Once in a lifetime chapter 5

“I recognize you. You’re always the one constantly in a hurry to get home, no?”
Kirino spoke in a very stern tone. She locked eyes with Louise, crossing her arms like a disappointed parent.

“It’s Louise! My name is Louise!” She shouted, annoyed. “Surely you’re high and mighty enough to remember other students when they all know you, huh?”
“Well then, Louise. Now is your time to leave. I have a job to finish here.”
Louise took a step forward.
“Hey no, I’m here for the same thing! I didn’t think I was the only one who wanted to save the town too.”
Kirino raised an eyebrow, giving a scowling yet stern look. “My work is none of your business. Leave now, and tell no one of this.”

“How’d you summon that lightning like that? Is that sword of yours an artifact that does something like that? I have one similar, and I didn’t realize you were like me a bit.” She held up her hands, showing her gauntlets. “These give me some real neat strength and-”
Kirino dashed forward, drawing her katana slightly and slamming the butt of her sword into Louise’s nose. She stumbled back, clutching her face while looking annoyed. Kirino cocked her head.

“Durability too, what was that-”
Kirino lurched forward again, attempting to jab her in the stomach. Louise leapt to the side.

“Oh I see how it is!” She grinned, cracking her knuckles. “You think you’re too good for help, miss prodigy!”
She stepped forward, rearing back her fist and throwing her fist forward. Kirino sidestepped it, grabbing her arm, flipping her over, and slamming her on the ground. Louise practically rebounded from the impact, hopping back up to her feet.

“I can do this all night you know! All your fancy expensive karate classes can’t help you now!”
Kirino gave a look of disappointment. Louise charged forward with a punch, which was sidestepped, followed by a kick, which was ducked under. She continued to throw several punches, each one effortlessly dodged by her opponent. Following another dodged blow, Kirino body checked her, knocking her back and stunning the brawler. Trying to follow up with another to her stomach, Louise was barely able to dodge, only for her dodge to be read with a kick to the side of her stomach.

Despite her bullet-proof body from the gauntlets, it still wasn’t doing much to dampen the impact. She could feel her stomach churn from what that blow could have been had she not been protected.

Seeing the black-haired girl come in for another blow, Louise stomped into the ground, kicking up a plume of dirt and dust. Kirino leapt back, but Louise lunged through the cloud, fist aimed at Kirino’s face. As if she could sense the intense force of the oncoming blow, Kirino elegantly ducked under it. Louise flew forward until she skidded to a halt, whirling around.

Kirino’s look of disappointment changed to be more stern.


Sprinting through the fields, Davis stumbled to a halt, bending over and gasping for breath. He was pretty sure this was the way where the lightning came from, but nothing in his mind was processing except for “sit down and rest a bit more.” Between breaths, he took a swig from his water bottle, and looked ahead.

Several yards away was a massive turtle shell, and two figures fighting each other in the moonlight. One of them was constantly tumbling and getting back to their feet.

It was clearly Louise, and she needed help.

A few more deep breaths, he redoubled his sprint, adrenaline filling his system with the urge to save his friend. He got close enough to the point he could distinguish who the two figures were. While Louise was still being punched and thrown around, the other figure was… Kirino? He stood still, observing the dueling girls, trying to give his brain time to process everything.
His thought process was interrupted when he noticed the turtle shell shift slightly.

He froze, shifting his focus on the monster.


Louise was feeling she had pissed off Kirino big time or something, because now she was attacking unrelentingly. Every time she attempted to throw a punch or kick, Kirino was two steps ahead, following up with a blow of her own. When Louise found some windows of opportunity, it was as if Kirino read her mind, and would grapple and throw Louise onto the ground. Constantly being knocked around like that was beginning to get exhausting, and Kirino clearly had way more endurance than she had.

If only these gauntlets gave me extra weight or something was all that was on her mind.
But maybe I can use this durability a bit better… I only need one solid blow.

She kicked back, launching herself far away. She slumped over, and began panting hard. She hacked, and spat a wad of spit in Kirino’s direction.

“Come on… hoo… Your fists are like flies! Aren’t you on roids or something to get a body like that?”
Kirino lurched forward, throwing a kick to Louise’s side.
Louise didn’t even bother trying to dodge, tanking the hit. She felt her insides shudder from the blow.
She increased the ferocity of her attacks. Louise constantly recoiled, acting like every hit was doing more than it actually was.
Then, Kirino tried to go for another gut punch.

Louise took it, but lunged forward, bear-hugging the girl.
“Gotcha! You can’t read when somebody’s faking their pain, huh? Told ya you aren’t good at everything!”
The girl firmly in her grip, she lifted her up and decided that a suplex would be a fitting move to knock her out.

Louise yelped, releasing her grip and backing off. Something fairly painful had stung her hand. The pain subsided quickly, but her opponent had already broken free. Kirino quickly backed off, clicking her sword back into its hilt.
Her expression changed, to something more intense. She reached for her sword and dashed forward, closing the distance between the two in seconds. Louise leapt back as the sword was drawn, the blade slicing across her leg.

She groaned in pain, feeling like the blade cut her skin. She stumbled on the landing and fell on her butt. Across her leg, her compression pants were cut, and a red mark across the exposed skin. It hadn’t broken the skin, but it still burned terribly. She clenched her fists.

“Oh you’ll pay for that one! Need your fancy rich toys in order to keep in the game, huh?” She screamed, charging forward.
Kirino stood firm, keeping her hand on her blade. Seeing the moment her sword was being drawn, Louise leapt into the air, grazing the edge of the blade. She smiled to herself, seeing Kirino’s expression change to that of surprise. Landing behind, Louise tried to grab her from behind again.

Then, a flash, followed by a crack.

She felt her body seize up, a buzzing, burning sensation overtaking every limb. She fell to her knees, realizing Kirino was no longer in front, but behind her.
Just barely shaking off the feeling, she got back to her feet.

Then another flash and crack.

Kirino was now in front of her again, stumbling and almost falling to her knees. She fell to all fours, holding steady and looking like she might puke. Louise, however, was flat on the ground, unable to move or feel anything. The only things that she could move were her eyes, glancing around in a panic.
Kirino stayed on the ground for a few moments, heaving and trying to keep her stomach under control, before getting to her feet. She walked to Louise, placing her hands on her gauntlets.

“You’re in over your head. I don’t know what your job is here, but it ends tonight.”

She tugged, the gauntlets slipping from Louise’s hand. She twitched her hands, trying to grasp.

“Hey, uh this turtle is moving again!”

Kirino spun around, sword in hand, to the sight of a masked boy pointing at the beast. The turtle was now floating in the air, with four heads popping out of each leg hole. A head from behind began sucking in air, the tall grass visibly being pulled towards it. Kirino leapt out of the way as the opposing head let out a blast of air at her, propelling the entire beast away. Louise’s limp body tumbled into the tall grass from the blast.

Kirino huffed, dashing after the escaping monster.

Davis hurried over to the downed Louise, pulling a small first aid kit out of his jacket. He got to his knees, examining her.

She was still motionless and twitching. There was a red mark across her leg where Kirino had cut, but thankfully the skin didn’t look broken. Her eyes were open, staring straight at him.

He opened the kit, staring at the mix of bandages and ointments. He sighed, closing it.

“I don’t think I got anything for paralysis in here.” He at least took out some antibiotic ointment, rubbing it over the burn. “I think this might help-ish?”
He took out his phone, hoping to quickly search what to do, but groaned when he noticed there was no service.

She twitched again, this time a bit more aggressively. Then she let out an agonizing roar, as if somebody terribly stubbed their toe.

“YEOW.” She wriggled her body, feeling the numbness dissipate. “that hurts all over the place…”
She shakily stood up, but fell back down to her knees. Davis offered her his shoulder, bringing her up.
“I always knew she was a big show-off. That lightning was NOTHING!”
“You sure you all right? You honestly look kinda terrible.”

Her outfit and skin were covered in smudges of dirt. Her skin looked somewhat pale, and she was still shaking. She stood up free from Davis’s support, stretching out her arms.”

“I think I can handle-” She winced, stumbling on her leg a bit. “You got any painkillers in there or something?”
He opened up the kit and handed her a few tabs of ibuprofen. She downed them with water.

“Hoo, thanks. Now come on, we can’t let her get that turtle! The pain should be gone by the time we catch-”
He grabbed her arm before she could run off.

“Hold on, first off, what was Kirino doing with that turtle? Did our benefactor recruit more people without us knowing?”
She shrugged. “No clue, she said she was doing a job, but she didn’t want me involved. It can’t be any good.”

“Second, no offense, but she was kinda… kicking your ass. Hell, she didn’t even have to draw her weapon! Could you imagine what it woulda been like if she actually used that sword?”

Louise pouted. “Well could you imagine if I actually used MY sword? I had to hold myself back for her safety.”
“I don’t think that would have made a difference.”
She shook her head. “Besides, two things are different. First, I know what she’s capable of. I get her fighting style, and that weird lightning trick. I doubt she can use that frequently if she saved it for last.”
Davis rolled his eyes. “Yeah, like your style of blindly punching and letting yourself get beat up is gonna help.”
“Hey, I’m sure I’ve practiced fistfighting more than you mister sleepyhead!”
Davis smiled and shrugged. “I mean, why do I even need to know fistfighting? It’s not cool to get into fights.” He paused. “Wait, do you fight anyone at school? Why DO you practice fistfighting-”

“As for point number two, if we make it a two on one, she can’t possibly win, right?”
He shook his head, forgetting the previous question he asked.
“True, just one pepper spray bomb and I don’t think she’d do too well, right? I just hope it won’t hurt her too badly…” He took one from his jacket. “This is my last one though, so I’ll hang tight till we really need it. We have both her and that turtle to deal with.”
“I’ll think of more when we get there, but we gotta hurry! I think they went this way-”
She tried to run, but found Davis was still holding her arm.

“I had a little bit of foresight. That turtle was waking up when you two were fighting. I really couldn’t fight it alone, so I duct taped a tracker to it. Just in case it fled while you two were fighting.”
Pulling open an app on his phone, there was a small blue dot heading close to the foothills, entering the blotted off area.

“That’s genius! I didn’t know you knew your way around programming too?”
He scratched the back of his head. “I kinda don’t. It’s a GPS dog collar actually… I wanted to… Nevermind.”

The duo trekked back to the roads and resumed their journey to the hills. Walking up the jagged dirt road didn’t prove to be too much of an issue, but trouble arose when they had to begin hiking off-trail in order to get to the GPS ping. Louise’s trailblazing pace was brought to a crawl as she struggled to search around the dark for proper footing, along with avoiding spiked plants or dead brush. Davis eventually was able to overtake her and begin leading, mostly thanks to the fact he could see better with his goggles. As they continued their climb, the foliage died out and the hill became abruptly steep, impossible to continue straight up any longer. Moonlight was clearly beaming down, much to the joy of Louise. They walked along the slope until they found a small set of footholds which they could climb up.
Peering over the steep edge, Louise’s eyes bugged out, and she sunk back behind it, turning off her headlamp. Davis did the same, crouching next to her.

https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/919097636718538752/946185475931111484/CH5_P1.png

“What did you see?” He whispered.

“It’s like a big crater over there, a nest for the turtle! It was awake too! I think it knows we’re coming.”

“All right. Did you see Kirino anywhere?”
She shook her head. “I only got a quick glance, but I think that cryptid would be a bit more active if she was down there too.”
“All right. Got any ideas on how to beat it?”
“Well I saw how it sucks in air and spits it out as a weapon and form of movement, so I think maybe throwing something like a firework inside of it when it sucks in will be our best bet? Hopefully we’ll wound it enough that it can’t run away, and just keep repeating that strategy till it dies.”
“And if the fireworks don’t do anything?”
“I’ll improvise something. But if he runs, we got the GPS, so we can track him another night. Hopefully then, Kirino won’t be bugging us.”
Davis nodded.
“Let me sneak in ahead since I have these.” He pointed to his goggles. “Just in case Kirino did beat us here and is waiting for us.”
Putting on his goggles, he peered over the ledge into the crater.
There was the monster, nested in the center with four heads scanning the area.
The crater itself was pretty large, around the size of a parking lot, and thankfully not too sloped. Davis could only assume that the monster had leveled the top of this hill ages ago for a well hidden nesting spot. He creeped closer to the monster, his jacket quietly jingling from all the gear. He took great care to make sure not to slip on the slope, ducking from rock to rock to get as close as possible. He stopped at the last rock he could, only a few yards away from the monster. He could hear it breathing and snorting, and the movement of each of its patrolling heads. He peeked several times, finding nobody but the turtle. He took out his walkie.

“All right, it looks-”
A light was shining on him from somewhere behind.. He turned around to find Kirino standing there with a flashlight mounted on her chest.

“I’ve already told Louise that this job is mine, and I expect no interference. Leave now.”

He held up his hands in front of him.

“Hold on, I’m not a threat to you or anything, let’s just… talk it out or something?”
She cocked her head. “If you’re not a threat, why are you willing to face off against that UMA? Clearly if you’re confident in your ability to kill such a beast, I should be no issue to you.”

“It’s because… That’s beside the point. You want it dead too, right? I want it dead, you want it dead, so why don’t we work together?”
“I can assure you that our interests don’t align at all. Now leave, I don’t wish for you to get hurt in the middle of our battle-”
She stood up straight and her eyes widened. She whirled around with her sword drawn, holding it up to block. Louise came soaring towards her, leg outstretched, hoping to get one solid kick.
Her foot collided with her sword, a blast of sparks blew out from the impact, and she was sent flying backwards, landing on her feet.

“You’re absolutely pathetic thinking stalling would work.” She said with a grimace on her face.

“What’s that saying Sun Tzu said or something, All’s fair in warfare?” Louise yelled with a grin.
The turtle behind the two shrieked, and all of them felt a rumbling. Chunks of debris were flung towards the trio as the earth around them shaked, followed by a terrible grinding. Louise and Kirino leapt out of the way, as Daivs turned to see the massive turtle, skidding across the ground at the speed of a truck. He turned intangible in a nick of time as the shell of the monster slammed into the slope, kicking up a torrent of rocks and dirt. Splinters of wood from felled tree stumps sprayed everywhere, and trees near the edge of the wall collapsed in from the impact. Davis re-materialized, crashing to the ground as if he dove out of the way. He turned back, seeing three heads of the turtle staring right at him.

“All on my own again?” He muttered to himself as he got back to his feet.


After dodging out of the way, with dust still in the air, Louise charged on through where she expected to find Kirino. Seeing a silhouette, she slid on the ground, hoping to sweep her leg and pin her down, only for Kirino to leap over her attack, swiping at her with her blade.
It nicked her shoulder, giving the same stinging sensation, and she rolled back to her feet. The dust cleared, she caught sight of Kirino standing silently, sword in front of her.

“Come on, don’t you wanna do that lightning trick again?” She stuck her tongue out.

Kirino charged forward in response, slashing straight at her. Louise ducked under it, but Kirino quickly followed up with an elbow strike to her back, knocking her to the floor. Louise bounced back to her feet, throwing a punch that was deftly dodged.

“The nice thing about these gauntlets is they don’t need some cheap trick like that sword or whatever you do with the lightning. They keep on working no matter what!”
It was a boldfaced lie. She felt herself getting more exhausted the more she got knocked around. The more tired she got, the more each blow hurt.
Any moment she could take another hit and collapse to the ground for good, and then the gauntlets were as good as gone.
If she couldn’t use that lightning for whatever reason, there was at least some chance for victory, if she could land one solid hit…


Davis was glad this time around they were fighting in the dead of night with no flare or anything to hinder his ability. Every attempted attack from the turtle was evaded effortlessly, thanks to his ability. He had never used it in succession this much, but he was glad he wasn’t too physically taxed. The monster was slowly being drawn away from the wall it slammed into, hovering eight feet in the air with its star-filled belly.
Davis continued evading until he caught one of the rear heads beginning to inhale.
He lit a firecracker and broke into a sprint, sparks flying out of his hand. He hurled it across the crater, getting sucked into the intake. The eyes of the monster widened, and one of the heads coughed up the still-lit firecracker towards the dueling girls. Davis glanced over, clenching his teeth as he watched Kirino instinctively leap away, and Louise stand and brace for the blow.


In a colorful explosion, Louise felt stinging all over her body, ironically feeling like she was splashed with ultra cold water.
She was feeling even more tired, covered in little red marks over her arms from clashes with Kirino, and let out a huff. There was still a lot of smoke in the air from the explosion, and in a rush of adrenaline, she launched herself forward, rearing back her fist at the Kirino-shaped silhouette once more.


The turtle let out a deafening roar, attacking more ferociously at Davis as a result of his attack. Multiple times, he had to wait incorporeal as the monster devastated where he once stood with a flurry of attacks. After re-materializing, the turtle seemed winded from its latest flurry. He glanced around for anything just to hide behind to re-plan.
He dove behind a few boulders that were upset from the rampage. It wouldn’t be perfect cover from the rampage, but maybe it would give him enough time to recuperate.


