Joy and Simon – Chapter 1.5

Authors note: this is mostly just a kinda exercise chapter that I did just to have fun with Joy’s character and get back in a writing kinda groove. So if you want to enjoy it, feel free to enjoy it

Joy sighed as she let a pen roll out of her hands. She had arrived at the recruitment center only around the afternoon, and already the sun had set. Her sprint to and from had barely burnt any energy, and passing Simon’s test only bolstered her excitement. She stood up from her desk, walking into her living room.

She hurried over to her weight bench and loaded up a barbell with the heaviest plates she had, around four hundred pounds. Not even bothering to lie down, she easily lifted the weights with one arm, curling it. To her dismay, she felt nothing, and placed it back on the rack. Looking around, she noticed the bent plate lying on the floor. She smirked.

Maybe I can improvise something.

She hurried back to her office, booting up her computer.

The night air was cool, a nice change of setting for Joy, as she jogged towards a scrapyard not too far off. Despite the time, the streets of Romitum still retained their liveliness. Significantly less people were walking, but several cars still drove fast down the well lit streets, many shops and apartment complexes still lit up to onlookers. The lighting of the shops eventually died out as she entered the outskirts of one of the many industrial districts. Compared to the inner city, it was much more quiet. Trucks were pulling out of lots and heading from where she came, and very few lights were left on. Only the faint sound of heavy machinery could be heard in the distance as she continued her jog.

Eventually, she skidded to a halt, arriving right outside of a chainlink fence. A local Romitum scrapyard. All of it would be melted down and re-processed, so she had a good feeling nobody would mind if some of it went missing. Pulling out a flashlight, she easily climbed over the fence, lighting it up and navigating through the maze of metal. Girders, steel bars, broken down cars, old appliances, and so much more surrounded her as she grinned at the sight. Keeping her blessing in mind, the entire place made her feel like a kid in a candy shop. Finding a small shack near the back of the yard, she hurried over. Trying to open the door, it was lock, so she simply tore the door off, tossing it into one of the piles of scrap. Walking in with flashlight in hand, she found and opened a small breaker box, flicking on several switches. Light flooded the inside of the shack, and she turned outside, smiling as her new playground was well lit. Stepping outside, she did a few stretches, scanning around for her first target. Finishing, she found an old rusted pickup truck, near a pile of scrap. She walked over, and gave it a kick. She accidentally put a large dent in it, feeling it move significantly as she did. She grinned, squatting down and grabbing the front of the truck. She shook a bit as she slowly rose up, taking the truck upward as she began to stand up. With a hefty grunt, she stood up straight, lifting the end of the truck along with her. She smiled at the effort, and slowly moved under the truck, crouching down. Once she was under the center of the truck, she pushed up with all her might, and slowly stood up. With less effort than she expected, she eventually held the entire vehicle overhead! She looked up at her efforts, smiling wildly. With it still in hand, she decided to do a few more squats while she still had the truck in hand. Despite struggling a bit, she still felt as if an entire truck wasn’t enough, and carefully returned the truck to the ground.

Now with a bit of a pump, and the truck providing only an adequate workout, she glanced around for something to work out her arms with instead. She wandered around the scrapyard, finding that nothing really provided much of a challenge to her strength. Dismembered cars, she could easily yank them from their scrappy graves without much effort. Refrigerators and old heavy wooden furniture barely provided any challenge. Finding a heavy wooden dresser, she decided to have a bit of fun at the very least. Hoisting it up, she wrapped her arms around it as much as she could, and began hugging tightly into it. The wood barely gave any resistance and immediately began splintering. The dresser exploded into two pieces, wooden chunks flying everywhere and the two halves tumbling to the ground. She giggled at her handywork, happy that she didn’t have a single splinter or scratch to show as well. Smashing the dresser changed her perspective on her visit.

I’m here to burn off energy, not just work out!

She remembered a feat she heard about online, and decided with her blessing, she’d take it to a new level. Finding another junk car, she grabbed the wheel rim, ripping it out. She sat down in the dirt, placing the wheel rim between her thighs. She squeezed them, grunting as she slowly felt the rim give away to her muscular thighs. It deformed as she slowly clamped her thighs closed, her continuing to crush it until she could no more. Gasping for breath after the effort, she picked up the rim. It was deformed into a goofy looking squashed oval. She laughed at the sight.

“Maybe I should start a new trend online or something.”

She hurried back to the old pickup truck, a wild grin on her face as a new idea bubbled in her mind. She jumped at the truck, smashing her fists into the front of it. The hood completely caved in from the blow, the rest of the truck rocking forward. Ripping away the hood, she grabbed onto the engine tightly, feeling her grip slowly bending away the metal. With a few good tugs, she managed to rip the engine right out, stumbling back with the machine in her hands. She tossed it up and down as if it were a ball in her hands, and then hugged it. Every muscle in her arms went into overtime as she clamped down tighter and tighter onto it. Soon she felt her arms sink into it, and felt the entire engine deform as she squeezed tighter and tighter. Metal shrieked as she strained harder and harder, trying to crumple the engine as if it were an oversized soda can. She closed her eyes and clenched her teeth, straining her arms as much as possible, until she felt her arms close to her chest. She released the engine as it dropped to the ground, finding it bent awkwardly inwards with a large, arm-sized dent in the center. Sweating a bit, she smiled at her handiwork. Turning to the frame of the truck, another idea entered her mind. She grabbed the front of it again, towing it over to a large pile of scrap. Without the engine, it was surprisingly easier for her to flip it over, the top of it leaning against the scrap pile. With it propped up facing her, she took a deep breath, clenched her fists, and threw a punch at the center of the framework. It dented inward horribly, and she took a step back. She envisioned the flipped truck as an downed demon, just waiting to be finished off. She continued her barrage of several more punches, eventually punching a hole straight through it. She began tearing at the hole, making it larger and ripping out every part she could find. The shrieking of metal filled the air as she continued her assault of punches, kicks, and tearing parts out. After horribly abusing the machine, making it look like it had gone through multiple minefields, a new idea infiltrated her mind. She jumped on the truck, grabbing onto the front bumper. Feeling her fingers dig in, she pulled hard at it, feeling the already abused machine deform even more. The front of the car bent inwards more and more shrieking horidly. With a sudden snap, the front of the car ripped free, Joy tumbling backwards with it. She lost her grip, and the destroyed half tumbled away, crashing into another pile of scrap. Covered in dirt and dust, she got back to her feet, staring at her accomplishment wide-mouthed. She jumped happily, flexing her arms in victory.

