Tales from Congeria: Joy and Simon 2

Hello all new readers! This place has seen a nice influx of newcomers, so I want to make sure you all know:
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Sunlight trickled through the blinds of Joy’s apartment, lighting up a mess of papers scattered atop her desk and Joy’s short yet bulky frame snoozing away silently on her chair. A pamphlet labeled “Field Guide for Crusaders” hanging off the edge of the desk, a few other information pamphlets, multiple documents filled endlessly with personal information, and most begrudgingly to her, the assault fine with a rather pricey check paper-clipped onto it. The sun slowly glazed over her eyes, slowly rousing her from slumber to the mess of documents she left the night before. She sighed before stretching out, gathering together the papers together. Shoving the collection of documents back into the packet, she tossed it on the her bed and threw open her closet. Simply changing out of her old gym wear into a similar outfit, revealing both her physique and the insignia of Righteous Fury. Tying her hair into a ponytail, she swiped up the package, and walked into the kitchen. After a small breakfast, she bolted out the door.

A short jog was all it took until she arrived to the now-familiar reception office. As she pushed the doors open, the same receptionist from the day before noticed, and slowly retreated below his desk. Unfortunately, Joy caught sight of him before he could escape sight and she bounded over.

“Hey, think you can call up Simon? I got my work done for him!”

He gulped, sitting back up straight in his chair. He pressed a few buttons on his phone. Moments later, Simon came marching from around the corner, sight locked on Joy. She bounded over to him, presenting the packet with a smile. He took it from her hands, and pulled out a few of the sheets himself.

“Now then… Hm… I hope you realize fighting for sport doesn’t count as ‘combat experience’.” He continued glancing on through before staring back at her. “Being well-trained in fist-fighting isn’t exactly the experience we’re looking for here…”
She frowned. “Need I remind you what I did to that door of yours? I’m fairly certain I can crack the skulls of whatever you throw at me!”

“And you’ll meet plenty in the time who could easily do the same to you.”

He perused through the rest of her documents. Finishing up, he tucked them back into the packet and handed it to one of the receptionists.

“Process this for me ASAP. Send the information to Heaven’s Bastion and have them prep an ID for her when we arrive.”

Joy leaned over in front of him. “Uh, where’s that? I thought we were going to do training here?”
“Why the hell would we train at a recruitment center? Even if we did have the proper setup, elites get a unique regime.”
“Just take me where the demons are, come on!”

He began marching past the desk and through the halls, heading towards the rear of the building as Joy happily kept up next to him. He turned off his suit’s microphone, muttering “She isn’t going to last a day, is she…”

“Hey, I just remembered something.” She quickly stepped in front of him. “Why exactly was that receptionist so trigger-happy? Seriously, and I had to pay a fine when he would have been happy to shoot my brains out… If he could, that is.” She smirked. He pushed by her and kept on walking down the hall. “You think you’re the first lunatic who threatened our staff? We get demonically augmented loons who come in and threaten to kill, though rarely.”

She continued to walk right behind him.

“Demonically augmented? Wait a second, who are you calling a lunatic?”

“I see your point, I should be calling myself one as well. But, a deal is indeed a deal.”

She frowned as he continued marching onwards, his focus on the hall almost like an android. Moments later, the two entered a rather small hangar where a group of engineers were preparing a small VTOL plane. Joy smiled at the sight as Simon nodded to one of the engineers. He waved to the others, and they cleared out of the room. The door to the plane opened up and the two climbed on board.

A few hours passed as Joy sat tapping her foot endlessly staring out the aircraft window. Simon sat across from her, still covered in his armor yet seemingly motionless. Having passed over nothing but developed cityscapes and suburbs, and stretches of city wreckage, Joy found it a refreshing and new sight to finally pass over grasslands and scattered forests. As the jet began to slow down, she caught sight of a massive fortress, but more importantly, a massive flesh-colored ravine cut into the earth beyond it. The citadel with its massive steel walls, hangars and barracks fully loaded with machines of war, and imposing turrets would be scary to any human army, but it was a single spec minutes away from the terror embedded in the land. She tore her eyes from the window.

“What the hell is that?”
“The Flesh Abyss? Didn’t you read your field guide?”

From behind his helmet, she felt like Simon was judging her.

“I was too busy filling out all that paperwork you gave me!”
He sighed. “This isn’t some kind of job you can just half-ass your way through, unique powers or not. Training is going to break you.”

She scoffed, slinking back into her seat. “Maybe I have to break something of yours first…”

The aircraft came to a stop, beginning its descent onto one of the numerous airfields inside the citadel’s walls. As the craft’s door came open, her ears were assaulted with the noise of aircraft engines and helicopter rotors. Walking outside, she noticed in another airfield, a squadron of jets loaded with missiles and bombs was preparing to take off. She turned, noticing the same type of jet lacking any armaments moving back to one of the hangars. Explosions echoed in the far distance as a few large transport helicopters flew overhead. Feelings something tap her back, she whirled around to the sight of Simon.

