A Fight to the Death at the Anniversary Celebration (Part 6)
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|Stein gives his answer to Medusa's invitation to be treasonous to Shibusen, as he and his opponent find themselves at a standstill in their battle. Meanwhile, the battle between Medusa's army and Stein's students regarding the Kishin's resurrection comes to a conclusion that will forever change this world.|
Death City Underground
Franken Stein complains that he lacks time to be delayed by his fight with Medusa Gorgon when her army is so close to the Seal Shrine. But Medusa kicks at Stein, who manages to block with his wrist. Medusa falls back, stabbing her Tail Snake into the floor. Stein tries to kick at this location but she dodges back, again planting her tail and keeping almost perfect balance on it, deftly maneuvering around whatever attack Stein makes and blocking his path towards the Seal Shrine.
While Sten is unsure how to proceed due to these distractions, his Death Scythe, Spirit Albarn, says Stein has "lost his edge" after having not "actually fought anyone for so long." Stein tells Spirit to quiet so he may retrieve that edge. While Spirit grows gloomy at this remark, Stein notices the stone knocked from the wall. He realizes that his curiosity drives him, so he must determine what motivates that curiosity. At that moment, Spirit notices Stein's tension escape his body, yet he struggles to figure out this man, "the strongest meister at DWMA" and "a sadistic hedonist." Stein cracks his neck, brings his left hand to the side of his head to adjust his screw, and announces his goal: "I want to dissect you." Medusa thinks Stein is "cute" and desires to "tease" him, while a nervous Spirit reminds himself of his mission since childhood: to "control this crazy idiot."
Death Weapon Meister Academy, Second Campus (flashback)
A boy is knocked into a tree, pleading with his tormentor to stop this assault. His opponent, the child Franken Stein, smirks at the "wreck" before him. "What should I do with you?" he teases his new subject: "Cut you? Gouge you? Pull out your insides?" As Stein settles on euthanasia, a hand drops onto his shoulder and orders him to stop. The child behind him, Spirit Albarn, tells Stein that this opponent is not on Death's kill list. Stein tries to silence his colleague: "I'll do what I want to." Spirit is adamant, so Stein lets go of the child.
Spirit then asks why Stein acts as such: "Did you think that once you got into DWMA, you could do whatever you wanted?" Stein replies that he wishes he lived in a godless world, shocking Spirit before Stein claims he was kidding: "A world like that would be sick."
Death City Underground
Stein smirks, repeating that he will tear apart Medusa. Medusa seems undeterred, dodging Stein's blow and again asking that he join her in her plan to made this world evolve: "This kind of monotonous world where nothing ever changes doesn't suit you."
Stein interrupts Medusa's invitation to tell her about the time when doctors had come to analyze his "violent tendencies and selfish disposition." Stein thought these doctors viewed him like some mystery novel to solve, but all Stein wanted to do was cut apart those doctors. Medusa thinks he is comparing her to one of those doctors, but he disagrees with her and continues as he renews his attacks, all of which Medusa dodges with her Tail Snake and Vector Arrows: in kindergarten, he was disgusted at the way his classmates followed the teacher's instructions and take notes. Medusa feels similarly disgusted--at Stein's long-winded story.
While Medusa thinks this story insults her, Stein explains he is simply answering her invitation: with age, Stein gained power, which allowed him "free rein to the madness inside of me." He asks Medusa what curbed his madness, and she answers fear. Stein agrees, claiming it was his fear of the kind of person he could--yet he still had fun with his kind of behavior. Stein desires "not an annoying system put up by a king to serve his own self-interest, but a system set up by a god without arrogance." Medusa repeats her invitation for Stein to join her, but Stein sees her behavior as the kind of arrogance he despises. Medusa disagrees, thinking such "arrogance will become the norm, and even you will have to obey."
Medusa adds that Stein's attacks are useless against her, as she circles Vector Arrows around her forearm to form a point, which she drills into Stein's chest. Spirit then realizes that all of Stein's "forceful attacks" only brought his meister closer to Medusa to initiate this kind of an attack. But Stein, preparing another hand strike, still persists that he cannot join Medusa so long as he feels like he is "committing heresy against Shinigami-sama." Medusa realizes her words will never convince Stein, as he repeats his desire to "tear [her] to pieces without feeling like a heretic." Medusa suggests such work on behalf of Death is how Stein channels his madness, as she fires more Vector Arrows towards her opponent.
But before the Arrows can strike Stein, he has charged his Soul Menace attack, thrusting it into Medusa's chest and through her back. While Stein's attack seems impressive, Spirit realizes his meister took too much damage for such a comparatively minor attack against Medusa. Granted, Medusa coughs blood and is suspended by Stein's hand in her chest, her feet only touching the floor. Nevertheless, Medusa claims she overestimated Stein's abilities and prepares her Tail Snake above Stein's head to decapitate him. Undeterred, Stein tells Spirit to focus, and it seems the Death Scythe realizes Stein's actual plan.
