Legends of TFF

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by I. R. Shogun, Jun 9, 2008.

  1. I. R. Shogun

    I. R. Shogun Midnight Demon

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    Chapter 17: Setting the Trap

    As the team made their way through the cave system Sevi couldn’t help but think of the eerie feeling she’d gotten as the vampires had emptied out of the cave. Though their bat forms were high above her and the others she’d felt as if they’d been all over her. It had taken every ounce of her willpower to avoid screaming in terror and disgust at the sensation, but she’d managed to get through it, they all had. Now in the dark caves they walked, some more sure footed than others, making their way toward the belly of the beast, the nest itself.

    “Dragn, dull the lights,” said Extremus as they got closer to the center of the caves. Dragn had been producing enough light to allow everyone to see where they were going, but not much else. Now Extremus wanted them to be in total darkness, so that they wouldn’t tip off their foes.

    “OR, look ahead, give me a run down on how many and where they are,” said Wolf. In an instant Overread vanished, he was a being not of one dimension, and to him slipping between them was as easy as breathing, making him an ideal scout.

    “Will you be offended if I ask you to take the pack in as the advanced force Wolf?” asked Extremus.

    “Not at all, you purely bipedal races are too feeble for something like this,” said Wolf. This was an odd phrasing to Sevi, although she did know that wolves could exist in a human or animal form.

    “My group, be ready, we’re going to be the interlude between the pack and the force,” said the Avenger.

    “There are only ten of them, and they’re all huddled close together, it’ll be an easy kill,” said Overread as he suddenly reappeared.

    “You heard him, Arelin, Blackness, RW, take your marks, let’s go,” said Wolf as she dashed forward, somewhere between her human and beast forms.

    “Everyone get ready, we’ll mostly be cleanup at this point,” said the Avenger. Sevi wasn’t certain what to do, the Avenger had never told them where to stand or gone over any formations, but she felt him guiding her to where he wanted her, and she supposed that would be good enough.

    “Give the word boss,” said Kelmourne.

    “Now,” said the Avenger as he suddenly bolted forward, his troop moving right behind him.

    Sevi was toward the back of Shogun’s squad, allowing her to see where everyone else was going if nothing more. By the time she reached the actual nest the vampires had all been slain, but the Avenger and the wolves hadn’t stopped moving. They were going to work all over the site, and as the Defense Force arrived they began to do the same. Sevi felt a bit useless being unable to do anything to help, but it didn’t seem like any of the Avenger’s team was doing anything either, nor was the youngest member of the pack, and the only non-wolf in it, Arelin.

    “Hi, you guys are the Avenger’s team aren’t you?” asked the tiger girl as she suddenly hopped into the middle of their group.

    “Uh, yeah, and you’re Arelin right?” said Kakashi, trying not to sound rude.

    “Well duh,” said Kenshin. “Wolf did say that exact thing not long ago.”

    “I was trying to be polite,” said Kakashi.

    “Polite doesn’t mean stupid,” said Kenshin. The two of them continued to carry on this way for a moment, but Sevi didn’t find that interesting.

    “So Arelin, you’re a tiger right?” asked Sevi.

    “Yeah, I got claws and everything!” said Arelin.

    “Cool, but how did you get to be a tiger and a person?” asked Sevi. “I thought only wolves and were-animals could do that.”

    “Well, usually that’s true, tell you the truth I don’t really know why I’m like that,” said Arelin. “I just remember one day I was wandering around when I was little, I didn’t remember anything from before that, and I was really scared. Then a big boar appeared, I was so small, I couldn’t have fought it, it charged, but before it could reach me I was picked up and moved by one of the old wolves, he died a long time ago, a lot of the wolves from then did, but they saved me, they took me into the pack, and raised me like one of their own. Wolf’s been like a mother figure to me ever since she took control of the pack. I’m the youngest of this current generation, but they don’t treat me any different from each other.”

    “Wow,” said Sevi, recalling how she’d come into her village, a tale much the same to the young tiger.

    “Yeah, according to Running things like that don’t happen very much in the wolf world, so I’m really lucky,” said Arelin. “Wolf says that the pack is lucky too, but she never has told me why.”

    “Well, you’re a strong fighter aren’t you?” asked Sevi.

    “Yeah, but we all are, so it can’t just be that,” said Arelin.

    “Hmmm, I don’t know then…” said Sevi.

    “You two, cut the crap NOW!” bellowed Crusader suddenly, shocking Sevi and Arelin out of their conversation. Then turned and saw Kakashi and Kenshin, each with their hands on their weapons ready to draw, but frozen in fear after Crusader’s order. “Avenger, you really should learn to keep better control over your troops.”

    “If it would have degenerated much further I would have,” said the Avenger. “But I know them both well enough to know that they wouldn’t have carried on more than that.”

    “I wish I had as much faith as you do,” said Crusader.

    “Sometimes a commander needs faith as much as might,” said the Avenger.

    “Moving on,” said Extremus, bringing an end to this discussion. “We need to prepare.”

    “Has the count showed up yet?” asked LoS.

    “Not yet,” said Extremus.

    “That doesn’t bode well,” said Rosgwak.

    “He’ll be here,” said Extremus.

    “I hope you’re right,” said Ros.

    “You people really should keep stronger faith,” came a voice from nowhere. “After all, heroes need faith as much as the everyman.”

    “Count?” asked Extremus.

    “The very same,” said the voice as a portion of the darkness took form, solidifying into the shape of the vampire himself, Count Von Badguy.

    “We were starting to think you were going to miss the party,” said Wolf.

    “I noticed,” said the Count.

    “A little notice would be appreciated when you make an entrance like that,” said Crusader.

    “There will be many more like it I can assure you,” said the Count.

    “Perhaps one day we’ll be able to get used to it,” said Ros.

    “Doubtful,” said the Count. “Anyway, we should get ready, dawn will come quickly tonight.”
     
  2. I. R. Shogun

    I. R. Shogun Midnight Demon

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    Chapter 18: Out of the Pan…

    As the count had predicted the dawn came sooner than anyone had expected. Already the sounds of dark things lurking in the shadows of the cave could be heard. Extremus gave the signal, sending everyone to get into their positions. Sevi and Kakashi were stationed near the mighty hulking form of Crusader. Of everyone there Crusader was the most frightening to Sevi, even in the pitch blackness she felt she could almost see those eyes of his, those cold powerful eyes. Sevi knew that she and the rest in the Avenger’s group were inexperienced, but with warriors as powerful as Crusader on their side she felt they couldn’t lose.

    As the vampires arrived back to their nest Sevi noted the way that they moved, and how different it was from how the one on their side, Count Von Badguy, moved. With the Count it seemed like he almost floated anytime he moved, such was his regal grace. These ones though, they slid along like snakes, even seeming to hiss as they traversed the ground in an almost animalistic manner. Sevi felt her heart-rate drop off slightly, she wasn’t sure if she was nervous or it was her training kicking in. She knew she could fight humans, but she’d never been as skilled at fighting night creatures. Almost as if sensing he concern Kakashi reached back, tapping her shin with his knife, his signal to get ready.

    For several long minutes the vampires entered the cavern, their senses dulled after a long night of feeding, unaware of the fate that ultimately awaited them. Sevi wondered when they would be signaled to strike, when a sudden electricity filled the air that made her hair stand on end. In that moment she knew that the time had come, this was the aura of the head vampire, Lord Valex, the one that the Avenger had pulled her aside and trained her for a very specific coarse of action against. I’m going to need you to do something no one ever wants to do in circumstances like these, he’d said, I need you to be my bait.

    She really hadn’t liked being the one selected for that unique honor, but he’d given her his word that he wouldn’t let anything bad happen to her. At the time she’d felt confident that he would be able to deliver on that promise, but now, feeling the aura of this being, she was beginning to have second thoughts. Then, at the point when she realized it was foolish to have let herself be chosen as the bait the signal to attack went off, the bursting of several charges of Mage Light, coming directly from the hand of Dragn9. “Bring the noise people, if we screw this up there’s going to be no one to avenge us!” said the sorcerer as the magic flowed from him and into the stunned vampire crowd.

    Kakashi dashed out from behind the rock, quickly throwing himself into the fray. Sevi tried to follow, but for the life of her she couldn’t move her legs. She knew it wasn’t fear, her adrenaline was pumping far too much for her to feel anything like that, suddenly she felt it, a figure lurking behind her, close enough that she felt the rotting robes he wore as he breathed gently into her ear, “Well now, it seems you’ve been separated from the group little girl, and I’ll be needing a new family once your friends have finished this one. I think I’ll be able to make a very nice start with you…”

    Sevi’s breath stopped as she felt the vampire wrap his arm around her waist, he sucked in a breath with ancient lungs and let it loose in a hiss of hot air against the back of her neck. She closed her eyes tight as she heard his fangs lengthen, readying for the bite, but the stinging pain of fangs breaking flesh never came. There was a sound like a tightening cloth as the vampire was suddenly forcibly ripped away from her, she turned to see him smashed into the ground at the end of the Avenger’s band. “Sorry fella, but I can’t have you chewing on one of my girls,” said the Avenger.

    “Very well, try to stop me from making her mine whelp, with no sword or stake to end me,” said Valex as he rose.

    “Who said I needed a point?” asked the Avenger as he suddenly exploded forward in a whirling motion. Quickly his leg caught the vampire against the head, followed by a second kick to the legs, and a final one to the body that sent Valex crashing into the wall of the cavern.

    “Impressive whelp, but you alone are no match for me!” said Valex as he burst forth from the rubble, “And how will you survive against one such as me, when your mightiest warriors are busy burying my nest?”

    “The mightiest maybe, but not the craftiest,” said the Avenger.

    “What?” questioned Valex, a sudden flash of light answering his question as Rosgwak emerged from his hiding spot and drove two rapiers through the legs of Valex, then dashed back nearly fast enough to avoid the vampire’s wrath, though the blow that sent him flying to the feet of the Avenger wasn’t nearly as brutal as he’d figured.

    “What is this? Mere steel? Could you not afford the proper tools?” mocked Valex as he attempted fruitlessly to change. “What have you done?!” he demanded.

    “Binding steel, guaranteed to keep you still,” said Ros.

    “For the moment!” roared Valex as he shot his palm forward, “But I suppose I could use servants as clever as you!”

    “Not exactly,” said Ka’al as he dropped from the top of the cavern, the obedience spell shot toward them by Valex swirling around his body before being sent harmlessly away by Ka’al.

    “You still have no means with which to defeat…” Valex didn’t finish that thought, as a single beam of light streaked through the cavern, crashing through his chest. Dragn hadn’t revealed his location completely with this powerful spell, but he had taken himself out of the fight, unfortunately fate wouldn’t let it be enough. “A valiant effort,” said Valex as the smoke cleared and he remained standing with a hole in his chest, “But only my legs are bound, my heart will not be so easily purged.”

    “That’s not good,” said the Avenger as Valex suddenly burst forward, bashing Ka’al aside with a powerful blow to the head. Ros twirled his daggers as he drew them, driving them through the vampire lord, but for naught, Valex powered through his blows and knocked Ros out with a devastating blow to the solar plexus. Sevi could feel the eyes of the vampire upon her as the Avenger crouched low, muttering something to himself as the vampire drew closer.

    “Any last words whelp!?” mocked Valex.

    “…SHOT!” shouted the Avenger as he flung his hands forward, firing off a blast of energy that struck the vampire between the eyes, knocking him back, unfortunately not doing much else.

    “Poor whelp, running out of tricks?” laughed Valex before letting out a loud bellow of pain. “Wh-what?”

    “You call the human a whelp Valex, but it is you who is unrefined, had you truly forgotten about me you wretch?” growled Count Von Badguy as he twisted his arm that he’d driven through the body of the other vamp. “May the gods have mercy upon your miserable soul, for I do not,” said the Count as the body of Valex exploded in a white light, returning promptly to the ashes afterward. Sevi was stunned at this awesome display of power, they’d won, and the Count had shown that he was incredibly powerful, but for some reason the Avenger didn’t seem relieved. Instead he still stood in a low stance, almost seeming more worried about the Count than he’d been about Valex, and that’s when Sevi realized the cavern was as bright as daylight though the Count’s attack had ended several moments ago.

    “What’s wrong boy, you seem disheartened,” said the Count.

    “You, Count, why?” asked the Avenger.

    “Why did I use an attack of the Assassin Strike style? Something only one who had opened his heart to true blackness could do? Well that’s really very simple, my soul is opened to the powers of the darkness,” said the Count.

    “Count why? You’ve stood as a warrior of justice for so long, why would you turn you back on that?” asked the Avenger.

    “A little blood, a little mana, and my eyes were opened to he true path to power, one that is paved in death,” said the Count.

    “The ritual? They gave you new strength and you repay them by turning your back to the light?” said the Avenger.

    “The ritual gave me nothing but the strength I had locked inside,” said the Count. “And I shall repay them with swift deaths, should they prove worth it.”

    “Count…” said the Avenger.

    “And that name, it will not do any longer, Count Von Badguy is dead, he is not worthy to have his name attached to one with these powers, no, a new name will be necessary,” said the Count as he turned and began to leave. “This light shall last until you and the others leave, this is the last act of mercy I will show you as I purge Count Von Badguy from my form, beginning tomorrow there is no Count Von Badguy, there is only Super Shrew…”
     
  3. I. R. Shogun

    I. R. Shogun Midnight Demon

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    The Hunter
    Chapter 1: Stranger in Town

    Three months had passed since the raid on the vampire’s nest without sight nor sound of Count Von Badguy, or Super Shrew as he had begun calling himself that night. The Defense Force had beaten Savage’s deadline, meaning that for the time being there would be no need for a greater military presence in the city. Unfortunately while the vampire problem had been taken care of, there was still a great deal of strife within the city. Upon taking up that name, Super Shrew had revealed himself to no longer be an ally of the light, meaning that the defense force had a powerful threat waiting in the shadows, one that knew their every skill, and how to counter it.

    Furthermore, since the incident the Defense Force’s number one priority had shifted to someone else, the Holy Avenger, another figure they hadn’t seen since that night, in addition to his small band of fighters. This wasn’t to say that Crusader and the members of the force who’d volunteered for his squad hadn’t turned the city inside out looking for them, but simply that it seemed as if the Holy Avenger and his team had either dropped off the face of the earth, or were finished dealing with the affairs of the city. Oddrun had left the city to study elsewhere, and at the same time, the people with the closest connections to him, Firiath and Cyllieth, had left the harbor for the time being to sell their wares elsewhere.

    Meanwhile the members of the force not involved in the manhunt for the Avenger had other areas where they were choosing to focus their attention. Sen was taking the most active role as the city’s enforcer while Crusader focused on finding the city’s masked champion. As a result of the wild woman’s taking point the city had seen a sharp decline in criminal activity, but those that continued their actions were among the most depraved of the lot, causing a great deal of archiving to be required, eventually leading to the force recruiting Liv the Librarian to assist them in their archiving work. On this day in particular though, they would be introduced to a man who would join Crusader’s search, though his methods would be far more extreme.

    “Hey Liv, where’d you put that dossier on Mad Jake?” asked LoS as she flipped through the numerous reports on her own desk.

    “Check Lia’s pile,” said Liv, “I’m starting to think you guys are taking advantage of me, just happening to be redoing the entire filing system when I’m called in.”

    “Well the Captain believes in getting the most bang possible for his buck,” said LoS.

    “Then remind me next time that I need to charge to help out,” said Liv.

    “Your tax dollars will be at work,” said Liadan as she entered the room with an armful of new files.

    “Hers and everyone else’s,” said LoS.

    “Sounds fine to me,” said Liv.

    “Anyway, we need more cabinets, I don’t think we’ll be able to get everything that we have in here into just these ones,” said LoS.

    “Well hopefully we’ll be able to get Dragn to conjure some more after he and the rest of Cru’s head hunters get back,” said Lia.

    “Oh yeah, I’ve been wondering, who all’s in that team?” asked Liv.

    “Crusader, HoW, Alchy, Dragn, and Ender last time I checked,” said LoS.

    “And Extremus just gave them full clearance like that?” asked Liv.

    “He sees it as a test of Cru’s skills in tracking, Crusader wants to drag the Avenger and his supporters in kicking and screaming, the Captain doesn’t think he can,” said LoS.

    “And if he doesn’t then the captain will keep questioning whether Cru is fit to lead the team,” said Lia.

    “As if the fact that he can’t rally everyone to this cause wasn’t enough,” said LoS.