“Since you’re too dense to understand, but you’re standing in the most well-fortified military bases in history. May not be public knowledge, but it’s thanks to the brave men and women working here that stops another crisis akin to the Harvest War, you know?”
She stared at him. “What the hell is that? And don’t call me dense, it’s not my fault school couldn’t make me give a damn about history!”

“It’s important to know, but it isn’t necessary. You can look it up once you’ve finished reading through your field guide. Now stay by me and with what little time you have, read. We’re going to get you registered and immediately begin basic training.”

She chuckled. “Not even gonna give me a second to stretch out now?”
“The operations you’ve signed yourself up for are barely going to give you enough leeway to breathe.”

Several hours passed by of walking from facility to facility as Simon chatted with a plethora of clerks and receptionists. Joy always stood near, constantly tapping her foot with her arms crossed. Every time they did pass by other soldiers around the base, she couldn’t help but smirk at them, at how lucky she was to have the position she achieved. After finishing waiting, Simon handed her an ID card.

“With this, you’ll have full access to almost anywhere in this base, and some sense of authority with others despite… how you look. Speaking of which, there’s one last thing we need to attend to.”

He walked through numerous more halls with her, entering a large room with a diverse amount of firearms hanging on the walls. Scattered around the room were several labeled crates and containers, and a long table where a few soldiers sat, maintaining weapons and armor. Joy walked and stared up at the wall.

“As nice as this offer is, I think I’m far more effective without any guns when I got these.” She smiled and flexed her arm.

Simon sighed. “I had a hunch, but I’m more referring to any form of armor. As long as it isn’t too unrealistic, I’m sure we can accomodate. Scratch that, knowing your strength, we can probably get something unrealistic on you and make you tank proof.” He chuckled. She turned towards him, staring at the ground for a few moments.

“A few things: One, what’s the strongest fabric-like material you have here? And make sure it’s flexible. Second, I need a knife.”

“As for your first question, we can get a good carbon-fiber mesh, maybe some kevlar if you’re looking for a light yet sturdy body suit.” He pulled a knife from a sheath on his leg and handed it to her. She took it and plunged it into her abdomen. Simon’s hand jolted forward, but then halted. She held the weapon up with a grin on her face as the thing had completely bent inwards.

“This was mostly based on a hunch, but I was feeling a bit more sturdy ever since I pledged. Now as for that carbon fiber stuff, I don’t need a full outfit. Just make some shorts and a proper top out of it. Color it too, and make sure to keep my insignia exposed. I at least wanna have some clothing that’ll last through combat. Oh, and some good sturdy boots and gloves as well.”

Simon continued to stare. “You may be durable, but it’s no excuse to skip out on an extra layer of armor. Plasma, chemical weapons, demonic weapons, AP rounds, explosives could-”
“Hey, isn’t the point of this special division or whatever for oddjobs and whatnot? We’re armed with whatever suits us best? This outfit will suit me best, trust me.”

He simply nodded and pressed a switch on the side of his helmet, going silent. Seconds later, he pressed it again.

“Your order has been placed, just give it ten minutes. In the meantime, we can find some boots that’ll fit you. But don’t come crying if you can’t tank every blow.”

As Simon said, only ten minutes later was Joy geared up. Fingerless gloves and tall sturdy combat boots, the shorts she requested, a white piece of upper-body armor with a purple stripe down the center: An outfit just as revealing as her sportswear, but durable enough to survive whatever battles may come. She smiled at a mirror as Simon tapped her on the shoulders.

“Now that you’re all ready, we can begin training. This is all you’re going to get for the duration of it, so be cautious.”
She enthusiastically nodded. “So what am I gonna expect?”

“Simply follow me.”

The duo left the armory, now entering a small room overlooking a large steel arena. He motioned to a small one-man elevator shaft for her to enter, and she excitedly bounded in. Heavy steel panels slid in front of her as she felt the mechanism descend lower, lower, and lower still until with a clunk, the doors slid open once more. The arena was massive, somewhat smaller than a city block. The room was completely layered by several plates of steel with only several powerful lights overhead illuminating the room. On the opposite side sat three massive intimidating sliding doors. Speakers by the observation room crackled as Simon began to speak through them.

“All right Joy, normally this is where we train squads of recruits to deal with demons. We capture them from the Flesh Abyss, and release them here. Unfortunately for you, you’ll be alone with zero support.”

The speakers fizzled out as the sound of heavy machinery came from the other side. It clanked and cracked until a dull thud resounded through the room. A hiss came from the other side of the room as one of the doors slowly rolled open, revealing a massive demon. It stood three times as tall as Joy was, with powerful legs and spiked feet. Massive arms with long-clawed hands connected to a hairy body, and a horned head that resembled that of a dinosaur’s sat atop it. It walked out into the arena, shrieking as it slammed its fists on the walls. Joy sneered, bolting into a sprint. She leapt straight at the thing, rearing back her fist. The beast noticed, and quickly spun around, smacking her out of the way as if she were a fly. She crashed onto the ground rolling for a few moments before she regained her footing. Watching from the observation chamber, Simon sighed, shaking his head.

“You may have the strength of a god on your side, but you’re still the size and weight of a human. Think before you act!”

