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Dante's Little Apple Surprise

by Tatsurou

Chapter 13: The Final Battle

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When the altar of the seal reached the top of the tower, the machinery of the tower shifted to allow the gateway to be opened. As it opened, Nevan spoke up. "Sparda left defenses on both sides of the gate to make sure it stayed closed. We're going to have to work our way through those defenses, disabling them as we go, if we're going to be able to expose Sparda's spirit so we can reenergize him."

"So we both get to go to hell," Dante mused. "This should be fun."

"Just don't slow me down, brother," Virgil drolled.

"Who's going to slow who down?" Dante asked challengingly, his hand reaching for Rebellion.

"So is this rivalry you two being men, being half demons, or being brothers?" Lady asked exasperatedly.

"A bit of all three," Nevan mused, setting Applejack to giggling.

"Lady must stay behind!" Agni mentioned.

"The energies of her blood are incompatible with the energies of Hell!" Rudra agreed. "The portal won't let her through!"

"Perhaps she could keep an eye on her father's body, shooting him in the head any time he starts to awaken to make sure he stays down?" Cerberus offered.

"With pleasure," Lady agreed, reaching for one of her smaller guns, only for one of Nevan's bats to lick the cut on her hand from whence she spilled the blood to break the seal. "What the-?"

"Now that I've tasted your blood," Nevan explained, "I can keep track of you from a distance. Also, as you are aware of it, you can send me a psychic message if you focus. That way you can communicate with us in case anything goes wrong on this side."

"Not a bad idea," Dante mused. He then playfully saluted Lady. "Catch you later!" With that, both Dante and Virgil rose up into the air, passing through the open gate.


As Dante and Virgil began walking down the path through the hellgate, Virgil glanced over. "You brought the pony?"

"If I thought she'd let me leave her with Lady for this part even for a moment, I would have," Dante countered. When Applejack bleated her irritation, he continued, "They'd both have been safer that way."

"I think that filly's starting to make you soft, brother," Virgil replied.

"You try having a tiny pony calling you Pa," Dante countered. "See how soft you get!"

Virgil was silent for a time. If Dante didn't know better, he'd have sworn Virgil was giving it serious consideration. "Why did you bring her with you in the first place?"

"I found her in a wrecked bar, and she said her name was Applejack," Dante explained. "It was hilarious. How could I not take her with me?"

Virgil rolled his eyes and picked up his pace.

The pair of brothers fought their way through the obstacles presented to them. First was a chessboard of demonic pieces, where both chided Applejack for sniping at the King piece as it 'spoiled the fun'. Applejack replied by blowing them both a raspberry.

After passing through another passage, they entered a large chamber with stairwells leading between various monoliths in patterns that wouldn't have looked out of place in a painting by MC Escher. Each monolith had a stone of a different color embedded in it. In the center, a monolith could be seen with a stone of each color embedded in a pattern. The stones in the central monument were all glowing.

"This chamber raises the foes you have fought before to confront you anew," Cerberus explained. "However, this hurdle only presents itself to those who try to force the gate. As the two of you controlled the opening, it does not raise against you."

"That and the fact that you've only actually fought one or two great foes for the chamber to raise," Nevan drolled. "The rest of us joined up more or less of our own will without a fight, so it can't really raise us against you."

"So it's given up challenging us, then?" Virgil asked.

"Something like that..." Cerberus admitted.

Approaching the monolith in the center, a portal opened to allow them to continue onward. Passing through the portal, they slaughtered their way through a wave of hellbeasts rising from a pool of blood, fighting back to back, until another portal opened for them.

"You two fight well together," Nevan commented dryly.

"Maybe," Virgil admitted ruefully.

"But it's more fun to fight each other," Dante pointed out. "Nothing else is as much of a challenge." Applejack giggled at that.

"There may yet be greater challenge further in," Cerberus warned as the pair leapt through the portal.

Arriving in a temple like area, Cerberus instructed them to break the mirrors to stop the hellbeasts from manifesting. After doing so, they made their way through another portal into a chamber with a large hourglass.

"We're seeing a lot of scenery," Virgil mused. "Isn't there a faster way?"

"If you don't mind destroying the seal and having to recreate it from scratch with the two of you standing in place of Sparda," Cerberus countered.

"Spend eternity stuck in one place with him?" Dante asked, jerking a thumb at Virgil as they slaughtered more hellbeasts. "Pass."

"Same here," Virgil agreed.

"Then follow the path," Cerberus instructed.

"I'm beginning to miss you saying Ball constantly," Dante groused.