Kirino’s eyes were watering from the firecracker. She took a single second to rub them, still keeping her focus on where Louise was standing.
In her mind, she was hoping that the blast would at least stagger her long enough to recuperate.
As she lifted her head, Louise was an arm’s length away, staring straight into her eyes and fist reared back.
https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/919097636718538752/949613540757606430/CH5_P2.png

She threw her fist forward, and Kirino quickly lifted her blade, the gauntlets clashing with them. A blast emanated from the impact letting out an incredible surge of energy from the clash. The two were engulfed in mysterious light, feeling an overwhelming amount of power pushing against each other. The strange metal of the gauntlets held strong against the mysterious blade, but kirino shook to even hold firm against such force.

https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/919097636718538752/949607936064389140/CH5_P3.pnghttps://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/919097636718538752/956901394454040616/CH5_P4.png
The two locked eyes intensely. Louise pushed as hard as she could and Kirino’s feet ground against the dirt, barely holding against the power of the gauntlets.
Beneath their feet, the ground began to crack from the sheer clashing power. Realizing she wouldn’t last against these forces, Kirino broke her sword free from the clash, swinging upwards to deflect the oncoming fist. She kicked Louise in the stomach amidst her retreat, and then flashed into lightning, electrocuting her. Feeling the electricity rage through her body, Louise yelped in pain, falling to the ground. Kirino stood firm only for a second before falling over on all fours. She began to heave and puke.


Davis was caught off guard by the crack from the lightning, almost missing the turtle preparing another air-burst attack. He ghosted as a blast obliterated his position, kicking up a plume of dust.
Phasing back in, he lit his pepper spray bomb and tossed it, a cloud of red mist engulfing the monster. It inhaled again, sucking up all the spicy particulate. It gagged and coughed, crashing down onto the crater floor. All of its heads were coughing up red clouds of pepper spray, and Davis knew this was the only chance he had to do some kinda deathblow. The sound of lightning meant Louise was in trouble, so he had to try something new. He gulped and closed his eyes, trying to clear his mind. He lit a firecracker and de-materialized with it still in his hand.
He opened his eyes and ran forward to where the turtle was.
He felt his heart begin to race faster as he stood there, waiting for the fuse to burn out just right.
He focused on his hand, managing to re-materialize only his hand, inside of the monster.

It was incredibly warm, fleshy, and his hand felt like it was on fire.

He clenched his teeth tight, moaning in agony, and released the firecracker. The second he let go, he returned his hand to the immaterial world.
He gripped his hand and put distance between him and the monster, re-materializing in full. His hand had a big gash in the back of it and was bleeding, he yelled out in pain and grabbed it tight.

Then an explosion, followed by what sounded like a rockslide and a shriek.

All four heads of the monster looked to the sky, screaming in pain. The top of the shell had been blown off, revealing a pulsing, fleshy inside. Davis grit his teeth again, lighting a cherry bomb. Davis phased out, leapt up into the air, and phased back in, landing atop the shell.
He stared in disgust at the writhing mess of internal organs this strange beast had. He couldn’t tell if they were intestines, lungs, a stomach maybe, or some weird organ for storing air.
Soon, they would be nothing but married, charred flesh.

With another explosion and another shriek, the four heads of the monster fell limp.


Hearing both of the explosions, Louise could only internally smile, as her face muscles were totally numb.

Good job Davis, we got both Kirino and the monster

Her joy dissolved when she noticed a stumbling Kirino walk into her vision. She grabbed her gauntlets again.

“No matter how many times we encounter each other, the outcome is always going to be the same. This work is mine, and mine alone. Stay out of it.”

“I think that’s only true if we’re one on one…” Louise mumbled, her mouth regaining feeling.

Davis re-materialized and leapt at Kirino, knocking her over. Her stern expression was broken, replaced with shock.

“What the-”

“Whatever your dumb job was, we did it way better! The monster is dead!” Davis yelled, pointing to the corpse of the beast.

She turned, seeing all of the limp heads of the monster. Davis leapt down and grabbed hold of Louise, dematerializing with her.
Kirno turned back to find the two had completely vanished.

Louise saw nothing but complete darkness.
Davis’s voice spoke to her.

“Just hold on tight, I’ve never done this before, and I don’t know how long I can hold you in here.”
She gripped him tighter as Davis looked around with his goggles. He saw the shadowy outline of Kirino investigating the corpse of the beast. She glanced around at the mess of exploded organs. She strutted away, climbing out of the crater. Now that she was gone, he re-materialized with Louise, rolling onto his back and gasping for breath.

“We… Really need to stop relying on luck for all this stuff…” he said between deep breaths.
Louise giggled, wiggling her recovering limbs.
“I think I fought just fine. I fought Kirino there to a draw, and still didn’t need to use my sword!”
“I saw you on the floor and her on top of you. Again.”
“Well she was down and out for a while too!”
Davis stared back at the stars. “Still, weird knowing that she’s in on all of this stuff too.”
“She’s the last person I’d want involved with all this stuff.” Louise grumbled to herself. “Such a stuck-up tryhard. She’s probably getting paid to do it or something dumb like that, nothing noble. Maybe I can jump her after school or something.”
David whipped his head towards her. “Louise, do you WANT to get arrested?”
She shrugged, sitting up and stretching out. “I dunno, what if she jumps me first?”
“Because we could report her to the police? Sure they won’t believe ‘she’s fighting us over monster hunting’, but they will believe us if she attacks us. With a sword. I mean they won’t believe the lightning but… You get the point right?”

She grumbled. “Fine, fine-” She caught sight of his bleeding hand. “Oh god, you got hurt? Quick get some bandaids or something!”
He looked back at the cut. “Oh yeah, uh got this doing something really stupid against that turtle.” He took out the first aid kit, quickly wrapping the wound in gauze. “This should help at least for now.”

Louise got up to her feet, wincing. “Hey Davis?”
“Yeah?”
“I think I definitely need to take a day off tomorrow.”

Far from the crater, Louise was speaking on a satellite phone.

“I was unable to complete the job. Two others interfered, and now the UMA is destroyed.”

“Are you aware of who the interferences are?”
“Yes, but I will be unable to do anything to them directly, as they are aware of my identity as well.”

“That’s fine, I have other methods. I want everything you know about them reported in full.”

Once in a LIfetime: Chapter 3

School went along as school usually did for the two, save for Louise spending more time looking at the ceiling, lost in her thoughts of how the night would go. That, and other methods to possibly kill the Wendigo. A crossbow, maybe a sharper, heavier greatsword? Or maybe the benefactor could airdrop her a new weapon? She kept thinking on more and more until final bell rang.
She grabbed her bag and bolted out of the school.
Back home in a matter of minutes, she tossed her backpack to the side and ran into her room. Through the mess of papers and books and throwing open her closet, she made a quick change of clothes: Brown cargo shorts, and a t-shirt with an alien face on front, all while still keeping on her jacket. Off in the corner was a large camping backpack, one she bought ages ago that she hoped to use for a moment like this.

She dragged it downstairs, tossing some pans into it, followed by throwing open the pantry. She threw in sports drinks, water bottles, granola bars, and mixed nuts before slamming it shut.

She hurried over to the garage, grabbing a neatly folded tent and shoving it in. She finished off her scouring by strapping a rolled up sleeping bag to the top of her pack, and clipping a lantern to the side. With everything ready to go, she pulled out her phone, checking the clock.

It was only 3:30.

She sighed. There was no way Davis would be prepped to go right now, would he?
She dropped the backpack by the door and sat on the couch, browsing through sites on her phone and glancing at the clock every few minutes. 

By 4:00, she thought he had to at least have SOMETHING ready, or at least something by the time she’d arrive. Before flying out the door, she spent a bit of time cooking herself a few hot dogs, wrapping them up in foil and tossing them into a small bag. Swooping up her backpack, she hurried over to Davis’s home. 


By 4:45, the sun was on its last legs, preparing to dip beneath the horizon. Louise stood in front of Davis’s home, sitting quaintly at the edge of the forest. She banged on the door.

“DAVIS, I’m HERE! YOU ASLEEP IN THERE?”
She waited for a minute. No response. She immediately lifted the doormat, finding the key Davis mentioned. Unlocking the door, she stomped into the living room and tossed her camping pack onto the couch. Down the hall, his door was slightly cracked open. She grinned to herself as she pulled out two pans from her pack. Slowly pushing the door open, Davis was found asleep under several fluffy blankets. She crept closer, stretching out her arms, one pan in each hand. She brought them together like cymbals over and over, yelling
“HEY DAVIS NAP TIME IS OVER WE GOTTA GET TO WORK!”

Davis screamed, vanishing into a poof of shadows, his cocoon of blankets deflating. Louise giggled madly to herself as Davis re-materialized with a very upset look on his face. The fact that Davis was still wearing his big green jacket only made her giggle more.

“Come on, what was that for? Couldn’t you have like, shaken me awake or something?”
Louise shook her head, still smiling. “You prob would have fallen asleep shortly after, wouldn’t you?”
Davis huffed. “No, I’m perfectly capable of waking up if somebody wants me up.” He stretched his arms out and let out a yawn. “Couldn’t you have also given me 30 more minutes?”
“Well I also wanted to check in on the new thing you said you were gonna do? For the wendigo?”
“What?” He let out a big yawn. “Oh yeah, that. I haven’t started yet.”
“Come ON, it’s nearly dark out and you haven’t started?”
“Hey hey, don’t rush me! Plus it’s only,” He pulled out his phone. “What, we got five to six hours till it’s dark enough? I wanna eat first too.”
“Ooh, this I came prepared for! Sit at the table, wait for me!”

She dragged Davis into the kitchen, giving him a seat as she placed the baggie in the center. She unwrapped the two hot dogs, and handed one to him. 

“We’re gonna need a bit more energy for today, and I don’t think frozen food would cut it too well, so I took the time to cook something nice! Eat up!”
Davis couldn’t deny, it was a very nice looking hot dog. Nice browned skin, lined with relish and topped evenly with ketchup and mustard. There was, however, one issue.

“I… I’ll heat up some pizza. I don’t like mustard-”
Louise’s happy expression vanished. “I worked hard on this to make sure you’d have energy for tonight. Eat it.”
Davis nervously chuckled to himself. “Uh, shoot, you did? I Thought you microwaved it or something… uhh…”

She stared daggers at him. He returned a sheepish grin before swiping the hot dog, taking a chomp out of it. The sweet relish at least balanced out the taste of mustard.
“Sorry” he said with his mouth full.

Louise smiled again and tore into her hot dog.

“So,” She said, mouth also full, “What did you have planned?”
Davis swallowed. “Long story short, glowstick bomb. It’s a case with those chemicals that glow, so you pull a pin and it mixes them, then you throw it.”
Louise nodded excitedly, taking another bite of her food. 

“It’s like, a lot of that chemical stuff too, so I’m HOPING some might drip off, giving it a glowing trail we can follow. Worst case scenario we can look for the green glowing monster on foot.”

“That sounds real smart!”
“Oh, it’s nothing…” He quickly took a few more bites, finishing up the food. He went over to the fridge, pulling out and cracking open another energy drink.
“Now just give me like, a few hours tops.”
“HOLD ON!” 

Davis froze in place.

“If you’re gonna make me wait, at least give me the wifi pass or something?”


“All done, and set to go.”
Davis emerged from his garage, fully clad for the night: Night vision goggles lifted up to his forehead, a neck gaiter scrunched beneath his chin, and his jacket jingling with what only he knew was tucked away in its pockets. In his hands were two bottles of bright green liquid, with a small plastic bulb on top. The bulbs had a plastic tab running out of its stem.

“Here’s our uh…” He scratched his head, staring at the bottle. “Wendigo tracker? No, it’s wendigo marker… No wait it’s just glow marker I guess? I can think of a name later.” He handed a bottle to Louise, along with a hip holster. 

“So once either one of us finds the wendigo, pull this tab, shake it up, make sure it’s glowing, then chuck it at it. Then we meet up, wendigo runs away, and we chase it.”
Louise took them, strapping the bottle and holster to her hip.
“Yup, that’s the plan! I got some pans at home to make lots of noise.”
Davis showed the inside of his jacket, revealing dozens of pockets and a utility belt around his waist. Opening one of the pouches, he pulled out a golf-ball sized object with a fuse sticking out of it.

“These should hopefully be a lot better. These are cool fireworks called cherry bombs. They pretty much sound like gunshots so hopefully the wendigo will home in on me.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen these for sale before.”
Davis laughed nervously. “Uh yeah, they’re kinda special, and I’ll leave it at that. Oh, and here.”

He handed her a walkie talkie and a headlamp.

“These are really old, but they’re way sturdier than your phone.” He pulled out one for himself, pushing the button on the side as Louise’s crackled to life. “You know how to use these, right?” His voice echoed through the walkie.

“Yeah, no problem!”
He clipped it inside of his jacket. “Well, let’s get going then. The sooner we catch it, the better, right?”


The sun was completely gone, the sky overtaken by the night. Thousands of stars were peppered over the thicket of the woods, little moonlight from the half-moon trickling on through. Starting at Louise’s “hideout”, she set up her tent and sleeping bag, a somewhat upset Davis watching. 

We’re not gonna be out that long, are we?

She finished it off by setting up a high-powered lamp.

“So if we get lost, we can just follow the light back here, right?” She said, slipping on her half-gaunts.
“For you probably, but don’t worry about me.” Davis crossed his arms. “I know this forest like the back of my hand.”

“Good then, you can help in case we lose track of everything. Let’s get hunting!”

The two nodded to each other, before turning around and heading off in opposite directions.  


Shining the light around, there was nothing but more and more trees, with the faint glow of her camping lantern behind her. 

“Should be far enough…”
She took off her backpack, pulling out two pans. For a minute straight, she clanged them together, hollering at the top of her lungs. Sounding like some deranged banshee, she wondered if maybe she should have brought earbuds to protect her now-ringing ears from all the noise she was making.

She eventually paused, bending over and catching her breath from the nonstop yelling, glancing around periodically. 

Nothing heard and nothing seen. She groaned.

“Maybe he can’t hear me?”
She grabbed her pack, and moved off to a new location, flinching as a sudden BOOM resounded through the trees.


Davis kept walking until he couldn’t see the light of the campsite anymore. 

I know how these beasts work, I know where I’m going, I got this. He repeated in his mind. Despite the evening chill, he was still sweating.

He took a deep breath, pulling out a cherry bomb and lighter, lighting the firework. He threw it, turning running to cover and covering his ears.

Wait, this won’t start a fire, would it? Oh crap-

The resounding explosion rang through his body, feeling like all of his bones were shaking. He clenched his teeth and his eyes harder for several seconds, creeping them open ever so slowly after the shaking stopped. He turned to where he threw the bomb.

Thankfully, there was no fire, just the soft glow of some burned foliage. He sighed in relief.

Just gotta wait a few minutes, then throw another. Rinse and repeat, you have this solid.


Louise continued her nuisance spree, resorting now to simply walking mindlessly around and slamming her pans together. 

“COME ON OUT WENDIGO, I WANNA FINISH WHAT WE STARTED YOU RUNAWAY BABY.”

Pausing to rest her throat for a few moments, she noticed she was awfully close to the edge of the forest. She could see a few homes, and the road as well. 

Another boom eminated from within the forest. She sighed.

Davis is probably making better progress than me.

She turned to move deeper into the forest, when she froze, hearing a siren behind her.

“Hold it right there!” A commanding voice spoke.

Louise’s eyes widened and her heart went into overdrive. She reached down to her hip, turning off her walkie talkie.

God please don’t get into any trouble Davis.

She turned around, face to face with a police officer shining a light onto her face.



   


Davis glanced at his clock. It had been 15 minutes since he threw the first cherry bomb. 

Should I wait longer? It’s been a bit, maybe he’s stalking me? Maybe he didn’t hear it. It wouldn’t hurt to throw another now, right? I only have four more. Maybe 5 more minutes, I’ll throw up another.

He had been sitting against a tree, glancing around with his night vision goggles looking for any sign of movement. There was still absolutely nothing. No birds, no deer, no giant spiders or bigfoot or moving trees or anything. 

Is the wendigo even out tonight? Maybe Louise was being way too hasty.

He lit and tossed another bomb, this time taking care to run far off to avoid the rattling feeling.

BOOM

He sat back at the tree and waited for a few more minutes, catching sight of nothing still. He groaned to himself, about to sink back into his thoughts.

His ears abrputly caught an incredibly soft sound: The slight crackle of somebody stepping on a dead leaf. He shot up to his feet, frozen in his place like a deer in headlights.

The noise came from behind him.

