Chapter 3: The Battle
Six months after the deaths of Ecanoya Takara and Jacob, Paul was finally ready to move again. Jason had found a nearby cave and they bunkered down there for a few months. Every day that Paul was awake, all he saw was Jason training. The cave did a good job of muffling the sounds of ki shots, his punches, and his kicks. Jason had gotten strong in those six months. Paul technically recovered in three weeks, but he just didn’t have the motivation to do anything after hearing what Jason said. Everyone he had ever known aside from Jason was gone. Jason probably felt the same way regarding Paul. They only had each other now, and the two of them didn’t want to even mention the others. On the day Paul decided to get out of bed for a better reason than to relieve himself, Jason was hunting the local population of Tetradons, the three headed cow-like creatures with giant horns. Paul walked out to the entrance of the cave and stared into the forest beyond. Some of the trees were burnt from Jason misfiring ki, and there was a lot of sand where the rocks from the side of the mountain had been. How strong had Jason gotten in those six months? Paul never learned how to sense ki, so he was unable to tell just the difference between Jason and himself without a scouter.
Just a few minutes later Jason returned carrying a Tetradon over his shoulders. He must of cooked it with his ki out in the forest, because it had no fur or horns anymore. As Jason approached the cave, he spotted Paul. He almost dropped his Tetradon out of shock. He moved so fast towards the cave Paul couldn’t even track him, and Jason threw the Tetradon down and stood their, staring at Paul.
“It’s been awhile.” Jason said with the hint of a laugh. Paul sighed and looked up, his expression beaming with determination.
“Yeah, it has been, sorry for the wait.” Paul responded. The two sat down for a short dinner, and didn’t speak another word until the training began. Paul tried to spar with Jason for the first bit of their training, but he was so out of practice that even if they were at the same speed, Jason would have claimed victory. It was over after Jason struck him with one, powerful hit to the forehead. Paul could tell he was holding back too, and it made him feel regretful. He shouldn’t have let himself fall so deeply into depression.
“For Derek, Ecanoya, Crimson, and especially Jacob, who died because of my stupidity…” Paul began before Jason stepped on him. Paul coughed and looked up.
“No one cares about your little depression here, Paul. We have had six months to get over all their deaths, if you wanted to talk to me about it then, to vent in some way, you should have done it then. From today onward we are going to train. No pissing and moaning about the past, because all we will ever have to look for now…” Jason said as he extended a hand to Paul.
“Is the future.” Paul finished, taking Jason’s hand as he stepped off of his chest. After that day, their routine became very similar to the one they had at Willowpeak, but more intense. Every minute they weren’t hunting, eating or sleeping was spent training. Paul was catching up ever so slightly to Jason, but Jason was just skyrocketing in power. Having a sparring partner was better for both of their training. After about a week of this routine, Paul finally remembered to ask. “What is the date?”
“Namekian or human calendar?” Jason asked.
“Human.” Paul responded with a tone that reminded Jason he shouldn’t brag.
“There was a small fishing village near here, and they told me the date a few months ago and I have been keeping track ever since. Today is August third.” Jason informed.
“That means we are both fourteen now doesn’t it?” Paul laughed. “I slept through my own birthday.”
“I had a cake ready and everything.” Jason joked. It was nice to feel this contempt. Jason smiling and acting like he used to really made Paul more contempt with his situation. He wished the others were here, but he drowned that thought out as soon as it rose up. He did not need the others to help him anymore, this time, he was going to be the one helping them. He was going to avenge them the best he could. That thought helped him strive to become better, and it allowed him to push his way through the rough days of training.
During training a few days later, Jason and Paul were having their average sparring match, and Jason seemed to be in a bad mood. He had Paul pinned with his back against the the cliffside right outside the cave. Jason was relentless in his pursuit of Paul, and the more Paul avoided his attacks, the harder Jason tried to hit him. Paul couldn’t help but wonder if Jason was trying to take his aggression out on Paul, maybe this was a silent way of punishing him for the trouble he had caused?
Paul was able to slip past Jason’s offence and make a dash for the treeline. Jason was in pursuit, and almost reached Paul when the both of them stopped dead. In the bushes, there were two small children, one had an octopus like head that stuck out far behind his body, and hung low, almost like hair. Their skin was orange, with yellow polka dots. The other was a Zenkon boy, whose eyes looked just like those of a baby. They both shrank back in fear when Jason and Paul approached them. Paul crouched down and spoke softly to them, asking them why they were at the cave, where their parents were, things of that nature. Jason was cautious, and gazed around the surrounding area, trying to see if this was a trap. He wouldn’t put it past Sobrium to use children as lures.
“W-We heard that monsters lived in that cave.” The Zenkon boy said. “Are you the monsters?”
“Of course we aren’t the monsters!” Paul smiled.