“See that demons? That’s gonna be you! You just wait till I get my hands on you all!”

To further prove her point to her invisible demonic audience, she grabbed a nearby metal pole. She grunted and slowly bent the thing around, eventually bending it into the shape of a pretzel. She giggled at the work, and then tossed the thing aside.

“Maybe the Crusaders can let me play with their broken military equipment… I wonder if I can smash a tank with my bare hands!”

She froze when she heard the jingling of chains.

Shit, I did make a lot of noise, didn’t I?

She sprinted over to the shack, quickly flicking every breaker, and almost literally leaping over the back fence. She sprinted away, looking back as she saw a few flashlights light up, shining around the yard. She grinned.

I wonder what they’ll think happened.

[COMMISSION] Hong and Momiji’s Duel

Thanks to the wonderful Joebito for commissioning this! If you’re interested in commissioning, see my pricing/guidelines HERE


The sun blazed over Youkai Mountain. Fairies flew over the sky, pestering the crow tengu that flew to and fro. High up the mountain lied a small clearing in the forest, connected only by an ancient stone staircase. In this clearing sat a small wooden building, and in front a large stone circle, encircled by a short wooden fence. At the end of this arena was Momiji Inubashiri, sitting atop a small rock. As she watched the staircase, a new figure slowly climbed it. Hong Meiling approached, a determined expression on her face and clothes stained with sweat. Momiji smiled, and stood up as Hong approached.

“There’s no need for you to handicap yourself before the match Hong!” The tengu barked.

“Please.” Hong grinned, wiping sweat from her forehead. “You know what they say about not warming up before a match?”

Momiji smiled back, her opponent hopping the small fence and walking to the center of the arena. As Momiji headed towards the center, she noticed something over Hong’s shoulders. A few fairy maids flew up, settling themselves far from the barrier. Momiji sneered. “Those your cheerleaders?”

“A little support doesn’t hurt now?” She pointed behind her, Momiji turning around to notice a few other wolf tengu had appeared, observing over the barrier.

“Well it’s not like I invited them. They’re just here to watch a good old-fashioned danmakuless fight.”

“Same here. The mansion does get pretty boring with Sakuya doing all the work.” Hong cracked her knuckles. “I’m all set. Fighting until knockout?”

Momiji punched her fist into her palm. “Is there any other proper way?”

The two walked to opposite ends of the arena. They turned around, locking eyes. Momiji pulled a small baton from her pocket.

“Once this hits the ground, we begin.”

Hong silently nodded as she tossed it high into the air. From the moment she tossed it, Momiji kept her eyes locked on the baton, whie Hong kept her eyes locked on Momiji. She braced herself, keeping her fists up.

The exact moment the baton touched the ground, Momiji bolted forward, closing the distance between her and Hong in mere seconds. Hong was quick to raise her guard as the wolf clawed and battered her with a flurry of blows. She flinched and winced from the onslaught and took a few steps back, still enduring rapid-fire swipes and jabs from the wolf. Hong took notice of a small break in the attacks, and  quickly dropped her guard to throw a few jabs towards her chest and head. Momiji attempted to dodge each one, but still took a few to the chest without even reacting. She wasted no time in returning to the offensive, Hong reacting likewise to return to holding her guard. It wasn’t long until she was pushed back to the very edge of the arena’s fence.

“You do realize you’re actually supposed to hit back, right?” Taunted the tengu.

Hong held fast, feeling her arms sting from the unrelenting scratches and hits, but willed herself to hold on. Her patience soon came to fruition, as she felt the intensity of the blows wane. Hong quickly shifted from blocking, taking some scratches to the face to counter with a hard, well-placed jab to Momiji’s stomach. She slid back from the blow, coughing. Hong seized the initiative, sprinting forward and kicking her in the chest, sending her sliding backwards even further. She ran forward rearing back her fist and throwing a punch, but Momiji quickly ducked beneath the blow, swiping at her stomach. She winced, trying to retaliate by elbowing the tengu in the back, but she quickly slipped away, lurching forward quickly to slash again. Hong brought her guard back once more, blocking her strikes, and retaliated with a few more well placed jabs to the chest and stomach. Momiji coughed a few times and leapt back, locking eyes with the gatekeeper. She growled as she observed how Hong only bore multiple scratches on her arm, and her uniform was barely torn near the chest. Hong smiled, practically reading the tengu’s thoughts. She took a defensive stance.