He very, very, carefully turned around.


The police officer was dragging Louise by the shoulder. 

“Come on, my mom knows where I am! I have every right to be out here!”
“Yeah, but you don’t really have a right to be making enough noise to wake up the entire block.” The officer grumbled. “It’s also against the law to be setting off fireworks in the woods. Don’t you remember Smokey the bear?”
Louise tried to shake his grip off of him, cautiously trying not to use the power of the gauntlets. “You don’t understand, it’s not me setting off the fireworks!”
The officer paused, raising an eyebrow at her.
“You mean somebody else is with you too?”
“Uh…” She looked at his feet. “No I just mean I didn’t use any fireworks. I was just banging pans and screaming, there’s nothing wrong with that, right?”
The officer let out a grumbly sigh. “Look, I don’t care, we’re just going to take you to the station and call your parents, all right?”
A new ear-deafening BOOM blasted through the forest, even louder than the last, causing the officer to flinch and instinctively cover his head. Free from his grasp, Louise turned to the location and broke into a full blown sprint, bounding far away from the officer before he recovered. 

“HEY HOLD IT!” The officer screamed from behind.
She didn’t even bother to look back, focusing on sprinting as fast as she could into the thicket. The officer shined his flashlight into the forest as she vanished into the trees.

“Man, just screw this,” He muttered to himself, as he turned back to his police cruiser. 

Davis locked eyes with the wendigo, it’s monstrous face alone overwhelming his entire presence. The face raised higher as the monster reared to its full height, swinging downwards towards the boy. He quickly de-materialized into a puff of smoke as the beast’s claws smashed into the ground, throwing dirt everywhere.
Davis, despite being immaterial to the physical world, lost in a mess of shadow, grabbed his walkie and pushed the button. Nothing but terrible static ran through.

Great, no radio calls while I’m like this.

He maneuvered behind the Wendigo before re-materializing, turning on the radio.

“Louise, I found the Wendigo! I’m uh… Just a little bit to the west of our campsite I think?” He said, panting between words. He dematerialized again, barely dodging a swiping claw. This time, he moved directly behind it, hoping hiding in a blind spot would work better.
He turned corporeal again, this time whispering into the radio. “Please Louise, confirm you’re coming! I’m in a really tight spot here!”
He suddenly felt an impact as the monster slapped him away. He quickly phased out, flying through the air as he tumbled through the ground, thankfully passing through several trees that would have hurt him pretty terribly. He glanced towards the direction of the camp, thinking of making a retreat.

We have him right here by sheer luck. I can’t let this opportunity slip!

He pulled out one of his pepper spray bombs, lighting the fuse. He waited patiently until the fuse was at half before he phased back in front of the wendigo, chucking it straight at the beasts face. 

He de-materialized right after, but even phased out, he could hear the ear-shattering explosion of the bomb, along with the shriek of the monster. He phased back in, clutching his chest and gasping for breath. The monster was reeling and clawing at its face, which was moist with the burning repellent.

He grabbed his walkie again, screaming. “LOUISE, PLEASE ARE YOU THERE? IM NOT SURE HOW MUCH LONGER I CAN HOLD OUT.”
He gripped the walkie like a crucifix, hoping for some form of divine intervention.

“I hear ya partner!” A cheery voice responded. “I ran into a little trouble that WASN’T a wendigo, but heard your fireworks! I’ll be there in a few moments!”
Davis sighed in relief, his heart still pounding against his chest. Seeing the still-reeling wendigo, he grabbed his glowstick bomb, removing the tab and shaking it together. The bottle began to glow a bright green, and he threw it right at the stomach of the beast. It shattered, the monster barely even noticing the hit, but he was marked and dripping with the glowing substance. 

The beast continued to claw at its face for several more seconds, until with one final shake of its head, it locked onto the winded Davis.

“HERE I COOOOOMMMME!” echoed through the forest. Both Davis and the Wendigo turned to see Louise approaching at high speeds. The wendigo quickly climbed a tree, leaping away into the distance. Davis collapsed to the ground, lying flat on his back and laughing.

“Thank God it all managed to work.” He continued to take deep breaths between chuckling to himself. Louise skidded to a halt right next to him.
“Come on, we gotta hurry and chase! I kinda just ran away from a cop, and I think he may still be following me.”
“A WHAT NOW?”
“I CAN EXPLAIN LATER! Just, hurry and get up!”
Davis’s heart was still racing, and he stumbled to his feet. “Can we take it a bit slow? I’m kinda a bit shaken from that encounter-“
“I got somethin better!”
She easily scooped him up in her arms.
“We’re going NOW!”
Davis’s eyes widened, wiggling in her grip. “No wait wait, I can walk fine, I can walk fine!”
She eyed the each splat of the glow fluid on the forest floor and began running, following the trail.
“Nope, you said it yourself, you need some rest! So rest up, I can carry you just fine!”


    Louise followed the glowing trail for several minutes, able to keep Davis held up without breaking much of a sweat. They continued undisturbed into the woods, the trail coming to an abrupt end at a clearing, where a large hole around the size of a single story house sat.

“Well, looks like we found his lair.” Louise said, finally letting Davis back to his feet. “You all rested now?”
“Don’t ever do that again, all right?” He scowled. “I could walk just fine.”
Louise rolled her eyes at him. “So ready to walk you were all pooped and wanted to take a power nap in the heat of the moment, huh?”
“Hey, I can’t just nap anywhere! I would have preferred to return to the tent. Anyways, now.”
He pulled an actual glowstick from his jacket, cracking it and dropping it down the hole. It fell for a few seconds before hitting the bottom, the two still able to observe it.
“Good, it’s not a death pit at least. I think it’s around 20-ish feet deep? I couldn’t exactly carry that much rope with me, but I think-”
“I got a good idea!” Louise scooped Davis up again, jumping down into the hole. Davis screamed as she crashed on the mossy cave floor, the impact shaking through her body.

“Euuughhh, okay. Uh maybe I should have climbed down, but see, we’re down!”
“Did you ever think of how we were supposed to get out?”
Louise nodded, leaping up and grabbing on a protrusion on the wall, still while holding onto Davis. “You just gotta ride on my back or something, and I can just climb out easy!”
Davis stared for a few moments, grumbling. “You can just throw me out or something…”
“I’m not sure if that’s safe enough, don’t wanna accidentally hurt you!” She said with a goofy grin. 

Taking the lead, Louise set her headlamp to low, and quickly yet quietly dove deeper into the cavern. Davis, night vision goggles on, froze up several feet behind the upbeat girl.

“Louise, hold up right now.”

She turned around, cocking her head at him. He turned off his night vision goggles, pulling out a high-powered flashlight from his jacket.
“Don’t worry, the wendigo isn’t anywhere near that I saw, but…”
He turned on the light, illuminating the corridor. Up ahead, inches away from Louise, were bones. 

Specifically, human bones.

Several skulls were mounted on top of human wrist bones, creating an ankle-height barrier of human remains. Beyond it were dozens of mixed human remains, stripped clean of any flesh. Adorning the walls were complete skeletons, buried inside as if they were shoved in the wall and decomposed stuck in that pose. Some of the bones in the walls had snapped off and fallen onto the floor.

Louise’s smile evaporated, staring at the collection of death. She took a step back, trembling. Davis ran up behind her.

“Uh, hey, you doing all right, right?”
She audibly gulped, staring at the bones.

“I uh…”
She slowly sat herself down, eyes still locked onto the bones.

“You see the pictures of them online from time to time but seeing them here… How many has this cryptid really killed around here? I can’t count…”

Davis took a deep breath, holding it in for a few moments. He exhaled.

“I don’t know. But”

He took another deep breath in and out.

“I… kinda knew some of the people who ended up here?”
Louise broke her focus from the bones, turning to him.

“Oh, I didn’t… I’m sorry, I shoulda-”
“No no, not like KNOW know them, I mean like, I tried to warn them. I said last night I tried to warn people from going into the forest late at night, and…”
He sighed.
“A bunch never returned. I hated those nights, just watching people ignore my warnings and trekking on in and it was agonizing knowing that I couldn’t do anything else. I’m not strong enough, I don’t have any special weapons or anything to take on the wendigo or anything else. Just some deterrents. And, worst of all.”
Davis clenched his eyes tight. “I was too afraid, I didn’t want to die.”
He exhaled.
“But this time, it’s different. I’m not any braver, I still don’t have the right tools or weapons. However, with you along, even now I’ve achieved way more than I could even think, and now we’ve tracked down where this monster lives. I feel confident with you, we have a solid plan, and I can do something that can actually make a difference in some people’s lives. Sure, nobody is gonna notice a dead wendigo, nor will it bring back the dead, but it’s gonna make things a bit better for everyone, right?”

He crouched down. She was still staring at the death scattered in front of her. He moved forward more, awkwardly trying to give her a hug.
She stood up, wiping her eyes with her shoulder before he could wrap his arms around her.

“You’re right.” She cleared her throat. “We’ve gotten this far, no need to let this… display trip me up. Gonna smash his skull open, and everything is gonna be better.”
“And I’m gonna… Throw some bombs and hopefully not hit you or anything? I’m not sure what I can do.”
Louise smiled, snorting.
“By the way, you still have that knife with you, right? Something I forgot to mention till now.”
Davis pulled his sleeve down, the blade popping out.
“You mentioned its hide is too tough to stab though?”
“Yeah but, this is just a guess, but typically for armor, there’s always weak points, like at the armpits, inner knee joints, maybe the neck too? If you can’t cut those, just try your best to distract it with those cherry bombs, and try to make an opening for me!”
Louise smiled, giving a thumbs up. “We’ve got a solid plan, so let’s just commit to it our best!” She grabbed the sledgehammer, gripping it tight.
Davis nodded. “Yea, let’s do this!”


    Trodding past the collection of bones, Davis had Louise turn off her light, opting to guide her through with his night vision. The tunnels ended in a large cavern, the center of which the wendigo was seated. It was surrounded by a ring of bones and half-decayed corpses, macking on the arm of a victim.

“It’s not a pretty sight,” Davis whispered. “It’s right ahead, snacking on human remains.”
Louise felt a lump well up in her throat. She swallowed it, grunting. Her disgust turned into anger at the cryptid.
“I’ll be all right, just gonna focus on bashing his head in.”
It was too busy snacking to notice the two, thankfully. Davis pulled out a flare and a bar of chocolate from his jacket.

“I’m going to light up the area with some flares. Hopefully the change in light might disorient it enough for a clean hit from the hammer.” He whispered. He carefully tore open the wrapper of the bar, chomping into it and taking a deep breath.

“I’ll make it count!” Louise gave a thumbs up with a dumb grin on her face. Davis smiled and nodded. 

“Cover your eyes, it’s gonna be bright.”
Louise did so and Davis removed his goggles as he struck the flare, red light flooding the cavern.  The wendigo reeled, letting out a growl and turning its head away from the light. Davis tossed it forward. 

“Nowhere to run now!” Louise cried out, gripping the sledgehammer tight with both of her hands. She leapt up to the head of the beast, swinging the hammer upwards and striking it right at the chin. Its head flew upward, howling in pain as Louise touched down. 

“Got a hit!” She yelped as Davis nervously ran towards the monster, knife in hand. The monster regained its composure from the blow, swiping its arm along the length of the cave.
Davis turned incorporeal and Louise attempted to jump it, but the beast foresaw her move, adjusting it’s swing to swat her out of the air. She struck the cave wall with a thud, grunting and clenching her face.
The wendigo reared up its other arm for another swipe, but recoiled, letting out an ear-piercing screech.

Davis had re-materialized behind it, leaping up and cutting it right at the armpit. He landed, falling to his knees, arms shaking.

“It’s… It’s soft, I cut it there! I CUT IT THERE!” He screamed, letting out a laugh of relief. The wendigo tried to stomp down on him, but he phased out before it was even close. Lifting its claw, trying to look where he went, Louise leapt up and bashed the sledgehammer down right on its forehead, causing it to slam down onto the cavern floor. Cracks began to form where she struck. She kicked off its skull, putting distance between the two, and Davis phased back in next to her.

She turned to him with a triumphant smile and fire burning in her eyes.
“Let’s try that again” Davis quickly said. “I’ll go for the joints, get its attention, and you smack on the head, right?” He was starting to wheeze, but the adrenaline of the fight was keeping him up and running.

“Exactly what I was thinking. Go get em!”
The two charged together, the wendigo this time backing up. It watched Davis vanish out of thin air and Louise swing the hammer down on its claw. It retracted it, and slammed its fist into the cave roof. The room shook, Louise losing her footing, and chunks of rubble fell, ranging from pebbles to the size of tires. She changed her focus, hoping to avoid getting pinned by the rocks. Dodging between them, the wendigo swept right through the falling debris, grasping ahold of Louise. She yelped, struggling as much as she could to try to break free from its grasp. Even with the enhanced strength from the gauntlets, she still barely felt like she was budging.

The wendigo retracted its arms, protecting its armpits, and glanced around the cave, Louise still tight in its grip. 

From behind, Davis phased back in, launching up with his knife outstretched. He tried slicing at the back of its neck, which made a small cut, but enough to cause the beast to scream, trying to swat him off its back.

Panting hard, Davis phased out, and back in moments later, launching himself towards the inner elbow joint that was holding Louise. With another swift cut, the beast released Louise from the pain.

Louise crashed onto the floor, scrambling to her feet when she saw Davis was reaching into his jacket. 

“Take cover, I’m gonna toss a pepper bomb!”
She scrambled for cover behind the debris as he lit the fuse, tossing it up in the air, and phasing out. 

A mist of the burning liquid flooded the cavern space, and the wendigo screeched, covering its face. It scratched it, trying to get the liquid from out of its eyes. Louise peeked out at the screaming beast, and Davis phased back in next to her. He was gasping for breath, and sat down next to her.

“That should buy us at least 15 seconds tops.” He wheezed. “I think he’s getting used to my tricks, and I only got one ghost left in me. Any more and I think I’ll collapse.”
Glancing at the wincing monster, Louise turned back.

“Well, he can’t counter us if he can’t see us! There’s one other un-armored part, the eyes!”
“It’s gonna be a miracle if I can even reach that high, and even more of one if I can strike-”
Louise picked him up by the shirt, hoisting him over her shoulders.

“Don’t think about anything else than grabbing its skull and stabbing it in the eye!” She yelled. She charged forward, Davis screaming in fear, before tossing him right at the monster. The pepper spray had worn off enough for the monster to notice the flying white-haired boy heading straight for it. It swiped a claw upwards to try to retaliate.
For the split second the claw would have struck him, he barely managed to phase out of the way, and back in, before gripping onto the skull for dear life. Everything felt absolutely sore, but by sheer will he managed to hang tight. Without a second to think, he plunged the knife into its eye. It screamed even louder, shaking Davis off of its head. He fell limp to the ground, Louise sliding in and catching him at the very last second.

“Gotcha!” She said, smiling. She looked up to the beast, trying to pull the weapon from its eye. “I’ll take it from here!”
She leapt up, with one hand holding the hammer, the other grabbing onto the furry arm of the monster. She used the grip to launch herself up, far over the head of the monster.

She gripped the hammer with both hands, tight enough to dent the sturdy handle, and aimed, falling and swinging it right down on top of Davis’s knife.

With Louise’s force combined with gravity, it sent the knife right through the eye and into the brain of the beast, the skull shattering with the force of the blow. There was no last howl, as the strike caused it to quietly fall over, face slamming onto the floor. Chips of its shattered skull spilled outwards, and a slow stream of blood trickled from the eye socket. Louise smiled, putting the hammer on her shoulder. She turned to Davis.

“Pretty good for our first cryptid hunt, huh?”
Davis stumbled back to his feet, giving a shaky thumbs-up.
“Now, how are we going to hide the body?” she stared at the unmoving corpse.

“I t-think… W-we don’t have to worry about that…” Davis took a few more deep breaths, coughing. He collapsed back onto the floor, sitting. “E-excuse me. Considering nobody was able to f-find this lair and the w-woods are already pretty off limits.” He took another deep breath. “I don’t think anybody is ever gonna find this.”
“You do have a point… Hey, it saves us a lot of trouble, doesn’t it?”
Davis shrugged. “I-I could always bring back a lot of lighter fluid.”
He pulled out a lollipop from his jacket, unwrapping it and popping it into his mouth. He sighed in relief.
“Hey, hold on!”
He turned to Louise, her arms crossed.
“You gonna share? I’d like a victory treat too!”
Davis squinted at her. “But these are… Fine.”
“Cherry please, I love that flavor most!”
He pulled out one and handed it to her. She unwrapped it to find it colored orange.
“Hey, I thought I…” She stared at it for a few seconds. It WAS still free candy. She stuck it in her mouth as well.

