the slums, isn't that right?"

"Those good-for-nothing sluts would do anything for money, after all..." Said his boss.

"So that's why we were requested to kill these bastards." Tatsumi said coldly.

"The one he just killed was somebody that I used to know." Leone growled. "They make me sick. We have to put an end to this business!"

"With pleasure." Said Tatsumi.

The two followed the pimps to an adjacent room, where various others awaited them.

"I think it's about time we start expanding our drug delivery routes, don't you think?" Said one of them.

"Guess so." Said the boss. "Maybe we should head over to Chiburi's place to discuss it with him."

Suddenly, a hole broke in the ceiling, Leone and Tatsumi bursting out of it. "The only place you're going... IS HELL!" Said Tatsumi.

"Intruders! Kill them!" One of the pimps shouted. A group of armed guards ran at Leone and Tatsumi with their swords, only for the two to make short work of them.

"Our targets are the drug smuggling ringleaders..." Leone remarked. "But if you share their guilt, I'll let you die with them."

As the last guard went down, one of the ringleaders took out a gun and aimed it at Tatsumi. "If you think we're going down that easily, then you've got a-"

"Save your pleads to the King of Hell!" Said Tatsumi, cleaving him in half.

Leone was holding the other ringleader by his neck, facing away from Tatsumi, who couldn't see that one of her eyes turned into a glowing red dot. "What the hell do you guys want?" The ringleader grunted. "Money? Drugs? I'll give you whatever you want if you just let me go!"

"I don't care for either of these." Said Leone. "The only thing I want from you... Is your life!" She said, punching a hole in his chest.

"Sooo..." Said Tatsumi, while he and Leone were walking away from the house. "What's gonna happen to all those girls they had on drugs?"

"That's not our problem, isn't it?" Said Leone. "With a bit of luck, some doctor might be able to figure out what happened and take care of them. The chance that they'll survive isn't very high."

"Say what you want..." Said Tatsumi, a little bit disturbed. "But I know you're a kind person at heart. As long as there's a chance, I'll keep my hopes up."

"Tatsumi." Said Leone. "I always thought this way about you, but... That face you're making is really adorable." She said, covering the side of Tatsumi's face with her breasts and licking his cheek.

"WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING??" Tatsumi yelled.

"Marking you." Said Leone. "If you grow up to be a handsome man, you're mine."

Then, she looked away at the horizon. "So... I wonder how the others are doing?"

At another part of the Capital, Mein, Sheele and Hantarr were all running into the night. "That Chiburi guy was really wary of attacks..." Said Mein.

"In the end, it made no difference." Said Sheele.

Suddenly, a strong shockwave pushed the two girls away from each other as Seryu the Ubiquitous landed in between them. "Another enemy??" Mein asked. Who the hell is this? I didn't notice her presence at all... She thought.

She seems different from all the guards we've encountered so far. Sheele concluded.

"I knew it." Said Seryu, holding a wanted poster with Sheele's face on it. "Your face is on that wanted poster... You are Sheele of Night Raid! And that must mean the two who are with you are also part of Night Raid! I knew hiding and waiting night after night was worth it. Finally I've tracked you down, you criminal scumbags! I, captain of the Imperial police Seryu the Ubiquitous, will make you evildoers suffer in the name of justice right here and now!!!"

Chapter Text

"So you know who we are." Said Mein. "Why are you here? I'm pretty sure you didn't come here just to die."

"I'm here to serve justice to you, and I don't care who you are!" Seryu exclaimed. "I will avenge my father who fell in the line of duty to villains like you, and my beloved master who was murdered by you and your friends. I'll never forgive you!"

"She's really intent on doing this, huh?" Said Mein. "Okay then! The first to strike has the advantage!" She exclaimed, firing a flurry of energy bullets at Seryu, which exploded into smoke. "I got you!" Said Mein.

Then the smoke cleared, revealing Coro was standing in front of Seryu, now far larger than previous and with many holes in its body, which then promptly regenerated.

"Mein, that thing's a Teigu!" Said Sheele. 

"Seems like its an automaton-type as well!" Said Mein.

"TONFA GUN!!" Seryu yelled, aiming the tonfas she held in her hands at the three assassins, who began to dodge as she was firing antipersonnel bullets at them.

They're too fast... Seryu thought. I don't think attacking from this distance would be helpful. She turned to her dog. "CORO, PREY!!"

Coro opened its mouth, revealing a large circular maw filled with multiple rows of teeth rotating like a meat grinder, as it leaped at Sheele. Unfazed, Sheele swung her scissors and slit Coro's neck.

Seryu smirked as her Teigu got up behind Sheele, regenerating its wound, and prepared to strike Sheele again, only for Hantarr to push it back with a kick.

"You remember what the book said, right, Sheele?" Mein asked. "This Teigu has a core hidden inside its body. It will continue to regenerate until we take it out."

"Sounds like quite the troublesome opponent we've got this time..." Said Sheele.

"Coro, arms!" Said Seryu. Coro nodded, its small stub-like arms growing into muscular humanoid arms.

"Looks like we've got no choice, Sheele..." Said Mein.

"Understood!" Said Sheele.

"PULVERIZE THEM!!" Seryu yelled, prompting Coro to rush at Mein with a flurry of punches.

"What the hell? There's no way I can dodge this!" Mein screamed.

"Get behind me!" Said Sheele, moving in front of her friend and blocking Coro's onslaught with her scissors.

Seeing her enemies distracted, Seryu took out a whistle and quickly blew it, casually dodging a knife Hantarr threw at her.

"She's calling for reinforcements on top of her Teigu..." Mein muttered. "Now that's what I call... Being in a pinch!!" She jumped into the air towards Coro. "LET'S DO THIS!!" She said, firing a powerful beam that burned off Coro's face.

"Her power increased?" Seryu gasped. While she was watching, Hantarr threw a knife and hit Seryu's shoulder. "If I take you out, your Teigu will deactivate!" He said, continuing to throw knives at Seryu and forcing her to block them.

At the same time, Coro's face grew back. "Shit!" Said Mein. "It regenerated already! What an unbelievable tenacity..."

Seryu, meanwhile, kicked Hantarr away. "Don't underestimate Coro's resilience!"

While she said that, Sheele appeared behind her. "Your Teigu's just a tool." She said. "All we have to do is kill you and it will stop!"

Now they're both aiming at me?? Seryu gasped.

"EXTASE!!!" Sheele screamed as a blinding light emanated from her scissors. Before Seryu could react, a knife hit her in the back, and Sheele ran at her with a flurry of scissor attacks, which she promptly blocked, ignoring the knife. "The user isn't weak either..." She said to herself.

Hekatonkheires began to turn around, only for Mein's lazer cannon to punch a hole in its side. "Don't forget about me!" Said Mein. "I'm not letting you go!"

This thing's too strong for me to take down even while I'm in a pinch... Mein thought. But I just need to keep it distracted until I find the core!

Sheele was continuing to attack Seryu with her scissors, forcing the police captain to constantly be on the defensive. A knife hit the back of her hand, forcing her to drop one of her tonfas. "Oh crap-" She said, holding her arms up to block Sheele's next attacks which severed both of them.

She sacrificed both her arms to prevent a killing blow... Sheele thought. But all she did was leave herself defenseless!

"JUSTICE WILL ALWAYS PREVAIL!" Seryu screamed as a pair of guns appeared out of her severed arms.

"Body modifications!?" Sheele gasped.

"This is the secret technique my Master gave me. Take this!" Seryu fired a powerful armor-piercing bullet at Sheele, who simply blocked it with her scissors once again, before severing the guns as well.

"I'M NOT DONE YET!" Seryu screamed in despair. Coro is going to overheat and I won't be able to use it anymore after this, but I have no choice... She thought. "CORO! SECRET TECHNIQUE: BERSERKER!!!"

Once she said that, Coro's collar snapped, its muscles swelled and its fur turned black, its doll-like appearance disappeared entirely and was replaced with one resembling of a gigantic humanoid hound. It roared, causing a powerful sonic wave that paralyzed Mein and Sheele before grabbing Mein in its arm.

"MEIN!" Screamed Sheele.

"CRUSH HER!" Screamed Seryu. Coro fastened its grip on Mein as tight as it could, starting to crack her ribs and causing her to cry in agonizing pain. Seryu was quickly dodging Hantarr's attacks while Sheele sliced off Coro's arm.

"Sheele!" Mein whispered, blushing.

"I made it just in time!" Said Sheele...

...Before a powerful bullet pierced her through the chest. "I can't move..." She whispered. Seryu smirked, a third gun hidden in her mouth, as Coro jumped at her with an open maw.

However, before the powerful Teigu could devour Sheele, Hantarr pushed her out of the way and was swallowed whole. "Hantarr... You..." Sheele started.

"Over here! They're battling!" Said an Imperial policeman, as a large group of policemen began to show up.

Sheele grunted, every movement she was making was clearly painful as she lifted her scissors and screamed "E...X...TASE!!!!"

As before, a bright light surrounded the town square, blinding everyone but herself and Mein. "She hit me in a pressure point!" Sheele screamed. "You have to grab me and run!"

Both of Mein's hands were dangling beside her body, her bones cracked. She gritted her teeth and ran at Sheele, using the last of her strength to grab her and balance her on her shoulder before running away as fast as she could.

When the light faded, none of the Night Raid assassins were present. "What the hell was that light just now??" One of the guards asked.

"Captain Seryu, are you alright?" Another guard looked over to Seryu, who had lost both of her arms, but was still laughing madly. "Ahahaha... I did it...!" She laughed. "Even though two of these half-hearted criminals ran away, I managed to kill one of them... Father!" She looked at the sky. "I defeated a villain all on my own! I can feel the light of justice in my heart shining upon the world...!"

Night Raid was gathering in Sheele's bedroom at the hideout. The latter had her chest patched up and was confined to her bed, and Mein had one arm bandaged and one hanging from a sling. Most of the group looked concerned, but it seemed to mostly be about Sheele and Mein.

Tatsumi looked over to Kurome. "Aren't you sad that you lost Hantarr?"

"A little..." Kurome said. "I didn't really have that much of an attachment with him. He was just some bandit I made a puppet because he was powerful. Nothing more."

"I see..." Said Tatsumi. "Is that the same with all of your puppets?"

"All of them except Natala and Doya." Said Kurome. "I only became attached to Doya after she was my puppet because of something she carries... But Natala was my childhood friend when he was alive."

What is Doya carrying that Kurome is attached to...? Tatsumi wanted to say, but didn't.

Kurome moved a little closer for him. "Hey..." She whispered. "I just need one more."

At morning, a large draconian monster landed outside the Capital, a rider dropping from its back.

"I'm home, Capital." Said Esdeath.

Chapter Text

"Tonight's contact isn't a request from the people..." The Boss said. "It's a direct order from the Revolutionary Army higher-ups. Our targets are two civil officials called the brothers Kobore; they are direct subordinates of the Prime Minister who do the lion's share of the work for him. Be on top of your game tonight! To weaken the Empire's grip, even by just a little bit... They must be sacrificed!"

Tatsumi and Leone were standing outside of a small living room where two men in sunglasses and black berets were talking over a cup of wine. Without wasting a second, Tatsumi impaled one through the chest with his sword, and Leone snapped the other's neck, before the two of them quickly turned away and left.

"...Daddy?" A child's voice caught Tatsumi's attention. "What were those noises just now...?"

For just a split second, Tatsumi's eyes crossed with the eyes of a little boy who just went in through the door. Tatsumi immediately ran away as fast as he could, while the child was breaking into tears.

When Tatsumi stopped running, he already reached a river underneath the brothers Kobore's house, which was on top of a high mountain. "That man was a villain who deceived and abused others..." Tatsumi said to himself. "But even he had a son who loved him. This is a stain that will always remain with me... No matter how hard I try."

"A stain? Really?" Said Leone, who was already behind him and in her human form. She hugged him again, burying his face in her chest. "I got worried knowing you were just too kindhearted for that... So I came here to check on you."

"You just have that much mental fortitude, huh, big sister?" Tatsumi asked.

"Nope. I just don't really care."

"Are you going to tell me how you got into this line of work?"

"I just went around killing people I didn't like until Night Raid scouted me and told me to do it as a job."

"Wait, that's it?? How did you get your Teigu then?"

"I bought it from some dude at the black market who didn't know it was a Teigu."

"So... Why are you an assassin?"

"Cause it's fun."

"You kill people for fun?"

"I was always a good-for-nothing and never got depressed because of it. And here's a tip: Being sad about killing someone isn't going to achieve anything."

Far away from there, dozens of people were being tortured in a large hidden room underneath the Capital palace. Whipped, strapped to wheels, having their eyes plucked, getting beaten with spiked knuckles and forced into spiked chairs. So many people were screaming in agony that even some of the torturers had to wear helmets to block out the noise.

And at the center of the torture chamber, men and women were being thrown into an enormous cauldron of boiling oil. "Come on, let's see how loud you can scream!" Laughed a torturer who was holding a woman by her hair in one hand and a cleaver in his other hand. "This is what happens to those who oppose our Emperor!" Said another one who was standing next to a human-sized chopping board and slicing a man like a cucumber.

"What is this...?" A woman's voice was heard from the entrance. "Looking at you all is just pathetic."

"Do you want to join the-" A torturer started to say before stopping himself as he saw who was speaking. "Mistress Esdeath!?!?" He gasped, seeing his mentor walk into the torture chamber with three other figures behind her. "We had no idea you returned! We're terribly sorry!" He fell on his knees.

"Truly pathetic..." Esdeath said. "Have I taught you nothing about the art of torture?" She looked over at the giant cauldron in the center. "For instance, what's with the temperature of that bowl? They'd die far too quickly if it's this hot."

With a snap of her fingers, a gigantic ice boulder appeared on top of the cauldron and crushed into it, making the oil instantly go from boiling to freezing. "Lower the temperature like so, and you'll be able to prolong their suffering far further."

"Yes, mistress! Thank you for the valuable lesson!" The torturers said.

"Let's get out of here." Said Esdeath, leaving along with the three behind her.

"That's mistress Esdeath for you..." Whispered one of the torturers. "She's an extreme sadist in heart and soul. And so are the three following close behind her... The Trio of Beasts."

"They were with her while she buried the Northern tribes alive and made sure there are no survivors..." Another torturer said. "They are a group of bloodthirsty animals... What would I give to become one of them!"

"From what I hear, the training they went through is so brutal that almost everyone who tried it died." Said the first.

"General Esdeath..." The young Emperor said as his Great General was kneeling under his throne. "Your conquest of the Northern tribes was a superb work! Your efforts shalt be properly rewarded with 10,000 gold coins."

"I am grateful, your majesty." Said Esdeath. "We left not a single soldier alive."

"Splendid." Said the Emepror. "Now I must apologize - I realize you've just returned, but we already have a job for you that needs to be done. An atrocious group known as Night Raid who have been running rampant in the Capital... I must request of you to purge this evil from my kingdom."

"I understand." Said Esdeath. "I would need one thing for that, your majesty."

"What is it then?" Asked the Emperor. "Soldiers? I can give you as many as you wish."

"The enemy is one who possesses many Teigu." Esdeath explained. "And it takes a Teigu to defeat a Teigu, your majesty. I would require for an elite group of Teigu users to be assembled - only that would be sufficient. I shall form a group of the most powerful Teigu users who will maintain peace and security in the Capital."

"Don't you already have a group of Teigu users named the Trio of Beasts?" Asked the Emperor.

"Your majesty..." Said the Minister. "I believe we can rest easy knowing we can trust Esdeath to make the right decision."

"If that is what you require, then I would not question it." Said the Emperor. "Will you handle the preparations on your own?"

"Of course, your majesty." Said Esdeath. "I would see to it personally."

"Then I can be assured that peace will return to my Capital!" Said the Emperor.

"Great General Esdeath is very loyal..." The Minister whispered in Makoto's ear. "She has no interest in politics and amassing power. Facing and crushing an enemy is everything to her. While we keep the country under our thumb, all she desires is to fight strong enemies. And as far as having an advantage goes, she is the ultimate trump card!"

"I don't believe any mere gold would be a sufficient reward for such an important task." Said Makoto. "I believe you deserve something more special. Is there anything you desire...? Titles? Lands?"

Esdeath looked very uncharacteristically indecisive. "None of that would be necessary, your majesty." She said eventually. "As uncomplimentary as your Prime Minister's description of me was -"

The Minister gasped. "You heard me?"

"Another person might've objected to your choice of words." Esdeath continued, ignoring him. "But I've come to terms with the fact that it's accurate. I have no use for titles or lands, or gold for that matter. I seek only the thrill of hunting down the most powerful pests that plague this country. To me it is its own reward."

"This is your biggest mission yet, and you're willing to do it without asking for anything in return?" The Emperor raised an eyebrow. "This... Doesn't feel right."

"Out of everything you've heard today, this is what doesn't feel right?" Esdeath asked humorously.

"You have no reason to feel bad about something that benefits us." The Minister said. "And really, what did you expect Great General Esdeath to ask for? Did you really think she'd be interested in anything we can give her more than facing the challenge itself? What's next, are you going to suggest to find her a husband so she can raise a family?!"

After the last remark, everyone started to laugh. Even Esdeath chuckled a little; no one, not even the seven-year-old Emperor, would be so dumb as to think Esdeath would be interested in anything resembling love.

Back at the brothers Kobore's house, the boy Tatsumi saw was laying on the floor and crying...

When suddenly, a figure grabbed him by the neck - a person wearing a hood that obscured their whole figure, and a mask covering their face with one half completely white and the other completely black. Even its arms were covered in bandages that made sure not an inch of their skin was visible. It spoke so quietly that the boy couldn't even tell if they were male or female.

"What do you know... Even Night Raid didn't want to kill you." It said. "You saw one of them, he knows you did. You know what he looked like and he still let you go... What a fool."

Before the boy could say a word, the masked figure took out a knife and slit his throat.

Chapter Text

Tatsumi yelled out as he rushed against Kurome with his sword, attacking her with a massive flurry of hits that were all blocked easily. With one swing of her sword, Kurome pushed him away and dropped him to the ground. "Let's do it again!" Tatsumi screamed.

"I feel like you should take a break..." Said Kurome.

"Why would I take a break?" Tatsumi said as he got up. "Didn't I tell you? Come at me as if it was a real life or death battle!" He grabbed his sword again. "HERE I COME!!"

And then Brad punched him in the face making him drop to the floor.

"What the hell, bro??" Tatsumi started yelling at him.

"In a real fight, you should always pay attention to your surroundings." Said Brad. "After all, you can never know where the enemy is going to strike next."

Tatsumi started to get up again. He was clearly out of stamina, but he was still determined to continue.

"You look more fired up than usual." Brad deduced. "Why is that?"

"Nothing..." Tatsumi growled. "I just want to get stronger quickly. I promised to Kurome that I'll survive!"

Kurome blushed, giggling with a hand covering her mouth.

"Looks like you're finally acting like a real man." Said Brad, hitting Tatsumi's back. "You've grown! If you want to get stronger that badly, you should hang out with me a little more. I know exactly what to do!"

"Bro..." Tatsumi stepped back blushing.

Brad grabbed a spear from a nearby weapon stand. "Now, unto the first lesson. Follow me, Tatsumi!"

"W-with pleasure, bro!" Said Tatsumi, following close behind him.

"Good luck..." Said Kurome, grabbing her bag of sweets as soon as the two were out of sight. "Should I tell him?" She thought to herself. "He doesn't strike me as the kind of guy who'd think I'm worthless if I did. Still... I bet he's going to think I'm a freak and just won't have the heart to say that out loud."

Minutes later, Tatsumi and Brad were climbing on top of a mountain covered with fog, with nothing but a few dead trees around them. "This is the first time I've been so deep in the moutains..." Tatsumi muttered. "It's getting real foggy."

"We are now in Mt. Fake." Said Brad. "This place is about as dangerous as the Capital."

"Really?" Said Tatsumi, looking back at him - just in time to see one of the dead trees open a monstrous eye and swing its branch, pulverizing Tatsumi's backpack before he could react. The tree's roots pulled out of the ground, revealing spider-like legs, and a monstrous mouth opened underneath its eye.

"What the -" Tatsumi started, before Brad threw his spear and impaled the tree through its eye.

"Tree monsters." Said Brad. "Don't space out or they'll eat you! Mt. Fake earned its name because even its trees and rocks are fake, as they're actually monsters in disguise. My aim is to have you battle them in order to raise your awareness of your environment! You're all fired up about surviving no matter what?"

"Yeah!" Tatsumi exclaimed.

"We're going to take the edible ones to the nearby villages." Said Brad. "That way, we'll be able to do a good deed while we're training!"

"Great thinking, bro!" Said Tatsumi.

"And if you were to get wounded, I'll make sure to nurse you back to health down at base camp!" Said Brad.

"WHY ARE YOU BLUSHING WHEN YOU'RE SAYING THAT???" Tatsumi yelled.

In a faraway village at the Empire's outskirts, a group of Imperial soldiers were accompanying a carriage harnessed to a giant boar. In the carriage were a bald old man with a black crown and a young woman with blonde hair.

"This village as well... How terrible." Said the old man. "A nation is said to be made of its people, and yet look at how depraved they are."

"They're just poor." Said the girl. "I think you're heading to a nest of vipers when you return to the Capital, father."

"I can't just stay retired when people are still living in such misery." Said her father. "If I do, this country's doomed. Until this changes, I'm going to fight that Minister to the bitter end!"

"I'll protect you with my life!" His daughter said in agreement.

"You've grown to be such a fine woman..." Said the old man. "This gallantry is the only thing in your way to become a bride."

"WHY THE FUCK DOES THAT MATTER!?" His daughter yelled, blushing. "Wait, what's that?" She said, looking forward and seeing three figures: A muscular blonde man with no pupils in his eyes, a tall old man with grey hair, and a skinny young boy, all wearing black uniforms.

"Are those bandits?!" The bald man asked. "Has public order fallen that far?!"

"Prepare yourselves!" Said one of the soldiers, as both they and the man's daughter got into position. "We'll deal with them just like the last ones!"

"Deidara..." Said the grey-haired man.

"Yeah?" Asked the muscular man.

"LET'S GO!!"

The muscular man named Deidara took out an axe and cleaved a whole row of soldiers in half with one swing, also leaving a deep cut in the girl's stomach. He's too strong... The blonde girl thought, dropping to her knees. My skill doesn't even compare...

Suddenly, the little boy bent over in front of the girl. "Not bad..." He said playfully. "You're pretty skilled to have survived an attack from Deidara, but..." He took out a knife. "Considering what I'm about to do to you, I'm pretty sure you would've wished you were cut in half."

At the same time, Deidara cut the carriage in half, forcing the bald crowned man out of it. His grey-haired partner stood in front of him. "You're wearing the uniforms of Imperial officers!" The man with the black crown said.

"That is correct." Said the attacker in front of him. "I'm a great admirer of your diplomatic works, sir."

"THEN WHY ARE YOU ATTACKING ME!?" Said the bald diplomat.

"Because above all..." The attacker beheaded him with a simple swipe of his hand. "Our master's orders are absolute!!"

"Fifteen guards. Is that all?" Said Deidara. "All right! This experience will make me stronger!"

"Spread out the leaflets!" Said the old man. "Help me out here, Deidara!"

With a bored expression, Deidara along with his two partners began to throw out leaflets and spread them over the bodies and destroyed carriage.

"So that's what the Minister was using us for..." Said Deidara. "He's always been accused of getting rid of his political opponents."

"The hand in this will appear to lead to the officials under the protection of Great General Budo." Said the grey-haired old man.

"That's right!" Said Deidara. "This is why it's our turn to act, isn't it?"

"We already explained it to you..." Said his partner.

"Hey River, check this out!" Said the little boy. "I got another one for my collection!" He said, holding a skinned face.

"Nyau, that's disgusting!" Said Deidara.

"You made sure she was actually dead, didn't you?" Asked River, the old man.

Nyau laughed. "She died from shock before I was even done!"

"Great." Said River. "Let's get back home then. I'll make something special for dinner to celebrate this occasion."

Nyau began sweating. "Please don't..."

"Your cooking's about as dangerous as the average Teigu!" Said Deidara. "Even mistress Esdeath passed out the first time she tried it!"

"It'll be fine this time..." Said River. "I'll use the saliva of an Evil Bird as a subtle seasoning."

"HOW WOULD THAT MAKE IT ANY BETTER!?" Deidara yelled.

They continued to walk away as their leaflets were covering the scene, each one reading "DIVINE JUDGEMENT, DELIVERED BY NIGHT RAID".

"Everyone's here?" Asked the Boss, who now had Zank's Spectator replacing her missing eye. "Good. I have bad news to relay - three of them in fact. First, I lost contact with the local team."

"The local team?" Tatsumi asked.

"It's a team that handles assassinations in the areas around the Capital." Said Kurome.

"It's currently being investigated, and the likelihood that they were killed is high." The Boss continued. "Be prepared for the worst. For the time being, I think it may be necessary to increase security around the hideout."

"I'm going to increase the range of my threads for a start." Said Lubbock.

"Second, Esdeath has returned from her conquest of the North." Said Najenda.

Everyone looked shocked, except Tatsumi, who just asked, "who?"

"The Empire's Strongest, Great General Esdeath." Said Kurome. "She's a sadistic monster who wields a Teigu that manipulates ice and who grows more powerful every single day. We anticipated that it would take her a year or two to conquer the North Country, but she was able to destroy it entirely in mere days."

"It seems as though much of her army remained there to keep it under control though." Said Najenda.

"Then it's safe to say that she wasn't brought back to deal with the Revolutionary Army, isn't it..." Said Brad.

"I have no idea what her next move would be." Said Najenda. "Currently she seems to spend most of her time at the government's torture facilities. Leone, I want you to go to the Capital and find out what she's up to."

"Got it!" Said Leone. "I always wanted to know what type of person she is."

"She's a genocidal maniac who slaughters people for fun." Said Najenda. "Keep on your guard."

"Got it..." Said Leone again, quieter this time.

"And last..." Said Najenda. "There's been a string of murders in the Capital lately, targeting civil officials. So far 4 officials and over 60 bodyguards were killed... And there are posters who claim to be from Night Raid at every one of the crime scenes."

"Why would anyone do that? We're already wanted criminals!" Said Sheele.

"Not to mention it's obvious that it's fake..." Said Tatsumi. "We never claimed responsibility for any of our murders and we have no reason to start now."

"That's why I thought at first too." Said Najenda. "But they seem to go out of their way to prove no one but us could've done it."

"How?" Asked Tatsumi.

"After each incident, the officials significantly increased their security." Said the Boss. "But it made absolutely no difference. The latest incident had the previous Prime Minister Chouri massacred alongside over 30 highly trained guards as well as his daughter, who was an Imperial Fist master of the highest rank. No one but us could accomplish something like this - at least, that's what everyone seems to think."

"So these assassins are on the same realm of power as ours." Said Kurome. "Namely, power on par with Teigu users."

Najenda lit another cigarette and placed it in her mouth. "The victims were all good people who wanted nothing to do with the current Prime Minister... They were opposed to the ills brought about by his corruption. In other words, the Minister is taking out his political rivals and then blames it on Night Raid."

"That sounds like a trap to lure out the real Night Raid." Said Brad.

"I realized this could be a trap..." Said the Boss. "But I wanted to inform you anyway. The officials who were killed were all highly skilled people who opposed the Prime Minister and would have nothing to do with the Revolutionary Army. They only cared about their country. Good and talented people such as these officials would be essential for rebuilding this country after the war is over. We cannot afford to lose any more of them! We must head out and crush this group of fakes! Any questions?"

"I really don't understand anything about politics..." Said Tatsumi, clenching his fist. "But using Night Raid's name to commit crimes just makes me sick!"

"Exactly, Tatsumi!" Said Brad.

"Alright. Then it's decided!" Said Najenda. "We are going to find the fools who used our name, and teach them the law of assassins!! There are about five officials who we suspect are being targeted. Out of those five, only two have any plans to leave the Capital. Lubbock and Kurome are going to protect one of these, and Brad and Tatsumi will protect the other!"

"Where is the official we'll be protecting planning to go?" Asked Tatsumi.

"The outskirts of the Capital." Said Najenda. "He plans to board a ship anchored to the start of the grand canal - the massive luxury liner, Dragon Cruiser."

"THIS THING'S HUUUUUUGE!!" Tatsumi gasped, seeing the enormous ship with a prow shaped like a dragon's head. He looked over to Brad, who was standing next to him and using Incursio to make himself invisible. This ship looks like a fortress. This is where we're going to ambush the imposters?

He lowered his voice to a whisper. "Let's board quickly."

Chapter Text

The efforts of a million workers were needed to complete this canal, and it took seven years to finish its construction.

As a result, dissatisfaction towards the Capital increased due to the laborious and costly works that the Empire's people were forced to complete.

In the long run, however, the great canal has proven very useful for commerce and the Empire's power only grew since its opening.

An equally great contribution was the completion of the Emperor's largest ship, the Dragon Cruiser.

"This is gorgeous..." Tatsumi murmured, wearing an elegant white suit as he was boarding the ship in disguise.

Suddenly, the invisible Brad tapped his back with his hand. "Don't forget your cover!" He reminded him, whispering. "You are a young master of a wealthy family who's nervous because of the extravagance in the Capital."

"Yeah, bro. I got that..." Tatsumi whispered.

He distanced himself from the rest of the ship-goers and stood at the edge of the deck, looking downwards at the crowd watching the ship. "There sure are a lot of people down there..." He whispered. "The Night Raid imposters might be attacking here, but there are so many people on the ship, and the guy we're sent to protect is surrounded by armed guards. Assassinating him is going to be nigh-impossible... I feel like it was no use to come here."

In response, Tatsumi's invisible partner hit his head. "Deciding that on your own is negligence, Tatsumi." He said.

"Ugh... Bro..." Tatsumi groaned, rubbing his head.

"My invisibility would give me the upper hand." Said Brad. "But we have no idea if the enemy can do something similar..."

"That's true..." Said Tatsumi. "Sorry, bro. Now can you please stop hitting me?"

"This is how I'm expressing my affection!" Said Brad.

"At any rate, you've got a handy piece of armor..." Said Tatsumi. "It was only because of it that we could infiltrate this ship."

"Correct!" Said Brad. "I've fought with it to the bitter end in the war against the Southern tribes. It's almost like a partner to me... But no matter how hard I worked, in the end..."

The general whom I fought with for years, was accused of a crime he never committed and caged away by the Empire's own soldiers. "I DON'T UNDERSTAND!!" I cried out to him. "How could they do this to you after everything you've achieved?!"

"Because I refused to give bribes to the new Prime Minister." He said to me.

"How could he decide your fate based on bribes instead of your accomplishments!?" I asked in disbelief.

"Brad..." He said. "I'll defend myself against his accusations when I return to the Capital. Right now they believe I'm a traitor... But I've done nothing wrong. I know they'll understand that's a lie."

"General..." I started.

"It will take time." He said to me sternly. "Your Teigu and your position might all be confiscated simply because you worked under me. Forgive me, Brad."

But when my general returned to the Capital, he didn't even face a trial. I was branded as a criminal solely for defending him.

"It was only thanks to my Teigu that I was able to get out alive." Brad concluded.

"This is screwed up." Said Tatsumi in disbelief. "This is horrible!"

"My invisibility is at its limit..." Said Brad. "I have to take my armor off."

"Everyone here knows what you look like." Said Tatsumi. "You have to leave this area to me."

"Correct." Said Brad. "I'm going to investigate the insides of the ship."

If anybody looks conspicuous, I'll keep an eye on them... Tatsumi said to himself. Then again, I kind of look conspicuous myself.

Suddenly, a quiet recorder song began to play across the deck. Tatsumi began to look around looking for the one playing.

"Such an elegant tone, as always..." Said River, sitting inside the ship with Nyau who was playing his flute. "It suits the ship nicely." He looked out of the window. "And we just took off the shore... The timing's just right."

"I've been playing my recorder for long enough." Said Nyau. "I've drained everyone's willpower to the point where it won't recover by itself if I stop."

"Don't be negligent." Said River. "There might still be people who're far enough to not be exposed to your music."

"Alrighty." Said Nyau. "I'm going to play a little more then."

Back at the top deck, everyone around Tatsumi slowly became lethargic, their movements slowed down, before they passed out completely. "What in the world is going on!?" Tatsumi said as he looked around. "I have to call bro, but my strength's leaving me! Is it because of that recorder sound!? I can still hear it even when I'm covering my ears. This must be the work of an enemy Teigu!!"

While he was monologuing, Deidara stepped outside. "It was so dull hiding inside..." He grunted. "Huh? There's a guy out there who's resisting Scream's effect?" He smirked and walked up to Tatsumi. "I have to commend you for such a strong resistance to hypnotism... But I can't let you stay alive and see it through."

"You must be the imposter Night Raid!" Tatsumi growled.

"And you must be one of the real ones." Said Deidara. "That's great." He walked up to an unconscious bodyguard and picked a sword out of his body before throwing it at Tatsumi, who caught it.

"What're you doing..." Tatsumi questioned.

"I just want to get more fighting experience." Said Deidara. "That's the only way to get stronger." He took out a gigantic-sized double axe. "Now, come at me! Everyone else is out of the way, so it should be easy!"

"Then I'll give you a good experience..." Said Tatsumi, unsheathing the sword. "An all-expanses trip to Hell!"

"Excellent power right there!" Deidara laughed. "Destroying you is gonna give me a great experience!!"

Tatsumi stopped running at Deidara at the last moment when the muscular man slammed his axe into the ship's wooden floor, shattering a large portion of it. Just the shockwave from his attack sent Tatsumi back and he had to brake with his sword.

"Considering what the music's doing to you, that was a pretty good dodge." Said Deidara. "Well then, how 'bout this?" He separated the axe's two blades and threw one of them at Tatsumi. He dodged, but the blade came flying back and cut his stomach before Deidara caught it.

This is bad... Tatsumi thought. This music is stopping my body from moving the way I want it to. At this rate, I'm finished...

Deidara threw the second axe blade at Tatsumi. He dodged again, making sure to stay out of its returning path, but the blade's movement curved and homed on him. "That thing's following me!?" Tatsumi said. "In that case..." He started to run at Deidara. "I'm going to make it hit you and let your own weapon destroy you!!"

"YOU IDIOT!!!" Brad screamed, appearing out of nowhere without his armor and punching Tatsumi away. Deidara caught his blade and looked confused.

"Your opponent was waiting for you ready to counter!" Brad continued to yell. "He would've killed you instantly if I didn't stop you! What were you planning? To run carelessly right into his range!?"

"Bro..." Tatsumi whispered, holding his mouth, which was bleeding from Brad's punch.

"You're doing awfully well..." Said Deidara. "The music was supposed to debilitate everyone on the ship."

"It won't work on me." Said Brad. "Your friend's music isn't going to stop the burning blood that's flowing through my veins!"

Deidara looked down and noticed a small cut on Brad's leg. "You forced yourself to stay awake by hurting yourself?" He said. "What an interesting strategy."

"I am Brad of Night Raid." Said Brad. "But you can call me handsome."

"And I am the servant of Mistress Esdeath, Deidara of the Trio of Beasts."

"Tatsumi..." Said Brad. "Watch me closely as I fight and memorize every detail." Once again he slammed his hand into the floor as the sword on his back transformed into a demonic armor covering his body.

"This guy's worth tons of experience!!" Deidara laughed.

"I knew the real Night Raid was going to show up." Said River, who just arrived. "I have to back up Deidara!" He said, jumping in front of the armored Brad.

"Bro!!" Tatsumi screamed.

"He's distracted. I'll stab him in the back!" Said Nyau, jumping up behind Tatsumi with his knife. Both he and River were knocked back as Brad leaped into the air, punched Nyau's gut, kicked River away, and then summoned his spear and cut Deidara in half in one swift movement.

"Tatsumi..." Said Brad. "This is what I was talking about when I told you to be aware of your surroundings."

Chapter Text

He killed the biggest enemy in one strike and still managed to counter the other two at the same time... All in one single moment! Tatsumi thought. "I knew you were strong, but I never imagined you'd be this powerful, bro!"

"I know, right??" Said Brad. "Back when I was still in the army, they called me the hundred-man slayer..."

"128 men when you first got the nickname, to be exact." Said River, as he got up barely damaged from Brad's kick. "Your specialty's always been taking down powerful individual fighters. That Teigu... That strength... It really is you, Brad!"

"General River." Said Brad sternly.

"I'm no longer a general." Said River. "I became mistress Esdeath's servant after she saved my life."

Is this the same guy bro just told me about!? Tatsumi said to himself.

"If we were still on the same side, we could've celebrated our reunion over a cup of aged wine." Said Brad, spinning his spear in place. "But now you're my enemy, and for the sake of this mission, I must destroy you!"

"You took the words right out of my mouth." Said River. "I absolutely have to complete my mission... And I'll do so using the Teigu my master has given me!"

River removed the white glove covering his hand and took out a silver ring in the shape of a dragon before equipping it on his middle finger. Then, River raised his hand and the barrels surrounding the area burst open, each sprouting a pillar of water. "It is fortunate for me that our battle will happen here of all places!" Said River.

"So you can control water?" Brad grunted. "Fitting for someone whose master controls ice!"

"Mistress Esdeath can summon ice out of nothing." Said River. "While I would be helpless if not for the abundance of liquid around us. Such is the gap between the two of us! WATER BARRAGE CANNON!" He said, as the pillars of water from the barrels all fired themselves into Brad as jets.

"Don't get ahead of yourself!" Said Brad, blocking the water currents with his spear and dispersing them.

Behind him, Nyau started to get up. "That guy's physical strength could be a challenge even for mistress Esdeath..." He murmured. "But in this canal, River has the advantage. Especially when me and my music are around!"

"DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!" Tatsumi yelled, running at Nyau with his sword. The young boy blocked the hit with his recorder.

"Did you really think I'd stand by and let you use your Teigu again?" Tatsumi grunted at him.

"You're such a nuisance..." Nyau complained.

"Looks like I'm back to full strength again." Said Tatsumi, backing away. Nyau took out his knife and tried to run at him, but Tatsumi blocked with his sword and kicked him away. Nyau braked with his knife and jumped back at Tatsumi with a flurry of kicks. That guy's really fast... Tatsumi thought. But... He got back up and started clashing blades with him. "Kurome's way faster than you!!"

"Don't make me laugh!" Nyau yelled back as he slashed at Tatsumi's arm, only for him to backflip away.

So that's the Trio of Beasts... Tatsumi thought. Captain Ogra doesn't even compare to them.

That attack should've killed him... Nyau thought. How is this guy so fast?

At the same time, a huge tide of water rose out of the great canal, and its shape changed to resemble a gigantic snake with River standing on top of it. "Whoa!" Said Tatsumi. "Something amazing is definitely going on over there!"

"As long as there's water around, River will never lose!" Nyau boasted.

"It's already easy to see that my bro's going to win!" Said Tatsumi.

"No, River's going to win!" Nyau growled.

"No, bro will win!" Tatsumi yelled.

"This water pressure is going to crush you, Brad!" River yelled. "RAVINE SERPENT!!"

Instead of saying anything in response, Brad jumped with his spear out and sliced the serpent in half in one blow. River jumped off before Brad reached the top.

"I figured out you'd launch yourself at my snake headlong." Said River. "You know you'll have nowhere to go once it hits the ship. But you can't dodge in mid-air! MURKY LANCE!!" He yelled as the canal's water all around the ship formed into larger, more powerful spears of water and hit Brad, breaking part of his helmet.

"A LITTLE WATER IS NOT GOING TO EXTINGUISH MY PASSION!!!" Brad screamed, charging through the spears.

"That attack won't be enough to defeat you." Said River. "I already knew it won't. The two of us have tread countless battlefields together... Your strength. Your valor. I know them better than anyone. And it's for this reason that I'll destroy you with my most powerful attack! CONQUEST OF THE HEAVENLY WATER DRAGON!!!"

As he said that last sentence, the water around Brad formed into ten dragons which all attacked Brad at the same time. When the stream faded, Brad was gone.

"Is he dead...?" River said to himself.

"YOU CAN'T SAY THESE WORDS UNTIL THE ENEMY'S DEFEATED!!!" Screamed Brad, who appeared right in front of River with a damaged armor and attacked him with his spear.

"How long are you planning to slug this out!?" River yelled at him.

Nyau attempted to run at Brad from behind with his knife, but Brad kicked him away in an instant. Nyau, however, just rolled over and started laughing. "Too bad..." He whispered. "You just lost your chance to beat River."

"Bro..." Tatsumi whispered, laying on the ground and bleeding. "Forgive me, bro." He grunted. "I couldn't keep him occupied for long enough."

"Don't worry about it." Said Brad, as his armor faded back into a sword, revealing that his body was injured and bloody and his pompadour was disheveled. "Just the fact you're still alive after fighting him without a Teigu proves your worth."

"So you're that injured even with full armor..." Mused River. "Seems like you sustained so much damage that your armor gave way."

"Looks like it ends here." Said Brad. "Don't act so tough... I know your ears are bleeding, River."

The former general turned his gaze in surprise and saw that his ear was in fact bleeding.

"Your body got worn out from firing all of those high-energy attacks one after the other." Brad continued. "You aren't in any condition to use your Teigu either."

"So you know." Said River. "Oh well. I'm sure I know what your answer will be, but I'm going to ask anyway. Brad... What would you think about becoming part of mistress Esdeath's army? With how strong you are, you could be a second-in-command in no time."

"I've no interest in going back to serve the Empire." Said Brad.

"Neither do I." Said River. "I no longer fight for the Empire, but for mistress Esdeath herself ever since she saved me. I can do as I please... I am feared by all - even those dirty bureaucrats who spread their filthy politics, consumed by their own power!"

No response.

"Come with me, Brad, and mistress Esdeath will absolve you of all your crimes!!"

"I refuse!" Said Brad, taking out a swiss army knife and combing his hair back into a pompadour. "Killing those politicians may be the easy way for you... But I am, as I've always been, an ally of my people! Esdeath's army is still subordinate to the Prime Minister, and I will never want anything to do with it!"

"An ally of your people?" River grunted. "I've never thought I'd hear a serial killer spout such lofty words. Didn't I always tell you to be humble?"

This isn't looking good... Nyau said to himself. But all I need is to use my secret technique, and we'll win!

Chapter Text

"Neither of us are in a condition to use our Teigu..." Brad concluded. "So then we'll have to settle this with only our skill with a blade!"

Instead of answering, River took out a small syringe full of green liquid and injected it into his wrist. "I apologize for having to do this..." He grunted. "But I know I've no way to beat you otherwise!"

"Bro!" Tatsumi cried. "This guy's really dangerous!!"

"I'm more than prepared to face him." Said Brad, drawing Incursio in sword form from his back. "Let's go!!"

Rushing at his former general with all his might, Brad clashed his sword against River, who clashed back with equal strength and determination. Every time the two blades collided, powerful shockwaves shook the whole deck.

How can he move so fast while he's so injured!? Tatsumi thought. This is just insane!

In the split second it took Tatsumi to formulate this sentence in his mind, Brad swung his sword decisively and left a large cut in River's stomach, causing the latter to growl in pain and vomit blood.

"YES!" Tatsumi rejoiced.

Suddenly, River grinned. "SECRET TECHNIQUE!" He shouted. "NEEDLE-POINT SPEARS OF BLOOD!!!" As he dropped to the floor, the blood from his wound instantly sprung up, forming into countless long needles that all lunged at Brad at once. Gasping, Brad immediately started to block the blades with his sword. Brad's arms and shoulders were pierced and he fell to his knees.

"BRO! Are you okay!?" Tatsumi cried out.

"Don't worry..." Said Brad. "I managed to avoid a fatal wound. He just used his own blood to attack me... His determination is amazing. But as soon as I saw his blood move, I figured out blood also contains water."

Tatsumi picked up the heavily wounded Brad. "I may have just gotten in the way... But both of us surviving against such a formidable opponent is a miracle."

While he said that, River attempted to get up and failed. "Brad..." He whispered weakly. "There's just one other thing I wanted to tell you... And that's how I joined the Trio of Beasts."

I faced no trial after I was brought back to the Capital. I was simply jailed like a dog and the days until my execution were numbered...

But at the morning of the day I was to be killed, the Great General Esdeath walked into my cell by herself. "It would be a complete waste for someone as strong as you to get killed for no reason." She said... "You are exactly the kind of person my division of the army needs."

"This matters not." I told her. "Everybody thinks I'm a criminal. I'm not going to get out of this prison alive, let alone be let back into the military."

Then, she hit me in the head with her foot and said: "Don't give up so quickly. If I want you to return, then you will return. No one else can change that."

"But the Prime Minister was the one who -" I started.

"The Prime Minister wouldn't even be in his position without my military power." She said. "And he would welcome you with open arms if it means he can increase it. Come to my side, River... And no one else will threaten you ever again."

"To put it simply... I admired her." River finished. "That's all! I am someone who exists solely to serve mistress Esdeath... And I'll do so even if it costs me my life!"

While he said that, Brad growled in pain and puked blood. "BRO!!" Tatsumi screamed.

"The syringe I injected myself with wasn't just to strengthen myself..." River continued. "It was also an instant-kill poison. There is no antidote, and it was transferred into your body along with my attack!" He said, before collapsing again.

"As expected from my former superior." Said Brad. "I'm guessing this battle is a draw."

"WE HAVE TO GET YOU BACK TO THE BASE FOR MEDICAL ATTENTION!!" Tatsumi cried.

Brad tried to speak, failed, puked some more blood and then spoke again. "Tatsumi... We still haven't defeated all of them." Brad said, pointing a finger at Nyau, who stood on the sidelines and laughed.

"You really thought the Needle-Point Spears of Blood was our strongest trump card?" Nyau said quietly. "No, our strongest trump card... Is me." He said, playing a different song in his recorder. "Secret Technique: Advent of a Fierce God!"

As he said that, Nyau's muscles expanded massively, and he grew from a small short boy to a hulking giant taller than even Brad and Deidara in seconds. "He used his Teigu on himself to increase his own strength!?" Tatsumi said, shaking in fear.

"It's been a while since I used this form..." Said Nyau, his voice now manlier and lower-pitched. "But I'll carry out the duty mistress Esdeath laid upon me, no matter what!"

"This is bad!" Tatsumi screamed. "He was already on even grounds with me earlier... There's no way I can beat him on my own now!"

"Tatsumi!" Said Brad, holding out his sword. "There's one way you can beat him!"