    “They really don’t get along eh?” asked Liv.

    “There’s a grudging respect, but Crusader’s much more by the book than Extremus is,” said LoS. “And he can’t stand that he’s been fighting as hard as he has for so long and yet everyone sees the Avenger as a symbol of hope for the city.”

    “And he’s not the only one,” came a voice as hard as iron as the doors swung open. The voice belonged to a man of grim appearance. He wore a wide brimmed hat and a heavy coat that sat hard above his heavy plate armor, which itself was riddled with numerous sheathed blades and other trick weapons.

    “Can we, help you?” asked LoS, her voice pausing in shock several times.

    “The name is Methias, Methias KAmOlUtT,” said the man whose face looked withered like an ancient tree. “I was sent by the governor to help you folks track down the biggest pest in the city.”

    “Oh yeah, the captain mentioned you would be here,” said LoS.

    “Is he in?” asked Methias.

    “Yeah, just a second,” said LoS as she rose and quickly left, leaving Lia and Liv in the room with the imposing figure, all in total silence.

    Moments later LoS returned, along with Captain Extremus. “So you’re the man here about the Avenger,” said Extremus.

    “They say he’s a slippery one,” said Methias, “He’s not my usual prey, but he might prove interesting.”

    “I see, and what is your usual prey?” asked Extremus.

    “Witches,” said Methias bluntly, “And I’m the best there is at hunting that type.”

    “Well I should remind you that the Avenger is far from a witch,” said Extremus. “The people love him, you may have some trouble using your typical methods.”

    “Well that’s what’s going to make this interesting,” said Methias. “He’s not my usual quarry, his mind works differently, he works differently, and I think I may have gotten a bit soft in hunting things outside my usual. I want to face someone who will be able to equal me, someone who doesn’t fall victim to the same kind of tricks that always seem to work.”

    “And what will you do if you catch him?” asked Extremus. “And the rest of his lot.”

    “When I catch them, should the leader not be the first I bag, then I’ll have a lot of bait,” said Methias. “As for what I’ll do with him, well, that’ll be entirely dependant on the nature of the catch. If he disappoints me I’ll bring him in all in one piece.”

    “And if he doesn’t disappoint?” asked Liv.

    “Then one of us will probably be dead,” said Methias with a grin.

    “Regardless, try to make sure you can bring him in alive, since Crusader won’t be satisfied if there’s no trial,” said Extremus.

    “If your boy has a problem with my results then he and I can settle any trouble man to man,” said Methias. “Either way, as I understand it he leads the team that’s looking for the Avenger, meaning he may be the guy that I want to meet.”

    “Our hope was that you’d work closely with him, although the governor said that there was nothing that prevented you from acting on your own,” said Extremus.

    “I still want to meet who all is after this guy,” said Methias. “Give me a feel for how to go about things.
     
  4. I. R. Shogun

    I. R. Shogun Midnight Demon

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    Chapter 2: Warnings and Lessons

    Crusader and his team returned to the station with low heads that day, all save Crusader that is. Crusader was not deterred by another day of fruitless searching; to him the status of this mission as incomplete was all he needed to motivate himself. He couldn’t stand for failure, especially not a failure at something this serious, he would find the Avenger, he would beat him to a bloody pulp, and he would take him in to answer for breaking the law, just like every other criminal, he would not escape Crusader’s justice.

    It had been several hours since most of the others would have either gone on patrol or gone home, but within the station there were two figures that greeted them. They were the captain of coarse, and a man who appeared to be prepared to the point where his foresight would be as much a hindrance as a help. As soon as they entered Extremus signaled for them to sit, Crusader had a feeling that he wasn’t going to like what the captain had to say. “Gentlemen, this is Methias KAmOlUtT, he was sent here by the governor to help you in your search for the Avenger,” said the captain.

    “Help isn’t really the right word,” said Methias. “I’m here to conduct my own search, and when it proves beneficial I’ll work with you folks.”

    “What’s wrong, the governor isn’t confident in the strength of the force?” asked Crusader.

    “It’s not so much that,” said Methias, “As he wants to send a message. The Avenger is not to be mistaken for a hero, he’s as much a criminal as Mad Jake, and the government of Spamopolis can’t be supported by such people.”

    “I don’t need some rough neck hunter poking around my city to find someone like the Avenger,” said Crusader. “Tell Trove his help is appreciated but I have things under control.”

    “Sorry to say, but the governor isn’t likely to buy that, especially since it’s not exactly hidden knowledge that the Avenger was with you on that raid three months ago,” said Methias. “I’m in this city until I bring in the Avenger, dead or alive. Once that’s done I’ll be on my way, but not a second before.”

    “Well then stranger if you want to make this an easy process I suggest you stay out of our way,” said Herald of Woe, stepping forward. “We do things a certain way in this city, and we won’t tolerate someone mucking that up.”

    “With all due respect, I’ve seen the way you do things in this city, three months is a long time for a manhunt ain’t it?” said Methias.

    “Not as much when you track someone without footprints,” said Dragn.

    “Everyone leaves footprints, it’s just a matter of the hunter knowing what to look for,” said Methias.

    “What makes you think you’re going to be the man to find him?” asked Ender. “We’ve torn this city up since the get go and haven’t turned up anything.”

    “You’re not used to someone like the Avenger,” said Methias. “He travels with a band specially adept at moving quickly and quietly, and since they specialize in beating up other criminals it’s hard to tell what they have and haven’t done. If you want to find them, you have to start setting things up to force them to slip.”

    “I’m curious to know what kind of traps you’d use against them,” said Crusader.

    “Well, as part of my contract, I don’t need to tell you unless I feel like using you lot, and for the first few nights at least, I don’t,” said Methias.

    “You don’t tend to make many friends do you?” asked Dragn.

    “Who needs friends, when you love your job as much as I do?” said Methias with a grin.

    “You’ll need a lot of friends to carry your remains out of here if you cause any damage to my city,” said Crusader.

    “Damage, you mean like all the collateral damage you lot tend to cause to the shops lining the streets whenever you tackle the badguys?” said Methias, his grin growing deeper.

    “I’d like to say I wouldn’t enjoy breaking open your skull, not so sure I could lie like that though,” said Cru.

    “And I’d like to say I gave a damn,” said Methias as he stood. “It’s been fun boys, but if you don’t mind, I think I’ll start my hunt…”

    ***********************************

    Kakashi stumbled briefly, then forced himself in a roll to recover his footing and continue his motion, he didn’t see how the Avenger was doing this. They’d been running along the rooftops for several blocks now at full speed. From what he could tell no one else was having any more luck than he was, save the Avenger of coarse, who seemed perfectly comfortable stepping along these old, rain-slick, decaying tiles at speeds that would lend themselves to nasty injuries should something go wrong. To add to that, he was already a rooftop ahead of everyone, and he was gaining even more ground away from them. Kakashi knew that this was a test of their skills, but it was well and above anything they’d done so far.

    Finally, up ahead of them some distance the Avenger stopped without warning, and fell into a crouch on the edge of a rooftop. After a moment Kakashi and the others caught up, though their attempts at stopping took longer, causing some to barely be able to stay on the rooftop, let alone silent. The Avenger glanced back at them slightly, then turned his attention back down to the street below, “Do any of you know why I took you out for this exercise?”

    “Well,” said Kelmourne, “You already know we’re all sturdy fighters, so you wanted to know how we handle the rest of the crime fighting deal.”

    “That’s, part of it,” said the Avenger.

    “And what’s the other part?” asked Kakashi.

    “My sources tell me that recently someone came into town that’s going to hunt us,” said the Avenger. “And he’s not going to do it like the defense force. He’s a witch hunter, and he’s one of the best. He’s going to hunt us like he hunts them, and he’s permitted to go to any lengths he sees fit to track us all down and bring us in. So I wanted to see how you handled one of the most important parts of being a hero in the shadows, something our ninja should be able to tell us, since it’s the most important thing that they can know.”

    Kenshin and Kel both turned to Kakashi and Sevi, who in turn looked at each other blankly. “Well, let’s hear it,” said Kenshin. “You were the top two ninja in your village right?”

    “Well, there were a lot of things we were never taught, we had to learn on our own,” said Kakashi. “And a lot of ninja training is based on…”

    “You don’t have any idea do you?” said Kenshin, cutting him off.

    “Not really…” said Kakashi.

    “How about you?” said Kel to Sevi.

    “Well, I asked all of our masters about it, one day when we were little,” said Sevi. “But they never gave a real answer. They said it was the thing we did at the end of every mission and exercise.”

    “Which was?” asked Kel.

    “Running away,” said Sevi.

    “Bingo,” said the Avenger.

    “Running away is the most important thing we can know?” asked everyone in disbelief.

    “We’re not martyrs, for us staying alive is the most important thing, being able to fight another day,” said the Avenger. “We have to be able to outrun our opponents if we can’t out fight them. Otherwise we die for nothing. And that is the first most important lesson that separates a crime fighter from a thug.” As the Avenger said this he leapt from the rooftop to another below and continued his running, the others shot each other looks of disbelief, before letting out a collective sigh and following after him.
     
  5. I. R. Shogun

    I. R. Shogun Midnight Demon

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    Chapter 3: First Blood

    Ray dropped into the alley with heavy impact, rolling to avoid breaking his ankles, wasting precious seconds as he did. Whoever this guy was that was chasing him was the real deal. He’d known how Ray fought before they’d ever crossed paths, he’d set a trap, and it had worked damn well. Ray normally had a slight grip of magics; that had been stripped away as soon as he’d set off the trap, so had his ability to use his left arm. And to make matters worse this guy had kicked the hell out of him right after the trap had run its coarse, Ray cursed this foe and his ability to get the drop on him, usually he was the one who did the ambushing.

    Ray chanced a look back, and as he saw the heavy figure drop down he believed that to be a mistake. He turned his attention forward, but unfortunately for Ray, he hadn’t realized that this was yet another trap. A powerful arm shot out from one of the various nooks of the alleyway, Ray didn’t have time to duck, and as he felt his throat rattle and his body fly through the air, he wished he’d stayed in tonight. His body skidded heavily along the ground before being lifted up and slammed against a wall, “You’ve got some fight in ya kid, but that’s not nearly enough.”

    “How about this then?” Ray growled as he raked his fingers across the eyes of his captor, causing the stranger to drop him. No more running, Ray had to fight or else he was done for. He delivered a hard kick to the chest of his attacker, but to his surprise this sent a hard shock through his body, knocking him to the ground again. Ray struggled to his feet, but the enemy rose first.

    “Magic Retaliation Armor, comes in damn handy against witches, and even more against people too stupid to listen to reason,” said the hunter.

    “Not well enough,” said Ray as his hand tightened on a board that he lifted and swung against his attacker, but the other man blocked it with ease and stripped Ray of the weapon, and then placed his heavy boot against Ray’s throat.

    “You’re a tough son of a bitch, but you ain’t very strong where it counts,” said the hunter as he tapped Ray on the side of the head with a blade that he drew from his hip. “Now, from what I understand all you want in this city is a little respect, if you’re willing to help me out, I think I can help you get some of that respect.” He took his boot off of Ray’s throat to allow him to speak.

    “Keep talking,” said Ray after taking a moment to catch his breath.

    “Right now you’re on the wrong side of the law, but you’re not their focus,” said the hunter. “That unique distinction belongs to the Holy Avenger and his band. They’re considered the toughest group operating inside the city besides the defense force, since the wolves aren’t usually in the city. But I wonder, who’s considered the toughest when they get brought in?”

    “You think you can catch the Avenger and his group?” asked Ray.

    “Yeah,” said the Hunter, “But I’d prefer to have a little backup. And if you cooperate, then I’d be willing to let you share the glory.”

    “You got a plan?” asked Ray.

    “You know it,” said the hunter, “And as you’ve seen, I’m very good at setting traps.”

    “Alright, I’m in, but how do I know I can trust you?” asked Ray.

    “You don’t,” said the hunter. “Kinda makes it more interesting don’t it?”

    “I guess, when do we get started?” asked Ray.

    “Tonight,” said the hunter. “The night is young, and it’s been a while since the city had any trouble from you, meaning they’re about do for some more.”

    “So I help you by causing trouble?” asked Ray.

    “Damn right,” said Methias.

    “Sounds like my kind of deal,” said Ray. “Where should I start?”

    “Where else?” asked Methias.

    “Murder Row it is then,” said Ray with a grin.

    ****************************************

    Minutes later…

    Ray hit the street with a bang, that is to say, a crash, and he landed with enough force to crush the fruit stand that he chose to hit before reaching the ground. All around members of several gangs turned their attention to him, instantly registering just who it was. “Good evening folks, I thought the night was a little glum, so I thought I should brighten things up!” said Ray as he threw down several mage-light bombs, scattering some of the crowd that was out at this ghostly hour.

    “Hey man what the hell are you trying to do!?” demanded one of the gangsters as he brandished a heavy club.

    “Stirring up some trouble!” replied Ray bluntly as he leapt down from the remains of the stand, battle chain at the ready. The gangster attempted a swing but found it difficult after Ray wrapped the chain around his throat and tossed him several feet. Several other gangsters attempted to close in, but Ray was ready for them, dispatching all of them through use of his chain and more mage light. In moments the fighting had broken into a desperate struggle for the gang members, most of whom were too new to street life to know how to throw a punch, let alone take one, but soon enough the desired effect was achieved.

    From atop one of the rooftops a figure, clad in golden armor dropped from atop one of the many rooftops and quickly moved to engage Ray. Ray was taller, he could tell that much immediately, and from what he could tell his opponent had no weapons aside from his armor, he liked his odds. He sent his chain forward, the Avenger allowed his wrist to be caught. “What a sucker!” said Ray, “Time to reel him in!”

    As Ray pulled the chain he found the Avenger didn’t move, instead he pulled back, even overpowering Ray and pulling him forward. “You aught to learn the difference between allowing yourself to be caught and falling into a trap,” said the Avenger as he suddenly dropped his weight and yanked the chain, pulling Ray into the air and causing him to make a panicked choice to let go of the chain. Ray circled the Avenger for a moment before closing in for a grapple, but to his surprise the Avenger was ready, and rolled back, then used his legs to kick Ray away, then spring back to his feet. Ray got up quickly as well, but as he moved in for another exchange the Avenger was ready, grabbing his wrist and twisting to torque the joints, then pulling Ray in to plant a hard knee into his stomach, Ray crumbled from the pain.

    “You know I’ve been anxious to meet you, now I’m disappointed, it’s like you’re not even trying,” said the Avenger.

    “You have no idea,” laughed Ray.

    “What are you…” the Avenger began, but was cut off as dozens of mage light charges went off along every pathway that led onto Murder Row. The sound was deafening, the light blinding, only through instinct was the Avenger able to repel Ray’s assault that came during this moment. As the lights dimmed and his hearing returned he saw that Ray had since retreated, and in his place was a note stuck to the ground with one of Sevi’s daggers. The Avenger picked it up, it read:

    One down, four to go. You really aught to watch your people better, I caught this one watching you brawling with the decoy. Although watching you I can tell already that you’ll be every bit as fun to bring down as I thought. And don’t worry about her, she’s fine, for now. And I don’t plan on turning in your band piece by piece, it’s always sweeter to bring in one big lot. Happy hunting, and by the way, you might want to move…

    --Methias KAmOlUtT


    The Avenger turned to see a figure high atop one of the city roofs, holding a limp form over its shoulder. Unfortunately he had to react first to the massive fireball heading his way. He dodged to the side, narrowly rolling out of the way in time to avoid being scorched. As he rose the figure was gone, but the message had been sent, this hunter was going to be more dangerous than he thought if he was good enough to sneak up on Sevi, and it didn’t seem to the Avenger that he was going to make any of his future traps this simple. With an angry sigh the Avenger took to an alleyway and began to climb to the rooftops, tonight he’d lost bad, and he needed to get ready for Methias’ next move.
     
  6. I. R. Shogun

    I. R. Shogun Midnight Demon

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    Chapter 4: Approaching Storm

    “He did WHAT!?!?!?!?!” roared Crusader, as with a mighty swing of his arm he annihilated his desk, leaving the young gang member who’d come to the station in wide eyed terror.

    “He, Ray, fought the Avenger, and then disappeared, and some guy shot a fireball down at him, and,” the gang member said, stammering in an attempt to form full thoughts.

    “IT WAS A RHETORICAL QUESTION!” shouted Crusader, his eyes blazing with rage.

    “I…” squeaked the gang member before Sen stepped in.