“You wanted me to hit back, didn’t you?” She beckoned the tengu with her hand tauntingly. Momiji sneered and lurched forward, her hand sprawled ready to swipe. Hong dropped her guard, preparing to evade and counterattack. As she dodged, however, instead of swiping, Momiji clenched her fist and launched a powerful jab to Hong’s stomach. She wheezed, stepping back and clutching her stomach. Momiji lurched forward, swiping and scratching at the guard. Hong tried to back away while dodging, but took a few slashes, leaving her face marked by the tengu’s claws. Hong leapt back and Momiji lurched forward, her fist balled up and reared back. Hong quickly reacted with a roundhouse kick, slamming into the side of the wolf. She flew away to the side but landed right back on her feet, skidding to a halt. Hong sprinted forward, leaping into the air attempting to land another kick. Momiji quickly rolled out of the way as Hong slammed into the ground, and the wolf swiped at her back as she recovered from the miss. Hong spun around, throwing a few jabs and striking the wolf tengu, but she quickly retreated. The two stared each other down, waiting and carefully observing each other. Hong returned to her defensive stance as Momiji slowly circled her.

“What’s the matter?” Spoke Hong between breaths. “Your bite isn’t matching your bark at all! And you wolves really call yourselves the guards of Youkai Mountain?”

She growled in response, still continuing to circle. Hong observed carefully, taking utmost care not to show her fatigue and pain from all the tengu’s assaults. Without any indication, Momiji leapt forward, her fist reared back. Hong quickly blocked, but still winced at the intensity of the blow. She raised her leg to quickly kick in retaliation, but before she could even hit the wolf, she had already retreated to a safe distance. Hong smirked and scoffed.

“Again, you really call yourself a guardian of the mountain?”

“Most troublemakers of the mountain don’t have time to complain about my tactics.” Growled Momiji. She lurched forward again, Hong this time dodging her powerful blow. She landed a few jabs on the tengu, but Momiji was quick to respond with a few more powerful punches of her own. Hong winced with each hit from the tengu, trying to retaliate, but Momiji had retreated to a safe distance once more. Hong was covered in sweat, clothes badly scratched, and deeply panting. She was aware of this herself, if Momiji’s expression didn’t already completely give it away. She lurched forward for what she hoped would be the final time, but Hong suddenly dropped her guard, leaping forward and kicking in retaliation. While the tengu still managed to land a powerful hit on Hong’s shoulder, she took an even more brutal kick to the stomach, sending her flying away and crashing into the opposite end of the arena. Hong gripped tightly onto her shoulder, wincing. Psyching herself up, she did her best to purge her mind of the pain, and focus on winning the fight. Momiji groaned as she stumbled up from the ground, but caught the slight moment of Hong’s weakness. She took a deep breath and charged forward at full speed. Before Hong could react, she took another strong blow to her already weak arm. She audibly yelped and leapt back, but Momiji dashed forward, prepared to deliver another blow. Hong ducked and dodged, but Momiji continued to attack. She intermixed punching and swiping faster than she had before, knowing she was too exhausted to dodge them all. Hong kept backing away, retaliating whenever she could with her good arm, but the tengu simply tanked each and every blow. She kept approaching, giving Hong no respite from her assault. For the first time in the fight, Hong was growing concerned. The tengu barely looked like she had been phased by any of her previous blows, and certainly had stamina to spare. Hong poured every ounce of willpower she could to trying to dodge and block the endless flurry of blows from her. Amidst the flurry, Hong still hatched a final plan to counter the onslaught. As much as she tired out, she could see the tengu was slowing down her assault as well. Taking advantage of how out of breath the tengu likely was, took a step forward amidst the assault and used her good arm to throw a devastating punch to her chest. Momiji completely froze from the blow, unable to take another breath. She glared at Hong with the slightest speck of fear as the gatekeeper smiled. She took another step forward, kneeing Momiji in the stomach. She keeled over, staring as hong took a step back and delivered a powerful kick right under her jaw. The tengu flew away from the blow, literally howling in pain, and eventually crashed into the ground. Hong gasped and panted, staring at the body of the tengu carefully. No movement. She hobbled over, holding tight to her injured arm, looking closer. Suddenly, Momiji coughed and groaned. She opened her eyes, and she only saw a blurry sight of Hong.

“I think that counts as a knockout.” Hong smiled, offering a hand to her opponent. Momiji grabbed hold of it as Hong tugged her to her feet. The tengu stumbled, and the gatekeeper offered her shoulder as support.

“If my head weren’t spinning right now, you’d be finished Hong…”

She burst out laughing. “Yeah, and I’m assuming you could beat me with only one arm as well?”
She groaned, knowing she had used that to taunt Hong into the duel with her.

“Let’s just get our injuries treated, all right? You did do a number to the shoulder you’re leaning on you know.”

The two had taken rest inside the small wooden building, which was in actuality a small barracks for the tengu guards. Momiji had bandaged her chest, lying down in bed. Meanwhile, Hong had her uniform tossed to the side, as she was busy still treating and wrapping her wounds. Hands, arms, chest, stomach, back; Had she bandadged herself any more, she would look close to a mummy. Momiji looked over, slightly amused by the sight.

“Sheesh. I had you on the ropes, right?”

The guard chuckled. “If you believe so, yes.”

Momiji grumbled. “It certainly isn’t a belief, it was downright a fact! Still…” She rolled over, staring at the ceiling. “To think you even got me at my fiercist…”

“There’s an old reading from where I come from. ‘If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.’”

She turned her head to Hong. “So what, you were able to mind-read me and know when to strike?”

Hong smiled. “You were a bit too haughty, and you made that very clear with your challenge in the first place. Maybe instead of trying to overwhelm me, you could have thought of a better approach than being too easy to read.”

The tengu huffed. “Probably…”

“I still admire your sheer self-discipline. To hide your exhaust all the way throughout that entire match? Outright amazing.”