“Were they tall, green, muscular fish people who threaten to eat you when you get close to their cave?” Jason asked. Both the children looked at him and slowly nodded. Jason didn’t crack a smile, but his voice was in a much kinder tone than before. “We ate them.” Paul blinked for a second and looked back at Jason.
“Does that mean, if you ate the monsters, that you are a super monster?” The orange skinned boy asked.
“That’s right.” Jason said, still not cracking a smile, but sounding friendly all the same. Paul couldn’t get over the fact that he might have actually eaten a sentient race. Who knows what Jason fed him while he was recovering?
“Are you going to eat us?” The Zenkon boy asked.
“Yes.” Jason smiled. The two children immediately turned tail and started running, the fear and doubt they had becoming painfully apparent. Paul felt bad that he couldn’t comfort them, but he knew Jason wasn’t wrong to scare them off. He hated the idea of being feared by children, but if it kept those children alive, then it was worth that pain. Later that day, when Paul was too exhausted to even move, there was a rustling in the bushes. Jason sighed and got ready to scare off the children again, but this time, it was their parents that came around the corner. He could tell it was their parents, or at least a closely related family member because they looked exactly the same as the children, just older. Holding onto their guardians were the little children. The parent of the octopus child was the first to act.
“Were you scaring our children by telling them you were going to eat them?” The man asked angrily.
“I am surprised that wouldn’t scare you off.” Jason scowled. The parent got a smug looking smile on his face.
“I know you, you came to our village not too long ago. When the kids told me about a strange pair of humans out here I remembered you as the only human around here. Little did I know that you were into terrifying children! Especially my boy!” He shouted to an unamused Jason. Paul lay still on the ground, simply listening to the conversation from the cover of the cave.
“And we assumed you lied about eating the monsters in this cave because that was a myth, right?” The Zenkon man asked. Jason didn’t respond, which made Paul all the more nervous about eating fishman.
The octopus man lashed out at Jason suddenly, thrusting his fist into his abdomen. Jason didn’t even budge, but the Octopus man did. As soon as he made contact he fell over and held his wrist as if he had hit a cement wall at full force. The children rushed to his side, as well as the other adult. “What are you?” The Zenkon man asked.
“I am vengeance incarnate.” Jason responded with a piercing stare. He went back into the cave and grabbed the back of Paul’s shirt, dragging him further into the depths. A few minutes later Paul faked screams of pain in order to scare the people off. He sat up and Jason patted the side of the tetradon he had brought home yesterday.
“I hate leftovers.” Paul commented.
“Everyone does. Unless it is leftover rice balls.” Jason smiled.
“I hate rice, I prefer pasta. Like ravioli. I can eat that no matter how old it gets.” Paul laughed. Jason rolled his eyes then put his thumb and middle finger together. He put it over a pile of logs at the back of the cave like a lighter, and then flicked. The entire pile of timber lit ablaze as Jason used his ki like a sort of firestarter. It amazed Paul how much mastery he had gained over it. What’s more is the fact that his natural ki shield is so dense that when the man punched him, he broke his own hand.
“By the way…” Paul began with a smile. “Vengeance incarnate?”
“Hey, I needed something that sounded badass enough to scare them all off when I dragged your lazy butt to the back of the cave.” Jason laughed.
“How am I lazy? You nearly killed me today. You were relentless sunrise to sunset, I barely got breathing room when the kids came. I felt like you were about to just start attacking me again.” Paul commented.
“You need to get near my power level, Paul. I need you to.” Jason sighed. The two of them relaxed at the back of the cave for a while, waiting for the Tetradon to cook over the heat. Jason kept tending to it, and Paul’s ki training was to make sure the smoke didn’t fill the cave, so he used what remained of his energy to push it out, leaving the cave smoke-free. It was challenging at first, and sometimes smoke billowed down towards him. Jason watched impassively. He did not make an attempt to help Paul, for Paul’s own benefit.
After two more days of training Paul was beginning to feel results. It was getting easier to keep up with Jason, and keeping the smoke out of the cave became less of an arduous task. Paul kept finding himself more motivated everyday. He turned his greatest weakness: loss, into his greatest strength. After that days sparring sessions, Paul could barely move yet again. He half expected the kids to show back up while he was resting. They didn’t though. It was a bit odd that they just gave up. He had his doubts about Jason’s plan to scare them to keep them away, but it might have actually worked. That is unless they are all preparing their pitchforks and torches to come drive them out. That thought scared Paul more than anything prior, not because the thought of getting injured, he could simply fly out of their reach, but the thought that these people would see him as a monster. He stared up as the clouds as they gently brushed past. There was something off about them today, the sky was strangely… darker. After a few minutes Paul sat up and began to sense something amiss. He flew upward to look outward towards the horizon. Sure enough, there was several pillars of smoke rising to the sky only a few miles away.