“So you’re not as dumb as I thought, eh?” Joy muttered. She sprinted towards the thing again, skidding to a halt right behind it as it continued to bash the wall. It turned around once more, rearing back one of its fists. She leapt to the side as it swung it down onto the ground. Tensing her legs, she bounded up on top of its shoulders, quickly wrapping her legs around the thing’s neck. It tried in vain to let out another cry as air could barely escape whatever organs were inside of it. It grabbed onto her ponytail and attempted to yank her off. She winced, but in her mind thanked that her hair was reinforced by the blessing as well.

Joy vs Demon high-res
Art by https://supersketchycollider.tumblr.com/

“You wanna play dirty by grabbing my hair, huh?” She wrapped her arms around one of its horns, squeezing as tightly as possible until it snapped off, resulting in another attempted screech from the beast. Finally, between her legs she felt something crack as the beast began to tumble. She leapt off, landing safely as the beast smashed into the ground face-first. She sprinted over to the thing, digging her hands beneath its skull and pulled with all her might. With a loud ripping noise echoing through the arena and the demon’s juices spraying everywhere, she yanked the head brutally off. Still smiling, she turned to the observation room.

“That good enough for you Simon?”

The speakers crackled to life. “Not at all.”

Suddenly the demon’s head began to move back to the body. Joy heard the sloshing of flesh mending, and leapt back as she saw the sight of the demon re-attaching its head and regenerating its mortal wounds. It let out another frightening roar, wiping the smirk off of Joy’s face as a more frustrated expression took its place. “Nobody told me these things could just come back to life like that!”
The speakers powered up once more. “It was in your field guide Joy!”

The demon swiped at her as she leapt over it’s attack. It used it’s free arm to launch a punch at her, but she dodged and countered with a leaping blow to it’s chest. She could feel and hear several bones shatter with the blow as the thing stumbled backwards. The moment she landed on the ground, she immediately sprung back towards the creature, landing another blow right where she struck. The beast fell onto its back, and Joy hurried over to its head. In another violent scene, she stomped on its head repeatedly until its head was nothing more than a pulp of flesh and bone.

“Regenerate from that you piece of shit!”

She bent over a little, covered in bits of flesh, beginning to pant. Simon watched inquisitively.

“This isn’t going to go well for her if it keeps up…”

Joy’s break was cut short as she heard the ball of flesh behind her shuffling and re-forming.

“Are you shitting me?”
She turned around as the beast stood back up once more, the head still reforming. It swung at her again, this time barely grazing her skin with its nails as she dodged. She let out a primal yell as she roundhouse kicked the demon’s leg, shattering straight through the bone. It stumbled a bit at the wound as she smashed its knee with another kick. The demon fell over as she used every bit of her rage to barbarically smash every bone and possible organ the thing had, smashing its arms, chest, head once more, and stomach, causing a symphony of periodic cracks to echo throughout the arena. Covered in sweat, blood, bits of flesh, and along with being royally pissed, she stomped the demon’s head one last time to be sure. The beast and the bits of flesh that stuck to her dissolved away into nothing more than a dark red dust. At the sight, she slowly sat on the ground, watching the observation room elevator. Moments later, it opened up, revealing Simon carrying a strange looking rifle, looking more like some kind of bizarre tool than a weapon. The demon elevator closed, and began whirring and clanking. Joy wiped some of the blood off of her.

“So, did I pass?”

He loaded a large bullet into the rifle. “We aren’t looking for brutality here. You need to be much more efficient, especially for something as simple as a berserker.”

“Simple? What do you-” She was cut off by the demons’ elevator clanging, opening to reveal another one of the large demons. As it wandered out, Simon fired his rifle. The round crashed right into its stomach and exploded upon impact, leaving a messy hole. He loaded another round and fired again, decimating its head. The demon slowly collapse as its body dissolved.

“Berserkers are the cheapest yet most imposing demons available, simple enough for anyone with some rope, a knife, and the will to kidnap to summon. They focus mostly on causing property damage rather than killing humans unless threatened, so it’s important that they can be killed as soon as possible.” He stood up, slinging his rifle over his back. “You’d know all of this and how to quickly deal with one if you actually read your damn field guide, so I’m putting your training on hold until you finish reading. Understood?”

Her face was red with rage, eyes looking like they’d catch fire and a grimace that would terrify anyone who knew she was capable of. “Understood” she muttered.

Back at the Armory, Joy had been guided to a rather small room with nothing more than an uncomfortable cot and a desk barely wide enough to hold the guides she had to read through. One of the walls bore several fist-shaped indents, not too far from where Joy sat. She pounded down another cup of coffee as she flipped through the guide, thinking about how numerous demons actually were. She thought about what she read on the Flesh Abyss: a landmark left behind by demonic forces when they invaded Congeria long ago. A place festering with several different types of demons, and the only place where they can be birthed naturally. It’s far too dangerous for any crusaders to properly explore, not even for the elites.