"Ball!" Cerberus said as Applejack whacked Dante in the back of the head with one of the prongs.

"Never mind," Dante grunted as Virgil smirked in amusement.

Approaching the hourglass after killing the monsters, Dante retrieved a Samsara.

"Now we can take a more direct route," Cerberus explained.

"Has it been like this for your entire trip through the tower?" Virgil asked.

"Constant detours to pick up keys before backtracking to use them, only to do it all over again?" Dante confirmed. "Eeyup." He had no idea what made him give confirmation that way, but it made Applejack squeal happily for some reason.

"I see why you complained about the party," Virgil mused.

"It wasn't all bad," Dante admitted. "It got more fun once I had more friends tagging along, even if they did get annoying at times."

"You say the sweetest things," Nevan purred.

After leaping through a few more portals back into the mirror temple chamber, Dante applied the Samsara to a statue that had a slot for it. The image in the portal then changed, taking them to a new area when they leapt through it. Following a final path, they passed through a great gate.

In this last chamber, they found Sparda's sword. "So that's Dad's weapon, huh?" Dante asked.

"The focal point of the seal," Nevan explained.

"His spirit rests within," Cerberus confirmed.

"So this is what we came here for, huh?" Virgil mentioned, stepping around to the other side of the sword. "This where we need to reenergize him?"

"I believe-" Nevan cut herself off. "I'm getting a message from Lady! Arkham's been drawn into the portal! He's coming this way!"

"Something else is coming to meet him!" Agni shouted.

"Perhaps the demon who gave him the power he's been using?" Rudra suggested.

"Looks like we get one last big fight after all," Dante said with a grin.

"One of us does, anyway," Virgil countered.

As Arkham's body flew into the chamber, a massive surge of demonic power flowed into him from the opposite side of the final seal. "NO!" Arkham screamed. "I will not be your puppet! I will claim Sparda's power!" A massive explosion of demonic power transformed Arkham into a swirling mass of flesh and tentacles, lunging for the brothers. "Give it to me!"

Before either brother could draw their swords, Applejack leaped off Dante's shoulder, snarling defiance. Leaping over Sparda's sword, power flowed into her from the blade and the spirit therein, awakening the full power that had been infused into her by Dante's blood. Orange energy flared from her body.

Her coat expanded, hardening, becoming armor plated scales covering her entire body, interlocking at the joints. Claws sprang from all four hooves, razor sharp edges glinting in the light of hell. Her mane burst free of the ponytail it had been tied in, flowing behind her in an energy form like sunlight's glow. Her tail twisted around itself, hair becoming flesh as it curled over her back to end in a manticore's sting. Her flat teeth turned razor sharp as the scale armor over her face took on the appearance of a draconic war helm. Two horns sprung from her head, one just behind each ear, and scales bound her ears to them. Last of all, the three crimson apples on each side of her flank each sprouted demonic horns and fangs.

The tiny demonic figure slammed into the writhing mass and began tearing it apart with teeth, claws, and tail. Even as the mass attempted to withdraw, she dug her claws into it as she continued to rip it apart. Dante and Virgil stared in amazement.

"When did that happen?" Dante demanded.

"When I stabbed you, Yamato cut her as well," Virgil explained. "Somehow, she must have absorbed a fraction of Sparda's power from you when that happened. She tore a chunk of my throat out with her teeth."

"Why didn't you guys tell me?" Dante complained to Agni and Rudra.

"She didn't want us to!" Agni explained.

"She swore us to secrecy by punching us!" Rudra confirmed.

"BAAAAAALLLLSSSS!" Cerberus shouted as he spun around Applejack's demonic tail as she rocked out on Nevan, blasting the demonic monstrosity beneath her with ice and lightning.

"Looks like she got my style, too!" Dante said proudly.

"Such a shame," Virgil teased mildly. "Are you going to help her any time soon?"

"I got $100 that she doesn't need our help to finish this guy off!" Dante jibed back.

"You're on!" Virgil countered.

Hearing this, Applejack began fighting even more aggressively, slicing chunks off and tearing gouges out of the monster Arkham had become, ripping him to shreds. The beast tried to fight back by lashing at her, but she was too small a target, and her new demonic power enabled her to dodge every strike, leaving the beast hitting itself. When it tried to fire projectiles at her, she shot them down with a barrage from Artemis without even releasing her clamped jaws. It tried to dive into the void beneath to hide and recuperate, calling forth demonic fish like portions of itself to keep her distracted, but she dug her teeth and claws into it as it dove. Locking her tail around the hilt of Sparda's sword, she levered the beast back up, and proceeded to use its bulk to flatten the other summoned beasts.