"Is that..." Tatsumi started.

"Yes. It's Incursio's sealed form." Said Brad. "Use its power and destroy him!"

"You're giving me your Teigu!?" Tatsumi gasped.

"There's no way it's going to work!" Nyau laughed. "You're too weak to ever withstand the huge strain Incursio places on its wearer. If you try to use it, you'll die before I'd even have to hit you - but if you don't, I'll just pulverize your skull with one punch!"

Tatsumi growled and reached out to the sword on his own hip... Only for Brad to punch it out of his hand. "DON'T LISTEN TO WHAT YOUR ENEMY TELLS YOU, DUMBASS!" He yelled. "I've trained you first-hand! If you weren't strong enough to wield Incursio, you wouldn't have survived what I put you through!"

"Bro..." Tatsumi whispered.

"Let the canal's waves carry away my body and bury me at the depths of the ocean!" Brad exclaimed. "I don't want Kurome to keep me alive, for I now know my role is over! After our training, I know you have the potential to become everything I've ever been and more! NOW TAKE IT! MAKE IT YOURS!!!"

"If someone I respect says this to me, I'll have to live up to his expectations like a real man should!" Tatsumi exclaimed before grabbing Incursio, still in sword form, and getting into a fighting position.

"You're really going to try it?" Nyau said with a boring expression. "Alright then! I'll kill you before you can kill yourself!" He said, jumping at Tatsumi with his knife.

"SHOUT IT OUT WITH ALL THE RAGE IN YOUR SOUL, TATSUMI!!!" Brad exclaimed.

"INCURSIOOOOOOOO!!!!" Tatsumi screamed, as the sword in his hand opened, transforming into a giant dragon-like figure above Tatsumi's body.

"The armor's changing its shape to match Tatsumi's stature..." Brad whispered.

"WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THAT ARMOR?!?!?" Nyau gasped. "IT'S LIKE THE TEIGU ITSELF IS ALIVE!"

"Tatsumi..." Brad whispered. "I see that the feelings that fuel your body can handle the power of Incursio!"

While he said that, the dragon-like figure above Tatsumi shrunk down, encasing Tatsumi's body and transforming back into the demonic armor that Brad used to wear. "Esdeath's group used Night Raid's name to fake out assassinations over and over..." Tatsumi said to himself. "IT'S TIME I'LL DELIVER JUDGEMENT UPON YOU!!"

"Are you that full of yourself?" Nyau grinned.

"This armor gives me all of my bro's strength." Said Tatsumi. "And with it, I'll defeat you!"

"GO AHEAD AND TRY!!" Nyau shouted as he rushed at Tatsumi with all his might. Before Nyau's hit could land, Tatsumi punched a clean hole in Nyau's stomach and sent him flying until he crashed into the side of the ship, dying before he even hit the wall.

"Amazing..." Brad whispered. "He already has this much strength now, even though he just put it on... I have no doubt he'll surpass me in no time. I knew I made the right choice... Tatsumi..." He whispered, before closing his eyes for the last time.

Tatsumi took off the armor and stood in front of Brad's body. "Bro..." He whispered. "I won thanks to you. But in the end, I couldn't save you... I'm sorry. But, I promise I'll get stronger until I can use Incursio as good as you did." He fell to his knees as his eyes filled up with tears. "BRO!!!" He cried out, as the water River flooded the ship with evaporated and turned into clouds, and in seconds, it started to rain.

Somewhere else far away from there, a young woman with long raven hair and a white coat, was munching on a strange-looking slab of meat while she was walking away from a few dead bodies laying on the ground. As she did, a female Imperial soldier wearing the same outfit as Esdeath's division of soldiers walked up to her with a scroll in hand. "You're Akame, right?" The young soldier said. "You've been requested to come back to the Capital."

The girl named Akame raised an eyebrow. "Wasn't I already supposed to do so when my assignment was over?"

"There's more than that." Said the soldier. "Apparently my superiors are forming a special high profile group and they specifically want you and five others to be in it."

"I... See." Akame thought for a moment and sighed. "I'll get there immediately then. I think I know what they're looking for..."

Chapter Text

"Finally, I'm healed up!" Mein exclaimed, having made sure her arm is back to full function before she got herself dressed and ran into the training area. "Anyone here??" She exclaimed. "I need someone to spar with!!"

Already in the training area were Tatsumi and Lubbock doing pushups while Doya and Leone were sitting on their backs. "Howdy, partner!" Said Doya. "I see you still have some fight in ya!"

"What the hell are you guys doing...?" Said Mein.

"Just helping the boys out with their training." Said Leone.

"After I put on Incursio I realized it consumes enormous amounts of stamina to use." Tatsumi elaborated. "I need to push my body past its limit if I want to use it as well as bro did! As it is, I can barely turn invisible for a second before it wears off..."

"You don't usually train this hard, Lubbock..." Mein sighed.

"It's just that Tatsumi and I are the only living men in Night Raid." Lubbock said with a half-smile. "I thought I should start taking things a bit more seriously."

"I mean, that's cool, but you're barely doing half as many pushups as Tatsumi is doing..." Leone said snarkily.

And your body's so heavy that it's almost like you're made of solid steel... Lubbock wanted to say, but didn't.

"Oh look, you're all here!" Said Najenda as she walked in with Kurome next to her, and wearing a large bag on her back.

"Boss? What's with the getup?" Asked Tatsumi. "Are you heading to the main Revolutionary Army HQ?"

"Yeah, I still need to give them the Teigu you got from the Trio of Beasts." Said Najenda, sending a hand to Deidara's axe, which was on the floor next to her.

"Boss, that thing's unbelievably heavy..." Tatsumi muttered.

"I can handle it." Said the Boss, picking up the axe with her metal arm. "See? I can't wield it as a weapon, but just carrying it is no problem."

"Was the Boss always this strong?" Tatsumi whispered.

"Of course!" Lubbock whispered back. "You know she used to be a general?"

"I'm letting Kurome stay in charge while I'm away." Said the Boss. "Be sure to train as much as possible!"

"Got it." Said Kurome.

"ARE YOU REALLY LEAVING HER IN CHARGE??" Tatsumi yelled. "SHE'S LIKE, 12!"

"Kurome takes her orders very seriously." Said Lubbock. "I'm sure there will be no problem."

"But the main reason I'm going to HQ is securing a couple new members." Said the Boss. "I hope they have enough talented people to replenish our fighting strength, but I won't hold my breath."

"I'm sorry..." Tatsumi said coldly. "I was just too weak."

Najenda lit up a cigarette. "You were fighting the Trio of Beasts, the strongest shocktroops in Esdeath's forces." Said Najenda. "You managed to kill all three of them and secure their Teigu. Esdeath's strength has no equal, but you just sent a heavy blow to her whole army. This is going to do much to allay the concerns over when the revolution will take place. You not only saved the lives of the civilians on the ship, but also those of thousands of Revolutionary Army soldiers at the same time. You are strong, Tatsumi. And you have succeeded."

"I didn't want to tell you before cause I didn't want to inflate your ego..." Leone started. "But a while back, Brad told me this..."

"Tatsumi's still green and wet behind the ears... But I know that kid's going to become extremely powerful. If he trains enough, he'll be so strong that he'll leave me in the dust. I look forward to see it."

"Bro -" Tatsumi dropped to his knees, tears in his eyes.

"Be proud of yourself, Tatsumi, and live on." Said the Boss. "If you want to honor Brad, all you have to do is become the man he wanted you to be."

"River... Nyau... Deidara..." Esdeath whispered, standing over three gravestones. "You've lost because you were weak. It's only natural for the weak to be destroyed... But even still, you were my most valuable subordinates. I swear that I'll take vengeance on those who killed you."

After this, she slowly walked back to the Minister's office. "I heard the new squad is arriving today?" She asked, not letting a hint of regret be felt in her voice.

"They've all been gathered." Said the Minister. "Most of them seem to be of low status, but clearly capable. And most of them have a few... Quirks, that you'll have to deal with. Sorry about that."

I still know nothing of those six Teigu users... Esdeath thought to herself as she was leaving. But I'll treasure them as much as I've treasured you, and I'll protect them with my life.

My name is Wave. A black-haired young man in a blue jacket said to himself as he entered the Capital main street. For years I've fought at the Imperial Navy as a true man of the sea... But right now, I'm on my way to join a special force unit that the Empire's put together. It's like a promotion... This is my first time in the city, so I want to make a flashy appearance. I put on my best suit just to look cooler! In my hometown, everyone admired me, and I've carried the best assortment of seafood my mother taught me to make... But for some reason, I get the feeling that people are giving me furtive glances... Maybe I did something improper? No matter that. I'm a hero who made a living fighting sea monsters and pirates! I can't let these little things bother me!

After a while, Wave arrived at a large building in the palace ground. "And here we are!" He said. "I need to make a smooth entrance at the meeting place - Those people are going to be my new teammates! First impressions are crucial."

After saying that, Wave opened the door and exclaimed: "Good afternoon, everyone! I'm Wave of the Imperial Na-"

Wave stopped himself after seeing there was no one else in the room except for a muscular man with a bizarre white mask covering his face. "Sorry, wrong room!" He said, exiting and closing the door. "Did I accidentally go to a torture chamber? That's my first time here... The meeting place should be at the conference room which is... Right here." He said, checking the sign. "That guy's actually one of my teammates!? What the hell did I just walk into? I've seen pirates that look more normal than this guy! Well, I gotta stay positive and conduct myself well." He said, walking into the room again. "Umm, good afternoon!" He said, slowly walking into the room and taking a seat next to the masked man, who said nothing and simply looked at him in silence.

What's with this guy? Wave thought. He's just been staring at me this whole time!

After a while, the door opened again, and a black-haired young woman in a white coat slowly walked in. "Hello." She said in a monotone voice as she quietly took a seat across from Wave.

"Uh, hey!" Said Wave. "Sooo, you're one of the Teigu users that were summoned? Nice to meet you! I'm Wave."

"Yeah." Said the black-haired girl. "My name is Akame."

A moment of awkward silence followed. Okay. What should I say? Wave thought to himself. This girl seems like the quiet type, but at least she -

Suddenly, the door was opened again in a rather flamboyant manner by a girl about Wave's age with auburn hair reaching nearly to the floor, with a pair of mechanical arms and a small cartoonish-looking dog standing next to her. "Hello, everyone!" The girl exclaimed. "I am the former captain of the Imperial police force, Seryu the Ubiquitous!"

Oh, great, this one seems normal too - Wave started before Seryu started to scatter rose petals around the area from her pockets before kneeling next to the path of roses she just made. "Your entrance is ready, Master Stylish!" She exclaimed.

Immediately after that, a man in a white coat and glasses with black hair with gray streaks walked in. "First impressions are important!" He exclaimed. "And to someone like me, nothing matters more than style!"

And now there's a crazy faggot here too!? Wave thought.

"Oh, dear..." The man named Stylish said as he looked at Wave. "I can already tell you're a country boy, but you are definitely good-looking. I'm sure we can get along just great."

And now he's taking a liking to me... Wave was mentally screaming.

Lastly, a blonde young man in a tunic and wing-shaped earrings walked into the room. "Good afternoon", he said quietly. "Seems like I'm the last to arrive. Hopefully I'm not late."

"Hey..." Wave said quietly. "My name is Wave. Nice to meet you."

"It's a pleasure to meet you. My name is Ran." Said the blonde.

So, two of five... Wave thought. Maybe this isn't so bad.

While they were talking, the man in the white mask stood up. "Uh... I got some tea, in case anyone's interested." He said, taking out a round metal tray with five tea cups in a shape resembling waste barrels on it. "I apologize." He said quietly. "I haven't greeted any of you even though it's the first time we meet... See, I have a fear of strangers. I'm probably the oldest person here, and yet here I am shying away from conversation like a child! My name is Borris of the Incineration Squad. I hope we can all get along as a band of Teigu-wielding heroes!"

He looks like that, and he's afraid of strangers? Wave thought.

"The Incineration Squad, eh?" Stylish said. "A unit whose purpose is to stylishly burn down anything in their way, be it a great wall or a crowd of people. I see... That's why he looks like that. Definitely not my type..."

Suddenly, the door opened and a tall woman with long blue hair and a white mask walked in.

"Uhh, who's that...?" Wave asked.

"I DON'T RECOGNIZE ANY OF YOU!" Said the mysterious woman. "WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT'RE YOU DOING IN THIS ROOM!?"

"We were called here for a special assignme-" Wave started, before the newcomer kicked him in the face and launched him into the wall. Everyone else stood up.

"Your opponents will be professional serial killers. You must keep your guard at all times!" The masked woman exclaimed, kicking Ran, who already assumed a fighting stance and was thus knocked away a far smaller distance.

While she looked at him, Seryu jumped at her from behind with Coro, only for the newcomer to grab her mechanical arm and slam her into the ground. "You try to hit me from behind, but you're practically reeking with killing intent!"

Akame drew a sword from a sheath on her hip and ran at the masked figure, who dodged to the side and countered with a chop to her back. Then, she took off her mask and revealed her beautiful face. "So this is the Demon Blade Murasame... It's a shame I can't taste its sharpness first-hand."

"You're... General Esdeath?!" Borris gasped.

"Man, that hurt..." Said Wave as he was getting up. So the boss is also crazy!?

"I bet my little game caught you by surprise." Said Esdeath a while later, walking down the palace grounds with her group members behind her in uniforms. "I find it much more exciting than the usual, droll welcoming reception. Wouldn't you agree?"

"I'm used to getting it rough." Wave admitted.

"It was a good lesson, General!" Said Seryu.

"Alright then!" Said Esdeath, tipping her hat. "I say we throw a party after our audience with his majesty."

"Wait, we're going to meet with the Emperor!?" Wave gasped. "This is only the first day!"

"I like to get the annoying things out of the way first." Esdeath nonchalantly said. "You'd rather handle your self-introductions next time, wouldn't you?"

"Next time?" Wave asked.

"Pardon me, Mistress Esdeath... But shouldn't we decide on a name for our team first?" Stylish asked.

"Hmm..." Said Esdeath. "We are a unique force within the military, organized and tasked to mercilessly hunt down and exterminate the Empire's most vile enemies. Therefore, from now on we shalt be known as the Jägers!"

Chapter Text

Is that an Evil Bird, a special-class monster that eats bears for a snack!?

When Wave was chosen for the new squadron in the Capital, he knew he had to bring every skill he had at his disposal. Fighting was the one thing everyone in the team could do, but Wave hoped his masterful seafood memento would impress his new brothers at arms.

That hope was crushed to tiny pieces once Akame took charge of cooking.

Despite her slim appearance, Akame had the appetite of a giant monster and an amount of cooking skill that put Wave completely to shame. While the young marine's seafood recipes were no challenge for her, Akame's specialty seemed to be cooking meals from the meat of extraordinarily powerful monsters which she hunted by herself. With Akame on the team, Wave was reduced to a sous-chef with barely any work left for him.

As a result, Akame could take Wave's idea to make a big welcoming dinner for the six-man band and execute it ten times over. While she, Wave and Borris were preparing it, Seryu, Ran, and Esdeath were waiting at the table. Dr. Stylish was standing at the side of the room and watching.

"So, General..." Seryu asked. "What have you been doing in your spare time?"

"Mostly hunting and torturing prisoners." Esdeath said nonchalantly. "Otherwise, I study."

"Dr. Stylish?" Asked Ran. "Is there a reason you're standing at the side instead of sitting with us?"

"I'm terribly sorry..." Said the doctor. "I don't think I'd be able to participate in your welcoming dinner; for you see, I don't think I can bring myself to eat the meat of these animals that Akame worked so hard to slay."

"You have moral qualms against eating meat?" Esdeath asked him in a slight surprise.

"To put it simply... I do not want such strong, beautiful and stylish beasts to go to waste." The doctor said in a half-lamenting, half-playful tone.

At another part of the Capital, Tatsumi discreetly walked into a small book store near a town square. Lubbock was waiting for him outside. The two entered the store, and Lubbock opened a secret crawlspace behind his desk.

"This place is really giving off the feeling of a secret base!" Said Tatsumi, impressed, as he entered the crawlspace and started to descend the stairs.

"Thanks!" Said Lubbock. "I'm quite proud of it."

"Did you build this?" Tatsumi questioned.

"HEY THEREEEEE~!" Said Leone, sitting inside next to a table full of empty bottles. "Welcome to our Capital hideout!"

"Big sister, you look a little too relaxed..." Said Tatsumi.

"Alright." Said Lubbock, placing a wanted poster at the table with Mein drawn on it. "After the incident with the police captain, Mein started to appear on wanted posters - which means the three of us are the only living members of Night Raid who can afford to be seen in public."

"A bunch of people saw my face when I was on the ship..." Said Tatsumi. "I was worried it might be dangerous if I went out in the open."

"But nobody recognized you while you were walking through town. I'm pretty sure you're good." Said Lubbock.

"Speaking of the city..." Said Tatsumi. "Everyone's recently started to talk about some group called the Jägers."

"It's a special unit Esdeath is leading directly." Said Lubbock. "She's one of the most dangerous people in the Capital."

"Really? How dangerous could she be?" Asked Tatsumi.

"That's right, you haven't heard." Said Lubbock.

A couple years ago, several savage tribes in the South-West joined forces against the Empire's tyrannical rule. In response, the Empire sent a military force to go out and vanquish them. The tribes had approximately 10,000 soldiers and the Empire sent 120,000 to quell them. The result of this fight was obvious from the start... But the Empire's far-off borders were hell for the soldiers that were raised in the comfortable Capital. Poisonous bogs and large rivers of mud were impeding their advances, swarms of venomous bugs and diseases had a devastating effect on the troop morale, and they were being relentlessly assaulted by wild animals and monsters. Facing nature's fury, the expeditionary force had all but given up, and the tribes who knew the land well used it to conduct highly effective hit-and-run attacks on their forces. The Imperial army was too weak to put up a fight, and whatever survivors of the journey were swiftly destroyed.

Realizing the size of the threat, the Empire dispatched the young but very capable generals Najenda and Esdeath to reinforce the army. Be it wild animals, swarms of insects and even entire rivers, every obstacle in Esdeath's way was destroyed in the blink of an eye. The enemy tribes that 120,000 soldiers were helpless against were obliterated in seconds by Najenda and Esdeath's armies. And after the enemy was destroyed, Esdeath decided to reward her soldiers... By allowing them to utterly destroy the town that was the enemy's base of operation. Men and women and little children were all mercilessly slaughtered by Esdeath's soldiers - and she had the leaders of the rebelling tribes watch, tied up and unable to do anything.

"Do you see your homes being ravaged?" She said to them. "I want you to watch this real good."

"Why won't you just kill us already?!" They shouted at her.

"To make an example out of you." She said to them. "I will show the world what happens to everyone who attempts to destroy the Empire."

"And just like that... Esdeath and her Trio of Beasts took the tribe leaders alive to the Capital and brutally tortured them until they died." Lubbock finished.

"But isn't it foolish to make it known that it happened?" Tatsumi questioned. "It would just make everyone hate them, like fanning a smoldering coal into a fire!"

"This is exactly what Esdeath wanted." Said Lubbock. "She wants more rebellions to happen, because she wants nothing more than to crush them in battles."

"That's insane!" Tatsumi declared.

"And it was definitely not a good idea to mess with her." Said Leone. "If I were to even think of taking Esdeath down while I was sent after her, I'd just be another body in a pile of thousands."

"I never thought I'd hear you say that about anyone, big sister..." Said Tatsumi.

"Neither did I." Said Leone. "But sometimes, a world is so fucked up that it surprises even me."

At the same time, a figure in a hood hopped on top of the book store without making a sound, and then hopped into another building, then another, in the direction of the palace. "So the team of six is assembled?" The figure whispered. "And he made it in. Such a waste... Now preserving his legacy will become yet another thing that depends solely on me."

Chapter Text

"Okay, everyone!" Esdeath announced. "Our first job assignment is starting now!"

Taking out a map and a pencil, she pointed out at one part of the map. "We've come to learn about a fortress inhabited by a group of bandits near lake Gyogan."

"Of course!" Said Seryu, remembering the name from her days in the police. "We've long suspected the presence of these shameful evildoers on the outskirts of the Capital!"

Esdeath nodded. "Night Raid will have to wait a little more. For now, we'll have to settle for the enemies we can see."

"And what should we do if the enemy surrenders?" Asked Borris.

"Surrendering is for the weak." Scoffed Esdeath. "There's no use in sparing them if they surrender, because they'll die out anyway."

"Ahahahaha..." Seryu giggled. "Now I can slaughter evildoers before they have a chance to commit evil... I'm truly glad to be part of this group."

"You may exterminate them to your heart's content." Esdeath reassured her.

"Thank you, Mistress Esdeath." Said Seryu, blushing.

This girl's weirder than I thought... Wave said to himself.

"There's one more thing I have to say before we head out." Said Esdeath. "Each one of you will be required to eliminate dozens of people. From now onwards this will be the case in most missions. Are you all fully prepared for that?"

"I'm a man of war." Said Borris. "Even if it means to take another's life, I will follow my orders."

"Likewise." Said Akame. "I carry out my orders without a second thought. I always have and always will."

"I owed my spot at the navy to one great man's patronage." Said Wave. "If I were to ask how to repay his favor, He'd always tell me... Just give your all to defending your country. That's all. I have to do this, even if it costs me my life!"

"I must prove my own worth in order to fulfill my wishes." Said Ran. "Nothing is going to stop me from achieving them, even if I have to commit atrocities."

"And you, doctor?" Esdeath looked over at Stylish.

"I've always been guided by one thing..." Said the doctor. "That one thing is my pursuit of style. Do you understand it?"

"Not at all." Said Esdeath with a straight face.

"From the moment I saw you, mistress Esdeath... I knew it." Stylish elaborated. "Your unfathomable strength, your ice-cold cruelty... You're like a Goddess having descended from Heaven! Your style is without equal, and I want nothing more than to stand by your side!"

"I see that none of you have any doubts." Said Esdeath. "And that is good. Now, let's head out there!"

Hours later, the Jägers were watching over a large fortress, guarded by masked bandits, from the swamps surrounding it.

"I've memorized the layout of the area and the enemy's positions." Said Ran. "Now then, what kind of strategy should we use?"

"Justice demands that we fight fair and square." Said Seryu. "Let's strike from the front!"

Esdeath was sitting alone on the top of a hill, with her subordinates gathering underneath, and watching. "This would be the perfect spot to observe all of their fighting abilities." She whispered.

"THERE'S A RAID!" Said one of the guard. "EVERYONE, SCRAMBLE!!"

The fortress' gates opened, and a large group of armed bandits came to face the Jägers. "Did you guys even know where you were when you came here!?" One of them said. "You've got some nerve trying to walk up the front door! Did you really think you could come outta here alive!?"

Another bandit looked over at Akame and Seryu. "They've got some real cuties with them though. I'm gonna have some fun with them when we're back at the base..."

"Doctor Stylish and I are going to start by combining our power to clear a path." Said Seryu. "Coro, number five!"

Hekatonkheires responded by enlarging itself and biting into Seryu's mechanical arm. "Losing my arms only made me stronger." She said to herself. "All it did was give Master Stylish a chance to give me a new weapon..." Coro released her arm, revealing it was replaced with a giant drill-like weapon. "Heavenly Judgement of the Ten Kings. Number five: Enma's Spear of Justice!" She exclaimed, ramming the drill into the crowd and skewering bandits to pieces left and right.

"What the hell is that thi-" one of the bandits started, before Coro bit off his arm and half his torso.

"These are bad news! We gotta get the boss!" Said another bandit while a few others ran back into the gate.

"Number seven!" Seryu exclaimed, replacing her arm with a large anti-tank sniper rifle. "Taizan's Cannon of Justice!" She fired a single bullet, pulverizing the gate along with the two bandits trying to reach it.

"This looks like one destructive Teigu..." Ran mused.

"With that strength, I feel like she could take them all out herself." Said Wave.

"I can assure you, that is no Teigu." Said Stylish. "These are weapons I made myself using my own Teigu... The Graceful Hands of God, Perfector!" He pointed at his gloves. "It increases my hands' speed and percision hundreds fold - truly the most stylish of all Teigu! Its power allows me to heal any wound, no matter how severe, and restore you to full capacity - and maybe give your body a few enhancements while I'm at it."

"I would rather not have weapons stuffed into my body, thank you." Said Ran.

"I'm glad we have someone to patch us up..." Said Wave. "But if all you have is a support-type Teigu, you won't be able to defend yourself."

"WRONG!" Said Stylish extravagantly. "Behold, my enhanced troops!"

Stylish snapped his fingers, and a group of men and women with blank white masks, revealing black outfits and many sutures on their skin appeared from behind the shadows and under the ground in the blink of an eye.

"These are my personal foot soldiers!" Stylish explained. "Using my Teigu, I performed surgeries that enhanced their bodies. In a game of Chess, these would be my Pawns!"

"So you can create your own personal army?" Said Borris in awe. "This is a very useful Teigu."

"Creating stylish weapons with power rivaling a Teigu has always been my greatest ambition!" Said Stylish.

"Uh..." Said Ran. "Akame already went through the gate while you were talking."

"She should learn to start listening when people are speaking!" Said Stylish in anger.

Beyond the gate, Akame was taking her time striking down bandits one by one. "This girl may be cute, but she's extremely powerful..." One of them said. Seconds later, he and the entire group around him were cut into little pieces.

Akame then nonchalantly sheathed her sword. "With enemies this weak, I don't even need my special ability to kill them in one strike."

While she was talking, a bandit who was hiding behind a wall attempted to hit her from behind with a gun, only for Wave to appear behind him and kick him in the face, hurling the bandit at Akame's feet. "No need to thank me." He said.

"Correct." Said Akame. "I knew he was there."

"FOR REAL!?" Asked Wave.

Outside, several archers were aiming their bows at Borris, who was rushing towards them. "RIDDLE HIM WITH HOLES!" One of them commanded. Arrows surrounded Borris like rain, but he simply drew a demonic flamethrower from his back and burned the arrows to ash. Even their metal heads melted.

"This is my Teigu... Purgatory's Gateway: Rubicante!" Borris exclaimed. "This... Is also part of the job." Then, he fired a massive blazing wave that burned the archers to a crisp. One of them was able to escape with only a few small flames clinging to his body. He ran to find a bucket of water to extinguish them, but it had no effect. "These flames are unnatural!" He cried. "Even with water, they won't go out!" He said as the fire covered his body and burned him to ash.

"This ain't no joke..." Said one of the bandits after witnessing his friend being consumed by flames. "I've gotta get the hell outta this place!" He, along with a few others, began to run away, only for a few feathers to pierce their body like bullets. "What the -" A dying bandit looked up to see Ran, wearing two discs on his back that protruded angelic white wings. "Is that... An angel?" He whispered.

"Not a single one of you can be allowed to escape." Ran concluded, firing several more feathers and killing the wounded bandits.

Hidden behind the same trees where Stylish's Pawns were hiding seconds before, the figure with the black-and-white mask was watching. "That one needed a Teigu to create these modified humans after all?" It whispered. "I've seen people make better weapons with just their own skill. Perfector is just a crutch he's using to compensate for his natural lack of abilities... But the creatures he made with it are far, far more interesting."

Chapter Text

"Yo, Akame." Said Wave. "Did you sleep well last night?"

"Yeah." Said Akame, already fully dressed as she sat near the table eating a few small slabs of meat.

"Uh... I thought we were all out of food after yesterday's dinner?" Wave asked, confused.

Akame sighed. "What's wrong?"

"What do you mean?" Asked Wave.

"Whenever you're talking to me, you feel like something is wrong. I can tell from your expression."

"It's - uh..." Wave stumbled for a moment. "It's just how you look kind of like that girl from the wanted posters - Kurome... Even the name is similar."

"Of course I do. She's my sister."

"How did that even happen!?" Wave said in utter shock.

"You're asking why she's on the wanted posters and I'm in here?" Said Akame. "You have the bandits that killed Seryu's father to thank for that. They captured both of us years ago and thought they could convince us to change our alliances and join the Revolutionary Army. They failed... But then the Revolutionary Army itself stepped in and captured her again. Kurome is one of the most skilled fighters I know... But she's still an impressionable child who doesn't understand nuance. We both know the Empire has a lot of problems... But they drilled it into her head that it makes it right to burn the whole country and its people to the ground. She's failed to question whether the Revolutionary Army itself is any better, or if their motivations are really as pure as they make them out to be, rather than just trying to seize control of the Empire for themselves."

Suddenly, the door slammed open. "Okay, everyone!" Said Esdeath. "For the next few days, the three of us be hunting at Mt. Fake! It's a perfect place for an ambush, so you must keep your eyes open!"

"Copy that!" Said Wave.

"We'll start off looking for Tree Beasts until evening." Esdeath continued. "Once we get there, the two of you will advance west and I will go east by myself."

"...I know all about the dangerous monsters that appear at the sea..." Said Wave hours later. "But I'm completely clueless about those at the mountains."

"A lot of them use camouflage to get you by surprise." Akame remarked. "Even a simple rock in the path could be your next opponent."

"Got it." Said Wave. He wasn't very tired, but Akame was even less tired than he was.

"WATCH OUT!!" Said Akame, swinging her sword to cut a branch-like tendril which was about to impale Wave. The Tree Beast behind the two shrieked in pain before collapsing lifeless on the ground.

"You saved my life. I owe you one!" Said Wave.

"Don't worry about it." Said Akame. "There's more of them coming!"

In the blink of an eye, Wave and Akame were standing back to back, surrounded by monsters in the form of demonic trees and rocks. "Looks like they're attacking in a group!" Said Wave. "They don't look as tasty as the ones I know from the sea."

"These monsters are weak, but they come in great numbers." Said Akame.

"Alright then!" Wave exclaimed. "Let's clean out the area and turn them into firewood!"

Wave drew his own sword, a black and blue cutlass, and the two rushed into the swarm of monsters, destroying them all in seconds. "Alright, I'm done!" Said Wave. "And it looks like you're finished as well, right, Akame?"

Akame nodded. "We just made a lot of noise. It's almost guaranteed that we've attracted more powerful monsters already."

"We better be on the lookout then." Grunted Wave as they proceeded. Shortly afterwards, they noticed several more dry trees ahead of them.

"Looks like you were right." Said Wave. "I wish I'd have a bit more time to rest, but -"

Suddenly, the hiding Tree Beasts were all burned to a crisp as a huge, demonic-looking monster landed on top of them from above - a monstrous red-skinned humanoid with overgrown muscles, a pair of sharp horns and large wings, its body surrounded in a flaming aura. "WHAT THE HELL IS THIS THING!?!" Wave gasped.

"Impossible..." Akame whispered. "That's a Balur King. These monsters were extinct before the Teigu were even made!"

"How do you know that!?" Asked Wave.

"I was tasked with tracking down a cult that managed to find an egg of a Balur King in order to resurrect it. Before I got there, the egg was already destroyed by... Night Raid-" Before she could continue, the Balur King summoned a whip of flames in its hand, swiped it and threw Akame off the side of the mountain.

"AKAME!!" Wave screamed. "I don't know what this monster is capable of, but there's no way I'm backing down now! GRAND CHARIOT!!!" He shouted out as his cutlass expanded, engulfing his body and turning into a black armor. Summoning a blue spear in his hand, Wave rushed at the Balur King, who summoned a sword made of lightning in its other hand and blocked Wave's spear attack. Without flinching, Wave leaped forward and kicked the Balur King in the face, pushing it away. The monster screamed and flew back at Wave, pushing him downwards with a swing of its whip...

When suddenly, it collapsed as it was cut in the back. Black runes spread across the Balur King's body as it collapsed, falling off the mountain as its body exploded into flames in the air. Akame appeared behind it, uninjured. "That... Is not a Teigu." She said, returning her sword to its sheath.

"Looks like the Jägers took down our allies at lake Gyogan." Said Lubbock, having returned from a short trip to the Capital.

"Seriously, they're all Teigu users?" Asked Leone. "Damn, that's scary..."

"There was another thing I noticed..." Said Lubbock, turning to Kurome. "One of them is named Akame. And she looks just like an older version of you."

"Leone told me you had an older sister." Said Tatsumi. "That one is her, isn't she?"

"Yes." Kurome said coldly. "I haven't seen her once since I left the Empire. Even before that, she was more doubtful of their actions than I was. But I know I can't simply convince her to defect... Especially not now that she's in line with Esdeath. That's why I made this promise to myself... That I will take my sister's body for myself, and make her the centerpiece of my theatre of puppets."

"The Jägers made sure there are no survivors." Sheele tried to get the conversation back on topic. "So even now that they're up and active, we barely know anything about what they're capable of."

"Speaking of which..." Said Tatsumi. "Do you know anything about the Teigu that Akame has?"

"Her Teigu is the perfect antithesis of my own..." Said Kurome. "The One-Cut Killer, Murasame. Whereas my Teigu has the power to bring the dead back to life, hers has the power to bring death to every living thing. Its blade contains a deadly venom that kills anything it cuts."

"Sounds like she's an opponent we should be wary of." Said Tatsumi. "And I bet the rest are no pushovers either. I have a feeling that things are going to get a lot harder from now on..."

"What do you mean by not a Teigu?" Asked Wave, a little angry.

"Exactly what I said." Akame replied. "Your Grand Chariot is not a Teigu. It's a Shingu."

"The Hell's a Shingu?" Wave grunted.

"You heard the story of how the Teigu were created, right, Wave?" Asked Akame.

"Of course!" Wave answered. "I've heard how Grand Chariot was created as well. Incursio, the weapon used by the Hundred-Man Slayer Brad, was merely a prototype of my -"

"Wrong." Akame said plainly. "There is no such as thing as a prototype Teigu. All 48 Teigu were created together, by the same people at the same time. There could be no earlier or later versions of a Teigu, and there certainly couldn't be a prototype and completed version that are both considered a Teigu. I've seen Incursio and its wielder in action. Not only do its strength and speed far surpass Grand Chariot, it also has the power to constantly evolve and turn itself invisible, whereas your Grand Chariot doesn't have any ability that Incursio lacks."

"What do you think it is then?" Asked Wave.

"A Shingu." Akame said again. "A weapon that was created 400 years ago, by an Emperor who wanted to craft his own weapons that surpassed the Teigu. While the resulting weapons were far above the strength of any normal person, they held no candle against a real Teigu, and were deemed a failure. Some Shingu were made specifically as a successor and a superior version of an existing Teigu, only to end up being an inferior weaker version instead. One of these was made after my Murasame, one after Mistress Esdeath's Demonic Extract... And one was made after Incursio."

"Are you saying my armor is a failed counterfeit Teigu!?" Wave yelled in anger. "Why not just tell me directly that I'm too weak to be a Jäger!?"

"Because you're not." Akame's tone of voice changed. "Teigu or Shingu, what matters most in a fight is your own strength and skill. Wave... Even though you wield an inferior copy of a Teigu, I can tell that your own strength more than makes up for it. You, not your Shingu, has the potential to reach the realm of Teigu. I've seen this potential with my own eyes. And considering the fact you're still here, I'm sure Mistress Esdeath has seen it too."

Wave's face was starting to grow red; he noticed a feint blush on Akame's face as well. Looking up to the sky, he also noticed that the sun was setting.

"It's already evening..." Akame said quietly. "We should head back and regroup."

Back at the Capital, Doctor Stylish was heading out of the Imperial palace, the Perfector gloves present on his hands. "I was worried that with all this Jäger work, I would have no time to tend for my precious test subjects... Good to know I was wrong."

Not long after, he arrived at a small workshop near main street. Well, it looked small on the surface - most of his laboratory was hidden underground.

However, in the entrance to Stylish's lab was a hooded figure wearing a mask on its face. A mask that was half-black, half-white. It looked like it was awaiting him.

"And you are?" He asked, unamused.

"Who am I matters not." The figure replies, in a voice so quiet that Stylish couldn't tell if they're male or female. "I've been sent here in order to take a sample from every one of your creations - from the foot soldiers to the trump cards."

"And what makes you think I'd be willing to give that all away, especially to a stranger?" Stylish scoffed.

"I've been sent here by a fellow scientist who wants you to share your work with them." The figure replied. "They knew you aren't going to give this information for free, but I'm capable of providing you with vital knowledge of my own in return."

"And what is this knowledge, if I may ask?"

"The location of Night Raid's headquarters."

Chapter Text

"I'm tired..." Whispered Leone, who didn't actually look tired. "I think I'm gonna go wash my face." She slowly walked out of the lounge and into the hot tub outside. She was about to reach out to the water when suddenly, a man in a black hat emerged from inside the hot tub and threw a knife at Leone's forehead. He jumped out of the water and revealed his black trousers and an open coat revealing a pale chest covered in stitches. "Kihihi..." He laughed. "I've done it, master Stylish! I, Truman, took down one of Night Raid's members! And now, I shall continue plucking out the rest!"

At the forest around the base, Stylish himself was surrounded by three figures: A toned man with a white mask and an oversized nose, a muscular blonde man with a black suit, a hat and a domino mask, and a short green-haired woman with gigantic ears.

"Truman already took one down, master Stylish." Said the giant-eared woman.

"Well done." Said Stylish. "As expected of a knight who charges into enemy territory! Now then, let us begin our mission, team Stylish!"

As he said that, numerous modified humans, including the blank-masked ones he summoned in lake Gyogan, emerged from the forest and charged towards the base. "And remember!" Stylish continued. "Make sure to harm the bodies as little as possible and bring them back to me! I will reward anyone who can bring one of them alive!!"

"I have a bad feeling about this..." Said the muscular man. "We probably should've told Mistress Esdeath where we are leaving before going in on our own."

"We can take them on our own, Mae." Said Stylish. "It would be a waste to get the others. I could learn so much from experimenting on Night Raid and their Teigu, so I'd rather hog them all for myself!"

"Is that why you haven't brought Seryu either?" Asked the long-nose man.

"Even if I told her not to tell the captain, she probably wouldn't listen." Said Stylish. "But as long as I have all of you, I can still defeat them."

"Looks like there's a whole army out here!" Lubbock said in terror, checking on the devices on the back of his hands. "How did they find out where we are!?"

Suddenly, the ceiling burst open and a modified human in a white mask jumped into the room. Lubbock dodged as he swiped a clawed hand at him and wrapped some strings around his neck, snapping it.

"This is bad..." Lubbock said. "I gotta find the others!"

Just then, he noticed his opponent was still alive. It rushed at him again and slashed at his chest.

"We got another one down!" The giant ear woman cheered.

"My enhanced soldiers are tough and persistent." Stylish gloated. "They are all free from the limitations of human beings!"

Suddenly. Stylish's minion gasped.

"Is something wrong, Mimi?" Stylish asked.

"It seems like Night Raid are no less persistent."

Back in the base, Lubbock took off his torn shirt, revealing his chest was covered in wires. "There are many ways I can use my strings!" He said. "For example..." He started weaving rapidly with the devices on his hands, forming a spear. "If you condense a lot of them together, you can even create a weapon!" He said, impaling the modified human. "I own a book store." Lubbock said. "It's full of manga books I can read for ideas on how to use my strings."

Suddenly, another modified human appeared behind Lubbock. "There's another one??" He panicked. Then, several more foot soldiers appeared behind it. "I'd rather avoid fighting this many of you at once. Time to go!" He said, running away as the soldiers crawled after him. "They're fast!" He complained, when suddenly his enemies began to get hit by bullets. "Get behind me!" Said Doya. "Prometheus!!!" She exclaimed before firing several more bullets which began to zigzag in their flight, taking multiple modified humans with each shot.

"Not bad!" Said Lubbock, wiping his sweat. Suddenly, a man in an elongated hat and blue changshan entered the room, behind him were two tall and muscular men with metal masks. "Even though we're enemies, I can't help but admire your strength." Said the man in the front quietly.

"Oh gods, not another one!" Lubbock complained.

"My name is Toby." The man in the hat continued. "I've been sent here to defeat Kurome."

"You're gonna have to get through me, first!" Said Doya.

"As you wish." Said Toby, sprouting blades from his forearms and feet as he began to jump over walls towards Doya. The gunslinger narrowly dodged as Woru appeared in front of her, blocking Toby's foot blade with his shield. As he jumped back, Doya shot Toby in his chest.

Without flinching, Toby landed behind Woru. He tore off his gloves, revealing both his hands were mechanical.

"Doya!!" Lubbock started to run towards his two allies, but the two men in metal masks blocked his path. "Get out of my way!" He said in anger.

As numerous foot soldiers were gathering in front of the base, Tatsumi broke out of its wall with Incursio covering his body and charged at them, killing a modified human with each punch and kick.

"He's out, he's out!" Tatsumi heard someone laughing. A heavily muscular man with a green coat and two mechanical hands walked out of the woods to face him. "Greetings, armored warrior!" He said. "I've been sent here to fight you."

"Let's see you try!" Said Tatsumi in anger as he drew his sword, rushing at the muscle man and attempting to strike his chest. The man blocked the hit with his arms, and Tatsumi's sword shattered. The man laughed and punched Tatsumi, launching him into the base's wall.

"Kaku is facing Incursio, just as planned." Said Mimi. "However, Toby is having trouble reaching Yatsufusa."

"I've been careful to pit each fighter against a foe who can exploit their weaknesses." Said Stylish.

"We're losing a lot of foot soldiers." Said Mimi in concern. "There's too much noise for me to discern the exact numbers, but they seem to be very large."

Yet more foot soldiers were rushing at Tatsumi while he was stuck in the wall, but the armored knight quickly jumped out and began to kill them one by one. "Even with this armor on, my fists can damage you!" Kaku said, as he returned to pummel Tatsumi with his fists. Suddenly he was interrupted by a loud roar as an ape-like monster about as tall and muscular as Kaku himself grabbed him from behind and slammed him to the floor.

Back at the base, Toby continued to attack Woru and Doya, ignoring the many bullet holes in his chest. "You're quite the troublesome opponents..." He said to himself. "But my target is Kurome. I will not let you stand in my-"

Suddenly, Toby's arm was severed as Kurome appeared in front of him. "You want me?" She taunted. "Here I am."

"So now monsters are trying to interrupt the battle?" Kaku grunted. "Or are you another one of Yatsufusa's puppets!?" He lunged at the huge ape with his metal fist, and the ape responded with a punch of his own, sending shockwaves across the yard. "Tch..." Said Kaku. "Whatever this thing is, it looks like it's just as strong as I am..." He began to clash fists with the ape again, starting to push it back... Only for a bullet of raw energy to pierce his forehead from behind. He collapsed, revealing Mein holding her rifle, still in her night gown. "You still aren't strong enough to deal with him on your own, Tatsumi." She said in annoyance.

"Kaku is dead!" Mimi panicked. "And so are most of our foot soldiers!"

"Looks like I made a miscalculation..." Stylish lamented. "We've come this far. It can't be helped."

As he said that, Mae, the domino masked soldier, looked up. "Something is getting closer...!" He said.

"What do you mean by -" Stylish started, only to witness a giant monster resembling a manta ray flying above him and over the forest. "A special class monster, Air Manta!?" He gasped.

"Someone is riding it!" Said the man in the domino mask. "That... That's the former general, Najenda! And there are two more people with her!"

"How stylish!!" Laughed Stylish. "To take such a powerful monster and make it into a transport!!"

"THIS ISN'T THE TIME FOR ADMIRING!!" The long-nose man complained.

"I have to admit you surprised me a little..." Stylish continued. "But you also gave us a chance. I'll capture every last one of you... With my secret technique!!"

Chapter Text

"You ran right into my hands, just as I planned." Said Toby, as a sharp blade sprouted from the stump where his severed arm used to be. He leaped towards Kurome again, prompting her to block his blade attack with her own sword... When suddenly, Toby revealed a gun muzzle inside his mouth and fired an antipersonnel bullet at Kurome. Unfazed, Kurome dodged his bullet and cut Toby's second arm off - only for him to reveal another gun underneath it. Before he was able to fire, Woru fired a kunai dagger from his shield and hit Toby in the forehead. Before Toby had the chance to reveal whether or not he's still alive, Kurome sliced off his head.

"There's more enemies!?" Tatsumi gasped, looking upwards at the Air Manta.

"Wait a second!" Said Mein, equipping her Pumpkeen's visor and looking upwards to see her Boss and two hooded figures riding the monster. "It's the Boss!" Mein cheered. "And she brought reinforcements!"

"What a great timing!" Tatsumi said in awe.

Kihihihihi... Laughed Truman, who was hiding in the bushes behind the two. What a delectable young lady... Your back is wide open! He thought as he jumped up behind her with his knife...

Only for Leone, in her monster form, to appear and kick him away. She quickly ran up to Truman and grabbed him by the neck. "Don't get me wrong, I love doing sneak attacks..." She grunted. "I just don't like being targeted by them."

Truman simply laughed, revealing a hidden blade in his foot as he kicked Leone in the face, only for her to shatter the blade with her teeth and punch him to the ground.

"You alright there, sis?" Asked Tatsumi.

"I could survive thanks to my healing factor." Said Leone. "Right now I'm fit as a fiddle!"

"Good for you." Said Kurome, as she appeared alongside Lubbock.

"Looks like everyone's here." Said Mein.

Just then, several more modified foot soldiers appeared surrounding the entire group. "There's still some of them left." Tatsumi grunted.

"But these minions are the only ones still tipping my strings." Said Lubbock.

"I can't smell anyone else nearby either." Said Leone.

"Now that we're all here, they should be a piece of cake!" Tatsumi exclaimed.

Suddenly, Kurome fell to her knees, and everyone beside her and Tatsumi dropped to the floor.

"Guys? What's wrong?" Asked Tatsumi.

"I can't move...!" Mein said weakly.

"It's like that one time on the boat!" Said Tatsumi. "Are they using hypnosis?"

"No. That's a paralyzing venom." Said Kurome, who seemed to resist it better than the others. "And venom only affects the living." She grinned, making Yatsufusa flash with black light as her Apeman, Doya, Woru and Natala all appeared beside them.

"Everyone seems to be down except Incursio and Yatsufusa, Master Stylish." Said the blonde muscle man.

"Such is the power of my first secret technique..." Said Stylish. "My stylishly mixed ultra-concentrated paralyzing poison! Against people as strong as these, I doubted just any poison would work... So I took the liberty of breaking out my strongest stuff right away. It seems like being covered in heavy armor can protect them from the gas... But that's just a matter of time."

"But isn't it going to affect our allies as well!?" Asked the man with the big nose.

"Of course not. The modifications I made for your bodies render them all immune. Of course that includes you, Han!"