    “I think you aught to be getting home, you’ve had a long night and Crusader has work to do,” said Sen as she guided the petrified hoodlum to the door.

    “Damn it to hell Sen, he’s going to tear this city apart,” Cru growled.

    “I think that means you’re going to have to step up your methods,” said Sen.

    “I’m doing everything I can within the legal limits,” said Crusader.

    “No, you’re doing everything you can with the group you’ve got,” said Sen. “The defense force is more than five men. And you haven’t been using the town guard at all.”

    “You think I should recruit some outside help?” asked Crusader.

    “You need to prioritize, what’s more important, bringing down the Avenger, or stopping this hunter before he rips this city apart to do it?” asked Sen.

    “Who the hell am I supposed to get help from? He’s above the law here, our hands are tied,” said Cru.

    “Yeah, your hands are tied, but how about getting some help from someone else who’s above the law?” asked Sen. “Wolf is a good friend of the Avenger’s you know.”

    “And to what end would we be hiring her? Is she supposed to keep the Avenger from getting arrested? Then we’re supporting him, it’s a loop for Sky’s sake!” said Crusader.

    “Well then maybe you just need to find a different way to do things,” said Sen. “You need to set a trap not even the hunter will be able to see through.”

    “Such as?” asked Crusader.

    “Well, a reliable source tells me Mad Jake is back in town,” said Sen. “Say when he makes his first big move you wait to unleash hell on him long enough for the Avenger and Methias to reach the scene.”

    “I’m not sure I like taking that kind of gamble with people’s lives,” said Crusader.

    “What’s the bigger gamble, let Mad Jake bumble in a gem store for a while, or let those two run around the city unchecked?” asked Sen.

    “I suppose that’s going to be the best way,” said Crusader. “Let’s just hope Jake doesn’t have something else in mind.”

    “Doesn’t he always?” asked Sen. “We just have to hope whatever he’s cooking up isn’t too, Jake-like.”

    *******************************************

    “It’s not working,” said HoW glumly.

    “Well, it’s only the first run of the serum, if we make a few modifications…” began Alchemist.

    “It won’t matter,” said HoW.

    “Why do you say that?” asked Alchemist.

    “It’s getting to the point where I won’t be able to keep him back anymore,” said HoW. “Even right now I can hear his voice, telling me how close he is to breaking out, showing me what he’s going to do to the city, to everyone. He knows that there’s no one that can stop him, and so he’s going to wait until a critical moment and then force himself loose when he can have the most terrible impact.”

    “Well if we can get Dragn…” began Alchy.

    “It still won’t make a difference. I was a fool to think we could lock this away, the only way to stop it is for me to die,” said HoW.

    “Don’t say that!” growled Alchemist. “There’s always a way, we’re heroes damn it!”

    “You really believe that?” asked HoW. “Some of us aren’t heroes, we’re just doing what we can to try and redeem ourselves…”

    “Look, I don’t know everywhere you’ve been, but I know this, we can find a way to stop it, we will find a way!” said Alchy.

    “You’ve never seen what it’s capable of,” said HoW. “The sky will be darker than you’ve ever seen it, and nothing that gets in its way will be able to stand for long.”

    “If it escapes we’ll stop it, or we’ll die trying,” said Alchy.

    “If it escapes, you’ll die regardless…” said HoW.

    ********************************************

    Sevi slowly felt the heavy sleep lift, but found that the darkness didn’t dissipate. Her arms and legs were tightly bound, so much so that she couldn’t simply slip out like she usually would. She struggled to find some way to move, but found that none revealed themselves below her neck. Instead she tried speaking, “Is anyone there?”

    Suddenly the bag over her head was pulled free, though the room she was in wasn’t much brighter, “Bout time you woke up, didn’t realize I’d hit you that hard.”

    “Who are you?” asked Sevi.

    “Names aren’t important, the important thing is, you’re about to help me catch the Avenger,” said a gruff man in heavy clothes.

    “Why would I do that?” asked Sevi.

    “Well, you won’t be willing, but you’re going to be a big component in how I do it,” said the man.

    “I’m, bait?” asked Sevi.

    “In so many words yes,” said the man.

    “When the Avenger gets to you he’ll break you in two,” said Sevi.

    “He’ll try,” said the man. “Whether he can has yet to be seen. And besides, I need a bit of fight in my prey, makes things much more interesting.”

    “Where’s the other one, the one that was fighting the Avenger?” asked Sevi.

    “Mind’s all over the place isn’t it?” said the man. “Ray’s off trying to find someone who just got into town, Jake or something, you know’m?”

    “No,” said Sevi, “I don’t know very many people here…”

    “Me neither,” said the man. “But we’re both going to be a lot more well known soon.”
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2008
  7. I. R. Shogun

    I. R. Shogun Midnight Demon

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    Chapter 5: Enter Mad Jake

    Mad Jake, the greatest criminal mind Spamopolis had ever known, and at this moment he was reduced to control of an abandoned warehouse and five lackeys. Wasn’t that always the way? If he could manage to secure more effective cronies then Extremus and his band of monkeys wouldn’t be nearly as effective in bringing him down, but alas good help was so hard to find, and he’d recently come across something a tad more impressive than what he was able to produce in the past. It had cost him top dollar, but the forges of the floating city rarely disappointed.

    “Hey boss, there’s someone here to see you, name’s something Captain,” said one of the ham-fisted brutes that had signed on as an underling.

    “Send him in,” said Jake without turning in his chair. As the door slid open Jake spoke, “What do you want Ray?”

    “Jake, it’s been a while,” said Ray. “Hope you’ve been doing well since…”

    “Since being run out of town because you dramatically under-performed in your duties?” Jake finished for him.

    “Yeah, that,” said Ray, cringing slightly.

    “Oh don’t act like my words sting, there are few in this land that can stand against Extremus any longer than you did,” said Jake. “I was exaggerating.”

    “Oh, heh,” replied Ray.

    “So really,” said Jake as he turned, “What do you want?”

    “There’s a couple new players in town since you left,” said Ray.

    “The Avenger and his lot, I’ve heard,” said Jake.

    “Not just them,” said Ray, looking over the frail form of Jake, his pale flesh seeming even whiter against his thin shirt and black pants, but his face was as calculating and brilliant as ever. “A guy who’s here to take the Avenger down, Methias KAmOlUtT, he’s the real deal, and he’s already caught one of the Avenger’s team mates. I was wondering if you’d be interested in helping out.”

    Jake studied Ray a moment, taking the small black hat from his head as he stood and slowly descended from his makeshift throne. “Ray, what makes you think I’m interested in helping a Government appointed bounty hunter to catch a ghost?” asked Jake when they were near enough to touch.

    “Well, the Avenger is able to operate outside the law, but he’s still busy busting people like you,” said Ray. “If you bring him down then all you’d have to worry about is the defense force.”

    “I suppose to a lesser man that would be enticing, but I welcome a challenge,” said Jake. “So you’ll need something a bit more interesting.”

    “Well, he’s a witch hunter, the best there is, and he’s damn good at setting up traps even you might not see through, there’s not much to stop him from coming after you once he’s got the Avenger,” said Ray.

    “That’s a bit more like it,” said Jake. “Tell him I’ll think about it, I’ll find you if I decide to take him up on this offer.”

    “Alright, good, it’ll be nice working with you again Jake,” said Ray as he left.

    “So, we gonna be working with that guy?” asked one of the thugs a few minutes after Ray was gone.

    “Maybe, but I have a feeling that not every offer has been presented,” said Jake.

    “Whaddaya mean boss?” asked the thug.

    “I know Crusader, and I know Extremus, neither one of them wants a witch hunter poking around their city to chase anyone, let alone a vigilante that they may want to bring onto the force,” said Jake.

    “You sure they’ll come?” asked the thug.

    “When am I ever wrong?” asked Jake with a grin as a heavy thud hit the door to the warehouse. “Let her in.”

    One of the thugs nervously opened the door to find a fully armed warrior woman, ready to fight. “Senekha, it’s been a while,” said Jake.

    “Not exactly the brawl it usually is to get to you Jake,” said Sen as she entered.

    “What can I say, we’re getting settled again,” said Jake.

    “Almost seems like you were expecting me,” said Sen, knowing almost immediately that he must have known plenty.

    “I know everything Sen, you should know that,” said Jake.

    “Then I guess you know why I’m here?” asked Sen.

    “The Avenger and the witch hunter, you just missed Ray,” said Jake.

    “Then you know that we’re going to use you to hit them both?” asked Sen.

    “That’s a bit of a new fact even to me,” said Jake. “I must say I’m honored.”

    “Well we really can’t focus on you with those two running loose,” said Sen. “Just make sure at your first score you don’t hurt anyone.”

    “I can’t make any promises,” said Jake. “Criminal you know.”

    “Well, try,” said Sen.

    “I’ll see what I can do,” said Jake.

    “That’s all I can ask,” said Sen as she quickly left.

    Another few minutes passed before any of his henchmen spoke up, “So how you gonna play this boss?”

    “Isn’t it obvious? I’m going to cooperate,” said Jake.

    “With the cops? Or with the hunter?” asked another crony.

    “First one, then the other, there’s no reason for me to play all of my cards right away,” said Jake, “So let’s let them beat each other up for a while before things really get popping.”

    “So the first job doesn’t involve that thing you brought into town?” asked the thug.

    “No, I think that little gem can wait,” said Jake.

    “If that Methias guy is a fighter I doubt we can handle him, witch hunters are tough, we’re all small time,” said the thug.

    “My boy, let me do the thinking, small time seems to reflect your brain function as well as your criminal record,” said Jake.

    “Y-yeah, yes sir,” said the thug.

    “Now, the question is where to strike first,” said Jake. “Gather some info, find out where the Avenger does most of his work, the hunter likely knows this and I want to know it too, it’ll determine where we first strike,” said Jake. “I’m curious to meet this, Holy Avenger…”
     
  8. I. R. Shogun

    I. R. Shogun Midnight Demon

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    Chapter 6: Hunter, Hunted

    Dragn sighed as he thought of how the hunting had gone. The hadn’t found sight nor sound of the Avenger of coarse, he’d seen to that, but still, the troubles of the hunt got to him. It was difficult to stay a good man with a badge when so many people hated what you were doing to their urban myths. It was a rare few that couldn’t understand at all why they had to bring him in, even to put him on the force, but those that didn’t were animals, fierce and crazed with a fanatical devotion to a man that they understood and knew almost nothing about.

    Of everyone in Spamopolis, from what Dragn understood he was the only person who’d been fully informed of every detail of the Avenger’s mission. He was the only one that knew where the Avenger was going to be, the only one that knew his real motivation in doing what he did, and most importantly, he was the only one that knew why he’d chosen to be the Holy Avenger, and not simply some nameless vigilante to be named by anyone that happened to come up with something to call him. Regardless there was a lot of work that had to be done still, and Dragn had a feeling that they were going to be bringing the hunt to the next level soon, otherwise Methias KAmOlUtT would cause something irreparable to occur.

    Unfortunately a member of the team had pulled out of the investigation. It seemed as if Ender had something that needed attended to outside of the land of TFF, he hadn’t told anyone what nation he was going to need to enter in order to take care of his business, but ultimately that really didn’t matter. The fact was they were down a man, one who knew all too well how to move around the city in a way similar to the Avenger, and that could only hurt their search.

    It was times like this that Dragn wished he’d stayed in Belan, he could have done well as a teacher at the white tower, and things would have been much much simpler had he stayed there as his father had wanted him to. But no, adventure and the wide world had called to him, and so he’d had to leave his homeland, and had ended up here in Spamopolis. Certainly he’d had fun, some adventures here, a spot of catastrophe there, a growing legion of adoring fans, but during cases like this he had to consider the possibilities of the simple things he could have enjoyed otherwise.

    “Dragn,” called HoW. “We got a lead on something big going on in mid-town, Methias has been spotted and so has the Avenger!”

    So much for fantasizing about simpler times…

    ***************************************

    Earlier…

    Kakashi didn’t like the look of this, but then again, it didn’t seem like the Avenger did either. It had been a hard search since a few days earlier when Sevi had been captured, but it seemed the witch hunter had grown tired of waiting for a new opportunity for a trap to present itself. It was early evening, just between the hours when the good boys and girls turned in and the creeps of Spamopolis stepped out for their evening entertainment, that’s when they finally located her. She was tied up and hanging high above one of the many market plazas of the city, in an area that was conspicuously empty of visitors at the moment.

    Kakashi was stationed on one of the lower rooftops with the most stonework to hide in. This also happened to be the rooftop with the best and most direct view of every other building in the area, aside from the tallest building, where the Avenger theorized that Methias would be waiting. Kakashi looked down into one of the wider, brighter alleyways where Kel had been stationed, the Avenger had put him there knowing that Methias wouldn’t bother to trap someplace he could see that well, and he wouldn’t want to face the Viking on level ground if he wanted to capture him with any amount of stealth. Kel hadn’t moved since he’d taken his position, he was ready to play his role. Kenshin sat at the ready just outside the window of one of the inns in the area, he wouldn’t be spotted, meaning all they needed now were the two main stars.

    Almost as if he knew what Kakashi was thinking the Avenger appeared in the middle of the street. He made his way directly to the middle of the plaza before stopping, looking up at Sevi, and speaking. “Sevi, I know that I’m hardly in a position to ask anything of you, but I know you remember the plans we agreed on if this situation was ever to come up. Can you speak?” he asked.

    “Yes,” came Sevi’s reply in a moment.

    “Do you remember the code words I told you to memorize?” asked the Avenger.

    “Yes, some of them,” Sevi replied. Kakashi cocked an eyebrow at this; he’d gone over code words with her? Why the hell hadn’t he done that with anyone else? This was outrageous, had he deliberately let her get captured? Kakashi felt his anger rise, but he stopped himself, there had to be some reason.

    “I need you to tell me which one suits this situation,” said the Avenger.

    The was a long pause before Sevi finally spoke, “I, I don’t remember the one for this situation…”

    Suddenly the Avenger shot his hand to his back, that cloth of his shooting ever forward and ensnaring someone in the shade of one of the many rooftops. Whoever it was broke free in midair, crashing with a heavy thud to the ground. They got up quickly but were immediately kicked squarely in the chest, causing them to stagger, though they didn’t fall. Kakashi recognized them, that guy that the Avenger had fought the night Sevi was captured, that meant the hunter himself hadn’t… there was a sliding, then a sound like someone struggling to keep something heavy from falling. Kakashi suddenly realized what the Avenger hadn’t told him about why he’d been the only one in a solid hiding spot, he’d been bait…

    Kakashi dashed to the source of the noise to find the witch hunter struggling to hold onto one of the many stony forms, “Damn,” he muttered, dropping the statue and drawing a blade. Kakashi quickly rushed the hunter, tackling him off of the rooftop, landing heavily onto his opponent’s chest when they hit the ground, and then rolling groggily off. Kakashi had shown himself to be somewhat self-destructive in his combat style, but he was able to keep control, something that Kenshin and Kel hadn’t been able to achieve. The Avenger had chosen him to be bait because he could take it to the next level, but still know what he was doing, he knew Kakashi was the only one that was prepared to face this hunter under the circumstances they faced, that’s why he’d instructed him to go where he had, well, if it meant getting a bit of revenge for Sevi, Kakashi was glad to take it.

    “So looks like the prey knows how to hunt, this will be fun…” groaned the hunter as he slowly got back to his feet. His armor had taken a lot of the punishment, but not nearly all of it, Kakashi saw his window. He dashed forward, kicking the hunter hard in his jaw, bringing him right back to the ground, then placed his blade to the hunter’s throat.

    “I’m only going to ask this once, so you might want to answer fast, what the hell did you do to her?!” Kakashi demanded.

    “Don’t know who you’re talking about,” the bastard grinned, there came a sharp yell of pain from the plaza.

    “Oh well, by the sound of it your crony just gave the answer to the Avenger, guess I’ll have to settle for just cutting you,” said Kakashi as he readied his knife.

    The hunter shifted, too quick for a man in his shape, punching into Kakashi’s ribs with something solid, something that pulled the air from his lungs almost instantly. Kakashi tried to beat the pain, but it left him powerless, and allowed the hunter to flee. Kakashi fell onto his side, he’d failed. Whether he’d been aware of it at first or not he’d had a job to do, and he’d let the Avenger down. He could have ended all of this, but he’d been careless, and now Sevi would pay the price because of it…

    He felt someone prop him up, they were saying something to him, but he couldn’t make it out. After a moment, and having been dragged out into the plaza, he began to regain his ability to comprehend. Kel and Kenshin were there, so was the hunter’s ally, so was a dummy that looked like it had been tied up, Kakashi looked to where Sevi had been hanging, the rope had been cut, it had been even more of a trap than Kakashi’d figured, but it looked like the Avenger had seen through the whole thing. That’s when Kakashi thought of it, where was the Avenger? “Kel, what happened?” asked Kakashi.

