Dante's Little Apple Surprise

by Tatsurou

First Mission

Around the time Applejack turned five, Dante got the first mission call he felt AJ could handle herself on, one where they could fight as a team rather than her being strapped to his back. This was something he'd been looking forward to, as he wanted to see how far she'd developed, and how she'd do in a live battle rather than practice. If anything, however, Applejack was even more excited than he was, as he'd told her that he'd let her know when he felt her ready to fight demons herself.

It started out as an ordinary day until the phone rang. Bringing his foot down on the desk, Dante bounced the handset into his hand before holding it to his ear. "Devil May Cry," he said into the receiver in a bored tone. "What can we do for you?" He listened carefully to the voice on the other end. "Demon swarm? Alright, describe the demonic creature you see the most of." Dante listened to the descriptions. "Sounds like you've mostly got an influx of Seven Hells. Have you looked over the price sheets?" He listened for a time. "Alright. Then you know how much I charge. We'll be there in an hour." He slammed the phone back down on the receiver. "Applejack! Get your gun!"

"Gonna be strapped to your back again?" she asked morosely. "I'm getting a bit big ta enjoy that."

Dante smirked. "Not this time. It's just the Seven Hells, from the sound of it. I've taught you how to deal with those, and you saw all of them while we were in Temen-ni-gru. So get Nevan and Cerberus, too."

Applejack grinned widely. "Yee-haw! Time to buck some demon hiney!" she shouted, donning her hat before snatching Cerberus up in her tail.

"Just one restriction though," Dante cautioned. "No devil trigger unless you get overwhelmed."

"But Pa!"

"No buts, Applejack!" Dante scolded. "You're still young. Devil Trigger puts a rather large strain on your magic, to the point of exhaustion, and you don't regenerate your magical reserves as fast as I do. No Devil Trigger unless you're overwhelmed, and if you're forced to use it you find me immediately." Seeing Applejack getting ready to protest, he shook his finger at her. "That's final, Applejack. You either promise to abide by this or stay strapped to my back."

Applejack sighed. "Alright. Ah promise."

Dante smiled before reaching out to ruffle her mane. "I'm only so strict because I'm worried about you. I don't want you overworking yourself and becoming demon chow." He glanced to the guitar strapped to AJ's back. "Nevan, keep an eye on AJ's reserves. If they start getting low, make her pull back."

"I'll keep an eye on her," Nevan promised.

"Alright then," Dante concluded. "Let's go!"

Once they arrived at the city under assault, Dante and AJ went separate ways. Dante went straight for the larger concentrations of demons, while Applejack headed for the buildings marked as evacuation points, focusing on taking out those demons approaching civilians. Her preferred tactic was to balance rapidly damaging a large number by spinning Cerberus as she charged through, using Nevan to keep them back from her, using Beowulf to knock them into a tight group, finishing off by sniping Hell Wraths with Artemis, using the explosives on their backs to obliterate entire groups at a time. The strategy proved highly effective.

Taking a quick glance into the first building, she saw that there weren't any casualties yet. Breathing a sigh of relief, she stepped inside. "Howdy y'all!" she said happily. "Applejack of Devil May Cry demon hunting services. Don't you worry none, we'll have these demons wrastled outta here quicker'n a greased pig can slip through a fence!" Seeing their confusion, she sighed, pushing her hat down. "We'll...we'll get it done right quick."

"Pony..." one of the little girls said, reaching out to pet her.

Smiling, Applejack allowed the caress. "Don't worry little lady," she said reassuringly. "Pa and I have got this." She blinked. There was something familiar about the little girl's hair ribbon...

Suddenly shivering, she turned away. "Gotta get back to work!" she said quickly dashing back outside.

Once outside, she saw that a Hell Vanguard was approaching the building, its reaper-like form enhanced by the glowing blue scythe it wielded. "That wasn't reported," she mumbled, dodging the first sweep.

While normally such a foe would prove exceptionally difficult for a new fighter to handle, Applejack had two advantages that the Vanguard couldn't handle well. First off, she was tiny, barely coming up to the beast's knees, which made her an exceptionally difficult to hit with a sweeping weapon like a scythe. Her second advantage was that one of her primary weapons was a scythe half the time. From training to wield Nevan for combat, Applejack could read scythe combat with ease.

She dodged the Vanguard's first swing by rolling forward under it, coming up inside its swing range. Drawing Nevan, she swept her scythe blade upward, aiming at the Vanguard's wrist bones. As she'd planned, the skeletal hands separated from the arms. She knew that wouldn't last long, but while it did last the Vanguard wouldn't be able to teleport, as that ability came from the energy of the scythe. Putting Nevan back on her back, Applejack primed Beowulf before delivering a rising uppercut to the Vanguard's chin. While keeping herself between the Vanguard and its weapon, she delivered blow after blow to the creature, pushing it further and further back before finishing it off by pinning it to a wall with her forehooves and using both hind legs to buck its head clear off, causing it to dissolve into blue smoke.

Landing back on the ground, Applejack looked around for someplace to catch her breath. Spying a divinity statue, she raced over it to relax. "Wonder what one of these is doing all the way out here?" she asked idly as she lay across the base. She knew she was safe here.

As she relaxed and caught her breath, she felt the demonic essence she'd collected from the monsters she'd slain flow out of her and into the statue. It then seemed to wait, as though asking what she wanted. She glanced down at Beowulf. "Pity these babies can't hit somethin' further away," she found herself saying.

The statue glowed, and the energy flowed back into the gauntlets. Feeling the shape the energy was taking, Applejack grinned widely. She couldn't wait to show Dante her new trick.