“Hmph, that seems like a perfect place for me to make a difference…”

She continued reading through, learning about the history of Heaven’s Bastion, its post-war history, the numerous types of demons she would have the pleasure of killing, and most shockingly to her, reports and information on demonic cartels. She read even more closely, learning how below the surface of several gangs or loan sharks lied an even more dangerous threat: a group of men or women willing to sacrifice other people to demon lords, and re-sell what they gain. What could be a few petty criminals in a gang could secretly be kidnapping others for use in sacrifice. She wasn’t too unfamiliar to reading the news ever so often, but she had never once heard about any organization this horrifying in it. She thought to herself about literally kicking down the door to one of their facilities and cracking the skulls of men preparing a sacrifice. She smiled.

“Hopefully I can get this training done soon.”

By the time the sun had set on the base and the aircraft had finally been grounded for the night, Joy slammed the guide shut. She shot up from her chair and threw open her door, stomping down the compact hallways of the barracks. Eyeing every door, she finally found Simon’s and opened it.

“Hey Simon, I’m ready-”

Simon was still suited up in his armor, looking uncomfortable as he lied down in his cot. He slowly raised his head.

“Ugh… Do you care to knock at all?” He groggily shifted to his feet, standing up. She still stared.

“Do you… Ever take that thing off? Isn’t that uncomfortable as hell?”

“Only when I need to, and it’s a feeling I got used to long ago. Now what is it?”

She stared for a few more moments.

“Oh yeah, I’m all done with the guide! I’m ready to fight a few more of those berserkers again!”
“You do realize what time it is, right?”

“Nope, but I still feel energetic enough to give it another shot! Trust me, I still need to burn off a few more coffees anyways.”

“Well, if you insist. Just follow me.”
Joy, standing smack in the center of the arena, adjusted her gloves and outfit, staring anxiously at the observation room. The speakers powered on.

“One important note I wanna tell you personally Joy: You may be stronger than any person I know, but the power granted by gods isn’t enough to carry you through a fight alone. You need to rely on those human parts of yours as well, understand?”
“Yeah yeah” she said while tapping her foot. “Can we get a move on already?”

He sighed. He flipped a few switches and pulled a lever, causing the demon elevator to groan to life. Moments later another berserker had been released into the arena.

“All right, round two you ugly piece of work!” She charged forward at the demon. “Go for the stomach, then go for the kill!”

The demon tried to swipe at her, attacks which she easily evaded and leapt up, throwing a hefty punch at the beast’s stomach. The thing stumbled back and crashed into the wall, but still stepped forward letting out a beastly roar. She noticed that she didn’t even break the skin of the beast, and moved forward once more. It swung downwards at her with both hands, she dodged and weathered the shockwave sent through the ground as its fists crashed to it. She leapt up and this time kicked it right in the stomach, but it once more stumbled back bearing no real serious damage. She thought to herself realizing if she couldn’t break the skin, she couldn’t kill it. She glanced around the arena until she noticed the beast’s head. She broke into a full sprint and slid beneath the berserker’s leg as it tried to reach down to grab her. She kicked off the ground and climbed up to the head of it and cracked off one of its horns. As the beast screamed in pain, she dropped down and thrust it straight into the demon’s stomach, violently jostling it around inside of it. The beast continued to scream and reached to yank her off of its stomach, but she quickly kicked off of it with the horn in tow, and threw the horn straight at its head, cleanly spearing its skull. The beast fell backwards, dissolving into dust. The speakers came to life.

“There we go Joy, resourcefulness!”

She smiled, giving a thumbs up back to the observation room. The next elevator began to groan as it climbed up with more demonic cargo. She quickly leapt back to the center of the room.

“Another one?”

The doors opened up, this time instead revealing three demons slightly taller than her: Each one had skin colored similar to the steel surrounding them, bearing skeletal bodies, razor-sharp looking claws, and bare, skull-looking faces. She took a deep breath.

“Shredders, close-range anti-personnel demons, claws that can pierce any armor, camo skin, no regenerative abilities… Three should still be manageable for me.”
She cracked her knuckles and waited for the beasts to approach her. Suddenly one stops while the other two fork off from the group. Surrounding her, they continued to encircle her at a fast enough speed to not give her any opening. She breathed a bit faster, whipping her head around hoping for some mistake. They approached closer and closer, still encircling her, until she realized they may be close enough to try to attempt to attack. She dashed forward and clotheslined one of them, quickly stamping the thing’s neck, but as it dissolve to dust the other two pounced her from behind, slicing right through her armor and into her back. She grunted and whipped around trying to punch the few behind her but they quickly moved back, resuming their encircling position. She continued to glance around her, trying to ignore the searing pain from the gash.

How am I going to get out of here? There’s two of them now, but even if I try to escape they might catch up and get me again… Maybe I should be faster when attacking one of them? Maybe-

Before she could finish her thought, the demons both lurched at her simultaneously. She managed to punch one of them clean in the head, shattering its skull and sending it flying away while dissolving, but the other managed to slash her on the side of her stomach. She yelped, instinctively putting a hand on the wound, and grabbed the demon by its arm before it could scurry off. She effortlessly flung it over her head, sending it crashing into the wall, where it began to dissolve. Confirming her kill, she immediately began to check her wounds: Thankfully, they weren’t too deep, but still hurt like hell. Her head suddenly jolted up as she heard another elevator make its ascent. She turned to the observation room.

