Ezio arrived at the pillar of light with Bruce in time to see Gilgamesh and co. "Dio mio, the apple- what's happened to it?" he said. "Did either of you bastardi have anything to do with it?"
"Don't you go accusing us! It was like this when we found it!" Gilgamesh said, holding the Apple in his hand. "Either way, you can't have it. It's ours, we found it."
"Hand it over, Gilgamesh." Exdeath said, extending an arm to him, his palm facing up. Gilgamesh walked down the steps towards Exdeath, but he was interrupted when a man in strange clothing ran towards him with great acrobatic stunts, quickly catching up to him and snatching the Apple without a word, then ran away the same way he came from. Gilgamesh wasn't quick enough to react. "H-hey! Come back here! That's ours!"
"After him, you imbecile!" Exdeath said angrily as he hovered after the man, Kuja following after him. Once the Apple was out of the pillar, the pillar slowly disappeared, leaving no trail. Gilgamesh followed after Kuja and Exdeath. The man was quick on his feet, but Exdeath and Kuja were quick while hovering too.
Ezio growled under his breath. "Damn Borgia," he swore, taking chase. Batman, however, fired his Bat-Claw at the messenger and tugged him off his feet. Ezio kept sprinting, grabbing the messenger by the throat and trying to wrestle the Apple away.
"No! You will not have it!" the Borgia messenger said, trying to keep the Apple away from Ezio. After much struggling, he threw it away. It landed at the feet of a man wearing a red cape, in a chestplate over his normal clothes, with black hair and a black beard. He picked up the Apple. "It would seem that the Apple of Eden has become corrupted judging by its shadowy glow, my dear Ezio." It was Cesare Borgia, and he flashed a cheeky smile. "No matter. It will still serve its purpose."
"Its purpose is to bring me power." Exdeath said, landing beside Ezio and the Borgia messenger. "And who might you be?" Cesare asked with a displeased tone. "Who I am matters not. You will give me that object, then be cast to the Void."
"I am afraid I cannot do that." Cesare chuckled. "You see, I hold the Apple. All its powers belong to me now. Even hidden ones that this strange glow its giving off might have given the Apple. I will use it to usher in a new era for mankind."
"You speak so confidently, yet you do not show us this supposed power." Kuja mocked Cesare.
"It is power you want to see, no? Then it is power you shall get." Cesare held the Apple high and a shield formed around him. "First off, some protection. One can never have enough of it. Considering no mortal man can kill me, and I can see you are no mere mortals, protection is needed. Secondly..." He still held it high and felt himself getting stronger, faster, and more agile.
Reimu had hardly taken flight again when the piercing noise cut through her head again, louder than before. Worried that it might be the influence of the world around her, she pulled one hand away from her temple long enough to say, "Have...to...leave..."
"Cesare! I killed you!" Ezio said, his sword drawn and hidden gun cocked. "What sorcery is this?"
Batman looked to Cesare. "Must be some kind of force field," he said. "But I can't find a generator to take it down."
"I am very much alive as you can see, Ezio. However, in a few moments, the same cannot be said about you." Cesare chuckled again and turned to Batman. "There is no 'generator' for this. This is all thanks to the Apple."
Cesare generated a sort of chain on the Apple and placed it around his neck. "A display of my power is needed, according to the girly man. And a display you will have!" At a great speed, Cesare ran up to Kuja, who barely managed to dodge a punch from the former. "Good, but not good enou-" Kuja couldn't finish his sentence when Cesare had suddenly turned around and his fist connected with Kuja's stomach, sending him flying into the air with a ping sound in the distance. "A small display of my powers." He flashed a smile before going towards Ezio, punching him in his chest, making him go through several trees before stopping against one.
Batman threw a Batarang at Cesare, but it missed due to the man's speed.
Ezio was winded by the punch. His armor, a special set made by the Helmschmied arms company. It was heavy, but not so much as to hinder his own movement. He got to his feet and drew his sword. He ran towards Cesare, firing once with his Hidden Gun along the way.
Yukari looked over at her pained, red-white friend. "Why do you need to leave?"
Cesare dodged the shot from the Hidden Gun, and once Ezio was close enough to swing, Cesare jumped up into the air, hovering for a moment before descending slowly. "It's futile for you to fight. You are a threat to my new era, and so you must be eliminated."
Gilgamesh wouldn't stand for that, though. He looked focused for a second, then said "Gilgamesh Morphin' Time!" and indeed he morphed. He looked different now, most noticeably for having eight arms now, a weapon in each hand. All of them were blades of some kind, except for one that looked like a halberd. And one of the blades looked odd, to say the least. Looked like some kind of a chicken knife. Two of the blades looked almost identical except one was a yellow and red sword, the other one was a blue sword. He also had different clothes on and his face was different.
"You're in trouble now, Cesa... Caes... whatever your name is!" Gilgamesh jumped into the air towards Cesare, all eight arms and weapons raised. Cesare managed to dodge that as well. However, a surprise Ultima arrow from Kuja got him to slam against the ground. Kuja had Tranced, giving him red fur all over his body that, ironically enough, seemed to cover more than his clothes which were gone for the moment. His hair was red too. "No one should be able to harm me! The curtains will close for you!"
Cesare stood up, the shield still on him. "You're giving me a challenge, I see. Then allow me to provide one as well!" He closed his eyes for a moment, holding his arms crossed over his chest. Eight copies of him appear all around him and he opened his eyes again. All eight Cesares started attacking everyone in the nearest area, while the real one stood back, or rather, hovered slightly above the ground.
Kuja, Gilgamesh and Exdeath each fought with one of the copies of Cesare, who seemed to be weaker versions of the real one as he was now, but still fairly strong.