The sat next to each other, sucking away at their victory treats, with Davis occasionally glancing at the corpse to make sure it didn’t move. Minutes later, Louise got up to her feet.
“Hey, I just realized something.”
“Yeah?”
“Do we remember how to get back to our camp?”

Once in a LIfetime Chapter 2


In the dead of night, Davis lead Louise through the woods to his home. It was a compact, single story home, the outside decently kept though surrounded by fallen leaves.
The back of it faced the very edge of the woods, lit up by a small porchlight. He unlocked the back door, opening it for Louise.
“After you?”
Louise walked in, kicking off her shoes as Davis closed the door behind her, turning on the light. She stood in a very compact kitchen, a countertop dividing it with a lightly furnished and clean living room.
There was a big, puffy looking couch and a TV screen, surrounded by snack wrappers, and beyond that was a hallway connecting to a few more rooms.

“If you’re hungry or something, I have a lot of food stocked in the freezer. Just, don’t go to the room down the hall please. That’s my room.”
Louise nodded and hurried to the fridge, opening it. Inside was a few gallons of chocolate milk, one gallon of normal milk, two cakes, a bin of a few apples and bananas, cookie dough, several energy drinks, and a gallon of water. Louise looked up, back at Davis.

“Hey, not to be picky or anything, but I’m not really in a sweets mood.” She said with an awkward smile on her face. “Do you have anything simple?”
Davis looked back with a nervous expression. “Ooh uhh… I said the freezer not the fridge? I’m sorry if you don’t like frozen stuff, but that’s what I like usually.”
Switching over to the freezer, inside was a plethora of microwaveable food: Burritos, pizzas, mini-pizzas, vegetables, and so on. She took a mini pizza.
“This’ll do, thanks a bunch!” She said as she tore it out of the package, popping it into the microwave. 

“Oh, I forgot to mention, don’t worry about my parents, they’re out of state with work stuff, so they won’t be home for a while.” He walked over to the fridge, pulling out and cracking open an energy drink.
“and don’t worry about any monsters coming around here too. I guess it’s obvious, but they don’t really come near anywhere too populated. I should, probably tell you more-”
“Hold on, lemme finish this food first!” Louise hurried over, leaping onto the couch. “All right, NOW you can continue!”
He stared for a few moments. “You’re taking this well, aren’t you?”

“Well, other than the monster, did you see me at all? Got those awesome gauntlets that let me actually stand up and like, not die to that thing! I even got shot a few times, but bullets were no issue!”
Davis paused, continuing to stare.
“I… Well, back to what I was going to say. Since I was younger, can’t really remember when, I’ve had this weird power. As you saw, I can turn incorporeal, kinda like-”
He poofed into a plume of thin, black dust, rematerializing moments later. He was gasping for breath.

“That… Though, if I’m like that in the light, it’s like I’m suffocating. It’s also tough to see when I’m incorporeal, so that’s why I have these.” He tapped his night vision goggles. 

Louise looked up and down in amazement. “That’s really cool! Do you do like, hero work or something like that with your powers?”

Davis cracked a small smile.
“I… Hope to kinda do that. What I mostly do is wait around the woods, because there’s quite a few monsters in there. They stay away from groups of people, and only seem to come out at night. Though when I’m incorporeal, it’s really easy to watch them. I’ve seen like, giant bird around the size of a fighter jet, spiders that camouflage themselves on the trees, the wendigo is a frequent hunter. Oh yeah, Bigfoot is one hundred percent real as well, I’ve seen him. Did you know even sometimes the trees themselves stand up and walk around?”
With every monster listed, Louise’s eyes grew wider in wider.
“Holy crap, I knew I was right…” She muttered under her breath. “Wait, why didn’t you take pictures or tell anyone?”
A frown replaced Davis’s smile.
“Isn’t it kinda obvious? I don’t want to be seen as some crazy weirdo by others. Only reason I’m telling you is at least you like, SAW one, you know?”
Louise gave an irked look. “I’m not some kinda crazy weirdo, first off!”
“I didn’t mean- Just ignore that then. I can’t really fight off any of these monsters, so usually when I lurk around the woods, I at least try to find anyone who comes in after dark, and try to warn them about how dangerous the place is. A lot don’t really listen, and…”
He looked down at the floor. “I’m just glad some people do heed my warning. It’s the most I CAN do.”

Before he could continue, his TV lit up, static burning on the screen. The duo jumped, staring at the screen as the hiss of the white snow slowly fizzed into silence. 

An electronic voice pierced through through the snow.
“Louise Palrick, Davis Foster…”,
The voice spoke over the static, sounding like a phone with bad reception. Louise leaned in closer as Davis sunk back, gripping the couch anxiously.
“I am contacting you with important information regarding the events of tonight. It will be in both of our interests to listen.”
Louise’s eyes lit up. “So you’re the one who sent me that note earlier? The gauntlets too?”
“My TV doesn’t have a microphone you know.” Davis butted in.
“The TV may not, but your phones do.”
Davis flinched. “I didn’t give you permission to use my phone! Stay out of there, will you?”
“I am merely using their microphones, don’t worry. I will respect your privacy.”
“You still hijacked my phone, who are you?”
“My name is not important, but I offer myself as a benefactor to the two of you. You are not the only ones aware of this towns’ paranormal ongoings.”

On the static, redacted documents appeared, along with a few photos. One of them was a distant, night vision shot of the wendigo, and another was a distant shot of Davis. He gripped the couch tighter, clenching his teeth.

“These photos and documents are from P.A.I.N, the Paranormal Acquisition and Investigation Network. The name should be explanatory enough. I am an administrator working for them.”
Louise closed her eyes with a big smile, pumping her fist to herself. “I always KNEW there was some sort of cover up going on!” Her eyes flashed open.
“Wait a second, what do you mean ‘were’?”

“The man who attempted to murder you earlier tonight was an agent of P.A.I.N. They had a close eye on you and your computer history, and deemed you as too much of a liability and in need of termination.”

“Yeah, but what does he have do do with it all?” Davis glanced nervously towards her, thinking how she could be so uncaring that some government organization wanted her dead.
“Was he carrying all of the info around here?” She put her hands to her mouth. “They’re not going to send more assassins, are they?”

“To answer all in order: First, I managed to destroy the physical and digital files on your town when he was sent to kill you. With their field agent dead, they would need to build up a new report from the ground up with a fresh agent. Second, they most likely will not, and will focus on re-building their lost information.”
Louise sighed. “That’s a relief. Now, spill the beans on all the going-ons thats been happening around here-”
Davis placed his hand in front of Louise. “Sorry, but why did you destroy those files? What’s this all got to do with her? How do you know these agents won’t try to kill her again?”
“To both her and you, it’s obvious that Tomahawk Hills is a hotbed of paranormal activity. What I showed was only the tip of the iceberg of all documented information, and it nearly reached a critical point. P.A.I.N was beginning moves to quarantine the entire town, making it a research blacksite. This would effectively doom everyone.”

The two stared at the screen in disbelief. 

“As mentioned, I am very well aware of Louise’s history. She is one of few select candidates who I determined would be the most accepting of my mission: Find and contain any paranormal threat before P.A.I.N is able to re-log them. A perceived significant decrease in paranormal activity would effectively end their plans to turn Tomahawk Hills into a blacksite.”
Louise nodded in response. “I’m glad you did your research well. Though I could have sworn I kept my online browsing well hidden from the government…”

“There is a lot P.A.I.N can learn from everyone from browsing history alone.”
Davis butted in. “Hey, I thought you said you were gonna respect my privacy?”
“Well Louise, Davis, do you accept?”
“Of course! You already gave me the gauntlets too, so I wanna do what I can with them!”
Davis nervously tapped his foot. He looked down to the floor, scratching his chin. “I don’t think it’d be fair to just let P.A.I.N do what they want with our town. I’ll join.”

“Excellent. Outside of your home, you will find a USB drive, loaded with a program to contact me through an encrypted channel. Any paranormal object, device, or location you come across, you are to log and report to me. Even if you cannot contain or suppress them, I can use your information to keep the new field agent away from any confirmed paranormal locations. Be wary, as this method of contact is not foolproof. Do not contact me more than once a week, or P.A.I.N would have a chance of tracing the messages back to me. Good luck.”

The TV flickered to black, and Louise turned to Davis with the biggest grin on her face.

“Holy… Davis, do you know what this MEANS?”

“Our town needs saving? And that last part, did you write it down or anything? That was kinda a lot.”
“That and it’s like, I WAS RIGHT, and we got something AWESOME to do! Not gonna lie, my time at home was getting really boring and was trying to figure out somethin to do but MAN I just-”
“Hey, slow down! We still got school tomorrow too. We can meet up after it’s done, right?”

“Yeah but, can’t we just call that government guy to cancel it? Maybe skip school?”
Davis shook his head. “I at least wanna get my high school diploma, I’m sure we can find time to juggle saving the town and that.”
“Fine. But there’s still a lot we need to discuss!”
Davis pointed at a kitchen clock. It was 1AM.
“It’s too late to stay up talking more, and also too late for you to go home safely, I think? But I don’t have an extra bed, uh, is the couch fine with you?”
She shrugged. “It’s just one night for now. I don’t have any pajamas though, I don’t really want to sleep in these and make them too stinked up for tomorrow.”
“Oh… I should have thought of that first. You know, forget it, you can just sleep in my bed I guess? I stay up pretty late anyways. Plus, I have some sweatpants and a white shirt you can borrow, I just hope it’ll fit you all right.”
He ran into his room, emerging with the very wrinkled clothes moments later.
“Just, please don’t touch anything else in my bedroom, all right?”
She nodded, smiling and taking the clothes from him. “Thanks, I’ll go get changed!”


She pushed the door into his room, pausing as she stepped on a snack wrapper.
The room itself was smaller than hers, almost like a dorm room. All he had was an in-wall closet, a very small desk, and a bed crammed together.
At the foot of the bed was a big pile of clean yet wrinkly laundry sitting in a basket. The bed at the very least was still well made.
Next to his desk was a small wastebin, overflowing with crumpled pieces of paper and various snack wrappers.
Changing into the loaned pajamas and folding her uniform neatly on his desk, she dove into his surprisingly plush bed, letting sleep wash over her.
Davis, meanwhile, began heating up a burrito in the microwave, staring nervously at the TV.
“Didn’t think things were going to get this drastic,” He muttered. He took out his phone, turning on airplane mode, and opened the door to the garage.


An intense, high pitched grinding noise was in the air, rousing Louise from her sleep. She groggily stared at her phone, reading the time to be 6:00am. Rubbing her eyes and letting out a yawn, she quickly changed into uniform before following the noise out of the bedroom and into the garage.

In front of a long table, covered with tin cans, chemistry equipment, mangles of scrap metal, a stack of energy drink cans, and several bins full of presumably more assorted building materials, stood Davis, marking down cans with a large yellow marker.
To the side of him were several freshly-sharpened caltrops and other cans marked with colored markers. He wore goggles, a pair of headphones connected to his phone, and red-blue striped pajamas. Louise stumbled over, watching her feet for the little flakes of wood and scrap, and tapped him on the shoulder. He lurched back, before whipping off his headphones, hard rock silently blaring from them.

“Oh, hey, I’m a bit busy working right now. You need anything?”
She let out a huff. “Your work is kind of noisy.” She peeked over his shoulders at all the caltrops and cans he made. “What you workin on though?”
“Oh, well making stuff like smoke bombs and traps and stuff like that. I normally make them as a hobby, but since we’re going against some monsters in the woods, I thought having some more wouldn’t hurt.”
She carefully looked among all of his gadgets, several sharpened tripods of metal, and even a belt lined with firecrackers. Davis put on a big smile as she continued to observe his handiwork.

“My power works best in the dark, and I found out that it is a bit easier to turn intangible in a cloud of black smoke, so I usually carry smoke bombs on me in the middle of the day. It’s still rough, but it’s better than doing it in broad daylight and re-materializing completely sore and winded. Plus even without my powers, a smoke bomb combined with scattering some caltrops is like, THE perfect getaway plan.”
He grabbed a few cans that were striped neon orange.
“These are a new one, though kinda expensive. Basically just took a tin can, put a firecracker into it, filled it with pepper spray, and bam, pepper spray bomb! I’ve never tested it before, so I hope monsters are hurt by the stuff.” 

He pointed to the belt of firecrackers next.
“I assumed that monsters don’t like the big pops like gunshots, so I thought that if I’m in trouble, I can just light and chuck these at them and maybe that’ll spook them away.”

Louise continued to stare at it all with wide eyes.
“This is all so awesome! I’m surprised you never told anyone else about this, like it’s so cool!”
Davis scratched the back of his head. “Well, I think I might get in trouble for making homemade bombs, even if I do intend to use them on monsters. So uh, please don’t mention it at all, okay?”
She nodded energetically. Looking around the garage, she found a few very rough sketches of other gadgets pinned to the wall, and ran over to get a closer look.

Davis glanced over. “Those uh, I don’t think I’m competent enough to build those yet? I’ve always wanted a grappling hook to climb tall buildings and stuff. I can actually jump a little bit higher if I turn incorporeal, jump, then rematerialize, but not enough to scale buildings.”
“I think I could help, I’m sure I could track down some sort of working blueprint online? There’s a lot of cool forums and videos that build all this stuff!”
“I’ve looked hard, trust me. I REALLY wanted one since I started doing all this.”
“Actually, I got one more question.” She turned to face him. “You got anything else with a bit more like, oomph? Firecrackers are pretty strong but, do you have some actual weapons?”
He sighed, and opened a drawer, revealing a small contraption with a knife blade inside of it. “It’s just a hidden blade I can keep in my sleeve. I kinda wanna keep my stuff non-lethal altogether. I know sometimes humans can be monsters, but I still don’t really want to hurt them…”
Louise cocked her head. “But I thought this was for monster hunting?”
He shook his head. “Nevermind.”
“Now, a big change in topic, but you got anything for breakfast?”
“Yeah, I mean, I usually eat whatever I feel for breakfast.”
Louise stared for a moment.
“I mean like, breakfast food?”
“It’s whatever is in the fridge. Please, I do wanna work a bit more, I’m sure I have something you’d like.”
Louise huffed as she left the garage. “I’ll be getting ready in the meantime, so don’t walk in on me changing!”


A shower and a meal of microwaved frozen waffles later, Louise was all ready to go. She sat patiently on the couch, waiting and glancing at her phone every few moments. By 7, Davis had finally emerged from his workshop, still in pajamas.

“You sure you’ll be able to get ready in time? It’s almost a 30 minute walk to school from here, right?”
He shrugged. “I’ll be ready in 5.” He closed his room’s door behind him.

Five minutes later, he emerged, in what seemed like the exact same outfit he was wearing from the previous night: Big black school jacket, baggy pants, very wrinkled shirt, and boots. He walked over to the fridge, pulling out an energy bar and an energy drink, cracking it open and taking a swig.

“I’m all set to go.” He followed up chomping into the energy bar.

“Not even going to brush your hair?” Louise chided.
He threw his hood over it. “It’s no problem at all.”
Louise sighed. “I’m gonna be a bit honest, you do kinda look awful right now. Not even going to iron your clothes or anything?”
He zipped up his jacket, giving her a death glare. “This is my style, you know? Sorry if you don’t have enough taste to understand how good it looks.”
Louise snickered. “Ah, not like we have enough time to debate this. Come on, let’s get going.”


The day was cloudy with a chilly wind blowing through, but despite the sombre feel, the two made it to school with no issue. They split off to their respective classes, going through the motions until lunchtime hit.
Arriving at the cafeteria, Louise noticed Davis was waiting by the entrance, nervously looking around. She bounced over to him, yelling “HEY DAVIS OVER HERE!”
His head whipped over to her. “OH uh… Hey! So uh, I already brought something to eat so-”
“GREAT!” She yelled over the chatter of the cafeteria. “Find a place to sit, I gotta buy something for myself.”
She hurried on towards the lunch line as Davis stood stunned. He scanned the entire cafeteria, finding just about every table already filled with hungry students. They weren’t totally full, small gaps able to hold a few students here and there, but he wanted more space to himself. He slowly walked through the collection of lunch tables, hands in his pockets and looking at the floor, passing and bumping against other students. He looked up every other moment, still scanning around the cafeteria until noticed a somewhat dusty table in the corner, unoccupied by any students. He hurried over to secure the seat. Minutes later, when Louise left the lunch line with a sandwich, chips, and drink, Davis waved her down, her jogging over to the table.

“All righty!” she said, popping open the bag of chips and taking a quick bite. “Now’s a good time for us to plan for tonight.”
“Tonight? What’s happening?”
“Didn’t you forget? We’re going to have to hunt that wendigo before PAIN finds it!”
“Oh, I didn’t realize we were going to start like, so soon? Think we can at least wait till tomorrow?”
“NOPE! We have the advantage against PAIN, so we gotta take full advantage of it. By the way, where’s your lunch?”
He silently pulled out another energy drink, and a few bars of candy. “This is all I need to get through the day, don’t worry.”
“Yeah, get through a school day, but can it get you through a night of monster hunting?”
He groaned, taking a bite out of the candy bar. “I usually nap and snack after school, I’ll be fine.” He glanced out a nearby window.