“Are you trying to kill me or something? I need bandages, right now!”

The doors groaned open, unleashing around ten blood-red doglike creatures, each one with a massive mouth in place of where their heads would be.

“Blood beasts? I don’t think they’re as smart as those shredders…”

She charged at the pack, yelling as a few of them bit onto her legs. Even if it failed to break her skin, she could still feel the pain as she grabbed two of the beasts heading for her face by the necks and violently tossing them at the wall. She engaged in a brutal brawl with the remaining eight dogs, most of them leaving several marks and scratches on her as she stomped, punched, or in a few cases tore in two to every remaining beast. Enraged and covered in dust, blood, and numerous scratches, she heard another demon elevator climb its way into the arena. She clenched her fists.

“I swear to the gods, I’m going to kill him when I finish this…”

The doors revealed three human-sized flower-looking demons which to the untrained eye would look like normal plant-life. Before she could recall what she was facing, the three shot spiny harpoons at her from their center, all striking on her abdominals and chest. Unfortunately, they barely broke her skin as they harmlessly bounced off her. Now even more pissed, she grabbed the harpoons with her hands, yanking all of them to her and tearing each one in half, before letting out a primal scream. Simon’s voice rang through the arena.

“That’s enough Joy, you’ve passed introductory training, and I’ve gathered enough information on you.”

She clenched her fists and turned to the room with bloodlust in her eyes. “INFORMATION?”

The elevator from the observation room descended to the floor, opening up to reveal him as he walked closer. She marched over to him.

“You were just using me as a LAB RAT? Just trying to see the extent of my blessing now, were you? What the hell is wrong with you, I could have been killed!”

He crossed his arms looking down at her.

“And as a soldier of the crusaders, you should expect that, ESPECIALLY as an elite-in-training. When I said this training was going to break you, I said that with one-hundred percent seriousness. Every elite goes through it. Some even died going through it as well, and it’s the risk they willingly take when they agree to join this program.”

She still stared straight into his visor with burning fury.

“The point of introductory training is to find out where you’re weakest at, so in the next month we can work on strengthening them.”

“Go ahead, I’d LOVE to hear that information you gathered on me!” She spoke with a sarcastic tone.
He cleared his throat before tapping a button on the side of his helmet.

“You lack proper endurance, too slow to think, your unwillingness to use any ranged weapons puts you at a huge disadvantage to demons as fast and deadly as shredders, you try to brute-force your way out of situations, you’re too easily enraged when the going gets tough, and last, this is mostly theoretical, but you’re probably not going to be one to follow orders. With your time here, I’m going to iron out every last flaw out of you and make you one hell of a force to be reckoned with.”
Joy slowly calmed down, taking a few deep breaths. “I don’t think half of those are REALLY that bad… Are you going to do this by keep throwing more demons at me or something?”
He shook his head. “Trying to kill you was mostly to find out where you were weakest at. Endurance, we can get some custom magnetic equipment for you to train with your enhanced strength to train endurance, you’ll need to study more to improve thinking and reaction times. As for the rest, I’ll personally see to it to make sure you go through those changes.”

She sighed. “That’s at least somewhat of a relief. I will miss fighting stuff like those berserkers or even those blood beasts.. That was one hell of a rush, I’ll tell ya!”

“In due time Joy. In due time.


Tales from Congeria: Joy and Simon

Hello all new readers! This place has seen a nice influx of newcomers, so I want to make sure you all know:
If you like this, be sure to follow me on twitter, and comment what you thought about the story! Every comments matters a lot


The Romitum slums were not a pretty site compared to the rest of the city. It was constantly covered by the shadows of skyscrapers, with dozens of run-down apartments and shady corner stores crammed any inch of space. It’s isolated area from the rest of the city made it bizarre for anyone to travel using a shortcut, and the only reason anyone would enter would be for any shady deeds. Yet a lone woman still traveled through. Wearing nothing but gym wear, proudly showing off her hard-worked physique that rivaled even men, she confidently strutted down the dirty streets, stopping in front of a building that made the mistreated plaster and wood apartments look well-kept. A stone temple was shoved between the two buildings, the cracks in the stone and overrun plant life showing how time was not kind to it, nor  it’s followers. As was to be expected for the home of the God of Righteous Fury. A thin-looking shirtless man left the temple with glum on his face, bearing the strange insignia of the god on his stomach.

Another unchosen patron to him now? The woman thought. A waste of time. Just from looking at him I can tell he ain’t pure of heart.

She remembered back to when she first heard about this god years ago. Gods fascinated her, the fact that pledging to them and following their doctrine would grant their patrons with wondrous powers. The god of Righteous Fury, however, was an outlier. He promises turning one’s will into raw strength, strength beyond that any other god offered, but only to those of “pure of heart”. The catch? One needed to pledge to him before he’d let you know if you were pure. So, you’d be forever pledged to a god who would never assist you, nor could you ever pledge to a new one.