Medusa's Tail Snake descends for Stein's neck--and stops. Medusa feels her entire body is frozen. Stein explains he has completed Soul Thread Diffuse Sutures. Yet Medusa sees no stitches anywhere on her body--until Stein shows that he has succeeded in spreading such sutures across her entire body through her nervous system. As such, the tip of Medusa's Tail Snake is just against Stein's neck but can move no further. Yet as Stein is trying to catch his breath, Medusa realizes the scientist is too focused on maintaining these sutures to even move, hence he cannot use Spirit to cut her apart. Spirit as well is struggling to maintain his resonance with Stein to sustain the sutures. Medusa mocks Stein, saying he has made a last-ditch effort: he wants to see which of them can move more swiftly--will Stein be able to slice her apart the moment he withdraws his sutures? Medusa knows her Tail Snake is too fast for him to dodge this immediate attack: he will die, hence the Kishin will be resurrected.
Eruka Frog is surprised that Asura is contained in just that bag of skin chained to the shrine. Free explains that this shrine, a Goshintai, has been corrupted in appearance by the Kishin's own madness, much as it gave him and Eruka their hallucinations.
Eruka sets down the attache case and performs her chant and hand gestures, which cause the case to open on its own and for its containing vial of Black Blood and syringe to levitate and assemble in her hands. Eruka fills the syringe with Black Blood as Free tells her to hurry with the injection before "the brats" arrive.
Before Eruka may inject the syringe, Death the Kid skates into the room atop Beelzebub. He attempts to slam his skateboard into Eruka, but he is blocked by Free, whose presence knocks Kid back. Undeterred, the shinigami backflips, aims, and prepares to fire upon Free. Then Kid finds his ankles are restrained by the scarves of Asura himself. Surprised, Kid fires upon Asura--but he is firing only open empty space and pillars. Free realizes Kid is hallucinating from the Kishin's madness and again directs Eruka to inject the Black Blood. Then Free feels Asura's hand again smash through his chest and out his back. Meanwhile, Kid closes his eyes and focuses on breathing, as he and Free awake themselves from this illusion.
Reawakened, Kid aims again upon Eruka, and again Free blocks his path. Kid fires upon Free, who admits that, as he is no longer using Forwarding Vision, these rounds of Kid's own soul wavelength are impactful. Kid says that, even if he may not fire upon Eruka, as long as he aims at her, Free will be occupied--which means the arriving Black Star can focus on attacking Eruka. At that moment, the ninja dashes into the room and past Kid. Kid reminds Black Star not to fall under Asura's madness, but Black Star assures his colleague that, with his "really dull" sixth sense, no madness will affect him. Kid chuckles in recognition as Black Star leaps over Free, transforms Tsubaki Nakatsukasa into Uncanny Sword Mode, and prepares to slice Eruka's syringe.
Eruka turns to face Black Star. She quickly forms a Tadpole Bomb that, although newly made and hence weaker than her usual attacks, still can knock back Black Star. While her bomb indeed repels Black Star, it also knocks her back, along with her hat and the syringe, which slides along the floor. Seeing the Black Blood separated from Eruka, Black Star dashes to destroy it. Before Eruka can respond, she feels something wet pour over her head--and this liquid turns out to be Asura's drool! Eruka shuts her eyes to calm herself against this illusion, managing to remove it. But Black Star is already before the Black Blood, ready to slice the syringe apart--when the exhausted Tadpole Jackson, who has entered the Shrine, uses his tail to knock the syringe out of Black Star's path, through the air, and into Eruka's hands. The witch congratulates her familiar--then sees Black Star is pummeling Jackson in frustration for interfering.
But Eruka has no time to stop Black Star: she decides to make Tadpole Jackson's determination worthwhile by using his provided distraction to begins the difficult task of shoving the syringe through the tough hide of the Kishin's sealed bag so to inject the Black Blood. Black Star, having left the injured Tadpole Jackson on the floor dazed, dashes to stop Eruka. Free and Kid urge their respective teammates to hurry. Black Star feels the Uncanny Sword has caused him to reach his limit, yet still he persists even if Tsubaki's form tears his muscles to shreds. Black Star leaps, bringing down his weapon through the vial of Black Blood before Eruka can fully place the syringe. Black Blood spills along the wooden floor as Eruka stares, empty-handed and shocked. "No way the Kishin can be resurrected now!" Black Star brags.
