Categories > Anime/Manga > .hack//Sign > Sterile Skies

First Night's Work

by Kasan_Soulblade 0 reviews

Some profanity... and the scene between Balmung and Orca is inspired by Balmung's letter to Kite, describing his girl problems.

Category: .hack//Sign - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama,Sci-fi - Warnings: [!!] - Published: 2012-10-05 - Updated: 2012-10-05 - 2498 words - Complete

Sterile skys
chapter 8
First night's work

Nose in book, eyes pointedly focusing on anything but her Satoshi checked a sigh. He hadn't wanted to seem mean, but no was no after all. And all the good intents in the world could not revoke a negative. She sniffled, and to that he looked up. With tears in her eyes, her lower lip trembling, she stood before him, all but shaking as the full force of his refusal hit home.

Idly, he thought her unspeakably fragile, delicate, but not beautiful then. As she wavered between those violate violent impulses that an emotional explosion always was prelude too he was faintly irritated. He'd told her time and time again, he wasn't interested, yet here she was acting like...

"Wh.. why not?"

"Because I'm not going to the dance." To her suffering he set his text aside. "I've got work."

"But after..." Her voice rose with hope, a false hope, one he would not allow.

Still, a part of him almost wished it was otherwise. That he could feel otherwise. He shook his head, met her gaze, refusing to be a coward.

About them, beyond them but surely listening, was a flux and tide of students. The cafeteria was half full, slowly filling as first lunch bled into second lunch and the peoples getting their food and tarrying to avoid classes mixed and mingled.

And listened in to something that should have been private, and this would have been private had she taken his hint and they'd stepped outside.

"I've got graveyard shift. I won't be done until after midnight, it would be too late to do anything then." His returning aggravation added a bite to his tone he'd have paid handsomely to have left out.

Especially when he saw the wetness gathering about her eyes.

"Can't you ask for the day off?" Her voice rose, shook, hitting and sticking at that shrill irritating note that precluded a screaming fit.

Shaking his head, hoping that if he held to silence he'd stall off her anger, Satoshi stuffed his hands into his pockets, all to better hide how they were clenching.

"This job's more important than me, than us?"

"We're friends..." He began, striving to soften his voice, striving for control. It was deliberate counter to what he knew was coming, a desperate attempt to muffle... "That's all."

"You promised!" Efforts aside, she'd hit full volume and was screaming at the top of her lungs.

Considering her... umm.. Endowments it was suffice to say she had very well developed lungs.

"No." Hands hurting from their fists, he gathered his courage and held it tight. "As a matter of fact I didn't promise. I said if I was available to go we could go as friends. I'm not available, I can't become available, and I'm giving you a week and a half to find someone who is."

To his logic, scrutiny, and placid seeming mix of compassion and indifference, something in her broke. Snatching the small carton of milk off of his plate that was to be his drink she threw it in his face. Too startled to even think of blocking he took the hit, then with her shaking in front of him like a storm made human incarnate he flicked off dribbles of white off his face. When he'd found a splatter too large to be brushed away (bits of it sliding down his neck besides) he turned from her, snatching up a napkin and began to scrub the stuff off.

"You arrogant, pig headed, insensitive, bastard, that's what you are!"

Refusing to give her what she wanted, a scene, he grunted. Choking down the urge to give her as good as she'd given him. With a screech she stormed off, throwing her hands in the air, screaming profanities so rushed they sounded like snippets of vindictive arcana. With a low growl he clenched his hands, crumpled the napkin and swallowed something hard, something bitter, and jagged. When in more control over himself he let the napkin fall, stood, and went to get another one.

When it hit the table, after his careless toss, the edges were torn, the tears frayed. His grip had been so tight he'd been rending what he held and had never even noticed.


"There's some inverse cosmic law in effect in my life." Balmung groused, shaking powdered ice and bits of snow from himself as he stood.

"Really?" Sword out and glowing a familiar red, Orca waved it about, standing protectively over his downed friend. The monster that was contemplating a late dinner of winged player had second thoughts. Though it had no eyes to swerve about to look for routes to run away on, it swerved its blockish frame first left than right, dithering. With a low whine the deadly present and its one HP skittered away, yowling like a beat dog. Closing his menu, level one fire scroll disappearing in a puff of smoke, the Azure Sea chuckled.