I know above all else, I’m more than worthy enough for him.

She marched on into the temple.

The place was very poorly lit, the little light that reached the slums still creeping in through stone windows. Several rows of pews were overrun with plant life or were smashed, and a few others occupied by people of lesser fortune. The biggest sight-taker, however, was the God’s archstone at the end of the building. Archstones are the Gods’ only method of communication with humans, and they grow depending on their power, to be shattered and spread further. But this one completely dominated the end of the temple, growing into the roof with several veins of magical stone slowly spreading across the walls. The size far dominated even the archstones of the greatest churches around she knew of. She grinned at the sight, and kept walking forward. Observing the stone up close, she noticed several handprints of varying shapes and sizes inscribed into it. Sh. She felt a sensation overtake her as aged voice spoke in her head:
Ah, another for today? Well then. I am-”

“Yeah yeah, I know who you are, I know the qualifications.” Her voice resounded throughout the temple. “I wish to pledge to you, God of Righteous Fury!”

“My, eager aren’t you? You do know-”

“I said I already know everything I need to! Get on with it, judge my heart!”

“Not yet. Give me your name”

“Joy Vera!”

“Joy Vera, you will be judged!”

Keeping her hand firmly planted on it, she suddenly felt a pain on her abdomen. Staring down at her well-defined abs, she noticed the insignia of the god slowly burning it’s way over them. She winced a bit at the pain, until she felt the archstone pull her in. She looked up, noticing her hand had sunk into it. She instinctively yanked it back, before the voice spoke in her head once more.

“I have seen into your heart and mind, Joy, and they are pure, unfettered, and clear. You will share in my fury! Wear my insignia with pride, and go forth and spread righteousness”

She stepped back as a wry smile grew across her face. Her confidence was at an all-time high, and she felt stronger, almost as she could take on the world herself. She worked her way over to one of the sturdier looking parts of the wall and threw a punch at it. Her hand easily knocked a hole twice the size of her fist straight through it, the crash suddenly rousing a few men lying on the pews. They watched with wonder as Joy let loose a kick on the wall, causing the rest of it to crash down. She spun around, checking the rest of the temple, locking onto the stump of a destroyed stone pillar. She jogged over, squatting down and literally digging her fingers into the base of it. Without even straining, she easily hefted it over her head. She stared up, taking in the feat she just pulled off, face wild with amusement. She re-fixed her grip and prepared to see how far she could throw it until a voice resounded through the temple, interrupting her fun;
“Joy! Cease this, and take your fury somewhere else!”

She snapped out of her joyous trance. Carefully placing the ruined pillar back on the ground. Her mind clicked back on track, and she remembered one of the reasons why she came out here in the first place. She turned towards the door and broke into a sprint, kicking up a large cloud of dust and dirt. As fast as she began her sprint, she quite literally dug her heels into the ground, skidding to a stop. Her nose inches away from nearly crashing straight through one of the buildings, she let out a quick sigh of relief, before breaking into a rather fast “jog”, Winding her way quickly through the slums and being forced to slow down by the rather dense crowds of Romitum’s administrative district.

The ever-present skyscrapers still dominated the area, along with a mix of several other administrative buildings, be them for governmental purposes, banks, and various other headquarters for corporations. Shoving her way through the crowds, past several blocks of traffic and buildings, she soon stood in front of a building bearing the icon of a well-decorated sword. The operating headquarters of the Crusaders. Established by followers of the aptly named God of Crusades, it quickly established itself as one of the most prominent PMCs, specializing in hunting demons, domestically and in unprotected lands. Most of the success of it was thanks to the boon the God of Crusades granted. Those who pledged had higher reaction times, dexterity, enhanced senses and strength, practically creating in instantly well-trained soldier. The only downside is once you pledge, you’d have to work with the Crusaders for life, else forfeit your boon. One could register with them as they would any military organization, but Joy had other plans.

She marched on towards the building, pompously throwing the doors open. The reception area was lined with a few rows of chairs, a few casually dressed people filling out forms seated on them. At the front of the room sat a long counter, sitting four receptionists idly typing away on their computers. With a smile on her face, she continued marching forward to one of the receptionists.

“Hey, I wanna join the Crusaders Special Operations Unit!”

The receptionist looked up from his screen at the woman.

“Please ma’am, if you wish to do anything involving registration, you need to fill out a form first.” He handed her a form and pen, returning his focus to the computer.

“Ugh… Fine then. You better help me when I’m done!”

She marched off and sat herself down, slowly filling out the form. Name, Age, location of residence, church pledged to, she begrudgingly filled out every last bit before tossing the form right back in front of the receptionist, the clipboard clacking as it struck the desk.

“All right, I filled out the stuff. Now can you put me in the Special Operations Unit?”

The man took the form and purused through it.

“Sorry uh… Miss Joy, you can’t just sign up and get tested just like that. We have a special procedure for picking those enlisted who are qualified. If you really think you’re qualified, you’ll have to work a few years as a simple soldier or something, I dunno.”

“Excuse me?” She gripped tightly onto the counter, slowly digging her fingers in.