"And the poison is scentless, so it won't bother me! This is amazing!" Said Han, the long-nose man.

Leone already began to stand back up as the modified humans began to surround the team. Kurome was already on her feet, but both could hardly move.

"I'm still the only one who can fight." Said Tatsumi. "I have to protect everyone else!"

Suddenly, a powerful shockwave wiped out many of the foot soldiers as a figure landed in their midst. Once the dust cleared, the members of Night Raid saw a tall man in a white suit, with blue hair and bison-like horns, pinning down a soldier with a pole weapon ending with what appeared to be a blunt cylinder. Everyone looked at him in awe, except Lubbock, who was unconscious. "So that's our new ally..." Said Leone.

"It seems too dangerous for the two of us to drop off right now..." Said Najenda. "So I'm going to continue giving you orders from here."

"Understood." Said the man with the horns.

"Now exterminate the enemies before you... Susanoo!" Najenda continued.

"Understood." Said the blue-haired Susanoo, as horizontal spinning blades sprouted out of his weapon and he began to skewer the modified soldiers left and right. A few of them attempted to attack him from behind, only for Natala's naginata pole to extend and impale them one by one.

"He's strong...!" Said Tatsumi.

"There's a new guy wiping out all of our infantry!" Panicked Mae, the blonde man in the domino mask.

"That's impossible!" Said Mimi. "There is no living thing that the poison wouldn't work on!"

"It might be related to his Teigu." Said Stylish in concern. "And if that's the case, I wouldn't have to worry about destroying his body." Revealing a hidden device in his hand, Stylish pressed a button, and every intact torso of a modified foot soldier suddenly bloated, began to glow, and exploded.

"That is my second secret technique..." Said Stylish. "Special emergency human explosives! Now they're finished!"

Most of Yatsufusa's puppets, save for Apeman, were able to avoid the explosions by simply moving away. Susanoo, however, didn't have such luck. Being the target of the explosions, he was right in the middle, numerous holes in his body and half his torso blown off. Then, in a flash, the holes closed up and Susanoo instantly grew back its torso and arm.

"That person must be an Automaton-Type Teigu..." Said Mae. "A living Teigu!!"

Once Susanoo was done regenerating, he turned his gaze to Apeman which was blown to pieces, and then to Mein.

"What...?" Mein started, as Susanoo began to walk up to her. He reached out his hands towards Mein's vulnerable head... And fixed her hair which was disheveled by the explosion. "Alright!" He said.

"The fuck?" Asked Mein.

On the top of the Air Manta, Najenda scoured the area with Spectator still prominent on her eye. It wasn't long before she noticed Stylish, Mimi, Mae and Han hiding in the forest. "Susanoo!" She exclaimed. "The enemy is hiding in the woods to the Southwest! Squash them out. Leave no survivors!"

"Understood!" Said Susanoo.

"We've been spotted!" Panicked Mimi.

"There's no choice!" Said Stylish. "We have to retreat! At this point fighting back would be suicide!" The group of four started to run, only for the Air Manta to tackle them from the front. They dropped to the ground just in time for Susanoo to reach them.

"Worry not, master Stylish!" Said Mae. "In a game of chess, the three of us would be the Bishops and Rooks! We'll protect you no matter what!!"

"That's not possible." Stylish grunted. "You three were made for reconnaissance. You stand no chance against this guy. He is a human Teigu who is immune to my paralyzing venom... But I have one last trump card that will topple these scales! My third secret technique, the monster transformation formula!!" He said, injecting his arm with a red hypo. in seconds, Stylish's skin and muscles bloated, turning into a giant humanoid shell of muscle. "THIS IS IT! THE ULTIMATE STYLISHNESS!!" He laughed. "I TURNED MYSELF INTO A MONSTER STRONG ENOUGH TO BLOW ALL OF YOU AWAY!!!"

"Such a magnificent creature..." Said Han. "As expected of our Master Stylish - HUH!?" He gasped as Stylish's monster body grabbed him and Mae.

"You're useless to me now... Except as nutrients!!" Stylish laughed as a giant mouth formed in his monster body's chest and devoured the two. He then grabbed the shocked Mimi and ate her as well. "Wonderful!" He laughed. "By eating all three of you, I reached a new height!!" His monster body transformed further, growing a giant head with a conical backside full of red liquid and his right arm turning mechanical. Stylish's own torso was embedded in the monster's forehead.

"But right now, this is not enough!" Stylish shouted. "I still need to grow bigger and stronger... AND YOU'RE MY PERFECT PREY!!!" He said, reaching out to grab Susanoo. The human Teigu struck Stylish's metal arm with his mace, only for the gigantic creature to punch him away.

"That thing's too strong!" Tatsumi screamed. "I need to help him!"

"We're comin' in with ya, partner!" Said Doya as she, Natala and Woru began to follow him.

"What's wrong, automaton!?" Stylish laughed, creating craters with his punches trying to reach Susanoo. "Are you too afraid to go on the offense!?"

Then, Tatsumi and the three puppets reached the cliff Susanoo and Stylish were on.

"Oh, you got reinforcements?" Stylish said with a smug grin. "That matters not. I'll squish you like bugs!"

Then, a bullet hit Stylish's organic mech and pushed him off the cliff and back to the valley beneath the base. Using Mae's super-vision, he spotted Mein's smoking rifle as she was standing on the Air Manta with Najenda.

"It's over!!" Tatsumi exclaimed as he and Natala started to climb the monster's body together.

"LIKE HELL IT'S OVER!!" Stylish screamed as numerous tube-like tentacles appeared from his head and stabbed into Tatsumi and Natala, restraining them. "By feeding on your blood, I'll continue growing!!" He laughed.

"I'm getting weaker...!" Tatsumi groaned, as he struggled against the needles draining his blood...

When suddenly, a knife hit the monstrous head holding Stylish's body. "Impossible!" He gasped, as a hooded figure jumped at him from behind. "You're that Two-Face guy who -"

Before Stylish could finish his sentence, the figure he called Two-Face grabbed the knife from his monster body and stabbed it through Stylish's forehead, making the tendrils release Tatsumi and Natala. Two-Face then quickly took out a syringe and stabbed a hole through the back of the monster's head, filling it with Stylish's monster transformation formula.

"Who are you...?" Asked Tatsumi as he was getting up. Instead of responding, Two-Face threw something on the floor and disappeared in a cloud of smoke.

Tatsumi slowly got up and began to head back to where the rest of the group was. "I don't know who this guy is... But he just saved us big time."

"Giant monster dude just called him Two-Face." Said Doya. "And it looks like he knows where our base was. I'm not sure it's a good sign."

"I couldn't activate my Clearsight fast enough to see their face before they left." Said Najenda in disdain. "And we have no way to know if they or that Jäger have told anyone else about our location. We have to run away before anyone else shows up."

"Wait a minute..." Said Mein, already able to stand up. "WHERE THE HELL IS SHEELE!?"

"In all the chaos, we didn't notice she was missing!" Said Lubbock. "For all we know, she might be dead!"

"She's... Still in her room." Said Najenda. "She looks like she's asleep."

Najenda, Lubbock and Mein ran back into the base and headed towards Sheele's room. Just as Najenda said, Sheele was sleeping peacefully on her bed.

"Sheele, are you alright?" Asked Mein as she shook Sheele in order to wake her up.

"What are you doing? It's in the middle of the night..." Sheele murmured as she opened her eyes.

"Didn't you hear the fight?" Asked Lubbock.

"What fight?" Asked Sheele.

"One of the Jägers just attacked our base." Said Najenda. "Which means he was able to learn our location somehow."

"That's terrible!" Said Sheele as she grabbed her glasses. "We have to run away before anyone else finds us!"

"Staying asleep while the base is attacked and having no clue what happened, that's Sheele for you." Lubbock grunted.

Meanwhile, on the ground, Kurome laid a hand on Tatsumi's shoulder. "Looks like I lost another one of my puppets."

"He was strong." Said Tatsumi. "I feel like we couldn't have won without him."

"Nah, Apeman's no big deal." Said Kurome. "Natala's ten times stronger than him anyways."

"Then why are you -" Tatsumi started, before his eyes widened in realization.

"Exactly." Said Kurome. "As soon as we're done relocating, I'm going to resurrect your friends."

Jägers: 6 left

Chapter Text

"Whoa, this feels great!"

The entire Night Raid group were riding into the distance at the back of the gigantic Air Manta... Except for the puppets, who were following from underground. "For an assassin, you're unbelievably innocent, Tatsumi..." Said the second new member the Boss brought with her: A beautiful girl with auburn-pink hair named Chelsea.

"I gotta admit, this is way more fun than I thought..." Said Leone.

"NO IT ISN'T!!" Yelled Mein, who had motion sickness.

Our destination are the Marg highlands, located 800 kilometers southeast of the Capital. Dotted with dozens of sheer plateaus, it has a unique ecosystem all of its own. The monsters residing here are on a level too high for human habitation, and thus, it remains an unexplored territory.

"...And because it's unexplored, it's a perfect spot for us to stay in!" Najenda concluded. "The Revolutionary Army's reconnaissance teams are currently scouting for a fitting place for a permanent new hideout closer to the Capital. Until then, we'll train here."

As the Boss was finished with her briefing, the Air Manta took off and flew away.

"Was that thing supposed to leave?" Asked Mein. "With the Teigu we just recovered?"

"We couldn't hog a transport vehicle this important for ourselves." Said the Boss.

"It probably went back to the HQ." Said Chelsea. "Their nest is there, which makes it easy to deliver into automatically. I can't believe you didn't know that, Mein."

"Does that mean we can use it to break into the palace from above?" Asked Tatsumi.

"Unfortunately, it isn't that simple." Said Kurome. "The palace is surrounded with powerful monsters that are trained to guard it from the air."

"They really had to account for everything, didn't they..." Said Tatsumi.

"Don't worry." Said Najenda. "We are going to get a ride home when things are calmed down a bit in the Capital. Now, let me properly introduce to you the newest members of Night Raid! First is Chelsea." She said, pointing to Chelsea... Who was unattentively sitting on the side with a lollipop.

"Honestly, she doesn't look like a better assassin than Mein and the rest..." Said Tatsumi.

"Don't judge a book by its cover." Said the Boss. "The number of successful assassinations she has under her belt is nearly as large as Kurome's. And this here is a Teigu I was given by the Revolutionary Army - Lightning-Speed Susanoo. He's an automaton-type Teigu who can move by itself, so wielding it alongside Spectator is no problem."

"Uh..." Tatsumi awkwardly looked at Susanoo. "I look forward to working with you?"

Instead of answering, Susanoo rushed towards Tatsumi and fixed his shirt. "There!" He said.

"He's also a perfectionist." Said Najenda.

"A perfectionist Teigu?" Asked Mein. "I guess that's why he fixed my hair earlier."

"So... What are his abilities?" Asked Leone.

"Brace yourself and I'll show you." Said Najenda. "Susanoo! Do your thing!"

"Understood!" Said Susanoo. Taking out an ordinary axe, he began to chop down trees, collect plants and catch birds, constructing a campfire and making soup.

"Uh..." Said Lubbock. "That's cool, but, what exactly is he doing?"

"It looks like he's just doing housework." Said Tatsumi.

"PRECISELY!" Said the Boss. "Susanoo was created to be the bodyguard for important statesmen! He's constantly at the ready to engage in combat, but he's also equipped with household skills to take care of its master in any possible way! Laundry, cleaning, everything! He even has thousands of different recipes in his repertoire!"

"THAT HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH COMBAT!!" Mein yelled.

"As a matter of fact, these skills are still very useful!" Najenda protested. "And he obviously does have secret techniques when it comes to battle... Right?"

"Right." Said Susanoo.

"We're done searching the doctor's quarters." Said Ran. "But we found nothing to indicate his whereabouts. However, his work notes and tools were left in his workshop. He didn't run away... He was killed."

"And judging by the total absence of his fortified soldiers, it appears as though they were all killed in a battle." Said Borris.

"I see..." Said Esdeath. "Looks like Seryu has yet another master she has to avenge."

Saying that, she left the room and went to look for Seryu. She found her in the palace courtyard, polishing one of her weapons. "Are you going to still be able to maintain your mechanical parts?" Esdeath asked.

"I'll be fine..." Said Seryu, wearing a fake smile. "All the necessary materials are intact in his lab. I can't make any additions or upgrades, but maintaining what I have would be no problem..."

"I see." Said Esdeath.

Seryu's fake smile, which she could barely hold, completely collapsed and she burst into tears. "First my parents... Then my teacher... And now, the one I owe everything to... These evil monsters keep murdering everyone I ever cared about..."

"Seryu -" Esdeath started.

"I can't let this go on, Captain!" Seryu shouted out. "I have to hurry up and eradicate these fiends!!"

Esdeath, walked up to Seryu, slightly blushing, and hugged her. "As long as you're with me, I'll do everything in my power to make your wish come true."

"General..." Seryu started to blush herself.

"From here on out, I'll always look after you as my precious subordinate." Esdeath continued. "This is the least you deserve."

"Thank you..." Seryu's tears stopped running. "My strength and my very life are devoted to justice and to you, my commander."

"Very well." Said Esdeath.

Back in Marg Highlands, Kurome and Tatsumi walked out of the makeshift house Susanoo built for the rest of Night Raid. No one else was with them - not even Natala and Doya.

"I made my promise, and now I'll fulfill it." Said Kurome. "When my puppets are not active, they wait to be summoned underground. And with them, I took the bodies of your two friends. Now that I have two empty slots in my theater, I can finally bring them back to you."

"I just want to thank you again for doing this." Said Tatsumi. "Sayo and Ieyasu really meant a lot to me. Without you I'd never be able to see them again... And you don't even know them."

"Not yet." Kurome smirked. "If they were sent with you, they must've been powerful. I bet the Revolutionary Army could even give them a Teigu."

After saying this, Kurome stabbed her sword into the ground, black lightning coursing through its blade. Seconds later, Ieyasu's preserved body emerged from the ground. Sayo appeared soon after and knelt.

"I am at your command, my mistress."

"Alright! Maintenance is finished!" Said Seryu, wiping her tears once again and starting to head back to the palace.

Akame was waiting for her inside. "You said you can't make any upgrades to your weapons anymore?"

"Y...Yes." Said Seryu. "With master Stylish gone, there's no one who can make modifications on the level that he could..."

"I wouldn't be so sure." Said Akame. "I've heard the Prime Minister already found a replacement for his position as the Imperial head scientist."

"Really?" Asked Seryu.

"Yeah." Said Akame. "That person used to live alone outside the Capital with her assistant and wasn't actually affiliated with the Empire until she recently volunteered to fight alongside the army in the conquest of the West Country. She gave pretty good results, and in fact, people are saying her intellect and her inventions actually surpass Stylish. She came back to the Capital only recently, so whether or not she's actually going to replace Stylish is unclear."

Seryu looked at both her hands for a moment. "Whether or not this person is going to take master Stylish's official position is irrelevant for me. If she's truly a better scientist than he was, I'm ready to start working under her."

Akame chuckled a little. "I believe she prefers to call herself an Alchemist."

Night Raid: 9 left

Chapter Text

One month since Night Raid's arrival at Marg Highlands, the whole group was now resting in their improvised cabin, feasting on a giant fish.

"Susanoo's cooking sure is great!" Said Leone. "All the fatigue from my training is gone!"

"Thanks, Susanoo!" Said Sheele.

"Susanoo!" Said Tatsumi. "We should go training tomorrow!"

"Didn't I tell you?" Said the Boss with a smug grin. "Susanoo is amazing! I'm glad you all understand that now."

"I just didn't expect the Revolutionary Army to have a Teigu this amazing just laying around." Said Tatsumi.

"That's not it." Said Najenda. "Susanoo was dormant until now. Only I was able to awaken it."

"That's nice..." Said Sheele.

"He must've responded to my charisma!" The Boss exclaimed.

"Najenda simply reminds me of my previous Master." Said Susanoo.

"I'm sure your previous Master was a wonderful person!" Said Najenda.

"Why won't you tell us about them?" Asked Leone.

"He was a wonderful Great General!" Susanoo said.

"HE!?" Najenda asked in shock.

Suddenly, Leone started to laugh like crazy. "He's saying the Boss looks like a man!!!"

"I think you made her mad..." Sheele whispered.

Before Leone had a chance to respond, Najenda chopped her in the head.

"Everyone's over there bonding with Susanoo..." Grunted Lubbock in the adjacent room. "It's like he stole my position away from me!"

"I wouldn't miss being in your position." Said Mein.

Once she said that, a small, yellow, catlike creature entered through the cabin's window. "Is that a Marg Panther cub?" Asked Mein. "It doesn't look like it's scared of us."

While she was speaking, the Marg Panther started tapping closer to Mein and the slice of cake she was eating. "Oh no. I'm not gonna give you any -"

Before Mein could finish, the small cat leaped at her and snatched the cake from her hand... And then turned into Chelsea in a puff of smoke. "Meow meow, now it's mine~" She giggled.

"CHELSEA!!" Mein yelled.

"You have too many openings, Mein." Said Chelsea.

"What are you-" Mein started.

"So you have the ability to turn into a cat?" Asked Lubbock.

"I can turn into anything I want." Said Chelsea. "This is my Teigu, Gaea's Toolkit. Useful, isn't it?" She turned back to Mein. "Like I said, you're gonna have to start working on covering those openings... Or you'll be the next one to die."

"YOUR TEIGU'S GONNA BE USELESS THE MOMENT YOU'RE FOUND OUT!!!" Mein yelled.

"That is correct." Said Chelsea. "My Teigu is a Support-Type. It's not made for combat... But that just makes getting the jump on you all the more satisfying. Your surprised expression just now was wonderful~♡"

"YOU'RE PISSING ME OFF!!!" Mein shouted.

A few hours later, Tatsumi and Leone were facing a group of dinosaur-like monsters along with Sayo and Ieyasu, wielding an ordinary bow and axe respectively. "You two! I'm leaving the trash to you!" Said Leone.

Sayo and Ieyasu's strength was on par with Tatsumi before he joined Night Raid, and as puppets they had inhuman resilience and pain immunity. Just one of these dinosaurs would've been no problem for either of them, but a whole flock was a different story. Standing back to back, the two warriors were killing monsters left and right, but they were losing more ground as the beasts were surrounding them.

"Hold tight!" Tatsumi exclaimed as a spear sprouted from his palm. He ran up to the monsters surrounding his two friends and sliced them to pieces in seconds.

That is Incursio's Auxilary Armament - Neuntote... Leone thought. It looks like Tatsumi's resolve to protect his friends made him strong enough to summon it. Little by little, he's getting closer to being as strong as Brad.

"I could beat these overgrown reptiles myself if I wanted to!" Ieyasu grunted. "Don't act like we're helpless just because you got a cool armor!"

"We both would've been toast if he didn't save us just now!" Sayo yelled at him.

It's almost like everything is back to normal... Tatsumi thought as he breathed a sigh of relief under Incursio's helmet.

At the same time, Leone looked into the distance as she noticed a larger, more powerful monster hiding behind nearby rock pillars. She leaped at the dinosaur and punched it, only for it to breathe a flame at her. "Looks like you've got your own secret technique?" She chuckled, jumping to the side as the Alpha slashed three deep cuts in the wall behind her with its claws. Then, she landed down with a double axe handle and shattered the monster's skull. "Ownage complete!" She smiled.

Later still, Tatsumi and Leone gathered before the Boss along with Kurome, Mein and Sheele. "Looks like you've all gotten used to taking out all the dangerous monsters around here." Said the Boss.

"They're always around, so I can't let my guard down!" Said Tatsumi.

"Whatever... It's more fun that way." Said Leone.

"The air's thin here." Said Najenda. "And here you are, constantly fighting real battles in this harsh environment. I think you've all gotten stronger."

"That's right! I can feel the results." Said Mein.

"You've been watching Night Raid fight for a month, Chelsea." Said Najenda. "So, what do you think of my team?"

"They're definitely strong." Said Chelsea. "Probably even stronger than the last team I was in."

"SO YOU ADMIT IT!" Mein laughed.

"It's not like strength is the only thing you need to survive, though." Said Chelsea. "I know you called me in because one of you already died. Brad, wasn't it? I'm sure he was a wonderful person, but... He must've been a failure as an assassin."

"WHAT!?" Said Tatsumi in anger.

"You all have to do something about how soft you are." Chelsea continued. "Otherwise, you're always in risk of failing no matter how strong you get."

"Everything she does is pissing me off!" Mein grunted.

"Well... She's just blunt." Said the Boss.

"For now, we should cook the monsters you all hunted." Said Susanoo.

"Yeah, I'm kinda hungry too..." Said Sheele.

At evening, Mein was sitting at a campfire outside with Sheele, Tatsumi and Lubbock. "So, what did you want to talk about, Mein?" Asked Tatsumi.

"Doesn't Chelsea piss you off?" Mein said. "She just insulted Brad today, for crying out loud!"

"Of course I'm not happy with people insulting the ones I care about." Said Tatsumi.

"I'm pretty sure it wasn't meant to be an insult though..." Said Sheele.

"Then we're going to teach her a lesson." Said Mein. "We'll leave her speechless and laugh at her openings like she laughs at ours! And while she's standing shocked, I will land the finishing blow and declare victory! It's perfect!!"

"And... How are we going to do that?" Asked Sheele.

"You three think that over." Said Mein. "I'll think up my part myself. We'll carry it out tonight. Let's leave her speechless!" She entered the cabin and slammed the door shut.

"Pushy as always..." Said Lubbock.

"Sooooooo what's the plan exactly?" Asked Sheele.

"That's what we're trying to discuss..." Said Tatsumi.

"Let's see..." Said Lubbock. "We can try something with our Teigu?" Suddenly, he perked up. "Yes! I got it!"

Some time later, Tatsumi was using Incursio to turn invisible as he was hiding at the hot tub where Chelsea was bathing. He grabbed a bucket of cold water and began to quietly walk up to her...

When suddenly, Susanoo popped out of the water with a splash. "THAT'S A GUY!?" Tatsumi gasped.

"You're there, aren't you? I can tell." Said Susanoo.

"...How?" Asked Tatsumi.

"Incursio can make you invisible..." Said Susanoo. "But you can't hide your presence. Do not forget about this... Or you'll die."

"...Of course." Said Tatsumi, removing his armor.

"Yet another opening." Said Susanoo, tapping Tatsumi's head before turning back into Chelsea. "Ehehehe, turns out it was me~ I could tell it was you and guessed your intention."

"So you transformed just to scare me?" Tatsumi asked. "I admit defeat..."

"Deception is my specialty." Said Chelsea. "If you think you can deceive me, you're ten years early... Does that make you angry when people say that?"

"No..." Said Tatsumi. "What you said about my weakness was accurate. I'll put this information to good use in the future."

"Looks like you're smarter than you look." Said Chelsea. "Just recently I came home from a mission only to find my whole team dead."

That's right! Tatsumi thought. She's the sole survivor of the local team!

"I just don't want all of you to end up the same way." Chelsea continued.

"So you said all of those things because you wanted to protect us?" Tatsumi asked. "Looks like you're softer than you look too, Chelsea."

"That's not it!" Said Chelsea, picking up Tatsumi's bucket and spilling the water on his face. "I just want to keep my heart clean. Oh, also - if you try to interrupt my bath again, I'm going to cut it off, so be prepared!"

At a large mine in the vicinity of the Capital, the workers' nightshift was interrupted by a large humanoid monster suddenly walking up to them from the cavern's depths. "I never seen this kind of monster before! Run!!" A miner cried out as the monster grabbed him and bit off his face. The rest of the miners began to run away, only for more monsters to appear behind them and eat them alive.

"These new toys sure are interesting..." Said a man in a hood walking in the monsters' midst. "I'm going to thoroughly enjoy this. It's been a long time... Capital."

Chapter Text

The Prime Minister and Esdeath were sitting next to a simple table and enjoying some afternoon tea. Esdeath was enjoying tea, that is; the Minister was feasting on a large glass of wine and a quad-burger.

"There's still one more thing I should ask of you, General." Said the Minister.

"And what might that be?" Asked Esdeath.

"There's been a new species of monsters that have been starting to appear around the Capital. I wish that you'll defeat and capture them."

"Ah, those monsters. We've been investigating them already. They've only been appearing at dense forests and mines, but a few days ago they started breaking into villages and eating the occupants."

"Exactly!" The Minister said with a grin. "And they look almost like humans... I bet they'd make for interesting toys. Great General Budo was ordered to destroy them, but I wish you to capture them alive for study by all means."

"Alright." Said the Great General. "I wanted to hunt them ever since I've heard of these ferocious beasts. I'll try to get at least two or three alive and bring them to you... Send the rewards to my remaining troops in the North."

"As always, you're so kind to your subordinates..." Said the Minister.

"The more admiration you give them, the more frugal they'll be with their lives when they fight." Said Esdeath. "I believe this to be the main reason for my unit's great offensive ability."

"How reliable." Said the Minister. "I'm relying on you to bring me some very lively specimens."

"Hurry!" Said a merchant to his friend who was driving a chariot. "We gotta get back to the Capital while there's still light!"

"I know." Said the other merchant. "Let's wave goodbye to this danger zone..."

Suddenly, a group of modified monsters appeared in front of the charging chariot. "THEY'RE HERE!!!" Said the driver, frantically trying to get his horse to turn away. The monsters rushed at the humans...

When suddenly, Borris appeared in front of them, punching one of the monsters at the front several meters away and making it plow a small trench in the ground. "I made it in time!" He said.

While Borris was preparing to activate his Teigu, one of the monsters kicked him in the face, and several others began to gang up on him. He quickly got up and pushed them away.

"With this, I'm bringing you down for sure!!" Said Borris, activating Rubicante and burning the humanoid monsters to a crisp with a beam of fire. "You're safe to go, everybody!"

"It's alright now." Said Seryu, appearing behind one of the merchants. "The flames of justice have extinguished evil!"

"You're those soldiers from the Capital!" Said one of the merchants in the chariot.

"Thank god, they calmed down!" Borris whispered.

"BORRIS!" Screamed Wave, alerting him of three remaining monsters who were rushing towards them. Turning around, Seryu breathed an invisible gas from her mouth, and the beasts fainted. Before they could recover, Esdeath laid a hand on the ground and they froze in blocks of ice.

"Interesting..." She said. "This really is a type of monsters I've never seen before."

Akame, who was next to Esdeath, looked at one of the frozen monsters for a moment. "Don't eat it." Said Esdeath.

Later, back at the Jägers' base, Wave was once again being completely outclassed by Akame, this time in a game of chess. Borris walked up to them with some tea and then looked at Wave for a moment. "Wave... What's wrong?" He asked.

"I'm... Kinda angry." Said Wave. "Even though you're such a good person, Borris, everyone is judging you based on your looks!"

"Wave..." Said Borris. "I know I already said it, but... I'm not a good person. I've reduced whole villages to ashes and burned people to death as they were claiming they were innocent. I'm sure I've earned grudges from more people than I can possibly count."

"YOU WERE JUST DOING THAT BECAUSE IT WAS YOUR JOB!" Said Wave.

"Even if I did it because of someone else's orders, sins are sins." Said Borris. "That's why I feel the reactions of the people I save... Are also punishment."

"Borris... That's too cruel." Said Wave. "From now on, you can speak to me about anything you -"

Suddenly, the door was opened by a young woman and a small child. "Hey there!" Said the woman.

Borris immediately began to freak out. "WHY ARE YOU TWO HERE?!?"

"You forgot the lunchbox we made together, dear..." Said the woman, handing him a lunch box.

"Silly papa!" The child laughed.

"...Oh." Said Borris.

"This is a tough job. We'll always do whatever we can to help you!" Said the woman.

"I'll be careful!" Said Borris. Then, he turned back to Wave. "My wife and daughter know everything I've done, and yet, they always supported me. So no matter how many people laugh or get scared of me, I'm happy to still have my family!"

Meanwhile, near a waterfall at the Marg Highlands, Tatsumi was smashing large rocks that were falling out of the waterfall, one by one, with his bare armored fists.

Susanoo was watching him. "Don't just throw yourself at your target with all your might..." He said calmly. The next rock approached, and Susanoo shattered it with his club. "No matter how tough something is, it will always have a weakness. When you fight, you have to aim at those weak spots... It's quite effective."

"That's true..." Said Tatsumi, taking off his armor. "But it's hard to find a weak spot in the middle of an actual battle."

"I can spot them without even trying." Said Susanoo.

"You sure are sensitive..." Said Tatsumi.

"I'm a Teigu who was made to watch over my master." Said Susanoo. "I can't afford to miss anything unusual about those around me."

"That makes sense..." Said Tatsumi. "I'm assured that as long as you're around, we won't have to worry about losing anyone else."

"I'm just a Teigu." Said Susanoo. "You can't even count me as a person."

"Teigu or not, you're still our friend!" Said Tatsumi, holding out his fist for a fist bump.

"Friend, huh..." Said Susanoo. "I'm not sure I understand. Is it because we fight alongside one another?"

"I mean... We do..." Said Tatsumi. "But being friends is more about... Helping each other out, I guess?"

Susanoo still seemed to struggle to grasp his limited mind around the concept.

"I have an idea!" Said Tatsumi. "You're perceptive, right? How about you help me and Lubbock out with picking up girls?"

"I still don't fully understand..." Said Susanoo. "But if that's what you want, I'll help you as much as I can."

"Great!" Said Tatsumi.

"You're picking up girls without me?" Grunted Ieyasu as he appeared out of the woods.

"Shut up!" Said Sayo, slapping him. "There's an emergency! We need to go back to the base!"

"An emergency?" Asked Tatsumi.

"Something about a bunch of new monsters that keep showing up..." Said Ieyasu. "Looks like we got to go back to the Capital and take care of this!"

"Which means we can finally show the results of our training!" Said Sayo. "We may not be as strong as you just yet, but these monsters better be ready for a world of hurt!"

Chapter Text

Riding on the back of an Air Manta once again, Night Raid landed in their new base which was carved out of a mountain side 15 kilometers North-East of the Capital.

"You know, this barely looks new..." Tatsumi said to himself.

"When what you've got is great, there's no need to change it!" Doya said with a smile.

"Good thing we have proper hot springs again." Said Mein.

"And drinks!" Said Leone.

"Sounds good!♪" Said Chelsea.

"Najenda! I finished surrounding the base with a string barrier!" Said Lubbock.

"Great job!" Said Najenda.

"I've dug a secret tunnel for emergency escape." Said Susanoo.

"That was fast!" Said Najenda. "As expected of Lightning-Speed Susanoo. Thanks to you, our base is fully operational!"

"DON'T YOU THINK YOU'VE WON THIS!!" Lubbock yelled at Susanoo.

"What are you talking about..." Said Susanoo.

"Finally, a proper base of operations!" Said Ieyasu. "I, the great Ieyasu, couldn't possibly expect to keep residing in that ugly shack in the desert!"

Shortly afterwards, most of Night Raid gathered in the conference room with their Boss. "Okay, everyone!" Said the Boss. "Now that we're done relocating, it's time we start dealing with the aforementioned new monster species. There have been documented cases of them mobilizing in groups, and they seem to show some rudimentary signs of intelligence. Individually they possess great strength, as even martial arts masters of the highest rank attempted to defeat them and lost. Even now, they're lurking in the mines and woods South to the Capital, gorging on people and livestock alike. The Imperial Police, the military and even the Jägers have been trying to exterminate them, but there seem to still be numerous amounts of them remaining."

"They're causing trouble to the Empire's own soldiers, so it doesn't look like it's a trap." Said Mein.

"Aren't we kind of... Helping the Empire?" Asked Sheele, sounding a little worried.

"That's only circumstantial!" Tatsumi rebutted her. "Whether it's from the Empire or from monsters, our mission is to defend the people, and that's what we'll do!"

"I wouldn't want to risk running into soldiers, though." Said Leone.

"We are Night Raid." Said the Boss. "We'll strike at night, when the Empire is resting."

"So you're accepting all those risks and go beast hunting, huh?" Said Chelsea. "I think it's best to leave it to the Jägers. You're still so soft..."

"I understand what you're trying to say." Said Tatsumi. "But these monsters could be still attacking people right now. We may be murderers, but we're allies of the people! We're going to do whatever we can to protect them, even to save one more person!"

"I thought you'd say something like that." Said Chelsea. "I get it..."

"This is how Night Raid works." Najenda said coldly. "You have to deal with it or get out."

"I'm just worried..." Said Chelsea. "I've read about what happened to Brad... And I feel like this kindness is going to cost Tatsumi and the others with their lives."

Ran was walking across the Imperial palace grounds when he spotted Esdeath watching over a garden of flowers. "Ran..." She said quietly. "I need to tell you something. Those monsters... It seems like according to the Imperial Head Scientist's research, they might have been part human."

"I was speculating that might be the case." Said Ran. "Their physical characteristics alone suggest that. Creating monsters out of humans... Is probably something only a Teigu can do. Those dangerous monsters might have been a byproduct of the Doctor's experiments. What's more is that they appeared right after he had died."

"Any other reasons?" Asked Esdeath.

"I searched his workshop." Ran continued. "It looked far too plain. He was supposed to have researched a wide variety of things, but the documentation I found was surprisingly tame."

"He might've had another, more secret laboratory somewhere." Esdeath suggested.

"Exactly." Said Ran. "And those monsters might have been secured there and escaped. It might also be the work of some third party's Teigu..."

"Unlikely. It's far too chaotic." Said Esdeath.

"But there's no reason these test subjects would be abruptly released just because he died fighting someone else... Unless those monsters are what killed Doctor Stylish and his modified soldiers."

"Or if the one that killed him went on to release the creatures on purpose." Said Esdeath.

"I understand." Said Ran. "I'll look into it."

"There might be more, deeper implications to this." Said Esdeath. "I'll leave the rest to you."

"Well, anyways..." Said Ran. "It sure is rare to see you admiring flowers, captain..."

"Those aren't just ordinary flowers." Esdeath explained. "They contain a poison that causes excruciating pain when applied to an open wound. Good for quick and easy torture."

"...How enlightening." Said Ran.

"...YOU CORRUPTED EVIL CREATURES WHO THREATEN THE POPULACE!!" Seryu yelled as she swung her Spear of Justice over a group of monsters. "CORO! NUMBER ONE!!"

Heeding her command, the doglike automaton bit into Seryu's arm; upon releasing, it revealed a large spiked ball of metal connected to her arm with a long chain.

"SHINKOU'S BALL OF JUSTICE!!" Seryu shouted as she swung the giant ball at the monsters, tearing a whole row of them to shreds.

"CORO! FEAST UPON THE REMAINING EVIL CREATURES!!" Said Seryu as Coro devoured the last of the monsters.

Suddenly, Seryu looked into the forest where the monsters came from. "There's someone there! Identify yourself!!"

Hearing this, the hooded figure calmly stepped out from behind a tree. "You're one of the famed Jägers, aren't you? I didn't expect you to spot me."

Seryu smirked. "Such is the power my new mistress has given me... The power of my former master and all his creations! An evil scumbag like you who sends out monsters to hurt the innocent stands no chance against me!!" She laughed as she was about to swing her Ball of Justice at the stranger... Only for him to seemingly sink into the floor and vanish.

"Well... At least one of you's a cute girl." Lubbock grunted as he, Tatsumi, Sayo and Ieyasu were walking up a mountain. "Do you see any soldiers camping around here?"

"Our intel says they withdraw during night when they're close to the Capital, remember?" Said Tatsumi.

"And besides, if there were any soldiers here, we'd take 'em out no problem. Don't be a coward." Said Ieyasu.

"You know, timidity is indispensable for murderers like us to survive." Said Lubbock. "Even Najenda said that. Remember it!"

"You know what I realized?" Said Sayo.

"What?" Asked Lubbock.

"That you're the only one who calls The Boss by her name."

"Well, you see..." Lubbock stumbled for a moment. "Her and I... Knew each other for a long time. Since before she left the Imperial army, in fact. Back then... I was the fourth son of one of the Capital's rich merchants. I could have anything I want, I was skilled at everything... And I was bored of it."

"You're gonna tell us your backstory, aren't you." Said Sayo.

"I WAS JUST GETTING TO THE SAD PART!!" Lubbock yelled at her before continuing. "It was then that Najenda moved into the region where I lived... I fell in love with her at first sight. So I volunteered to join the army, and using my own skills, I tried to climb high enough to serve directly under her."

"So the reason you're in Night Raid is...?" Asked Tatsumi, who was used to this by now.

"Just so I can continue working by Najenda's side." Said Lubbock. "I helped her escape the Empire and forged records that we were both dead. Clever, isn't it? But I was never rewarded for any of my efforts. That's the only sad thing about my backstory."

"Lubbock..." Tatsumi laid a hand on his comrade's shoulder. "If you want to win over The Boss... THEN STOP PEEKING AT OTHER WOMEN WHILE THE'RE BATHING!!!"

"THERE'S A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FEELING LOVE FOR SOMEONE AND WANTING TO LOOK AT CUTE GIRLS!!" Lubbock retaliated.

"THE FACT YOU THINK THIS WAY IS EXACTLY WHY YOU NEVER GET REWARDED!!!" Tatsumi yelled back at him.

"Just you wait." Lubbock said, more quietly this time. "One day I'll make her fall for me."

"I'll treat you to anything you like when that happens..." Said Tatsumi.

"So... Where exactly are the monsters we're supposed to be hunting?" Asked Sayo.

"I can't see any around here." Said Ieyasu.

"I got the strings set, but I haven't caught anything." Said Lubbock.

"If it's safe in here, I'm gonna grab my Teigu and take a quick look around at the summit." Said Tatsumi.

"Don't keep all the fun to yourself! Come back and tell us if you find anything!" Ieyasu yelled.

"Got it." Said Tatsumi, activating Incursio. "Be right back!"

After saying that, Tatsumi made his way to the top of the mountain with a few short jumps. He looked around and saw... Nothing.

"Hm... Looks like there's nothing special around here. Not a living thing in sight. Maybe they're... Sleeping?" He un-equiped his armor. "I wonder how the others are doing. I hope they're safe."

Once he said that, Tatsumi noticed a few strange noises from a distance. He drew Incursio's sword form and started going after the noise, prompting a group of monsters to show up from the other side of the mountain top.

"These things look pretty strong..." Tatsumi said to himself. "But they're not the monsters we're looking for. It would be unwise to fight them now. I better head back."

Saying that, Tatsumi equipped Incursio again and then immediately turned invisible and ran back down the mountain.

At the opposite side of the mountain from where Tatsumi was heading, the hooded figure looked around carefully and discarded his hood, revealing a young tan man with pale lilac hair and a X-shaped scar across his face, wearing white pants and a white tanktop with a unique symbol on it.

"That was a close one..." The man whispered to himself. "That Jäger was much stronger than I thought. I better not stay this close by, now that she's seen me... She probably told all her friends by now, so if anyone else sees me, I'm a dead man. But the person she mentioned who gave her this power... If this is the person I think it is, then it's great news for her... And terrible news for me. And on top of that, it looks like I already ran out of monsters to play with. That said... I still have a couple of big toys left that I could clean up... Before I can announce my return to the Prime Minister."

Chapter Text

"So you haven't encountered any of the new dangerous monsters?" Said Mein, as Night Raid regrouped in front of their base at morning. "That's awfully convenient."

"Our intel seems to confirm this." Said Woru. "By all appearances, they're almost entirely vanquished."

"And we didn't get to kill any!" Ieyasu complained. "How can I, the great Ieyasu, prove my worth when all my potential opponents are slain before I can fight them!?"

"Either way..." Said Leone. "Now that's over with, we can go back to committing mass murder in the name of justice!"

"Which is gonna give ya way more room to prove yourself, partner!" Said Doya. "And I'm sure fighting a bunch of normal dudes will be a better bet than -"

"GENERAL NAJENDA!!!" A screaming voice interrupted Doya, seemingly coming from above the base. Looking upwards, the members of Night Raid were able to see an Air Manta flying in the distance.

"It's an Air Manta, with one guy riding it!" Said Mein. "It looks like he's firing at something!"

Najenda simply activated Spectator and turned to look at the Air Manta. She looked shocked.

"Boss?" Asked Sheele.

"A gigantic monster is approaching..." Said The Boss. "It bears a great similarity to Stylish's transformed state, but with one of the mutated monsters in its forehead. The man who's firing at it is Nuge, an officer of the main Revolutionary Army in the South who commands a battalion of a thousand soldiers. What is he doing all the way here?"

"GENERAL NAJENDA!!!" Nuge screamed. "THIS GIANT MONSTER DECIMATED MY ENTIRE BATTALION IN AN INSTANT! I DROVE IT AWAY FROM HEADQUARTERS AND IT CHASED ME ALL THE WAY OUT HERE! I CAN'T DESTROY THIS THING ALONE, YOU HAVE TO HELP ME!!!" While he was screaming, his Air Manta was flying closer to the base, and they could notice the giant monster running after it.

"You heard him!" Said Najenda. "Everyone! Go out and destroy this monster before it tramples our base a second time!"

"Got it!" The members of Night Raid shouted as one, proceeding to run after the colossal beast with their weapons up. Noticing them on the ground, the monster stopped chasing Nuge's Air Manta and turned to look down.

At the exact same time, a similar monster was slamming its gigantic fists at the walls of the Capital, making large cracks and threatening to collapse it. Borris, Wave and Seryu began to run up to it.

"First we had those part-human monsters and now this thing? Where do they all keep coming from!?" Wave yelled.

"Wave!" Said Borris. "Find the rest of the Jägers and get them here! We'll hold this thing off!"

"No need to..." Said Seryu. "I'll exterminate this evil creature myself! ACTIVATE NUMBER FOUR: KYOSHI'S GALLOWS!"

Coro didn't need to bite into Seryu's arm; it seemingly changed form by itself and turned into a large, barbed grappling hook. She fired it at the monster's arm, trying to hook herself into it, but the hook bounced off of the monster's impenetrable skin and retracted back into Seryu's arm. She looked barely surprised.

"RUBICANTE!!!" Borris exclaimed as he fired a jet of Greek fire at the monster. It was pushed back a little, but no visible damage was dealt. The monster prepared to charge back at the wall and destroy it...

"GRAND FALL!!" Wave exclaimed as he launched itself at the beast, pushing it back again. "Everyone! We need to keep this thing distracted! If it breaks through the wall, everyone who's still behind it will die!"

"Got it!" Said Borris as he and Seryu jumped off the wall and began to run around the beast, which was trying to hit Wave but almost always missed due to his speed.

"We've defeated one of these before. We can do it again!" Leone exclaimed as she ran up to the first monster and hit the back of its foot in an attempt to trip it. The monster simply kicked her backwards and sent her flying through a bunch of trees. Sayo tried to distract it with arrows, but they didn't even pierce the monster's skin.

"You think your ordinary arrows can budge this creature!?" Nuge berated her, now flying closer to Sayo with his Air Manta. "My Teigu is the most powerful bow in the world - Ceaseless Rainstorm, L'Arc Qui Ne Faut! If I couldn't make a difference against this monster, your inferior skill will be useless!"

"What makes you think you're that much better than someone you just met!?" Ieyasu yelled at him.

"Come, and I'll show you!" Said Nuge, flying his Air Manta towards the monster. "L'ARC QUI NE FAUT!!" He screamed, firing a massive barrage of arrows that rained down on the monster, piercing its left arm like a pin cushion... But the monster didn't even budge and simply swatted the Air Manta like a fly, killing both it and Nuge. His body, along with his bow and quiver, fell near the base next to where Najenda and Kurome were standing.

"We could probably defeat this thing the same way we defeated Stylish..." Kurome said quietly. "But that's no fun. This time, I want to try something new... Something The Boss probably won't like, but since when did that change anything. I think you'll be perfect for this job... General Rokugoh."

Saying this, a tall muscular man in a suit and with disheveled red hair burst out of the ground, a whip in hand. "Yes mistress!" He said as he began to run after the monster.

"Coro..." Said Seryu. "I don't think you can do much against this evil monster without your secret technique, and I'd rather not use it unless I really need to, so you should sit this one out. Sorry."

Coro nodded. It looked disappointed, but it stood back behind its user.

Seryu turned back to the titan. "Activate number two: Ikazuchi's Rocket Volley!!" This time, Seryu's arm didn't change; Instead four missile turrets sprouted out of her back and behind her shoulders, showering the beast with heat-seeking missiles.

"MAGMA DRIVE!!" Borris shouted as he began firing concentrated fireballs from Rubicante's tip. The monster was pushed back by the combined attack and almost fell over, but it stopped itself in place and punched Borris away with its gigantic fist. In the split second Wave was distracted, the monster stomped on him like a cockroach. It then attempted to do the same to Seryu, but she dodged the hit.

"Big rockets don't seem like they phase this giant evil monster..." Seryu muttered. "If I can't overwhelm you with explosive power, I'll penetrate your defenses with percision! Number Eight: Senzui's Gatling of Justice!!" Saying that, Seryu's arm turned into a pointed shape resembling a rocket with a circular row of holes around the tip, each one containing a barrel. The cannon then started to rotate while all of the barrels were firing simultaneously, firing armor-piercing bullets that dug holes into the monster's flesh before exploding inside its body.

Roaring in pain, the monster jabbed its needle-tendrils into Borris' flesh and began to heal itself by siphoning his blood. "DON'T UNDERESTIMATE ME!!" Borris shouted as he began to pull the tentacles off of his body one by one.

"Tatsumi, are you seeing this guy? He looks just like an older version of you!" Ieyasu said in awe as he was watching Rokugoh chase the colossal beast with his whip.

"Maybe he could be related to you somehow." Said Sayo, holding her chin.

While they were talking, Rokugoh ran next to the beast's leg and unleashed a high-speed barrage of whip attacks, fast enough to appear like numerous whips striking its leg at once. "EARTH SHAKER!!" Rokugoh exclaimed as he finished his attack with a massive strike to the ground beneath his leg, cracking it and creating a crater. Before the creature could raise its leg, Rokugoh wrapped his whip around it, restraining the giant.

"I'M STILL HERE, YOU DUMBASS!!" Leone roared in anger as she leaped at the other leg and slashed a series of large cuts on it with her claws before striking the ground beneath it as well and causing a pillar of stone to impale the creature's leg through its hill.

"We've got both its legs restrained..." Said Sheele, who was approaching the titan herself. "As someone who wasn't present in the fight against the previous one, now seems like as good a time as any to showcase the evolved form I achieved with my secret technique! EXTASE!!!"