    “The Avenger got the hunter’s assistant to tell him where Sevi is, he went after her and the hunter, he said we were to wait here and then submit to the authorities when they showed up, and join the defense force,” said Kel.

    “Join?” muttered Kakashi, apparently he wasn’t thinking clearly after all.

    “He said he needs us to be legal heroes to make sure this doesn’t happen again, and he said he’d join us on the force soon,” said Kel. “But he’s got a few things to take care of first.”
     
  9. I. R. Shogun

    I. R. Shogun Midnight Demon

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    Chapter 7: Avenger, Alone

    The Avenger grunted as he clung to the wall of one of the taller threads that stood between him and his goal. He climbed it with unnatural speed, carried by a purpose that was beyond him. It was his carelessness that had gotten Sevi captured, and he was going to make damn sure that she was alright. The witch hunter had a head start, and he knew the way better, but the Avenger knew the tricks of moving through this city, and he knew he could bridge the gap between the two of them quick enough to get the shot he wanted at the witch hunter too.

    As he passed over the various rooftops he caught glimpses of the hunter as he made his way through the alleyways of the city, confirming to the Avenger without a doubt that he was heading the right way. Eventually he grew tired of allowing this hunter to move, and as they approached the lair where Sevi was being held he decided now would be the perfect time to take him out. He increased his pace as much as he could, quickly catching up to the hunter, then slid down the rooftop he was on and dropped down onto the bastard with a divine vengeance.

    The hunter rolled as the Avenger landed on him, scattering them both, but as luck would have it the Avenger as now between Methias and his hideout. Methias quickly rushed him, tackling the Avenger to the ground and slamming and armored fist against his mask. The Avenger struggled for a moment then slammed the back of his hand against the head of the hunter, throwing him off balance enough that the Avenger was able to shake him off. They both stood and the Avenger continued the pressure, swinging a wild kick for Methias’ head, but the hunter caught the leg, and with a sharp kick to the chest had the Avenger reeling. His boots had spikes at the end, and unfortunately one had punched through the armor, the Avenger needed to be more careful.

    The hunted drew his sword and lunged for the Avenger, but the vigilante was too aware of the situation to be ended so easily. He picked up a bag of refuse and swung it with all his might, slamming the surprisingly heavy item into the hunter with enough force to throw him off balance during his thrust step. Methias crashed into a wall, then felt the pressure as the Avenger rammed his shoulder with all the force he could muster into the Hunter’s side, causing a groan of pain to escape his foe’s mouth. Methias staggered free after the Avenger let the pressure fade, then turned, and with a swing of his arm opened a thin cut along the Avenger’s arm. The Avenger stepped back and the two began to circle each other. “Well you ain’t half bad, making this all worth my time,” said Methias.

    “I swear to the gods that if you’ve hurt her I’ll break you in half,” growled the Avenger.

    “No worries, she’s fine, I didn’t have any interest in hurting you or yours, I just wanted a hunt that would finally be worth it, and you haven’t disappointed,” grinned Methias.

    “I find it hard to believe that you were just going to turn us in unscathed,” said the Avenger.

    “Unscathed? Only if you went down easy,” said Methias. “Anyway, I’m sure you’re eager to get to her, but as it stands I can’t just let you go, you’re going to have to out fight me, make me run, then we’ll figure out the next move from there.”

    “Beat you? It’ll be my pleasure,” grunted the Avenger as he dashed forward. Methias readied his blade, but as he brought it forward the Avenger caught his hand, spun, and drove his elbow square into the nose of the hunter. As Methias staggered back the Avenger planted his heel against the hunter’s jaw, sending him to the ground. The Avenger moved to capitalize, but found no glory as Methias threw a fist full of dirt into his eyes. The Avenger cried out in pain, but the was cut short when Methias delivered a hard kick to his stomach, then a brutal right hand to the side of his head.

    The Avenger was in a bad spot, he was still near blind and Methias was free to pick his spots, he needed a way out, and he happened to have one in mind. He spun on his toes, swinging his leg out wildly, catching Methias with two out of three hard strikes. In the time it took Methias to recover the Avenger could see well enough for them to be on equal ground again, and he rushed the hunter. Methias saw him coming, collapsing back slightly, and using his legs to toss the Avenger through the air to a heavy landing. They both kipped up, but the hunter was the first to continue to attack, using his boot spike to plant another painful kick into the side of the Avenger.

    “What’s a matter? Lost your bite boy?” laughed Methias.

    “Hardly,” said the Avenger as he turned, his hands holding a ball of pure energy.

    “That’s how you want to play it eh? Let’s see how you stack up!” said Methias as he pulled an amulet from his coat, two beams upon it beginning to glow.

    In an instant the alleyway was alive with light as the two immediately released their attacks. Methias let out a wild yell as he was flung through the air, eventually crashing hard into the wall of one of the threads that formed the walls of the alleyway. He struggled for a moment before he managed to stand. “Not bad, not bad at all,” he said as he stumbled away. The Avenger could have chased him down, he could have smashed the hunter to a million pieces, but he wouldn’t. He had more important matters to attend to, starting with the hole that that amulet had burned through his arm.

    Methias had missed anything important, but his shoulder felt like it had been ripped off, adjusting the armor straps stopped it from being too aggravated; it would be okay until he got a chance to properly treat it. He turned now and hurriedly completed the distance to where Methias had been hiding out, and where Sevi would be waiting for him. The door opened easily enough, and to his surprise it hadn’t been booby-trapped. It took him only a moment to find her, bound to a chair and blind folded, it seemed almost too easy, but he needed to get her out of there.

    He quickly moved to her side and began cutting the ropes with one of the harsher edges of his armor. “Who’s there? What are you doing?” she asked with a hint of panic.

    “It’s alright, everything’s going to be okay now,” he said to her as he finished cutting her binds.

    “Avenger!” Sevi cheered as she embraced him and took off the blindfold. “I knew you’d come for me soon.”

    “Well I can’t have one of my girls getting into trouble without me now can I?” said the Avenger in a relieved tone. “Now come on, we’ve got to get you to the defense force station.”

    “Why?” said Sevi, suddenly panicked again as she took a step back. “Are we turning ourselves in?”

    “No,” said the Avenger. “But this whole ordeal has shown me that you and the others need to join the force sooner than later.”

    “What about you?” Sevi asked.

    “I’ve got something that needs taken care of before I can step up and join the force,” said the Avenger.

    “Well then why can’t you let us stay with you, you know you could use our help,” said Sevi.

    The Avenger cocked an eyebrow, she wasn’t usually this serious, there was something deeper to this. “I promise you I’ll join the force soon, but the last few things I need to do, I need to do alone, and I can’t risk you or the others getting hurt because of me,” said the Avenger.

    “But if we join the force then we’ll have to hunt you,” said Sevi.

    “I won’t be in town much longer in this mask,” said the Avenger. “When I get back, I’ll join the force, you won’t have to hunt me for very long.”

    Sevi was silent for a long moment, but eventually she decided what she wanted to say, “Alright, I’ll join the defense force, but I’m going to be mad at you until you do too.”

    “Fair enough,” said the Avenger. “Come on, we have to get you to the station.”

    Without any further discussion they made their way to the headquarters of the defense force, right next to the HQ of the town guards. Sevi noticed that the Avenger didn’t move as swiftly as he usually did while running along the rooftops. Normally she needed to move at top speed to keep sight of him, but tonight she kept a moderate pace and he was next to her the entire time. She realized he must have been doing it to watch over her, but more than that, because he was afraid. Methias could have done anything to her over the days she was his prisoner and there wouldn’t have been anything that the Avenger could have done about it. This was why he was making them join the force. He was afraid of what might happen to them, and what he might have to do if something did. She believed this was the only time she’d seen him show anything like fear, and that made Sevi afraid, as she realized just what could fall upon them in this city, and the lengths that they’d have to go to keep Spamopolis, and each other, safe.
     
  10. I. R. Shogun

    I. R. Shogun Midnight Demon

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    Chapter 8: Phoenix Born

    Things had been progressing in a rather strange way ever since Methias KAmOlUtT had arrived in Spamopolis, and Crusader didn’t like it. Almost immediately following the witch hunter’s arrival he’d captured a member of the Avenger’s team, Mad Jake had returned to the city, the bulk of the Avenger’s team had joined the defense force, and Herald of Woe had fallen into a depression of sorts. The team was ripe with spirited rookies, at the very least it seemed that the Avenger had taught them well enough for them to be viable in the field, something that was rarely true among new members of the team.

    And now this. Sen had made a deal with Jake to have him help them draw the Avenger out. Across town there was a big commotion being caused by a small time gang that the town guards had hired out, hopefully this would lead the Avenger to believe that the defense force would be too preoccupied by that to bother busting Mad Jake committing a rather small time job. The fact that all of the defense force, save Crusader’s Avenger task force and two or three others were busy on the other job, couldn’t have hurt either. Jake and his gang broke through the back wall of a small back in their usual style, and the members of the town guard held back, hiding, waiting patiently for the vigilante to arrive.

    Crusader looked over his team, six people including himself. Herald of Woe, his second in command for this mission had, until recently, been the most gung ho member of the team, prepared to chase the Avenger to the edges of existence to bring him in. Alchemist had been a bit of a surprise, since typically he was more concerned with his studies and medicinal use of his skills over manhunts and investigations, but his presence was a welcome one. Dragn9, he’d been another surprise, partly because he’d never shown much interest in actual police work, and partly because he’d been one of the Avenger’s most vocal supporters, Crusader didn’t know why he’d joined the team, but he had a feeling he may have been partly responsible for the Avenger avoiding them up to this point.

    The other two weren’t part of his task force, but their presence was one he deemed necessary. They were Rosgwak, and Sevi. Rosgwak was the best pure swordsman on the defense force, and while he was a supporter of the Avenger he was a man of duty, and he would never let his personal feelings affect his actions when it came to something like this. The last one, Sevi, had been a tough choice to put on the team. Crusader had wanted a member of the Avenger’s squad on the site to help them convince the masked man to join the defense force, to fight crime the right way, and of all of them she seemed to be the one he was most likely to listen to, given the fact that he’d personally brought her to join the defense force, and had kicked the hell out of Methias in order to protect her. Crusader only hoped that this hadn’t been an error in judgment on his part.

    “Crusader,” came the voice of Jennir, one of the higher-ranking members of the town guard, “We have visual confirmation of the Avenger’s approach, KAmOlUtT is also in the area.”

    “Alright, have your men hold position, once the Avenger arrives wait a while for Mad Jake to get his attention, my team will move in to capture the Avenger, have your men do what they can to get Jake and KAmOlUtT’s attention,” said Crusader.

    “Will do, any recommendations?” asked Jennir.

    “Hit Methias hard, try to bring him down immediately, he’s got immunity, so if he’s up too long we may not be able to do anything to him,” said Crusader. “As for Jake, just tell your men to be careful, he’s going to walk for this since he’s helping us, and there’s no reason for your men to get hurt for nothing.”

    “Alright, we’ll move on your mark,” said Jennir.

    “Thank you,” said Crusader before turning to his team, “alright people, get ready, he’s managed to avoid us for this long, we can’t let him slip free again.”

    The members of his team scrambled and took the spots he’d designated for them. All obscured, all hidden save Crusader himself, who stood ready to break through the walls of the tiny shop they were waiting in to rush the Avenger with the fury of a thousand storms. Mad Jake’s men seemed on edge, like they knew that the Avenger was coming, but there was something more to it, there was an intensity to them that he couldn’t place, perhaps Jake had something even bigger in mind than Crusader had guessed. He didn’t like the thought of that.

    Unfortunately there wasn’t time to guess what Jake might have been thinking, for all at once the Avenger washed down upon the scene. He dropped from among the rooftops as nimbly as a squirrel, and immediately engaged Mad Jake’s men. Tough as they were there was a mix of surprise and power to the Avenger that they couldn’t compete against, but someone could, the very next person to enter the scene, Methias. Suddenly the Avenger was not only out numbered, but if Jake’s men were holding back, Mathias wasn’t. Luckily for the Avenger, he wasn’t fighting on his own for long.

    Like a bat out of hell Crusader charged, breaking through anything that stood in his way, and quickly making his way directly into the fray. His team followed with him, and so too did the unit of the town guards that had been assigned to this job. It seemed like this would be a very fast, very easy bust, but unfortunately this was not the case any time that Mad Jake was involved. The first tip off were the blades that mad Jake’s men drew when approached by the town guards, enchanted blades, forged in the slave pits of the flying city, and more than a match for the equipment used by the town guards. Several fell with serious wounds before the glow of the blades had sunk in.

    It also seemed as if Mad Jake had some matter of alliance with Methias, as the hunter quickly moved to assist the men under the crime lord, and oddly, the Avenger. It seemed Methias was bound and determined to be the one that brought the Avenger down himself, for no sooner had Alchemist begun crafting one of his spells a blade was flung from within Methias’ coat, and embedded itself deep into the shoulder of the alchemist. Dragn attempted to move in to defend, but found himself too close to the hunter, a man skilled in breaking spells, to avoid being subjected to a powerful kick, amplified by a boot spike that quickly cracked several ribs, taking the caster out of the fight. Crusader turned to eliminate the hunter, but was caught off guard by a strange liquid fired from a small canister Methias slipped out of his sleeve. The liquid burned the flesh and eyes of Crusader, bringing the titan to his knees, and allowing Methias to land several cheap shots on him in the process.

    The Avenger was doing his best to avoid harming those that moved to bring him down, but the process was getting more and more difficult by the second. By now Jake’s team, the Defense Force, and town guards were all assaulting him, one man of his skills could only do so much. However this was far from the worst part of the battle, one of Jake’s men, a particularly wild man, and one who’d never been in a melee quite like this was unaware of the intentions of his team, and of the defense force, and so when one of them of a particularly large powerful build appeared, and made his way toward him.

    The gangster was panicked of coarse, even more so by the foul disposition and aura of the figure. In his moment of terror he attacked fiercely with his blade. The man clashed with the defender, Herald of Woe he’d heard him called, but the defender was in an altogether more impressive league, and easily blocked his every strike. Desperation soon rose, and the gangster knew he’d need to start fighting like a man fighting for his life, for he very well was. He charged in, allowing a clash, then moved in quickly, fiercely, and planted his elbow in the neck of the defender, robbing him of precious breath. The defender dropped, and the gangster readied a killing blow, but he was sorely surprised by what happened next.

    The defender rose, seeming to shrink as he did, his body changing as purple lightning shot in all directions, killing dozens of the combatants as he let out a terrible laugh. The sky darkened in an instant, the rain came in sheets, and still the defender, the man who was Herald of Woe laughed a laugh that could shatter the sky. All combatants stopped their fighting, all eyes were upon the Herald.

    “Herald, what’s going on…” muttered Crusader so low he could barely hear it, but it seemed that Herald had no trouble picking it up.

    “Herald? Sorry worm, the Herald of Woe is gone now, his weakness is to be forgotten in the sea of blood that will soon baptize this world in glorious darkness. Death is upon you all, Herald of Woe is dead, now there is only the Dark Phoenix,” said the being that had once been Herald, but now emanated a power unlike anything that the Herald had possessed.

    “By the gods,” said a shaky Alchemist, “It’s worse than he’d said…”

    “Yes human, it is much worse,” laughed the Dark Phoenix.

    Suddenly something flew through the air, a thin band with seemingly no end, and struck the Dark Phoenix upon the neck. Suddenly it whipped back, revealing the man who’d used it, the Holy Avenger. “I don’t know who you are, but I’m this close to breaking you apart,” said the Avenger.

    “Boldly said,” said the Phoenix, “But I remain, unconvinced.” A bolt of lightning surged forth, striking the Avenger on the head, sending his helmet flying, and his body crumbled to the ground. “Pathetic,” said the Phoenix as he took to the air, reaping chaos as he did. All eyes followed him save one, a stunned ninja girl who immediately ran to the Avenger’s side. This was bad, they weren’t prepared to fight something like that, she didn’t know if the Avenger would live, and his body seemed to be going into spasms, there was something foul in the air, and business was only just about to pick up.
     
