Dark Heroes Unite in Tokyo Hell!

The sky isn’t supposed to be this color. The sky isn’t supposed to be magenta.

Somehow, that was the first thing she noticed, not the spinning remains of a skyscraper floating about where one would expect to see clouds. Nor the smell, constant sulfur worse than that time stuck out by a highway on a school trip. The sky looks wrong, and it needs fixing.

To describe the place flooded in darkness where she now sat as "Tokyo" felt like a cruel joke, one in a series fate had played upon her in the past few years. Yet that was what the inhabitants of Shinjuku, miles away by now, called it.

She had marched onward unyieldingly, crossing broken paths, giving up her companions to the thin rays of light that empowered them and the listless demons that begged to fuse them, and in her wake leaving a mountain of demonic corpses. Yet now she only wished to yield; nothing had changed, the yawning abyss had only grown.

She slowed, then stopped, at a boulder on one of the sturdiest floating islands in this layer of the abyss. Her footfells grew harder and harder, her heels grinding deeper and deeper into the coarse sand and rock. It was here that she paused her journey, dismissing her demons with a flick of her wrist and a few button presses on her phone. She sat down on the boulder and threw her body forward, face into her waiting hands, elbows digging into knees.

Why, she wondered, hadn’t she given up? Why didn’t stop at Shinagawa and live there, knowing that she’d given them a path to some kind of future? Why didn’t she stop even sooner, when she first spoke again to that man? Why didn’t she demand that he, not they, make up for the world’s destruction? She’d trusted him, and he’d failed. She’d trusted the Acolytes, and they’d failed. She’d once trusted her friends, and they’d failed.

And the Tokyo Abyss? It was accurately named, she now realized, because everything in it was a mockery, a microcosm of what she’d been doing up to this point. No matter how much blood she shed, hers and others, and no matter how hard she tried, no matter how much she might cry or sweat, the needle had not moved. The world was as destroyed as it always was. All she was doing now was preventing it from getting worse, or at least that’s what she’d believed she was doing. What if this didn’t help, too? What if this failed?

She couldn’t fix her life, she couldn’t fix her organization, she couldn’t fix the world. And now she thought she could fix the sky? Or any of this? It was ridiculous. That’s all she was.

She did not see the pair of yellow eyes approaching her out of the darkness. Only her companion Pixie, whose words did not reach her, took notice.

A shrill, high pitched voice pierced the darkness. “A defender of justice with a heart of fire and fists of ice! I am Frost Ace, the dark hero of this chaotic world-ho!”

She gave the munchkin a sidelong glance and looked back at Pixie. Then back at the source of the interruption. A Jack Frost dressed for Chiba in October.

Ten silent seconds passed. The churning of the abyss was as muffled as the demon’s movement had been inside that tacky little suit. It became clear that the little yellow eyes were as busy sizing her up as she was trying to assess the situation. But he wasn’t hostile, that much was clear.

Before Pixie could speak again, she addressed the pint-sized one. “There’s not much of a world left, is there?”

The squat one looked around. “That’s not true-ho! There’s a reason you must have come down here, to address one as fashionably late as I, ho.”

Her shoulders sank. “Hee… ho.”

The gesture caught Pixie’s attention. “Hey, it’s not like you to play along with fairies! I should know! Are you finally turning over a new leaf? What’s up, miss Black, White, and Gloomy All Over?”

Before she could think to interrupt her Pixie friend, Frost Ace spoke up. “A sidekick in training-ho! Your outfit was carefully chosen to match the cool colors on my suit of justice. I sense that our meeting-ho was fate!”

Defeated by the presence of two fairies with more enthusiasm than she could ever muster, the one formerly known as Newbie went from languishing to lounging. This way she could look at both of the peppy demons without craning her neck. Maybe the Frost, who was barely up to her knees, would consider it comfortable as well. She needed a break, even though neither the Frost nor Pixie were likely to give her one.

“What’s your story, faithful sidekick-ho?”

The lady glared back, and Pixie felt a need to speak up in the moment. “It’s long, sad and complicated.”

“Oh! Just what I’d expect from one who would follow the path of the faithful Frost fist-ho! I sense we have much in common.”

Pixie didn’t have a snappy comeback to that one, not one that wouldn’t make the lady feel worse. The woman in black and white just hummed in mild acknowledgement.

“You must be headed to the source of this disaster then! Heroically going where few humans would dare-ho. I figure that we have at least a couple hundred Seraphs, some flat-headed Surts, some annoying birdly creatures-ho.”

Strategy, this is something that the woman could understand. She snapped: “Black Frosts, too. They don’t seem like the type you’d have an easy time with.”

For a moment she could swear that the Frost blinked, or that he started to perspire. Can Jack Frosts perspire? Nonetheless, the moment was brief. “Nothing I can’t handle with the right skills-ho!”

Yes, like Batman, any foul beast or ne’er-do-well could be beaten given time, and the right prep. Frost Ace was right about that. Though he might be mistaken about who, exactly, would be the sidekick here.

“Like Robin,” she responded with a very faint smile.

As she stood from the rock and took a few tentative steps forward, towards Frost Ace, she had to steady herself. Her body had taken a little too well to its first break in what must have been hours. Frost Ace, meanwhile, had a stubby hand to his mouth, pondering what she’d just said. Maybe he hadn’t seen Batman.

She cocked her head in the direction of the next shimmering crimson doorway of many. “Let’s go.”