He flinched as Louise’s packaged sandwich struck him in the face, plopping down on the table. His hood nearly fell off, and he scrambled to yank it back on.
“Have mine, I have enough money to buy a second one. I don’t want you crashing on me tonight!”
He stared at her for a few moments. “What the heck was that for?”
“Come on, you can’t just only eat snack bars and candies and stuff, you gotta have proper energy! I should NOT be more fit than you are!”
“I have plenty of energy! I just don’t really like using any of it…”
“Pft, I see you drinking lots of energy drinks for a dude who has plenty of energy!”
“What if I like the taste?”
“Then you should probably find some replacement drink, because those will turn your bones into dust or somethin!”
Davis huffed. “Fine, I’ll eat your sandwich…” He unwrapped it, taking a chomp out of it. Louise took another bite from her chips. “Anyways, I was thinking a lot during classes, and I think I got a good plan of attack for the wendigo.”
“Go on?”
“We already know it comes out only at like, dead of night in the woods. It only showed up after that assassin tried to shoot me, so it must be attracted to loud noises. It also ran off when you showed up.”
“Well yeah, that’s typical for a lot of these monsters in the woods. They typically go after lone targets, and run off if somebody else approaches. Though I’ve seen a few stalk small groups of up to four.”
“I also found out that he’s really tough, like I couldn’t even stab through his hide with a sword. He reacted when I started whacking at his head with my sword, and he didn’t like that at all.”
“So, you wanna bring something with a bit more oomph? I don’t think I can really make anything for that.”
Louise smiled, placing her hands on the table. “Don’t worry! I’m gonna bring a sledgehammer from home. That oughta do some damage.”
“Yeah, but you’ll be fighting alone, remember? If I show up he’ll just run away. Are you sure you’re up to that?”
“Well, listen to my plan! First, we both split up, with pots and pans or anything that can make loud noises. We’ll make a bunch of noise, and when the wendigo shows up, we’ll mark it with something that can help us track it. Then, we group up together, the wendigo runs away, we chase it down, back it into a corner, and BAM.” She clapped her hands together. “We got ourselves a dead monster!”
Davis tapped his chin. “I never really see a monster again when it flees. Maybe it does hide away to a lair or something? I don’t know, are you sure you thought this all through?”
“Well, where’s your master plan? Plus, the wendigo has to hide its victims’ corpses somewhere, right?”
He shrugged. “I guess so. As for a way to track it, I think I got a good idea for that. Will need just a small amount of time to prep it, and I can have it set tonight.”
Louise’s eyes beamed. “Sweet, ah I just can’t wait for tonight!”
Davis took a deep breath. “I just hope we aren’t getting in over our heads. So, after you get what you need, meet me at my home, and we can prepare. I’ll leave a key under the doormat for you, in case i’m asleep when you come on by.”

“Sure, I can show up early and rest up with you for the night!”
Davis coughed up a bite of his sandwich. “I am NOT going to share my bed! Just, nap at home or something!”
“I never wanted to sleep in the same bed, the couch would have been fine…”
Davis leaned back a bit. “Oh, then uh, that’s fine?”
A look of inspiration struck Louise’s face. “Actually, how about later on, we can make your house into our kinda hideout? Like a base of operations for our cryptid hunting! I could bring a sleeping bag too since I’m gonna be around pretty late, and maybe some extra clothes, and-”
“Hold on, what’s wrong with your house? Why do we gotta move everything into mine?”
“Well, for one you live right next to the woods.”
Davis paused, thinking to himself. “I guess that’s not a bad idea then, but like, let’s at least wait a little bit before we start remodeling my home, okay?”
Louise jumped out of her seat, yelling “YES!” A few other students in the cafeteria glanced over, and an embarrassed look grew on Davis’s face.
She sat back down. “Sorry, just, so much is happening and I really can’t wait to get ultra serious about all of this. That and…”
Davis raised an eyebrow. “And?”

“You’re kinda cooler than expected, you know?”
He flinched. “Expected? What do you-”
“Well just talking with you a bit, even if this is our job kinda? It’s still really fun. Plus, it’s been a while since I’ve eaten lunch with somebody else. Makes eating a lot more fun when you’re talking about wendigo hunting as an extra bonus.”
“I’ve been trying to keep up, but yeah. Lunch with you is better than what I used to do.”
“It’s settled then, let’s have lunch together every day, all right?”
Davis nodded, trying to hide a look of excitement on his face. “Sure!”


Broken Masterpiece

It was early in the morning, near a small house nestled in the suburbs, big enough to only house a few people. It had a very unassuming exterior; The front was a simple sidewalk through an overgrown lawn, leading up to a white door. The walls were painted a pale green, two windows evenly spaced to the side. It was sandwiched between a more modern home, and a two story home for a large family.

Nobody really knew who lived there, though people could only mention hearing weeping from within every now and then.

There was an empty shoe cubby and empty coat rack immediately in the front door. 

The living room was well kept, a small love seat with a clean cover over it, sitting in front of a TV. The kitchen had dishes sitting on a drying rack, a few flies mindlessly buzzing around them. A small table with two seats was set, plates and silverware ready for a meal to be prepared upon. 

The bedroom door was locked.

The bathroom was clean, looking thoroughly scrubbed of any lime or hard water stains. A toothbrush sat in a cup next to the sink faucet. The medicine cabinet only held toothpaste and mouthwash inside of it.

From the basement door, the knob turned. From it, emerged an automaton.
It was put together from brass tubes and loose wires, electrical tape holding its joints and motors together. Its chest held a battery, along with all sorts of other strange, whirring machinery. Two spotlight-like eyes were propped to its “brain”: An absolute mess of wires and cables connected to something unknown. 

It slowly walked towards the living room, and stared silently at the couch. It turned to the kitchen, staring at the table. It walked towards the bathroom, staring again. It walked to the bedroom door, knocking on it.
Silence.
The automaton walked back to the living room, staring at the front door. Hours upon hours passed, as it stared. It occasionally caught glimpses of other families passing by, walking together, or children playing around the neighborhood.

As night fell, it turned around, returning to the basement.
Through the floorboards, weeping could be heard.

Tales from Congeria: Ferra and Scott (2)

Previous|Index|Next

The sun was blazing in the west, most of the bustle of the settlement calming down as Scott stood outside of the bar. Several moments passed until Ferra emerged from the entrance, towing along three dufflebags. He crossed his arms.

“You know, what possessions does a droid even need?”
She shrugged. “No clue, but this is mostly just ammo and scrap. That’s all I really need out here.”

He lowered his head into his hand. “Sheesh, you wanna make going through customs a pain in the ass or something?”
She gave an inquisitive look. “Customs? What’s that?”

“Dammit… Look, whatever you can’t keep in your pockets… or wherever you stow your personal items, don’t bring it along. I only really have authorization to bring in robots from outside the city.”
“You still haven’t said what customs-”

“You’ll learn soon enough. Now unless you want us both to be arrested, just stow away those bags here. We can pick them up if we ever return here.”
“Wait, if we return here?”
He began walking away, motioning his hand. “I’ll get my transport over to the north end of town.”

Now with a few boxes of ammo, a sizeable stack of cash, and only a few grenades into her frame, she waved to the bartender.

“I’ve left about a year’s worth of cash for rent. Just keep an eye on my stuff, all right?”

He silently nodded, waving back. She smiled and hurried out the door. As she walked through the thinning crowds of her settlement, she took her time to wave to each one, as everyone returned the action to her. She stared back at the line of archaic homes for a few moments, watching all the people return home from a long day of work. She turned facing the northern exit of it, seeing Scott leaning against a small armored vehicle. It looked something like an armored truck, but more angular and stubby, along with treads instead of wheels.

“I’ll make the most of this opportunity, and then I’ll be back soon, I swear to you all.”

She ran towards him, waving her arms. “Hey, let’s get a move on!”

He glanced towards her. “Took you long enough. Now get in the back.”

She skidded to a stop. “Hey, why can’t I sit in the front?”
“I ain’t a taxi, nor would it be a good idea to have what many could see as dangerous cargo riding up front. Speaking of which, that revolver of yours.” He pointed at her gun still displayed on her hip. She frowned, pulling it from her holster and handing it to him. He took a look at it.

“Interesting… You made this yourself?”
Her face somewhat brightened. “Yeah, actually. From whatever parts I could cobble together. Something special to me and cand take out the biggest of mutants that crawl around here, you know?”

He chuckled as he slipped the pistol into his jacket pocket. He walked behind the transport flinging open the doors. The rear of the vehicle was nothing but smooth metal. No seats, no seatbelts, only some railing at the front, a small grate connecting to the front seat, and a few bulky metal cabinets with a large padlock on front.

“Ehm… Isn’t this going to be unsafe?”

“You don’t get how I usually work yet, do you?”

She climbed into the back, grabbing hold of the railing. A door slammed from the front, and he peeked through the small grate. A small hatch opened up and he slid restraints through the hole.

“Oh yeah, just put these on over the railing. You are supposed to be my prisoner.”

“Who’s going to be checking anyways?”
“Like I said before, customs. Plus, it’ll be a decent seatbelt. Now power down or something, it’s gonna be a while till we reach the borders.”

The engine of the vehicle rumbled to life as she clipped the restraints around the bar. Her body then fell limp, the lights dimming out from her eyes.

The transport moved slowly through the desert, sticking close to the few rivers that still ran through it. He passed by settlements, often getting a few looks from passerbys traveling between them. Every single one of them wore patchy sweat-stained clothes and was armed in some form or another, be it a spear made of scrap or a large machine gun. Often times he’d drive through herds of Radi Beasts simply drinking from the river, witnessing the movement of the buglike Desert Stalkers in the distance as well.

The sands and rivers came to an end at the sight of stone. The next stretch of land all looked as if all organic material had been peeled off, leaving only a rocky service. He took care to drive far from the many ravines and boreholes that gashed the landscape. Not a single creature was in sight, only the sound of wind dominating the area.

Hours more of driving through, and Scott arrived at the end of a rough dirt path. Following it for a few hours more lead to the first sightings of vegetation. The path moved over and through numerous grassy hills, the sights of small forests off in the distance. Birds were now flying overhead, some of regular sizes, and scattering when much larger ones flew by. The path winded between and around each forest, and Scott knew well of what manner of demi-breeds and beasts populated them. He sighed when the dirt path finally hit asphalt. A long, multi-laned road stretched and winded far away in opposite directions. To the side of it were railroad tracks. Scott pressed the gas pedal further as his transport sped up, and he heard a clank from behind. He nearly jumped out of his seat until he remembered Ferra was back there.

“Hey, what happened? Ugh, that hurt, and I’m all sore you know!”
He glanced back at the grate, turning his sight back to the road.

“Well blame that on the person who programmed you, not my driving.”

She huffed. “Well, are we almost there? How long has it been?”
“Two or three hours, I dunno. We’re finally on some proper roads, so we’ll be there soon.”

“Proper roads?”

He laughed to himself. “Sorry, I forgot you all don’t have asphalt out there. How the hell can anybody stand all that desert walking anyways?”
“What makes a proper road better for walking anyways, this thing seemed to get you to me fine enough!”
He sighed. “I’m hoping your model supports direct information uploading or something, else you’ve got a lot of learning to get done.”

“I don’t think so. How different is everything from where I was?”

The van screeched to a halt, and she jolted forward with it. She tumbled across the floor.

“HEY, what’s the big deal?”
“Remember when I said we had customs to go through? Well, we’re there, but we still gotta wait.”
“You have to what.

The engine stopped as she heard the front door open and shut. Sunlight flooded the back of the transport as he opened the doors. He climbed in, unlocking her restraints.

“Well, you want to know how different we are out here, just hop on out and feast your eyes.”

She followed him out, and caught sight of numerous green fields and scattered trees. She stared long at them until Scott grabbed her, turning her to face the forward. She stared in wonderment at what it was: A very long line of large trucks, larger than Scott’s transport, lined up all to pass through a massive wall. It stretched onwards for miles, curving around with whatever could be inside. Several weapons platforms were mounted atop of it, each larger than anything she had ever seen. If anything, the walls reminded her more of Axios.

“Is that giant wall customs?”

He smacked his hand on his forehead. “That’s a pretty fucking stupid name for a wall, ain’t it? No, customs is why we’re stuck in line. Do you know why walls are built?”

“For safety?”
“To keep things out. And there’s lots of things less than ethical people would like to bring in that the rest of us want out. That’s what customs is for: To make sure that shit stays out.”
Her eyes widened. “Like demons?”
“That’s a good example, yeah. Thank the gods you catch on quick.”

“I fought a demon before I met you, ya know. It paid super well too, so maybe we should look for those jobs once you’re done with this customs stuff.”

He laughed. “I’ve already decided against joining the Crusaders long ago. Demanding a lifetime of service isn’t very nice, you know? Maybe Gods would get more followers if they cut that crap out.”

He turned and met face to face with Ferra looking puzzled.

“You know about demons, but you don’t know about fucking Gods?”

She shook her head.

“You pledge your ‘faith’ to some being, they give you abilities or powers in turn as long as you follow their contracts. Easy enough to understand?”

“I guess. But what’s faith-”
“Good, you understand, no more details, all right?”

The line moved forward somewhat.

“Now hop back in, I gotta scoot us forward a bit.”

Re-igniting the engine, he moved forward the few inches of ground before turning it off once more. He hopped behind, throwing the back doors open, and sat across from her.

“Now there’s one thing that HAS been eating my mind a bit. You say you’re from Axios, right?”
She nodded.

“Why the hell did you want to leave that utopia you all created for yourself?”

She looked shocked. “Well, I was only active inside the city for a few minutes, but I was told something by well, my manufacturer. He said that our home, Axios, is needed to be liberated. Give me a second…”

She stared blankly for a few moments.

“Ah yes, it was about our leader, Tronus. Years ago, he constructed an overmind, a massive device that would direct all of our kind’s actions so we could work at maximum efficiency. He used it for control rather than efficiency however, using it to scan the populace’s mind for any dissenting thoughts, and mind-wiping any android they caught.”

He scoffed.

“Hey, don’t be rude! Anyways, because everything was scanned and regulated, my manufacturers constructed me from spare parts by getting into workplace accidents and using their own lost parts to construct me. Then they sent me and several other androids with a mission: Get help to liberate us from whoever you can find.”

He snorted. “For how crafty they were, didn’t seem like they were too specific with their instructions.”
“They’re likely mind-wiped for what they did though…”
“Serves them and your kind right, to be perfectly honest.”

She banged the wall. “What’s your problem, seriously! I just wanna help my people!”

“Well, your people weren’t so nice in turn to us!” He lowered his hands into his head. “You know, a long time ago, before we had these walls, all of humanity was nearly killed by an army of demons. And because your kind was sent to fight with millions of others of humans, they decided they had a right to abandon us. The Radi Desert used to be some lush forestland a long time ago too, you know.”

She stared, some anger brimming in her eyes.

“Since you’re still a bit slow to pick up things, you know who orchestrated that abandonment? None other than that Tronus. You all fell into his trap, and your kind is suffering the consequences.”

“But… There’s still time to repair relations, right?”

He snorted again. “Three hundred years of isolation, and you think you alone can break it? Besides, remember our deal?”

She looked down at the ground. “I should have searched elsewhere for help…”

“Well, at least working with me is going to be better than being stuck in that desert. Be happy with what you at least got now.”

He left the back and slammed the doors, climbing back into the driver’s seat. The sat silently between each other as Scott inched closer and closer to the wall’s gate.

“Scott, is all that hatred why you signed up to hunt androids?”

He let out an energetic laugh. “If that were the reason, every single person behind these walls would be signing up. Not like there’s any more androids to really deal with. Remember that whole three hundred years thing?”

“Well, then why did you sign up?”
He paused. “That’s enough for questions now, yeah? Put on those restraints, we’re finally in customs.”

She bounced up, quickly cuffing herself to the railing. The engine stopped and she heard faint chatter from outside. A few minutes later, the back doors opened. Scott and two terrifyingly armored men were staring at her.

“She was probably trying to escape to deliver sensitive information to Axios or something.” Scott said. “I was sent out to quickly grab and return her to her designated reservation.”

The men in the armor stared for a few more moments before slamming the door. Scott climbed back in and started the engine again.

“Did you just lie about me?”
“Not like it matters. Like I said, unnecessary department. Not like anyone is going to log what I said or anything.”

“You keep saying how nobody cares about you, but everyone seems still afraid of us?”
“Yeah, and people believe it still. It’s just a good thing the government doesn’t.”