Momiji smiled, closing her eyes. “I told you, we gotta be the best of the best to guard the mountain.”

Hong stood up, putting back on her damaged uniform. She turned to Momiji.

“Once we’re both better, I want a round two. Especially since now we both know what we’re capable of.”

The tengu sat up, smiling and giving a thumbs up. “Till next time Hong!”

Tales from Congeria: Ferra and Scott (2)

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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.”

Congeria Sneak Peek

It’s been a little over a month since I last quickly wrote somethin, so here’s a peek at my next project. Gonna be another Congeria story, so enjoy! If all goes well I’ll have it done in the next few days. Just wanted to post something.


Sunlight beamed down onto the endless expanse of stone, sand, and dead-looking trees that made up the Radi Desert. Far off in the west stood a massive construct of steel, thousands of square miles in size. From Axios, this country of machinery, several clouds of smoke endlessly streamed from numerous vents, and from the walls of the city, vast rivers of waste streamed outwards. The sludge cut through the desert, visibly turning the surrounding sands a greenish-brown, the surrounding plant life all but dead except for the short branchy trees, tainted the same color as the sands. These rivers of sludge continued forwards for miles and miles, until it reached lands where the sand gained more of its natural color back and the sky was back to a natural blue.

It was here the rivers would come to an abrupt end, now entering large man-made water refineries topped with numerous solar panels. Around these refineries laid hundreds of building constructed out of wood, clay, scrap, or whatever else the populace could use as material. Houses, markets, stores, bars; Enough variation in types of buildings to call it a city, but more scattered rather than densely structured. There were still plenty of people moving about between buildings or this single of many settlements scattered near rivers of sludge. Just about every civilian wore practical work clothes, often with a gun of some sort slung over their shoulders or tucked away in a holster.

At one of these settlements, amongst the crowds of people, a small group of overall-wearing men, covered in soot and scratches, pushed towards a single wooden bar in the midst of several commerce buildings.

They opened the door to a quiet establishment, one person sitting near the back with their legs on the table, a few others at the bar itself drinking, and another few trying to enjoy a meal. One of the overalled men called out, “Which of you is the android?”

The figure in the back raised an armored arm up into the air. The men hurried over as the figure took their feet off the table, standing up revealing a fully armored body, a large revolver at her hip another smaller pistol on her other, and a knife snugly tucked away behind her metal boot. A feminine face made of synthetic skin looked towards them, casually smiling.

“Ferra Jane, pleased to do business with you! So, what do you need me to do? Sludgebeasts in the purification system? Help with repairs? Outlaws bugging you?”

“Well…” The man at the front of the group stared at the ground for a few moments before making eye contact with the droid. “Have you ever dealt with demons before?”
She raised an eyebrow. “Cultists, and maybe a few little things here and there.”

A different overalled man stepped forward. “Cut the drama man! Cultists slaughtered several civilians to summon some massive beast right in our water plant! We just need you to kill it, and we’re willing to give-”

She held up her hand. “We can negotiate payment later, sounds like you all have an urgent situation on your hands!” From behind her seat she picked up a grenade launcher, slinging it over her shoulder. “Hurry up and show the way!”

 


After several miles of trekking through the desert, the men lead her to a smaller settlement than Ferra’s, but barely a soul was seen outside. She glanced around, every shop and home was closed and locked up tight, the only few men walking around holding rifles and wearing tattered military garb.

“The mayor ordered martial law as soon as we told him about the demon” said one of the men. “Apparently every person that thing eats makes it a bit larger, so he doesn’t wanna take any risk with worsening the situation. I can’t believe we were harboring people who just wanted to use this town as a feeding ground for some reason…”

She nodded. “That’s the risk you all take by living out here thought, right?”

Continuing through the deserted streets, they arrived at the front of the water plant, where six other men waited, each also with old looking rifles and discolored uniforms. They took notice of Ferra and hurried over.

“So, give me a quick rundown of how it’s like in there.” She said while drawing and checking her revolver.

“An uncounted number of cultists are holed up in the water storage room, along with that beast of theirs, most of them using either tranquilizers or tasers. They need live sacrifices to feed that beast, and with the manpower we can spare, any attempt of ours risks giving that beast a fresh meal.”

She openly chuckled. “This sounds like it’ll be a cinch then. Stay far away from that beast and try and pick off those cultists from a distance. I’ll provide all the cover you need.”

“Hold on-” Before the soldier could finish his sentence, she kicked open the door and bolted down the hall. Quickly glancing at a facility map on the wall, she hurried forward. The men tried their best to follow.

Kicking open another door, she found herself where she wanted to be. Several large house-sized water tanks were dotted about the room, with several metal walkways running around and between them. In the center of the room rested a beast half the size of the tanks, with a boar-like body and the front of it’s head an exposed, toothy maw. She suddenly felt something strike her abdomen. Looking down, a small tranquilizer dart lying on the floor. She glanced up, meeting eyes with a man on the walkway aiming a tranquilizer gun right at her. Quickly drawing her revolver, she fired at the man, knocking him back and off the walkway with a hole in his chest. Dashing for a ladder, she climbed all the way to the top of the walkway, meeting face to face with several other cultists. Dashing behind the water tank for cover, she looked back at the door, seeing the other soldiers come in.

“Hey boys, take cover behind any of the tanks and keep your eyes up! They’re in the walkways!”