“In the meantime, we’re gonna process your form, and in around twenty-four to seventy-two hours, you’ll receive a letter telling where you’ll be stationed at and what job you’ll be working.”

“I’m sorry, I ain’t gonna let your system decide what I’m gonna do!” She pounded on the counter, leaving a slight imprint in the wood.

The man reached under the desk, pressing a silent alarm for security. “That’s just how this work- Excuse me? You pledged to the God of Righteous Fury?”

Her face lightened up somewhat. “Yeah, glad you finally noticed!”

“I’m sorry Ma’am, but pledging to a God like that well… You’re not going to be able to pledge to the God of Crusades, you realize that, right?”

“Yeah, so?”

“So it means your odds of even being enlisted as a recruit are close to none. Was it really worth the risk, throwing away a pledge like that? Although we could use a sanitation work-”

She suddenly leaned over the desk, hoisting the poor receptionist up by the collar with one arm, bringing him up close to her face.

“Look here, I didn’t come sign up here just to be put on toilet duty or wait a few years to get accepted. I’m too good for that crap, and if you didn’t realize it before, realize it now! You can do me a favor and try to put me in that unit where I belong!”

She noticed the receptionist reaching for something in his desk, and he barely managed to draw a pistol. She suspected that her righteous fury would protect her from small arms, but she wasn’t going to test that claim just yet. Using her free arm, she easily yanked the gun from his grasp, and gripped down onto it tightly. Slowly she gripped tighter and tighter until she felt the metal give way to her strength. The gun now a mangled mess of metal, she grinned at her handiwork, before changing her focus back to the now horribly terrified receptionist.

“Joy, please cease harassing the man.”

She whipped her head to the source of the voice.

“Who are you to-”

Standing at the other end of the counter was a figure standing a head and a half over her, armored totally from head to toe, wearing a camouflage coat over it. She looked up to it, staring face to face with a terrifying red-visored helmet, with an air-hose attached to a few visible oxygen tanks strapped over his back. She gulped before releasing the receptionist.

“Thank you Joy.” His voice came through a staticy and rather low-quality speaker from his helmet. “Now, I’d like-”

“How’d you know my name? And who are you to order me around?”

The man tapped his helmet. “All of the security feed runs through my visor. For your second question, will ‘Head of the Special Operations Unit’ command any respect from you?”

Her jaw dropped for a few moments before she regained herself, slowly walking towards him.

“Oh really? That’s great, I was hoping for you! My name is Joy Vera, and I was looking to see how I could join-”

She realized he wasn’t even looking at her, and was instead telling the receptionist how he could go home for the day for the trouble Joy caused. He slowly returned his focus to her.

“As for you, you’re lucky I have somewhat of an interest in you. Had you been anyone else I’d just have security throw you in prison for a few months or so and a nice hefty fine.”

She scoffed. “Not like they could hold me…”

“Now then, come with me. I still have a bit of business with you.”

He began to walk past the desk and down a hallway as Joy kept up gleefully. She kept looking around happily, noticing some recruits relaxing, other rooms where several worked away diligently on computers, passing by training gyms and locker rooms. She couldn’t help but smirk at the sight of several recruits training for whatever missions awaited them. Suddenly the man spoke once more.

“I think I should introduce myself a bit more formally. I’m Commander Simon Elpis, and I’m in charge of leading the Special Operations Unit, finding recruits, testing them, and so forth. You’re not exactly one who I expected to be deemed ‘pure of heart’ but you’ll have to do.”

“Hey, what does that mean exactly?”

“You’re not exactly the first I’ve met who was judged worthy of righteous fury. I’ve met two or three in my time. I never got to know them too well, nor truly see their fullest potential.” The duo passed through a doorway and began to climb some stairs. “But that’s what I plan on doing with you if you’re worthy.”

She smirked once more. “Please, whatever you have planned, I’m sure it’ll be of no issue!”

“Make no mistake Joy, your physical prowess is something for anyone to be impressed by, but that alone isn’t going to keep you in the unit, not alive for long at least.” They climbed to the uppermost floor and passed through into a hallway filled with several sealed steel doors, each with a small panel to its side. “I have a feeling how this is going to go, so here’s my test to you.”

He walked to one of the doors, drawing a key card from his pocket and swiping it. They quickly opened up and he stepped inside the room, motioning with his hand for Joy to wait. The door suddenly slammed, and through the panel he spoke.

“If you can get into my office, I’ll personally accept you as my partner. If not, you’re going to have to train with the recruits for a few years before you can try to join again. Good enough?”

She smiled and cracked her knuckles. “That’s the best offer I’ve heard in years!”

She reared back her fist and threw it at full force at the door, sending a resounding CRASH through the hall. Unfortunately for her, she didn’t feel the door budge a bit, and left a nice fist-shaped indent in the door. Her smile evaporated as she retracted her hand, shaking away the pain.

“All right, so this is how it’s gonna go, huh?”

She took a step back and delivered a strong kick at it, letting out the same crash, but only barely managing to shake the door. The intercom crackled to life.