With her scissors closed and pointed forward, Sheele once again unleashed a blinding light, which then formed itself into a concentrated, blade-like lazer beam extending into the ground underneath the dangerous modified monster. With one swing upwards, the monster's body was cut in two, and the blade of light vanished.

"GET YOUR TENTACLES OFF OF MY FRIEND!!" Wave shouted as he struck the second giant's arm with Grand Chariot's spear, causing a small scratch that wasn't even deep enough to bleed. The monster grabbed Wave with its other hand and threw him at Borris, causing both Jägers to crush into the Capital's wall.

"Nothing works on this thing!" Wave started to get up. "Seryu! Activate your Teigu's secret technique now, there's no way the three of us can win without it!"

"There IS a way." Said Seryu. "I know exactly what this thing's made of... It's just a pale imitation of my master Stylish's ultimate evolution. And my new mistress has given me the power of all his creations and increased it tens fold! NOW, BEHOLD THE POWER OF THIS TWISTED THING IN ITS GREATEST, PUREST FORM!!!"

Once Seryu said it, her own body expanded like Stylish before her and turned into an even larger mech of metal and muscle with its own unique, feminine, elegant design - complete with a long "hair" made of countless thin tendrils. For the first time since its appearance, the colossal monster looked genuinely afraid; Wave and Borris were shocked.

"An evil coward like you knows only to destroy people that are like gnats to it! Let's see how you fare against someone as large as you!!" Seryu exclaimed as her own mech form struck the titan with her two hands, breaking both its arms and making its giant mouth bleed.

"Activate number six!" Seryu exclaimed. "AMATERASU'S HEAVENLY CHARIOT!!!" As she said that, a gigantic missile the size of a tower loaded out of her giant mouth. With two small fingers, Seryu's gigantic shell ripped the monster out of its own shell's forehead and swallowed it into the maw on its stomach, before launching the missile at the empty shell and obliterating it in a massive explosion.

And then, in an instant, Seryu's giant form shrunk back inside her normal human body, now just a tiny bit taller and curvier, her hair loose and her clothes a little torn, but she was unharmed.

"Justice... Is served."

Chapter Text

A fat man wearing a turban hat was sitting on a throne in a palace in the Capital, drinking alcohol, and watching the common folk outside suffer and starve. "What great expressions they all have..." He whispered. "Those damn pigs are only good for one thing... Their tax money! The alcohol I can buy with it sure is delicious... Maybe I should pocket a little more next month."

"Master, did you ask for a massage?" Said a maid entering the room behind him.

"Of course! I've been waiting for that." The fat man laughed.

The maid softly approached her master... And then stabbed him in the neck with a poisoned needle. "The job is done..." Said Chelsea, turning back into her true form. "Just what kind of massage did this guy want..."

Suddenly, Chelsea turned around as she heard noises coming from a lower floor of the palace. Seconds later, Akame and Wave burst into the room. "We're the Jägers!" Wave exclaimed. "We got intel that Night Raid is going to attack your house!"

"Wave?" Said Akame, pointing at the fat man's dead body.

"We're too late..." Wave lamented.

"I'm suspecting it might have been a trap..." Said Chelsea back in the base hours later. "It was close."

"How did you escape the Jägers?" Asked Sayo.

"Luckily for me, that man had a few pet cats." Said Chelsea. "I pulled through by turning into one."

"I wouldn't have been able to get away that easily..." Mein admitted. "Seems like your Teigu's more useful than I thought."

"Of course it would've been difficult for someone whose face is known." Said Chelsea. "You can leave all of that up to me."

"Chelsea..." Mein blushed a little.

"Be sure to watch over the hideout while I'm gone... Substitute." Said Chelsea.

"YOU'RE STILL INSULTING YOUR COMRADES!?" Mein shouted in anger and started chasing her.

"She literally told me the exact same thing..." Tatsumi whispered.

"And with the monsters gone, it looks like the Jägers can focus entirely on us." Said Sayo. "I have a bad feeling about this."

At a forest near the Capital, Seryu and Coro were standing over three paralyzed bandits. "We're not with Night Raid!" One of the bandits begged. "We just steal so we can get food! We didn't even kill anybody!"

"So you admit you're thieves?" Seryu asked. "Then I know you did commit evil. I have no pity for you. Coro! Feast on them!"

Saying that, Seryu's dog grew to monstrous size and bit off two of the bandits' heads in one swift movement.

"WAIT!!" The last bandit cried out. "These two threatened me and forced me to help them! I can prove it to you! Please let me at least stand a trial!"

"A sin is a sin, even if you were forced to commit it." Seryu retorted. "You're not worth troubling the captain or anyone else. I'll pass judgement upon you myself!" Her hand turned into a long sword. "Number Three: Sung Dynasty Blade!"

"Hey, Seryu!" Said Wave as he ran up to his comrade minutes later. "What happened to those three bandits you've captured?"

"They've been dealt with." Seryu said quietly. "Come on, let's move out."

"Wait..." Said Wave. "You just killed those bandits, didn't you? We may have special privileges as the Jägers, but we don't have the right to -"

Seryu grabbed his hand. "Whether it's Night Raid or common thieves, destroying evil is never a fool's errand. Nobody cares about these low-lives, so we shouldn't spend anyone else's time with them." She said that and then left.

I always felt like there was something wrong with her. Wave thought to himself. The Empire's current state seems pretty bad on its own, but she doesn't seem to mind it at the slightest... Nevermind that. Just like her, I have the soldier's duty, and I'll continue to carry it out.

"Today's subject is a religion that is spreading amongst the populous called the Path of Peace." Said The Boss.

"The religion that says good deeds contribute to happiness and longevity?" Asked Chelsea.

"That's every religion..." Sheele whispered.

"They visited my village before." Said Tatsumi. "The statue that the village elder gave me was of one of that religion's Gods."

"The number of their adherents has been rising in the past ten years." The Boss continued. "They have quite the influence on the Empire's Eastern regions. They're currently planning to start an armed uprising - a religious-led insurrection. We will use it to our own purposes."

"Wait a second!" Said Tatsumi. "How many people are going to die in that insurrection!? Shouldn't we do anything to stop that?"

"The corrupt politicians of the Empire have been tormenting the citizens for far too long." Said The Boss. "If that uprising is stopped, there would just be another one somewhere else. This country is already in its dying breaths."

"So that means we can't avoid casualties?" Tatsumi whispered.

"Maybe you should listen to the rest." Said Chelsea.

"You remember what I told you before about the tribes from the South-West?" Said Lubbock.

"The ones that got crushed by Esdeath?" Said Tatsumi.

"Their mistake was trying to oppose the Empire on their own." Said Lubbock. "The Empire is still incredibly powerful. If the Path of Peace will do the same, they'll also be defeated, and countless more will die."

"That's where the Revolutionary Army steps in." Said Najenda. "Once the Path of Peace begins their armed uprising, our allied tribes in the West will attack at the same time. The Empire will now have enemies on both the inside and the outside, but they can probably withstand even this. However, the final clincher will be the Revolutionary Army itself attacking from the South. They'll destroy the Capital and overthrow the Empire."

"So it's a three-pronged strike..." Said Tatsumi.

"The Empire is underestimating the Revolutionary Army." Said The Boss. "Since they're gathering the pus of the Revolutionary soldiers in one place, you can even say we're grateful to them. The frontier of the Empire will be the starting point. Getting from there to the Capital will require trampling several forts and castles - many of their Princes are cooperators who are going to betray the Empire's forces. This way, the revolution will go about repeated bloodless capitulations and advance towards the Capital at a frightening speed. But even then, the Empire's trump card - Budo and his Imperial Guard - will be most likely to move to intercept. This, in turn, will lead the palace's security to sharply drop."

"Which will allow us to step in and kill the Prime Minister." Kurome concluded. "The Empire will collapse from the inside out."

"He's the kind of person who would try to run away when the walls around him fall apart..." Said Leone. "But we won't let that happen. He's the main culprit, and he'll have to die without fail."

"In exchange for the Western Tribes' help, we agreed to return their territories back to them." Said Najenda.

"Return?" Asked Tatsumi.

"A lot of the Empire's Western region used to belong to the tribes, rather than the West Country proper." Said Mein. "Their biggest interest is recovering it."

That's right, Mein was originally from the Western Tribes... Tatsumi thought.

"When the Empire collapses and its tyranny ends, the citizens' anger will abate as well." Said The Boss. "If we continue to move swiftly towards the Capital's sinking, there probably won't be too much bloodshed. Are you satisfied, Tatsumi?"

"...Yes." Said Tatsumi quietly. "Sorry for interrupting you halfway through."

"The plans are complete." Said Susanoo. "All that's left is executing them. I'm guessing you came to discuss why we can't start it yet."

"That's exactly right, Susanoo!" Said The Boss. "As expected from my trusted Teigu!" She lowered her voice. "The Path of Peace is the key for everything else. But at the moment, there seems to be commotion going on within it..."

Far East of the Capital, in the Path of Peace's headquarters in the city of Kyorochi, a great crowd gathered before a huge statue; to its feet was a tall man in robes and a mask made of a deer's skull. The crowd was cheering for their leader, but he held out a hand to quiet them.

"Right now, there is a great misery filling this world." He opened. "I'm sure many of you are suffering from poverty and famine right now, but it is exactly because of times like these that you cannot allow your souls to be disturbed. Continue doing good deeds, and they'll be returned to you."

"But our Lord!" One of the men in the crowd protested. "We've done good deeds with all our might, and we've received nothing in return! If we keep going on like these, we're all just going to die!"

"When you lose your life, it is merely the end of your flesh and nothing more. Your soul will live on. I'm sure you'll receive happiness in God's lands. Just yesterday, a man who protected his younger brother from a dangerous beast began his journey into the land of God. His name was Jehoiakim, and I'll always remember him for as long as I live. I'm sure he can stand tall in God's land and say: I saved my younger brother's life."

Two people in the crowd - a man and a woman - burst into tears hearing his story. "The Lord remembers my husband..." The woman wept. "It's wasted on me..."

"Rakul was my 64,568th kindred soul..." The Lord continued. "His tanned stature was indomitable. He was a fisherman with a strong ethos, wasn't he?"

"Yes..." An older woman said. "Yes, he was, my Lord."

"Then his name and memory are still with us!" The Lord declared. "Which means they lived on not only in the land of God, but in this transient world as well! Death is not the end!"

The crowd returned to cheer for their Lord on the top of their lungs.

"The Lord may have unparalleled charisma..." The Boss continued back at the base. "But his trusted right-hand-man, Bolic, is loyal to the Prime Minister. His goal is to seize the Path of Peace and bring a stop to the armed uprising. He plans to eventually have The Lord assassinated and become the leader himself."

"Shouldn't we tell them about this?" Asked Sheele.

"Many of the Path of Peace's followers are siding with Bolic. They have a great deal of influence - and they also support the Empire." The Boss explained.

"This is the most repulsive thing about the Minister..." Chelsea concluded. "He doesn't even try to suppress the outer parts, he just wants to seize their inner workings for himself."

"And this is our next mission." Said Najenda, marking a spot on her map. "We're going to head into the Path of Peace's base of operation and eliminate Bolic. We have information that he gives some of his adherents drugs under the guise of a cleansing ritual, gets them addicted, and then rapes them. We needn't hold back."

"The son of a bitch is treating women like playtoys." Lubbock grunted.

"And tricking his followers into taking drugs is just sick." Susanoo added. "I SHALL NEVER FORGIVE HIM!!"

"Aren't you kind of missing what you should be angry about?" The Boss said quietly.

"The more time that passes, the more people he's going to feed with drugs." Said Leone. "We better put a stop to him as soon as we can."

"And as for the Jägers..." Said Najenda. "Right now, they're trying to hunt us down with all their strength. At this rate, if we keep ending up behind them, we're going to eventually get caught."

"I could just barely get away even with my Teigu..." Said Chelsea.

"So this time, I propose we lure them out of the Capital... And wage an all-out war on them." Said The Boss.

"Looks like I, the great Ieyasu, am finally going to have the chance I need to prove my worth!" Said Ieyasu.

"Out of the Jägers, Borris and Akame in particular are classified targets under the Revolutionary Army's orders." Said Najenda. "As long as the Jägers have Esdeath leading them, they're going to be our greatest obstacle."

A few days later, Ran walked up to Esdeath who was sitting alone in her room. "Captain..." He said. "Two people who match the description of Night Raid's Mein and Kurome have been sighted near the Eastern Romari main road."

Esdeath immediately donned her hat and got up. "Gather all of the Jägers. We're going after them."

Chapter Text

The Capital's gates were opened, and six horses dashed ahead at blinding speed. On each of the horses, one of the Jägers was riding.

"It's Esdeath and her squadron, the Jägers!" Said a Revolutionary Army scout hiding in the distance. "All six of them are heading East on horse back! Mistress Najenda's plan is right on the mark!"

Another soldier who was with him jotted his words down on a page and gave it to a falcon sitting on his shoulder. "Give this information to Night Raid!" He commanded.

"Six people." Said Najenda, reading the note on the top of a ledge many miles away. "So all of the remaining Jägers are moving out. Considering Esdeath's speed, they should reach here around tomorrow noon even if they know where we are."

Climbing down the ledge, Najenda confronted Mein and Kurome, who were waiting below it in swimsuits. "I received information from the Revolutionary Army's spies. You two, go out and attract their attention as we planned."

"Got it!" Said Mein.

Further away from the bottom of the cliff, Lubbock was sitting next to a lake and watching Sheele, Leone and Chelsea playing in the water. "It sure is nice to be able to see the girls in bikinis here."

"Stop drooling over them. This is also part of the plan." Said Tatsumi, standing next to him.

"What's up with you, are you gay!?" Lubbock yelled at him.

"NO I'M NOT!!" Tatsumi yelled back.

"For people whose faces aren't known, these guys sure are noisy..." Mein said while watching them from the top of the ledge.

Then, she turned around. "You haven't touched your super-candy, Kurome. Is something wrong?"

No answer.

"You're thinking about your sister, aren't you?"

"...Yeah. But that doesn't mean anything is wrong. In fact... I'm excited. These new candies were made using Stylish's Teigu... With them, there's no way I'd lose."

The next day, the Jägers gathered on Romari Road with their breakfast. "Najenda is continuing East, but Kurome moved South..." Said Esdeath, reading a report. "Their party was witnessed splitting into two groups after coming here."

"The way East from here leads to Kyorochi, where the Path of Peace's headquarters are located." Said Borris. "The way South has cities that support the rebels. Either way it's suspicious."

"We can catch up with them if we hurry. Let's go!" Said Wave.

"Hold your horses." Said Esdeath. "The members of Night Raid are criminals from the Capital. They were seen and tracked even though their wanted posters weren't circulated into the local regions, and on top of that, they were seen splitting in two. Isn't that convenient?"

"Yeah." Said Ran. "There's a high probability that this is a trap."

"What's their reason for standing out on purpose?" Asked Borris.

"To lure us out of the Capital so they can defeat us?" Seryu suggested.

"This is just like Najenda." Said Esdeath. "Her heart is burning, but she always fights calmly."

"So that means chasing them would be dangerous." Said Wave.

"No. We won't waste this opportunity." Said Esdeath. "Night Raid, who so far always evaded our grasp, have now decided to reveal themselves. We'll step right into the trap and squash them out! Seryu, Ran, and I will follow Najenda. Akame, Wave and Borris, you chase Kurome."

Akame's grip on her sword tightened hearing that.

"Be aware of your surroundings at all times." Esdeath continued. "And don't retreat even if they ambush you with overwhelming numbers. They're the last rats opposing the Capital. Chase them out and finish them without fail!"

"Got it!" Said Wave.

Saying that, the group of six horses split in two. Wave, Borris and Akame were leading theirs across a desert canyon.

"So our opponents are Night Raid, the strongest in the Revolutionary Army." Said Borris. "I doubt we can win on our own..."

"It will be alright." Said Wave. "We'll definitely win as long as we work together!"

"I heard a lot of people saying that before a battle..." Akame said coldly. "More times than not, those people were the first to die."

"ARE YOU SAYING WE CAN'T TRUST MY ABILITY!?" Wave yelled.

"I say nothing of the sort." Akame responded. "But we have no idea what Night Raid is capable of. We can't afford to hold back."

"Hey, there's something in front of us!" Said Borris, looking forward. He and the others were able to see a giant, muscular straw doll blocking the path.

"Is that... A giant scarecrow?" Asked Wave.

"That's right!" Said Borris. "Can't get much more suspicious than that. If that's the trap, I'm not impressed." He dismounted. "Let's inspect it from up close."

"Targets acquired!" Said Mein, aiming her rifle at the group from a cliff above them. "Looks like Esdeath split her own group and went after The Boss herself. Just as planned!"

She zoomed in on Akame, who looked deeply troubled. "You can see this is Kurome's elder sister... But I don't want Kurome to have to do this. I'll kill her myself!"

Mein pulled the trigger and fired a bullet of concentrated energy at Akame, only for her to swiftly dodge and then start to search for the sniper with her eyes. "What was this insane reaction time just now!?"

While Akame was distracted, the giant scarecrow burst open, and Susanoo jumped out of it rushing at her.

"AKAME! WATCH OUT!!" Wave shouted as he blocked Susanoo's mace strike with his cutlass and was thrown back a significant distance.

"WAVE!!" Borris cried out.

"We failed the sniping, but we did manage to knock out one of them." Said The Boss, appearing behind Susanoo with Spectator prominent on her eye. "And this is the only one who wasn't a target." She said as Kurome, Leone and Tatsumi appeared behind her.

"Does that mean only Sheele went East?" Borris pondered. "Or are there more people with her that we don't know about?"

"Borris and Akame!" Najenda exclaimed. "Out of the Jägers, you two are our highest priority targets. Brace yourselves!"

"Highest priority targets?" Borris said to himself. "I've burned countless people alive. Of course these assassins would target me. But I won't die!" He said, taking out Rubicante.

"Big sister..." Kurome giggled.

"Kurome..." Akame said with a hand to her blade.

"I've been waiting for this moment for so long." Said Kurome. "Now finally, I can add you to my collection." She raised her sword in the air and black lightning struck the ground, and the skeleton of a gigantic reptilian beast burst out of of the desert floor.

"My skills have vastly improved..." Kurome continued. "I can turn any dead body into a puppet, even a Mortaghoul who rotted until it was just a skeleton!"

"How are the two of us alone supposed to handle a Teigu this powerful!?" Borris said in terror.

"Now then, let the Teigu battle begin!" Kurome exclaimed. "I wonder how you three can fare against my strongest puppet!?"

Chapter Text

Without waiting, Akame rushed ahead and struck against her little sister. Unfazed, Kurome effortlessly parried and responded with a sword strike of her own, which Akame just barely dodged. Akame continued to retaliate, but Kurome dodged every hit. She didn't even bring out any of her puppets.

"I used to be stronger than you even when you had no puppets out... And now you outclass me even while controlling this massive beast." Akame whispered. "Kurome... How did you get so strong?"

"You can thank your friend, Stylish, for that." Kurome chuckled. "He tried to take us all down on his own, and now his Teigu is ours. The Revolutionary Army's scientists could use it to produce a drug that was hundreds of times more potent than the Empire's original one, which has all of its advantages and none of its downsides. Feel honored - this is the first time I used it."

At the same time, Borris aimed his Teigu at the gigantic Mortaghoul. "MAGMA DRIVE!" He shouted, firing concentrated balls of fire and lava that hit the beast's body and exploded... Barely scratching its bones.

"We have an advantage in numbers over you even without my puppets..." Kurome said. "It wouldn't be fun to just crush all of you at once, so I limited myself to only one puppet. Trust me, this is more than enough."

As she said that, the skeletal monster charged up energy in its mouth and fired it in a gigantic beam that razed the ground. Borris and Akame both dodged it. "They're toying with us!" Borris grunted. "The entire squadron except Sheele is here, but so far none of them tried to attack except Kurome and her single puppet!"

"So the battle's starting..." Lubbock grunted as he was hanging from a tree and watching. "Of course that harlot Leone gets to show off outside while I'm stuck hiding."

Before Night Raid left, Najenda called Chelsea and Lubbock to inform them of their special key roles in the battle. "Chelsea..." She started. "During the upcoming battle, I expect you to stay hiding until the opportunity arises to strike the enemy from shadows or assist your comrades. As a master of assassination who has no experience in direct combat, I'm leaving this up to you."

"I'll work efficiently. Just watch." Chelsea replied.

"Lubbock, we need you on the lookout. Put up a barrier and keep an eye on the sky." She lied a hand on his shoulder. "If Esdeath's group were to come after us, keep them away using Cross Tail's secret ability. This mission is most vital - I placed in failsafes to prevent Esdeath and her group from arriving, but there's no telling what could happen in the actual battle. With your flexible way of thinking and the nature of your Teigu, I leave this up to you."

"Understood!" Said Lubbock. "I'll meet your expectations no matter what!"

"I'll fulfill my role without fail, Najenda." Lubbock said again. "Maybe it would be better to confess my feelings once we're done with this - if I keep being careless, she might end up with Su. Whatever, now's not the time to think about this!"

"I sure am lucky to train under Akame and captain Esdeath... If it wasn't for this training, I might've been knocked out cold, or even killed." Said Wave a short distance away in the forest as he began to get up... Only for Sheele to kick him in the face. "So you are here!?" Wave simply got up again and drew his sword.

"I wouldn't last a second against Esdeath and her team." Sheele replied. "But you're a different story."

"You're not going to stop me from saving my two comrades!" Wave shouted in anger. "GRAND CHARIOT!!!"

Once Akame backed away from Kurome, even her sister ceased attacking; both her and Borris could focus entirely on the Mortaghoul. It took almost no damage from their attacks and its own strength was immense, but it was rather slow, and the two Jägers could just barely evade its strikes. "Nothing works on this monster!" Borris exclaimed. "It's like it's waiting for us to tire out so it can squash us like bugs!"

Seconds after he said that, Sheele was thrown at the beast at high speed, hitting its chest and falling off. "That was a good hit..." She smirked, wiping blood from her mouth.

"I won't stand idly by while my friends are being attacked!" Wave shouted, rushing at the Mortaghoul with his full Grand Chariot and actually pushing it back.

"You still haven't seen everything I can do!" Said Sheele. "Dual Wield Mode!" she removed the teddy bear-shaped pivot screw from Extase's base before separating the two blades and removing the handles, revealing broadsword grips underneath them. Wielding Extase as two broadswords, she rushed at Wave, who could barely react before gaining a X-shaped cut on his armor and skin. "This is one dangerous opponent..." He whispered. "Had I not moved in time I would be in pieces!"

"Don't be so careless, Kurome." Sheele looked back at her comrade. "You ignored the one fighter who could counter your Mortaghoul."

"You think that little cut is gonna stop me? THINK AGAIN!!" Wave shouted as he summoned his spear and began to rush at the reptilian beast.

Kurome was watching, unimpressed, when Borris turned to look at her. "If this really is the end, I want to know one thing before I die." He said. "Kurome, if you stayed with the Empire you could've surely defeated your entire squad with your puppets. Why then did you choose to side with the Revolutionary Army?"

Hearing the question, Kurome let out a maddened laugh. "Isn't that obvious?" She answered. "I'm here because I want vengeance against bags of worthless trash like the ones who ruined my sister's life and my own in order to turn us both into killing machines! The Revolutionary Army's fantasy of justice and peace doesn't concern me at the slightest!"

"Then you've become more dangerous than you could've ever been under the Empire." Said Borris. "People like you are the reason why I'm here. Burning them to ash is my job!" He said, firing a jet of flame at Kurome. Without hesitation, the Mortaghoul blocked the flame with its leg. It then prepared to blast Borris with energy, but Wave jumped forward and kicked the side of its face, making the shot miss.

At the other side of the road, Esdeath maneuvered her horse next to Seryu's. "Don't use up too much strength until we've come across the enemy." She reminded her subordinate.

"Understood!" Said Seryu. "Is... Anything wrong? You look like you've been paying special attention to me recently. You even made sure we both ended up on the same team - Is there something inadequate about me...?"

"Wave told me that your heart was dangerous." Esdeath replied plainly. "So I'm trying to keep you close to my side whenever possible."

Seryu gasped and backed off. She said nothing.

"But that's no problem..." Esdeath calmed her down. "That just means I'll always have your back. Don't forget that, Seryu."

"Thank you very much, captain!" Seryu replied, blushing.

"Should I try searching from above using my Teigu?" Ran interfered.

"Your stamina in the air is much more limited than a real dragon like my mount." Esdeath brushed it off. "Save it for when you need it to fight the enemy!"

"I feel like we should've caught up to them already." Ran pondered.

"This is a bit odd..." Esdeath agreed.

Suddenly, their three horses dropped dead as they were hit with arrows. All three Jägers landed safely, only to notice a large group of Revolutionary Army soldiers suddenly surrounding them.

"WHERE DID ALL OF THESE ENEMIES COME FROM!?!?" Seryu asked.

"There's only three coming down this road, just like they told us." One of the enemy soldiers said. "And general Esdeath is with them."

"AHAHAHA!! She's just as beautiful as the rumors said!" Another soldier laughed.

"Don't jump in one by one..." Warned the first. "We should take advantage of our greater numbers to eliminate them."

"And after that, we can have fun stripping you down and doing a lot of nice things with your body!"

"There are many bands of thieves who make their territory at the East of the Empire..." Esdeath said, ignoring them. "Still, this doesn't seem to be a coincidence that we meet them here."

"SO NIGHT RAID TEAMED UP WITH THESE FELLOW EVILDOERS!!!" Seryu exclaimed.

"Ran, is something wrong?" Esdeath asked.

"Not at all." Said Ran. "Looks like they aren't here. We'll trample them under our foot."

"Leave two or three of them alive for questioning!" Esdeath said.

Back under the cliff, the other half of the Jägers were surrounded fighting Sheele and the Mortaghoul. Wave, Akame and Borris were starting to gain injuries, but Sheele was unscratched.

"NOT YET!" Borris grunted. "This fight isn't over yet! Our weapons might be useless against this monster... But I have one last secret technique that might just save our skins! WAVE! AKAME! RUN AS FAR AWAY AS YOU CAN!!"

Borris' two comrades heeded his warning and began to back off, and so did Kurome and her Mortaghoul. Sheele remained in place and began to reassemble her Teigu while Borris simply hurled Rubicante up into the air and clicked a hidden button, causing his Teigu's fuel tank to detonate in a massive explosion. The rest of Night Raid watched in terror as the flames engulfed the valley and Sheele in it, the immense light and noise of the explosion blinding and deafening them.

When it receded, the three Jägers were gone and so was Sheele. Kurome was still present, and her Mortaghoul was stained in ash but still mostly unharmed as it dug back into the ground. "I should've expected something like this to happen..." Kurome grunted. "Hopefully that idiot Borris died in his own suicide explosion."

"W...Where's Sheele?" Tatsumi asked.

"She might've been a dumbass, but I doubt she'd just let herself die." Said Mein.

Borris was walking out of the other side of the crater, injured but alive. "I hope Wave and Akame are okay..." He whispered. "They're probably still around here somewhere."

Continuing to search for them in the forest, Borris noticed the sound of crying, and saw a little girl sitting beside a tree and weeping. Out of instinct, he ran up to her. "What's wrong?" He asked.

"AAAAAHHHHHH! A GHOST!!" The girl screamed in terror.

"Calm down, calm down! I'm not a ghost!" Borris assured her, before looking down at her leg and seeing a small wound on it. "Oh, you're hurt?" He said. "Calm down, the pain will be over soon." As he spoke, Borris took out a bandage and wrapped up the girl's wound.

"Thanks, mister!" The girl said in surprise.

"Don't worry about it..." Said Borris as he began to walk away.

"I'm going to get better..." The girl whispered. "But the places you've burned to ash won't." As she said that, the little girl stabbed Borris' neck with a poison needle before turning back into Chelsea in a puff of smoke.

"What!?" Borris gapsed.

"What you saw just now was a child from a village you've burned down because they were suspected of supporting the Revolutionary Army. Since you burned the whole village at once, I'm sure you didn't remember every single individual." Chelsea said, letting go of Borris and leaving him on the floor.

I always knew that one day, I'll receive punishment for all I've done... Borris thought. But even still...! I have to return home...! He started to desperately crawl away. My wife and daughter... Are waiting for me...

"Really..." Chelsea said as she watched the poison slowly kill him. "Fights between those working in the shadows are always repulsive." Taking out Gaea's Toolkit, she covered herself in smoke once again, and turned into a duplicate of the man she just killed. "Akame... You're next."

Jägers: 5 left

Chapter Text

"You finished your target off without letting him run away... As expected of you, Chelsea." Said Lubbock, meeting with his partner in the depths of the forest.

"I'm glad you made it this quickly, Lubbock." Said Chelsea.

"I admit I panicked for a second when I saw a second Borris approaching..." Said Lubbock.

"I should go after Akame now." Chelsea continued. "We have to kill her before she meets up with Esdeath and the rest."

Lubbock was quiet for a moment. "Akame already left the bounds of the barrier I created, but I know which direction she went. You can go after her if you want, but it's seriously dangerous! It's not like you to be this reckless!"

"It is because Akame is dangerous that I'm going after her." Said Chelsea. "Now that she's on her own and wounded, I have exactly the window I need to kill her. I can't pass up this opportunity, or it will cost the Revolutionary Army with many more lives. Go back and tell everyone where I went... And call for reinforcements if you need to."

"Got it..." Said Lubbock. "Just keep your guard up."

"I will." Chelsea assured. "If she's already back with Wave or Esdeath, I'll retreat."

Not saying a word, Lubbock nodded and left. Chelsea stretched her arms and started to head off. "Now then, the second high-priority target is next... Let's go at it with everything I've got."

While Lubbock was on the way, the rest of Night Raid already made it to their base. To their surprise, Sheele was waiting for them at the entrance.

"Sheele, you're here? How!?" Tatsumi asked.

"Like this." Said Sheele, opening her scissors and slashing at the air. As she did, a strange hole appeared in the air around her, and she jumped into it, appearing behind Tatsumi as it closed.

"Whoa, this is amazing!!" Said Tatsumi. "But... How did you do this?"

"Extase's second secret technique." Said Sheele. "My Teigu's ability is to cut through anything, even the fabric of space and time itself. I used it to escape the explosion by cutting a hole into here."

"Hold on a second, since when can you do that?" Leone asked. "There's nothing about this in The Boss' book!"

"Interesting that you mention the book." Said Najenda. "It also says that certain Teigu users have been able to develop new techniques with their Teigu that were unknown even to their original creators. Out of everyone here, you're the one I least expected to come up with one, Sheele."

"I know..." Sheele responded, blushing. "After I failed to even notice Stylish's team invading our old base, I knew I HAD to get stronger somehow. And since I found out about Dual Wield Mode and my first secret technique's evolved form, I realized how little I know about my own weapon's potential. But I mean, I'm the newest member of Night Raid to receive my Teigu..."

"No you aren't." Said Tatsumi.

"Oh. Right." Said Sheele. "I'm sure you still have a lot more to find out about your own Teigu, Tatsumi."

"I just realized that one of the Jägers had a Teigu that was exactly the same as my own..." Tatsumi pondered.

"It wasn't." Kurome commented. "If it were, I would need to start worrying about my Mortaghoul getting weaker from its injuries. I think that was a Shingu."

"A what?" Mein asked.

"A failed attempt to replicate the Teigu, created circa 400 years ago." Said Najenda. "Many of them - including, presumably, Wave's - were directly based on known Teigu."

"Natala and Doya both have Shingu." Kurome continued. "Natala kept the one he had when he was alive, but The Boss gave Doya a Shingu that belonged to someone I worked together with back when I served the Empire."

So that's the thing Kurome said she was attached to that Doya has... Tatsumi thought.

"Wait a minute..." Said Leone. "I know you said you'll only use one puppet against the Jägers, but didn't Ieyasu want to fight them too?"

"He's a puppet." Said Kurome. "He can't want anything if I don't let him."

At the same time, Akame was walking around the forest quickly. "Wave?" She called out. "Wave, where are you?"

"Akame?" She heard Borris. "Oh, there you are! I was so worried!"

"Borris?" Akame asked. "I thought you died..."

"Everyone in the Incineration Squad has to go through fire resistance training! I took it no problem!" Borris assured her.

"I'm glad you're okay..." Akame said in relief. "We should find Wave. He's got to be around here somewhere..."

"I'm sorry, though..." Borris continued. "My Teigu got destroyed when I used my secret ability. I don't know if it's safe to go back to Mistress Esdeath with no Teigu..."

Akame said nothing.

"I see." Said The Boss, pulling out a fourth cigarette from her packet. "So she took out Borris?"

"And she went after Akame on her own?" Asked Mein. "That bitch's fast enough to dodge my sniper shot. I don't know if Chelsea's going to be able to get to her. We should bring in reinforcements!"

"Kurome, Tatsumi, you heard us." Said The Boss. "I want the two of you to go after Chelsea!"

"Got it!" Said Tatsumi. "We'll head there immediately!"

At this point, Akame and "Borris" figured out Wave probably already regrouped with Esdeath and left the forest. "We'll arrive in town soon..." Said Borris.

"Be prepared for an ambush." Said Akame. "The captain's probably going to arrive soon. Until then, we should -" before Akame could finish the sentence, she stopped on her tracks and puked blood. "D-damn it..." She whispered. "I think that Mortaghoul hurt my vital organs..."

"I think I have something that can help..." Said Borris as he kneeled down over Akame, preparing to lay a hand on her shoulder...

Only for Akame to turn around and cut off Borris' arm. The severed arm and Borris puffed into smoke and revealed Chelsea underneath. The shapeshifting assassin was in utter shock. "You... Saw through my disguise?"

Akame smirked as she got up. "You really think that was going to fool me?" She asked. "You may have concealed your physical appearance, but I could practically smell the bloodlust reeking out of your body."

With her remaining hand, Chelsea tried to reach out to a gun hidden on her hip, but then she dropped to her knees, noticing strange black runes crawling out of her wound.

Akame simply watched as the markings spread across Chelsea's body. "I never thought I'll see your face again..." She whispered. "But I'm glad I did, Chelsea. You were the last remnant of the Oarburgh clan, and now that you're gone, so is their foul legacy. Now Gin, Cornelia, Seryu's father, and everyone else your instructors killed... Can finally rest in peace once and for all."

Chelsea was powerless to do anything but stay down and listen. She watched in horror as the black markings - Murasame's deadly venom - continued to spread across her arm, from her arm to her shoulder, from her shoulder to her chest, and finally to her heart, making it stop beating in an instant...

And an unseen blade severed her soul...

Hours later, Kurome and Tatsumi, following a trail of blood, reached the town the Jägers were supposed to regroup at. Their sight was blurred by heavy rain. "Alright, I'm gonna turn invisible and go into town." Said Tatsumi.

"Be careful..." Said Kurome.

"Of course!" Said Tatsumi, equipping Incursio and turning invisible before he ran into the town. The blood on the road led me all the way here... Tatsumi thought. Chelsea may have been captured, meaning we have to rescue her. But Chelsea knows what she's doing... She might've already went back to where The Boss is on a path that crossed ours. Chelsea's not someone who would do anything reckless... This blood may just be an enemy's.

Following the trail, Tatsumi noticed a group of people ahead. He carefully walked up behind them, and dropped to his knees. In the center of the town's square, Chelsea's severed head was hung over a pole, showing everyone what happens to those who threaten to destroy the Empire.

For a split second, Tatsumi thought he felt warm hands embracing him from behind, and just as quickly, they were gone.

Night Raid: 8 left

Chapter Text

"My, my..." Said Bolic, second-in-command in the Path of Peace, sitting on his throne and surrounded by beautiful servant girls. "I was worried about being targeted and asked the Minister to provide me with some protection, and he went and send in Esdeath, the Empire's strongest! Nothing could be more reassuring!"

"I only allowed my loyal subordinates to accompany me here." Said Esdeath. "Do feel free to enjoy yourselves. Of course, as long as we're here protecting you, we'll have to borrow a few rooms to sleep at."

"MISTRESS ESDEATH!!" Seryu gasped, pointing at the ceiling. "There are three people watching us from the ceiling!"

"So you've noticed." Said Bolic, gesturing with his hand for the three figures Seryu noticed - a bald, heavily muscular man with a black beard and yellow eyes, a tall blue-haired and pale man with stitches on his body and no shirt, and a tan blonde girl with a swimsuit top - to jump down and land in front of her... Along with a fourth figure, also a woman with black hair, a shrine maiden's robe, and a jagged red scar under her left eye.

"The Empire has lent me these to assist me in controlling the church... Meet the Four Rakshasa Demons of the Imperial Fist Temple."

"And here I was wondering why I hadn't seen them in the palace." Said Esdeath.

"And now that you're here, general..." Bolic continued, "The Demons sent to protect me can begin to go on the offense."

"W-wait!" Said Seryu. "We're here to defend you against an evil team of Teigu users! How do you plan on taking them on without a Teigu?"

Suddenly, the blue-haired Rakshasa Demon blinked away and appeared behind Seryu, his legs becoming long, slim, digitigrade and flat. "You don't have to worry about that..." He said. "We've already defeated Teigu users before."

"Strong as Teigu might be, their users are naught but human..." Said the bald one, spiked bone armor appearing under his skin as electricity sparkled in his beard.

"And there are countless ways to win against them!" Said the blonde girl, sprouting elastic, tentacle-like horns of ivory from her back.

"The Four Rakshasa Demons are the Prime Minister's personal shocktroop!" Said Bolic.

The blue-haired Rakshasa Demon turned his hand into a metal-looking blade. "You people can sit back and drink in the mansion while we can -"

Before he could finish the sentence, a blade of ice pierced through his forehead from behind. "No matter your achievements, you should never let your guard down, Ibara." Said Esdeath.

"As expected of you, Great General Esdeath." Said Ibara. "You're gonna make me fall for you..." As he said that, both he and the other two Demons returned to their base forms.

Akame looked over at Seryu. "Earlier, you said you only saw three people hiding in the ceiling, even though there are four here."

Seryu turned over at the fourth Rakshasa Demon. "You're the first person who was able to avoid my senses since my newest set of modifications." She said plainly.

"Nice to meet you too." Said the Demon. "My name is Suzuka, and let's just say..." The pupils disappeared from her eyes, leaving them pure white. "I'm not like the rest of my teammates." Her eyes returned to normal. "And, by the way, the other two are Stan and Mez."

"Hello again!" Said Mez, the blonde female. Then, she looked back at Akame. "Wait a minute... I think I recognize you. You're the last survivor of the Elite Seven, right...?"

Akame stepped back with a hand to her sword. "And what of it?"

Mez cracked a smile. "Gozuki, the Elite Seven's master, was my father. And that means..." She pounced at Akame and hugged her, burying her face in her breasts. "You're like my little sister!! Oh look how much you've grown, you're absolutely adorable!!!"

Flustered and heavily blushing, Akame broke out of Mez's hug. "I... Think I'm going to leave."

"Of course. The briefing's already over." Said Esdeath.

Nodding, Akame left the room and walked out of Bolic's palace. It was raining outside, but she didn't really care.

"So you were sent here too?"

Akame immediately turned to where the mysterious voice came from and drew her sword. "Who's there?"

A figure with a cloak and a mask landed in front of Akame. "Not important. But I will tell you this - I'm the one who provided the Imperial Head Scientist with the samples necessary to grant Seryu her former master's powers. I believe he used to call me Two-Face, and that's the closest thing to a name I'm going to give you."

"What do you want?" Akame pointed her sword at Two-Face.

"To save you and your allies the trouble of tracking down Night Raid." Said Two-Face. "I know what their plan for assassinating Bolic is, and I intend to reveal it to you and your fellow Jägers."

Akame lowered her blade just a little. "What are you asking for in return?"

"For now, nothing." Said Two-Face. "My goals are none of your business, but you being made aware of Night Raid's plans is going to be helpful to me in achieving them. If you won't believe what I'm telling you, you can just ignore it if you want. Just hearing it will cost you nothing."

Kyorochi! This town, far to the East of the Capital, flourishes due to its abundance of natural resources. It is filled with buildings dedicated to the Path of Peace, and has become a metropolis with its own unique culture.

"And of course, none of the wanted posters circulated this far away from the Capital just yet..." Tatsumi concluded. He and Mein were walking down Kyorochi's streets at morning, very aware of some of the dangers ahead but totally oblivious to others.

"Don't let your guard down. The Jägers might be distributing them right now." Said Mein.

"Still, I kind of feel bad for Sheele..." Said Tatsumi. "She would've loved this place."

"Don't pretend like you know Sheele more than I do." Said Mein coldly. "Either way, we should get a map of the town."

"Let's try going to Eastern Edge first." Tatsumi suggested. "That way we should be able to avoid the central areas where Esdeath and the others are patrolling."

"True." Said Mein. "Let's leave the area near the cathedral to Lubbock."

Just as she said that, Lubbock ran right past the two. "It's not safe here! We gotta run!!" He panicked.

"What are you talking about??" Asked Tatsumi as he and Mein started following him.

"They got posters of all of us!" Lubbock yelled. "Even the puppets!!!"

"WHAT?! HOW??!!" Mein asked.

"I DON'T FUCKING KNOW, IT'S NOT LIKE I COULD GO AROUND ASKING PEOPLE ABOUT IT!!!" Lubbock shouted. "We gotta get everyone back in camp, quick!!"

"Well we should split up then!" Said Tatsumi, quickly equipping his armor and turning invisible as the three Night Raid assassins headed back towards the base outside Kyorochi that the rest of Night Raid was waiting for them at.

Unbeknownst to the three assassins, Mez and Stan were following close behind them. "I see where they're going." Said Mez. "Get the others!"

Stan sighed. "Esdeath said we all wait for them at the palace."

"Then let Esdeath and her Jägers do that." Mez scoffed. "Esdeath isn't the leader of the Rakshasa Demons, I am. And I say we follow Night Raid and take them out in their own camp!"

"...So be it." Said Stan. "Let's get them then."

Stan's head detached from his neck as a new head grew out in its place and another one grew out of Mez's shoulder before both detached, Stan's head using an air sack to fly and Mez's growing a pair of batlike wings, before both began to fly towards the cathedral in Kyorochi's center.

Chapter Text

Mein, Lubbock and Tatsumi arrived at a Revolutionary Army spy camp outside Kyorochi where the rest of their comrades awaited them. "Here so soon?" Asked Leone.

"Listen." Said Lubbock. "I don't know how, but the Jägers were able to start distributing wanted posters of every member of Night Raid, even the puppets Kurome didn't use on Romari Road!"

"But how could they know that!?" Sheele asked.

"I JUST SAID I DON'T KNOW!!" Lubbock yelled.

"Even though the puppets aren't for subterfuge, just the fact they have this information is troublesome." Said Susanoo.

"Tell me about it." Said Mein.

"But that ain't gonna stop our plan!" Said Doya. "We're Night Raid, damn it! We were already going to go in at night through heavy defenses. This counselor Bolic's going down no matter what!"

"Doya is right." Said The Boss. "Our assassination plan can still carry out as intended. The only difference is that we won't be able to explore the city beforehand. Instead, we'll wait here until nightfall."

"Got it!" Said Tatsumi.

"We're gonna have to look into how the Jägers learned about Night Raid's identities either way." Said one of the spies in the base. "Who knows what else they learned."

After saying that, Night Raid as well as the spies dispersed, returning to the borrowed rooms in the base they had their baggage at and preparing to spend the rest of the day there.

"And here I thought I was going to have some fun at the city before we get to the job..." Mein complained as she went back to her room.

Then, she noticed feint scratch marks on the windowsill. "These marks weren't here before." She said, grabbing her gun. "Something must've gotten here. I should find the others."

Mein left the room and headed towards the nearest other room. As she did, several of Lubbock's strings triggered behind her, tying up Ibara, who was sneaking up on her from the ceiling. Mein didn't waste a second and shot him in the chest with Pumpkeen, creating a large hole as Lubbock and Sheele ran up to him.

Ibara simply laughed as the hole in his chest was filled up with flesh, then with skin. "You think that's all it takes to kill me?" he said, metal blades sprouting out of his body and severing the strings as he stood up.

"Identify yourself!" Sheele demanded, pointing Extase at Ibara's face.

"Don't think for a second you're in a position to make demands!" Ibara said, extending his nails to pierce Sheele's chest. However, she was able to dodge and then cut his nails with Extase. At the same time, Lubbock formed two spears with his Cross Tail and hurled them at Ibara, who bent his body like sludge to avoid the spears.

Quickly replacing her rifle's barrel with a machine gun barrel, Main began firing a rapid barrage of energy bullets that riddled Ibara's chest with tiny holes, which were patched up as quickly as they were being created. Then, one of his arms split into several fleshy, whip-like appendages with metallic claws and began to strike towards the three assassins while the other arm hardened and expanded into a shield. Sheele activated Dual Wield Mode and began to quickly cut off Ibara's whip-arms, only for them to continually regenerate.

"I think I know who this guy is..." Said Lubbock, constantly shifting the barrier of strings around him. "He's one of the Prime Minister's private shockstroop, the Four Rakshasa Demons, who obtained superhuman abilities by eating the body of monsters!"

"There's FOUR of them!?" Screamed Sheele, who at this point transitioned from blindly attacking the tentacles to forming a defensive ring around herself and Mein with her swords.

"That's right!" Ibara laughed. "All my teammates are surrounding this base at this very moment! Night Raid will be history before the sun sets!!"

"We're surrounded by the Empire's deadliest group of hunters..." Said Mein, replacing her barrel again. "Stranded in unfamiliar territory and our identities and location have been leaked. THAT'S DANGEROUS!!"

"YOU'RE DAMN RIGHT IT IS!!" Ibara laughed, turning his shield into another set of tentacles and surrounding Mein with both of them... Only for Mein to fire a gigantic beam of energy from Pumpkeen and evaporating Ibara's body.

"The more danger I'm in, the stronger I'll get! That is Pumpkeen's ability." Mein concluded. "Now let's find the others!"

Lubbock and Sheele nodded and left the corridor, unaware of a figure behind them picking up one of Ibara's leftover tentacles.

At the forest outside the base, Stan burst out of the ground beneath Leone and attempted to restrain her, only for the assassin to instinctively dodge and then activate her monster transformation. "And here I thought I'll have nothing to do all day." She smirked.