Several minutes of being locked in the back, with several points of stopping and starting, Ferra finally heard the engine turn off. She heard the front door open, and soon the back doors were flung open once more. Scott walked in, undoing her restraints.

“Take a few moments to soak in everything, but then I want those restraints back on. We’re almost done with them.”

Taking a few steps out, her eyes adjusting to the light, she froze.

She was staring at an asphalt road with an endless amount of cars zooming on past her. Beyond that, several massive buildings of steel, concrete, and glass stood, lined up side by side along the street. Even beyond them, several even taller buildings stood, stretching up into the sky. She spun around, finding herself surrounded by infrastructure and humans. Roads, streetlights, cars parked side by side, people walking by without fear, dressed up in t-shirts, shorts, or dress clothing. High into the sky many flocks of small birds flew, and even more perched atop some of the tallest buildings she could see.

“So uh… How big is this Romitum place?”

“Well over a few thousand square miles, all interconnected by roads and train. I’d like to see that junk heap Axios compare to this. Now come on, restraints on once more.”
He turned her around and placed the restraints on, moving with her towards a nearby building. It was completely made of concrete without any windows, looking dim and muddy compared to the other buildings near it. When she was tugged inside, it shared the same looks: A dingy reception area with a few fluorescent lights, badly beaten couches, and a small desk with a lazy looking man behind it. Scott banged the counter and the man suddenly jumped up.

“I finally got our straggler. Cross her off the list and head on home.”
“Took you fuckin long enough Scott.” He began typing rapidly on a keyboard for a few moments, finishing by tapping the enter button.

“All done, just call me up when you find another one. Thanks.”

The man hurried out the door. Ferra stared at him as he left, turning back to Scott.

“What’s that all about?”

“He’s the only other employee working in this division. I’m just doing him a favor by keeping this place seemingly productive enough.”

He tugged her further into the building and walked down a few flights of stairs. Most of the walls were very messy, some peeling with paint. The few pipes that still ran alongside the wall were rusty, several segments cracked or flat out shattered. He took her down a dim concrete hallway and turned into a doorway. The room they entered looked something like a miniaturized home. A portable stove, coffee machine, fridge, and pile of blankets were all shoved in one corner, right next to a well-cleaned tub and sink. Not too far off from that little living area was a large cabinet. In front of that was a large man-sized table with several power tools scattered atop of it. On the opposite side of the room was a large desk with a blocky computer monitor and an absolute mess of paper spilt everywhere. Hanging next to the desk was a large cork board with photos, forum posts, and printouts of news articles all pinned to it, a few articles and pictures crossed out. He undid her restraints and sat down at his desk, booting up the computer.

“Feel free to glance around, just don’t touch anything, all right?”

His computer hummed to life as he began typing away. Ferra’s eyes locked on the cork board. The photos contained vague silhouettes of blocky-looking bodies. Her eyes widened at another article featuring a photo in a snowy landscape, the photo of what was clearly an android being displayed. A location known as the “Sanctum Mountains” she read.

“You like my handiwork?” He said as he continued typing away. “Most of the people working here were only worried about internal android threats, so I lack an intel department you know.” He typed a few more things in. “So now it’s up to me to find any bots to give everyone reason why this very small branch should still be funded.”

“Well, then why don’t you find a new job or something? This seems like a lot of work.”
He let out a snort as he continued his typing. “I spent my entire life trying to get this job, I ain’t giving it up for some third rate clerk job somewhere in the slums.”

“You seem to have plenty of experience and a truck, so why not bounty hunting?”
“Correction, the state owns that truck. The only thing I can call mine in this office is that fridge, stove, food, and my guns.”
“So can’t you buy your own stuff-”

“If I could, I wouldn’t need to strike a deal with you now, would I?”

He stopped typing. “Anyways, all those reports regarding you are now closed, according to the state, you’re tucked away in some reservation up north.” He turned towards her and stood up. “Now as for bounties, finding them is gonna be your job, I’ve done all the work I need to today. You at least know how to use a computer?” He presented her the chair. She walked over, sitting in front of the screen. Scott leaned over, clicking on a browser icon and opening a window.

“You can use this to go find some postings online. Don’t bother looking for inner city jobs because well, you’re a fukin android. Just try to find any job outside of the walls and you’ll be set.”

She stared at him. “Where exactly do I start? How do I even use this thing?”
He briefly demonstrated how to type and use the mouse, clicking on boxes around the window and typing. “As for where to start, you’re the expert on bounties here.”

The evening flew by as Scott ate a small meal and slept in front of his small electric stove. Ferra carefully crept over, turning off the stove, and tossed a few extra blankets atop of him. She returned to the computer, going through several of the old sites in Scott’s history. Most of them were forum boards used by people who lived outside of the city walls, ranging from farmers just outside of the walls, others from people who set up homes in multiple points around the world. Some in a more mountainous region, some living around the edges of forests, she even noticed a few referring to settlements in the Radi Desert. She looked up a map of the continent of Congeria itself, and gasped at the size of it. Off to the very west was the city of Axios, still taking up a fair amount of space, but the rest of the land was massive, varied beyond what she thought. The Radi Desert awkwardly crammed between grasslands, the complete lack of any green east of it, the long stretching plains, the mountains to the south and jungle beyond the range, ruined cities stretching eastward all the way to a massive gash in the earth. She printed it out, grabbing a pen. When it finished, she tabbed over to forum posts she found, and quickly marked their locations on the newly printed map. She sighed as she closed every tab and powered off the computer. She sat down next to the snoozing Scott and smiled at him.

“Maybe I can make this deal work out after all.”

Tales from Congeria: The Closing Festival

The moon shone down onto the blazing skyline of Romitum, hovering high over the temporarily clear streets. Many roads were closed in preparation for the Closing Festival, celebrating the two-hundred and third end of the Harvest War. Members of law enforcement were quickly establishing barricades on several of the street entrances, making sure every street leading up to the city’s Capitol Building were clear, while construction workers and civilians prepared several stands and attractions. At the top of the skylines, two figures watched several trucks full of various materials and goodies pull up to each barricade. One figure was armored from head to toe, wearing a large camo cloak, while the other wore an oddly frilly dress, exposing much of her hardened physique. The armored figure turned back to her, giving her an obvious “are you serious” expression that even she could tell through his tinted helmet.

“Hey c’mon Simon, once everything’s clear, I wanna celebrate too! I thought may as well have the armory whip me up something quick so I wouldn’t have to change…”

He sighed, returning to watching each truck.

“I swear Joy, someday you’ll learn how useful wearing around a ton of armor can be in this field. Or at least somebody is going to bash that lesson into your skull.”

She huffed as he held up his hand.

“And speaking of being thick-skulled, I think I found the ballsiest people of today.”

From his cloak he handed her a pair of binoculars. She looked through, noticing a few sketchy looking men in a line of trucks moving several crates out of their truck into a nearby building. Simon shook his head. “They’re gonna try and move those crates of Bliss and whatever else with the crowd when the festival finally opens. I’ll let law-”

She put her hand on his shoulder. “Hey, we didn’t come here just for tattletale duty. Besides, I’m sure the officers here want to enjoy the festival as much as I do.

“Point taken.” He drew his railgun from his back, hitting a few switches on his scope, before eyeing through it. “Just let me know on the radio if you need anything specific. Other than that, I’ll just keep you out of bigger trouble as per usual.”

She grinned and took several steps back. She then broke into a full sprint, leaping off the edge of the building towards the suspicious truck, Simon sighing.

“Would a little bit of subtlety just kill you?”

He eyed through his scope, picking up heat signatures of several men and women moving in and out of the suspicious building.

 

Joy crashed down right in front of one of the barricades, cracking the ground around her and scaring the ever-loving shit out of both of the officers. They quickly reached for their guns before she held up her hand.

“No need to worry officers, official Crusader business!” She broke into a sprint, effortlessly leaping the barricade and zooming past the trucks, leaving the two officers dumbfounded. It wasn’t long until she had to skid to a halt, reaching the truck of note. She peeked into the back of it: completely empty except for a few planks of wood to assemble a stand. Turning her eyes towards the building they all entered, she casually pushed the door open, entering a room full of several men moving boxes behind a steel door, and women armed with pistols glaring at her. One of the men directing everyone stopped and turned to her, gawking slightly at her outfit before regaining his focus.

“Uh, lady, the hell are you doing in here?”
Joy exaggeratedly shrugged. “I dunno, I thought there was gonna be some festival stuff in here because I saw you guys unloading your truck in here.”
“Well you’re wrong. We had some food that was rotting so we quickly need to check every box to make sure the rest of our goods are fine. Just move along, all right?”

She continued to walk inwards, the man backing away and some of the others reaching for their pistols.

“Hmm… You sure you aren’t hiding something really cool for the festival? I mean, this is a pretty heavy door for some food.”

“Ain’t you ever seen a freezer before-”

She reared back her fist and threw a punch at the center of the door. It completely bent inward, taking a few of the hinges off with it, but still standing. Everyone in the room jumped, a few of them shooting at her stomach in retaliation. She winced as each bullet pecked at her abdomen, each one crumpling and falling to the floor.

joypunch
Art by https://sheepapp.tumblr.com

“Yeouch… First, that wasn’t very nice. Second, that’s the world’s heftiest freezer door I’ve ever seen! I’m pretty sure you’re hiding something awesome!”

She grabbed the door by it’s crumpled sides, straining somewhat before ripping it completely out from its frame, whirling around as all the armed men in the room began to fire. Using it as a shield, each bullet either bounced off the door or harmlessly off her arms until she heard all of their guns click dry. She grinned as she tossed away the door, noticing a few men were grabbing assault rifles from one of the crates. A few bullets pierced the wall, flying into both of them.

“You’re welcome” crackled across Joy’s earpiece. Her grin now back in full force, she leapt towards each terrified goon, easily knocking out each one: A punch to the chin, the stomach, kick to the side, showing enough restraint to try and incapacitate with her immense strength instead of kill. Soon the entire room was either knocked out, except for the few poor men who tried to go for heavier armaments. She turned towards the ruined doorway where the steel door once was, waltzing in and tearing off the roof of one of the crates. There she stared wide-eyed at several small rat-sized creatures, each bearing numerous razor-sharp teeth, frozen completely in red crystal.

“The room is clear and we need to get a purification team here. Those shits thought they could smuggle in a bunch of crystallized doomrats.”

“Copy that, nice work Joy. Head back to me, and authorities will be there very soon.”

She first picked up one of the crystals, gripping as tightly as she could. It shattered, completely crushing the demon inside of it. She smiled, turning back towards the exit.

 

The rest of the night thankfully went off without a hitch. Crusader purifiers and local enforcement officers apprehended every man and safely purged every last doomrat. More crusaders were present at the festival, ensuring that no rat would suddenly disrupt the festival, but thankfully they weren’t necessary. Joy was fully aware of this, and spent most of the time with the citizens, enjoying the food and activities the festival had to offer, and spending time conversing and showing off her physique with other amazed citizens. While all this happened, Simon solemnly stared down at the festival, taking in every little detail with his rifle to his side. He sighed, letting out the slightest smile from behind his mask at the sight.

Norman and Mia

This is a bit of a short story based on a brief concept I thought off a few months back, and a continuation of the sneak peek I posted a while back. It’s rough, but I hope you all can enjoy!


In the endless expanse of stars and space, a force that had been drifting for centuries without end had finally reached the system of planets mankind called home. A colossal cluster of strange ships, incredibly blocky and robust in design and looks, all tightly surrounding an even more massive cube-like ship. It’s size rivaled that of some of Earth’s largest cities, bearing several thousand scratches and scars. Years more of drifting, the ominous fleet finally approached Earth, carefully maneuvering into an orbit behind the moon. Lunar satellites that passed by were swarmed by several human-sized objects, which quickly departed after moments, leaving the machine seemingly untouched. As the last satellites passed by, the massive city-ship began transforming. Multiple mechanical obelisks began to emerge, each as wide as the faces of the ship and reaching sizes that rivaled even the tallest human structures. Fully formed into a terrifying station, the machine deployed even more ships of several rigid shapes and sizes, creating a formidable fleet around it. To finish its appearing act, it launched numerous car-sized ships from one of the obelisks, each one slingshotting themselves around the moon right towards earth. Firing thrust towards each other, they adjusted their trajectories towards the various countries of earth, eventually drifting apart and out of sight. As one of the ships blazed through the atmosphere, a massive plate of metal flew off the ship, and along with a part of its cargo: A large chunk of metal, vaguely in a humanoid form. It flew horribly off-course, charing up as it crashed further and further away from its ship.

 

“Get out of bed Norman! Breakfast is getting cold!”

A messy-haired teen groggily rose from his bed, rubbing the last remnants of sleep out of his eyes. Letting out one final yawn, he moved over to his dresser, topped with a few books, toys, and photographs. He slipped on a pair of jeans and a white shirt, then swiping his backpack up off the floor. He moved to his desk, shoving in the scattered papers and assorted schoolbooks without a thought, and finishing up by unplugging his laptop and shoving it in. He zipped up his bag and glanced at his watch with bagged eyes: 7:20. Hurrying on towards the kitchen, a still-steaming plate of eggs and toast sat on a small table. His mother who was wiping down the stove noticed him seat himself, and smiled.

“Please take your time and eat, you won’t do well on an empty stomach!”

He shoved a few forkfulls of eggs into his mouth and downed it with milk.

“I need to get walking now or I’m gonna be late. Thanks.”

He took one last chomp out of the toast before scuffing on his shoes and walking out the front door.

He methodically pushed his way through the hall full of students as he and they all tried to make their way to classes. He continued moving, bumping and being shoved by others, letting a yawn out among the turmoil. He finally arrived at his first class: Accounting. He pulled out a notebook and his textbook and rested his head on his hand until the teacher arrived. Then it was an hour and a half of lectures and notetaking. It was a grind he was very familiar with; Every class of his operated the same way, be it calculus, statistics, or english. Constant notetaking and focusing unless a test or quiz broke the flow. Still, by the end of the class he’d noted everything he’d need, absorbed by the contents of the day’s lecture. When lunch finally rolled around, he sat with his friends, Andrew and Mike. He’d eat and talk latest news, video game talk, and just general small talk with them until he finished his lunch. Once the last bite was done, he’d let them know he’d talk to them later and headed off towards study hall until the next bell rang. Then it was back to more notetaking and focusing until the last bell rang. Slipping his notebooks and books into his bag as the teacher informed the class of homework for the following day, he stretched out before beginning his trek home.

 

When he unlocked the door and took a step inside, his parents were still out at their jobs. He placed his bag on his bed and went to the kitchen, preparing himself simply a ham sandwich and glass of water. Quickly finishing the meal, he worked back to his room, pulling out his books and worksheets, spreading them on his desk, and promptly got to work. A few hours of filling out answer after answer on his accounting worksheet, and her heard the front door slam.

“Norman, I’m home!” announced his mother.

“I’m busy working right now!”
Finishing up the accounting sheet, he slipped it into a folder and brought out his economics textbook, turning deep into the thick book. He then pulled out a notebook, and studiously began his reading.

Soon when the sun dipped beyond the horizon, several minutes after hearing the door slam once more, he had a few pages worth of notes filled out and closed the textbook shut. He let out a quick yawn, taking his laptop off of his desk and moving onto his bed, getting himself comfy and flipping the computer open. He opened up his browser to a video site, some social media sites, a few forums, and online academic resources. He spent a few more hours watching whatever he found entertaining on the site, barely clicking to the social media sites every so often.

He let out a yawn, pausing a video, looking at his computer clock, reading at nearly eleven. He put his laptop back on his desk, plugging it in, and began to change into pajamas. Mid slipping on a shirt, however, a fiery orange light blazed through his window. Rushing over, he caught sight of a ball of fire soaring over the sky. It was only a matter of seconds before it crashed far into the woods that sat at the edge of his neighborhood. He froze in place, staring still staring out where the object crashed. “WHAT” was the only thought that constantly resounded through his mind. He reached for his phone to call the fire department until a tiny thought spoke from the deepest part of his mind: “Wouldn’t it be pretty cool if you were to own an asteroid?”

He paused right at the numberpad. Somebody probably already called the fire department, I couldn’t have been the only one to have noticed this, he thought to himself. I better hurry before somebody beats me to it. Quickly throwing a coat over his pajamas, and hurrying to grab his keys, a fire extinguisher and oven mitts from the kitchen, he scuffed on his shoes and ran out into the night, hurrying over to the plume of smoke that was slowly blotting out the starry skies. As he pushed deeper into the brush, using his phone as a flashlight, he eyed around him. Nobody had seemed to come out. He smirked to himself as he hurried deeper, noticing an orange glow not too further ahead. Finally pushing through the last bit of brush, he came across a large crater, surrounded by destroyed or blown-back trees, with several flames and embers surrounding the area. In the center of the crater was still on fire, so he promptly began hosing down the area with the extinguisher. With most of the fires now quelled, he stared at the still-glowing object. Holding up his phone-light to it, it looked more like a massive disfigured chunk of metal more than anything. He sighed.