  11. I. R. Shogun

    I. R. Shogun Midnight Demon

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    Chapter 9: Another Evil

    Sevi struggled to hold the Avenger steady as his body writhed after the strike that the Phoenix had shot at him. She looked around, there were no medics to be seen, Crusader was shouting orders to everyone in the vicinity, they listened to him, even in a time like this everyone respected and even feared Crusader, everyone save the hunter. Methias slowly stalked toward her and the Avenger, she didn’t take her eyes away from him, feeling as if her gaze was all that kept him away, but suddenly, the Avenger sat up, then stood, his body shaking violently, his breath coming in gasps as something came over him.

    “Sevi,” he said in a voice that was almost a growl, “Get away from here, get everyone away from here…”

    “What about you?” she said, trying to reach out to touch him, but finding something held her back.

    “I’m FINE, GET EVERYONE OUT OF HERE NOW!” the Avenger yelled, a mixture of anger and pain defining his voice. Sevi immediately backed away, but she realized that all eyes were on the Avenger as his body, changed. His body seemed to grow, his muscles violently increasing in size; meanwhile his armor seemed to become a part of him. In his last rational act he tied the band of cloth around his head just before his head warped and lengthened. Rapidly he became no longer a man, but a beast, an animal, a monster. He appeared almost like a bear as fur rapidly sprouted to cover his entire form. When at last the transformation was completed this, bear beast let out a roar of unparalleled fury, one that could not fully be interpreted by the ears of elves or dwarves, but which shook the earth, and shattered glass of all sorts within two blocks.

    “Crusader…” said Jennir as the bear stalked toward Methias KAmOlUtT, “What do we do about that thing?”

    Crusader studied the situation for only a second before turning his gaze toward where the Dark Phoenix had gone, “We turn two big problems into one and hope when all is said and done things will be easier when they’re done with each other. Have your men evacuate everyone that they can, I’ll do what I can to keep it occupied until I can guide it toward the other one.”

    Jennir nodded and immediately went to work. The town guards were swift, and the people of Spamopolis had no trouble obeying the orders of the men in uniform who seemed able to keep their heads even amongst the chaos of the Dark Phoenix’s assault. Unfortunately no matter how quickly they worked they were unable to keep the tremendous powers at work from creating havoc and destruction with every move they made. Even as Crusader was brushed aside by the bear that had been the Avenger and Methias KAmOlUtT fled for his life the Dark Phoenix was drawn toward this spike in power, and as he landed he and the beast looked toward one another.

    “Well hello, little thing,” said the Dark Phoenix. “So you’re the one my other half was so afraid of. You don’t appear so mighty to me. In fact, you seem to be held back by something…” To this the bear merely roared again and began a slow steady charge, one that was interrupted when the Dark Phoenix struck the ground with his fist, forcing a pillar of earth to burst up from beneath the bear and send it flying into one of the threads surrounding them.

    “Herald stop!” shouted Crusader as he stood up finally after being batted aside by a powerful claw from the bear. “This is ridiculous, you can’t do this!”

    “I can’t?” asked the Dark Phoenix, “Who will stop me? You?”

    “Not alone,” said Crusader.

    “We may help a little,” came the voice of Captain Extremus as he and the rest of the defense force arrived. “LoS, Liadan, Ka’al, Kenshin, get our wounded out of here, the rest of us need to get him surrounded.”

    Those he ordered did as instructed, and the remainder of the Defense Force encircled this being of terrible power. “All of this for one being? I’m flattered, but you are wasting your time, I will end you all, soon enough,” said the Dark Phoenix.

    Extremus gave no reply save a cry of battle as he rushed forward. Crusader did the same, but as they approached they were both almost immediately assaulted by a copy of their foe who struck at them each with bolts of raw mana and unreal strength. Crusader felt the blade of this being’s sword bite through his stomach as if it were mud, and by the scream let out by Extremus something similar afflicted him. Crusader wondered where the others were, but saw that they were being held back by a wall of force, the Dark Phoenix was strong enough to face them all, but instead wanted to break them into smaller groups, he wanted to play with them all first.

    Crusader felt the darkness closing in, however slowly, when suddenly the earth shook. At first he believed this to be the doing of the Dark Phoenix, but when he turned his gaze to the villain he saw as much surprise on that one’s face as on his own. The Phoenix let he and Extremus go, and put down his barrier, and on the other side, smashing its way through the wreckage was the bear, now more horrific than before. The creature had grown, but this was not all. Bony growths now further corrupted its form, giving it an almost demon-esque appearance, amplified all the more by the flames that claimed the thread from which it was emerging.

    “Well little thing, how you’ve grown, and how I shall enjoy cutting you back down to size!” said the Dark Phoenix, pointing his blade toward the bear in challenge.

    The bear let out another of those terrible roars as it leapt forward on two legs as if it were still a man, and with a massive swipe of its claws sent the Dark Phoenix crashing into the interior of a nearby thread. The Dark Phoenix stood slowly, groggily, shaking off the effects of the blow, but before he could prepare himself the walls came down and the bear tackled him again, sinking massive jagged teeth into his shoulder. The Phoenix screamed in pain and fired off a terrible bolt of power, managing to barely move the creature. The bear charged again, but was diverted this time by a swing of the blade of the Phoenix, which connected harshly against the creature’s head. The two circled preparing for the next strike in this clash of titans while outside the air grew thicker with their confrontation.

    “Crusader, are you alright?” asked Sen.

    “Yeah, the old man?” asked Cru.

    “He’s alright, but he’s unconscious, what do you want us to do?” asked Sen.

    Crusader tried in vain to stand, abandoning this attempt only when he realized he could hardly breath, let alone stand under his own power. He looked toward where the bear and the Dark Phoenix were fighting, the chaos of their battle destroying several threads as the bear sent the Phoenix tumbling into the air, and then chased after him. “We need to get out of here,” said Crusader, “To the library, Liv’s power can keep up protected, then she can send us to wherever they end their fight.”

    “Right on boss,” said Sen as she slowly lifted him with a loud grunt. Kelmourne quickly moved to help her, and Rosgwak further bolstered them in their efforts. Meanwhile Kakashi and Sevi both went to work moving Extremus. The group quickly made their way toward the library while the clash between the two dark sides continued.

    The Dark Phoenix caught a running charge by the bear upon his sword, causing a wild cry of pain from the beast as it writhed. The Dark Phoenix avoided multiple swipes before planting a hard boot against the beast to force it to fall back. The creature stumbled until a blast from the hand of the Phoenix knocked it onto its back. The creature rolled to get back to its feet before the Dark Phoenix drove his blade through its form, impaling the beast to the ground as he blasted it again and again in the head. The bear roared and struggled before finally it began to smash at the ground beneath it, eventually softening it enough to pull the blade free and buck the Phoenix from its back.

    The Dark Phoenix flew back, never ceasing in his blasting, but the bear quickly found him and with a diving leap rammed into the smaller combatant before driving him to the earth. The Phoenix struggled to form a plan as the bear slashed and bashed at his head. The bear punished the Phoenix, even as it unknowingly pierced its foe with his own sword, still driven through its body. The Phoenix finally grew fed up with attempting to form a strategy, instead deciding to answer power with power, and setting off a blast powerful enough to fling the bear a short distance away, even at the cost of striking himself with his own blow.

    The Phoenix took to his feet faster than the bear and quickly grabbed hold of his blade that remained housed in the monster. With a mighty heave he flung the bear off of his sword and through a wall. The creature struggled to its feet, a challenge that the Phoenix aided in as he connected a powerful blow to the beast’s jaw, forcing it onto its hind legs, a position which left it open for a wagon to be thrown hard into it, courtesy of the phoenix. The creature fell back, slowly struggling to its feet, but found that the Phoenix wasn’t done. With a hand raised he called down a dozen lightning bolts into the creature, which slowly rose after absorbing the full force of the attack.

    “Quite impressive little thing, I will enjoy stripping that pelt from your bones,” said the Phoenix as he landed, preparing for another assault.
     
  12. I. R. Shogun

    I. R. Shogun Midnight Demon

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    Chapter 10: Clash

    The rain seemed to be coming down harder now than even before as the bear let out a low growl. The Phoenix laughed as he twirled his blade about as carelessly as a child, “What’s wrong little thing? Are you angry now? Angrier than when I woke you up? Good, I can smell the true source of your power, hatred personified. The more infuriated you become the stronger your grip on true power becomes, and I don’t want to fight anything less than the mightiest in this place to test the strength of this form!”

    The bear didn’t reply, instead it charged in blindly as it had time and time again, but as the Phoenix raised his blade to strike the bear stopped and smashing its claws against the ground. A wave of force leapt from the earth and crashed into the humanoid faster than he could avoid. The Phoenix tumbled back, crashing several times against the earth, but when he finally caught himself he was in for a bigger surprise. The bear had kept pace and crashed into him with its full weight. The Phoenix attempted to maneuver his blade, but his strong arm began to feel the crushing force of jaws that could break stone.

    The Phoenix struggled to fight through the agony, calling upon a great force of magic to blast the bear from the sky, but the creature didn’t let go. Instead the beast switched its weight away from him and began to swing him back and forth, viciously tearing muscle, flesh and armor. The Phoenix flailed and struggled, but his strikes without blade or magic made no affect on the bear whose fierce nature was now more prevalent than ever. Finally the beast let go, tossing the Phoenix several yards, then charged to continue its assault.

    The Phoenix recovered in time to drive his blade once more through the bear’s monstrous form, though not so deep this time. The bear managed to lock onto his arm, twisting and pulling, only gaining numerous blasts to the neck for its trouble. Eventually the two broke their clash, each breathing and bleeding heavily. They stalked each other, each in their own way forming their next plan of attack.

    The bear had received more injuries, but it showed no signs of pain, no struggle, despite the gaping holes in its form it seemed ready to continue for days. The Phoenix had taken fewer wounds, but for all his power they slowed him greatly. The bear was among the mightiest things he had ever faced, even now in the back of his mind he felt that fool Herald scratching, clawing, struggling to regain control. If this creature was able to draw this out much longer the host would regain control, and this little thing would vanquish them both.

    “Little thing, I don’t know if you can understand me, but I’m sure somewhere in that primal mind of yours you can understand that we cannot continue this much longer. So I challenge you little thing, come at me, with all of your might!” said the Phoenix as he lifted from the ground, the air around him crackling, the winds whirling viciously around him, all of the energy he could muster being drawn to a single point, “Show me your power little thing, and I shall show you my own, and together we shall see what these pitiful bodies are capable of!”

    Even blocks and blocks away the other warriors of Spamopolis could feel the air shift with each blow of the battle. The Phoenix had an odd connection with the weather. It seemed he had no willful control over it, but the skies darkened in his presence, and while he had control the air reacted as his body did to the pains and triumphs it faced. The bear on the other hand seemed to have no connection with the earth, but rather with the souls of the living. Each roar it let loose, each time the Phoenix struck a blow the fear that all who lived within the city felt changed, shifted, like a living being, a living connection to that monster outside of simple terror.

    “Sen, what are we gonna do when one of them wins?” asked Kel to Sen, the strongest member of the force who was still conscious.

    “Pray,” said Sen. “We’re going to pray that the loser brings the other one down with him, at least enough that we can finish the job.”

    “You say that like you’re ready to kill both of them,” said Liv. “They’re still our friends inside you know.”

    “Sometimes you have to put friendship aside for the greater good,” said Sen. “Although to be honest, I don’t know if any of us could stop them as it is. Even after all of that.”

    “Well, maybe we won’t have to,” said Liadan. “Maybe we’ll get lucky.”

    “There’s always hope…” said Sen. “There’s always hope.”

    The bear stood on its hind legs as if trying to get a better understanding of what the Phoenix was doing. The creature let out a low snort as the air became colder around them. The two were frozen in an instant as the Phoenix’s power reached its apex. The bear drew no additional power forward, it either didn’t know it was expected to or didn’t have the ability to do so. Either was the Phoenix felt invincible as his newly drawn in powers coursed through his veins. “Well now little thing,” he cackled, “Let us see, what it is that you are capable of!”

    The Phoenix began to surge forth, suddenly detecting the power of the threat the bear fell back onto all fours and began a charge all its own. The two fell into each other with the force of a hurricane, all around threads collapsed in on themselves, unable to withstand the release of energy that came with this intense of a clash. Within the eye of the storm the two slashed and clawed and struggled with all of their might, unleashing every ounce of their power against each other in an attempt to overwhelm what stores of power the other may have had hidden away.

    Eventually the Phoenix felt his strength begin to wane, and as before he saw no break in the bear’s fury, he saw now that there was no glory to be had here, and his only hope of survival was overwhelming this little thing enough to send it back to its original form, while that fool Herald regained his hold over this body. He drew every once of his power into his mighty blade; the weapon began to glow more brilliantly than the brightest star, still the bear continued. Finally he was ready, the Phoenix swung his blade, though the beast flailed and mauled his aim was true, across the chest of the beast the full power that he still commanded was released, in the flash of an instant the battle was over, the sky began to clear as the air in the city returned to normal. The bodies of the two combatants, bruised, bleeding, torn apart from wounds they had received only in their alternate forms fell to the ground with a heavy thud.

    Sensing the fading of those two terrible auras the Defense Force and the town guards soon entered the scene and immediately found where the combatants had fallen. Amidst the wreckage they soon found Herald of Woe’s unconscious form, littered with injuries, although they seemed to have healed enough that they wouldn’t be debilitating for too long. Aside from the damage to HoW there was no sign of the Avenger or that bear that was his other side.

    “Do you think… do you think he was destroyed?” said Kenshin dismally.

    “Don’t say that!” roared Sevi, slapping the young swordsman unceremoniously across the face. The others all stared stunned at the usually cheerful kunoichi, she hadn’t seemed happy since joining the force, and it appeared that the strain of what had just happened had finally gotten the better of her.

    “Enough you two,” said Senekha. “What do you think Ros?”

    “I think that the Avenger is still the most slippery fellow in Spamopolis,” said Rosgwak. “That band of cloth he wore was nearly indestructible, if he’d died I get the feeling that that would have remained if nothing else.”

    “Then how did he get away, the strain of all that power and that fight in general had to have torn him apart,” said Kakashi.

    “I think HoW can help to explain that,” said Ros. “Anything done to him by that bear would have become fatal if it had been just as severe by the time that he reverted back to human form. While it’s still not going to heal easily it healed enough that he’ll be able to survive. My theory is that the Avenger was still at least partly transformed, and he simply made a rapid escape once this danger had past while he still had the ability to do so.”

    “So how far do you think he would have gotten?” asked Sen.

    “Not far,” said Ros.

    “Oh well, no need to waste the manpower,” said Sen. “It’ll take a few weeks to rebuild everything, I guess he just got away again.”

    “You know Crusader won’t be happy to hear that when he wakes up,” said Ros.

    “Too bad,” said Sen. “But I think Crusader will be just as happy that everyone made it out of this in one piece, mostly.”

    “Regardless, I think we’ll let you deal with him,” said Ros.

    “Heh,” grinned Sen, “Who’s afraid of little ole Cru?”
     
  13. I. R. Shogun

    I. R. Shogun Midnight Demon

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    An Alliance of Justice
    Chapter 1: This Is Shogun

    Trove laughed that insane laughter as his leg smashed through a support beam and found its mark hard against the stomach of Shogun, sending him staggering back. Met dashed forward and slammed his shoulder into Trove’s support leg, taking him off of his feet, but the governor was hardly beaten. “Impressive that you two have lasted this long, though it is a shame that none shall know of your skill after today!” said Trove as he immediately kipped up back to his feet.

    Shogun and Met both rolled away to regroup, Trove was stronger than they’d thought, but they could still beat him, they just had to stay focused. “You ready for this hot shot?” growled Met.

    “Whenever you are, just make sure you watch where you’re swinging,” said Shogun.

    “And make sure you’re not getting in my way,” said Met as they both rushed forward once again…

    Allow me to stop this right there. By now you’re probably pretty confused as to how things already got to this point. Well it all started about a month ago. At that point I was still wearing a mask and fighting crime from the shadows in the city of Spamopolis. They call me the Holy Avenger, or at least they did. That’s because that’s how I introduced myself, I wanted to let people know I was out to fight corruption, and I kept coming back to the story of the Holy Avenger. That’s another thing you’ve probably been wondering about.