The group of men glanced at her for a few moments before scattering behind several of the tanks. Reloading the round she shot earlier, she dashed out of her cover, firing a few more shots and easily offing a few other cultists wielding tranquilizer guns. A few others had already drawn small submachine guns and returned fire. Realizing no cover between her and her targets, she opted to slide on the ground towards them, this time drawing an autopistol of her own and sprayed a flurry of bullets. One of the men was filled with multiple bullets while the other hit the deck, barely being grazed by her assault. Quickly getting back up to her feet about to draw her revolver once more, but he was cut down by fire from some of the soldiers. She turned to them and gave a quick thumbs up.

“I’m not sure if there’s any more up here, but keep them busy, I’m going for their prize!”

Almost as if they responded to her, multiple cultists, now armed with proper firearms, scattered from behind other tanks down the walkways. One slid down the ladder towards the beast and screamed an incantation. A full on firefight broke out between the soldiers and the cultists as the beast began to shudder and slowly climb to its hooves, letting out a deafening roar. Ferra leapt from the walkway onto the head of the beast, firing the last rounds of her revolver into the back of its head. Despite the four fleshy holes she put into its head, it let out a roar, bucking her straight off. She landed on her feet, easily keeping her balance. It turned towards her, baring it’s uncountable amount of razor-sharp teeth, and screeched before charging. She sprinted to the side, noticing a few points of interest: Not only had the wounds she gave it in the head had healed, but it also seemed immune to the crossfire of assault rifle and submachine gun fire going on, several flattened bullets dotting the ground where it once stood. It smashed head first into one of the tanks, chewing off a large chunk of metal and spilling forth a torrent of water. She quickly drew a knife and stabbed into the hide of the beast, holding on as the beast bucked and the water washed around her. Alarms now blared around the facility, adding into the noise of the raging firefight, and several grates opened up in the floor, draining away all the excess water. She pulled her knife out from it and dove to the side, loading her grenade launcher. She lined up a shot as the beast turned to her, but then it whipped its head towards where the other soldiers were, some still desperately firing whatever munitions they had left at it. She slung the grenade launcher back over her shoulder and dove at the beast, stabbing into its back leg.

“All of you, get the hell out of here! I can handle it from here, just stay out of danger!”
While the remaining soldiers bolted out of the room, the beast responded by kicking her off, slamming her into the wall. She let out a grunt, dazedly bringing her grenade launcher back out in front of her. The beast was bearing its hundreds of teeth at her, and she fired, completely shattering a good chunk of them. It bucked back shrieking as she hurried to load one other grenade, and once it faced her again, she fired another straight down its abyss-looking stomach. A fireball erupted from within it as the beast let out one final screech, before collapsing to the floor, slowly dissolving into dust.

She smiled, silently pumping her fist to herself.

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?”

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She continued to walk right behind him.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Simply follow me.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That good enough for you Simon?”

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

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

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

“Regenerate from that you piece of shit!”

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

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

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

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

“So, did I pass?”

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

“Hopefully I can get this training done soon.”

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

“Hey Simon, I’m ready-”

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

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

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

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

She stared for a few more moments.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“There we go Joy, resourcefulness!”

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

“Another one?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He crossed his arms looking down at her.

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

She still stared straight into his visor with burning fury.

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

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

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

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

“In due time Joy. In due time.

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.”

Witch Hunt

“We’ve evacuated all civilians within two miles of the witch’s domain, and evacuation will continue until the threat is contained or neutralized. Explosives are authorized, but try not to cause too much collateral damage.”

I gripped tight to my assault rifle, staring down at the floor of the truck.

“The forest roof is too thick for proper aerial surveillance.Along with that, electricity is completely nullified within her influence as well, so you’re all going in blind and isolated. Every ten to twenty minutes, we expect to see a signal flare to see if you’re still alive, fire a green one if you’re retreating. Once the witch is terminated or contained, fire a white flare and we can safely airlift you out.”
I gripped tighter and closed my eyes. Deep breath in, deep breath out.

“We have no information on the target, but judging by the size of the domain she’s already claimed, stay on your toes and be ruthless.”

I jolted forward and bumped into one of my squadmates as the truck ground to a halt. The rear doors flew open, letting in the sunlight and the strong smell of a forest. I jolted to my feet with the rest of my squad, rushing out the back. All of us halted at the same time as well when confronted at the border of the witch’s domain. The two lines of houses were running into a thick forest, houses on the border slowly being consumed by the creep. The asphalt and concrete sheerly cut off to dirt and cobbled paths, and street lamps were slowly being transformed into rusted shells of their former selves. Merely an hour ago, this used to be a prime example of an American suburb, and now it looked like something straight out of one of Grimm’s fairy tales.

“All men, group up over here!” Our superior barked over to us.

We all marched on over to the front of his command trailer as he barked more orders to the lot of us. I still held tightly to my rifle and breathed.

The witches had only begun appearing across the world in a mere few months, and barely any solid information about them was allowed to the public. I was even thrown into this team for countering them, and we still weren’t allowed to know much, other than a sole individual is responsible for all of this overgrowth.

Other than the few bits of cell phone footage I unfortunately caught online of the body parts of police officers being tossed out of domains, The only thing my mind could turn to for information were the rumors that spread following their appearances.

Some said they were invincible and merely needed a large sacrifice to enter hell as one of Satan’s princes, others said their domains were worlds they had total control over. Some say its a Russian bioweapon developed to destabilize us. I’d prefer that explanation, it’d at least give us hope that we could engineer a cure. But as of now, our only hope lies in the guns in our hands and the grenades on our vests.

I looked back up, our superior finally dismissing us. I muttered over to the officer next to me.
“Can you give me the rundown? I… kinda didn’t catch everything.”

He still looked staunchly forward, trying to hide the worry beneath his face.

“We’re allowed to shoot anything that threatens us, save civilians, and record anything unusual that could be used for future operations. Also, don’t get in front of those guys.”