“Seriously, just space junk?“

Several cables sprouted forth from the junk, latching onto his phone. He shrieked, holding deathly tight onto his phone as the cables tugged hard away from him. Using his free arm, he smashed the cables with the extinguisher, causing them to all suddenly recoil back into the heap of metal, and sending him back a few inches. He checked his phone, finding no damage, but the battery deathly low. He sighed in relief, but froze up when he heard the sound of shrieking metal come from the crater. The scrap was now moving, deforming itself like some strange sludge. It began to take on more of a humanoid appearance, the once damaged and scratched metal now smoothing itself. Soon its body shaped itself more and more like a female’s, properly molding legs, arms, hands, fingers, and a visored head. He froze as the machine stood up, a pair of eyes lighting up on its visor. He was completely frozen, thousands of commands to run, fight, or hide constantly bouncing within his brain, until the machine spoke:
“Please, don’t be alarmed. I promise, I won’t hurt you.”

She turned behind her, noticing there were still a few fires silently burning behind her.

“Perhaps you would feel more comfortable if the environment were safer? Please, hand me that fire extinguisher, I can help.” She held out her hand. Fear of what would happen if he didn’t moved Norman’s arm upward, handing the extinguisher to her. The metal of its canister slowly bent and deformed as she absorbed the device into her arm, canister, hose, and all. She turned behind her, reforming her hand into a nozzle as she sprayed down the rest of the area with ease. She turned back to him, returning her hand to normal.

“Much better, yes? Now, do you care for this planet?”
He jolted up his hand. “Excuse me what the FUCK?”
She tilted her head as he sputtered constantly.

“Are you okay? Did I strike you during my entry?”

He stops himself, taking a deep breath. “All right all right ALL RIGHT. Let me just ask something first before you start asking anything: Who are you, and what is going on right now?”

“That is easy. I am an advanced extraterrestrial battle-scout, sent here to gather information on your planet. My probe unfortunately had a malfunction, and I crashed here far from where it landed. When you came along, I automatically detected that cell phone in your hand as a source of power to help jumpstart my system, but however it provided more than I anticipated. It connected me to a global information database known as the internet-”
He held up his hand again. “So you’re an alien, just here to scout, got it, I didn’t need your entire life’s story. So you’re just going to finish up this scouting mission and leave and never bother me again, right?”

She crossed her arms. “It’s only fair that you answer my question first: Do you care for this planet?”

His face grew pale. “I care for living, and by extension that does mean this planet. I would NOT like it taken over or destroyed or whatever you plan on doing with it.”

She nodded. “It is not in my power to decide the fate of your planet, but the rest of my kind would like to see it processed.”
“Oh god…” He stumbled back. “So what, you’re going to kill me now?”
“Not exactly. The crash disconnected me from the rest of my kind, and browsing the internet gave me what you refer to as ‘sentience’. From what I processed, you all seem like a very interesting species to live among, and I wish to do so as well.”
Some color returned to his face. “You can do something about this oncoming invasion then, right?”

“Not alone.”

He felt a large lump form in his throat.

“Judging by how reliant on electronics your world is, it would only be a matter of weeks before we could purge your species from the planet. However, I am an exception to this: I am designed to be protected against any electronic warfare. However, with my connection to my kind severed, I won’t be able to operate as efficiently as any other machines. With a pilot, he could help me operate and react far faster than any others linked to my kind. I have already made the adjustments to my body to accommodate you if you accept to fight with me.”

He once again froze up. “Too much shit happening tonight, somebody help me” was all that he could think of. Staring more at the robot, his mind cleared up: She would effectively change his life forever, but that would mean throwing himself into several near-death scenarios. However, if he chose not to pilot her, she would leave, and likely find somebody else to pilot her.

“Fine, I’ll do it, I’ll help!”

A happy expression appeared on her visor. “Wonderful! Before we start however, what is your name?”

“Oh uh, Norman. Norman Maxson.”
She turned around, the entire back of her body opening up. “Please, step in.”

He slowly stepped forward, carefully sliding his arms inside hers, followed by his legs, chest, and then finally fitting his head in. The suit clamped down all around him, feeling rather cramped, but soon re-adjusted feeling somewhat more comfortable. A HUD appeared in front of him, with a small red dot appearing in the corner of his vision.

“Oh Norman, there’s one last thing. Could you name me? I believe a human name would help me fit in better.”

He rolled his eyes. “A lack of name would be the least of your problems, but fine.” He paused for a few moments. “Mia.”

“Mia? Why that name?”
“I don’t know, the first that came to mind, it sounded cute?”

“What constitutes for things to be cute?”

“Hey, don’t we have some world-saving to do right now?”

He felt Mia clamp a bit tighter around him, and he could move his limbs around freely. He took a few steps around, moved around his arms and hands, trying to move every body part until he gained the hang of it.

“There, you should be set for action. Now as for what you need to do, it is simple. I’ve already marked on your HUD where the rest of the scouting party should be. If you disrupt our scouts, you can delay the invasion until they send another party in around a week of earth-time.”
“That’s awfully convenient now, isn’t it?”
“It’s the price we pay for utmost efficiency. Now, proceed to fly there.”

He thought to himself “Fly?” until he looked down at the Mia’s legs, noticing an assortment of jets jutting out of them. They suddenly lit up to a bright blue as he felt himself elevating up into the air. He looks up, thinking of soaring up into the sky and she obeyed. He did a few flips and tricks, taking in the fact he was actually flying.

“Holy shit, this is so easy!”
“I can assist automatically with most complex maneuvers, so do not worry. Now that you’re used to flying, let us get to work quickly.”

Turning to face the marker, he flew off into the night. He stared down at the dozens of buildings, cars, and people he zoomed on over, excitement slowly building up until a thought rudely interrupted his wonder.

“Hey uh, Mia. Do you have any weapons I can use?”
“Recon drones aren’t armed with anything but tranquilizers and a stealth drive. My stealth drive was unfortunately damaged in the crash, and tranquilizers are useless against robots.”
“All right all right, I can infer that, I’m not stupid.” He stared at Mia’s fist, opening and closing it. “Hopefully you pack enough of a punch to make this just quick and easy.”

As he passed beyond his city’s more urban areas, he approached forested hills, noticing several red outlines highlighted within the forests. Another screen popped up on his visor, zooming in on the outlines, revealing them to be four strange and bulky quadrupedal robots, each with a large eye-like device on the front of them.

“Let’s hope to God this works…”
“Norman, who is humanity’s creator? I read about several theologies but none seem to have any singular answer.”

He stammered. “Now is NOT the time for philosophical bullshit, full speed ahead onto those recon drones!”

He cut all thrust to engines and angled Mia’s leg straight out towards the drones. Crashing straight down and kicking up an explosion of dirt, he landed smack in the center of one of the drones, completely cracking the machine in half.

“Norman, make sure to at least make sure to immobilize them. They can’t be destroyed unless I properly disassemble them.”

The other two drones quickly turned towards her, sprouting a few tubes and launching a few darts. They merely dinked Mia’s armor as Norman charged forward, ripping off the legs of the second bot.

“That was information that I could have used earlier!”
“I’m sorry. I was busy thinking about everything I learned so far, and since they pose no threat to you, the information wasn’t as pertinent.”

The remaining drones still fired darts as Norman rushed forward, picking up one of them and tossing it at the othered, followed by repeatedly kicking them together.

“There, all done. Mission accomplished, right?”

Mia’s back suddenly opened up, ejecting him out.

“Hey, what the hell?”
Her back closed up as she turned towards him. “In order to properly dispose of them, I needed you to be out of me. It would be too dangerous otherwise.”

She walked towards the two drones jammed together, still struggling to try to move. She knelt down and placed her hand on them, slowly watching as they dissolved into a strange molten-looking liquid that she absorbed. He turned to the other drone that he split in half, noticing that despite the devastating amount of damage, that it was still twitching.

“What are these things made out of? How are they still even moving?”

Mia stood up, her armor looking much more polished and sturdy.

“All of us are constructed from living metal. As long as we store a proper amount of energy, we can freely move and operate, and even self-repair if critically damaged. You should have inferred this from me.”
He rolled his eyes. “It’s almost as if you’re totally alien to me or something.”
“Didn’t you say you weren’t stupid?”

“Oh shut up.”

Several minutes passed as Mia slowly dismantled and absorbed the last of the drones, adding on more and more armor to her frame. Finished, and now looking much more imposing with her additions, Norman spoke up.

“All right, so we gotta do this like, once a week and we can avert an invasion, right?”
“That is correct.”

He sighed. “That’s good, at least I can fit in one night of alien-fighting with everything else I’ve got going on-”

“But, because this scout unit was destroyed with no evidence to their whereabouts, the next one they send will be better equipped, and after that perhaps with a proper military escort. You need to make sure to help me prepare for the next unit.”

He sighed. “You shitting me? I don’t have time for any of this, well… Maybe I DO have some time but it’s going to eat into everything else I already have to do. I have a busy life, you know?”

Her eyes lit up. “That can still be excellent for me! I’d love to study you and your life more. Oh yes, the drone units… If you can show me weapons blueprints or designs, I can try to adapt them to my frame. Perhaps that could make our job easier?”

“So just one day to show you loads of guns? Sounds easy enough. Now open back up, I need to get home and get some sleep.”

“Why should I open up? We aren’t in any threatening scenario.”

He paused for a moment. “Well, I do still need to get home. You ARE going to do that for me, right?”
“Yes, I can still bring you home. Though piloting me is unnecessary. I can carry you instead.”
“C-carry me? Are you insane? How high and how fast are you going to fly now? You could drop me and then I’d be history, and then humanity! Come on, just open up, it’ll be easier!”

She shook her head. “I’m sorry, there’s no reason to. Please don’t worry, I’ll hold onto you tightly and fly at a safe speed.” She opened her arms to him.

He groaned, and slowly walked over as she picked him up, flying up into the sky. Although she did fly no faster than the average car below her, he still held onto her feeling his heart about to leap straight out of his throat. What took only minutes felt like an eternity for him as she silently and safely touched down back near the woods.

“This neighborhood is where you live, right? I can stay with you too as well?”

He shakily stepped out of her arms, propping himself onto a tree for support.

“Look…. Ugh… You can’t exactly… Stay inside the house with me…” He coughed a few times before shaking his head. “I mean first, there’s my parents questioning where the robot alien came from. But just follow me, I have SOME place you can stay without being found.”

He shakily pushed himself off the tree, stumbling over but quickly caught him. She continued to walk by him, using herself as a support as they hobbled over to his house. He pulled out his keys and unlocked the doors to the garage, revealing sports equipment, toolboxes, his parents’ car, and various other old boxes. He pulled a stepladder from between one of the shelves and climbed up, grabbing hold of a wire hanging from the roof. With a quick tug, a door from the roof opened, a ladder falling out. He presented it to Mia.

“Up here’s the garage attic. We usually keep REALLY old stuff up there and nobody heads up there anyways.”
She nodded. “Thank you for this place, I’m sure it’ll be of some worth.”

She hovered up into the attic as he shut the door behind him. Letting out one last sigh, he walked back up to his room, slowly lying down in bed. His heart still felt like it was stuck in his throat, yet exhaust from the night eventually overtook him, falling into a deep slumber.

 

“NORMAN, GET UP! YOU’RE GOING TO BE LATE!”

He lurched forward, whipping his head around. His sight first locked onto his frustrated looking mother as he slowly turned down to his watch: 7:45.

Shit he thought internally as he shoved aside his blankets, scrambling to yank clothes from his dresser.

His mother continued to chastise him. “Seriously, I shouldn’t have to wake you up like this.”

“Yeah yeah… I stayed up a bit too late uh… Working.” He slipped a shirt over his head, sighing as he noticed his laptop was left unplugged, all of his papers were even more of a mess on his desk, and his pencil pouch was spilled atop it all. He groaned, carelessly trying to force everything into his bag.

“I at least bagged breakfast for you so you can eat it as you walk. Eat something before you start the day!” She turned around, returning to clean up the kitchen. His heart throbbed as he constantly checked his watch every winking moment, running all the math in his head of how fast he’d have to go to get to school on time. Then a rogue question scrambled his thought process: “Wait, did last night actually happen?” Leaving his belongings behind, he sprinted out the back, quickly unlocking the garage door and yanking open the attic. Climbing up, there he saw Mia’s eyes glowing in the dark. He flicked on the lights, finding her surrounded by several neatly stacked old photo albums. She glanced up from an open one on her lap.

“Hello Norman. Are we ready for a day of learning?”

He hauled himself up to his feet. “First of all, what the HELL are you doing going through all my belongings?”

She stared at the albums surrounding her. “You said nothing here was touched so I thought it would be no issue if I did research on you and your family.”

His eye twitched. “Look, first I’m not some kinda lab rat. I can’t help you right now because I gotta get to school. But when I do, I gotta set some serious guidelines with you!”
She tilted her head. “School? You’re still being educated? Aren’t there more pressing issues than basic education?”
He sighed. “Look, I still need to not get expelled and all. Alien hunting isn’t exactly a good long term career plan. So just, for now, lie low, don’t get caught, and watch my back for any more aliens or whatever. Simple?”

She nodded.

“Good. I’ll see ya after school which…” He glanced at his watch, feeling his heart nearly leap out of his throat. “Oh fuck me…” He slid down the ladder, making a beeline for his room.

 

His sprint towards school was filled with numerous watch-glances mixed with shoving bits of food into his mouth, panting as he pushed through the front doors. It was now 8:05, and the halls were empty and dead silent. A nice change of pace, but at what cost, he thought. Wheezing for breath, he pushed open the door to calculus, most of the class, the teacher included, turning to his arrival. He gave a wry smile to them and the teacher.

“Yeah uh, sorry for being late.”

The teacher returned to his lesson as he slinked into his desk, silently shuffling through his bag to grab a pen and notebook. Most of this class and the following were filled less with proper notes, and more the words “Oh fuck what am I gonna do with Mia” running on constant loop. He had to exert even more mental stress just to snap him out of the loop, only to find he had missed a good chunk of the lesson. By the time lunch came around, his stomach still churned with anxiety and thoughts still raced about Mia. He simply went straight to the library, not even bothering to stop at the cafeteria. He flipped through his textbooks, trying desperately to focus to little avail. The day continued, constantly being called out by teachers and students alike for his lack of attention. The only other thing that knocked him out of his constant trances was the closing bell. The moment it stopped ringing, he threw all of his belongings into his bag, dashing out the door. He blew out the front door and kept sprinting until the school was out of sight. Noticing this over his back, he skidded to a halt, sighing.

“Christ how much worse can this day get…”

He glanced around, realizing he had sprinted into one of the more sketchy neighborhoods around his city.

“I guess I answered my question-”

He felt somebody tap on his back. He whirred around to a man somewhat taller than him holding out a pocket knife.

“All right kid, just hand over your wallet.”

Norman completely locked up, retreating to his mind.

“Shit shit shit, what should I do? Run? But what if he can catch up? Perhaps I can just kick him in the balls and run? But what if he deflects? Oh christ I’m so screwed. I don’t think I fully loaded my wallet though? I’ll just lose my school ID but then I can get it replaced, all right.”

He threw his bag off his back, scrambling to try and find his wallet. When he yanked it out, he noticed the man’s face looked completely dead, slumping over. Norman jumped back, noticing a metallic dart sticking out of the back of his neck.

“Norman, all you all right?”

He yelped as Mia appeared out of thin air, landing right beside the downed mugger.
“Jesus Mia, what the hell are you doing?”

She kneeled down, absorbing the dart out of the man.

“You told me this morning to watch your back, didn’t you?”
He zipped up his bag throwing it over his back.

“I meant more aliens specifically. Now, did you just kill this guy? And since when could you turn invisible?”

“No, he was merely tranquilized. For your second question, I was able to take one of the scout drone’s stealth modules.”

He froze, staring at her for a few seconds. “How long have you been invisible and ‘watching my back’?”

“All day. I do have to say, school seems like an inefficient way of learning. Why do you still go there when the internet exists?”

“First, saying ‘I learned all I know off the internet!’ isn’t very impressive to employers. Anyone can say that. Second, you were STALKING ME?”

“Stalking? I was watching your back for any threat. Not literally, of course.”

“And how much did you… “ He stared at his assailant. “Just stay out of sight and follow me back home. And don’t kill anyone! They could trace it back to you, which would mean back to me, which would mean the end of the world. Got it?”

She nodded, grabbing the man’s knife before flying up into the sky. He sighed, and proceeded to leave the neighborhood.