    You see, people in Spamopolis, really Spam in general, have a story about back in what they called the era of the warlord. They never name the warlord, but back in the old days he was supposed to have ruled Spam with an iron fist. People were afraid of him, and no one dared step up to stop his tyrannical rule. That is, until the Holy Avenger arrived. The Avenger fought the warlord with his bare hands, and he won with ease because justice was on his side. Typical fairy tale right? Well, every so often, out of the darkness the Holy Avenger would appear, right some terrible wrong, then disappear into the shadows again. That’s no rumor, I actually happened upon this armor I wear, and the helmet that’s still in Spamopolis somewhere, from the last Holy Avenger, a dwarf called Shemus, anyway, back to the point.

    I came to TFF because a friend of mine who was on his way out told me to keep an eye on his city. That city was Spamopolis, the biggest city in Spam, and all of TFF for that matter, and the second most important city in the country aside from the capitol of the nation, General Talkville. Unfortunately I didn’t realize just how much help the city needed. It had the highest unemployment rate in the nation, the entire province it was in was oppressed, and almost every major position in the government had had any power to do good it had stripped. I asked around, and all of these things were attributed to one thing, the Governor, Harrison Trove.

    Knowing the source of the problems in the province, and having the identity to inspire hope in the people, I knew that I needed to take out the governor, the question was, how? I gathered support, a full team of warriors, but what they didn’t know was that all of the problems they faced were being added to my case against the Governor. From his fierce oppression and exploitation of the village of Sevi and Kakashi, to his personal murder of the teacher of Kenshin, to his ordering of the burning of the homes of the nomadic group to which Kelmourne claimed descent, to his personal attack on the warrior woman Oddrun when she was young. All of them had reason to hate the governor, but none of them seemed to realize it, and I didn’t see a reason to make their lives consumed by a quest for vengeance, vengeance was my job. Ever since the first of us reformed my family has been dedicated to righting wrongs everywhere we go, it’s what our warriors were born to do, should they choose to be such warriors. I guess it’s time I introduce myself eh? The name is Shogun, I. R. Shogun to be exact. The initials mean Intergalactic Radio, and that’s a fairly tame name by my clan’s standard. Now that I got that all out of the way, how about I tell you how we got to this point. It all starts about a week after I lost my helmet and control of my dark side during a fight for Spamopolis…


    Shogun awoke, face down on the muddy shore of the river, the first time he’d been awake for days. He slowly rolled onto his back and sat up, surveying the area around him. Spamopolis’ taller buildings were still within sight, he must’ve reverted back to normal just after the fighting had stopped. He tested his muscles, they were all in working order, but they’d be too sore to work at full strength for a few days, and that wasn’t taking the wounds into account. Whatever he’d been fighting had hurt him bad, at least two wounds that must’ve gone all the way through, if he hadn’t been controlled by the curse he would have died, he wasn’t sure if he’d call that lucky or not.

    After a brief moment he managed to get back to his feet, he felt his head, he’d tied the band across it before being fully taken, he remembered that much. To his relief it was still there, if it hadn’t been he wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to go back home. He tested his legs; they worked fine, just a bit slower than usual was all. His uncle had mentioned the way it felt after the first time you completely lost control, your entire body felt heavier, and the amount of toxins that your body had produced was far higher than anything you’d ever experienced in your life. To make matters worse, you couldn’t remember what had happened, you only knew that it had been terrible.

    By the position of the sun he’d already lost half the day, and he couldn’t be certain how long it’d been since that battle, all he could be certain of was that he couldn’t go back to Spamopolis, not until Trove was taken out, no matter what the cost. For now though, he had to focus on more immediate concerns, he hadn’t eaten in a while, and the body needed food to recover from something like this. Luckily for him he had a few provisions, little elven survival trinkets and the like. They wouldn’t last him long enough to make a complete recovery, but they’d get him through the debilitating part.

    He ate enough to stop the hunger pains over the next two days, choosing to spend most of his time sleeping and gradually testing his current limitations. He could fight well enough to fend off the few animals that might bother him, and the headband acted as an easy deterrent for anything that might bother him. After the first two days he was able to move without fail, although every motion still hurt. At the very least he was strong enough to hunt and gather, the first step to real recovery.

    The next few days were a period of cleansing. Between hunting and eating he had to re-teach himself everything he knew. The proper movement for a punch and a kick, forced motions at first, but gradually muscle memory returned, even through the pain of each move. He was thankful for the forest during this time. He’d always been a bit more in touch with nature than others, and being here, alone in the wilderness allowed him to focus in a way he hadn’t been able to in a long time. The armor had helped with that a little as well, odd though it may have seemed, but there was nothing that focused him like nature, and now that he was out here he was able to remember his grandfather’s words as clearly as if he was hearing them again for the first time.

    He stood in the middle of the river to take advantage of this new self-awareness he felt, drawing in the sounds and sights from everything that sat along the banks of the river. At first he chose to act simply, the flurry, three kicks, his uncle called it the Shogun Triple Strike; it was one of his favored methods in combat. The movement came perfectly, naturally, the same second nature he was taught to feel it as. The next step would not be so simple.

    He crouched slightly in the river, placing his weight mostly on his right leg and facing that way. His hands were cupped toward each other, held close to his stomach, this being the center for ki energy in the body. He took a series of deep breaths and began to move the ki around in his body, nowhere in particular at first; he needed to regain an idea of how its motion felt. Once he could feel the energy once again he began to direct it, gradually diverting it from its typical flow, forcing its path to be smaller and smaller until it flowed directly between his arms and his stomach. When this step was achieved he channeled the energy into his hands, focusing them into a single point of light, gathering more and more until the ball of energy was sufficient.

    He held the blast for a moment, packing the last necessary energy into it, and preparing to push it forward. He took one more breath and then spoke, “Shogun, SHOT!” he said, then flung his hands forward, adding one final kick of energy to fire the blast forward. The ball flew with enough power to part the waters slightly, and then blasted a hole in one of the far walls of a hill. Shogun smiled at his success, he hadn’t forgotten the last attack that he’d learned, the only one he hadn’t used in combat thus far, but so long as he remembered how to perform the other two he was content that he would be able to use the third should the need arise. His steps still ached now, but it was no longer as problematic as it had been, his strength was back, the pain was now more of an annoyance than a block.

    In the distance he suddenly detected the sounds of battle. Normally this wouldn’t have mattered to him, but somehow he felt drawn that way. He quickly got out of the river, replacing the armor and boots that he’d removed for the exercise and began to move that way. Here and there he saw flashes of motion, further feeling the pops of energy released by the combatants, he was rapidly becoming excited about this battle, but he couldn’t have suspected whom he’d meet there.
     
  14. I. R. Shogun

    I. R. Shogun Midnight Demon

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    Chapter 2: Meteorainama

    As they rushed forward Trove dropped slightly, bracing himself for an impact. Both of them threw themselves into their part, Met attacking high, Shogun attacking low. Trove managed to block a powerful jumping kick from Shogun, but Meteorain found his way into the guard of the villain and landed a powerful elbow directly to the solar plexus. Trove growled with pain but as the two attempted to follow up he deflected them both with a mighty double snapping of his foot, two kicks for two opponents. The two bounced but quickly regained a vertical base and began to form a new plan.

    “So, he’s a little tougher than we expected,” said Shogun.

    “Getting nervous? Go ahead and back out now, I don’t need help for this guy,” said Met.

    “Enough talk!” growled Trove. “Come at me, both of you!”

    Ugh, this is a fine mess I’ve gotten myself into isn’t it? Stuck fighting some lunatic governor and my only backup is some jackass in a headband. I’m sure you’re probably boiling over with curiosity to know how someone like me and someone like him came together to try and save the day. Well let me tell you, this isn’t exactly the story of two guys who started out disliking each other, then gradually came to like each other over the coarse of a series of close calls. It’d be a long time before I could come to tolerate that guy.

    I’ve been in this general area for a long time, seen a lot of guys who thought they were tough come through, and I’ve beaten most of them to a bloody steaming pulp. I’m the real deal, not some wannabe brawler; I trained for years in one of the most lethal fighting styles the world ever knew. Granted I never finished all of my training, at least, not in the eyes of those that taught me, but by now I’m effectively the last person to practice anything like the Wrath of Heaven style, even though that’s not necessarily my personal style. I take some high points sure, but my fighting method is specific to me, the Mental Universe I call it.

    By the way, I’m Meteorain, those that know me call me Met for short. This whole ordeal started a few weeks ago. There’d been some big disaster in Spamopolis, it really didn’t concern me, and so I stayed out of that town. Why should I rebuild threads when there’s training I could do? As fate would have it I wasn’t the only one in the forests surrounding the city that day. Apparently the guy who’d been pretending to be the Holy Avenger, some fairy tale people tell their kids before putting them to bed, was also somewhere in the woods that day, but we weren’t the only two. The one that interested me at the moment was a scrawny bastard with a sword that was way to big for him.

    He calls himself Cutligula, and apparently he’s been around long enough to have seen my style practiced when it was still a widely practiced and prestigious style. Moreover, it’s because of him and his master, or former master that it’s not still like that today. Personally it doesn’t seem like my fight. I know the style, and I’m damn good, why should I care if I’m the only one right? Well, I don’t know why, but for some reason, the first time I fought him, months and months ago, when I sent him running it just felt like the fight wasn’t completed right, I really wanted to break every one of that guys bones, my fight or not, he pissed me off. So when that chance presented itself again I was happy to take it, about two weeks ago…


    Met woke with the sun as always. He felt excellent as he sat up in the cave and slowly made his way outside to begin his day of training. Dawn till dusk, only breaking to eat, every other day this was his schedule. Met strived to be the best that there ever was as a warrior, and that meant that he was going to have to strive to be able to beat Crusader or that elf loser Extremus. Confident though he was he knew that he wasn’t ready to take them on yet. Those two both had experience on him, be it five years like Crusader, or several hundred like Extremus, but Met could tell, someday in the near enough future, he’d have what it took to beat them both.

    The sun had barely emerged fully from the horizon when Met’s day, which had started out wonderfully, began to take a sharp turn. He was running through the motions of some of his basic movements when a slight whistle cut through the air. To the untrained ear it was simply a trick of wind, but that unique whir was unmistakable to one who had dedicated himself to combat. Met leapt out of the way just as the sword buried itself in the ground. As he landed so did the one who’d flung the weapon. Far to thin for such a weapon, clad in a tight red outfit of unknown material, and with teeth as sharp as needles. The only thing that made him more bizarre looking were those mismatched eyes, each a different size and color.

    “Well Meteorain, it’s been alittle while,” said Cutligula with a grin.

    “Yeah, I’d almost managed to forget your ugly mug too,” said Met.

    “So harsh, you know they say that conflict draws foes close, and since I killed most of the bastards that practiced the style that became yours, I suppose that makes us brothers,” said Cutligula.

    “Well then I guess I’m the tough one and the cute one,” said Met.

    “If your fists were as fast as your tongue maybe you would have been able to put me away last time,” said Cutligula.

    “And if yours were as quick as your feet maybe you wouldn’t have had to run away,” said Met.

    “Discretion is the better part of valor,” said Cutligula.

    “Whatever,” said Met, “So are you here to talk or fight?”

    “When you put it that way you act like we can’t do both,” said Cutligula with a grin.

    “I can, but no tougher than you are you should probably choose to focus on one or the other,” said Met as he took a stance.

    “Ah Met, how I will enjoy taking that head off of your shoulders,” said Cutligula as he raised his sword and prepared to charge.

    “Go ahead and try,” said Met, “I still won’t be as ugly as you.”

    Cutligula said nothing more as he rushed forward, blade poised for a mighty stroke. Met quickly ducked beneath the arc of his opponent, then shifted his weight and brought a crushing fist directly into the ribs of Cutligula. The scrawny bastard growled in pain and staggered away from the punishing metal lined gloves Met wielded. Met grinned and flipped his fingers in a mark of challenge, Cutligula growled again as he dashed forward, twirling his blade in an elaborate fashion to throw Met off balance. There were no holes in his guard during this time, Met had to think fast to avoid being made smaller.

    Met dashed back, then rolled to the side, daring to move between strikes from Cutligula. No matter how good he was with that blade Cutligula couldn’t move it fast enough to stop Met now. He quickly grabbed the swordsman’s hand, then pulled him into a hard kick to the jaw, following up with a twist of his hips as he tossed Cutligula over his shoulder and heavily onto the ground. Met immediately rolled back in time to avoid losing his ankles in wild flurry from his downed adversary, then stood patiently waiting for Cutligula to do the same.

    “You’re good, I’ll give you that,” said Cutligula as he stood up. “But that’ll just make it that much more fun to peel off your flesh.”

    “You know for someone who’s losing you sure talk a big game,” said Met.

    Cutligula responded with a wild charge, swinging again in an even wilder fashion. Met grinned as he bobbed and weaved in and out of the arc of his attacker. This time it wasn’t a full proof defense, it was an act of rage, not a berserker rage, a frustrated, cloudy headed anger, Met grinned all the wider as the futility of his foe’s attack became all the more apparent to both of them. Cutligula had underestimated Met direly, and now he was unable to rethink his plans, he just had to swing madly and hope for the best, never the best position to be in as many a scrawny child could tell you.

    As Met continued to play with Cutligula, in the distance someone was fast approaching. Another fighter who hadn’t been seen by anyone in several days. For the most part he was unarmed, but he was highly skilled, and the weapon that he did carry was incredibly effective in his hands. Met’s battle with Cutligula was going to end very soon, but that only meant that another was soon to begin, and it was going to be a hell of a battle at that.
     
  15. I. R. Shogun

    I. R. Shogun Midnight Demon

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    Chapter 3: Truce

    Of everyone I’ve encountered in Spamopolis Meteorain is among the more… interesting…

    Out of all the little hero types I’ve run into since coming to these parts, I. R. Shogun’s probably the biggest pain in the ass, although even I have to admit, he’s not the worst I’ve ever met in a brawl.

    Met jumped over Cutligula’s blade with ease, his grin letting the villain know that he was in full control. Cutligula growled as he pulled the blade up suddenly, even surprising Met and allowing the blade to cut a small slit up Met’s chest. Met felt the bite of the edge, but made no sign of it, instead he responded by planting his fist squarely against the side of the head of Cutligula, followed by a powerful kick to the sternum. Cutligula staggered back, he’d made too many mistakes, he was better than this damn it, but he’d let Met have too many openings too early on, he needed an out, a way to get free of this for now, but what?

    Met’s a good fighter, I can’t deny him that, but he’s too cocky, and that’s even coming from me. He doesn’t think about the possibilities of an attack, doesn’t plan ahead, he just rushes in and whatever happens, happens. He’s as dangerous to anyone that might fight with him as he is to those destined to fight against him.

    Shogun’s an idealist. The type who believes that it’s worth it to be a hero and always do whatever it takes to protect people like you. He’s not afraid to throw a punch but he thinks too much. If you were a bit smarter I’m sure you’d know what I meant, but I’ll try to make it easier for you to understand, if you want to win a fight, sometimes you have to just go for it, and make it work, no matter what it takes.

    Shogun dashed through the trees as fast as his body would let him. He still wasn’t quite up to full strength, but he was good enough that it wouldn’t matter. He quickly found the source of the fighting, he didn’t recognize the one using his fists, but the other, Cutligula, he did recognize. Cutligula had been a rather important part of Valex’s work in Spamopolis, and he was a direct agent of Trove. Not to mention he was a tough bastard. Shogun had done a lot of investigative work on him and his team while he’d been wearing the mask; he fired a blast quickly, knocking the two combatants apart. Cutligula wasted no time in fleeing, but the other one didn’t look happy for the assist.

    It’s not just the fact that he’s gung ho about thing either. Met looks down on everyone, he’s got some kind of whacked out superiority complex, he won’t listen to any voice but his own, talking to him you’d think he was the king of the damn world.

    Basically, I’m incredible, although I doubt I needed to tell you that. Shogun’s one of those types that really can’t seem to wrap his head around that. He’s not shabby himself, but he’s no Meteorain. And I don’t know who he’s trying to fool by acting like he’s on my level.

    Met stared down the unwelcome guest who’d interrupted his fight. He wore golden armor; it was probably supposed to bring about some kind of sense of awe to those that saw it, but Met wasn’t impressed. All he saw was some idiot in a headband who didn’t know how to wait in line for an ass kicking. “What the hell did you do that for? Who invited you here anyway?” Met growled.

    “Cutligula’s no joke, he…” Shogun didn’t get to finish the sentence.

    “Shut the hell up! You just interrupted the most fun I’ve had in months, and as a result, now you get to be the recipient of the beating I was about to give him!” Met roared.