"Woo!" Dante called out applauding. "That's my girl!"

"This show might just be worth the $100," Virgil mused. "How can such immense power be contained in such a tiny frame?"

"That is the power of Sparda!" Agni proclaimed.

"It is not the strength of body that determines its power!" Rudra agreed.

"Nor of mind!"

"Nor of will!"

"It is the strength of your heart!" Agni and Rudra proclaimed together as Applejack leapt into the air, dragging the beast after her and spinning it rapidly around her before slamming it into the ground and bombarding it with more ice and lightning from Cerberus and Nevan.

Virgil watched on in silence, his face troubled at Agni and Rudra's declaration.

After a while, the beast stopped fighting back. Applejack dropped it, panting heavily. After a time, her eyes rolled up into her head and she slumped over, her transformation reversing itself. Dante rushed forward to scoop her up.

"Is she alright?" Virgil asked.

"Just exhausted," Dante clarified after checking her pulse. "It was a pretty big exertion for such a little filly." Shifting her back into her carry straps, he glanced at the beast. "So who won the bet? It doesn't look like it's moving."

"I...I will not fail..." Arkham's voice echoed.

"But it's not dead," Virgil pointed out.

"Should we deliver the finishing blow, then?" Dante offered, holding up Ebony and Ivory.

"And what of the bet?" Virgil asked, holding out his hand.

"I think we can call the fight - and the bet - a draw," Dante offered, handing over Ivory.

Virgil cocked the gun. "I can accept that. Let's finish him off together."

Dante smirked. "Remember what we used to say?"

Crossing their arms around each other, they leveled their guns at the beast. "Jackpot!" they declared together, pulling the trigger at the same time.

The two bullets flew forward, one surrounded in a red aura, one in a blue one, twirling around each other as they slammed into the beast, eradicating it. As the mass of flesh dissolved, only the two halves of the pendant remained floating in the air. Dante and Virgil each snagged theirs.

"So now what?" Dante asked.

"Now you must both focus your energy through the pendant halves into the sword from either side," Nevan explained groggily. "The boundary-" Her words were interrupted by a yawn. "The boundary will form here."

"You okay, Nevan?" Dante asked.

"Applejack's not the only one exhausted from channeling so much of Sparda's power unexpectedly," Nevan explained. "Not all of that power was hers. Sparda infused her from within the sword for her initial awakening. It was all the three of us could do to stabilize the power long enough for her to burn through it."

"Balls..." Cerberus agreed tiredly, two of its heads already snoring.

Dante chuckled as he stepped to his position. "I'll be sure she eats well," he promised. "You ready for this, Virgil?"

"Almost," he replied. Holding out his hand, he focused. White light coalesced in his hand from his arms and legs, taking shape as a white flame. "A light wielding behemoth with a grudge against our father crossed me before I started releasing the seal. It was rather weak at that point, so I finished it off easily. A weapon was forged of its soul, gauntlets and greaves. I won't be needing it in hell."

"So you're giving it to me?" Dante asked. "Aw, bro, you shouldn't have-"

"It's for my new niece," Virgil interrupted. "Since she fights on all fours, it will fit her fighting style best, and it will be sweet irony that the weapon forged from an enemy of Sparda will be the primary devil arm of the unexpected third child of his blood. Besides, she should have something to remember her Uncle by until we meet again."

"You're going to find your own way out of hell?" Dante asked as the white light coalesced into the gauntlets and greaves of Beowulf around Applejack's legs.

"Eventually," Virgil agreed. "You can count on it. Besides, if I didn't, she'd probably tear the veil open to drag me out eventually."

Dante laughed. "She would."

"Unca..." Applejack muttered sleepily.

Smirking, Virgil ruffled the filly's mane. "Till next time. You I'll be happy to see." He stepped to his place on the hell side of the sword.

"Aw, you won't be happy to see me?" Dante asked. "I'm hurt."

"I won't be returning until I can wield enough of our father's power that I can kick your ass," Virgil pointed out. "I'll be happy to see you kneeling before my blade!"

Dante chuckled. "It's a date!" he promised.

Both brothers held up their pendant halves and focused their energy. Beams of light shot forth into the sword. Ever so briefly before the force of the repaired seal sent them both flying back to their separate destinies, the image of Sparda could be seen floating in the air above his sword.

Neither brother heard the words spoken, but one little filly would always remember them in her dreams.

You make me proud, my sons...

Next Chapter: First Date Estimated time remaining: 3 Hours, 37 Minutes
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