Jason spotted Paul in the air and flew up, holding several fish. There was no need to exchange any words, because they were both thinking the same thing. Paul and Jason flew over to the town as fast as they possibly could. Jason was at the town by the time Paul started picking up speed. Paul waved the smoke out of his face and landed on the docks that led to the ocean. He walked down their length, moving to the center of town. There were bodies everywhere, all filled with ki based wounds. They were dead, all of them. There was not a living soul in sight. Jason stared over the bodies scattered around the fishing village, and he saw the father that broke his hand because of Jason, and right next to him, hidden under his close grip, was the boy. The tiny, strange little octopus headed boy, lifeless in his father’s arms. His father had a death grip on him, as if every breath he had was used to protect his child in the end.
Paul stared around at the burning buildings, and he heard crying from one of the houses. He immediately rushed into it and used his ki to snuff out the fire and eject the smoke from the house. He rushed from room to room in the house, listening to it creak and bend under his weight. There was a small shivering figure in the corner of the bedroom he burst into. He felt the house begin to buckle. He grabbed the child and kicked the wall. It exploded outward and Paul followed the splinters, guarding the child with his ki. He sat outside the rubble of the house, panting and keeping the child pressed tight to his chest. It was the Zenkon boy. He had arrived just in time to save at least someone who would have died without his intervention. He felt ashamed that he didn’t save everyone, but relieved. He would have never escaped that collapsing house at his previous power, and even though he was exhausted for the day, he still pulled it off. He took the boy out to the center of the town, cringing at the sight of the dead bodies. Jason had already saved survivors from four other houses, but his numbers only totaled to three. One of them was the Zenkon boy’s father. They ran up to each other and reunited. There were several tears shed, and words were exchanged that Paul couldn’t quite hear as he focused on one thing he saw glinting in the rubble of the largest building in town.
He walked over to it and pulled it out of the rubble. It was a security camera. Paul followed the cord and found that it had been cut at a certain point. Not burnt away by the fire, but instead, deliberately cut. Paul opened the camera, and grabbed the backup chip that recorded feed separately from the security center. Thankfully, it was still intact. After spending some time digging through the rest of the rubble, saving a total of twenty citizens, Paul went to work looking for a computer that did not burn amongst the rubble. He had to see what was on the camera. Maybe then he could find out who, or what, started the fire.
After a while of searching Jason called him over. Paul ran over and looked at a saiyan man, who was holding his scouter down so that all the adults could see what it recorded. It was hard to make out when they were all huddled together, but Paul could see that the scouter recorded two hooded figures making their way into the largest building.
“They were heading into the tavern right before everything lit on fire! I remember that!” The saiyan man pointed out in anger.
“I was at Yokles house when it all started. His kid… oh god…” The Zenkon began to get tearful.
“The world isn’t fair.” Paul mumbled. Paul showed everyone the chip he found in the tavern’s rubble and they all looked around at the dead bodies.
“I… I can’t. I just can’t look at that.” The Zenkon man said before running off, there was another moment before a few of the others walked off too. Even the saiyan who looked to be a battle hardened warrior, left without a word.
“Keep the scouter!” He said before disappearing down the road outside of town. Paul popped out a small slot on the side of the scouter by pressing one of its buttons. He slapped the security chip inside and closed it. Jason tapped his foot impatiently as Paul fiddled with it until he could access the security footage. He opened up the file and held it out so both him and Paul could see. Luckily the Saiyan man was a huge fellow, and so was his scouter. There was just enough room for the both of them to see it clearly.
Two hooded figures walked into the tavern, everyone turned to look at them for a second, then went back to drinking or eating. One of them slowly took off their hood and brown cloak. As he dropped his hooded cloak to the ground, Jason and Paul stared on in anger, horror, almost. It was Darwin McDarloss. He was here. Just a few miles away from them. They waited for the moment something went wrong, but they only stood there in a silence, with Darwin staring around the tavern, admiring it almost. Darwin then suddenly placed his hand on the shoulder of the figure with him, and bent down to whisper something in his ear. After that the figure raised his fist into the sky, in a very familiar way. Paul and Jason watched as Darwin walked towards the camera with a wide grin. The audio yelled out something distorted, something that chilled them both to the bone and haunted them.
“Rising Star!” The figure shouted right before the camera shut off. Tears welled up in Paul’s eyes. Confusion, guilt, anger, betrayal, sadness, rage. All of these boiled up inside of him. Paul tossed the scouter to Jason, who grabbed it and crushed it in his grip, causing a miniature explosion that did him no harm. It was him. He was alive. And he destroyed all these people’s lives. He killed countless people, men women and children. Paul’s lifelong best friend was the one responsible for the mayhem before them.
“Get up, dummy.” Brianna complained.
“I’m tired.” Ryal groaned.