 

Finishing his sprint, Norman whipped out his keys as he caught sight of home. Behind him, he heard a light clank, whirling around to find Mia. He flinched for a moment, noticing her hand now resembled that of a knife.

“Jesus Mia, what did you do?”

“That man’s weapon, I thought it would be useful for future endeavors. It’s an interestingly primitive design that I was able to make much more effective thanks to adding my own alloy to the blade.”

He froze. “Wait, you can do that with ANY weapon, right? Does that include schematics for the stuff?”
“Yes, as long as I have the proper materials.”

His face brightened. “Hoo, this is gonna make this world saving business a lot easier. My parents shouldn’t be home yet, so I want you to come on in and wait for me. I need to get some things for you.”

He quickly unlocked the door, kicking off his shoes and sprinting in towards his room. Mia slowly followed, peering around. Not too far from the door was a small living room with a TV, couch, and a few armchairs connected right to the kitchen. She closed the door behind her, walking to and taking a seat at the couch. Her weighted form sunk into the fabric, and she stayed motionless as she sunk into the couch more and more. Norman ran towards the room with his laptop in-hand, but paused at the sight.

“What exactly are you doing?”
“Processing comfort. I think I like this…”

He moved himself over and sat right next to her, turning his laptop. On screen was a web browser with multiple tabs open to various guns, explosives, artillery pieces, tank and anti-tank weapons, and swords. She wriggled out of the couch a bit.

“Wouldn’t it be faster if I just finished downloading most of the internet? It would save me research time too.”

As she reached for the computer, he yanked it away.

“Nooooooo no no no. Trust me, you do NOT want to do research on humanity through the internet.”
“Is there a problem? Does it have fallacies?”
“Kinda. The thing about the internet is that it’s home to a lot of horrible shit. If you download it all, it would probably make you think humanity isn’t worth saving.”

She cocked her head. “If humanity is that awful, won’t I learn that through observation?”
He shook his head. “The internet just has a habit of magnifying our worst traits. You can analyze visually fine, right?”

She stared at the schematic for the assault rifle he had brought up for a few moments. She paused for a few moments, holding up her hand as a barrel-like shape protruded from it.

“Hell yeah, now this is going to make dealing with those other bots easy.”

She held up her finger. “One issue. I lack any ammo. The only supplies I have on hand are some fire retardant, the tranquilizers I took from the scouts, and my natural supply of metal. Bullets for these weapons requires gunpowder.”

“What? Come on, you’re alien. Can’t you just propel it some other way? Like with electromagnetic bullshit?”
“I don’t know what electromagnetic bullshit is. If you provide a schematic, I can replicate that for you.”

He groaned. “Nevermind. I’m not exactly old enough to get you gunpowder which we kinda need for ninety-nine percent of weapons that are useful, and I don’t think there’s public stuff available for military grade railguns.”

“If you need me to acquire that data, that should be no issue-”

He held up his hand. “Remember what I said about NOT getting caught by authorities? Hacking the military is a good way to get caught.”

He closed his laptop and sighed. “I guess we’re just going to have to make the most out of knives and swords and whatever else.”

She re-formed the barrel back into a hand. “Norman, may I ask a question about you?”
“Hm? Yeah sure, whatever.”

“When I observed your school, I noticed a majority of the students there were in groups or constantly talking together. You and a few others were outliers to this. Why were you alone?”
He scowled. “Look, I have friends, seriously. I just talk with them every other lunch or whatever.”

“Ah, friends. I read somewhat about bonds humans built, and was intrigued how despite your individuality, you all managed to get along. Why do you have friends?”
“Oh, well my buds, Mike and Andrew, it’s connections. Mike’s father runs a bank, and Andrew has connections with accountants. When I graduate, I can use those connections to get me a good accounting internship. Basically with that experience under my belt, I have a better chance of getting hired, and living a good smooth life as an accountant.”

“So you aren’t friends because of sharing feelings or personal bonds… but because they’re business propositions?”
He shrugged. “Yeah I guess. So?”

“From what I’ve observed and read, I don’t think that’s an actual friendship.”
“Hey, what do you know, you’re the fucking alien here.”

The sound of slightly squeaking brakes and a running engine turning off came from outside.

“Shit!” Norman leapt from the couch and threw the back door open. “Hurry up and slip back up into the attic, my parents are home!”

She vanished into air, carefully pushing past him. He slammed the door shut as he heard the front door open.

“Norman, I’m home!” Called his mother, but he quickly grabbed his laptop and hurried back to his room. He placed it back on his desk, plugging it in as he stared at his loaded backpack for a few moments, then out his window.

“Man, was it really worth getting wrapped up into all of this?”

 

Writing Schedule

All right, so I think I should put up a brief schedule of my plans for the time being, since there’s a lot I need to do and I don’t wanna keep you all in the dark while I’m busy with life and writing, so

For starters, first I’m going to work on the Chidetan Odyssey revisions for chapters 6-11. These shouldn’t take too long, will probably take a day per chapter, and I will update them so.

Once all revisions are done, I plan on re-writing a short story, namely Tales from Congeria: Scott and Ferra. It’s been a while and I mostly wrote that story on a whim, so I would love to take the time to improve it as I develop Congeria more and more in the background

Lastly, I have plans for a brand new short story later on down the line.

Once I’ve finished that short story, I’ll re-update my schedule so you all know what to expect. Thanks for sticking around!

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:
If you like this, be sure to follow me on twitter, and comment what you thought about the story! Every comments matters a lot

Previous|Index|Next

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.

Previous|Index|Next

I Became Overpowered in my Favorite MMO

My name? My name will be well known across the land soon. I am Darkedge, the King of Man, Scourge of Demonkind, and once a nobody of the earthly realm. I never was this godlike before. I used to be a skinny pushover. That was, however, until I got sucked into one of my favorite MMOs. A dream for any kid like me, really. Only difference is I still need to eat, drink, and use the bathroom, but those are just minor drawbacks, especially considering what I know. I was somewhat disappointed I was a level one new character, but then I remembered something interesting only level oners like me could do: A good exploitable bug. Normally in this game you can lose a few of your levels to respec any skills, handy if you screw up a build or something. A few users found something rather hilarious, however: If you respec at level one, the game doesn’t know what to do and underflows you to a level feasibly impossible to get in-game. It doesn’t give you any skill points, but with stats that high you can just brute-force anything. The devs banned anyone who attempted this glitch, but in this video game reality, there’s no banhammer here!

With stats this high, I’m pretty sure I can hold a mountain over my head with no sweat. My agility is already so high I can just barely start a jog and zoom on over to wherever I need to be! I don’t really need all of this intelligence since I don’t have any skills to use. Vitality is so high I don’t need to worry about dying, that is, if anything could harm me before I destroy them. My charisma should also make me the most charming man to have ever existed, so I could just tell a king do give me his kingdom and he’d agree! That would be boring, however, and I know exactly how I’m going to make myself appear epic to all these low-leveled losers! I did a bit of grinding in the first area of the game to get a single piece of armor I was looking for: A dark, menacing looking cloak that covered my entire body. My weapon of choice I was going to use for everything? A broken shortsword. It’s gonna be awesome, everyone is gonna be like “Holy crap he killed that demon king with a broken sword he’s the coolest!” It’s an easy one way trip to fame, fortune, and girls!

Stumbling over myself a few times thanks to my speed, it was literally seconds for me to traverse through all of the cheap easy early areas and made my way to the game hub, or in this world, I guess it’s the capital city of the game’s nation called Imperius. What should I rename this city to when they give it to me anyways? I’ll think about that later. I couldn’t reveal my full power to everyone just yet, so I had to be careful not to break into a jog, else my agility would kick in. If I were playing the game, I would just click where you’d want to go and BAM, you’d warp there. Now I gotta walk through all of this boring stuff step by step until I get to the parts that are actually important. But, it’ll allllll be worth it. Finally, I arrived at my destination: The Hunters Guild. Here they put up all sorts of bounties for major demons across the land, along with some story missions as well, but the story doesn’t matter. Walking up to the listing’s board, ugh, I had to browse through various pieces of papers tacked on. Why couldn’t they had made this world with magic listing boards? It’d make it a lot more convenient for me. It only took around thirty seconds of digging, but then I found what I was looking for: A listing for a level ninety archdemon at hell’s crater. I tore it from the board and pushed the doors open to the guild, walking towards the mission desk.

“I’d like to take on this job!”
I slammed the piece of paper on the desk. However, instead of hearing the “Holy Crap!” of amazement I expected, I instead got a “Holy Crap!” of fear as the entire desk shattered, sending thousands of bits of wood flying everywhere. They all bounced off of me harmlessly, but I couldn’t say the same for the man behind the desk. He was kinda… decimated by the blast I caused. The sudden sound of several swords and weapons being drawn caught my ear, and I turned around to seeing several other hunters of varying levels, all ready to slay me.

“Demon!” one of them cried. “No demon shall breach the city walls and come out alive!”
“No, you don’t understand! I’m human, it was an accident-”

One of the hunters charged forth with an unusually large blade. I dodged and gave him a quick punch in the gut to incapacitate him. Unfortunately, he was sent flying out of the room, probably all the way into orbit. The rest of the hunters stared at me dumbfounded, and I’m willing to bet even the ones wearing helmets or masks were just as terrified. This was getting way too out of hand, but then I remembered: My charisma!
“Hunters, please, I am no demon! I am your new champion, the soon to be savior and ruler of this world!”
One of the more intimidating hunters wearing silver armor raised his sword at me.

“A demon god? Possessing a human vessel? The rest of you, this man is no match for any of us, run and alert the emperor, the church, anyone who can help! I will do my best to hold him off, so go!”
“God dammit, I said I’m not a demon lord!” I boomed at the top of my voice, shaking the room around us. The silver knight began barking to the others once more.

“You see? The earth quaked when he took the name of God in vain! Hurry!”

How the hell do you use this charisma stuff anyways? The rest of the hunters fled as the knight began casting several buffs on himself. Damage boosts against demons, defensive boosts, pierce vitality… Uh oh. This armor wasn’t going to do any good and that spell would ignore my vitality defense bonus… I should really get better armor, but I don’t think there’s any good cloaked armor. My thoughts were cut off as the knight lunged at me and managed to get a hit in, tearing away a decent, yet still scary amount of my HP.
“You fiend! Not even the mightiest of demon gods can resist my spells!”

“Dude, your buffs are useless! I’m not a demon!”
He lunged at me once more and I dodged. I had to do something but if I killed this knight I’d never shake this whole demon lord title and never get all the glory and love and fame I wanted… Wait… Demon lord? They have succubi in this game, right? It was a plan harsher than I hoped for, but the title of “Demon Lord” doesn’t seem like one I can get rid of easily. I smiled in the middle of dodging more blows from this knight.

“Ahh yes… You’ve seen through my disguise! I am Darkedge, lord of all demons! Soon, this city shall fall and I shall rule you all!” I laughed as evilly as I could.

“I knew it!” A whole boatload of footsteps was heard right outside of the door. “But you’re a bit too late you beast!”

Several city guards charged in, firing fireballs, lightning, crossbow bolts at me, and if it was a projectile in the game, I’m sure it was being launched at me. Some just barely were able to take off one to two HP at a time, but most were worthless. I can’t believe I forgot all about the game’s defense system for trying to attempt combat in the city, so it’s a good thing I’m invincible. For my first act as Demon Lord Darkedge, I drew my broken sword and swung as hard as I could at one of the guards, coming into contact with some kind of barrier. What the hell? Oh that’s right, guards are invincible… A few spellcasters entered the room as well and began chanting, and before I could even recognize what they were saying, I found myself teleported outside of the city gates. I tried to run back in but crashed head-first into an invisible wall blocking the door. God dammit, there may be no admins here, but all these stupid anti-griefing safeguards… But if I, a player can’t get around these safeguards, surely other demons can! I was hoping to just keep that title and just take title of emperor by force, but now I have to become the literal king of demons.

Moving God knows how many times faster than the speed of sound constantly tripping over myself, I rolled up to the Devil’s Crater, an area that’s supposed to be the end-game raid location, and a supposed portal to hell. Even from the entrance, several demon beasts awaited for me to step in so they could chow down on me, and it gave me an idea as a good show of force to the forces of hell. I sped up to a slight jog and flew through the entrance, smashing through wall after wall of this labyrinth, unintentionally I will admit. I just wanted to agro them and slay this massive army that would be trailing behind me in front of Satan himself, and now I had no clue where I even was in this labyrinth. Then another idea struck my mind: If Hell is in the deepest depths of the earth, then I’ll just dig my way down there with my fists alone! I reared back my fist and punched into the ground, sending a massive shockwave through the earth. Dirt, bricks, and various beasts were sent flying up into the air as I made the Devil’s Crater deeper. Then I kept punching, sending more dirt and rocks and whatever else was buried down here flying out, vaporizing some stuff as well. Punch after punch after punch, I smashed my way deep into the earth until I reached a large chamber, falling down onto a rather elegant looking read carpet. I stared around, noticing I was surrounded by archdemons, and the carpet ran up to a massive golden throne, where Satan himself sat.

“Mortal!” All the archdemons surrounded me at the sound of his voice, ready to attempt to kill me. “You come to my realm knowing exactly what fate awaits you. Tell me why you have done this?”
I stood up, dusting off my long flowing cloak.

“I’m here to show you I’m the true lord of all demons, Darkedge!”
He grinned. “Oh, is that so? How amusing! You really think you hold more power than me?”

“All that you’d have to show is all your finest succubi, and I’m positive you they’d pick me over you!”
He frowned. “Kill this rat.”

All the demons leaped at me simultaneously and all I had to do was whip my sword around as hard as I could. It sent out a shockwave around the entire room, cleaving every single archdemon in half. I sheathed my sword.

“Is that strong enough for you Satan?”

Now Satan himself was staring at me dumbfounded.

“That’s physically impossible for even a mere mortal to do… What on earth are you?”

All of the sudden I was teleported back to the completely decimated entrance of the area with a good amount of loot and gold in my inventory. Then, I realized because I just completed the raid I got teleported back to the beginning automatically. I tried to re-enter the area until once again I was stopped. I remembered you could also only finish a raid once every day. Well, I have no place to stay, no proper towns I can enter, guess I just have to wait and convince satan when the area unlocks. I zoomed out of the area to a lush green field and lied down, preparing for a twenty four hour long sleep.

When I woke up, I saw something funny in the distance. I zoomed uncontrollably over, crashing into and plowing through a massive army of soldiers. Great, they’re here to hunt the great “Demon Lord”. At least these soldiers are vulnerable out here I continued to think to myself as I flew through the air. To the very left of me, something even more funny caught my eye. Demons too? Marching along with humans? And they weren’t fighting each other? I turned in front of me and noticed at the head of the army: Satan and the Emperor personally leading this force. What the hell is going on? I thought a bit more and realized: A great opportunity. They’re out of a safe zone and I can kill both of them right now, and take over the world! I regained my footing, being harmlessly attacked by thousands of swords and pikes and maces as I prepared to leap straight at the two leaders. I leapt, cloak flapping and broken sword in hand, ready to destroy them until I was smacked in the side by a massive stream of demonic fire. I heard screaming among the human crowd: “Anti demon enchantments aren’t working on him, what the hell!”
A familiar voice rang out throughout the entire land: “Try anti-vitality then! I was able to harm him using a combination of the two!”
Uh-oh.

I crashed to the side of the army as the swerved around, trying to keep their leaders protected. The front lines stood firm as the rear began to re-enchant their weapons. It didn’t seem like much of a problem, I could easily stay out of range of them with my speed. Just needed to charge on forward and kill Satan and the Emperor. I tried to jump again until I realized I could only walk at most. Looking down, the land beneath me suddenly turned into swamp. If you haven’t clued in, in-game, swamp terrain prevents jumping and forces you to walk, and it still operates by the same logic here. I look to my left, noticing a few massive demons were belching loads of sludge into the area. The familiar voice spoke up.
“Good, now enchanted pikemen, surround him, give him no exit!”
I tried to work my way toward the only open end of the swamp but soon I was totally surrounded. This was really how I, Darkedge, was going to fall? In a swamp surrounded by generic soldiers? Suddenly a few of the pikemen parted, and the silver knight from earlier worked his way into the swamp, weilding a golden hammer. I guess he wants to be the one who wants to get the title of “Killer of the Demon Lord”.

“With this mighty artifact, we will send you back to the void from whence you came, you beast of man and demon!” He charged at me and swung. I didn’t even bother to dodge. What could he do to me anyways? Maybe when his attempt failed, I could destroy him and demoralize the entire army and get my plan back on track! Then the thing smashed me in the head and I suddenly woke up. Back in my room with my desk, bed, dresser, several scattered cans of soda, and my computer. Was that all a dream? I was frustrated at first, until I read what was on my screen:
“You have been PERMABANNED from all servers.”