"And that's that."

Still running, ribboned bells that adorned its top all a jingle, the box ran off on spider legs it's yelps quickly fading due to distance

"You know, the last time you said that." Raking a hand through his hair, setting bits of ice to falling the Azure sky winced as they fell against the base of his neck, luckily his armor kept them from sliding down and getting caught halfway down his back. "You took exactly three steps doing some would be victory dance and triggered the gate for One S-"


"I'm just saying..." Balmung grinned, shaking off his melancholy somewhat.

With a hiss and spit that made him jump the whole world went... grey, just for a second. It was like an oldster's television that had bunny ears, and someone had nudged the antenna a hair too far to the right. Frantically looking left and right, as the white noise rose in pitch, he stood alone, no snow, no ground, nothing but flecks of grey on white. Then, one blink, one earful of static later and with a ringing headache settling into the front of his skull besides, and everything was back to normal. Orca was back where he belonged. Heaven and earth were where they were meant to be, and the cold rushed back in, a welcome sensation when compared to the... the nothing he'd endured for those few yet too many moments.

Thank god.

"Man oh man, what in Hell was that!" Rubbing his head as Balmung wished he could, Orca looked around, staggered a few steps.

Three to be exact.

Form the edge of sight, above and beyond them both, a band of gold snapped, sending precious sparkles in the sky.

"Wonderful." Balmung grumbled, drawing his blade and turning to face the red "enemy" tag his fairy orb was letting him see.

"What?" Orca whimpered, nursing his head.

"We've got company."

"Well that's peachy." The Azure Sea sighed, lifting his blade, that familiar glow back again.

"Peachy?" Balmung managed not to laugh, God knew it took effort not too, and his voice hitched ever so slightly from the strain of it all.


"Never mind."

With a series of crunches to allude that whatever comith was well... massive, Azure Sea and Azure Sky pivoted to where the red tag pointed. Nothing was there, save a block of clear blue ice and a fantastically colored (though considering they were long extinct it could have been accurate, grey with flecks of black and white just didn't seem.. well right in Balmung's mind.. but still there was room for interpretation) tyrannosaurus trapped within. "Much cooler than that Mammoth, last water field, isn't it Balmung?" Orca had teased. To the pun more than anything else Balmung had dropped his dignity for as long as it took to make a snowball and throw it. A quick snowball fight had ensued, only stopped when they'd been interrupted by the approach of a lone Deadly Present.

And, well that little skiff was the stuff of the past. The snow crunching, invisible whatever it was was the stuff of the present, or rather encroaching future. Spying a smear of purple (purple?) behind the ice the Azure sky sighed. Whatever it was would come when it was ready, no point in waiting in battle pose, it would encourage the fan artists. Sheathing his blade, content just to watch and wait for whatever was ambling near, Balmung sighed.

"Alright, what's up?"


Leveling a glare, the Azure Sea didn't have to say anything, and Balmung didn't have to turn to get the message in Orca's eyes. One of the quirks of being best friends, he supposed. Limited telepathy.

"I've got girls throwing themselves at me here. Platoons of them." Balmung sighed, thinking of other events a world away. "Yet the one's out of the World, they call me... well called me a... and umm... I just can't seem to win."

"Balmung." Looking back ignoring the monster for the moment, the red light of Orca's sword dimmed as Orca met his friend's baffled gaze. "You've got fan girls and fan boys here."

"What's the difference?"

The crunch of snow being smashed was delegated to mere background noise for them both, never mind the volume was increasing as the noise's originator closed in.

"Seriously?" Orca sputtered. "You don't know?"

"What?" Balmung snapped, starting to get more than a little annoyed by the patronizing note to his partner's voice.

"No wonder you've got girl problems out there." Orca muttered.

Only catching something about "problems" Balmung scowled, forgetting the monster completely.

"Now I'm curious, what did you say?"