    “We don’t have to fight, Cutligula’s my enemy too, and I could use some help in bringing him down,” said Shogun.

    “Unfortunately bub, we do have to fight, like I said, you interrupted me, now I’m going to pulverize you,” said Met as he took a stance.

    “Just remember, this could have been avoided,” said Shogun as he took a stance of his own.

    Maybe it’s just the fact that I don’t know him very well…

    Maybe it’s just the fact that he’s a damn youth scout…

    But he doesn’t really seem to want to be a likable guy…

    But he just doesn’t have the right edge to him…

    Unfortunately I don’t have much of a choice, I need some help for what I need to do…

    Unfortunately I don’t have much of a choice, I need someone to clean up the small fries while I take on the guy I’m after…

    It’d just be so much easier if I had my team still…

    It’d just be so much nicer if I had someone less take the world onto my shouldersey…

    Shogun and Met stood in their stances for but a moment, each trying to find holes in the other’s guard before Met rushed in. He came in with a powerful kick at head level, one that Shogun blocked with a kick of his own. The two dashed back, Shogun gathered energy into his hands while Met braced for impact. Shogun fired off the Shogun Shot just as Met predicted, but as he blocked the fireball he couldn’t help but take the full force of a trio of kicks from Shogun, one at his knees, one at his head, and the third at his ribs.

    Shogun dashed back, expecting it to be over already, Met wasn’t even started yet. He jumped in, ramming his gloved fist hard into the stomach of Shogun, the force of the blow doubling him over even through his armor. Met followed up with a hard knee to the face, then followed up by throwing Shogun over his hip. Shogun landed hard on his back, but rolled through to avoid a stomp to the face from Met. As Shogun got to his feet Met caught him from behind with a high kick to the side of the head, staggering him once again. Met capitalized by trapping his arm and unleashing his Chain of Misery combo, once more putting Shogun on the ground.

    In a blur of motion Shogun whirled back to his feet with some elaborate twist of his legs, and then he followed up with a powerful uppercut that lifted Met off the ground. In the second Shogun had Met in the air he shifted, caught Met on his shoulder, and then dropped, driving his shoulder into Met’s stomach. Met responded with a gasp, and then drove his knee and elbow into either side of Shogun’s head as a measure of revenge. Shogun swung Met around, throwing him off of his shoulder in a violent whirling motion. When Met landed he was up before Shogun could capitalize, flinging his leg up in a powerful kick that carried him around in a back flip motion. Unfortunately for Met, Shogun evaded, and answered with a brutal kick to the chest immediately once Met had landed, driving Met’s back into a tree.

    In the moment it took Met to realize that he was cornered Shogun fired another blast his way. Met quickly ducked under and rolled forward, unleashing a flurry of blows against Shogun that forced him to viciously break away. The two were apart for only a second before Met charged in again, Shogun ducked and twisted, planting a hard elbow against Met’s cheek, and following up with a twist of the wrist that flipped Met onto the ground. Met rolled through with ease and blasted Shogun with a hard kick to the stomach, following up by placing his shoulder against Shogun’s back and hefting his opponent onto his shoulder, then rushing forward and ramming Shogun into another tree.

    After the force of the blow Shogun flailed free, managing to drive Met back enough to get some room to breathe. The two squared off again, neither having expected the battle to last this long, especially not at this pace. They each attempted to form a plan of attack to put this all away; each had at least one attack that they didn’t want to use at this point, but if they didn’t then there was no telling what shape they’d be in once this was all over. Only now did met decide that he could deal with this later, “You said you’re going to bring down Cutligula?”

    “Yeah,” Shogun replied.

    “Then I guess you need a partner for everyone that’ll be in the way?” asked Met.

    “Yeah,” said Shogun.

    “Then I guess… count me in…” Met grumbled. “Name’s Meteorain.”

    “I. R. Shogun,” Shogun replied.

    I can’t wait to smash that guy’s skull…
     
  16. I. R. Shogun

    I. R. Shogun Midnight Demon

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    Chapter 4: Moving Along

    After we called a truce it didn’t take long for Met and I to decide what we were going to do. We needed to catch a caravan heading for the capitol of the county and hitch a ride. It would be easy enough, Met was an unknown for the most part, and my armor was easily obscured, no one knew what the Avenger looked like beneath his helmet so there was really no worry about being discovered. Although the trip wasn’t entirely without incident…

    Of all the damn caravans we could have picked we had to get on the same one as Senekha… You see, me and Sen go back a ways, she’s one of the only people in the city that I know, and she’s one of the only fighters that can go toe to toe with me and actually make me nervous. Not to mention Sen doesn’t take me nearly as serious as I’d like…

    Shogun and Met slowly made their way into one of the wagons of the traveling caravan. It was easy enough, the regulars of the caravan were used to strangers joining up at any point and moving from town to town for various reasons, they didn’t ask questions. Met smiled smugly, it’d been his idea to take the caravan, no caravan’s were ever checked by the defense forces, they could move as freely as they wanted and they had almost no risk of being found out, or so it seemed.

    “MET! HEY MET!” came a loud voice that both of them recognized immediately.

    “Gods…” muttered Met.

    “So much for going unnoticed,” chuckled Shogun.

    The mad warrior woman known as Senekha quickly appeared at the base of the wagon in which they sat, “Hey moron you gonna answer me or not?”

    “Get out of here I’m busy!” growled Met.

    “I’ll bet, where’re you going to in a caravan, and who’s this guy?” asked Sen.

    “Why should I tell you where I’m going?” asked Met. “It’s not like you’re my mother…”

    “Yeah, yeah, anyway, you look familiar, have we met?” asked Sen, staring down Shogun.

    “I don’t believe so,” said Shogun.

    “Well then I guess I should introduce myself,” said Sen, her eyes showing that clearly she wasn’t convinced, “I’m Senekha.”

    “Call me the Dack,” said Shogun without missing a beat.

    Sen smirked, “The Dack, as in the is your first name?”

    “Is that really the most surprising name you’ve ever heard?” asked Shogun, returning the smirk.

    “I guess not,” said Sen, whose eyes shifted back to Met now, “Anyway, I’ve got to go now, Extremus has me on a big case, I guess I’ll see you guys later.”

    “Yeah, yeah, get lost,” said Met.

    “Nice to meet you,” said Shogun.

    “Uh-huh,” said Sen with that mad grin as she left them.

    “She knows,” said Shogun.

    “Duh,” grumbled Met. “Just hope she doesn’t let the rest of their force know.”

    “She won’t,” said Shogun.

    “What makes you so sure?” asked Met.

    “She believes in what the Avenger stands for,” said Shogun. “She won’t impede the mission. If she wanted to she could have beaten us up quite a bit before we could stop her or the rest of the force arrived.”

    “Glass half full eh?” said Met.

    “More or less,” said Shogun.

    “Great, my partner’s as delusional about people as he is about the way the world works,” muttered Met.

    Shogun let him have this, there was no need to argue with Met right now, and as the caravan began to move, he decided to think about the battle to come…

    I didn’t need to worry about Sen, from what Dragn told me she was one of my supporters on the defense force.

    I really wasn’t too worried about Sen, worst came to worst Shogun got arrested and I didn’t have to worry about him weighing me down.

    Really we needed to focus on what we were going to do in Mursburg, the capitol…

    Plus, I was busy thinking of how I was going to break Cutligula at the moment.

    There were several squabbling groups in the capitol, all of which aimed to take out Trove, we needed to figure out a way to get in league with one of them enough to get an assist.

    Would I start with his legs, or the arms?

    At the same time I kind of had to wonder how good an idea it was to join forces with someone like Met. He was a damn good fighter, but he was reckless, it seemed like I was teaming up with an infant that had gained control of a minotaur…

    Unfortunately for me I couldn’t concentrate on thinking of how to mangle Cutligula as clearly as I’d like, Shogun was talking on and off during the entire trip about how we had to stop the governor. Really, really, not my fight…

    Met really wasn’t even kind of interested in Trove, but I wasn’t too worried about that. Trove had a personality kind of like Met’s, and he had a lot more influence around these parts. A guy like that and a guy like Met would pretty rapidly grow to hate each other, meaning I wouldn’t need to be too worried about whether or not I’d have backup for the fight that was coming.

    Luckily the wagon ride was short so I didn’t have to listen to him for too long.

    I got the feeling I was wasting my breath, but at least the trip was short so I didn’t waste too much time trying to talk to him about a plan.

    So now all I had to think about was Cutligula…

    So now I needed to figure out how we were going to manage this attack despite all of the defenses Trove had, and our almost total lack of familiarity with the city.

    The caravan pulled into Mursburg in the middle afternoon. The market was closing up for the day, and thus many of the people on the wagons stayed put, not bothering to venture out into the city when things were toning down for the evening. Only the truly adventurous or busy bothered to leave the small community. Among this latter group were Met and Shogun who quickly made their way to the first pub that they managed to locate.

    Within there were men and women of any number of race, many wearing the insignias of one of the many groups bent on overthrowing Trove’s organization. Seemed they picked the right place to get started in their search, the question was, would any of these people want the aid of a pair of misfits from Spamopolis? Let alone a pair like this, an idealistic hero at heart and a wild brawler. It seemed that their stay in this city would be interesting even before they reached their goal.
     
  17. I. R. Shogun

    I. R. Shogun Midnight Demon

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    Chapter 5: A Bit Too Easy

    I’m not sure if it was luck or what…

    We really didn’t have to try too hard to get the attention of any of those rebel groups Shogun had been babbling about on the wagon…

    No sooner than Met and Shogun entered the pub the doors were shut and the two quickly found themselves surrounded. A quick look around the room let them know that it wasn’t just most of these people that wore the bands of rebellious groups, it was all of them. The two shifted their weight slightly, not going back to back, but setting themselves up to see everything that sat around them. “How many you count?” asked Met.

    “Twelve, you?” asked Shogun.

    “Same,” said Met.

    “Call it,” said Shogun.

    “Now!” said Met as the two quickly darted into their separate crowds. The rebellious fighters were caught off balance by Met and Shogun making the first move, making them all the easier for the two to demonstrate dominance of the situation. The first to come across Met felt a twist of his wrist before receiving an elbow to the neck. Shogun’s first opponent was quickly on the receiving end of the Triple Strike, sending him barreling into the crowd. There wasn’t much that their foes could do to stand against them, and this became apparent as in moments the duo had beaten every other man in the bar to a bloody pulp.

    “Well, that was disappointing,” said Met.

    “I guess that would explain the general lack of efficiency in getting Trove out of the picture,” said Shogun.

    “If that’s all the better they fight I’m surprised they managed to get that many members,” said Met.

    “Damn it what’s all the noise down there?!” came a voice from up the stairs.

    “Looks like we didn’t get ‘em all,” said Met with a grin as he cracked his knuckles.

    “This aught to be interesting,” said Shogun as he leaned against a pillar of the pub.

    From the stairway two figures appeared, one a woman with a cutlass strapped to her hip and a patch over her eye, the other a thuggish looking figure with legs that couldn’t possibly support his upper body. “What the hell did you two do?!” demanded the woman.

    “We taught your boys a lesson in ambushing, make sure you can take your victims out,” grinned Met.

    “You idiots! You ruined everything!” screamed the woman.

    “Hey we did you a favor, if we hadn’t beaten them you’d get killed if you decided to act on any rebellion deal,” said Met.

    “These were our engineers you idiot! Mongo, sic!” shouted the woman. Like a mad dog set loose the big man rushed forward, immediately charging for Met who met the charge with a powerful kick to the jaw. The brute’s head snapped back and his arms wound around his body as he staggered back. Met grinned, but to his surprise the stun didn’t last long, and Mongo immediately grabbed him with a hand that wrapped around his entire chest and slammed Met through the ceiling of the bar-room. Mongo laughed slightly as he let go and Met fell back to the floor, but his laughter didn’t last long.

    “That all you got you ugly bastard?” Met grinned.

    Mongo looked down at his opponent, who sat on one knee on the ground, but as the big man moved to attack again. However Mongo wasn’t quick enough to keep up with Met, as he demonstrated by catching a brutal kick to the ribs that managed to lift the giant off of his feet. Mongo landed heavily, but he didn’t go down, despite the flurry Met opened up on him the giant seemed to be immune to pain. Met battered him for several moments before delivering another hard kick to the jaw that forced the giant to step back.

    “You want a piece of me?” Met growled as he took a stance.

    “Mongo heel,” said the woman as she studied Met’s effectiveness against the giant.

    “What’s a matter, afraid I’ll kill your half wit?” demanded Met.

    “Partly, and also because judging by that display you might be able to make it up to me,” said the woman.

    “Oh, and what would that be?” asked Met.

    “You took out my engineers, meaning there’s no way for us to set up a distraction for our real rebellion,” said the woman. “How’d you like to be that distraction?”

    “No deal,” said Met, “I’m the main event, I don’t run distraction.”

    “What exactly does running distraction entail?” asked Shogun.

    “What the hell does it matter, it ain’t happening!” said Met.

    “You’ll be directly assaulting the Governor’s palace,” said the woman. “We’ll attack his troops quarters, but we need you to be able to hold off Trove and his inner circle as long as possible.”

    “Wait, distraction is running in head on?” asked Met.

    “We just don’t want to have to deal with the Governor, his bodyguards, and the actual military,” explained the woman. “Although technically either group could be seen as the ones running distraction.”

    “So who are the big names we’ll need to know?” asked Shogun.

    “Trove, Cutligula, and Red Death,” said the woman.

    “How many staff in the place?” asked Met.

    “Not many, other than Cutligula and Red Death he doesn’t have a security staff, thirty tops,” said the woman.

    “Seems a bit strange that this is just falling into our laps like this,” said Shogun.

    “Must be that goofy ass outfit,” said Met.

    “Things were never supposed to be easy for the Avenger,” said Shogun.

    “The Avenger?” asked the woman.

    “The Holy Avenger, to be exact,” said Shogun.

    “And that’s, you?” asked the woman.

    “For now yes,” said Shogun. “You sound disappointed.”

    “I just thought you’d be, taller,” said the woman.

    “Ha! Too short to be a hero!” said Met with a grin.

    “Anyway, I’m Shogun, this is Met, who are you?” asked Shogun.

    “Sara Ythlihm,” answered the woman bluntly. “The woman who will kill Harrison Trove.

    “It’s a bit scary how comfortable you are with a title like that,” said Shogun.

    “It’s a bit scary that Trove is alive,” said Sara. “For now…”
     
  18. I. R. Shogun

    I. R. Shogun Midnight Demon

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    Chapter 6: Rivalries

    Things were finally starting to get fun…

    We finally had some idea of what we were going to do.

    The rebel braud had apparently been looking to set things off the day after we got in time, Deus ex timing eh?

    Sara wanted us to take the fight to Trove the day after we arrived. No time for intelligence on the man or his bodyguards. Met and I both knew Cutligula, but neither of us had any clue about Red Death, and only vague ideas about Trove. It was looking like that was going to have to due, we owed her, I guess, and I doubted we’d get any other chances that had even the remote chances this one did.

    High noon, main street Mursbug, Shogun and Met found themselves eerily alone at one of the busiest times of day in the biggest section of the city. Apparently the rebellion was bigger than they’d thought. They weren’t worried, the two of them were confident that they could handle any guards that would be in this area while the main body of them was busy fighting off the apparent riot that was several streets over. With any luck they wouldn’t have to bother with that, they’d be able to focus on the three notable combatants that would be in the governor’s mansion, conveniently at the end of the street.

    “You know, if you’re scared, I’m pretty sure I could handle this by myself,” said Met.

    “Please, you’ll shoot your mouth off, get smashed, and run away with your tail between your legs,” said Shogun, suppressing a smirk, knowing that Met wouldn’t like being called a coward.

    “Care to make it interesting?” growled Met.

    “Depends, what’s the game?” asked Shogun.

    “Take a count, loser buys the winner a drink once we get back to Spamopolis,” said Met.

    “Sounds fair,” said Shogun. “Hope you got the coin.”

    “We’ll see how cocky you are when I stretch one drink into fifteen,” said Met as they reached the door.

    “So do we knock or…” Shogun didn’t get to finish as Met kicked the door in.

    “Get ready ****ers! It’s party time!” roared Met as he dove into the group of stunned servants.

    “So much for subtlety,” said Shogun as he also jumped into the fray. He managed to catch up to met despite his head start with a series of wild kicks that sent bodies flying. The two was far too much for a series of butlers and other servants, and rather quickly they found that the servants stopped coming, and they were dead even, sixteen each.