As Dante fought his way through the demons in town, a minor worry was constantly niggling at the back of his mind. He'd thought Applejack was ready for this, but he hadn't expected the swarm to be this large. Even as he easily fought off wave after wave as he made his way through town, he kept glancing around, hoping to see the flare of orange that was Applejack's Devil Trigger so he'd know she was still there...and hoping not to see it as it would mean she was being hard pressed.

"You worry too much, Young Master!" Agni spoke up.

"Applejack will be fine!" Rudra agreed.

"I hope so," Dante muttered. "I mean, it's just Seven Hells-" He caught his breath as he saw something he didn't expect. "That's not good."

Three Hell Vanguards were converging on a building marked as an evac point. It looked mostly empty, but they wouldn't be converging on it if there weren't any victims inside. Hoping it wasn't going to turn out to be a bunch of rats, Dante charged forward, triggering his Devil Trigger.

Training Applejack in building up her magical reserves had greatly increased the amount of time Dante spent in Devil Trigger on a regular basis beyond what he normally would. As a result, he could now maintain his Devil Trigger state for quite some time, more than long enough to take down the three Hell Vanguards. As he delivered the final blow to the third, however, he crashed through the wall of the building. "That's going to be problematic," he muttered to himself. He glanced around to see who was inside.

A small boy looked up at him in fear and hope. "Are...are you an angel?" he asked.

Dante scowled in disgust, gesturing at his demonic form. "Do I look like an angel to you?" he demanded angrily.

"Ah dunno, Pa," Applejack said, finally catching up to him. "Ya do kinda look like yer about to say 'Fear Not'!" She smirked impishly up at him.

"You shut up," Dante scolded as he shifted back to human, though he couldn't stop a smile of relief from crossing his face. "How are you handling your first solo battles?"

"Pretty good," Applejack replied. "Managed about a hundred or so Seven Hells, and took out a Vanguard all on mah own."

"Nice!" Dante complimented, holding out his closed fist for her to bump with her hoof. "This isn't a normal incursion, though, if we've already encountered four Vanguards. I'm definitely charging the mayor extra."

"They seemed ta be going somewhere specific," Applejack pointed out. "They're all heading more or less towards the center of town."

"Then lets see what they're looking for," Dante agreed, leaping up to a rooftop. Applejack spun Cerberus like a helicopter blade to follow.

Up on the rooftops, they saw a massive pool of blood seeping up out of the fountain in the town square. Dante easily recognized the demons coming up from the blood pools. "Abyss," he grunted, naming the beasts he had faced within the Hell Gate above Temen-ni-gru. "How did they get up here?"

Applejack blinked. "Wait...they're weak to light, right?"

"Yeah," Dante agreed, "but it's not safe to let you get close enough to them to use Beowulf-what are you doing?"

Applejack had raised herself to her hind hooves, cupping her fore hooves to one side. "Make sure ah say it right, Nevan, like ya told me." She grinned as light energy began gathering between her fore hooves. "Ka...me...ha...me...Ha!" Throwing her fore hooves forward, a beam of light shot out towards the fountain, growing as it accelerated towards the blood pool.

As it impacted, a massive burst of light erupted, cleansing the blood pool and incinerating the Abyss beasts.

"You said it right," Nevan purred as Dante face palmed.

Applejack giggled. "It's a new upgrade ah got from a Divinity Statue for Beowulf," she explained happily. "It's actually called the Ray of Light, but Nevan said it looked so much like that Kamehameha thing from that one show that I should say that instead."

"Beowulf normally has highest damage point at point of impact," Cerberus explained, "with a minor shockwave extending beyond the point of impact. The Ray of Light, however, gathers power to itself as it flies, increasing power and area of effect at point of impact with range."

Dante smirked. "How much demon essence did that cost you?" he asked.

"Uhh...all of it," Applejack replied nervously.

"A hundred Seven Hells and a Vanguard?" Dante asked. "That's pretty che-"

"No, all of it," Applejack explained. "Everythang ah built up in Temen-ni-gru, and what I got here...includin' what ah got fighting that big blue guy in Hell."(1)

"You mean when you fought Arkham?" Dante asked, surprised. When Applejack nodded, Dante crossed his arms. "Well, that's a bit more reasonable."

"Not much use in enclosed spaces, either," Applejack muttered. "Inside a building, ah'm better off with Artemis. ...still pretty cool though, right?"

Dante grinned. "Way past cool," he assured her. Hearing a whistle through the air, he held up his hand to catch the sword flying towards him.

"What's that?" Applejack asked.

"It's...it's Force Edge," Agni gasped out.

"Sparda's sword," Rudra added in awe. "It possesses a large portion of his power."

"Wait, I saw his sword in the portal," Dante pointed out. "It was all purpley."

"That was his mortal remains," Nevan explained. "The resting place of his soul. He hid his blade elsewhere, enchanted to find its way to the son that chose the Earthly path. At least, that's what he told me when he worked the seal the first time."

Dante chuckled. "Can't surprise you, can I old man?" he said ruefully. "Well, this is probably what the demons were after. Now that I've got it, they'll probably back off."

"Yup, they are!" Applejack called out, pointing. The demons that had infested the city were dissolving.

Dante grinned. "I'd call this mission a success. Come on, AJ! Let's go collect our fee."

(1) Yes. the Ray of Light upgrade cost all the red orbs Applejack gathered in DMC3...upwards of a million, bare minimum, including stylish points.
...have to balance that cool new move somehow.