He pointed to two men near the front who were carrying flamethrowers. I looked down at my rifle once more, now beginning to march with my squad  towards the domain.

“All right then… “

As the sixteen of us stepped from asphalt onto forested soil, a sudden breath of relief left my lungs as I didn’t suddenly start decomposing into the soil below me. Our sergeant called out for us to have guns at the ready and to shoot anything that moved and didn’t look human. Raising my rifle, I swallowed a lump in my throat.

Why can’t we all be on the same page of information?

I called back.

“What exactly should we be aware of out here?”

“Shut your mouth and follow orders!”

Just great.

We all took formation, making sure we all had eyes on every side of our position. We slowly began moving, the border very quickly disappearing behind the thick foliage, passing by house after house, almost very literally being consumed by trees growing over them. We began our journey deeper into the forest, through the leaf-littered path overrun with roots.

 

Five, perhaps even ten minutes into our trek, we found zilch. Nothing but more leaves and trees. For a moment, I thought maybe all those reports in the news or videos online were just exaggerations. That was until a strong wind suddenly picked up, kicking up a massive pile of leaves. It blew between our legs and curiously spun up in front of us, twirling around in some kind of vortex. Branches from nearby trees suddenly snapped off, getting sucked in as well.
“Guns at the ready everyone! Flamethrowers, wait on my mark.”

We all took formation encircling the swirl of leaves and branches, fingers on the trigger. The flamethrower men moved in a bit closer. Soon the vortex split into five different masses, each one forming into large, wolf-like beasts with leaves for skin and what I can only assume as sticks for bones. The moment they formed they immediately charged forth, but they should have rethought their strategy of attack. A nice spray of gunfire from each of us very easily shredded through their frail bodies, slamming them to a halt several meters before they could even reach us. It was only temporary however, as every limb we shot off, they merely rebuilt from the surrounding foliage. The beast I was focusing on, I swear I think I blew off his legs and parts of his chest around five times, but he still tried to approach, undeterred. I was ready to back up and try and reposition myself.

“Aim for the head and keep firing till nothing’s left!”
Internally I really wanted to scream “Why?”

But I had no choice. Joining in with the rest of the squad, we aimed for the heads of the beasts, and there was a bit of joy in seeing those headless things finally collapse into the objects they once were. It’s nice knowing we wouldn’t have to totally rely on two people in this entire squad to get work done. With a bit more focused fire from the rest of the squad, all that remained were five awkward piles of sticks and leaves. The sergeant drew his flare gun, firing a red flare into the sky.

“Reload and re-form everyone! Let’s keep going on.”

Knowing the fact that these wolves could pop out literally anywhere was an unnerving thought I seemed to share with the rest of the squad, as we were kinda a mess. Every rustle of the leaves, every crack of a stick, sometimes I swear even at our own bootsteps forced us all to suddenly freeze, swinging our guns to every possible corner to find the origin of the sound. The even bigger nightmare was how slowly we were making way. I’m not sure how deep we had to go to find this witch, maybe the higher-ups knew.

My eyes suddenly caught a shadow move, and my head jolted over, locking on what it was. It was a tree, a dead, leafless one, swaying in the breeze. That was until I noticed that leaved trees beside it weren’t rustling to the supposed breeze.

I screamed and let loose a flurry of bullets as the entire squad whipped around to the insane sight of me firing at a tree. It was thankfully insane for only a moment, as when the rounds pierced right through the bark, the thing suddenly shrieked, uprooting itself to close in on me. The rest of the squad followed my example, letting loose a hellfire of bullets as the thing reached down and swiped at me. I tried to back away, but fell onto my back as one of its razor-sharp branches barely grazed my vest. Despite being riddled with bullet-holes, the thing still continued its advance, and tried to make another swipe towards me. Finding my rifle’s magazine empty, I slung it over to the side, pulled out my pistol, closed my eyes, said a quick prayer to god, and fired every last shot I had. The roaring of flames overtook my ears as I opened my eyes, finding the men with flamethrowers quickly laying waste to the monster. It let out an unearthly roar as it was completely engulfed in fire, very quickly dissolving into a pile of ash. I grabbed my rifle and scrambled to my feet as the sergeant called for a quick headcount.

By the time he verified we were all thankfully still alive, we were all reloaded, but much more on edge. I could feel the thoughts emanating from my squadmates:
“Bullets didn’t do a damn thing!”
“Why don’t we all have flamethrowers?”
“Jesus Christ, killer fuckin trees?”

“This is fucked man, just fire a tomahawk at the bitch causing this problem.”

That last thought is a good one. I don’t care how much property damage it’d cause anyways, anything is better than subjecting us to god knows what’s in here.

We kept moving down the dirt path, keeping an eye out for any dead trees and whatever else could likely slice us up into pieces, reaching a four-way fork in the road. The sergeant silently yelled at us to take point at the front and hold our fire on his mark. Moving to, the rest of us saw quite the beast: A literal fucking dragon. It was taller than the houses around it, head barely poking out of the top of the trees. Its massive body trumped that of the truck we all arrived, with larger wings folded neatly behind it, along with legs like tree trunks as well. The thing blended in with the forest incredibly well too, it’s lower body colored and textured to the trees around it with a leaf-green neck and head. The thing hadn’t noticed us yet, thank God once more. It simply silently watching the skies. Before our sergeant could mention it, a few men brought out their grenade launchers. He merely silently nodded to them, before raising up his arm. We all aimed at different parts of the beast, hoping to god bullets would work on this thing as well.

The sergeant dropped his arm.

“FIRE!”