    “Well, three left right?” said Met.

    “I guess, we’ll get a winner one way or the other,” said Shogun as they continued, only to be interrupted yet again by the sound of clapping as three figures appeared along a balcony above them. On the right was Cutligula, on the left was a figure in a mask with a pair of short swords, and in the middle was a powerfully built man in a suit, the Governor, Harrison Trove.

    “Well done, you’ve managed to pulverize a staff of thirty-two untrained, non-combatants. Truly you are the mightiest heroes to ever attempt a violent over throw of my organization. Next perhaps you’ll beat up a squad of youth scouts? No? Well I suppose I can afford to entertain a bit longer, Red Death, Cutligula, make our guests feel at home, should they survive, I’ll be waiting,” said Trove as he turned and left the room. Immediately the pair jumped down from the balcony, Cutligula stepped back into the next room; meanwhile Red Death took a stance, awaiting one of them to advance.

    “Call it,” said Shogun.

    “Cutligula,” growled Met as he rushed into the room his rival had entered.

    “Guess that leaves us huh?” said Shogun.

    Red Death didn’t answer, instead he slowly began to circle Shogun.

    “Not a talker eh? That’s fine, all business,” said Shogun as he too began to circle his opponent.

    The two slowly circled each other, waiting for the other to make a mistake, finally Shogun grew impatient, and with a wicked snap of his wrist he sent his headband flying toward his opponent. Red Death responded with a snake-like hiss as he rolled forward, avoiding the strike and stabbed for Shogun’s heart. Shogun twisted to avoid, but with a kick to the face of his opponent he received a different cut, this one to his leg. The two quickly broke away from one another and began circling again.

    “You’re not bad, you’re fast,” said Shogun. “Where’d you learn to move like that?”

    Red Death didn’t answer, instead opting to shift his weight in an almost inhuman manner.

    “Interesting,” said Shogun, wonder how well you’ll handle this!”

    Shogun lunged forward, sliding in a kick attempt that Red Death leapt over, then stood a moment on Shogun’s head, mocking him, before flipping off and gracefully landing. “Showoff,” Shogun grinned as he yanked the headband, tightening the length he’d left along the ground around Red Death’s ankle and causing him to land hard on his face. “Gotcha,” said Shogun, but he was wrong.

    Red Death immediately pushed up from the ground and spun on his hands, taking back to his feet in a manner far more graceful than his fall. Red Death took an elaborate stance and turned one eye to Shogun, then with a flick of his wrist beckoned the other warrior forward. Shogun smirked and took a stance of his own, then rushed forward. Red Death adjusted, moving to avoid the brunt of the assault, but to his surprise this was what Shogun had planned for, and he sent his headband once again against the chest of his opponent, who only narrowly managed to catch himself and save the movement with a smooth back hand spring.

    “You’re awful good at the flowery movements, I’m starting to get the feeling that one, you’re not human, and two, neither was the one that trained you, stop me if I’m wrong,” said Shogun.

    Red Death twirled his blades and circled.

    “So I’m right then? Well good, I’m also getting the feeling that you had multiple teachers, and not all of them were humanoid, still right?” asked Shogun.

    Red Death continued wordlessly.

    “Okay, good, so they taught you how to move, how to avoid, get up, attack, I wonder if they could have prepared you for something like this,” said Shogun as he dropped low and quickly gathered a blast into his hands, “Shogun SHOT!”

    Red Death’s eyes widened as the blast barreled toward him, he couldn’t get away, not now, and he caught the blast fully against his chest, and landed heavily along the back wall as a result. Red Death slowly stood, his legs shaky, as was his head as he tried to recover his senses.

    “You’re not so good against fireballs then? Maybe never faced one, well fine, no more of that, now that I can tell you can be shaken I won’t need them,” said Shogun as he took a stance. “Now show me one of your tricks.”

    Red Death’s eyes flashed as he suddenly jumped off of the wall and landed atop the chandelier, then in a sudden and explosive motion bounced off of the floor, planting a powerful kick against the jaw of Shogun, then landing behind his now airborne opponent and placing his arm around the neck of Shogun as they were now back to back. To finish the motion Red Death flung Shogun hard face first against the ground. As if repaying Shogun for giving him room to breathe Red Death dashed back, coming to a stop several yards away.

    “Ow, that was… ow…” muttered Shogun as he slowly stood up. “Not bad, looks like we’ve both been holding back, so no more of that, let’s get to it, for real, mono e mono, all the marbles, that stuff, show me what you’ve really got!”
     
  19. I. R. Shogun

    I. R. Shogun Midnight Demon

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    Chapter 7: One Down

    As soon as Met entered the room he had to step back to avoid being spilt cleanly down the middle. As Cutligula’s blade struck the ground Met immediately sprang forward, connecting a hard right to the jaw of Cutligula. The slender warrior staggered back, whirling his blade as he did to force Met away, breaking any hopes of a combo. Once the shielding attack was dropped Met rushed in again, delivering a flurry of punches and breaking the melee with a hard knee to the chest of his opponent. Cutligula however, was not going to let another exchange end in Met’s favor. He dropped his sword, grabbing Met’s knee, driving his elbow hard into Met’s shinbone, then twisting to plant a hard kick against the jaw of the darker skinned warrior.

    Met stumbled back, eventually catching himself on a wall. Cutligula followed up his assault, planning to cleave Met in half, Met ducked, causing the blade to pass harmlessly over him, and allowing Met to connect with a brutal uppercut to the jaw. Cutligula dropped the blade and turned, grabbing Met’s wrist and throwing him to the ground. Met replied by throwing up his leg, kicking Cutligula in the head before getting back to his feet. The two broke away and began circling.

    “Well looks like you’re not as much of a joke as I thought,” said Met.

    “And it looks like you’re almost good enough to make that style you use worth being practiced,” said Cutligula. “I wonder, did the ones who taught you ever tell you how the Wrath of Heaven was wiped out?”

    “You better be careful, you might strike a nerve,” said Met in a low tone.

    “It was quite a while ago, before you were born I imagine,” said Cutligula. “When my master, MageKing365 was at his peak.”

    “I’m serious, for your own good, you really aught to stop and get back to fighting,” growled Met.

    Despite the warning Cutligula continued, “The practitioners of that style were just so very problematic. So, we entered the temple in the middle of the night, myself, my master, and my brother and sister, and we began to burn the place. Needless to say the denizens of the temple weren’t prepared for an attack, typically there was earlier notice, even from the barbarians. As they fled their homes they made such simple targets. Their screams were almost musical, I remember one woman in particular…”

    “SHUT UP!” yelled Met as he exploded forward, grabbing Cutligula by the wrist and quickly breaking the villain’s arm across his knee, directly at the elbow. Cutligula growled and clawed Met’s eyes, forcing him to step back. Cutligula followed the slash up with a kick to the neck. Met’s foot slid, but he didn’t topple, he grabbed Cutligula’s foot and spun, hammer tossing his foe several feet. Cutligula managed to stand, but Met was already on top of him, tackling him to the ground. Cutligula twisted and turned until he freed himself from the grapple, then dashed back to his sword.

    “That’s the passion I like, show me what you’ve got Meteorain!” laughed Cutligula.

    Met rushed in, Cutligula slashed in a wide arc, one that Met leapt over, allowing him to land a hard flying kick to his foe’s midsection, “I’m going to make you uglier than nature did.”

    “Really now, is there a need for such insults?” Cutligula mocked as he rolled back to his feet and managed a slash that opened a wide gash across Met’s chest.

    “Is there a need for you to keep talking?” growled Met as he rushed in.

    “Not a need, but I find it enhances the mood,” grinned Cutligula as he spun to bring his sword arc back to Met, who was once again on the receiving end of a wound to the chest. Met didn’t fall back, instead spinning and moving forward, then landing a hard left to the jaw of his foe.

    “You want a mood enhancer? How about I decorate the room with your insides?” growled Met as he planted a hard kick against the arm he’d broken earlier.

    “Good luck with that,” laughed Cutligula who replied with a kick to Met’s ribs.

    The two of them broke and stood locked in a stare down for a moment, neither wanting to make the mistake that led to the conclusion of the fight, but neither able to force the other into doing so. They circled, studying each other, carefully taking note of any flaw in form or positioning, they’d fought several times before, but they were both determined to make this the last meeting. Unfortunately at the moment they were both lacking in a way to make absolutely certain that this came true, at least, not that they wished to use at the moment.

    Met sighed, “One move?”

    Cutligula grinned, “One move.”

    They were going to give one final charge, the winner would be the one that could stand afterwards. This was for all the marbles, Met had an idea, but he had to be careful, there was no guarantee that it would work as well as he hoped. They rushed in, Cutligula’s blade was out-stretched. Met guided the blade aside with his gloved hand, getting into Cutligula’s guard, then twisted, torquing his foe’s arm in such a way that the blade was flung into the air. Met planted an elbow into his enemy’s face, then landed a hard knee into his stomach, then flung him back. Cutligula gasped as the skill of the assault, then again as the blade landed in his stomach.

    “What, how?” he muttered.

    “Simply put, I’m better than you are,” said Met.

    “You really believe that don’t you?” said Cutligula with a tone of disdain.

    “You’re damn right,” said Met as he started to leave.

    “You’re going to pay for this oversight, I hope you know,” said Cutligula.

    “Yeah, yeah you’ll show me next time,” said Met. “If there is a next time.”

    “Mark my words Met, there will be,” said Cutligula.

    “Keep telling yourself that, it’ll be a nice thought while you die,” said Met as he left the room.

    In the next chamber forward there were two doors, one that he assumed would lead to Trove, and the other he assumed was where Shogun was still dealing with the other little bastard on the payroll. Met thought about waiting for Shogun, but the bet and his thirst for combat quickly overwhelmed him, he kicked down the door and entered to find Trove sitting at a table alone eating dinner.

    “You’re early,” said Trove, not looking up.

    “Find better muscle,” said Met.

    “I doubt that will be necessary after I make an example of you and the other one,” said Trove, his eyes still on his meal.

    “That’ll be a neat trick after I smash your head,” said Met.

    “All bark and no bite,” said Trove.

    “Oh I’ve got bite alright,” said Met.

    “I’ve yet to see any proof,” said Trove.

    “How about this!” Met roared as he charged forward. Trove quickly kicked the table into Met, distracting him long enough for Trove to stand and kick directly through the table, sending Met tumbling through the air.

    “You really should learn another way to start out,” said Trove.

    Met stood and growled, “You want a piece of me?”

    “No, more like I’m going to break you apart, one piece at a time,” answered Trove with a devilish smile.
     
  20. I. R. Shogun

    I. R. Shogun Midnight Demon

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    Chapter 8: Collision Course

    Shogun circled with Red Death, the two both studying each other. Shogun was bleeding a lot more, but Red Death wasn’t looking great either. The fight had been short so far, but they’d knocked a good deal of sense out of each other. Shogun didn’t like how long this was taking, but unfortunately there wasn’t appearing to be any yield in Red Death, he was going to have to turn things up, smother his opponent, and catch him off guard. Red Death didn’t know anything about his skill level, although Shogun knew a good deal about his, meaning the advantage was his.

    “Alright, I’m gonna make this interesting,” said Shogun. “I’m going to end this as fast as possible, and I’m going to do it in a way that may embarrass you, but I want to know if you’ll be a sore loser.”

    Red Death said nothing, simply stopping his motion.

    “Alright, don’t say anything if you’ll come after me later with a vengeance,” said Shogun.

    Red Death said nothing.

    “Figures, just can’t be a good loser,” said Shogun. “Alright, here we go!”

    Shogun rushed forward, a motion that Red Death mimicked. They met quickly in the middle; Shogun managed a hard right to Red Death’s face through his foe’s blades, just narrowly avoiding the edges. Red Death staggered back, Shogun followed, hitting him hard with the triple threat to keep him off balance. Red Death staggered, but was pulled off his feet with the power of the Shogun Shot. Red Death bounced back, eventually rolling to his feet again, only to find Shogun in a strange stance he hadn’t used before.

    “This hand strikes with the fury of the heavens, a divine blow, GALE PALM!” said Shogun as he stomped and moved in close, then thrust his hand forward. The impact of the blow was incredible, Red Death’s eyes widened in agony as he was lifted and flung several yards. Shogun held his strike pose a moment then straightened out. He spent a moment thinking over what this victory meant, he was closer to Trove now, but he’d made a very dangerous enemy here today, he wondered where things would go from here.

    Shogun got over it, and quickly moved to the door, but before he got a chance to open it Met came crashing through, landing on his back before quickly kipping up, “You’re late.”

    “More like you cheated,” said Shogun. “I thought we agreed to attack together.”

    “Well I got tired of waiting,” said Met. “Now shut up and get ready.”

    “Yes oh warrior, get ready, because I would so hate to beat you to a pulp if you weren’t on top of your game,” said Trove as he came through the door.

    “So you’re Trove eh?” said Shogun.

    “Indeed, and I suppose you’re the great Holy Avenger, funny, I thought you’d be a bit taller,” said Trove.

    “You and everyone else,” said Shogun.

    “Enough talk, let’s do this!” said Met as he rushed forward.

    Shogun followed soon after, Trove simply laughed. He answered their charge with a kick that stopped Shogun, then a grapple that ended in a brutal throw against Met, followed by another kick, which leveled Shogun. “How the mighty have fallen, truly sad, for a moment there I thought you may have been a threat,” said Trove.

    “Okay, that didn’t work, so maybe,” Shogun started.

    “Another go!” said Met as he jumped up and unleashed a flurry of powerful blows against Trove, but the villain somehow blocked them all.

    “Perhaps you should take a breather!” roared Trove as he stepped well into Met’s range, and then landed a powerful blow to Met’s neck, causing him to fall. Trove followed this up with a punishing kick to the head, which sent Met skidding away. As Shogun charged in and leapt for Trove the governor caught him with a brutal kick, which sent him crashing away.

    “I must say I’m disappointed in the both of you, I was expecting better if you were able to overcome Cutligula and Red Death,” said Trove.

    Shogun and Met both got up slowly. “Any bright ideas?” asked Met.

    “You go high I’ll go low,” said Shogun as he rushed forward.

    Met grunted as he followed, he figured Shogun’s run was funny, too low even for a low attack, Trove wouldn’t have anything to worry about. Met didn’t realize that was what Shogun had planned until Trove caught him by the arm, spun him and hurled him hard into a wall. Shogun shifted suddenly, catching Trove with a kick to the jaw, then one to the ribs, and another to the knees, which threw him off balance. Met quickly recovered and charged in, hitting Trove with his Chain of Misery, taking the governor off his feet completely, the two then dashed back.

    “You mind telling me when your plan is something like that?” grumbled Met.

    “I doubted you would agree to be bait,” said Shogun.

    “Well yeah but…” Met started but was cut off.

    “Impressive, no one has ever taken me off my feet before. Revel in this new glory, I assure you it will be short lived,” said Trove as he turned and rushed them.

    Met and Shogun both dropped down then sprung up, each instinctively going for a drop kick, the flashy attack surprisingly having a desirable effect as Trove was stunned and staggered back, while they received minimal damage after catching themselves. The two each followed up with powerful kicks to the chest, which further sent him stumbling, finally they capitalized by each rushing in and planting a fist against his anvil like chin. Trove continued to stumble for a moment before regaining control.

    “Alright, now I’m impressed,” said Shogun.

    “There’s a reason I’ve never been toppled,” said Trove.

    “Here I thought it was because you were so ugly people didn’t want to touch you,” said Met.

    “Quaint,” said Trove. “Now, again!”

    “If you say so,” said Shogun as he quickly fired off a Shogun Shot. Trove looked on in surprise for a moment before catching the blast with his chest, though when the smoke cleared he still stood tall, the only effects of the blast seeming to be on his shirt.

    “Quite the trick boy, but I haven’t come this far in life without being able to take a hit, even from a fancy light show,” said Trove.

    “Well, that sucks,” said Shogun.

    “That’s your best trick huh?” asked Met.

    “Not my best one, but it’s up there,” said Shogun.

    “It has been an experience I can assure you,” said Trove. “Now I think it’s time to end this.”

    “You know you’ve been saying that a lot and we’re still standing,” said Met.

    “You saying he’s all talk?” asked Shogun with a grin.

    “That, and that apparently we’re going to have a long time to figure out how to win,” said Met.

    “So you want me to turn it up is that it? Well then, I guess it’s time I got serious…” said Trove, his grin growing wider.