Reimu had forced down enough of the pain to talk normally for a while. "The headache's come back, and I think it might be because of this place!" She grunted again as it pressed against her focus like a tidal wave. "How much more of myself do you want me to lose?!"
Ezio slashed again at Cesare. "You shall not have it!" he shouted, stabbing at Cesare's neck.
The Cesare copy Ezio stabbed at disappeared, and another one took it's place. Kuja, Gilgamesh and Exdeath were doing alright against their opponents.
Kuja was raining down Ultima arrows at the Cesare he was fighting. He also used Flare, a ball of concentrated flame hit the Cesare copy and made that one disappear too.
Gilgamesh slashed with all eight weapons in his hands, jumping into the air and thrusting his weapons down. "You can't mess with my head by making more of you!" He also defeated his Cesare copy.
Exdeath didn't really bother fighting, but he used his Almagest attack, surrounding himself in a Void sphere while moving towards the Cesare copy and broke the sphere unharmed by it, but harmed the Cesare copy.
Cesare was not happy about how easily his copies seemed to be defeated. Soon enough, only he was left. "Hah! Marvelous! Splendid display! However, I'm not finished." He put his hands on the Apple and glowed along with it, starting to grow bit by bit. On a matter of moments, he was already three times the size of a normal human. "Let us see how you fare against me now, assassin! I don't think you can climb all the way up to my neck to stab it or slice it!" He gave a victorious laughter as he threw his fist to the ground where Ezio and the others were, creating shockwaves in the ground and small earthquakes. They didn't affect Kuja and Exdeath who were hovering, but Gilgamesh couldn't keep himself standing and fell onto his rear. "Ow! Darn overgrown powerhungry bastard!"
Ezio grinned, but he wasn't laughing. "Don't expect that." He ran at Cesare and grabbed his shirt front, pulling himself up and stabbing at Cesare's neck.
"That won't work, you pathetic insect!" However, Cesare was wrong. Ezio's stab connected, but he didn't bleed. He merely started to shrink, and once he was of normal size again, he seemed alright except he was with one knee on the ground, powerless compared to earlier, the Apple still around his neck.
Exdeath hovered over to Cesare. "You have been defeated. Surrender the Void shard and I might consider keeping you alive." Cesare chuckled. "I will not surrender the Apple."
"Suit yourself." He formed a sort of energy ball that hurtled towards Cesare, sending him flying into the closest tree. "I will not even bother with you. However..." The Apple's chains had disappeared, leaving it alone on the ground. Exdeath picked it up and started to seemingly absorb it. However, he was only absorbing the Void shard part of the Apple. Once he was done, it glowed brightly like it had done once before. "This item could potentially aid me, but I become stronger with each Void shard absorbed." He dropped it on the ground. "We leave now."
He transformed into his teleportation ring, heading back to the castle. Kuja and Gilgamesh were not far behind. Cesare was left alone with Ezio and Batman.
Ezio lifted up Cesare by the throat.
"No!" Cesare gasped. "No mortal man can kill me!"
"Than I shall leave your fate in the hands- wait, no, we've been through this." Ezio kicked Cesare to the ground and pulled the Apple from his hands. "This is no longer pure... You had something to do with this?"
"No! I swear!" Cesare suddenly whipped his blade at Ezio, but Batman grabbed his arm and snapped it at the elbow. Cesare screamed falsetto as Batman subdued him while Ezio examined the Apple.
When Exdeath, Gilgamesh and Kuja arrived back at the castle in Exdeath's Domain, a strange blue slime was there with a smiley face. "Whatever could this be?" Gilgamesh wondered out loud. "It is a pest, is what it is." Exdeath said and swung his sword at it. The blue slime was now two slimes. "Hmpf. Be that way, then." He opened up a Rift portal beneath the slimes, sending one to Ezio, Batman and Cesare, and the other one to everyone else. He didn't know that a few more of the slimes had appeared around the others that were against him. "What ugly things." Kuja mused as he hovered around. "Glad they're gone."
Ezio examined the Apple while Batman tied Cesare up with
"Strong sorcery," he muttered. "This taint will not leave easily." He turned and walked towards the group. "One of the magician girls may know what to do with this."
"Untie me!" shouted Cesare. "THE CHAINS OF MAN CANNOT HOLD ME!" He headbutted Batman, managing to stun him, then ran off into the forest, cackling madly and screaming falsetto.
Not unlike Kefka.
Batman turned around and turned on Detective Vision. "His proximity to that device must have rubbed off on him. For lack of a better term."
"Then he is still a threat," Ezio noted, "but we must handle this Piece of Eden now." He sheathed his sword and picked up the pace, Batman following behind.
How on Earth did he get the drop on me? anguished Batman mentally.
A loud thud could be heard from a distance by everyone, and I mean everyone. Something like a machine moving somehow, walking maybe, could be heard after the thud.
Exdeath and Gilgamesh knew what that sound was. "Omega..." they said in unison. "Omega? What or who is that?" Kuja asked confused. "It is a great machine that was sealed within the Rift because of how powerful it was." Exdeath explained. "It must have found a way to escape it somehow. Perhaps it picked up a Void shard, or one was able to help it escape the Rift. Whatever the case, we must investigate. Even if it doesn't have anything noteworthy, it is still a threat."
They all got out of the castle and down into Exdeath's Domain, searching for the great machine.
Yukari sighed and shook her head. "It may be an adverse effect of you remaining out of bounds of the Hakurei Barrier for such a long period of time. It may be best for both you and Gensokyo that you return. So." Yukari made a small motion with her hand and opened a straight-down gap in front of Reimu. "It will take you back. Sorry for dragging you out here, i'll handle this myself. Plus, with you gone, that just means I get to beat them up more~"