Stan responded by opening a hole in his chest and beginning to spew a black cloud of poison gas out of it, making his veins run black and his skin turn paler. "Oh, please..." Leone grunted, setting her fist on fire and then hurling the fire forward, making the cloud of gas explode and blow off Stan's torso... Only for the bits of flesh to start moving independently and putting Stan's body back together.

"I've had enough of this!" Stan grunted as several splinters of bone were fired out of his body, many of them successfully hitting Leone until she dropped down bleeding. Stan walked up to her. "Any last words, assassin?"

Leone smirked. "Yes. Look behind you."

"What?" Stan said, seconds before The Boss' mechanical arm launched itself spinning and hit him in the head.

Najenda quickly walked up to the defeated Leone, Susanoo beside her. "Leone, are you okay?"

"I'll be fine. Also, he's still alive."

The Boss quickly dodged as Stan ran back towards her from the forest, only for Susanoo to smack him downwards with his mace and then activate its hidden blades. "Two Teigu!?" Was all Stan could say before Susanoo beheaded him, sending his head into the forest like a baseball, and sliced his body to pieces.

Leone was starting to get up. "Two down, two to go."

Najenda looked back at the base. "Their leader is observing from the roof; no one is in her range yet, but Kurome's preparing to deal with her. The last one is not here."

In the forest, Stan's decapitated head was picked up by the same unseen figure that picked up Ibara's tentacle.

Chapter Text

"The Four Rakshasa Demons of the Imperial Fist Temple." Said Kurome, pointing her sword to Mez's throat. "I should've guessed you were behind finding out our identities. Still, you're the Prime Minister's secret weapon. For him to send you outside the Capital to hunt us down... Must mean he's really desperate."

"We don't have to fight..." Mez said coldly. "I know how much you and your elder sister cared about each other, even as mortal enemies... But I, too, was your sister, for I'm the daughter of the man whom the Elite Seven used to call father, and you became one of the Elite Seven before they were disbanded. Even Akame agreed with me that in that short moment, I was your sister. Why then did you betray us, Kurome? Why did you turn your back on your friends, your family, and your people!?"

Instead of answering, Kurome began to laugh. "Do you want to know what I'm going to do to my big sister, when we inevitably cross swords?" She asked. "I'm going to pierce her through the heart and turn her into the most prized of my puppets. Would you like to live on as my puppet too, Mez? With the new drug I was given by Perfector's user, I'm sure I have enough strength to sustain you without discarding any of the others."

"As if you can kill me and still have a body you can reanimate!" Said Mez. "I can regenerate even if you slice me to mincemeat! Although, I do see the appeal of wanting to turn someone you used to love into a brainwashed puppet. So how about instead of killing you, I could get you addicted to the super-pheromones my body produces, and take you back where you belong - in service of the Empire alongside your beloved sister!"

"You think you can attack my mind?" Asked Kurome. "My willpower is too strong to be affected by your pheromones, and my drugs give me another layer of mental fortification on top of that. This isn't going to work."

"Then I'll just have to beat you until you're too weak to fight and soak you in my pheromones until all your resistance fades!" Said Mez, bulking up her muscles as her skin turned golden, growing sharp spikes, tusks and claws. Heat radiated from her body as she grew a second pair of arms and her hair turned into emerald serpents. "The power I showed you against the Oarburghs was nothing compared to what you're about to experience, Kurome!" Mez exclaimed as one of the snakes in her hair dug down into the floor and emerged from behind Kurome, who dodged swiftly and then cut off most of its body, making it fall off the roof. The rest retracted into Mez's body and began to regenerate.

Kurome attempted to strike Mez while she was distracted, but the spikes on the Demon's body extended like tendrils and pierced her skin. Mez morphed her arm into an arrangement of spikes and prepared to strike again, only for Natala's naginata to impale her before Natala himself kicked her from behind and swiped his naginata, cutting Mez in half. Kurome got up with no issue.

"You really thought that would kill me?" Said one of Mez's halves as it got up.

"Big mistake." Said the second half as each one regenerated into a full Mez. "Didn't I tell you I could regenerate from being cut to mincemeat?"

"I just so happen to have a remedy against regenerators like you." Said Kurome as she and Natala both took fighting stances, each one facing a different Mez.

"We could split up right now and go after both of you, but we know Natala is just a puppet." Said one of Mez's halves. "So Instead, I'm going to do this." She jumped into the air as her body shrunk and morphed into a broadsword of flesh and bone, which the other Mez quickly grabbed.

"That's more like it." Said the second Mez and rushed at Kurome, creating a shockwave as her sword clashed with Yatsufusa. Then, Doya appeared behind Kurome, shot Mez three times, and then kicked her off the roof, allowing Natala to impale her through the chest from above.

A mouth appeared on the blade of the Mez sword. "Impressive." It said. "But that's not half of what we can do." The blade then morphed into a smaller version of Mez's human form and merged into the other Mez's stab wound, fusing both of them into one. Her wounds quickly healed and she got up as she grew even larger, growing a pair of insectoid wings as eyeballs appeared all over her body. Her second pair of arms turned into large swords and she grew a third pair of arms that turned into spears, and the snakes in her hair turned into dragons. Some of those dragons proceeded to breathe jets of fire at Natala, forcing him to dodge, before Mez swiped one of her sword arms, creating a shockwave that cleaved the entire spy base in half.

And then, a giant tongue emerged from the ground and restrained Mez, followed by a giant toad that swallowed her whole.

"Say hello to my last puppet." Said Kurome, nonchalantly jumping off the falling roof and landing next to Natala. "This Kaiser Toad used to have a few holes in it, but with The Boss' Spectator, it didn't take long to notice them and patch them up. Not even you can survive this thing's digestive acids."

Doya, Najenda and Leone walked up to the destroyed spy base. Night Raid's assassins weren't too damaged, but most of the Revolutionary Army spies were killed.

"Yo, Mein! You alright?" Doya asked the one member of Night Raid who had no superhuman abilities beside her Teigu.

"Yeah, I'm fine." Said Mein, blushing. "Sheele was able to shield me and Lubbock."

"So the ones who revealed our identities were the Four Rakshasa Demons?" Asked Tatsumi, who didn't get to fight any.

"You wish!" Laughed a voice from the forest outside. Everyone turned to the direction it came from and saw the fourth Rakshasa Demon, Suzuka, with a third arm coming out of her shoulder. In her three hands she held a snake from Mez's hair, a bladed tendril from Ibara's arm, and Stan's head.

"You're the last member of the Rakshasa Demons, Suzuka!" Said Najenda, assuming a battle stance. "How did you avoid being detected by my Spectator?"

"What great manners does everyone here have!" Suzuka said sarcastically. "I'm not so foolish as to take on all of you at once. I just wanted to make sure my comrades' power doesn't go to waste. But while I'm at it, I thought I should tell you that we weren't the ones who leaked your identities."

"How were they found out then!?" Lubbock yelled.

"Isn't that obvious?" Suzuka chuckled. "One of you told us!"

"What the hell do you mean!?" Asked Tatsumi.

"I mean there's a traitor among Night Raid!" Said Suzuka. "You've already met them. The one who told Stylish where you were in exchange for the samples used to give Seryu his power - The one he called Two-Face - is present here as we speak! So before you get fired up trying to take me down, you should probably try to figure out which one of you is the traitor!"

"SHUT YOUR MOUTH! YOU'RE JUST SAYING THIS TO TURN US AGAINST EACH OTHER!" Mein yelled, firing Pumpkeen's beam at Suzuka.

The last of the Rakshasa Demons simply dodged the attack. "Trust me or don't, up to you." She said. "In either case, I should leave now." Saying that, Suzuka swallowed the body parts of her three comrades into her mouth all at once. Her body flashed in heat, light and electricity; When they faded, Suzuka was gone.

"You don't actually buy what she said, do you...?" Asked Mein.

"It's unlikely that this is the case." Said Susanoo. "But we shouldn't rule out the possibility. This is certainly a feasible explanation for how the Empire found out so much information about us."

"Whether we should investigate this, how should we do so, and what precautions to take if there is a traitor are all matters we should put on the backburner for now." Said The Boss. "The hour we take down counselor Bolic is fast approaching."

Chapter Text

Two days before the attack on the Patch of Peace, Night Raid sat down at their base together and enjoyed dinner while discussing their plans.

"Our spies were able to dig a tunnel into the cathedral." The Boss started. "We'll use it to get to Bolic from behind."

"So we'll be targeting him in the cathedral and not his mansion?" Asked Tatsumi.

"Our reports say it's riddled with traps." Said Mein. "The cathedral would be easy to infiltrate by comparison."

"And looking at the cathedral's layout, it seems to be filled with decorative objects." Said Lubbock. "It's a great setup for us, since we can easily hide ourselves."

"According to an insider's information, our target houses a mass ceremony every month." Said Kurome. "It falls on the day after tomorrow. That's when we strike."

"But why would he do that?" Asked Tatsumi.

"It's just an act to gain popularity." Said Lubbock. "I bet he's playing around with women every day."

"But, Boss..." Said Mein. "Don't you think they'd anticipate a strike from underground?"

"They almost certainly at least consider it a possibility." Said Susanoo.

"Which is why we're going to split up." Said The Boss. "One team goes underground, charges in head-first, causes commotion and attracts the enemy's attention. Susanoo, Leone, Tatsumi and I will be on that team."

"This team needs to have a lot of endurance, so we picked people who have a high defense and recovery." Said Leone.

"The Jägers are likely to retaliate when we first attack, but don't take them head-on. We'll lead them to a rabbit chase and stall for time while the rest of our members raid the cathedral from the sky with an Air Manta, using the chaos to kill Bolic!"

"An Air Manta? Like the one we rode when we were in the woods!?"

"The headquarters were supposed to give us one. It should arrive tonight." Said The Boss. "Sheele... Lubbock... Mein... Kurome... I'm counting on you!"

"Is Bolic the only target?" Asked Mein.

"We're going in with one goal." Said The Boss. "We have limited resources, and right now, we should focus all of them on Bolic."

"The Jägers will expect us to target them, and we'll use this to our advantage." Said Susanoo.

"Whittling out the rest of the enemies will have to come secondary." Said Sheele.

"Esdeath's forte is attacking, not defending targets." Said The Boss.

"We're gonna have plenty of openings." Said Leone.

"Bolic is as good as dead!" Kurome concluded.

One hour after midnight, two armored guards were patrolling the cathedral grounds, only to suddenly be cut in half as Incursio became visible over their bodies. With the guards out, The Boss fired her grappling arm at the top of the cathedral's wall, allowing her subordinates and herself to climb it.

Beyond the walls, a great multitude of Esdeath's elite soldiers awaited the four. Without pause, Night Raid began to massacre them, making sure not to leave a single one alive. Whenever one of the soldiers attempted to run back to warn the Jägers, Najenda spotted him with Spectator and pulverized his head with her arm.

Sheele, Mein, Lubbock and Kurome were riding an Air Manta from above. "Alright!" Said Mein. "We're charging through!"

"Be sure to punch a good hole when we get there, Mein!" Said Lubbock.

"I know that! I'm ready to go!" Said Mein.

"But wouldn't the recoil hurt you?" Asked Sheele, a bit of worry audible in her voice.

"No way. I know what I'm doing." Said Mein. "I'm a genius sniper."

Just as she said that, Ran suddenly flew over the Air Manta with his open wings. "A second team ambushing from above." He said. "I doubted their prediction was this accurate. You're trying to attack from the sky, my own territory... A textbook example of poor strategy." He said as one of his wings turned into a stream of razor-sharp feathers that pierced the Air Manta's stomach, killing it. The members of Night Raid were now at a free fall.

"So the guy called Two-Face wasn't lying." Said Wave, watching the events transpire from a balcony with his sword in hand. "I will avenge Borris, and I will avenge everyone you've killed, right here, right now!!"

Back at the cathedral grounds, Najenda, Susanoo, Leone and Tatsumi stood over the blood-soaked floor riddled with corpses. "We made this much commotion, and she's still not showing up?" Asked Najenda.

"She's still inside." Said Leone. "I can sense her repulsive, murderous aura all the way from the cathedral. She's waiting for us."

"It's almost time for Kurome's group to make their aerial strike." Said Susanoo.

"For the assassination to be successful, we have to attract Esdeath and her group's attention." Najenda concluded. "Change of plans! We're barging in!"

"Understood!" Said Tatsumi, turning invisible.

"Susanoo, is your secret technique ready?" Asked Najenda.

"Yeah. I'll activate it as soon as you give the order." Susanoo answered.

After the assassination is complete, we'll be at the most peril. Najenda thought. With her target eliminated, Esdeath will be able to focus all her attention on us. And since this is the case, the optimal time to activate Susanoo's Demon Soul Release is after Bolic is taken down. With this power, I just might keep everyone alive after this mission!

"THE AIR MANTA'S DEAD!!" Lubbock screamed. "WE'RE GONNA CRUSH!!"

"I'm not letting this chance slip by!" Said Ran, firing a barrage of feathers at the Air Manta.

"Neither will I!" Mein shouted, blasting Ran's side with a beam from Pumpkeen and making him lose altitude. He fired a couple more feathers, but Sheele easily blocked them.

"WE'RE FALLING!!" Lubbock yelled, weaving a net with his strings and covering the Air Manta's body and his friends, protecting them from the fall.

"Hmpf." Said Kurome, firing a black bolt of lightning from her sword at the dead Air Manta. The hole in its chest healed. "Now, let's get back up there!"

"I'm not letting you!" Said Wave, approaching the group. "I'll be your opponent!"

"A Jäger?" Lubbock said in surprise.

"There are four of us here against only one of you." Said Sheele. "You stand no chance."

"I don't care!" Wave said in anger. "I'm not letting you hurt anybody else! GRAND CHARIOT!!"

Mein attempted to shoot Wave while he was materializing his Shingu armor, but it was too late. His armor blocked the shot and he leaped towards her with his spear.

Natala grabbed Wave from behind, slammed him against the floor, and attempted to impale him, but Wave dodged and punched him away. While Natala was sent flying, Lubbock restrained his arms with strings from behind, only for Wave to tear them out and jump towards him.

He's going to get caught in my trap! Thought Lubbock, looking at the thread he set in Wave's path, only for him to jump over it. "I'LL DESTROY EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU!!" He leaped towards Lubbock with a kick. Lubbock attempted to block the hit with his threads, but Wave's foot destroyed the barrier and he continued flying, only for Doya to grab Lubbock away. Sheele ran up to Wave from behind with her scissors open, but Wave grabbed the blade with his two hands and flung her backwards.

Was he always this strong...? Mein thought. We have to take him out quickly, otherwise our distraction team is done for!

Najenda, Susanoo and Leone burst into Bolic's throne room in the cathedral... Only for Najenda and Leone to almost instantly drop to the floor. "What is this!?" Najenda gasped.

"The same poison Stylish used..." Leone started to get back up. "I've already been exposed to it before, so my body built up some resistance..."

"Silence, evildoers!" Seryu said, moving to the front while Akame and Esdeath stayed next to Bolic. "We've learned of your entire plan to take out the pious Counselor Bolic. It was doomed before it began!"

Leone was already on her feet by now. "I can take care of myself! Su, you gotta protect The Boss!"

All this time, I prepared for the day I faced Esdeath... Najenda lamented. But she doesn't even need to fight us head-on. I can't let myself die here, without me the entire Revolutionary Army is doomed!

"Tatsumi was supposed to also be around here somewhere." Esdeath began to look around. "I'm leaving these three to you, Seryu. Akame, focus on guarding Bolic - just in case Wave and Ran fail to stop the others."

Esdeath knows I'm here... Tatsumi thought. But she still can't see me. All I have to do is strike down Bolic before she notices my presence.

"Finish them off, Coro!" Seryu exclaimed. Once again, Hekatonkheires grew to its full size and dashed towards Najenda and Leone. Susanoo smacked Coro away with his mace before activating the blades. Coro grew its two arms and began to trade blows with his fellow Automaton-Type Teigu. Crying out, Susanoo struck Hekatonkheires in the stomach and hurled it away.

"Number Two!!" Seryu exclaimed, releasing her missile turrets and beginning to fire missiles towards Najenda, only for Susanoo's mace blades to spin faster, creating an annular vortex of wind that blocked and redirected the missiles. Leone jumped at her from behind, her fist burning, but Seryu caught Leone's punch, broke two of her fingers and launched her backwards.

All the noise from this exchange is hindering Esdeath's ability to track me. Tatsumi thought, already on the edge of the platform Bolic and Akame were standing on. Just a little more and I can get him!

Najenda began to get up as well. They're still not here...? Something must've happened to Kurome's team. Are the other two Jägers holding them off?

"I've had enough of this." Seryu grunted. "Coro, go Berserker!"

Activating its secret ability, Coro paralyzed Najenda and Leone with a roar. Leone prepared to strike at it, but the Automaton grabbed her by the leg, slammed her to the ground with enough force to rip her leg out and create a crater, and began to repeatedly pummel her with its fists. It was about to pick Leone up and swallow her whole, only for the still-invisible Tatsumi to force it to drop her with a punch.

"They were right. Tatsumi IS here!" Said Esdeath. "And here I thought you could actually take out Bolic."

"How can I stay quiet while this monster's mauling my big sister!?" Tatsumi yelled.

"You abandoned your mission to protect your ally." Esdeath scoffed. "But it was all for naught. Now you'll both be killed!"

Chapter Text

"Don't kill him, Seryu." Esdeath said quietly. "All you need to do is break his armor, and he'll succumb to your poison. Leave as many of them alive as you can - we'll need to interrogate them later."

Esdeath knows every step of our plan before we could even start it... Najenda thought, still struggling to get up. Could there really be a traitor among us? But nobody except me knows about Susanoo's secret ability. This might just be our one chance of getting out of here alive...!

Outside, Sheele was clashing her scissor blades with Wave's spear, only barely being able to hold him off until Rokugoh struck him from behind with his whip, leaving a small crack on his Grand Chariot.

Looks like it's not Grand Chariot that got stronger, it's Wave himself... Mein thought, watching from the woods. He's keeping an eye out to make sure I can't hit him!

Wave turned his attention to Rokugoh and leaped towards him... Only to be stopped in his tracks by near-invisible threads binding him to a tree.

"Good job, Sheele..." Said Lubbock. "While she was keeping you occupied, I tied you up to this tree with my strings!"

"I already broke your strings once!" Said Wave, struggling against the ropes... But this time, he couldn't rip them. What are those wires...? Wave thought. They're on a completely different level from the other ones!

"This is my secret ability, the Royal Knight's Hide!" Lubbock exclaimed. "Not even you can break it."

"Now, let's go!" Said Kurome. "Before he breaks out!"

Unbeknownst to them, a squadron of soldiers from Esdeath's own division was watching near the cathedral, wielding drill-like paladin lances. "There's a lot of noise coming from inside the cathedral..." Said one of them. "I feel like Counselor Bolic may be in danger. We should head in."

"No need to." Said another. "Leave it up to Esdeath to take care of the heavy hitters. We just have to stand here and make sure nobody else comes through."

Among the troops was a tall, slender man with brown hair and a white suit, wearing sunglasses and smoking a cigarette. On his shoulder, he carried a scythe decorated with monster bones. "Let them come." He scoffed. "They're no match for the power of my Teigu."

Night Raid's assassins were already a significant distance away when Wave finally broke out of Lubbock's wires with his spear's blade. He quickly began to run at top speed to catch up to them, and jumped into the air above Kurome. "GRAND FA-"

Before he could hit his target, Mein fired a massive blast at him with Pumpkeen. Wave's armor began to crack and break as the beam pushed him into the night sky. "Not sure if he's gonna die just yet, but I definitely threw him way off-course." Said Mein.

"Let's hurry to the cathedral!" Said Lubbock.

The group continued to run ahead, only for Esdeath's three soldiers and the scythe-master to appear in front of them. "Night Raid's here!" Said one of the soldiers. "They may look weak, but don't underestimate them. We gotta take 'em out as soon as possible!"

In one swift movement, Kurome beheaded all three soldiers and then lunged at the Teigu wielder. His scythe's blade folded close to the pole, allowing him to block Yatsufusa's attack. "That was close..." He grunted, his scythe reopening as he pushed Kurome away. He swung his scythe again, raining down numerous beams of light over the assassins.

"Looks like this guy's a Teigu user." Said Lubbock.

"Mein and I can take care of him." Said Sheele. "You two go on ahead!"

"You're sending two of your allies away?" The man laughed. "Big mistake! I am Holimaca, the Path of Peace's strongest warrior, and wielder of the Reaper's Judgement: Adayus!"

Mein fired a single bullet at Holimaca, forcing him to parry and give Kurome and Lubbock an opening to run past him. "Behold my holy power!" Said Holimaca as began to repeatedly swing his scythe, raining down beams of light that seemed to not damage anything they hit except for Sheele and Mein's bodies.

"So your Teigu has the power to control light?" Said Sheele, blocking his light bullets with Extase. "Seems impressive to be sure, but it's nothing compared to what my Extase can do."

"I'LL SHOW YOU!" Holimaca jumped towards Sheele, but before he could hit her, Sheele summoned her blade of light and sliced him in half.

"Why did you need me again?" Asked Mein.

"Not important! We gotta hurry!" Said Sheele. Mein nodded as the two continued running after Lubbock and Kurome.

While Susanoo was clashing with the berserker Hekatonkheires in the cathedral, Tatsumi's Neuntote was crossing blades with Seryu's dual Sung Dynasty Blades. It seems like the disgusting Automaton-Type who turned on his people is here too... Seryu thought. He's no match for Coro's Berserker form, but Incursio's new wielder is starting to overpower me. To think I once thought this villainous murderer was just an innocent boy... I probably helped him find more victims to kill. I don't think I can take him out without turning into a monster... But I can't do that without destroying the cathedral!

"This is not over yet!" Najenda exclaimed, already on her feet. "Destroy him, Susanoo! DEMON SOUL RELEASE!!"

As she said that, the jewel in the center of Susanoo's chest began to glow with yellow energy. His jacket was ripped off, replaced with an ivory armor, his hair turned white and his eyes glowed yellow, his horns turned black and a spiked disk with ornate symbols appeared behind his back. In one punch, Susanoo launched Hekatonkheires into a wall, causing it to instantly turn back into an inanimate porcelain doll.

"And this is your hidden ability, just like they told us." Esdeath smirked. "Looks like I'm going to have a fight of my own after all!" Susanoo rushed at Esdeath and began to repeatedly punch her with his armored gauntlets, only for the Great General to swiftly dodge his attacks.

"I'm going in too!" Tatsumi exclaimed, jumping towards Esdeath with a punch. She blocked it with one arm, only for Susanoo to attack her with an upward kick. "This is really entertaining!" Esdeath exclaimed as she dodged it. "But it's still not enough to take me down!!" She kicked Tatsumi away and landed several swipes on Susanoo's chest with her sword, before summoning a barrage of ice shards that pushed Tatsumi further away.

"Heavenly Sword of Gathering Clouds!!!" Susanoo exclaimed, summoning an extremely long sword of transparent glass and swinging it at Esdeath. The Great General erected a multi-layered barrier of ice to block the attack and crouched behind it as the glass blade easily cut through the walls.

"You guarded yourself with tens of layers of solid ice..." Said Susanoo.

"This was an impressive display of strength." Said Esdeath. "But it won't let you reach me."

"I wasn't trying to." Said the living Teigu. "You can have fun fighting, but the targets behind you are what you should be concerned about."

Esdeath turned around to see a massive cut in the cathedral's wall. "Akame, are you alright?!"

"I'm fine!" Said Akame, holding Bolic under her arm.

"Hmpf... This guarding business is all too new to me." Said Esdeath. Behind her, a massive crystal of ice formed, turning into a nearly spherical hedgehog-like structure. "Looks like I can't afford to capture you anymore. So I'll just have to kill you instead!" Esdeath exclaimed as the crystal began to rain down numerous ice shards all homing at Susanoo.

"Taste the power of your own attack! Eight-Span Mirror!" Susanoo exclaimed as the ring behind him moved to the front and a barrier of light formed in its center. Esdeath's ice crystals were absorbed into the Eight-Span Mirror and condensed into one large pillar of ice aimed towards her...

But before the pillar could hit Esdeath, Susanoo collapsed on the floor as Seryu stabbed her metal hand through his chest, taking out the magical jewel within. The rest of his body melted into a rubbery white mass.

"Susanoo!!!" Najenda screamed in terror.

"You were a weapon created to defend The Empire and its people!" Seryu exclaimed. "You are a failed Teigu! Now, I will bring your power back to where it belongs... And accomplish my Master's final wish!" Saying this, Seryu's mouth stretched wide as she swallowed the jewel whole. Her whole body was surrounded in a golden yellow aura.

"You made a mistake abandoning your opponent to attack me." Esdeath said looking at the defeated Tatsumi. "And none of you can fight anymore. Now then, let me show you the way to the torture chamber!"

Chapter Text

"Ahahaha... HAHAHAHAHA!!!!" Bolic laughed, getting up from the rubble caused by Susanoo's blade. "As expected from General Esdeath and her mightiest warriors. You've defeated every last one of them! These rebels have no business trying to kill me. How pathetic!!"

Suddenly, a single bullet pierced Bolic's brain stem from behind, killing him instantly. "What in the world..." Esdeath started.

The cathedral's window shattered by Night Raid's resurrected Air Manta, revealing Lubbock, Kurome, Mein and Sheele riding it.

"The remaining members of Night Raid are here!!" Said Seryu. Breathing another wave of poison from her mouth, all of the new arrivals became paralyzed, but the Air Manta itself was unhindered. Sheele, having been the only person who was never exposed to the poison before, was the most affected by its paralyzing effects, while Kurome was affected the least.

Acting quickly, Esdeath fired a large ice crystal at the Air Manta. "PUMPKEEN!!!" Mein shouted, shattering the crystal with a strong blast of energy. Before Esdeath could attack again, Tatsumi ran at her from behind and kicked her, only for her to dodge the strike. I'm getting weaker... Tatsumi thought. Esdeath really did a number on me... But nevertheless, I must continue fighting!

"KUROME!!" Akame shouted as she jumped towards the Air Manta with her sword up. While the Air Manta flew higher to avoid it, Natala kicked Akame in the stomach and pushed her back down.

"Everyone!" Said Najenda. "Our mission is complete! There's no reason for us to stay here any longer. We have to retreat!"

Seryu, who seemed overwhelmed by the massive power she absorbed, seemed to have recovered, her aura receded. "As if I'd let you!" She screamed. "You just murdered Counselor Bolic in cold blood! I'm not letting any of you escape -"

"EXTASE!!!" Sheele screamed, and once again, a blinding light flooded the cathedral. The members of Night Raid quickly began to leave; Tatsumi ran over to the brutally defeated Leone. "Big sis, we're getting out of here!"

"Can you pick up my leg?" Leone grunted. Tatsumi nodded, picking up the leg Coro ripped out in one hand and the rest of Leone in the other, before taking off along with his friends. Kurome summoned Natala to pick up Najenda and they all got on the Air Manta as it flew into the night.

Sheele's blinding light receded. Seryu, Akame and Esdeath were left in a ruined cathedral, now sure that Bolic was dead. "Damn it..." Esdeath whispered. "We took out Night Raid's most powerful fighter... But the mission was a failure, so it was all for nothing."

"His power is mine now..." Seryu whispered, looking at her hand. "I can feel this failed Automaton-Type's immense vital energy coursing through me. Now I've become what Master Stylish always wanted to be... The ultimate weapon."

"We can finally wave goodbye to this place..." Said Mein, watching Kyorochi's landscape as the Air Manta was fleeing from it. "And we're all in one piece."

"Except for Su..." Tatsumi grunted.

At the city's wall, Suzuka was watching the Air Manta flying away. "This is all very interesting..." She whispered. "Out of all the possible ways this could've turned out... This is one is probably the most intriguing. With everyone's powers on my side, they should thank me for not being in the cathedral to take them down. I wonder, are they going to notice what Esdeath said about having been told what Susanoo's hidden ability was? That's definitely going to throw them off if they do. Maybe they're even going to rule out the possibility that there's a traitor altogether... What fools, how little do they know. And even more than that, they're still paying no attention to the one person that's the key to everything else... The Imperial Head Scientist and Seryu's final mentor."

Meanwhile, at the imperial palace, a fair-skinned man was sitting on a throne - the same man who seized the monsters Stylish has created. In front of him was a group of five figures in hoods. "I assume that's everyone, then?" He said. "Alright... It is time. We're finally going to show The Empire what we're worth... And I, the great Syura, will finally have what is mine."

Night Raid: 7 left

Chapter Text

It's been three months since Counselor Bolic's assassination.

Once the rest of his supporters have been weeded out, the Path of Peace could finally begin its armed uprising.

Believing that fighting against the Empire that oppresses its people was their duty, they assaulted the government offices that impose taxes and the storehouses of landlords.

Although their Great Lord has wished to avoid bloodshed, he understood that land and food were needed to sustain his ever-growing number of followers and agreed to the rationale of the uprising's proponents.

Many other citizens opposed to the Empire have also began to rise up in support of the insurrection, and the seeds of revolution were sown across the Empire.

At the same time, a massive army of the survivors from the Western Tribes, having waited for this precise moment, mobilized their forces and began an invasion.

The Empire's inexperienced military suffered one defeat after the other, allowing the combined armies to penetrate deeper and deeper into their territory.

And as time went on, the number of problems in The Empire's hands has only continued to multiply...

It was a snowy Winter's day in the Imperial Palace, and Emperor Makoto stood over a frozen pond with his trusted Prime Minister beside him. "I heard that our army has lost against the Western Tribes... Again." He bitterly said. "We are being surrounded by enemies from every corner."

"And whence have you heard those news, Your Highness?" The Prime Minister asked him.

"From Seigi, the secretary of domestic affairs." The Emperor answered bluntly.

"It seems like Seigi is trying to escape accountability." Said the Minister.

"And what do you mean by that?" The Emperor asked.

"It is his responsibility as secretary of domestic affairs to handle uprisings such as the one happening now." Said the Minister. "I suspect he wants to distract us with news of the Western Tribes to take some of the heat off his back. This riff-raff army of tribes is nothing to the West Country they used to live at before our new Head Scientist led our army to conquer it."

"Then appointing her as Head Scientist meant we can no longer have her strength on the battlefield as often, wouldn't it?" Makoto argued.

"Her advances in weaponry have been invaluable for our army against the armed uprising." Said the Minister. "And she made it clear that she didn't wish to continue leading the army once the West Country was taken down. But either way, you needn't worry about this battalion of survivors. Great General Esdeath's army has already been called upon to take action against them."

"I see..." Said the Emperor with a grin.

"Yes." Said the Minister. "Esdeath will be able to rout this invading army without a doubt. The number of soldiers is no longer of any importance. Any country that existed for a thousand years is bound to have something like this happen eventually... But we should not worry. Please remain calm and collected as the great pillar that supports the hope of the people."

"I understand!" Said the Emperor. "An Empire cannot stand tall without a strong-minded Emperor. Thank you, Minister - you always have my back."

Hours later, the Prime Minister was munching on a large steak, sitting next to a table. "My, my." He said. "Invasions, rebellions, everything's so stressful lately. All this stress is making me gain weight."

"AHAHA!!" Laughed Syura, who was sitting across from him. "You're just eating too much, dad!"

"That's only because your souvenirs are so delicious..." The Minister retaliated. "I let you, my beloved son, go on a journey outside the Empire, and you have returned more impressive than ever. You made me very proud, Syura."

"I've seen many interesting things around the world..." Said Syura. "But no country is more beautiful to me than this great Empire. The South and North tundra were so rural, they didn't even have firearms..."

"So the West Country stacked up the best against the Empire...?" His father asked.

"So it appears." Said Syura. "But the rulers were holding it back by outlawing sorcery and Alchemy. My only regret is that I wasn't able to travel overseas to the East Country."

"You couldn't have done anything about that." Said the Minister. "The area across the Eastern Oceans is unknown territory."

"But I did meet some interesting people in my travels..." Said Syura. "People with useful talents that could be helpful with this little problem you've got."

"Then how about you let me take a look at them?" The Minister asked.

Some time later, the Minister and his son, along with several soldiers from Esdeath's division were in the comfortable seats of the colosseum-like military training grounds. "Hey, you there!" Syura shouted at a group of armed men and women in the arena. "I know you're all going to get executed, but why won't we play a little game first?"

As he said that, the colosseum gate was opened and five hooded figures stepped in, with the same symbol as Syura's shirt on their hoods. "Defeat these five, and you'll be acquitted and given prize money!" Syura shouted. "You're all more than welcome to attack at once!"

Hearing this, the death row inmates held unto their weapons and prepared to face the five.

"Looks like they're going to do it. Making the criminals fight by using acquittal as bait was a great idea."

"It's a common technique in assassin training." Said the Minister. "Nothing beats hands-on experience."

The first of the five fighters removed his robe, revealing he was a tall muscular samurai with black hair tied in a top knot. "I'll be going first." He said.

"Alright." Said one of the others. "Prime Minister Onest already knows me. I shouldn't have even come here."

"Feed, Kousetsu." Said the samurai, drawing a dark red sword. In a split second, he sliced through a group of prisoners on the front.

"This man is Izou." Syura explained. "I couldn't visit his home country in the East, so I lucked out that he met me here. His sword has the ability to drain blood from his opponents."

"Poor things, there's nowhere for you to escape." Said a second fighter, removing her coat to reveal a pink minidress, magenta hair and a pair of bunny-like ears. "But at the very least, let me sing you a farewell song for your journey to Hell!" She said, taking out a microphone-like tool, before singing a single note and releasing a sonic wave that pulverized several prisoners' bones.

"And this is Cosmina." Syura continued. "I don't know if you met her or not. She's originally from the West Country, but she's been living here in the Empire for a while."

"And that's all of them!✰" Cosmina giggled.

"What do you mean by all of them!?" Yelled one of the others, a pale lean man with black hair and a pointed tongue, as he kicked Cosmina in the back. "How am I supposed to get my own share if you kill everyone on your own!?"

"What did I just get myself into..." The shortest of the hooded fighters signaled Cosmina to move and started to walk across the pile of bodies. "This guy's still breathing." She said, removing her hood to reveal she was a short blonde, appearing almost like a child, with a turquoise dress and a white apron. She then unceremoniously grabbed the guy who was still breathing and bit into his neck, draining all blood from his body in seconds and reducing him to a dried husk.

"And of course, you already met Dorothea." Said Syura. "I had my eye on her since she conquered the West Country."

The black-haired lanky man took off his hood as well and so did the last one, a morbidly obese black man in clown-like clothing and makeup. "That one over there is Enshin." Said Syura, pointing at the lanky man. "He was a pirate in the seas of the South Country. He was about to be publicly executed when I met and saved him."

"Damn it, I wanted to kill someone. I feel restless." Enshin muttered.

"And that ugly fatass is Champa, a serial killer who masqueraded as an entertainer to capture his victims in the North." Said Syura, pointing to the last member of the group.

"I see..." Said Onest, looking over the strange group. "That's one group of talented people with high potential you've gathered. And you gave them all a Teigu, right?"

"Izou seems to already have one. I already went through the trouble of finding Teigu that were lost outside the Empire for the rest." Said Syura. "But even without them, these guys are world-class. They'd leave your Rakshasa or whatever they're called in the dust."

"What an interesting provocation." Said Onest.

"It's no provocation." Said Syura. "I can prove it to you. We'll kill that man named Seigi with our own power."

"That won't be necessary." His father replied. "We are in a time of war and chaos. The perfect opportunity to see who's truly loyal and who's not. Any fools who dare oppose me will be driven out of their position and executed! Framing someone from a crime is no effort at all..."

He's just as rotten as I remember him. Syura thought. Taking my dad out won't be easy... But I have my toys assembled. It's playtime.

At a café downtown, Wave and Akame were sitting next to a table and drinking coffee, with Wave eating a slice of cake and Akame eating a large slab of meat.

"Even now, The Empire feels peaceful..." Wave mused.

"It never felt peaceful to me." Akame replied.

While they were talking, Ran was standing up and watching a jester's juggling performance.

"I never took you for someone who's interested in street performers." Said Wave.

"That's... Not it." Said Ran. His expression looked hateful.

"Hey Ran, why are you making such a scary face?" Asked Wave. "Is something wrong?"

Ran forced himself to smile. "No, it's nothing."

Meanwhile, the forest around Night Raid's base was also covered in snow, and Tatsumi was outside hunting with Sayo and Ieyasu. The latter of which was walking up to the body of a giant bear he just beheaded and examined it. "Alright!" He said. "I think that's enough."

"Let's get back before nightfall." Said Tatsumi.

"I'm not sure." Said Sayo, who looked troubled. "I feel like we should stick around a little more."

Tatsumi removed his armor and laid a hand on her shoulder. "Is anything wrong?"

"...I guess I'm still a little worried about what the last Rakshasa Demon said..." Sayo started. "About the traitor."

"The Boss said this couldn't be it." Said Tatsumi. "No one in Night Raid knew about Su's secret ability, but Esdeath said she was told about it was well. It wouldn't be possible if Two-Face was just one of us. Even Kurome said nobody in Night Raid knew all of her puppets' identities."

"Then who else could it be?!" Sayo asked. "That person knew our locations, our identities, our plans - they knew everything about us, and we still know nothing about them. Two-Face might still be watching us right this very second, and we're doing nothing about it! If their intervention could get Susanoo killed, who's to say it can't tip the scales in the final battle without us even expecting it!?"

"I understand what you're saying." Said Tatsumi. "And you might very well be right. The Boss and the Revolutionary Army spies are doing everything they can to look for Two-Face's identity. But while they're doing that, we should keep fighting the enemies we can see. Paying attention to everything around us is always important, but if we ignore what's in front of us so we can find what's behind us, then we'll definitely die."

Ieyasu slapped Tatsumi. "Don't talk like that! There's no way we're going to die now!"

"There may very well be..." Said Sayo. "But we shouldn't lose our hope. Even merciless killers like us could not have survived for this long without it."

Watching the trio from inside the base, Leone scoffed. "They're all still so childish..."

Chapter Text

In an old theater somewhere in the Capital, a cast of actors were practicing for their next play, when all of a sudden, Syura and his group entered the empty stadium. "Excuse me!" Syura said. "This is the special task force, Wild Hunt. You heard of us?"

Wild Hunt? The theater's director thought as he moved out of the stage. The new group formed by The Empire to counter the rebellion alongside the Jägers? "Y... Yes?" He said, confused. "How can I help you?"

"We just heard reports saying you use your plays to spread propaganda against The Empire, so we came to investigate." Said Syura.

"What?! That's not true at all!" Said the director.

"How can we know without taking a closer look?" Asked Syura.

The director looked back at his cast for a moment and then handed Syura a bag. "Of course! Please take this."

Syura swatted the bag away. "You think you can bribe me, stupid? Execute him."

"Got it!" Said Dorothea. In one swift movement, she leaped at the director and drained him dry of blood before tossing the body aside.

"DIRECTOR!!" The actors began to scream and panic.

"You bastard!" Said the leading actor as he, and another actor dressed as a knight in armor, charged at Syura.

"Seriously, you think you can resist?" Syura scoffed. "I am the son of the Prime Minister! Resisting me is tantamount to resisting the Minister himself! You believe you can cross me? Go ahead."

Hearing Syura's words, the two actors froze in fear and backed off. "You spineless cowards..." He grunted. "Well then, time to investigate thoroughly."

The rest of the actors were already backing away or kneeling on the floor in utter terror. The rest of the Wild Hunters started to examine them with their eyes.

"Just what I'd expect from the cast of a theater." Said Enshin. "There's so many cute girls, I don't know where to start! I'm going to take them all!"

"Hey! What happened to giving everyone their own share?" Cosmina retorted.

"Is there anything here for me...?" Champa said, looking at the cast before noticing a single young boy in the back. "Oh, yes, there is!" He grinned, starting to run towards him. "I knew they had a little kid!!"

The kid, in turn, gasped and began to back away, only for Champa to easily catch up and grab his neck. "I envy kids like you..." He mused. "You're so pure, like a little angel." Then he dropped the boy, who yelped in pain. "Hurts, doesn't it?" Champa licked his lips. "I'll make this all better."

"Please stop!" One of the other actors, a grown man, pleaded to Champa. "This is too much! He's just a child!"

"Who do you think you're talking to, you rotten garbage!?" Champa shouted, turning the man's head to mush in one punch. "Don't you come near me!" Then, he turned back to the kid, now with blood on his face and fist. "Damn it, they always interrupt me. Now then, how about we go somewhere more private?"

The theater's security guards, who were situated outside, heard the noises and attempted to go inside, only for Izou to stop them. "Move one more step and I'll kill you." He said, drawing his sword. "Just when I thought I couldn't get any good blood..." Then, he sliced up the entire group. "What an amazing country. I never imagined I'd be able to kill this much. I'm glad I've come with master Syura..."

At the back of the theater, Syura was just done tossing aside a female actress' corpse. "They always break so easily..." He grunted. "But there's no better toy than a human being. Their reaction to playing with them makes all the difference. And there's so much more playtime to be had in the Capital... And the Empire's Strongest lady is still occupied fighting off the survivors from the West."

At the far ends of what used to be the West Country, Esdeath laughed in exhilaration as she was massacring a large group of soldiers from the Western Tribes. "Now THIS is a battle!" She exclaimed.

"So this is the Empire's Strongest, Esdeath..." The leader of the battalion said. "I never imagined she was this strong! We got to retreat!" Saying that, the Western army began to turn away in between the mountains behind them.

"General!" Said one of Esdeath's soldiers. "The enemy is retreating back to the target location!"

"Just as planned." Said Esdeath. "Once they're all inside the valley, cut off their path of retreat and bathe them in flames! I buried the Northerners alive. Let's try something new with you Westerners and engulf you in an inferno of gunpowder!"

Too far to hear Esdeath, the survivors of the army continued running through the valley between the mountains when suddenly, a flaming arrow hit a large pile of explosives Esdeath's soldiers hid in the mountains beforehand, and a great chain of explosions covered the entire valley, burning the soldiers alive.

"Is this the mighty army that utterly defeated the Imperial Troops?" Esdeath laughed. "How beautiful it is, to utterly crush all those who have confidence in their own fighting skills. This is what I live for!"

"GENERAL!" Said one of Esdeath's soldiers, riding towards her on a horse. "We've received an emergency report from the Capital! The Revolutionary Army in the West has mobilized and captured Castle Caylinn without shedding a single drop of blood!"

"Nice going, Revolutionary Army." Esdeath chuckled.

"First the invasion from this foreign army, and then the uprisings across The Empire..." Said one of the other soldiers. "This isn't good."

"They were all meant to happen." Said Esdeath dismissively. "We'll be fine as long as we can push back the Western Tribes. And if it comes down to it, The Empire still has that stubborn bastard... The only army that can even challenge us is the Imperial Guard that has him commanding it."

"Being the special task force is great." Said Syura, walking around the palace with his father. "I'm really getting a kick out of it, dad."

"I don't care about how many citizens you're killing..." Said Onest. "Your goal is to eliminate Night Raid, you understand that? Those guys could kill even Bolic. We can't take them lightly."

"I know, that." Said Syura. "Leave it to me. I've already began preparing for this. Speaking of which, though, what exactly are you gonna do about the Revolutionary Army in the South? They're gonna have to face us when they reach the Capital, but aren't you running out of soldiers?"

"As if!" Said Onest. "We needn't worry about them. We'll just get that stubborn bastard and his Imperial Guard come into play."

"Who are you calling a stubborn bastard?" Asked a voice from behind the Minister and his son.

"My, my." Said Onest without turning around. "It's been a while since you left the military training grounds. Is the situation just that dire?"

"The highest-ranked officer in the entire Imperial Army, Great General Budo!?" Asked Syura. Budo was indeed behind them - a very tall, very muscular man with a tan skin and blonde hair, wearing a heavy armor and a red cape.

"Silence, Prime Minister!" He said. "I will take care of the rebels... But the two of us still have a lot of cleaning up to do."

Chapter Text

Prime Minister Onest was eating a whole chicken out of a pile of chickens, at the head of the Council Hall with all the other Ministers surrounding him - and with Syura standing behind him. "As you all hopefully know, the Revolutionary Army has breached Gate En without bloodshed." Said Onest. "Do any of you have any ingenious plans to counter this threat?"

"They surrendered without a fight!?" Asked one of the Ministers. "Our commanders are all spineless cowards!"

"And you're sending our armies to put down petty riots? The Revolutionary Army is what we should care about!" Another Minister said.

"Our armies have engaged them, multiple times." Said a third. "The Revolutionary Army is not only led by experienced former generals, but in possession of many Teigu. Right now, we don't stand a chance!"

"So every Teigu we lose falls into the hands of the Revolutionary Army..." Said another Minister. "We're underestimating them."

"You're all so pathetic, panicking about every little thing..." Onest grunted. "If you have nothing constructive to say, just let me eat in peace!"

Even when the situation's this dire, dad's still acting like nothing is wrong... Syura observed. This must be because of the fabled "Ultimate Teigu"  that Emperor Makoto himself wields.

"Stop wavering, you fools!" A stern voice shouted. "And you call yourself the rulers of The Empire?"

"Great General Budo!?" The Ministers gasped in surprise.

Or this guy. Syura thought.

"Fret not. Once the Revolutionary Army approaches the Capital, they'll be exterminated by me and my Imperial Guard." Said Budo.

"How reassuring..." Said one of the Ministers. "As long as the Great General Budo is by our side, we can never lose!"

"We shouldn't have been afraid after all." A second said in agreement.

"It is not in the business of military officers to interfere with government matters." Said Budo. "I am the last of a lineage of great heroes who have all followed The Empire faithfully. But at times like this, I cannot remain silent. Once the Revolutionary Army is eradicated, we must find the source of The Empire's instability and pull it by the roots, no matter who it might be."

"Oooh, scary." Scoffed Onest. "Whoever you're talking about must be terrified."

What a great time I picked to show up. Syura thought. Just when I thought it couldn't get any more interesting.

"Our spies are scouring for whatever information they can find in the Capital." Said Najenda, back at Night Raid's base. "They should report back in a couple days. Don't leave the hideout until that happens."

Leone let out a long sigh. "I've just returned from a trip outside. Guess all I can do to recharge is get a drink."

"I'm sure there's other stuff you can do." Said Tatsumi.

"Get your girlfriend to make me some food then." Leone said.

"SAYO IS NOT MY GIRLFRIEND!" Tatsumi yelled, before turning to leave.