“Think you’re the first who tried to brute-force down the door? I’ve seen them all: Bionically enhanced-folks or those who even made pacts with demons for far-above average strength. Unfortunately for them, you’d need the strength of a truck ramming full force into this thing if you wanna knock it down like that.”

She grunted, and decided for her plan B. She used her fingers to very slowly distort some of the metal at the center until she could finally get a grip between the two doors. She tried at first to wedge them apart, but found them barely moving.

“Come on… Move dammit!”

She strained every muscle in her arms and back to try and shove them apart, finally gaining some headway. As the slit between the door widened, she shoved her hands entirely in, pushing with every ounce of strength she could will. The doors creaked as she gripped tighter and pushed harder, the metal slowly bending to the two counteracting forces. Moments passed, she strained harder and harder, until finally with a guttural yell and a powerful shove, she forced the door open, gasping for breath and covered in sweat. Simon, who was typing away at his computer, turned to the sight.

Artwork by http://euphori-cat-art.tumblr.com/

“Well, I’ll be damned…”

She regained her breath. “Is that strong enough for you?”

He slowly clapped his hands together. “VERY impressive Joy. Maybe your brute force is enough… But not without discipline of course. I’ll keep my deal, but there’s more to it.”

Her eye twitched. “What now?”

He stood up and walked past her. “This is a standard security door you’ll find anywhere in Congeria. Granted, mine is somewhat high-end, but any facility that wants to protect something will be caught dead without one. Using an electromagnetic seal, it’ll exert somewhere around five tons of force.”


He closed the door in front of her. A few moments later, he easily shoved open the door, resulting in a double-take from Joy.

“I’m impressed that you were able to overcome the seal, but that electromagnetic force is something relatively easy to overcome if you know how the thing works. Using that strength of yours, you could have easily torn off the control panel and with some insulated gloves and a bit of technical know-how, easily yanked out the door’s power cables. Then you’d only have to deal with the hydraulics. I was able to disable both with a little bit of handiwork.”

Her shock turned to anger. “Yeah, so what? I got some common door open, does it matter?”

“Quite a bit actually. With the ops we’re going to be doing, it’s advantageous to get it open quickly and silently.”

She grumbled to herself as he continued. “But, a deal is a deal. I just hope my miscalculation wasn’t too big of a mistake. If you follow my orders, it shouldn’t.” He walked over to his desk and grabbed a packet of paper, handing it to Joy. “There’s just a bit more paperwork you need to finish up. Get it to me first thing in the morning and I’ll process it all myself. Then we’ll be able to do some work ASAP.”

She quickly snatched the packet out of his hand, her mood lightening a bit. “Well, if you say so… I’ll see you tomorrow then I guess?”

“I’ll see you then, assuredly.”

She turned and began jogging out of the office. Simon sighed and turned to his computer once more, typing up a small report to a repairman.

It wasn’t long before Joy finally sprinted all the way back to her apartment,  bounding her way home with glee. Unlocking her door and throwing it open, she entered her apartment. Passing by her well-kept living living room, she paused as she eyed her home gym, made up of a small assortment of machines and weights. She chuckled to herself, walking over to. “Well old friend, looks like I’m way out of your league now.” She picked up one of the larger weighted plates with one arm, and gently tossed it up and down, smiling. Taking the weight in both hands, she began to attempt to bend the mass of metal, it slowly giving way to her strength until it was bent messily in half.

“I wonder if there’s any equipment that I can keep up with now… Maybe the Crusaders can provide.”

Passing by her kitchen, which was loaded with every appliance and more a woman of her stature needed, she entered her bedroom, which was neatly organized with a nice quality bed, a fully stocked dresser, and a small desk area dedicated to work. She pulled out the desk chair and quickly unraveled the packet Simon had given her. She found a rather hefty assortment of papers. First she pulled out more registration papers which she neatly placed to the side. Next, a field guide for the Crusaders. She scoffed at the sight and tossed it into the wastebin. Lastly, were several bills: One for charges of assault, and a few others for property damage. She slammed the papers on her desk.


On the other side of the city, Simon, still fully clad in armor and helmet, returned to his abode. Pushing open the door, he entered a realm that was a mess of scrap, wires, and other various electrical parts. His living room couldn’t even be called that. It was more of a miniature workshop. His kitchen almost looked like that too, filled with several pieces of blending equipment, and a large cabinet of alcohol that he wished he could drink someday. He made his way towards the kitchen, kicking away pieces of scrap until he approached the fridge. Swinging it open, it was filled to the brim with several vial-like tubes filled with what could only be described as sludge. Taking out one of the vials, he hooked it up to the front of his helmet, slowly draining it. Finishing his meal, he audibly gagged and coughed, before placing the vial on the counter. He worked his way to his bedroom which could also be described as a library. Hundreds upon hundreds of books, photo albums, textbooks, and so forth all shoved in shelves and stacked up high lay at the opposite end of the room. Many of them lie wide open, still waiting to be finished. He sat himself on his bed, slowly laying down.

“Gods, I hope this deal isn’t going to be the one that kills me.”

You can read Part 2 Here