Death City Underground
Meanwhile, Stein and Spirit still struggle to focus their soul wavelengths so to sustain the Soul Thread Sutures across Medusa's body. Stein recognizes he has "about an 80 or 90 percent chance" of being beheaded by Medusa's Tail Snake suspended just at his neck. Yet Stein is not thinking of his potential beheading: "All I can see is Medusa getting torn to shreds!" A mad smile forms on Stein's face, depending on this image of destroying Medusa to motivate him to survive.
The underground begins to shake. Medusa looks surprised, while Spirit wonders what is happening.
Within the Kishin's sealed bag, Asura's face appears, his third eye glowing, and a thumping sound echoing.
Death City, aboveground
The sky seems to shatter into pieces but does not fall down. Instead, clouds are circling around the Academy, as the three dots above the Academy have transformed into the Kishin's three eyes, giving off an electrical charge that strikes lightning int the shape of the Kishin's eyes to the street below.
Death City Underground
Stein tries to keep his focus. Medusa looks pleased. Spirit senses madness dominating the area around them: he realizes that Kid's team failed to prevent the Kishin's resurrection.
A shadow has formed below the suspended bag containing the Kishin, with eyes forming in this shadow. Wind seems to escape out of the bag itself and swirls around the room with a roar. The bag itself undulates, as if someone is pushing its way out.
Eruka is stunned by her success at injecting the Black Blood while Free smirks. Kid closes his eyes, asking Black Star, "What have you done?" Black Star is confused, as he remembers slicing the syringe before Eruka could inject the Black Blood. Kid corrects him: "Your ridiculous strength worked against you." He points to the Goshintai, as Black Star's attack sliced that shrine, not Eruka's syringe. "You were so focused on destroying the Black Blood," Kid explains, "you ended up calling on your sixth sense," which caused Black Star to fall for Asura's madness-induced illusion. Black Star falls onto his behind and turns to see behind him: the syringe of Black Blood was indeed injected by Eruka. Black Star finally falls to the floor, overwhelmed by his physical weakness and his failure.
Death City Underground
Meanwhile, as the ceiling above them rumbles, Spirit is shocked at their failure to prevent Asura's resurrection. Medusa begins laughing at her victory--and so does Stein, who lets out a mad cackle as with one sweep of his Death Scythe, he dismembers Medusa before her Tail Snake can decapitate him, severing Medusa at her forms, waist, and tail. Medusa's smirk is frozen on her face as her dying body falls back, releasing blood that forms in Vector Arrows flying above Stein, sprinkling on his face. Then, from Medusa's now severed waist, more blood explodes upward, her snakes escaping in the form of arrows and dissolving as well into blood that is now raining upon the cackling Stein. Dying, her upper body now on the floor, Medusa is no longer in a smirk, yet as the blood drips from her mouth, she smiles and gives a slight, loving laugh at her opponent.
Stein removes a match and lights it, shielding its flame from the blood raining onto him. "What a hollow victory," he complains, before lighting his cigarette. He tells Medusa, "When you knew the Kishin had been resurrected, for a moment, you had such a sense of accomplishment that it left an opening." He lifts his head to look at the blood raining onto him. He exhales his smoke. "How ironic. I won because of the Kishin...In the end, I lost." Stein extends his arms and begins laughing at how, despite his failure, he still feels refreshed.
The blood's explosion out of Medusa's body has stopped. Her lower body falls as her legs give out. Medusa turns her head to the right as she lays dying.
Flaps of the Kishin's sealed bag flake off, forming hand-like scarves as electricity crackles around it, barely missing Eruka, who still stands before the bag, and Black Star, who is still collapsed behind it. Kid refuses to give p, firing multiple rounds at the bag. The explosive power of his rounds sweep past Eruka and kick up dust, but as Free observes, the rounds cause no damage to the bag.
Eruka then notices the bag bulge, then form what appears like a face, as she realizes Asura is emerging. Kid explains Asura's skin is stretching and sticking to him. From this bulge form a spine and what appear to be hands and arms all fused to the back of Asura's head. The fingers stretch loose, reforming Asura's hands--whose fingers begin furiously scratching along the hardwood floor. The fingers freeze, as what appear a mouth and eyes open on this the face. The head collapses, and a sinister smile forms on Asura's face.
- Spirit claims Stein has not "actually fought anyone for so long." He does not refer to Stein's fight against Maka and Black Star, perhaps considering that remedial lesson as only a faux-battle, or his fight against Crona and his first fight against Medusa.
- Stein claims he desired "a system set up by a god without arrogance," suggesting he sees Death and perhaps Kid as gods without arrogance.
- The panels in the Kishin's Seal Shrine use not a white or black backdrop but a gray backdrop, perhaps foreshadowing how Asura's madness toys with perception not only of the characters but of readers who initially think Black Star successfully destroyed the Black Blood syringe before the truth is revealed.