Right when he was about to exit the door, Leone suddenly appeared behind him. "Hey, Tatsumi, is it just me, or did you get a little taller?"

"I did?" Tatsumi asked in surprise, looking at his own body.

Leone was silent for a moment. "Eh, guess that's nothing." She said, before going back to the couch she laid at prior. Tatsumi shrugged it off and left.

"You still don't understand..." Leone whispered. "If you stopped to tell me you had a girlfriend, I could have had some fun with that... But this is just boring. I wonder, did you really not understand it when anyone wanted to confess to you? Or is it that she didn't want to confess to begin with, because she already had someone better...? Ah, this is really troublesome either way. I just hope it doesn't stay this way for much longer..."

At the top of a mountain far away, Wave, Ran and Akame visited Borris' gravestone for the first time in months, only to see a woman and a child in mourning clothes already at the gravesite.

Those are Borris' wife and daughter... Wave thought. They've probably been coming here every day.

"Daily living must've gotten rough for you without your husband, hasn't it?" Wave asked, out loud this time.

"Great General Esdeath supplied us with compensations and with what remained of Borris' wage for working with the Jägers." Said the widow.

"Since when did Esdeath start giving money to mourning families?" Wave questioned.

"Any gold she receives for her missions goes straight to her soldiers." Said Ran. "She must've taken care of some other things we didn't know about."

And a General who takes care of the grieving families of her soldiers would earn great respect from her soldiers as well. Ran thought without speaking.

"We already accumulated some savings beforehand..." Borris' wife said. "I know I can't let this stop me from doing my best to give my daughter a good life."

"I see." Said Wave. "If you're ever in need of any help, please don't hesitate to reach out to us."

"That wouldn't be a good idea." Said Akame. "In fact, it wouldn't be a good idea to visit the Capital at all."

"Huh?" The widow asked.

"There's a new group around, and they're starting to cause chaos..."

Inside the Capital, a bar owner was drinking as he was talking to a couple sitting in front of him. "They're making life in the Capital worse than ever." He said. "Of course, since the rest of The Empire is being trampled by the revolution, life there isn't exactly paradise either, but..."

"Wait a minute." Said the woman, who was holding a notebook and a pencil. "By them, you're talking about this new security squad?"

"THEY'RE HERE!" Said a waiter. "Quick! Close the shop and hide the kids!"

Once he said that, the bar's crew immediately began to close blinds and windows and lock doors. "Whatever you do, DON'T go outside..." The owner whispered. "They are the secret police, Wild Hunt! Their cruelty knows no bounds. They're using the title of the Prime Minister's son to do whatever they please!"

Syura was looking around outside, his squad behind him. "Everything is closed? How boring."

"It's because we go overboard with every investigation we conduct! Everyone's too afraid to stay open!" Dorothea rebuked him.

"Know your place, Dorothea!" Said Syura, slapping her in the face. "You can brag about being the brilliant Head Scientist who combined your Alchemy with Stylish's science all day long, but you're still one of my subordinates and have no right to tell me what to do!"

"Wild Hunt is here!" Syura's attention turned to a voice shouting from the other side of the street. Looking up, he saw a large group of fighters in martial arts uniforms approaching. "You're the bastards who murdered our master and his family. We are the mightiest disciples of the Imperial Fist Temple! Even if we're punished by law, we swear that we're going to kill you!"

"Looks like I can have a bit more quality blood to feed my Kousetsu with." Said Izou.

"You guys sit this one out." Said Syura. "These guys must've been friends with the toy I broke two days ago. I like royalty."

Leaving the rest of the group, Syura went ahead to face the disciples. "You wanted to fight me? Here you go! I'll take you on by myself. Come at me!"

Three Imperial Fist disciples jumped at Syura and attacked him from above at once. In one spinning kick, he took out all three, before he began to run between the rest of the group, his movements elegant like a dancer. He kicked the last disciple in the face and then caught up to him and punched him to the ground laughing maniacally. "Come on, you're so weak! I didn't even need my Teigu!" He laughed.

Among all the disciples Syura knocked down was a single female, who was pushed to her knees holding her chest in pain. She desperately tried to reach out to a poisoned knife she carried on her, when Enshin suddenly grabbed her arm. "If you want to live..." He whispered, "then take those clothes off and crawl like the bitch you are. Do it now or I'm torturing you to death."

The girl's eyes teared up and she screamed in pure despair. Hearing that, one of Cosmina's bunny ears tilted in the opposite direction. "She's going to hear, isn't she...?"

Minutes later, Wave and Ran arrived at the street only to see the disciples' bodies hanged upside down from wooden logs in between the buildings. The Wild Hunters were still there, nonchalantly munching on some fruits they took from what appeared to be a destroyed fruit merchant's cart. Champa was sitting at the front, and Ran crossed eyes with him before Syura interrupted him.

"So you are those worthless Jägers I've heard about!" He said. "You came late for the investigation, so we went ahead and finished it for you."

"You publicly executed all of them!?" Wave shouted. "This is too much!"

"Don't you cross the Prime Minister's son unless you have the guts to face retribution from the Prime Minister!" Syura scoffed at him.

Wave said nothing.

"Well then? Say something!" Said Syura.

Wave prepared to charge at him, but he was stopped by Ran. "You can't just assault someone who's related to the Prime Minister!" He whispered. "Hold yourself back!"

Wave backed off, and Ran bowed. "I apologize for the trouble, Wild Hunters." He said.

"You're not bowing?" Syura said.

After a short moment of silence, Wave bowed the same way his friend did. "No... He muttered. "I apologize for my rudeness."

"Then it's all right. I'd hate to see another member of the Jägers get himself killed." Said Syura.

So I can't lay a finger on this guy without the Prime Minister coming after me? Wave grunted.

"We'll take care of this eyesore." Said Ran. "We're pretty good at getting on the good side of other people."

"That so?" Syura said. "Looks like I misjudged you. I'm gonna let you off the hook, so I'm expecting you guys to do the same."

"Thank you for your kind words." Said Ran.

The bar owner and his two "guests" watched from within their closed restaurant. "They're really no different from a group of bandits..." Said the blonde female.

"And everyone just puts up with this?" Asked the tall man.

"They have no choice." Said the owner. "Cross them and you'll get killed. It's better to just wait and weather the storm than try to fight it."

I've heard the rumors, but I didn't expect them to be this bad... The woman thought. We have to report this!

Once Syura and the others left, Cosmina stuck around for a few seconds and approached Wave. Seeing this, he backed off. Did he really leave one of his own behind to spy on us? He thought.

Cosmina looked like she was trying to think of something to say. "I'm... Terribly sorry for how Master Syura treated you earlier. I just want to apologize in his name. The Empire already needs to fight an armed uprising and a foreign army... The last thing it needs is to also fight itself."

"Really...?" Wave asked, a little suspicious.

"Well..." Cosmina looked nervous. "I, uh, wanted to know, how is Seryu?"

"Why are you taking interest in her?" Asked Wave.

"Y-you didn't know?" Cosmina said. "Mistress Dorothea is the one who gave Seryu her most recent modifications since Doctor Stylish died!"

"Mistress Dorothea!?" Wave clearly had no idea what was going on at this point.

"Yes! I am Mistress Dorothea's assistant!" Said Cosmina. "Seryu was the first person I could call a friend in a long time! Did... Did she never tell you about me?"

Wave eyed Ran, who hasn't spoke a word since Syura left.

"She mentioned you... Just not by name." Said Ran. "We didn't know you're the assistant she talked about. We just assumed you were one of the people Syura met on his travels."

"..." Cosmina lowered her head, covering her eyes in a shadow. She looked like she was holding back tears. "I'm sorry for wasting your time. Please give Seryu my regards." She said and left, holding a single black hair and a single blonde hair between her fingers.

Days later, Borris' wife and daughter were once again visiting the grave of their beloved, when suddenly, a voice behind them said: "What a surprise..."

Turning around, the woman and the child saw Syura and the rest of Wild Hunt behind them. "You're as beautiful as I heard." Said Syura. "It's always refreshing to take a trip to the outskirts every once in a while."

"Uh..." The widow said. "C-can I help you, sir?"

"Yeah." Said Syura. "I'm thinking about finding you a new husband."

"You should feel honored." Said Enshin. "The Prime Minister's own son wants your hand!"

"Hey!" Said the little girl! "You're picking on my mommy!"

"YOU'RE SOOOOOO CUTE!" Champa exclaimed, rushing towards her. "I want to take you for myself, right next to your dad's grave!"

"What are you doing!?" Her mother said in disgust and fear. "Please, don't take my -"

Several days later, Wave and Akame stood before two Imperial officers preparing two bodies for burial. "They were killed while resisting arrest by Wild Hunt..." Akame said coldly. "At least, that's what the reports say."

"You two..." Wave approached the sheet covering the bodies.

"Please, don't look." Said one of the soldiers. "This is beyond brutal."

That night, Wave was pacing on his own in the Jägers' dorms. Everywhere he looked, in the darkness of the night, Wave saw Borris' face, and that of his wife and child next to him.

"DAMN IT!!" Wave shouted, slamming his fist against the wall. "After all of this, they're expecting me to do nothing!?"

"Wave..." Said Akame, standing in the entrance to her room.

"I'm... Sorry I disturbed your sleep." Said Wave.

"I wasn't asleep." Said Akame. "I couldn't sleep tonight... Not after -"

"Well, well, who do we have here." Said Syura, approaching Wave from behind. Then, he looked at Akame. "And what do we have here? I never expected the Jägers to have such a hidden gem."

"Do you remember how you got this scar on your face, Syura, son of the Prime Minister?" Akame said without flinching.

"What kind of stupid question is that!?" Syura replied, provoked.

"You got it from the one toy you couldn't break." Said Akame. "Merraid Oarburgh. The one woman who was strong enough to fight back against you and left you with an incurable wound, a permanent reminder of your worst failure. Do you know what happened to Merraid Oarburgh, Syura?"

"What the fuck are you trying to get at!?"

"I KILLED HER." Akame said. "I killed the one person you couldn't kill. The one person who could wound you and live. Before you do anything else, I want you to remember this fact, and choose your words very carefully."

"Hmpf!" Said Syura, turning away. "With an attitude like that, I'm not going to want anything to do with you. Bold of you to assume I haven't gotten stronger since that disgusting bitch scarred me. You might be a pretty girl, but you're as much of a loser as your stinky friend. And don't you think I'll forget that you just threatened me."

As Syura was walking away, he reached out to what appeared to be an amulet he carried on him, before he exited the room and disappeared.

Chapter Text

It was morning in the Imperial Palace, and like most days, Seryu was the first to wake up. The second to wake up was Akame, who, despite having lost sleep, was still able to get up early in the morning and confront her.

"Oh, good morning, Akame." Said Seryu. "You... Don't look good. Is something wrong?"

"I was going to ask you the same question." Akame replied. "I've been informed that Cosmina of Wild Hunt claims to be Head Scientist Dorothea's assistant. Is that correct?"

"Oh, yeah!" Said Seryu. "She helped Mistress Dorothea install my last few upgrades. At times like these The Empire needs people as dedicated as her the most!"

Akame was doing a pretty good job hiding the fact she was grossed out. "I wouldn't be so quick to make that judgement."

"What do you mean?" Asked Seryu, confused.

"Haven't you heard?" Said Akame. "Since Wild Hunt was formed, they've been... Well... Excessive with their methods, and that's putting it lightly. They've been recorded brutally killing the entire staff anywhere they were sent to investigate, even in simple restaurants and places of entertainment. They were seen raping some of their victims, including children, before killing them. Just yesterday Borris' own wife and daughter were murdered by them."

"That can't be true!" Seryu protested. "I've known Cosmina and Mistress Dorothea for months. They'd never do anything like this! Whoever told you those lies must have been a propagandist trying to demonize The Empire's mightiest heroes and diminish their glory in order to turn the populace against them!"

"No one told me those things, Seryu!" Said Akame. "I've seen this done. I witnessed Wild Hunt's extrajudicial killing of children with my own eyes! I've seen the brutalized corpses of Borris' family! You met them yourself, so you know they were good and innocent citizens who would never do anything to warrant Wild Hunt's suspicion! I care about The Empire just as much as you do, but Wild Hunt is not protecting The Empire, they're destroying it! How could you be so blind as to ignore this!?"

"HOW DARE YOU SUGGEST THIS?!" Said Seryu, grabbing Akame in rage and pinning her to the wall hard enough to crack it. "Wild Hunt are the highest embodiment of The Empire's perfect justice! Questioning them is unforgivable. Even you and I are in no position to judge them! If they wanted someone raped and killed, then it was right for that person to be raped and killed, and that's all there is to it! If any other person said this in my presence, I'd execute them on the spot, but you..." Seryu's eyes started to water. "You are my friend... Mistress Esdeath could come back here at any moment. Upon her return, I will tell her about this heresy and let her be your judge. Remember that."

Seryu dropped Akame and ran out of the room and into the palace gardens. Shortly after that, Wave - who looked like he was listening to a while but too afraid to interfere - and Ran entered the dining room. "Akame, are you alright?" Asked Wave.

"Yeah..." Said Akame, getting up. "I knew Seryu was going to defend The Empire, no matter what... But this is just insane."

Akame spent the next few minutes to make coffee for herself, Ran and Wave, while explaining the earlier exchange between herself and Seryu as she did.

"She's even more dangerous than I thought." Concluded Ran.

"Wild Hunt are the ones that are dangerous." Said Wave. "What kind of country allows a task force this deranged to exist?"

"I agree with you." Said Ran. "There's something fundamentally wrong with this Empire. It has to change."

"You've been acting a little weird for quite a while now, Ran." Wave noted.

"It's alright. You can tell us anything." Said Akame.

"That's nothing important..." Ran sighed.

"Then what's the harm in telling us?" Asked Wave.

"Fine..." Said Ran. "I'll tell you."

I used to be a school teacher in the central areas of The Empire, in the village of Juiyo. It was a fertile land, and the village was relatively wealthy. But most of all, our governor took pride in how well-governed and peaceful it was. So instead of worrying about the economy or war, children were able to focus on studying. Their future looked bright... Until I was away one day, and when I returned, I saw my students were all massacred. Juiyo's officials swept this incident under the rug because they wanted to keep the village's reputation as a safe and peaceful place.

"WHAT!?" Asked Wave. "How could they have done that!?"

"The Empire, in its current state, tolerates this sort of thing all the time." Said Ran. "That's why I believe it has to be changed."

"...But how?" Asked Wave.

"Either by force, or by diplomacy." Said Ran. "I'd rather leave the first method to the barbaric terrorists from the Revolutionary Army. But I know the second is going to be difficult."

"Then what was your plan to do that?" Asked Akame.

"Juiyo's governor helped me." Said Ran. "She took a liking to me, and thanks to her support I was able to climb the ranks quickly. That's how I obtained my Teigu as well. I have to keep climbing and gaining more power in the name of my beloved students!" He concluded.

"I'm on your side, Ran!" Said Wave. "A country that gives power to people this sick has to be corrected!"

Ran was speechless for a moment, before simply replying "thank you, Wave. But so far you've been doing this all the wrong ways - for God's sake, stop picking fights with Wild Hunt in plain sight!"

"You think we should just leave them alone??" Asked Wave.

"General Esdeath is quelling the Western Tribes' assaults at an incredible speed." Said Akame. "It's just a matter of time before she returns."

"That could make a huge difference!" Said Wave.

"Then all we have to do is wait..." Said Ran. "And hope that we're on the same page."

That night, Ran was heading out of the Imperial Palace under the full moon, when he heard Akame's voice behind him. "You're going to Wild Hunt's station, aren't you?"

"Akame?" Asked Ran.

"You're suspecting that Champa is the guy who killed your students. Is that it?" Akame replied. "You still want to pick a fight, just not in plain sight."

"You're more clever than I thought..." Said Ran.

"Should I call Wave?" Akame said, a hint of a smile on her face.

"I don't think that would suit him." Said Ran. "He's too straightforward. And if we tell him about it inside the base, Seryu might hear."

"Then I'll help you." Said Akame. "No matter how you look it it, these people are just as much of a threat to The Empire as Night Raid."

"Thank you, Akame." Said Ran. "I never expected you to go along with this plan... But I'm counting on you."

As two Jägers left the palace in the center of the Capital, the members of Night Raid gathered in its edge. "The Revolutionary Army higher-ups themselves sent us to deal with Wild Hunt." Lubbock reminded his comrades. "The amount of reports we got of these guys is staggering."

"I have a bad feeling about this..." Sheele muttered. "These guys make even the Jägers look weak."

"But we can't let them continue wreaking terror on the Capital!" Said Tatsumi. "If anyone is worthy of being our target, it's them. Even if we die fighting Wild Hunt, we have to do whatever we can to stop them!"

"Finally, I, the great Ieyasu, will be able to showcase my newfound power." Said Ieyasu. "Wild Hunt stands no chance against the Teigu Sayo and I have obtained!"

And back in the palace, Hekatonkheires slightly tapped its owner, waking Seryu from her sleep. "Do you feel what I feel, Coro?" She asked.

Coro nodded.

"My upgraded Justice City Detector is sensing bloodlust near the palace... It's heading towards Wild Hunt's station! You know what this means?"

Coro nodded again.

"Some evil murderer from Night Raid wants to kill Mistress Dorothea and her fellow heroes of justice while they're vulnerable! We have to protect them!"

Making no noise and ignoring Wave, Seryu began to get dressed and preparing to leave the palace. She didn't know what enemy wants to destroy The Empire's protectors, but she knew she would hunt them down and eliminate them without fail.

The Empire is perfect.

The Empire is eternal.

The Empire IS justice.

Chapter Text

In the middle of the night, Ran entered Wild Hunt's station alone. "Good evening." He said. "I'm here."

"Hello there, Ran!" Said Cosmina. "Did you come because Seryu had news for me?"

"I don't think so." Said Enshin. "He looks suspicious."

Ran entered the room and looked around. "Where's everyone else?" He asked.

"Master Syura and Izou are training in the colosseum." Said Cosmina. "Mistress Dorothea's working on something in her lab."

So not only Syura isn't here, neither are half his teammates? Ran thought. This is better than I expected.

He turned to Champa, the only person who hasn't talked so far. "Hey, Champa?" He asked.

"What do you want, punk?" Asked Champa.

Ran simply leaned close to him and whispered something in his ear.

"Oh, really?" Asked Champa, intrigued.

Minutes later, Ran and Champa were walking by themselves into the forest surrounding the base. "Are we there yet?" Said Champa, wiping sweat from his forehead.

"Almost." Said Ran.

"You were right. You are good at getting people's good side." Said Champa. "You got me bribes and some game."

"I know I must work hard if I want to be promoted." Said Ran.

"So who are those kids you were talking about?" Champa asked. "I hope I'm gonna like them."

"If you like kids so much..." Said Ran, "then why do you kill them?"

"Because that's the only way to keep them untainted." Said Champa. "Children are pure and innocent angels... But there's no greater punishment than to lose this purity when they become adults. I want children to get the change I never got... The chance to remain children forever!"

"Oh, look. We're here." Said Ran. The two were in the edge of a ruined ancient stadium with a few other ruins around it.

"Where are all the children!?" Champa grunted. "Those are just some old ruins!"

"Do you remember the children from the town of Juiyo?" Said Ran. "The children you murdered?"

"What does that have to do with what we're doing here?" Champa scoffed at him.

Ran activated his Teigu and rose into the air, his expression changing to reveal his concealed rage. "Those children... Were my students!"

"I see..." Growled Champa, moving into a fighting stance as Ran began to fire razor-sharp feathers at him. Champa whipped out a series of six orbs that began to rotate in front of him, blocking the projectiles in a twister. "Who the hell do you think you are!?" He shouted, before Ran's feathers began to fly around the barrier and pierce his arm, his stomach, and his face. Before Champa could react, a last feather hit him in the eye, dropping him to the floor.

"I only had a few eyewitnesses to go off of." Ran mused. "It took me a long time, but in the end, I found you. Compared to all the suffering you inflicted on those children, this is nothing..." He said, walking up to him. He then shoved a yellow flower into Champa's wound, causing him to scream in pain.

"Just like the general said... This flower causes immense pain when applied to an open wound. How appropriate a precursor to your execution!" He said, taking out a knife.

"YOU WON'T GET AWAY WITH THIS, YOU HEAR ME!?" Champa shouted.

"Of course I will. I just need to say Night Raid did this." He said, stabbing Champa in the heart with his knife - a knife covered in a dangerous monster's lethal poison courtesy of Akame. "You killed so many people while I had no choice but to stand aside and watch... But I will not allow this to go on any longer. One by one, I'll erase you from the shadows!"

At the same time, Cosmina left Wild Hunt's station with Enshin behind her. "Ran and Champa must have encountered an enemy!" She said. "We have to find them!"

"We should have followed him." Said Enshin. "I knew we couldn't trust that guy."

As the two entered the forest, Akame was waiting for them inside. "If you know what's really going on, I can't let you live."

"Akame of the Jägers!?" Asked Cosmina. "We're on the same side! Why are you threatening us!?"

"You chose to attack me at the night of a full moon..." Said Enshin. "This is where my Teigu is at its strongest! HAHAHAHA!!!" He laughed, swinging his sword and firing powerful aerial blades at Akame, who began to dodge them. "A woman's hands aren't meant to wield a sword. They're meant to serve a man!" Enshin said, running ahead and attempting to cut off Akame's arm, only for her to kick him into the air before jumping towards him.

"FULL-MOON WHEEL!" Enshin screamed, slashing in a wide circle around him and surrounding himself with a sphere of whirling air.

"Stop fighting each other! We're all on the same side!" Cosmina pleaded.

"SHUT THE FUCK UP!" Akame and Enshin both said at the same time. However, while Enshin stopped to say this, Akame continued to run up behind Enshin and cut off his arm with her Murasame. Enshin reached out to his Teigu with his other arm before noticing the poison spreading through his body from the wound. "What the -!?" He said.

"ENSHIN!!!" Cosmina screamed, tears in her eyes. She reached out to her microphone and fired a concentrated sound wave at Akame. However, before she could be hit, Akame was grabbed by Ran and was carried away.

"They followed me..." Said Ran. "I underestimated them."

"GET DOWN!!" Akame screamed seconds before a rocket hit Ran's back, making him fall out of the sky and breaking his ribcage. When the two landed, Seryu was shocked to see them. "Ran and Akame? YOU attacked Wild Hunt!?"

"Seryu!?" Said Akame as she was starting to get up. "How did you know -"

"You traitors!" Seryu cried out. "How could you betray The Empire and its protectors!?"

"Wild Hunt are not The Empire's protectors!" Ran shouted, activating his Teigu again.

"I'M NOT LETTING YOU CONTINUE WITH THIS!!" Seryu screamed, activating her missile turrets.

"MASTEMA'S HIDDEN TECHNIQUE!" Ran exclaimed. "GODLY WINGS!!" The two discs his wings were connected to split up, and the wings themselves transformed from feathers into an ethereal blue plasma. Forming them into a shield in front of him, Ran deflected Seryu's rockets and sent them flying into the forest. Noticing Ran wasn't redirecting the missiles at her, Seryu suddenly looked to the side and began to spew her poison gas. All of the Jägers have been given antidotes to the poison before, but inside the forest they could both hear the members of Night Raid collapse.

"Night Raid is here!!" Seryu shouted. "Have the two of you been with them the whole time!?"

"BELLVACK!!" Screamed Ieyasu, who was also immune to the poison due to being a puppet. Swinging his newly acquired axe, he fired a massive shockwave of wind that wounded Ran's chest and stomach while Seryu and Akame avoided it.

"L'ARC QUI NE FAUT!" Sayo shouted, firing a barrage of arrows at Seryu and forcing Coro to block them.

"The Jägers and us went after Wild Hunt at the same time!?" Mein asked.

These two are puppets... Akame thought. That must mean Kurome is somewhere around here too.

"Our job is to destroy anyone who threatens the stability of this nation, no matter who it might be!" Said Ran.

"The three of you are still targets!" Sheele concluded. "Die, Akame!!!"

Sheele, having nearly recovered from the poison already, ran at Akame with her scissors open. She prepared to slice Akame in two when suddenly, Cosmina pushed Akame out of the way, at the cost of the lower half of her own body.

"MASTEMA!!" Ran shouted, clapping his wings and creating massive waves of wind that pushed back the weakened Night Raid. In that small window of time, Ran grabbed Akame, Seryu grabbed Cosmina and both ran away.

"Seryu..." Cosmina whispered. "Let go of me! You got to go after Night Raid...!"

Seryu stopped on her tracks, already out of Night Raid's line of sight. "We have to take you back to Mistress Dorothea!" She protested.

"Don't worry about me, I'll be -" Cosmina started to cough up blood. "I-I'll be f-fine... Please forget about me."

"How can I forget after all you've done for me and for The Empire!?" Seryu started to tear up. "What good would eliminating Night Raid do if I can't save you from them!?"

"Don't you get it?" Cosmina forced herself to smile. "The Empire doesn't need me anymore... Even Mistress Dorothea doesn't need me anymore. You can take my place, Seryu... You're already capable of so much more than I am. You shouldn't care about my one bit..." She closed her eyes and collapsed.

"THAT'S WRONG!" Seryu insisted. "I know Mistress Dorothea can save you even if you've died. I'm not looking back until I bring you to her!"

In a different part of the Capital, Ran began to slow down in his flight before yet again collapsing on the floor.

"Ran..." Akame whispered. "Your vitals must have been damaged."

"This is my punishment..." Ran whispered. "My punishment for prolonging his suffering before I killed him."

Akame said nothing. There were no tears in her eyes. She knew how to stop them already.

"There's one thing I want to tell you..." Ran whispered. "Please... Give my Teigu to Wave... And tell him to keep moving forward."

"Don't worry..." Said Akame with a trembling voice. "I will make sure your Teigu doesn't go to waste... And neither will your body. I know you'll continue to live on... Within all of us."

Ran couldn't ask what Akame meant. He was already dead. Akame knew this, and she once more unsheathed her sword.

Chapter Text

"Alright then, stinky boy." Said Syura. "Can you please explain to me why half of my squad died the same night your gay-ass friend with the wings came to visit them?"

Wave, Akame and Seryu stood before Syura and Izou in the Jägers' own headquarters. Wave was understandably terrified; Seryu looked ashamed. Akame, as per usual, didn't convey any emotions.

After a long silence, Wave was the first one to speak. "I... Don't know exactly what happened." He said. "I think Ran mentioned something about wanting to join Wild Hunt, or something? He came to visit your base while Dorothea and the two of you were away. From what I understand, Champa offered him to take a stroll outside when..."

"When Night Raid showed up and attacked them!" Seryu abruptly interrupted him. "Champa was only able to cry out for help before they shot him dead, and this only allowed Enshin, Akame, Cosmina and I to come to Ran's aid against them. But there were still too many of those evil murderers, and they cut Enshin and Cosmina to pieces before either of us could do anything about it. Ran had to use his hidden ability to take me and Akame to safety before he died from his wounds..."

"Seryu -" Wave started, before Seryu responded with a stare that said "Play along with what I'm saying or we're all dead".

"...She's right." Said Akame, without a hint of repulsion. "One of Kurome's new puppets almost lobbed my head off with his axe had Enshin not taken the hit. I can't bear to imagine what she'd have done with my body if it wasn't for him."

Syura looked like he wasn't sure if he should buy it or not. "Well, what do you know..." He said eventually. "Looks like you Jägers aren't such stinky losers after all." He continued to look specifically at Wave. "Hopefully by now you realize that the Jägers and Wild Hunt still have one common objective... To annihilate Night Raid."

Wave didn't reply. Noticing this, Syura turned his attention to the two women. "I have to commend your skill and determination fighting alongside my own squad. Of course, we're both running low on people, but if we count your commander, you still have one more member than us, despite the fact that we outrank you. Not to mention one of us has a part-time job as Head Scientist. You said Ran's the guy that wanted a promotion, but since he's, well, dead, I'm still going to give it to one of you. Consider this my condolence for all our comrades' deaths, and an agreement to stand united against the real threats to this country."

Wave was still trying to hold back his anger. His opinion of Wild Hunt hasn't changed one bit, but he knew this would be a worse time than ever to protest. For several seconds, he said nothing, and neither did anyone else in the room.

The one to break the silence was Seryu. "It would be my honor, Master Syura." She said, bowing. "I've already worked under Mistress Dorothea and alongside Cosmina before. I never imagined that I could have as prestigious a position as they did, working directly under the son of the Prime Minister... And as I've heard from Akame, you were given the scar on your face by the same wicked murderer who killed my father."

"Well, what do you know..." Said Syura, examining Seryu with his eyes. "Looks like the two of us have more in common than I thought. I'm looking forward to have you on my team. And I have to say..." He lowered his voice to a whisper. "You look a lot prettier from up close."

"Y-you really think so?" Seryu asked, blushing.

Wave and Akame were both speechless. Both of them knew, on a conscious level, that they should have expected this reaction from Seryu. But they could never be ready to actually see it happen.

Syura turned to look at Izou for a moment. "Speaking of that little Alchemist cunt... Where exactly is she?"

As the Jägers and Wild Hunt had this exchange, Dorothea was standing in a hidden room within Wild Hunt's headquarters, in front of a vat filled with strange liquid. "I have to admit, you were smarter than I thought..." She said. "Any longer than that and your brain would've started rotting. You knew exactly what to do in order to keep the one good thing about being human. I'm proud of you."

Within the liquid, something started moving. Its form wasn't exactly clear, making it ambiguous whether or not it was humanoid. It seemed to respond to the Alchemist as it was speaking to it, despite the vat being soundproof. As it did, the mysterious thing opened its eyes, and smiled.

Hours later, Syura was sitting next to a large lunch table with his father. "So you convinced one of the Jägers to join your team?" Onest asked, impressed.

"She already wanted to. I didn't need to convince her." Said Syura.

"Your numbers are still pretty damn low." Said Onest. "Dealing with Night Raid as is would be real difficult."

"I always believed in quality over quantity." Said Syura. "If the weak ones die, then to hell with them. The ones I still have are the strongest."

"Interesting that you mention that." Said the Prime Minister, gesturing towards the ceiling. As he did, Suzuka dropped out of it and landed on the floor next to the table. "You called?"

"This is Suzuka, the last survivor of the Four Rakshasa Demons." Said Onest. "She's all yours."

"Four Demons my ass." Grunted Syura. "They're all dead except this one. I don't need some weak martial artist on my team."

"Trust me, she has some very useful skills to her name." His father rebutted.

"Didn't you just say that outliving your comrades is a sign of strength?" Suzuka added. "Of course, in my case this is especially true - I managed to collect genetic materials from the other Demons and assimilated it. Now I have all their power added to my own." She said, turning one of her arms into a flesh and metal tentacle and the other into a large spear of bone.

"I can lend you my troops as well." Said Onest. "I made sure not a single man among them has ties to the Revolutionary Army. Use them well and make a name for yourself."

"Thanks a lot, dad!" Said Syura.

"This is your father's generous love, which I've taken great pains to give to you." Said Onest. "I'll be very angry if you end up wasting it."

"Just what kind of fool do you take me for?" Syura asked. "Of course I'll get it done!"

Wave was sitting in the dining room of the Jägers' base at evening and waited for Akame to finish making dinner - and she did, getting two plates with various cuts of meat on them. She quickly set the table before walking up to Wave and handing him up two discs - Ran's Teigu. "He asked me to give these to you in his last breaths." Said Akame. "So that finally, you will have a real Teigu. Both of us knew that you would make great use of it... Probably even greater than he did."

"I see you made dinner already." Said a familiar voice from outside. "Have you got anything for me as well?"

"Commander!" Said Wave as both he and Akame looked to see Esdeath entering the room.

Shortly afterwards, Esdeath was sitting at the head of the table, with a third plate of similar meat next to her. "So Ran had died... Fighting Wild Hunt?" She asked. "I never took him for someone who would provoke those who should be his allies."

Wave and Akame knew Esdeath. They had no idea what her opinion of Wild Hunt would be, but they were certain that whatever opinion she did have could not have been the product of mere ignorance. They decided to not continue talking about this.

"How did the battles with the Western Tribes go?" Akame asked, trying to change the subject.

"They still haven't lost the will to fight." Said Esdeath. "I left my army to deal with them and came back by myself."

"You came to prepare for the revolution's next move." Akame concluded.

"You're sharp." Said Esdeath. "Once the Imperial Guard eliminates the Revolutionary Army in the South, our victory is assured. But if they are dispatched, the Palace's security will be thinned significantly. We should be able to take care of Night Raid before it comes down to this."

For once, everyone in the room was in agreement. As a result, there was silence for some time.

Then, Esdeath decided to break it. "I'm curious about one thing, Akame..." She said. "What is it that you used for our dinner tonight? It doesn't taste like anything you've made so far."

To be honest, it doesn't taste good at all... Wave thought.

"That's... A special recipe." Akame said, uneasy. "Exceedingly rare ingredients... Or rather, exceedingly rare to find in the right condition to cook. I was only able to make these a few times in my life... And every time I did, the taste was different."

Chapter Text

As more and more of the Capital's security and military forces have been mobilized, the Imperial Palace was quieter than ever. Using the silence and lack of people to their advantage, Tatsumi and Lubbock were sent to infiltrate the Palace in disguises with the help of a young maid who was a mole working for the resistance. As she had told them, several bureaucrats who opposed the Prime Minister have been in covert communications with the Revolutionary Army, and two members of Night Raid were sent to meet with them in secret to plan their support of the resistance's break-in from within.

"This is it." Said the palace maid, leading the disguised assassins into a small building in the vast Palace Grounds. Looking both ways, she knocked quietly on the palace doors. No answer.

"What is this?" Asked Tatsumi.

"Something's wrong..." Said the maid. "Someone is supposed to knock back from the inside to confirm."

Lubbock looked down and noticed blood underneath the doors. "Get back." He said. Opening the doors and looking inside, he saw everyone in the building was brutally killed. The maid dropped to her knees. "This is bad." Said Lubbock. "It means we've been found out."

Suddenly, the eyes of the brutalized corpses began to glow and their stomachs began to inflate. "EVERYONE, RUN!" Lubbock shouted seconds before the corpses exploded, destroying the small building.

And out of the flames emerged Syura, Izou, Seryu, Dorothea, and Suzuka, weapons out and ready to face the two assassins. "Hmm, you're late." Said Syura. "I got tired of waiting. Your puny resistance members have already been taken care of by me, the great Syura!"

The palace maid knelt in terror as Tatsumi and Lubbock positioned themselves around her.

"There's only two of you here, I see... I expected something a little more interesting." Said Syura, bored.

"I'LL SHOW YOU INTERESTING!!" Tatsumi yelled, drawing his sword and rushing at Wild Hunt's leader.

"TATSUMI -" Lubbock started, before a bolt of lightning hit his friend. Great General Budo appeared in front of him.

"There's always a bunch of rats coming to sniff around before the whole swarm arrives." Said Budo.

"A good time as any to show up, old man..." Said Syura. "I'm gonna leave these rats to you."

"No need to tell me." Said Budo. "I am Budo, and I was appointed as Great General by our lord and master."

So that's the leader of the Imperial Guard? Tatsumi thought.

"The fate of treasonous vermin that plague The Empire will be determined at the hands of my Teigu!" Budo continued, removing his cape. "Thunder God's Wrath, Adramelech!" Surrounding his gauntlet with electricity, Budo punched Tatsumi in his stomach and hurled him flying back.

Crap... Tatsumi said to himself, braking with his sword. His fist didn't even collide. What did he just do...?

"So, you know how to dodge." Said Budo. "You've got a good eye."

"INCURSIO!!!" Tatsumi yelled, activating his own Teigu in return.

"Tatsumi!" Said Lubbock, starting to run ahead to help his friend. Before he could come near him, Syura appeared in front of him and punched him in the stomach.

"What the hell? When did you -"

"I'll be your opponent!" Syura exclaimed. "Make sure you guys don't interfere!" He said to the rest of Wild Hunt, who backed away. "This one's mine." Brandishing his amulet in hand, Syura leaped into the air and threw a barrage of knives at Lubbock, who blocked them with a web of his wires. He then hurled them ahead at Syura, only for him to blink away.

"What -" Lubbock started.

"Pay attention, Lubbock of Night Raid!" Said Syura, appearing behind Lubbock and kicking him backwards. "Your Teigu's pretty interesting. How about I'll show you mine?" He waved the amulet in front of him again. "My Teigu is the Dimensional Deployer, Shambhala! I can use it to teleport myself, or anyone, anywhere I desire!" As he said that, Syura formed a glyph of light underneath his feet and another one behind Lubbock, teleporting from one to another before vanishing again.

A Teigu that controls time and space!? Lubbock thought.

"It's real tiring, so I couldn't constantly be on the attack before..." Said Syura, appearing in front of him again, before taking out a black syringe and jabbing it into his neck. "But I was able to get my hands on something great thanks to my teammates." As he said that, portals began to appear across the courtyard, covering the entire Imperial Palace and turning into one giant portal surrounding all of it. While Lubbock was distracted, Syura slashed at him again with a knife, and he barely dodged, only for Syura to reappear right behind him. "Running away?" He said. "Big mistake!"

There's no point in running! Lubbock concluded. No matter where I go, he can reach me immediately! Using his wires, Lubbock launched himself into the air. But even his portals can't reach me here!

Unimpressed, Syura formed a portal in the air above Lubbock and punched him downwards, creating a small crater on impact. "Too bad!" He said.

"You can place portals in the air as well!?" Lubbock asked him.

"EXACTLY!" Said Syura, as Portals began to surround the air around him, once again forming into one three-dimensional portal bubble around the Palace. "You had nowhere to run from the start. NOWHERE!"

At the same time, Tatsumi was still clashing with Great General Budo, who was sending bolts of lightning strong enough to blow trenches in the ground with his lightning rod-like gauntlets. This guy's stronger than me, but he makes no effort to hide his openings. I can do this! Tatsumi thought as he jumped over Budo, striking downward with his spear only for Budo to block it with his gauntlets. Unfazed, Tatsumi jumped back and then rushed at him again from the front, only for Budo to surround himself in a burst of lightning that paralyzed Tatsumi through his armor, making him scream in pain and pass out.

"TATSUMI!" Lubbock yet again began to rush to his ally's aid, only for someone to grapple him from behind - the palace maid that led them there in the first place. "You -" he started.

"I'm sorry..." The maid said quietly. "He's going to teleport me and my parents into a volcano if I don't do this!"

Syura once again approached Lubbock with a knife up. Thinking fast, Lubbock ducked, making the knife intended for Lubbock's throat slit the maid's throat instead. Lubbock stood back, seemingly paralyzed in disgust.

"Hey, don't act like this is over!" Said Syura, brandishing Shambhala in his hand again.

"But it IS over." Said Lubbock. "And you lost." As he said that, his Royal Knight's Hide threads sliced off the arm with which Syura held Shambhala. He looked at it in disbelief, and then screamed in pain.

"Master Syura!" Screamed Seryu as she and her comrades began to surround Lubbock.

"Don't move!" Said Lubbock, picking up Shambhala. "Otherwise I'll cut off more than just his arm!"

"You bastard!" Said Syura. Looking around, he could notice Lubbock's threads were surrounding him from every side. "What did you just do!?"

"I used my threads to surround you with a barrier." Said Lubbock. "I just barely made it."

"So that's what you did when you were trying to run!?" Syura grunted.

"Since you showed off your portals so much, I could map out where each one of them was. Now, all of you, drop your weapons! I'm going to ask you some questions fir-"

Then, Izou stabbed him in the back with his sword. "I don't care about Master Syura one bit." He said. "Don't you mistake me for a blind fool who holds grudges and owes debts! I take my chances whenever I see them, anything else be damned!" He laughed, pulling the sword out of Lubbock and kicking him to the ground.

Syura laughed as Lubbock dropped to the ground, picking up Shambhala with his remaining arm. "You did an excellent job, Lubbock of Night Raid! But now, it's time to finish it, using my very own hidden ability! DISAPPEAR OFF THE FACE OF THIS WORLD!"

As he said that, a portal appeared underneath Lubbock, moving upwards and taking him with it. Lubbock screamed as he disappeared, finding himself in an unfamiliar space with many stars and nebulas and galaxies, mysterious lines of light surrounding it, and above him, an upside-down floating palace that looked nothing like the one he just left.

"No one has returned from this secret ability!" Syura exclaimed. "Suffocate and crumble to dust in the abyss, assassin!"

Just then, Syura noticed some of Lubbock's string was still wrapped around the stump of his arm. The string began to pull him through his own portal into the strange dimension. "So, we meet again..." Said Lubbock, once again facing him. Unfazed, Syura prepared another portal to leave with.

"LIKE I'D LET YOU DO THAT!!" Lubbock screamed, hurling a spear of condensed string that pierced Syura's chest. "Don't give me that look..." He said. "I'm taking you down with me!"

"DAMN IT ALL!!" Syura screamed. "I can't die here... Not like this...!"

"Nobody gets what they want." Said Lubbock. "And it's people like you who are most responsible for this. No one has the right to treat human beings like toys!" He said, crushing Syura's heart with his strings.

Then, Lubbock pulled himself and Syura's corpse, who was still holding Shambhala, through the portal. To his surprise, he appeared in the sky far above the palace, free-falling to the ground. "I still have just enough strings..." He said. "I can make it -"

And then, he was impaled by a barbed hook to the chest as Seryu's giant monster form materialized behind him. "The only place you'll ever make it into... IS HELL!!" Seryu exclaimed, as the hook pulled Lubbock into her monster form's mouth and allowed her to swallow him, and Cross Tail, whole.

Tatsumi woke up just in time to see his friend get devoured by Seryu. He could also see that he himself was tied up by what appeared to be a net of syrup-like slime. "LU-" He began to scream, only for Suzuka to kick him in the face and knock him out again.

"He - he's DEAD!?" The Prime Minister Onest asked in shock, with Budo in front of him. "NOOOOO!!! SYURA!! HOW COULD YOU LEAVE ME!?" He cried hysterically.

Then, all of a sudden, his face straightened. "Just kidding." He said. "Really, I can't do anything about this. At least he was able to finish off one of those Night Raid rats..."

"The other one's confined in the dungeon." Said Budo.

"Good work, General." Said Onest, picking up a chicken's drumstick from his table. "Well then... Let's make an example of him. We should teach the Revolutionary Army a lesson. I wonder what awful things we should do to him..."

"Boorish as always." Budo scoffed. "At the very least, it's going to discourage more treason."

While the Prime Minister and Great General conversed, the Imperial Head Alchemist was standing behind a wall and listening in. "Make an example of him, you say...?" She whispered, licking her lips. "I think we could do better."

Chapter Text

"Lubbock and Tatsumi should have returned from the Capital already..." Said Sayo. "I feel like they're in danger."

"They might have run into the Jägers or Wild Hunt..." Said Leone. "Who knows."

"It's already been a whole night." Said Kurome's voice from outside the room. "If that were the reason, they're almost certainly dead."

Kurome entered the room with Yatsufusa to her hip. After four months of taking her new and enhanced drugs, her body started to age at an accelerated rate; Other than her clothes and her eyes, she looked nearly identical to her older sister - almost like they were twins. She assured her comrades that her lifespan hasn't been shortened, as her aging process will slow down to below average rate once she reaches her physical prime. Nobody questioned her further since then.

"There's no way Tatsumi would die that fast." Said Ieyasu. "He's strong enough to take down any of those Jägers! There's no way they could kill him and Lubbock together!"

"They could've been captured." Said Sheele. "For all we know, they might be interrogated and tortured as we speak."

"And what can we do about it?" Leone scoffed. "If they can escape on their own, then they don't need us... And if they can't, then we can't help them either."

Mein held unto her rifle, like one would unto a person in a hug, and said nothing. I know there's nothing I can do for Tatsumi right now... She thought without speaking. But I can't just sit here and do nothing without even knowing where he is... Who knows what they could be doing to him right now...?

Tatsumi woke up in a bed. His body was still hurt and wounded, and it didn't take him more than a split second to realize he was in a prison cell. Damn it... He thought. That guy beat me without even trying... Where's Lubbock?

"So, you're finally awake." Said a voice behind him. Tatsumi turned his head and saw Dorothea standing inside his cell. On the floor between was a tray of food, one that suspiciously resembled Susanoo's cooking.

Tatsumi ignored the food tray and forced his body into a sitting position. "Dorothea of Wild Hunt..." He grunted. "Why the Hell are you here?"

Dorothea smirked. "I could ask you the same question."

"What's that supposed to mean!?" Tatsumi yelled. "You're the one that jailed me here!"

"No, I'm not. Budo is." Dorothea retorted. "He, and the Prime Minister, are planning to have you executed in the worst way they can imagine. Not because of any of the crimes you committed, mind you, but to send a message to the Revolutionary Army soldiers who don't even know you. And I can spare you from such a terrible fate... I can place a decoy body here and make it seem like you died from your wounds being contaminated, while the real you can run free. But I won't do that... Not as long as I know that if I do that, you'll just go back to Night Raid, and return to massacre the people of The Empire and call it protecting them. So I'm giving you a choice. You can agree to change your ways, abandon your friends, and I will set you free... Or you can insist to remain a mass murderer to the bitter end and die a painful, ineffectual, and completely unnecessary death. Do you really want that, Tatsumi of Night Raid?"

"What a question..." Tatsumi grunted. "Of course I don't want to die. But I would rather die than go back on my friends, on my ideals, on everything I stand for! Especially not when it's someone like you who's giving me this offer!"

"Someone like me?" Dorothea scoffed. "How am I any different from you? I've killed far less people than you did! Your friends in Night Raid keep telling you that they're saving this country, but they're destroying it, killing thousands of the same civilians they say they're protecting! If you can't trust me, how can you trust them? How can you know that they're not just trying to seize control of The Empire for themselves? I, at the very least, have dedicated just as much time to the development of science and magic and made contributions that can be used to improve the quality of human life instead of just ending it - Can those Generals of the Revolutionary Army say the same?"

"You're telling me that performing brutal vivisection of humans is something you consider a moral high ground!?" Tatsumi yelled.

"Of course Night Raid would want to tell you that this is what I did." Said Dorothea, surprisingly a little calmer than before. "That was a lie. Not counting myself, the total number of live humans I have ever performed experiments on in my life... Is two."

"Two? Really?" Tatsumi asked, still not entirely sure where Dorothea was going.

"They agreed to receive bodily modifications from me." Said Dorothea. "As a matter of fact, you've already met them."