Once more we let loose a flurry of bullets, grenades, and flames, completely overtaking the body of the dragon. Each grenade struck a different body part: The legs, the stomach, the back, the wings, leaving nasty scorches at worst on the back and legs, blasting a bloody chunk out of its stomach, and lastly blowing off one of its grandiose wings. It leaped back in reaction effortlessly destroying several trees behind it, while letting out a horrifying roar that would cause anybody else to piss their pants. Anybody who was foolish enough to aim at the legs found their rounds to do absolutely nothing, but there was a moment of satisfaction noticing some bullets managed to pierce its stomach, leaving not deep yet bleeding holes in their wake. It was certainly a way to boost morale, knowing that our bullets were doing something to the behemoth. It reared back as the sergeant screamed for us to split up. By the time I had dashed to the side, I barely escaped its ferocious charge, and a few squad mates were swiftly devoured by the thing. Almost as if it knew we were terrified, it chomped them in front of us and spitting out a gory mess onto the forest floor. I felt a horribly sickening sensation, but a rage managed to douse it. The sergeant screamed: “GRENADES, ARMOR PIERCING ROUNDS, AIM FOR THE FUCKERS STOMACH!”

The dragon turned to the orders and let out another deathly roar, but stumbled backwards as another volley of grenades struck it.
Dropping my current magazine, I loaded a new one quickly. I grabbed a grenade from my vest and chucked it as hard as I could, it landing right on top of its back next to its good wing. With another deafening boom, it screeched and backed towards me more. Overcome with rage, I sprinted towards it mindlessly to get a shot at its stomach. Running beneath its legs, I pointed straight up, screaming as I unleashed another volley of shots right at its stomach. The thing recoiled and roared as each bullet punched through its flesh, torrents of its blood splashing on my face. I snapped out of my rage as I realized the thing was stumbling. Whatever adrenaline I had left running through my veins, I used every last ounce of it to sprint out of the way as the beast collapsed to the ground. Not shortly after, its head crashed down, and the sight of its gaping maw that tore apart my squad-mates… I screamed, unloading the last of my magazine into its face.

“Private, stand down!”

I kept firing until the last bullet left my rifle with a distinctive click.

“Private!”
My high on rage wore off, and I realized what situation I was in. I turned to the sergeant.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing? You put yourself right in the line of fire of us with that stunt of yours earlier, and now this? First of all, I know this is wild shit, but I need you to NOT be stupid like that and throw yourself in the front of the line of fire! We already lost two good men to this forest and I don’t wanna lose any to friendly fucking fire! Second, I don’t care if you have a grudge with this…. Thing in particular! Get ahold of yourself and don’t waste ammo!”

I nodded. “Yes sir!”

I never would have said it, but there was somewhat of a rush to being able to harm that thing. Maybe it was because it gave me that faint amount of hope that we could do something to witches as a whole. He fired a red flare into the air as he called for another headcount.

 

I’m willing to bet most of us were really badly shaken, but I felt a lot more empowered after that at least. We kept moving down the dirt path until we reached the remains of a cul-de-sac. Each of the houses here curiously seemed more intact, yet instead of the recognizable suburban house, many of these, still covered in leaves and vines, had devolved to look more like primitive wood and stone housing.

Our sergeant held up his hand to us all as we were all likely muttering in our minds “What the fuck is going on here?”
“All of you, split up into groups of four. Check each house for any civilians, and bring them out here.”

“Yes sir!”

We all followed orders, following a group of three to the leftmost housing. Taking out a knife and cutting away the foliage, we were able to rather easily push open the door, finding the inside looking just as devolved as the outside. Most of the appliances were being broken down, seemingly by the vines themselves, the stove looked like it was being repurposed into a woodfire one, and all of the furniture looked archaic. We split up once more, searching the few rooms left in this house separately. I pushed my way into the bedroom and I saw a sight more terrifying than the dragon: A family. All of them covered with vines on a king-sized bed. I yelled out to my mates that I found survivors and quickly started cutting them out. By the time I had removed the restraining vines, I found another issue: Each one of them had roots plugged into their heads that connected somewhere outside. The others rushed in, halting at the sight.

“Fuck… What do we do?”

“Keep an eye on them, I’m gonna see if the sergeant knows anything.”

I sprinted out of there, seeing other groups carefully escorting a few other families to the center of the cul-de-sac. My heart felt heavy at the sight. I skidded to a halt in front of the sergeant.

“Sir, we found a family but… They’re like plugged into the trees!”
Right there, I honestly expected to be committed. But he merely sighed.

“Leave them then, we can’t do anything for them.”
“But Sir-”
“You heard me, now get back to searching! Understood?”
“Understood.”

 

Another signal flare was fired out when we finally rounded up the last of the civilians. The sergeant had a group of four others help escort the thirty or fourty civilians out of the forest as the last of us had to stick around and finish our mission. I wish I was lucky enough to be picked, even hoping that my outburst would let me leave early, but I’m sure the sergeant didn’t want to give me what I wanted. When the civilians cleared out, he told us to take formation once more and begin moving off-trail. We obeyed, obviously, passing the devolved houses pushing further into the forest. This time, thanks to me and a few other squadmates, we caught the sight of a few of those dead trees, reducing them to ash before they even had a chance to act. With how all bizarre this shit already is, I’m hoping to God I can get out of this force before a mission two, but if a mission two ever does happen, I want a flamethrower in my hands as well.

Moving further in, the forest grew thicker and thicker. Soon, we had to form a small line in order to squeeze between small cracks the clusters of trees. Even the dead tree monsters grew more and more apparent, and I think I heard one of the men mention he doesn’t think he has enough fuel left for the job. Now I’m praying that I’ll do a mission two if it means we can make it out of this alive. Up ahead behind a grove of trees, I notice a person, and quickly mentioned it to the sergeant. He suddenly froze, turning back to us.