Before Orca could explain (or try to avoid answering, the expression on his face saying clearly he was going to at least put up some effort in that direction) there was a deep toned rumble reminiscent of a gong being struck. Both blade master's started, and turned to stare at the purple, hulking, turtle before them. A Gaia Turtle, their experience and fairy orbs told them, just a second too late. Above the still beast's head, wreathed and birthed in coils of black smoke, dripping dark muck as if it had been salvaged from some unspeakable quagmire, was a statue. Cast in concrete, not quite a woman, yet too old to be considered little, was a girl. Her no color eyes were wide, her mouth parted in a mute cry, she stared at them from her cruel impalement. Starting from her back and thrusting through her heart, the tip of the spear that ran her through was mercifully hidden by her prayerfully clasped hands. She stared at them, stone eyes terrorized, weeping black tears.
Then, form her soundlessly screaming mouth, bats spilled out in a swarm, their black wings and shrill cries stealing light and sound.


"It's… the first time in... well years since I've "Game Over"ed and it was odd besides."
Hands clasped around the mug of something (he hadn't read the menu, only pointed to something to make the servile NPC go away), eyes distant, he looked through Lios rather than at him. Wings folded tight, he held in a shiver... and a yawn. A testament to the hour, one oh eight am at last check. Mac Anu's tavern was all but empty, only NPC's and the Admin and newbie Moderator staking the place out as their own. Tilting his head, he listened to a few bar of Dessert Night play on and on, and wished for a moment he'd chosen something more lively. Something more prone to keeping him awake.

It was late, and he was feeling it.

"Odd how?" Lios asked sounding too damned awake for the one whatever it was.

"First, I was in a party, though the summoned attack hit us both graphically only I took damage. Despite Orca being in my party I was forced to log out as if we weren't together."

"That is odd." Lios conceded.

"Despite the very high quality of armor I was wearing I took 9999 damage," Balmung continued. "And I'm not quite sure of this... you might want to check if you can... but I think I lost X.P after logging in."

"You aren't sure?" A bushy eyebrow rose.

"No. I stopped paying attention to X.P. after level number two."

A wry chuckle and smile served as Lios' reply.

"It wasn't umm.. indigenous to the area, that Gaia Turtle. Not in a water area, not in a snow bound field running amok with Deadly Presents."

"It might have been randomized. It does happen you know." Lios countered.

"One with magical tolerance, level one hundred and twenty, with dark spells despite scanning under a fairy orb as being earth element?" Balmung snapped.

"Fair enough." Lios slurped tea that wasn't.

Sliding the untouched mug of... whatever, from hand to hand, studying the grain of the wooden table, Balmung said nothing. A soft click at slurps conclusion told him Lios was done. Still, he didn't look up, wondering about that span.

That span where nothing had happened, nothing had been. Comforting himself that it was just a glitch, nothing more than a randomized system fail, Balmung sighed. Orca had thought it was the same, and was nothing to worry about, a little startling but... Hed' trust his partner on this one, like always.

"Anything else?" Lios barked.

"I logged back in." Balmung reported. "Came to Mac Anu, and reported to you right away."
And, to that, Lios smiled, losing some of the hardness to his gaze.

"Orca got anything to report?"

"No, I think his Mother caught him playing after bed again. I got a really garbled text message from him that looked like someone was trying to say something before the phone was wrenched out of their hands."

Another chuckle, the crinkle lines about Lios' eyes multiplies as he smiled, knowingly. "That happen a lot?"

Rolling his eyes Balmung let out a chuckle all his own. "You would not believe."
Chuckle became laugh and despite the raspy and worn edge to his voice, the man named after a lion laughed well enough.

"Have a sip, tell me how it tastes then we'll go over it again from the top. Step by step, I'll need to know what portal you triggered so we can find it and shut it down."

"What do you think caused it?"

"Probably a hacker got his hands on some monster data and tweaked the level and settings a bit." Lios sighed. "It happens sometimes." Then, drumming up a scowl Lios glowered at his underling. "Didn't I give you an order?"

Smiling wide, Balmung nodded, ever a mute "yes sir" if there was one, before taking a draw of the... whatever… it was. It tasted good, was sweet yet not too much so. He savored it for a while, and Lios let him loiter a bit over texture and tastes before clearing his throat. To that prompt the Azure Sky swallowed, nodded, and got back to work.
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