"Of course that psycho Seryu would let you experiment on her. She's insane!" Tatsumi said. "Are you gonna tell me who else was crazy enough for that, or what?"

Dorothea took a deep breath. "The second person... Or rather, the first chronologically... Is my assistant, Cosmina. The one you murdered."

"I should have figured that out." Tatsumi admitted. "No wonder she was acting like a rabbit in heat. Of course you would be the kind of person who'd take away people's free will and brainwash them to be your bitches!"

"I did no such thing!" Dorothea slapped Tatsumi in the face. "Why do you think I haven't done this to you, or any of the people Wild Hunt killed if it was in my power!?"

Tatsumi growled and instinctively kicked Dorothea in the stomach. His body was already badly wounded, so he wasn't surprised that she didn't even budge. What did surprise him was the fact that she didn't even try to stop him.

"...I shouldn't have done that. I'm sorry." She said very quietly. "It takes a toll when you lose someone you love... Especially when people insult that person's memory to your face. At least on that we can agree, right?"

Surprised by the reaction of the one he believed was a heartless mad scientist and murderer, Tatsumi backed off, remembering how he reacted when Chelsea told him Brad was a failure. He said nothing.

The smile Dorothea was previously wearing started to return. "You do know this. I can tell. Now then, I know that there's nothing I can convince you of... But I still want to tell you the real reason Cosmina agreed to let me experiment on her... The real reason I was so important to her. Just to give her the respect she deserved if nothing else. All I'm asking is that you'll listen."

Tatsumi still said nothing. He didn't move. All he did was keep his eyes on Dorothea, ready for anything she might try to pull on him by surprise, and listened as she started to tell her story.

Cosmina grew up in the kingdom you call the West Country... The same country I came from. Since she was a young girl, she had a passion for singing, and the talent to match it. As she grew up, Cosmina became a street performer, traveling from village to village without a care in the world, looking for nothing more than to make people's day a little bit brighter. She never expected to become as famous as she did, but her talent became known far and wide, and even the Prince who ruled the province where Cosmina lived wanted to meet this beautiful songstress, who never spent a day of formal education in her life, much less among high-class aristocrats and royals. Nonetheless, Cosmina accepted the Prince's invite to sing at his mansion. Despite her embarrassment at the unfamiliar setting, her singing was as captivating as ever... So much so, that the capricious young Prince offered Cosmina his hand in marriage.

Most young girls could only dream of being married to someone so rich and powerful. But Cosmina just didn't want it. She didn't like the big mansion where it was easy to get lost. She didn't like the noblemen and their complicated etiquette. And more than anything, she didn't want to live in one place, be married to one man, and have one type of audience to perform for. As great and beautiful this man and his home were, Cosmina much preferred to continue traveling between different places, meeting different people and different audiences. So she refused the Prince's offer, to his shock and to everyone else's, including, on some level, herself.

The Prince was used to always getting what he wants. This could very well be the first time anyone said no to him. And his shock quickly turned into rage, his love into hate. He won't let anyone get away with spatting on his generosity. The Prince told his subjects that Cosmina was a witch, that all along she was using enchanted music to manipulate humans. He had his men rip out her vocal cords so she may never sing again, and sent her back to her parents' house, the one place she could call home in her life. But even that wasn't enough for him. He had soldiers follow Cosmina to her home, and while she and her parents were sleeping, they blocked every door and window and set fire to the house.

By the time Cosmina woke up and realize what happened, it was already too late. Her parents already died. Fire was engulfing the whole house, and it was starting to burn her body as well. The pain was unbearable, but she couldn't scream. Instead, she used all that was left of her strength to rush through the walls of flame and ram her body against the wooden planks that blocked the window, shattering them, and running away as far as she could, as fast as she could.

When I found Cosmina, she was just barely clinging to her life, voiceless, her face and body covered in horrible scars. She lost everything she had, even her own beauty and her voice. She has already given up. She didn't have a reason to go on... So I gave her a reason. I brought her to my laboratory and mended her injuries one by one, from her vocal cords to her face. I made her stronger, more beautiful, and with a more beautiful voice than ever before. But she had no use for it anymore. She knew nowhere was safe for her, and she knew that if anyone finds out I healed her, then not only she will be in danger, but so will I. And I looked her in the eyes and said that if that Prince will come after her again, I will destroy him and his whole army. That as long as she's by my side, I will always protect her, no matter what.

"And look how well I kept that promise." Dorothea bitterly concluded. "Cosmina dedicated her life to me - She laid down her life for me - Because she owed her life to me. It's that simple."

Tatsumi remained silent. He wasn't sure how much, if any, of that story's details were actually true. But just the fact that Dorothea, of all people, would find it worthwhile to tell him that story, was enough to leave him completely speechless.

"You aren't even going to say anything?" Dorothea asked, disappointed.

"I don't know if you're even telling the truth." Tatsumi eventually said.

"And that's a good thing." Said Dorothea. "You shouldn't just take people at their words. Not me, not The Empire, and especially not the leaders of the Revolutionary Army and Night Raid. Tatsumi... I know that you and I are mortal enemies. I know that tomorrow you are scheduled to die. I know that the foolish Prime Minister will leave plenty of room for your friends to rescue you. And I know that if they do, I will stop at nothing to destroy you and everything you stand for. But just today, I want you to look at me, and at the people you and your friends kill every day, and just try to think about how things look through their eyes. So maybe... Just maybe... Your own point of view could change as well. If you do... Then Cosmina might just have done something meaningful after all."

Saying those parting words, Dorothea of Wild Hunt turned to face the iron bars at the end of Tatsumi's cell, and they bended like reeds to allow Dorothea to pass through, before closing back into their natural form. Without looking at him again, she left Tatsumi's line of sight.

Tatsumi looked at the food tray that Dorothea left for him. He observed it for a few seconds, then picked up a fork and took a bite.

Chapter Text

The forces of the Revolutionary Army steadily marched towards The Capital of The Empire. The weakened Imperial Army was helpless against the united soldiers trained for the common cause of eradicating the rotten Empire, and the people it has oppressed welcomed the arrival of the Great Lord who aimed to end this dark era. Most strongholds surrendered without a battle, either because they planned a premeditated collusion with The Empire, or simply because trying to fight back would be suicide. Thus, the Revolutionary Army's invasion proceeded at an astounding pace. The stronghold of Shisuikan was the last obstacle in their path towards The Capital.

Knowing this, Great General Budo's Imperial Guard stationed in Shisuikan and transformed it into an impenetrable fortress, that was able to bring the invasion to an abrupt halt.

"Continue fortifying the defenses!" Budo shouted at his soldiers. "We cannot allow them to go on the offensive. Once the invasion of the Western Tribes is repelled, the elite soldiers deployed to deal with it will be able to return to the Capital - and that would be the end of the Revolutionary Army! Great rewards await us all! Put your lives on the line and quench this rebellion!!"

"YES SIR!!" His soldiers exclaimed.

"So Budo left The Capital for Shisuikan?" Emperor Makoto asked his Prime Minister.

"He's doing this to stop our merrily waltzing enemies from getting any closer." Said Onest. "Please, do not worry."

"Why prevent them from progressing when we can reinforce the army and crush them?" The Emperor questioned.

"Right now, the momentum is with the enemy..." Said the Prime Minister. "Going forward to clash with them head-on would be unwise. Furthermore, the more Imperial Guards we reinforce Shisuikan with, the thinner security here in the Palace will get."

"...I see." Said the Emperor.

"Please do not worry, Your Majesty." The Minister said again. "The Great Generals Budo and Esdeath have a great influence on the people here. The Revolutionary Army hoped they could stir up another insurrection here with their rapid invasion pace, but they failed. Esdeath's impeccable timing gave us the strategic upper hand. Had she eradicated the Western Tribes entirely, we could call her entire army back, but without the Trio of Beasts that wouldn't be a realistic expectation... But now we have another card in our hands, and we're going to use it to chip away at the Revolution's morale even more!"

In the town's square, many people have gathered in front of a public notice sign. "Public execution of the insurgent Tatsumi and the destruction of Incursio, the symbol of Night Raid?" One of them whispered. "No matter how you look at it, that sounds like a trap to lure out his comrades..."

"But rescuing him is going to be impossible..." Another said. "According to the public notice, it will be carried out by the strongest, most invincible Great Generals, Esdeath and Budo! Even if this information reached Night Raid, there's no way they'll come... This is certain death!"

"Don't rush in like that! This is obviously a trap!" Sayo yelled, chasing Ieyasu across the forest.

"That just makes it more important!" Ieyasu replied. "They want to destroy our morale, but we're going to destroy theirs instead!"

Suddenly, Sayo and Ieyasu stopped running as Kurome, Mein, Leone, Sheele and The Boss appeared in front of them. "Yo." Said Leone.

"We don't need to kill Esdeath of Budo to succeed with this." Said The Boss. "We just need to take back Tatsumi and his Teigu. They must not go to waste. However, even this alone would require resolve far greater than anything we've done before."

"And all of this resolve is the fuel of my Pumpkeen!" Mein exclaimed. "This is no suicide mission... This is a rescue mission, and we know exactly how to beat it!"

At afternoon, Tatsumi was nailed to a large cross in The Capital's large amphitheater. Next to the cross was a pedestal with Incursio's sword form fastened to it, and the Great Generals Budo and Esdeath were standing in front of it... Waiting.

"We even used his Teigu as bait..." Budo scoffed. "But is this really enough to draw out Night Raid?"

"Considering how naïve Najenda is... That's very possible." Said Esdeath.

"Still... I suspect there's a greater chance that they could use this public event as a distraction to infiltrate the Palace."

"The remaining Jägers and Wild Hunters are situated there specifically for that purpose." Said Esdeath. "They won't be going down without a fight. This spectacle has one purpose: To show how much of a threat you and I really are... Or so they say."

"That sounds like something the Prime Minister would do." Said Budo.

Tatsumi, still heavily wounded, forced himself to speak. "Do you... Do you not know about the amount of atrocities your Prime Minister has committed?" He asked. "Are you really content with taking orders from him!?"

"My family has protected and served The Empire for generations." Said Budo. "Protecting His Majesty and The Empire is my duty... And right now, the biggest threat for it is the Revolutionary Army. Rest assured that after it is dealt with, the next on the crosshairs will be the Prime Minister who brought about this situation to begin with."

And when that happens, I will wipe you off the face of this nation. Esdeath thought without speaking. I'm looking forward to it...

"Alright then!" Esdeath said out loud, drawing her sword. "It's nearly time. Being a master in the art of torture taught me a lot about the human body. I know exactly where to stab you if I want to inflict the most pain when I kill you. I wonder how long can you stay alive, Tatsumi of Night Raid!"

The crowd is smiling and cheering... Tatsumi said, looking beyond Esdeath to the numerous men and women who have come to watch the execution. Do they think killing me is entertainment? Or are they genuinely happy to see a murderer like me die...?

"Go ahead." He grunted. "Torture me if you dare... I'm not going to scream, let alone beg for mercy. I'll laugh in the face of death, and show you all the pride of Night Raid!"

Just as he said that, a massive blast of energy blew a giant hole through the walls of the arena. "So they did come here..." Said Budo.

"Mein?!" Tatsumi asked. "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING!? GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE!"

"IS THAT HOW YOU'RE GOING TO THANK SOMEONE WHO JUST CAME TO SAVE YOUR LIFE!?" Mein argued back.

"YOU IDIOT, NOW WE'RE BOTH GOING TO DIE!" Tatsumi cried out, tears in his eyes.

"You're on the wanted posters." Budo said calmly. "Did you come here alone?"

"That's right!" Mein said. "It is I, Mein of Night Raid, here to rescue my invaluable comrade!!!"

"Expect Kurome and Sheele to arrive at any moment." Budo muttered.

"This isn't the first time that happens." Said Esdeath. "There could be Puppets literally hiding right under our feet."

"You insurrectionists must all be destroyed." Budo concluded. "ADRAMELECH." Taking out the lightning rods in his armor, he charged a sphere of dark electricity in his hands.

"Try me, bitch." Said Mein, charging her rifle.

"Begone!" Said Budo, launching the orb.

"PUMPKEEN!" Mein shouted, unleashing a powerful beam that deflected the lightning orb and blew a hole in the stadium, vaporizing a portion of the crowd.

"What is this power...?" Budo grunted.

"Once your friends arrive, it'll be too late!" Said Esdeath, laying her hand on the ground and creating a slippery sheet of ice, surrounded by large crystal spines, under Mein's feet, before launching a great barrage of needle-point spears of ice. Focusing her resolve and her hope, Mein swung Pumpkeen in an arc, unleashing a wave of energy that melted the spears.

Mein, that's amazing... Tatsumi wondered from his cross. You aren't even considering the possibility that you're going to die right here... You're just that absolutely focused on rescuing me and nothing else...!

Esdeath scoffed. "Did Night Raid really not want to risk anyone except you on this mission?" She remarked. "Or are they using you as a distraction while your worthless friends are approaching?"

The exchange of ice, lightning and raw energy was burning holes in the stadium, and the crowd quickly began to evacuate. Only a few survivors managed to make it out of the amphitheater alive...

And when they did, their bodies were easily sliced apart by unseen blades.

Chapter Text

Years ago, long before the Jägers were formed, The Empire bought children from poor families, in order to make them into perfect assassins.

Those children were placed into brutal, life-or-death training, where only the best of the best could come out alive.

Most of those survivors were given drugs to further enhance their fighting prowess, and became the Group of Terror.

The highest-ranking fighters, who were deemed strong enough to not require drugs, were placed under the tutoring of Gozuki, the former leader of the Rakshasa Demons.

They were then given ancient Shingu by The Empire and became their most fearsome unit, the Elite Seven.

However, one by one, the Elite Seven failed, their numbers dwindled fight after fight with the Oarburgh Clan and the treasonous Gravekeepers. Yet others were captured and forced to join the Revolutionary Army.

Eventually, the only ones remaining were Gozuki and his two disciples, Akame and Tsukushi. And the Revolutionary Army was determined to get rid of them.

After the failure of the Retribution Group, made from the remnants of the Elite Seven's victims, the resistance created their own group as their answer for the Elite Seven.

Composing of former Imperial soldiers and mercenaries and equipped with Teigu, this group was made to carry out assassinations against The Empire in the same way the Elite Seven did against its enemies.

And the former Imperial Great General who was chosen to lead the group has named it "Night Raid".

Storm clouds were gathering in the sky above the thick, dark forest. Only the feint light of the full moon allowed the four figures standing above it to see the three walking in between the trees towards The Capital.

"Did they take the bait?" Asked Sheele.

"Hook, line and sinker." Leone smirked.

"And so comes the end to the Elite Seven." Brad said quietly. "Our targets are Gozuki, their leader, and his last two disciples."

"Soooo... What's the plan, exactly?" Sheele asked.

"It's simple." Said Mein, taking out Pumpkeen with its sniper-type barrel. "You braindead newbie step aside and watch how the real professional killers do it."

Zooming her scope towards the tall, blonde man leading the group, Mein locked unto her target and fired a single shot at Gozuki. Seconds before the bullet could drill a hole in his head, Gozuki turned around and blocked it with his sword.

"It was a trap!" He shouted. "We're under attack!"

"Damn it! How could he react so quickly!?" Mein gasped in disbelief.

"He knows we're here. I'm taking him!" Said Sheele.

"The Hell do you think you're doing, you moron!?" Mein yelled. "You don't even have a Teigu! If my Pumpkeen couldn't hit this guy, what makes you think your regular-ass knives can -"

Before Mein could finish the sentence, Sheele began to run up to Gozuki and threw a knife, hitting the leader of the Elite Seven in the stomach.

"Father!" Screamed Tsukushi, a brown-haired young girl with guns at her hips.

Gozuki pulled the knife out of his body. "I'll be fine. Get out of here, you two!"

Tsukushi nodded silently as she and Akame began to run away...

Then, out of nowhere, Leone jumped at Tsukushi from above the branches of the trees, smashing her head with a stomp.

Through the darkness, the rain, and the tears in her eyes, Akame could barely see what the person who just killed her friend looks like. But she didn't care. Screaming in rage, she took out her sword and rushed at her.

Mein continued to watch with her scope as Sheele clashed with Gozuki, throwing knives at him while he was dodging and blocking them with his own sword. Damn it, I'm not letting this retard outshine me! She thought. I'm just going to hit Gozuki while she's distracting him!

Akame was desperately swinging her Shingu blade at Leone, who was calmly dodging each swipe. "I just need to hit you once..." She muttered. "If I cut you even once, your wound won't heal until you bleed to death! This is my Kirichimonji's power!"

"Is that so?" Leone scoffed. "This sure sounds troublesome."

"Who are you and why are you attacking us!?" Gozuki yelled as he swung his sword at Sheele, who was narrowly dodging it with unpredictable movements.

"Why should I tell you when you're about to die?" Sheele said quietly. As she did, a bullet of pure energy blew a hole in Gozuki's chest, and Sheele jabbed a knife into his back.

"DAMN YOU!!" Akame screamed as she turned her sword at Sheele. The moment she did, Leone grabbed Kirichimonji and shattered it with her bare hands.

"Akame!" Gozuki shouted. "These people are too powerful! I'm not going to make it out of here alive. Please, take my Murasame and flee!"

As Gozuki said this, he threw his own sword at Akame, who caught it with the same hand she used to hold Kirichimonji seconds ago. "I may not be as strong as you, father..." She whispered. "But I refuse to abandon you! If I'm going to die here, then so be it!"

"DON'T YOU DARE SAY THAT, AKAME!" Said Gozuki, his own eyes watering. "You are the last of the Elite Seven. The last bearer of the torch that represents the pride of The Empire! No matter what, you must never let it die!!"

Without saying a word, Akame wiped her tears and turned to leave.

"And where do you think you're going, bitch?" Leone growled, preparing to run after her. "I'm going to rip you to bloody shre-"

Click!

In his last dying breath, Gozuki clicked a trigger button he hid in his robe, and his own body exploded into a massive flare of blinding light and roaring thunder.

When the blast faded, Akame was nowhere to be found. "Yo, Sheele, are you fine?" Leone asked.

"Yeah. This bomb didn't have much of a range." Sheele said. "Gozuki was under no delusion that he can kill us... He just wanted his disciple to make it out alive."

"He was only delaying the inevitable. Sooner or later, she'll be dead at our feet. I bet The Boss and Lubbock already killed her worthless sister." Leone then turned her attention to Tsukushi's corpse. "Hopefully we can find someone who can put these trinkets to better use than they did."

Akame, meanwhile, was running away as fast as she could. Even my father... She thought to herself. Does the Revolutionary Army have no shame!? How can anyone be this twisted, slaughtering families, smashing children to bits, and calling it justice!? I can't let this continue... I'll never forgive these monsters! I won't rest until every last one of them lays dead!!

Over a year later, a hand on her shoulder snapped Akame back to the present. "I'm fine..." She said. "It's alright, Wa-"

Before she could finish speaking, Akame turned her head and realized the one who touched her shoulder was Dorothea. "Just thinking about your comrades?" She asked.

"Y-yeah..." Said Akame, surprised.

"It happens to the best of us." Said Dorothea. "Don't worry about it."

"I don't understand..." Akame whispered. "How could anyone choose to abandon their comrades, their friends, and use their death as nothing more than a distraction to go after a bigger target?"

"I never got that either." Izou said. "The people in this country never made sense to me, one person fighting to protect The Empire, another to destroy it, all acting like there is some higher purpose that forces them to act against their own will... Fighting for a higher purpose is stupid, and there's no better example for that than people who prioritize it over their friends and their own lives."

"If you don't have a purpose to fight for, then why are you fighting?" Akame questioned.

"There's no why." Said Izou. "I fight for the thrill of it. Nothing more, nothing else."

Akame said nothing, but at this point, she didn't even try to hide the fact she finds Izou's view abhorrent.

"I bet we look so different to you..." Dorothea spoke again. "But at the same time, did the other Jägers not look just as different when you first met them?"

"..." Akame raised an eyebrow.

"The Jägers, Wild Hunt, and yes, even Night Raid..." Dorothea continued. "Each of these groups banded together not because they want to, but because they have to. Not agreeing with each other, not liking each other, that's all irrelevant. They fight for the same purpose. And in just the same way, the Jägers and Wild Hunt have the same purpose. We should work to achieve it together, and fight against our real enemies... Not against each other."

Akame moved a little bit backwards. "You know that I..."

"I won't tell anyone." Said Dorothea. "Not because I forgive you. Not because I don't care about Enshin and Champa. But because getting you executed would do nothing but cause more damage and put us in more disadvantage. If I snitched you out of vengefulness, I'd be no better than you."

There was a long silence. Izou was already long out of the room. Eventually Akame spoke again.

"Dorothea..." She said quietly. "I want to ask you one question."

"...Huh?" Asked Dorothea. "What is it?"

"...How is Seryu doing?"

Chapter Text

"HERE I COME!!" Mein screamed, firing another massive ray of pure willpower at Esdeath, who again dodged without issue. "You're not getting away! I'll blast you to smithereens!" Mein screamed again, swinging Pumpkeen in an arc and creating a wide wave of destructive energy. Esdeath jumped high in the air to avoid it and then summoned a large meteor-like block of ice that descended at the assassin. "Like that'd work!!" Mein yelled, obliterating the meteor in a flash.

"I see you're throwing everything you have at me..." Esdeath said in intrigue. "But I wasn't aiming for you." Snapping her fingers, the collapsing debris of ice from the destroyed meteor stood still in the air, sharpened, and all of them flew at once towards Tatsumi's cross.

"TATSUMI!!!" Mein screamed in despair, swinging Pumpkeen like a massive sword of light that melted the ice and cut off one of the cross' arms, allowing Tatsumi to rip the nails out of his hands and stand up.

"Cutting a bit close there... But thanks." Said Tatsumi, ignoring the gaping holes in his hands. He ran into the pillar that Incursio was fastened to with barbed wire and tore out the sword's handle.

"Even in this state, you still want to fight me?" Esdeath scoffed. "You'll bleed out before you have a chance to strike."

"SHUT YOUR MOUTH!!!" Mein screamed, firing another concentrated beam at Esdeath, who dodged easily.

"You're not remotely a challenge even if you both attack me at once." Said Esdeath. "All you're doing is give me an opportunity to execute both of you!"

"INCURSIOOOOO!!!" Tatsumi cried out. "I DON'T CARE HOW AGONIZING THIS IS GOING TO BE! I NEED EVERY BIT OF STRENGTH YOU CAN POSSIBLY GIVE! IT WAS MY FAULT THAT LUBBOCK IS DEAD. I CAN'T LET MEIN DIE BECAUSE OF ME TOO! GIVE ME THE POWER TO OBLITERATE THE EMPIRE AND END THIS INJUSTICE!! GIVE ME EVERYTHING!!!!"

Tatsumi's body was engulfed in golden light as he was transforming, his screams alone shaking the colosseum. His armor's appearance was different, more primal, supporting long horns and claws and a bigger spear.

"T-Tatsumi??" Mein asked.

Before Mein could even see him move, Tatsumi slammed his spear to the ground, creating a crater in the spot where Esdeath stood seconds ago. She swung her rapier at him, but Tatsumi dodged, starting to clash his spear with her sword faster than ever before. "Stay as lax as you always are and you'll die!" Tatsumi yelled as Esdeath jumped backwards and formed a gigantic spire of ice from the ground, only for Tatsumi to split it in half in one swing. "MEIN, FIRE!!!!" He screamed.

"Got it!!" Mein screamed, firing a massive beam of energy at Esdeath.

"This isn't over!" Esdeath cried out. "Mahāpadma!"

A wave of coldness surrounded the colosseum. Mein, her beam of concentrated energy, Tatsumi and his spear all froze in an instance. The violently shaking air stood still again. The clouds and the sun stopped moving in the sky.

"You really thought this was all I have?" Esdeath smirked. "I must admire you for making my use my secret technique... But this is over."

Completely calmly, Esdeath took out her rapier again and walked up to Tatsumi...

Only for him to kick her away. "How...?" She muttered.

My secret technique has the power to freeze time itself... Esdeath thought. But Incursio's power to evolve could overcome even this... For just a moment, he moved when time itself was standing still!?

Mahāpadma faded away as quickly as it covered the arena. Without skipping a bit, Esdeath turned to Mein and rushed towards her...

Only to quickly move to the side as Sheele jumped over her. Sheele swung her scissor blades at immense speed, forcing the Great General to block them with her sword. "So Mein wasn't the only one you've sent!"

With a simple kick, Esdeath sent Sheele flying, before starting to launch a massive barrage of ice spikes towards her. Just before they hit, Natala grabbed Sheele out of their path.

"Everyone!" Tatsumi said, running towards Sheele, Mein and Natala.

"AAAAHHHH!!!" Sheele screamed in fear, breaking out of Natala's grip trying to run away.

"Sheele, this is Tatsumi!" Mein said. "His Incursio evolved so he can save me!"

"So all of you are here too?" Esdeath scoffed.

"And there's our ride!" Said Mein, pointing to the sky as the puppet Air Manta began to fly towards the colosseum.

Then, in an instant, it was vaporized by a bolt of lightning. "Imbeciles!" Budo roared, running back into the amphitheatre.

I hit him with Pumpkeen head-on, and he's not even fazed!? Mein gasped.

"Even with the defensive barrier around our palace, this firepower is too dangerous." Budo concluded. "Night Raid! No matter the cost, you will all be executed right here!!"

Storm clouds surrounded the amphitheatre from above, lightning flashing between them like fireworks. "The sky...!" Mein muttered.

"These clouds must be the work of this man's Teigu!" Said Sheele.

Damn it... Tatsumi was gripping his arm. My whole body feels like it's being ripped to shreds.

"TAKE THIS!!" Budo screamed, firing a concentrated sphere of black lightning at Sheele, Mein and Natala. In an instant, Tatsumi moved ahead and blocked the orb with his enlarged Neuntote.

"Tatsumi!!" Mein cried out.

As she was speaking, Esdeath rushed at Mein from behind - only to move aside as Leone landed in the spot she was just in with an explosion of flames. Mein, Sheele and Natala all prepared their weapons to face her together. Activating Dual Wield Mode, Sheele rushed at Esdeath from the front with an unpredictable zigzagging pattern. "Your destructive power may be unrivaled..." She exclaimed. "But my Extase has the power to cut anything!!" She finished before striking Esdeath with both blades in an X-shaped slash - only for ice crystals to materialize around Esdeath's body and entrapped the two blades within it.

Esdeath moved aside as a beam of energy from Pumpkeen shattered the ice, allowing Sheele to take back her weapons in a split second before Natala launched his Shingu's blade at Esdeath.

I can't just fire off aimlessly... Mein thought. I'm a sniper who trained and honed my eyesight to wait until a perfect opportunity arises to use my firepower. Sheele, you have to trust me!

Tatsumi was still holding back Budo's massive orb of thunder. "You certainly have tenacity to take my attacks head-on!" Said Budo. Before he could say another word, a barrage of arrows flew towards the Great General from the side, forcing him to block them with his arm guard, and Bellvack's blade flew towards him from the opposite direction. While he was distracted, Leone jumped at him from behind and hit Budo's back with a blazing punch.

"Let's go! All together!!" Sayo exclaimed as Tatsumi and Leone both jumped at Budo from both directions, forcing him to block with his arms and then jump away to avoid a massive cutting shockwave from Bellvack and another volley of arrows from L'Arc Qui Ne Faut.

"You little shits, who the fuck do you think I am!?" Budo roared as a bolt of lightning came down from the sky and struck Tatsumi and Leone.

Just then, the arrows Budo dodged earlier turned around in their flight and pierced his armor. "What the..." He started.

"Any arrow I fire with L'Arc Qui Ne Faut will never cease to chase its target until it hits!" Sayo exclaimed.

"DIE, BUDO!!" Ieyasu screamed as he swiped Bellvack towards the Great General's neck, only for him to block the hit with his gauntlet.

"ENOUGH!!!" Budo screamed, surrounding himself with a burst of thunder that repelled Ieyasu and disintegrated Sayo's arrows. "I would have preferred to capture some of you alive, but it appears that is out of the question. You're all getting executed!"

While Budo was speaking, Tatsumi charged at him from the front with Neuntote, nearly impaling him. He can still move!? Budo asked. This Incursio can resist bolts of lightning as well!? I strove to reach the very top of the ranks. It's been long since I found someone as determined as myself... And I will fight against him with every last bit of my body and heart!!

Tatsumi dashed towards Budo again, landing a massive flurry of spear attacks at the Great General who could barely block them with his gauntlets. I always knew this kid has exceedingly high ability and prowess... But it's like they're instantaneously growing with every moment that passes! I have to end this right now!!

"LIGHTNING CRUSH!!!" Budo exclaimed as an even stronger bolt of green lightning descended and hit Tatsumi in a massive explosion.

"So you can summon lightning. I already knew that!" Said Tatsumi, running up behind him. "I was always trained to pay attention to my surroundings!!" He swiped his clawed foot at Budo's back, piercing and lacerating his armor and skin. Budo gasped in pain and collapsed.

"Great job, Tatsumi!!" Leone cheered.

"You can move?" Tatsumi asked.

"Yeah, I'm fine." Said Leone.

Natala was still clashing with Esdeath, repeatedly lunging his naginata like the tongue of a chameleon, only for Esdeath to dodge every hit, slowly closing the gap and impaling him with her rapier. "I know killing you is going to take a little more effort." She said, pulling it back...

And immediately moving to the side as Kurome herself appeared and swiped Yatsufusa at her.

"So you were here too, but you didn't help your friends until you got worried that I'd break one of your toys?" Esdeath scoffed. "I see your heart is still that of a child..."

Before she could continue, Esdeath was once again forced to dodge as Rokugoh began to swipe his whip at her from behind.

She made him her puppet!? The Great General thought. Rokugoh was my and Najenda's mentor. Is Najenda really putting up with him being used as a weapon at her own subordinate's hands!?

Rokugoh himself then lunged backwards as a massive bolt of lightning struck the ground in front of him, and the massive black clouds above began to rain down lightning all over the arena.

"Oh, my..." Esdeath muttered. "Budo must be really pissed off."

Chapter Text

Bleeding from his mouth and his right eye, General Budo stood up, ignoring his wounds with undying determination. Tatsumi, Leone, Sayo and Ieyasu all prepared to confront him again.

Then, Esdeath kicked Tatsumi in the stomach. "I am your opponent!" She exclaimed.

"You dare get in my way, Esdeath?" Budo scoffed.

Before he could move, two bullets and a kunai hit his back, throwing him off-balance as Kurome rushed towards him. "I see you still won't let any chances slip by, Kurome!" Budo grunted as he blocked her sword strikes with his gauntlets. He swiped Kurome away, but more bullets began to fly after him as Doya was running around the colosseum's ring and firing at him. At the same time, Budo was kicked in the back by Woru, pushing him downward.

"All of you have so much willpower and determination..." Budo grunted. "Truly, it's a shame that you've chosen to side with the Revolutionary Army." As he was speaking, the dark clouds in the sky began to concentrate above Woru.

"Whatever you're about to do, I'm not letting you do it!!" Mein exclaimed, firing a massive energy blast at Budo who blocked it with his gauntlets. "What the -" She started.

"You were a challenge to me before..." Budo started. "But now I'm angry! ADVENT OF THE THUNDER EMPEROR!!"

As he said that, bolts of lightning in the form of solid pillars descended from the sky and blasted holes in the ground, forcing everyone in Night Raid to dodge repeatedly. The entire amphitheatre was surrounded by pillars like a cage of electricity. "What the hell!?" Tatsumi asked.

"Don't let the thunder distract you from the ice, Tatsumi!!" Esdeath called out behind him and once again clashed her rapier with Tatsumi's spear.

"Give me everything you've got, Esdeath!!" Tatsumi shouted, blocking her flurry of sword strikes with his spear. Esdeath moved forward to freeze him solid, but he jumped and dodged upwards before spinning downwards with Neuntote pointed foward. Esdeath once again encased her arm with a shield of ice and blocked the hit, trapping the spear within it. Tatsumi roared in anger and rushed at Esdeath with his bare fist; She covered her chest in an ice armor, but Tatsumi shattered it and sent her flying.

Kurome, Doya, Sayo, Ieyasu, Mein and Leone were still continuing to dodge Budo's pillars of lightning, and to varying degrees, their strength was running out. "So you dodged even this with a hair's breadth..." Budo grunted. "Even among Night Raid, you have to be outstanding. I wonder, how much longer can you keep this up?"

Suddenly, a Dragon appeared flying above the colosseum. "Is everyone alright!?" Asked Najenda, who was riding its back.

"Budo is here! Don't come closer!!" Kurome shouted.

"Fire!!" Najenda commanded as the Dragon breathed a massive fireball at Budo... Who easily blocked it.

"Najenda is here!?" The Great General gasped. "ADRAMELECH!!" He began to run towards her, his fist radiating black lightning...

Only for Tatsumi to once again block it. "I'm not letting you get to The Boss!" He exclaimed.

"But where's Esdeath!?" Sayo asked.

"I managed to land a blow on her..." Tatsumi grunted.

You landed a blow on Esdeath...? Kurome thought.

"I think a bought enough time to escape." Tatsumi continued panting. "Now we just have to take care of Budo and run the fuck away!!"

"As if I'd let you!!" Budo shouted.

"Get on the Monster!" Tatsumi said. "I'll hold him back!"

"Don't make light of me!!" Budo yelled, firing a bolt of thunder at him directly from his arm.

"Move, Tatsumi!" Woru shouted as he ran in front of Budo, blocking his bolt of lightning with his shield... Only for both the shield and Woru himself to be evaporated by the massive current.

Tatsumi ran up to Budo in anger and punched him in the arm. "I am not someone who can be pushed away by a bunch of youths!!" The Great General yelled, punching Tatsumi in the head.

"Then we'll take you down with numbers!!" Sayo shouted, once again firing a barrage of arrows at him. Natala ran up to him and clashed his naginata against Budo's gauntlet, and Leone ran up to him from behind, only for Budo to turn around and punch her away with a fist coated in black electricity.

"Leone!!" Kurome cried out.

Budo simply roared in anger, surrounding himself in a thundering aura that once again rained lightning and shockwaves throughout the arena, pushing everyone away. "You may have wounded me, but I'll make sure you won't escape!" He said. "How many wounds I suffer doesn't matter! I'll put an end to all of you right here!!"

"Don't fuck with me!" Tatsumi screamed. "We're all getting out of here!!"

"You have such inexhaustible resolve in the face of adversity..." Budo grunted. "But the result will always be the same! The only thing that awaits murderers like you is execution!"

Budo leaped ahead, preparing to smash Tatsumi's skull open, only for him to scream with the top of his lungs and punch the Great General in the chest, sending him flying. This is ludicrous! He thought. How can this guy be so powerful!?

"WE GOT TO GET OUT OF HERE AS FAST AS POSSIBLE!" Najenda cried out. "EVERYONE, GET ON THE DRAGON NOW!!!"

As Najenda said this, the members of Night Raid ran towards the Dragon immediately, with Tatsumi at the front... Only for him to suddenly collapse and vomit blood into his helmet.

"So the rebels did target the execution site after all..." Said Wave, watching the thunderstorm and explosions from the top of the Imperial Palace.

"Even if they get out alive, Tatsumi won't." Said Dorothera, casually sitting beside him with some grilled clams. "Tatsumi's fate was sealed as soon as he grabbed his Teigu. The barbed wires it was tied to the pillar with were coated with a venom that can kill high-level Monsters instantly, much less humans."

"So even if their mission is successful, it will be for nothing..." Wave said.

Najenda's Dragon was flying over the Capital at incredible speeds. Night Raid were all boarding it, but Tatsumi was nearly unconscious and needed Ieyasu to carry him there. "What the Hell happened to you, Tatsumi...?" Mein whispered, holding back tears. "We didn't come all this way here just to see you die!"

"We'll take him to the doctors in the Revolutionary Army." Said Najenda. "All of this fighting and evolving must have really worn him out... But I'm sure he'll be fine."

"Then I guess we all made it out alive after all..." Leone grunted.

Suddenly, a bolt of lightning hit the Dragon, killing it and sending Night Raid to a free fall.

"I'LL TOLD YOU I WON'T LET ANY OF YOU ESCAPE!!" Budo shouted, an aura of lightning surrounding him as he appeared hovering over the Dragon.

Before the Dragon's body even hit the ground, Kurome sent her own black lightning into its body and resurrected it. "He can float in mid-air!?" Najenda asked.

"Adramelech! Bring forth the thunder!!" Budo shouted again, as black clouds returned to gather in the sky.

"Yeah, right!!" Mein cried out. "No matter what, we're coming home together!"

"Accept your judgement!" Budo shouted. "SOLID SHOOTER!!!" Extending his arms outwards, he fired a concentrated beam of black thunder towards the Dragon, which Mein countered with her own Teigu. "It's useless!" Budo screamed. "Nothing in this world can receive this thunder and remain standing!!"

"TO HELL WITH YOUR JUDGEMENT!!!!" Sheele screamed, using her own secret technique to sever both of Budo's arms with a blade of light. "THE ONLY ONE WHO WILL BE JUDGED TODAY IS YOU, GREAT GENERAL BUDO!!!"

"PUMPKEEEEEEEEEN!!!" Mein screamed, pushing back Budo's beam with her own as both hit him at once, completely disintegrating his body. Budo's arms and his Teigu gauntlets fell to the ground where Night Raid landed, and Mein herself collapsed from the blowback and overheat of her own weapon.

"MEIN!!" Sheele screamed as she ran up to her barely conscious comrade, most of the others following close behind. "Are you alright!?"

"...I don't know..." Mein whispered, barely having the strength to speak. "I don't think I ever released this much energy with Pumpkeen before... I thought I was going to die for sure... But you saved me. Myself and Tatsumi always insisted that we'll all come out alive... But in the end, it was only thanks to you... Sheele..."

"I'm not -" Sheele started, only for Mein to block her mouth with a kiss right before she passed out.

"It's been so long since anyone managed to hit me..." Esdeath said to herself as she was quietly walking out of the colosseum's ruins. "I forgot what it's like to have a real challenge. This exhilaration... I didn't know how much I missed it. I'm looking forward to meeting you again... Tatsumi..."

The Great General Budo has been killed!

The news spread around The Empire like wildfire, leaving great impact on its people. The Imperial Guard's morale was in shambles, and the Revolutionary Army could finally begin its takeover of Shisuikan.

One by one, those who held power in The Empire and witnessed the revolution advancing began to revolt and side with it.

The Capital was now exposed, and the armies that approached it only grew in numbers and might.

"But the number of survivors on Night Raid's end has not been made public." Dorothea scoffed, sitting alone in her hidden laboratory with a cup of coffee in hand. "Even with this artificial secret technique, I'm not sure the Capital can withstand this army striking at full force... But I couldn't care less. As long as the disgusting old man's head is what they're after, we can always just pick up shop and leave. And now that their most powerful member has been killed, this chance is greater than ever. A shame, really... I think I liked him."

"He's not dead." A voice said behind her. "None of them are."

"Well, what do you know..." Dorothea said, unfazed. "I thought you were dead, too. It's been a long time... Two-Face."

Night Raid: 6 Left

Chapter Text

"Tatsumi..." The Boss asked. "How's your body holding up?"

"I'm alright..." Tatsumi said. "To the contrary... I feel like there's immense power welling up inside my body."

"Then it's just as the doctor said..."

After escaping his execution by the skin of his teeth, Tatsumi along with Mein and the rest of Night Raid were given medical treatment at the hands of the Revolutionary Army's doctors. When Tatsumi opened his eyes again, his doctor were surprised to see one of his eyes turned red, its pupil taking a cross shape.

"I'm suspecting it's starting to bond with you..." The doctor said. "Young man... Whether the armor is merging with you or simply consuming you... You are becoming one with it. Don't mistake this for some kind of powerup - this is anything but. It has made you stronger and saved your life... But believe me when I say it's destroying your body."

"So in other words..." Najenda summarized. "Incursio's evolution feeds on Tatsumi? Brad used it hundreds of times..."

"Brad wasn't pushing Incursio to its limits." The doctor retorted. "You were. I'm sure you were already told that Incursio would be useless against The Empire's Strongest duo..."

"I'll continue to endure this pain." Tatsumi insisted. "If that's what it takes, then so be it."

"I admire your willingness to sacrifice yourself." The doctor answered. "But the stronger you will become, the more it will drive you towards destruction. In a few years at most... If you continue to train and build your strength, you might grow in endurance enough to continue using Incursio without overdoing it..."

"But if I'd continue to use it as I do now..." Tatsumi started.

"Then Incursio may be able to devour you completely." The doctor answered. "If your body can't handle it, then you'll be consumed and destroyed... In short, you'll certainly die. I see your eye is already scarred..."

"I'm fine, Boss, I swear!" Tatsumi insisted. "My eye can see just fine! All I'll have to do is treat Incursio like Su's hidden ability. For the final battle, three times are already more than enough!"

"I know you aren't lying." The Boss said, pointing to Spectator on her eye. "I don't want to force you to keep fighting... But you'll have to be needed against Esdeath. Only Incursio can resist her ability to freeze time and space."

"I won't hesitate for a second!" Tatsumi reassured. "The Revolutionary Army will win, no matter what. Just think about it rationally. The Empire has no chance of coming out on top at this point."

"The Prime Minister probably has an ace in the hole up his sleeve." Najenda answered. "And when you couple it with Esdeath's unrivaled power... If there's the slightest opening in our attack, they still have a chance to turn the tables and won't hesitate to stomp us out completely."

"So we'll have to be careful." Said Tatsumi. "We can't allow ourselves to have any margin for error."

"Which is why we need to gather our pace and prepare as much as possible." Najenda concluded. "Soon, the rebelling forces from every location will consolidate and all attack the Capital simultaneously... But even after we besiege it, we'll have to take out Esdeath."

"Are you saying Esdeath will continue to fight even after The Empire she protects is fallen?" Tatsumi asked.

"I'm sure of that." The Boss answered. "Someone like her would probably see this as a reward... Having these boundless heaps of enemies all to herself. She isn't afraid of death; She'd be happy to die in a bloodstained battlefield. She is someone consumed by combat who lives for war. She can never have enough. So no matter what happens, we can't let her slip out alive, no matter what. If she does, she'll be more of a threat by herself than the entire Empire."

"I'll make sure to kick her ass for you..." Tatsumi said. "And for Lubbock."

"That's enough." The Boss said. "You don't have to beat yourself up about it. Night Raid is All For One and One For All... I'm sure Lubbock would agree."

"So Lubbock's dead..." Leone whispered, sitting alone in the basement of Night Raid's hideout. "Other than The Boss, nobody's too ruined over this, I guess. Wouldn't blame them... But what's concerning me isn't what happened to Lubbock, it's what happened to his Teigu. Hopefully, Cross Tail's been destroyed, but... It could just as easily be in The Empire's hands, or worse... Incursio may be powerful, but without Cross Tail, we'd all be dead a long time ago. If they have it now... Damn it to Hell, what is everyone thinking?"

The remaining Jägers - which were currently only Akame, Wave and Esdeath - Were reviewing an updated map of The Empire's territories and those around it. "The Revolutionary Army's moving from here." Esdeath started. "They're uniting and planning to besiege the Imperial Capital... But their reinforcements haven't arrived yet. They were always in a rush for results previously, so I expected them to go ahead and strike anyway... But it looks like they finally learned their lesson and started to maintain their composure."

"They're making light of us." Akame said bitterly.

"Their forces only continue to rain down upon us." Wave said.

"Among this clash of powers, there is none who is my equal." Esdeath reassured him. "And even with an army this massive, this powerful... The real threat are those capable of diligently providing them with their provisions and controlling them. And on the front lines, they're nowhere to be found..."

"The way things are now, soldiers also spring up and turn their back on The Empire one by one." Said Wave. "They even got a commander's division pinned down in the West... I'm starting to think there's no chance that we could ever come out victorious."

"Of course there is." Esdeath chided. "We still have the Supreme Teigu on the cabinet's reserve... These grand battles are filled with Teigu left and right. Don't get me wrong, it's still going to be strenuous and taxing... But where else could you find a situation this fun? Those who run away will be punished. Protect the Imperial Capital... I'm going to raise the morale of those remaining and turn the tide in our favor once more. But I know some lot is going to take advantage of the chaos to try and cut right through the middle. Understood?"

"Yes Mistress!" Akame and Wave both said.

"Seryu..." Dorothea said coldly, the former Jäger standing across from her. "I meant to ask this since before you joined Wild Hunt, but after meeting your former comrades in person I believe it's important to ask this now."

"Huh?" Asked Seryu.

"Did any of the Jägers ever tell you that you're taking your devotion to justice... A bit too far?" Dorothea asked.

"Absolutely not, Mistress Dorothea!" Seryu replied. "They may not have been as steadfast in their convictions as I am, but they regarded justice just as highly. They would never be chosen as the Jägers if they weren't!"

The Imperial Head Scientist and unofficial leader of Wild Hunt let out a sigh. "Akame had told me that you said that Wild Hunt are the highest embodiment of The Empire's justice, and because of that whatever we decide must be good simply because we decide it. Is that true?"

"Absolutely!" Seryu said, again.

"And you don't think there are any problems with that?" Dorothea said, hiding the very same disgust Wave and Akame had for Seryu before in her voice.

"Of course not! I will never question The Empire's absolute and perfect justice!" Seryu insisted, speaking like this is genuinely the answer Dorothea was expecting from her.

"I find such a simplistic framework... Insufficient." Dorothea considered her response for a few seconds. "What if I told you that Night Raid's Tatsumi, whom I interrogated before his execution, was a well-intentioned person who believed what he was doing is justice and that he is destroying evil, just as you do?" She asked. "What if I told you that he was every bit as kind and honest as he appeared to you when you first met? What if I told you that in some way, I regret having killed him?"

"I-I..." Seryu was struggling to respond. She looked like a student scrambling to recall an answer to an exam that she's sure she already heard in class and just couldn't for the life of her remember. Her bionic arms started to rumble, like she was trying to stop them from turning into a weapon. "I don't know." She said eventually. There wasn't a hint of anger in her voice, just defeat. Like what Dorothea said was some kind of riddle, and she failed.

"It's okay if you don't know." Dorothea laid a hand on Seryu's shoulder. "Admitting ignorance is the first step for finding new knowledge. There would be no science if we already knew everything."

No response. Seryu just lowered her head and looked ashamed.