“Guns at the ready everyone. If he’s right, we may have ourselves a witch. Surprise is our only advantage, don’t waste it.”

I quickly changed my magazine to armor piercing, just to be safe.

We moved closer, finding a clearing in the forest leading to a thick grove at the center. Inside the grove was a woman. She had barklike skin, clad with leaves and with abnormally long hair. She had her eyes closed, smiling. What a smug bitch…

“That’s her. Everyone, spread out. On my mark, I want grenadiers to turn that grove into her grave. After that, all of you toss any remaining grenades at her. If somehow she’s still alive, keep firing at her and pray to god, you got that?”
We all silently nodded. He’s resorting to praying to God too now, huh? Looks like he’s at the limit of his information too.

Finally in position, he raised his arm once more. He dropped it swiftly, without even saying a word, but the grenadiers still fired away every last bomb they had. I covered my face from the flames as I felt a multitude of splinters bounce off of my helmet and armor. Without a second thought I pulled the last few grenades off my vest, pulling the pins out and chucking them towards the smoldering mess of smoke and trees. Getting my gun ready smoldering mess, I noticed the sergeant had a look of horror on his face. It took only a few seconds to process why: First, roots shot up from the ground, impaling both of the flamers. They coughed up blood, falling to the ground. We all watched, shocked as a figure cleared away the smoke with a swipe of her hand, bringing in a gust of wind. It was that bitch, her skin looking horribly charred but quickly returning to a healthy look. And she was still smiling? Floating a few feet off the air, she slowly started hovering towards the sergeant.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING, SHOOT HER!”

The rest of my squadmates burst from the trees, opening fire, but she somehow managed to dodge the flurry, the few bullets that struck her bouncing off of her bark-like skin as if it were nothing. With a deft swipe of her hand, more roots burst from the ground, impaling squadmate after squadmate. Fear had overtaken me long before he gave the order and I retreated into a bush, peering over at the carnage. The sergeant watched with horror as she effortlessly killed the rest of the squad, but I have to give him credit: He wasn’t sergeant for no reason. Ditching his rifle, he drew his knife and charged the witch. It was the bravest fucking thing I saw all day, even made me ashamed for hiding, as he charged forward and tried to stab it into her stomach. Unfortunately, like the bullets, it stopped at impact. She was still smiling, and grabbed him effortlessly by the throat. Tearing off his vest, he tossed him into the center of the grove as ashy roots rose up, restraining him. She still smiled, not even muttering anything as smaller ashy roots extended from the ground, plugging into his head. He began screaming. The screaming wasn’t scary, no, it was WHAT he was screaming: “Shoot me! One of you fucks, kill me! Kill me right now!”

Yeah no way in hell I was gonna attempt to get a shot. If I miss or get a non-fatal blow, I’m fucked. But God knows what the hell she’s doing to him… I had to find a way, and that way came in a familiar smell: Gasoline. I’m not sure if it’d kill the witch, it’d be painful as hell for the sergeant, but if I could toss and ignite one of the flamer tanks atop of him, I doubt he’d last. An insanely cruel thought, but it was my best course of action.

I silently crept towards one of the downed flamethrowers, this sneaking assisted by my sergeant’s screaming, unfortunately, and carefully unhooked it from the hose. She was still smiling as she continued her horrible ritual. Even if this was gonna kill me, I at least want to see that smile wiped off of her fucking face. I threw the thing as hard as I could, smacking right into the back of the witch. She was briefly stunned by the impact, and that was enough time for me to open fire. A few bullets through the tank was all it took and it combusted in a glorious fireball. I’m not sure if the sergeant preferred that method of death, but it had to be better than what she was doing. The screaming didn’t stop, however, but this time it was that fucking witch, this time visibly in pain and that fuckins smile gone. Her bark skin was also charred black and peeling off as the napalm continued to burn her away. It was another miracle from heaven I thought, and I had to take full advantage of it: I opened fire once more, bullets finally piercing right through her skin, leaving spurts of blood in their wake. That joy of finally being able to overcome her stupid magic bark bullshit hit me hard. I emptied my magazine into her, taking in the joy of watching this shit bleed. Soon she collapsed on the ground, still hacking up blood but somehow still bleeding, skin still charred to hell. I threw aside my rifle, drawing my pistol and walked towards her, firing a shot into her head. She finally collapsed to the ground. I spat on her corpse, stamping what remained of her charred head.

I walked over to the sergeant. He was completely roasted, a disgusting sight I caused. I swallowed a bit of puke that tried to push its way up. It was the only way to be sure.

I drew my flare gun from my vest, loading in a white flare, and fired it into the sky.

Tales from Congeria: Joy and Simon

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

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

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

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

She marched on into the temple.

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

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

“My, eager aren’t you? You do know-”

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

“Not yet. Give me your name”

“Joy Vera!”

“Joy Vera, you will be judged!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The receptionist looked up from his screen at the woman.

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

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

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

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

The man took the form and purused through it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yeah, so?”

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

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

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

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

“Joy, please cease harassing the man.”

She whipped her head to the source of the voice.

“Who are you to-”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hey, what does that mean exactly?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Come on… Move dammit!”

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

door_2_soft
Artwork by http://euphori-cat-art.tumblr.com/

“Well, I’ll be damned…”

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

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

Her eye twitched. “What now?”

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

“And?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’ll see you then, assuredly.”

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

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

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

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

“DAMMIT SIMON!”

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

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

You can read Part 2 Here