This girl is fascinating... And disturbing. She thought to herself. She is so obsessed with justice, but she has no definition for what justice is, other than The Empire's authority itself. In her mind, The Empire - and by extension Wild Hunt - is definitionally good and its opposition is definitionally evil, in the most literal sense possible... Which means that from her perspective, such an authority suggesting that someone who opposes it is not necessarily evil is tantamount to saying that evil is not evil... She can't bring herself to process the implications because she sees the mere suggestion as a paradox, plain and simple.

"...You shouldn't let these little things distract you." She eventually said. "My upgrades to the Supreme Teigu are complete. Even this army won't be able to withstand its firepower... And, Cosmina is nearly finished as well. She has her own upgrades, just in case... So how about we go out and put them to the test?"

Chapter Text

We now call a meeting for all Teigu users across the Revolutionary Army, to form a plan to bring down the Empire's Strongest, Great General Esdeath... There isn't a single fighter who is capable of bringing down this monster, so if we want to win, all of us will have to strategize effectively and take her on together!

The Boss Najenda, Sheele, Leone, Kurome and a mostly-recovered Mein have moved South to meet with a rebel encampment filled with the wary soldiers of the Revolutionary Army. Some of them looked hopeful, confident in their victory; Other looked worried and filled with despair. This was a temporary settlement with only a makeshift wooden fence to guard it, two powerful elite guards at the gate's post.

One of those guards looked to the distance, noticing a large silhouette approaching. "Looks like something's heading this way..." He said. "It looks like a Monster!"

As the giant creature approached, the guards could notice its insectoid body, appearing as a spider or mantis-like creature with numerous bladed legs, but with a human torso attached to where an insect's head would normally be, covered in the same chitin exoskeleton with scythe-like arms and demonic horns.

"MONSTER ATTACK!!" One of the guards called out. "Everyone, prepare counterattack formation! We don't know if it's being controlled by a Teigu or not. Rain down Anti-Monster ammunition!"

Between the grates of the fence, numerous soldiers prepared their rifles... Before they all collapsed as toxic gas paralyzed them and their life energy was drained in an instant. The Monster continued to approach undisturbed, revealing its face was that of a beautiful human woman - Cosmina. Licking her lips, she leaped over the fence and landed in the midst of the armed soldiers. Those who stood far from the fence armed themselves with swords and spears. "Do not be afraid!" One of them exclaimed. "We only have one enemy to deal with. Destroy it!"

"You think I came here alone!?" Cosmina laughed, her voice as beautiful as ever. Without an ounce of dexterity lost, she began to cleave the soldiers to pieces with her gigantic sickle-like claws and swallowed them whole, her size increasing with each man she devoured.

"This thing can SPEAK!?" Soldiers began to scream. "It has abnormally high levels of strength! We have to retreat!"

"I'm afraid I can't let you do that." Said Izou, drawing his own blade and gracefully dicing the fleeing soldiers with it. "Such brittle fledglings you are... Those who run like chickens will have their head lobbed off like chickens."

Seryu's toxic breath paralyzed whatever soldiers remained as she summoned Susanoo's mace in one hand and her Cannon of Justice in the other. "I can finally go out and enforce absolute justice in this place infested with evil, here alongside The Empire's glorious Wild Hunt..." She chuckled. "There is no greater honor than that!"

"Yo, Seryu!" Said Cosmina. "Can your senses detect anyt-"

Before she could finish the sentence, a boomerang-like ax blade flew towards her from the distance and left a cut on her talon.

"That must be Night Raid's Ieyasu!" Said Seryu as Ieyasu, along with Sayo, Natala and Doya landed in front of the other Wild Hunters. "So Night Raid is here!?" Seryu gasped, signaling Hekatonkheires to stand in front of her and transform.

"You're all just weak puppets. I'll devour all of you!" Cosmina exclaimed, swinging her talon downwards at the four Night Raid fighters.

"So that science bitch managed to bring ya back to life?" Said Doya, starting to fire Prometheus' homing rounds at the Monster. "No worries. I'm gonna fix that!"

A stone wall emerged from the ground and blocked the bullets, and Dorothea appeared on top of it. "Alchemy is a combination of science with magic." She said, jumping off the wall. "It's a force that can control any form of matter... Even all of your Teigu!"

From within the shadows, Kurome herself lunged towards Dorothea with her sword... Only for Izou to appear and block it. "I've heard a lot about your skill with a blade." Said Izou. "I'll be your opponent."

At the same time, Cosmina narrowly dodged an energy beam that was fired at her from above, revealing the rest of Night Raid riding Kurome's puppet Dragon. Sheele jumped off of it, preparing to cut off the Monster's limbs with Extase's Dual Wield Mode, but Cosmina swiped her away. Seryu fired a single rocket at the Dragon, who dodged only for Najenda and Tatsumi to both fall off of it.

Leone, however, was still on the Dragon's back, and Seryu began to chase it. "I'm not letting any of you get away!!" She said, dodging as the Dragon was breathing explosive fireballs at her and taking her further away from the others.

"You're gonna have to pay back for that leg!!" Leone shouted as she jumped off the Dragon and punched Coro, causing a dent in its elastic body. Coro activated its arms and began to launch a flurry of punches at Leone, who was able to respond with her own barrage, her fists burning in flames.

"You made a mistake trying to attack me a-" Seryu started before she was suddenly whipped in the chest by Rokugoh before two Monsters emerged from the camp's ruins - a quadrupedal dinosaur-like creature covered in metallic scales and a sharp beak, along with a bipedal crab-like Monster with sickle talons not unlike Cosmina's. While Rokugoh was restraining her, the crab slashed her chest and the dinosaur launched some of the scales on its back at Coro like knives.

"Say hello to Kurome's two new puppets." Leone chuckled. "They are both Special-Class Monsters, a Steel Pangolin and a Mantis Lobster, who were chosen because of their incredible resilience."

"Your evil Monsters will never quench justice!!" Seryu shouted, breaking out of the whip and hitting the Steel Pangolin's armor with her blunt mace, only for it to wind back and hit her in the face. "What the -"

Coro ran to Seryu's defense, only for the Mantis Lobster to easily cut off its arms, leaving cuts on its chest. "A Steel Pangolin has the ability to nullify the shock from attacks that hit it and bounce it back twice over!" Rokugoh explained as he grabbed the armless Coro with his whip and threw it at Seryu, knocking them both back.

"Enough of this! Coro, transform!!" Seryu exclaimed. Regrowing its arms, Hekatonkheires immediately turned into its Berserk form, stood back up and pushed Leone and Rokugoh away with a roar... Only for a giant fist to come out of the ground and smack it. Then, a massive ray of plasma hit Coro and disintegrated it, shattering its core, as Kurome's Mortaghoul emerged from underground.

"CORO!!!!" Seryu screamed, tears welling up in her eyes. "Now you've done it! I WILL DESTROY ALL OF YOU!!" She wailed as her body once again took its own giant Monster form that matched the Mortaghoul in size.

"I am a woman of my word." Said Dorothea. "I promised you that I'll do everything in my power to destroy you and everything you stand for, didn't I?"

"So this is the Teigu Yatsufusa..." Said Izou, examining Kurome's katana with his eyes. "Such treacherous, ominous beauty... But my Kousetsu's brilliance is many degrees greater."

"Just how many more sword-type Teigu are there...?" Kurome wondered out loud.

"I assure you, Kousetsu is no Teigu." Izou said. "If those are the only magical weapons crafted from Monsters in your primitive Empire, in my country making them is common practice. Kousetsu is a blade of my own creation!" He said, catching Kurome by surprise and swiping at her from above, forcing the assassin to dodge.

This guy's speed and skill with a blade... Are even greater than my big sister's...! Kurome thought, continuing to dodge and parry Izou's strikes without a single opening to strike back. After dodging by a hair's breadth, the red ribbon on Kurome's shirt had a small piece of it severed... And the rest of the ribbon began to wither and crumble away. "Is that your ability?!" Kurome hastily grabbed a part of the ribbon that hasn't withered and quickly ripped it out, leaving the ribbon to disintegrate before it hit the ground.

"Kousetsu feeds on the blood of its victims." Said Izou. "It turns this blood into a venom that can make anyone and anything wither in one cut that can never be healed. And once I have gathered enough venom, I can even unleash it from a range... Like so!" He said, swiping his sword yet again. A wave-like stream of rotten blood was fired towards Kurome... Only for Natala to emerge and block it with his own body.

"Natala!?" Kurome asked, watching as her friend's body began to wither and melt. Even the iron mask covering his mouth rusted and fell off, revealing his entire lower jaw and his tongue have been ripped off.

"So you got one of your toys to take the fatal hit for you...?" Izou asked. "No matter that. I have plenty more to spare!" He laughed as he began to clash his blade with Natala's naginata. Letting out a wordless scream of rage, Natala's decayed body began to attack Izou with fierce anger. With one more swipe, the arm Natala was holding the spear with was cut off and withered; Two more, and his other arm and his whole body crumbled.

"Natala..." Kurome whispered, her eyes filling up with tears.

"You're sad that I broke your favorite toy?" Izou chuckled, rising his sword again. "Don't worry, you'll be joining him very -"

"NATALAAAAA!!!" Kurome screamed as black lightning burst out of her body, hitting Izou before Kurome moved as immense speed to cut Izou's own arm off, before dicing his whole body to mincemeat in berserk rage.

At the same time, Najenda got up after being blasted off her Dragon, and immediately noticed a group of muscular, armored, humanoid Monsters armed with swords approaching. Are those Monsters made from the ones Stylish created earlier...? She wondered, preparing a battle stance and opening Spectator's eye.

"What's wrong, Tatsumi? Are you afraid to use your Incursio again?" Dorothea taunted as Tatsumi was brandishing his Teigu's sealed sword form at her.

"I don't want to waste it on some bookworm." Said Tatsumi, unwilling to tell her the true reason. "Someone ought to teach you some manners!"

At the same time, Seryu's giant Monster body was trading punches, rockets and energy beams with the Mortaghoul. This dead Monster is nothing to me! Seryu growled. If I were to fight it one-on-one, I would have already won, but those evil murderers would never take me on fair and square!

As she was saying this - and fighting the Monster - The two smaller Monsters were striking at her feet from above, along with Rokugoh and...

Huh? Where's Leo - Seryu thought.

"RIGHT HERE!!" Said Leone, punching the side of Seryu's Monster head with a blazing fist. She then climbed towards its forehead, where her real body was, punched her in the gut and ripped her off the Monster, making it collapse and dropping the limbless body to the ground before landing over it. "Checkmate!" She exclaimed, walking up to her. "You've got nothing left. You can't even use your final number without destroying your comrades with you..." She picked the dismembered Seryu by the throat. "You've become a half Monster half machine abomination... There isn't an ounce of humanity in you left. Now then, time to finish you o-"

"DEMON SOUL RELEASE!!!"

Chapter Text

"When I kicked you back at the prison, I was already half-dead..." Said Tatsumi. "Now I'll show you what I can really do!"

"Bring it on!" Dorothea exclaimed as Tatsumi rushed at her with his sword up, casually catching the blade with one arm. "Don't let my adorable and charming exterior deceive you... Out of everyone in Wild Hunt, I'm the strongest!" She smirked, slamming Tatsumi to the ground and causing a small crater. "Now then, should I let you watch all of your friends taking their last breaths... Or should I finish you off now?"

With Spectator on her side, Najenda was quickly dodging the modified Monsters' sword slashes. "I may be just a strategist, but don't think for a moment I'm helpless!" She said, her prosthetic arm morphing into a large maul-type hammer which she slammed through one of the Monsters' helmet, crushing its skull...

Only for the maul to remain stuck in its sludge-like flesh. She moved backwards anyway, the chain allowing her to keep the distance, before picking up the Monster's sword. Two more Monsters surrounded The Boss from the sides, only for her to break its skull through its helmet with a simple kick and then retract the chain in a surprise attack that allowed her to smash the third Monster with the first one's corpse, before the maul head turned into a flamethrower and burned a hole in the body that allowed her to pull it back out.

As a fourth Monster approached, Najenda turned her arm into a giant TASER and stunned it with a bolt of lightning before beheading it with its comrade's sword.

Two more modified Monsters jumped at Najenda from behind in an ambush, but she quickly turned around, her arm once again transforming into a device resembling an air conditioner that froze them in blocks of ice before turning back into a maul and shattering them.

At the other side of the destroyed encampment, Seryu's body shone in bright light as she grew new organic limbs from the same rubbery mass as Susanoo's body, and she was surrounded in a yellow aura that turned her hair gold, her body covered in an armor of black bone and horns appearing on her head, along with Susanoo's Eight-Span Mirror floating behind her back. She kicked Leone in the gut, instantly sending her away, and remained floating in the air.

This is the trump card I got from that failed Automaton-Type Teigu... Seryu thought to herself. It was used by feeding on its master's vitality... And thanks to Mistress Dorothea I can fuel it by draining the life from anyone around me. Other than this blonde skank, everyone here are living corpses, so she should be dead already...

"Like you can drain my vitality faster than Lionelle can replenish it!!" Said Leone as she suddenly appeared behind Seryu and kicked her in the head. Seryu was pushed back, but quickly got up and summoned the Heavenly Sword of Gathering Clouds in her hand and swung it towards Leone. To her surprise, Leone began to climb the elongated blade as Seryu was swinging it, once again reaching her and kicking her chest, pushing her to the ground and forming another crater, which was then blasted with a fireball from the puppet Dragon followed by the Mortaghoul's plasma breath.

"THIS IS ALL USELESS!!" Seryu screamed as she got up, her body quickly regenerating... Only for Rokugoh to strike her in the back with his whip, pushing her to the ground once more and landing a flurry of whip strikes at her, before the Kaiser Toad emerged from the earth and swallowed her whole.

Seryu's wounded body started to melt as soon as she was swallowed, the puppet's digestive acids melting her faster than she could heal. By the time she realized what was happening, it was already too late. D-damn it... She thought. Even with all this power... It's still not enough!? I cannot allow myself to be killed by those wicked Monsters! I know that justice cannot lose no matter what... But I'm already... I already lost. Mistress Dorothea... Master Syura... General Esdeath... Master Stylish... Master Ogra... And my honorable father... I failed you...

"It's just like Kurome said..." Leone muttered. "We have a way to deal with regenerators like you."

"DOROTHEA!!!" Najenda shouted as she launched her mechanical arm at the Alchemist from a distance before approaching her and Tatsumi.

"So you managed to take out my modified shocktroops?" Dorothea grunted, dodging The Boss' punch easily. "I knew they weren't going to be good for much anyway. They were nowhere near as strong as me."

While Dorothea said that, Tatsumi quickly got up and swiped his sword at her from behind, which she quickly dodged again. "Don't underestimate me!" He said in anger.

"I am not overestimating any-" Dorothea started...

Before an arrow flew in out of nowhere and pierced her chest.

"I'm still here!" Said Sayo, running up to Najenda and Tatsumi. "I know that you alone couldn't beat such a powerful enemy..."

Dorothea laughed, pulling the arrow out of her chest as the hole mended itself. "And you think you'd fare any better together?"

"Of course we will!" Sayo exclaimed, firing another volley of arrows. Dorothea formed a strange glyph in the air that blocked them, and prepared to strike Sayo, only to be pushed back by a bolt of lightning from The Boss' mechanical arm.

"Why you..." Dorothea grunted as two additional arms sprouted from her shoulders and she began to pummel Tatsumi with a flurry of punches, but was pushed back with a bolt of lightning from Najenda's golden arm and hit in the back by several arrows from Sayo. "I admit that underestimated the lot of you..." The Alchemist grunted. "But you haven't seen half of what I can do. Allow me to demonstrate what it looks like when an Alchemist means business!" She took out a vial filled with strange gas from under her dress and slammed it into the floor, shattering it and unleashing the compound inside. Tatsumi and Najenda immediately held their breath.

"This won't be the first or last time someone uses poison against us!" Sayo exclaimed. "You made a mistake when you pulled that trick against someone who's already dead!!" She then prepared to pull the string of L'Arc Qui Ne Faut again... But her fingers wouldn't move. They, along with Najenda and Tatsumi's bodies, were slowly turning grey and stopped moving.

"She's turning us into stone!?" Tatsumi gasped.

"This potion's effect is only momentary!" Said Najenda. "We just have to break ou-"

Before she finished the sentence, Dorothea leaped at Night Raid's Boss and bit her neck. "This is my Teigu!" She exclaimed. "Blood-Collecting Absordex!!"

Najenda screamed in pain as her blood was being drained before punching the Alchemist away with her prosthetic arm and collapsing to her knees.

"The fuck is wrong with your bug fuckin' armor??" Doya screamed in frustration. "My Prometheus' bullets won't do nothing to this bitch!"

"My body was created to destroy Incursio!!" Cosmina exclaimed. "Mistress Dorothea made sure my skin is impenetrable!!" She swung her talon at Doya, only for leyasu to block the strike with Bellvack. "That sounds dangerous!" Mein grinned as she fired an energy beam at Cosmina, pushing her backwards but still dealing no damage. Cosmina screamed in anger, creating a sound wave greater in power than her Teigu, but the two puppets quickly dodged it.

"There is nothing that Extase can't cut!!" Sheele exclaimed as she swung her scissor blades, now back in one piece, and cut off Cosmina's arm. She screamed, waving her other arm and creating a wide slashing wave of dark energy, but Sheele jumped upwards to dodge it and Mein used the distraction to pierce her forehead with a bullet of energy.

Cosmina ignored it, grinning as numerous tiny tendrils with sharp edges sprung forth from her severed arm. "You're not going to kill me with this!!" She exclaimed. "Mistress Dorothea knew this was going to happen. Now I can show you my secret weapon... These tendrils that will inject your bloodstream with lethal venom!!" She laughed as her tendrils began to extend with their sharp ends up towards Sheele...

Who simply cut a portal in the air, vanished from the tendrils' range, and appeared above the Monster's head. "EXTASE!!!" She screamed, forming her blade of light and lobbing Cosmina's head off with one swing.

"COSMINA!!!" Dorothea screamed, starting to run towards Mein. "You worthless murderers! I'll make you all pa-"

"SHUT UP!!" Tatsumi yelled, impaling Dorothea through the chest with Incursio. Still not dead, she screamed in anger, pulling the sword out. Dorothea's wound was already starting to heal, but not completely; Her body seemed to be starting to decay.

"I'll show you! I'll show all of you!!" Dorothea grunted, dipping her finger in her own blood and drawing a complex rune on the floor. She then took out a strange fungus and thrust it into the rune, causing it to burst into a black fungal biomass that began to grow, erupt, and take the form of a demonic Monster. The creature then slammed its hand at Tatsumi, who dodged, only for black tendrils covered with innumerable eyes to spring forth, growing fiendish mouths and hands and attempting to strike him.

"It's no use!!" Najenda screamed, turning her arm back into a flamethrower and firing a jet of flames that burned the Monster's body back into a mass of viscous fungi - which then grew a giant mouth and sprouted translucent sticky arms that grabbed Najenda and began to pull her towards the maw. The Boss was struggling against the slimy tendrils, but Dorothea took out a modified white gun and prepared to shoot The Boss in her chest...

Only for Tatsumi to sever the Alchemist's arm. She gasped in pain and collapsed to the floor lifeless.

"She's still alive." Najenda warned, turning her arm into a maul once more. "I'm not falling for it! Die!"

"WAIT! HOLD IT!!" Dorothea begged. "Don't kill me! That would be a lost for all mankind! I'll even join your team if you let me live!!"

"..." Najenda lowered her hammer. "Really?"

"Yes! Just think about it logically!" Dorothea continued to beg, starting to tear up. "There's so much that your new country can benefit for having someone like me helping you build it! I could tell you all of the Prime Minister's secrets, his plans, his trump cards - everything The Empire has hidden from you! I'll even help you fight them with all the strength I used here! Just please, let me live!!"

"You think I'm falling for this!?" Tatsumi yelled, grabbing the defeated Alchemist by the neck. "There's no way I'm letting you live after everything you've done! You're probably going to stab as in the back as soon as we -"

"Tatsumi! Let her go!" Najenda yelled, grabbing Tatsumi's hand. "I've read the Alchemist's thoughts with my Spectator. She's telling the truth. She's not going to betray us."

Tatsumi was forced to drop Dorothea's weakened, decaying body. "Are you for real...?"

"I know what I said, damn it." Dorothea grunted. "I don't want to forgive any of you, let alone help you overthrow The Empire... But I'm a realist. I know that this country is going to fall no matter what. Nothing good will come out of me holding a grudge against you and insisting to fight to the bitter end, I'm not such a fool to think I can double cross you and come out alive."

"I don't like the sound of this, either, but..." Sayo started. "You've seen just how powerful Dorothea is. We both have. Having her on our side could be a game-changer. Just think about how helpful she could be in the final battle... Not to mention, she can even help you alleviate Incursio's effects that we all kept worrying about."

"It would be foolish to lie to you about this." Dorothea admitted. "Recovering my strength is going to take some time... But as soon as we're back to your - to our headquarters I can still give you the crucial information I have now. I'll much rather do it when all of you are gathered together... But I will do it. That's a promise."

"Why is it so important to wait until all of us are together?" Sayo asked.

"Because the first thing I want to tell you... Is the traitor's identity."

Wild Hunt: Eliminated

Chapter Text

The victorious Night Raid returned to their base at the wake of their decisive battle against Wild Hunt. Kurome's most important puppet, Natala, has fell in the battle, but Night Raid received a new ally in return, an ally that was far superior to Natala even with a missing arm and a deteriorated body held together by sheer force of will and ancient sorcery. Almost immediately after everyone settled in, The Boss called in the entire squad to congregate in the meeting room and hear what she had to say.

"Dorothea's here?" Mein asked. "Why!?"

"About time that we start to take live captives for interrogation." Said Leone, activating her Teigu. "I'll be more happy to commence the torture!" She exclaimed, preparing to punch Dorothea in the face - Only for Najenda to grab her arm.

"Dorothea is not a captive." The Boss chided Leone. "She is our new recruit."

"RECRUIT!?" Sheele asked. "But she's with The Empire!"

"I never cared about The Empire!" Said Dorothea. "I'm a researcher who works to advance science and medicine. I have no interest in politics and war... I only worked for The Empire in exchange for the means to continue my work. But I've come to realize that The Empire is already doomed to fall at the hands of the Revolutionary Army who seeks to build a new country, and as long as this country will enable my research to go on, I have no qualms betraying The Empire to protect myself."

"So you're just a dirty coward who'd work for anyone as long as you can save your own skin?" Mein snarled.

"This dirty coward knows all of the Cabinet's secrets and could potentially turn the entire final battle's stakes in our favor, so you better shut up about it." Said Najenda.

"Trust me, this isn't the half of it." Said Dorothea. "As I told your Boss before, there's something even more important that the last survivor of the Rakshasa Demons told me in the brief time she was part of Wild Hunt... And that is the identity of the one you called Two-Face."

"The fuck's a Two-Face?" Sheele asked.

"It's the guy that disclosed our identity to the Jägers, Sheele..." Said Tatsumi.

Hearing this exchange, Dorothea started to laugh. "Still trying to feign ignorance?" She said. "Trust me, your friend knows more about the traitor than any of you... Because you, Sheele, are the traitor!!"

"What? I'm the traitor!?!" Sheele gasped. "Where the Hell did you get that idea!? Come on, don't tell me you're going to trust her on this!"

"We aren't." Said Najenda, grabbing Sheele by the shirt. "Because we have the power of Spectator on our side, and it will allow me to see the truth no matter what!"

As soon as she said it, Najenda was suddenly pushed back as Sheele broke out of her hold. Sheele's glasses fell off in her process, and instead of picking them up, Sheele shattered them with a stomp, even the frame breaking to pieces.

"Ahaha... I see how it is then." Sheele whispered. "I can't let you use Spectator on me, but I can't fight back either, so I'll be exposed no matter what I do... You planned it right from the start, didn't you? Okay then, you got me! I'm Two-Face! I'm the traitor that got Susanoo killed! Is that what you wanted to hear!?" Sheele's voice was getting hysterical, but she wasn't yelling in anger. She was crying.

"B... But why??" Mein whispered, her own eyes wet with tears. "Why did you betray us, Sheele!? We've done nothing to you! We were like family to you!"

"You were more than that..." Said Sheele. "You were the only people who ever cared about me. You all had so many other things to look forward to... You had other friends you wanted to help, hometowns you wanted to save... Even you had your dream of peace between The Empire's people and the Western Tribes. But I had nothing! I had no home and no family except for Night Raid... And Night Raid only existed to destroy The Empire! Whether we win or lose, my only home will cease to exist as soon as this civil war ends! There won't be anywhere for me to go, how could there be!? My ability to kill people is my only talent, the only thing I've ever been useful for! Even you only hired me because of it in the first place! I don't have any value outside of it... And when this country is at peace then it will vanish! There will be no place for me in this country that the Revolutionary Army will create! After it's established I'll no longer have value - I'll have nothing!"

"Sheele... What are you saying?" Mein asked.

"I'm saying that I don't want this war to end!" Sheele wept. "Once it's over I'll be gone with it! This is why. This is why I became Two-Face... I started to help The Empire to keep it and Night Raid stalemated. I did it to make sure that the fighting will keep going for as long as possible... Because I couldn't bear to see what happens when it's over. But... It was all for nothing, wasn't it? This war's about to end regardless..." As she said that, Sheele took out Extase, opened it, and placed her head in between the blades.

"What the Hell are you trying to do!?" Mein cried out. "Sheele, please don't do it! You know that I'll always be on your side, no matter what!"

"I've already made up my mind..." Sheele whispered. "I have no reason to go on any longer. My part is done already. It was a honor beyond what I deserve to be part of you... Night Raid."

Saying this, Sheele closed her scissors' blades and decapitated her own head. A cut in space and time was formed under her body and it vanished into the void along with her head, leaving Extase to pin itself to the floor.

"SHEELEEEEEEE!!!" Mein wailed, dropping to her knees.

"She made sure there's no body so Kurome can't resurrect her..." Leone muttered.

"I wouldn't have wasted space in my theatre for that stinking traitor anyway." Kurome whispered.

"If you still don't trust me now..." Dorothea said quietly as she left the conference room. "I don't blame you. I wouldn't have trusted myself either."

That night, no one left Night Raid's base... No one other than Kurome, who was hunting alone in the forests outside the Capital.

The hunting was interrupted when a barrage of razor-sharp feathers shot out of the sky and forced Kurome to dodge them. Immediately after that, Wave landed in a kick in the forest behind her. "Looks like you've got a little careless." He said. "I'm not wasting the opportunity. You're my prey, Kurome!"

Kurome smirked. "I'm not being careless." She said. "I was hoping I'd run into you. There's something I want to say, on the off-chance that you survive."

"I'm not gonna listen to your demands, you murderer! Brace yourself!" Said Wave in anger.

This girl is insanely fast. I can't call for backup now... Wave thought. But this isn't a problem, is it? I've got Mastema!

"Well, I was in a bad mood already..." Said Kurome. "So it's gonna help me take my mind off if I kill you."

Back at the base, most of Night Raid remained asleep... But Dorothea was still wide awake. Taking out a small marble, the Alchemist broke it on the floor, creating a trapdoor, and stepped in.

Chapter Text

"Here I go!!" Wave cried out, lashing at Kurome with a hook punch and forcing her to dodge. "This time I'll kill you for sure!!" Wave yelled, kicking the assassin, who ducked to avoid the hit before backflipping and allowing Rokugoh to whip at Wave's chest and crack his armor.

I shouldn't bother try to attack the puppets... Wave mentally noted. Once I kill Kurome, they're all dead. She's not trying to run away... She's trying to kill me! I have to end this now!

Wave soared to the sky using Mastema and screamed "GRAND FALL! FLÜGEL!!!" Before crushing downwards with a dropkick of immense force and causing a powerful rock shockwave.

"Nice attack..." Kurome chuckled. "But don't you think I'd let you hit me head-on with it." As she said that, a blade of air hit Wave from the back as Kurome's Lobster Mantis emerged from the woods. While he was distracted, three bullets hit Wave in the armored chest, still not causing major damage to Grand Chariot.

"So the stinkin' loser finally got himself a real Teigu, eh?" Doya said. "I bet you feel real confident. I'm excited to crush this confidence under my boot!!"

"I'm not letting you do that!" Wave yelled in anger, starting to fly after Kurome as she ran up a tree and began to vertically jump between the trees in the forest. Wave ignored this, breaking the trees with his punches as he was advancing, and was quickly closing the gap. He rushed at Kurome with a flurry of punches, but the assassin blocked each hit with her sword and proceeded to slash at Wave's chest, cracking his armor and causing a cut on his body. Wave screamed in anger and rushed at Kurome with a punch, but she only dodged as her Steel Pangolin's scales hit him in the back, damaging his armor further.

Whatever happens... Even if I'll die here, I swear I'm going to hit her!! Wave resolved, firing a barrage of feathers that Kurome easily dodged before drop-kicking Wave in the face, breaking his helmet and causing his armor to fade back into its sword form.

Then, Kurome pointed Yatsufusa's blade to Wave's throat. "I'll give you one more chance. Are you going to relay my message to my big sister, or are you going to die?"

"You were holding back." Wave grunted. "I can tell. You could kill me in seconds if you wanted to."

Kurome smirked. "I could... If I had my cookies."

"...What do you mean?" Wave asked.

"These cookies... Actually contain a drug that greatly strengthens whoever eats them." Kurome explained. "When I just joined Night Raid, I was totally powerless without them. My big sister Akame was afraid that I've become dependent on them. That overreliance could potentially risk my life and kill me. But the Revolutionary Army's expert scientists have removed this weakness long ago. Not only that... I've went through training to get stronger without requiring my drugs to fight. I want you to tell this to my big sister... And I want you to invite her to meet with me in person."

"Do you not trust me to relay the information accurately?" Wave grunted. "Or do you just want to make off with her right before you leave her to die in the final battle?"

"That's none of your business." Said Kurome. "I just want to meet her privately, just the two of us. And I know she wants it too. If you think she doesn't... Just telling her won't hurt. She's still my sister, don't you remember? We both want to work it out without killing each other as long as that's possible. I don't know what she thinks is the reason I defected from The Empire in the first place... But she deserves to know."

"Even if you don't trust me to tell her your own reasons..." Wave started. "I can tell you that she agrees with you that The Empire is rotten. I agree with you, too... We both want The Empire to change as much as you do. We just don't think destroying it completely is the right way to do that."

"Who said anything about changing The Empire?" Kurome smirked.

"...What are you getting at?" Wave asked.

"Only that if you are any indication, then my sister has no idea why I'm with Night Raid. And I don't think anyone but her deserves to know it."

"..." Wave had no answer. Without saying another word, he spread his wings and flew away.

I can see where he's going... Kurome thought. Can I trust him with my message? Or should I send someone after him just in case...?

As the sun was rising, Wave entered the window of the Jägers' quarters and removed his Teigu and Shingu. "Akame..." He grunted, knowing his teammate was probably already awake. "I know we're preparing for the final battle and all, but... Do you still want to fight your sister?"

"...Of course." Said Akame, who was indeed already awake. "I know that if I can't kill her, there's probably no one that can. That's why I believe it's my duty to end her suffering as soon as possible."

"Where's that Dorothea?" Leone muttered back at Night Raid's base, looking around restlessly.

"She said she was going to repair her body..." Said Tatsumi. "And to start working on solving the problem I have with Incursio. I gave her some of my own blood for testing... She said it won't take her long to recover with it."

"Kurome's after her sister again." Leone said. "And Mein still hasn't gotten over Sheele's betrayal..."

"Taking out Akame is a supremely important task." Najenda rebuked her. "She's the worst danger in The Empire right after Esdeath, let alone the possibility of having her fight for us..."

"I'm still not sure if that would be right..." Tatsumi said. "The puppets she has now were already our allies before, but to force an enemy to fight their friends - let alone her own sister..."

"With the amount of assassinations we're carrying out these days, I'm sure The Empire is still gonna try to do whatever they can to thin our numbers out." Said Leone. "Tatsumi, did you recover enough to take guard duty?"

"I think so. Losing blood isn't that much of an issue for me." Said Tatsumi. "Still, I'm worried for how what Kurome is trying to pull off will turn out. To fight Akame on her own... I'm not even sure she'll be successful with that."

"Don't worry." Said Kurome, who just entered the room. "I won't be doing this alone."

At around the same time, Akame prepared to head out of the Imperial Palace. "I've been waiting too long for this day..." She whispered. "I know Kurome has become so insanely powerful since the last time I met her, but... I know I'm going to be able to defeat her. She's not even going to expect this, but... I'm going to kill her with my true secret technique!"

Chapter Text

In the dead of night, Wave rushed out of the Imperial Palace, equipping Mastema without Grand Chariot as he was flying across the dark forests. Akame's gone... He said to himself. I asked her to tell me when she's going to leave, but... She must have figured I wanted to come with her. The Captain's holding a war council with the Cabinet. I gotta find her on my own! I'm sure she didn't go far though. They're probably gonna meet somewhere close by when they're fighting... If I can hear screams explosions, anything... I just need a hint so I can find her! Akame, where the Hell are you?!

Despite being near the outskirts of the Capital, the gloomy Giyo Forest was known to be home to many dangerous Monsters, and humans usually strayed away from it. Somewhere in the forest's centre were the ruins of an abandoned church and graveyard, which Akame was sitting on, waiting.

"Big sister." Said Kurome, entering the ruins.

"There's someone with you." Said Akame. "Someone living."

"They're just there to make sure nobody interrupts our battle." Kurome assured. "They know exactly what I want. They're not interfering."

"So they're just here to see us off?" Akame questioned.

"I brought you some cookies." Said Kurome, handing a leather bag to her sister. "The drug-free kind."

Akame took a single cookie, sniffed it, and then ate it.

A small distance away between the trees, Mein was watching with Leone and Tatsumi. "How long before the poison kicks in?" Mein whispered.

"It should be instant." Said Tatsumi. "Akame must have trained to resist poisoning in the past."

"She probably figured out the cookies are poisoned from how they smell..." Said Leone. "Which means she's positive it won't work."

"Is Kurome really that confident that she'll be able to kill Akame on her own?" Tatsumi asked.

"She probably won't mind being killed as long as it's her sister who kills her..." Said Leone. "But if she does end up dying, we're stepping in and killing Akame on that instant."

"I see you remember all the training we did here." Said Kurome. "This brings back memories."

"Being here with you again... I must admit it calms me down." Said Akame.

"I know you like this feeling." Said Kurome. "I bet there's a part of you that wants to always feel it."

"We can remain together if you return with me." Akame promised. "Agree to work under Mistress Esdeath and she'll wipe all of your transgressions."

"I'm surprised, big sister..." Said Kurome. "Right now, you're in no position to make such a demand. You've seen time and time again that you have no chance to win against me... And if you somehow manage to survive The Empire's destruction in the final battle, our new country will do everything in its power to execute you. Surrender now... Let yourself be killed quickly and painlessly... And I'll be able to protect you."

"Kurome..." Akame said. "You've always been more stubborn than me. Up until you joined Night Raid, you were the most loyal to The Empire as well... Even when the Oarburgh clan tried to make us question it, you never faltered. I know you've always been devoted to changing the world and to the betterment of all people... But why did you decide to trust the Revolutionary Army? What makes you think the country they will build is going to be more just than this one, other than them saying it will? What makes you think they're not just feeding on the people's anger and using it as a chance to seize control for themselves?"

Kurome started to chuckle. "You still think I care about any of that crap?!" She laughed. "I don't want to change The Empire into anything. I want to destroy it! What the Revolutionary Army wants to build in its place won't matter to me one bit, just like the number of innocent people I've killed doesn't matter to me now! The Empire's fantasies of security, and the Revolutionary Army's fantasies of peace, they're all the same! I am fighting The Empire right now because I want to see it BURN, to see its people wallow in despair! That's all there is to it!!"

Akame gritted her teeth and unsheathed her sword. "Then the sister I used to love and treasure no longer exists." She said. "You've become an insane monster who's even more dangerous than the Revolutionary Army itself... And you've become exactly the kind of person that both of us have always train to kill. So no matter what... Even if The Empire is doomed to destruction... I swear I'm going to eliminate you!"

"That's the spirit." Kurome chuckled. "You have no way out now. Before the sun rises, you'll be the instrument that I will use to destroy the people you've sworn to protect!"

"COME AT ME!" Akame shouted, lunging forward with Yatsufusa and forcing Akame to block it, before the two started to clash blades and send destructive shockwaves across the forest. Before Akame could even notice, her shoulder and the sleeve of her coat were cut. Kurome was moving in erratic, unpredictable patterns as she was swinging her sword without restraint before cutting Akame's abdomen once more.

"Hurts, doesn't it?" Kurome chuckled. "Don't worry, it's going to end very soon."

"I'm not letting you!" Akame said. "All this time, I've been wielding Murasame like any other sword. I knew I'd die if I rely too much on its abilities as a Teigu instead of my swordsmanship... But this is do or die. I'll use everything my Teigu has to offer and kill you with one blow!"

"You think you'll have a better chance to hit me if you stop focusing on my vitals?" Kurome laughed. "The super-enhanced drugs I've got from Perfector were made specifically to fight you. Even your cursed venom isn't going to be able to kill me!" She said, lunging at Akame again and causing a shockwave that made the cathedral's pillars split in clean cuts. Akame violently swung back, but Kurome simply jumped backwards and pointed her sword forward, creating a black bolt of lightning that pushed Akame away.

"I see you've mastered Yatsufusa more than ever before..." Akame whispered. "But I have trained my Murasame, too. I've trained with Mistress Esdeath and found my own secret ability... No matter the consequences for what I'm about to do, I'll take you down right here, right now!"

Saying that, Akame pulled back the sleeve of her coat, held Murasame's blade above it... And cut her own wrist. Immediately, she convulsed in pain and closed her eyes as cursed markings began to spread across her arm... But somehow, they were different from before, their progress slower than usual.

"So this is some kind of self-destruct move...?" Kurome whispered. "Are you going to sacrifice your own life to destroy me? Hehehe... You're just going to make my job easier."

Akame could barely hear her sister. Her hearing and vision were blurring out before fading completely to black as the cursed venom was spreading through her body.

Then, she started to hear voices...

The voices of her fallen comrades, calling to her.

"We have to keep fighting, no matter what!" Said Seryu's voice. "Friends come and go, but justice lasts eternal!!"

"Be strong if you want to make a difference!" Said Ran's voice. "If you strive to change the world, you have to do it your own way!"

"I don't care what anyone thinks of us!" Said Borris' voice. "We'll pull through and claim victory, no matter what!"

"Wherever you go, you have your team's strength with you!" Said Dr. Stylish's voice. "All of us are strong, buy together we're invincible!!"

"You bear the last torch of the Elite Seven!" Said Gozuki's voice. "You're a flame that gives hopes to the people! You must never let it die!!!"

Then, in an instant, the cursed markings faded from Akame's skin, and a dark red aura surrounded her entire body, replacing them with larger, burning red markings complimenting her skin like tattoos. She opened her eyes, revealing her scleras turned black, her pupils turned to slits, and the black markings of the curse surrounded them as spinning rings.

"This is my secret technique!" Akame exclaimed. "CRIMSON RED WARHORN!!!

Chapter Text

"What the Hell is my big sister doing...?" Kurome asked, blown back by the pressure radiating from Akame.

Rising her sword in the air, Akame's aura surrounded Murasame's blade, erupted and formed into a gigantic crimson red sword, before Akame swung it once, creating a massive wave of demonic red energy which Kurome barely avoided.

Seconds later, Wave appeared above the ruined cathedral with Grand Chariot equipped. "AKAMEEEEE!!!" He screamed.

And then Tatsumi, equipping Incursio, appeared out of nowhere and kicked him through several pillars and into a wall. Akame's hand trembled for a moment, but she said nothing.

"Wave..." Said Tatsumi. "You've come to stop the fight, didn't you?"

"...Correct." Said Wave.

"I'm not letting you." Said Tatsumi.

"I don't care." Said Wave. "I'm ending this now. Get out of my way!"

"Not on my watch!" Said Tatsumi.

"Move out now, or I'll make you move!" Wave exclaimed, clashing his fist with Tatsumi and shaking the ruins. "I'm going to protect Akame, no matter what!"

"Akame wants this!" Tatsumi rebuked him.

Wave didn't answer. Instead, he swung Mastema's wing like a massive sword to push Tatsumi away, only to get shot in the back with an energy beam and then punched upwards by Tatsumi.

How is this guy so strong!? Wave thought. Even with Mastema, I can't square up to him. He only hit me twice and I'm almost dead!

"If you're that concerned with your teammate, you should respect her wishes, no matter what they are!" Said Tatsumi. "Get back up again and I'll kill you!"

"Like I'm letting you do this now..." Said Wave, struggling to get up. "You haven't seen what I'm capable of! GODLY WINGS!!!"

As Wave said that, his Mastema flared up into pure ethereal plasma. With more speed than ever before, he leaped into the air and disappeared, leaving a trail of divine energy at his wake.

"NEUNTOTE!!" Tatsumi screamed, summoning his enlarged spear.

"GRAND FALL! FLÜGEL!!" Wave shouted, lunging downwards in a dropkick that Tatsumi blocked with his spear and created an explosive shockwave.

"Whatever you're trying to pull off, it won't work!" Kurome insisted. "I'm still immune to your venom!!" She exclaimed, swinging her own sword and unleashing another bolt of black thunder. The lightning seemingly phased through Akame's body as if she weren't there, and a crescent red wave of energy was fired at Kurome from behind and nearly cut her in half. "That's an illusion!?" She gasped as she dodged it at the last second.

Once she said this, Akame suddenly appeared in front of Kurome, starting to teleport around her and surround her with afterimages that all struck Kurome at once, starting to lacerate her for the first time.

"This isn't over yet! I haven't even used my puppets!!" Kurome shouted as the Mortaghoul's bony fist punched Akame away before the whole beast rose, firing a plasma beam that Akame blocked with her sword - before launching it back as a slashing wave that Kurome was once again forced to dodge.

Instead of attacking again, Kurome smirked as she pulled out another bag full of golden super-enhanced cookies. She grabbed one of them, but right before she was about to eat it, Wave appeared out of nowhere, charging into the battlefield with his spear in hand.

Unfortunately for him, Kurome once again ducked down and ate the cookie anyway. "So you decided to defy my big sister's wish and come here anyway?" She asked. "Tough luck. Even with this secret ability, you're not strong enough for either of us!"

"Wave, get out of here!" Akame screamed in anger. "I told you that you can't stop this battle. You're just endangering yourself!"

"There were so many times that I wasn't here to help you when it mattered most..." Said Wave. "But not this time!"

"Get the fuck away from them!" Said Tatsumi, landing in between Akame and Wave.

"I'm not getting away!" Said Wave, removing his armor. "I'm ending this fight now, and I'll take Akame with me!"

"Didn't I tell you!?" Tatsumi asked. "Akame wants to settle it here!"

"He's right!" Akame agreed. "This fight is mine alone. Now turn back before you regret it!"

"Maybe a few days ago I would tell you I want to stop the fight out of concern for my fellow teammate..." Said Wave, slowly walking towards Akame. "But this is different."

"WAVE, YOU FUCKING MORON, BACK OFF NOW OR YOU'LL DIE!!" Akame cried out.

"I won't back off..." Said Wave, hugging Akame tight. "BECAUSE I LOVE YOU!!"

"What have you done..." Akame whispered.

Wave released his hug, convulsing in pain as cursed black markings spread across his arms. "What the..." He said. "Akame... I thought... You cared..."

Then, in an instant, Wave dropped to the floor, his heartbeats silenced.

"Wave..." Akame whispered. "You didn't even know..."

"The Crimson Red Warhorn..." Great General Esdeath said, flipping through the pages of an old book. "A terrifying ability even compared to Murasame itself. Using it would require you to leave behind your humanity, give it away as an offering to the sword and allow it to control you."

"If there's no other way, I won't hesitate..." Said Akame. "But... What kind of power could possibly be worth trading my own life for...?"

"The power to become one with Murasame and its curse." Said Esdeath. "If you perform this sacrifice, then your own soul will become cursed. There's detail about various magical abilities that were documented, but most importantly... You will carry the curse to everything you touch. Should you carry other weapons beside Murasame, or even wield magic like my own ice, the one-cut kill curse will taint them as well. And if anyone touches your body while the secret technique is active... The venom will kill them."

"Is this the price of Murasame's power...?" Akame wept, the cursed aura around her body flickering and fading, leaving only the red marks on her skin as painful scars. She dropped to her knees, holding Wave's body in her arms, tears running down her face. "Why did you have to come here, Wave!? After everyone else we've lost, I knew I couldn't bear to lose you! I didn't want you to interrupt my battle because I wanted you to be safe even if I die! We've seen so many people give their life to protect our country, but now you've died for nothing... And it's my fault! Why couldn't you listen to me for once in your goddamn li-"

Suddenly, Akame's monologue was cut short as the blade of Yatsufusa impaled her through the chest, killing her instantly. "Wave didn't die for nothing..." Kurome whispered as she pulled the blade out. "His sacrifice ensured that we'll always be together... Big sister."

Tatsumi backed off, his armor fading. Even he was shocked to see this. "Kurome..." He whispered.

"You couldn't possibly believe I was going to keep my promise that I'll fight fair and square, could you now?" Kurome said, completely calmly, as she walked back.

"That settles it." Said Leone, entering the ruins. "That moron came here on his own. There were no other intruders with him."

Mein was following close behind. "I knew how determined you were to get what you want..." She muttered. "But using someone's death as a distraction to kill their comrade is just sick."

"What were you expecting her to do? Die?" Leone asked.

"In all honesty, I don't think Akame would have wanted to continue the fight after this..." Said Tatsumi.

"She absolutely would." Said Kurome. "As soon as she was done crying over him, she'd be more intent on killing me than ever."

"How can you be so sure of that?" Mein asked. "She was acting differently than anything she's been before."

"If you don't believe me..." Kurome whispered. "Then why won't you ask her?"

Pointing Yatsufusa high up in the air, Kurome fired a bolt of black lightning that was bigger and stronger than anything she's released before. Cackling like a natural thunder, the lightning swooped down and filled Akame's corpse, making the red scars on her body and the hole in her chest heal up immediately. Akame's body was surrounded by an aura of black lightning, signifying the high amount of magic she was charged with, as she rose up... And then immediately knelt.

"I am forever under your command, my Mistress."

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