“We aren’t done with your training just yet. It might be the last day, but you aren’t allowed to slack off.” She huffed.
“Give me a break already sis, I just want like, five more minutes to sleep!” Ryal rolled over on the couch, facing away from her.
“Are you ignoring me?” She asked with a growl. Ryal was already snoring. She was about to ask the animals in the room to pounce him, when he jumped up suddenly.
“All rested now!” Ryal shouted to the sky as he stretched out.
“You slept for thirty seconds!” Brianna yelled.
“That’s thirty more seconds I got to enjoy resting. Now, back to work!” Ryal yelled back. She spent a few minutes groaning before she sat down. Brianna was a witch. She was versed in the magics of the world, something she had learned from their mother. It was a strange family tradition, but practicing magic was more for self defence nowadays than it was for helping others. Magic was different than ki, and could do things even the most masterful of ki users couldn’t. In this case, she was using her magic to give Ryal a worthy opponent every day to fight him, someone who was stronger than him in every way and somehow her brother still managed to win. She knew her magic was on point, so she concluded that Ryal’s willpower was beyond anything she could conjure up.
Today Ryal was going to be facing “Mountain Crusher”. Ryal knew his sister had a fun habit of naming all the enemies that he faced. This was the strongest thing she could possibly conjure up, and it had the power to level mountains with a single blow. When she told Ryal that the first day of this training, he laughed and said “Bring it!” Now he was truly ready though. He could feel it in his bones that the others were training hard without him back on Willowpeak. He would return there with his head held high and finally get to hang out with all of his old friends. He had sent a letter to Willowpeak after the first few weeks training to tell them he wouldn’t be home for longer than he originally thought. He just hoped that they had received it. It would be awkward to have just up and vanished on his friends, only to suddenly appear again.
Ryal opened the door to the cabin and walked along the edge of the lake. There was no sand on the beaches, but instead it was a sudden drop off into the water from the grass. The lake looked almost like a pool because of the small little cliff on its sides that have yet to erode. Ryal stepped out over the pool, and began to walk on air, floating just above the water. Brianna sat on the edge of a long jagged rock that jutted out from the shore near the cabin, almost like a dock. She was completely focused. She shot out a yellow beam of magic to the air in front of Ryal, manifesting a being twice his size in front of him. The Mountain Slayer was actually completely made of clay, with an iron shield on his right arm.
As soon as he was fully manifested he lunged at Ryal. Ryal fell backwards as the giant’s fist went whipping past him with such force that it knocked over some trees at the edge of the lake. Ryal kicked his feet out from under him and swung around to deal a devastating blow to his head, but he was able to move just in time, and Ryal ended up punching the water, causing the water of the lake to shoot into the air. Damn. He missed. There was a crater in the mud at the bottom of the lake, and Ryal dropped down to it. The clayman followed suit. The water was moving so slow that Ryal could trace each individual droplet that rained from the sky. The clayman lunged at Ryal again, and he dodged in the same way as before, but the clayman predicted this, and immediately changed directions to knee Ryal in the stomach. Ryal coughed blood as he was pinned to the ground by his stomach. The clayman started beating him relentlessly, and Ryal could only block. Mountain Slayer relentlessly beat Ryal, who sat there and hid behind his forearms, protecting his head from any fatal blows. He watched between a small slit between his two forearms to see what the clayman was going to do next. Eventually he had cocked his fist back just enough to create an opening for Ryal. Then he struck. Ryal hit the clayman dead in the stomach, sending it flying off of him. He jumped up, but by the time he was on his feet the clayman was already coming after him. Ryal pushed his right foot into the mud, holding his ground. As the clayman got close Ryal did a roundhouse, catching it in the side of the face and sending it flying into the water that was slowly falling around them. In truth it wasn’t falling slowly, their fight was going so fast that not even the water can keep up. The gap had almost closed, and Ryal flew out of the lake. He watched the waves crash together and the waves in the lake washed over the shores on the side. Brianna was soaking wet, but she didn’t seem to notice. Ryal knew that if Brianna was still in her meditative trance, that he had not beaten the clayman. He dropped down into the lake from the sky, hitting the bottom with a hard stomp. He did this in case he was immediately ambushed, he needed to keep his footing.
Ryal looked around for a bit, anticipating an attack. When it was silent for about a minute, Ryal began to worry. He flew out of the lake and looked around. Just then, he spotted the clay man in the distance. He was next to a mountain, just about its exact size. He must have been underground, collecting from clay deposits until he could grow to such an enormous size. Ryal began to feel excited. He was enjoying himself. He rushed towards the giant, closing the distance of miles in under a few seconds. The giant was incredibly slow now, and it was easy to dodge its first punch. Ryal ran along its arm as it was still extending to punch, and stamped his feet down with each step. He was creating cracks in the clay. The giant then tried to squash him as he ran along its arm. Ryal spotted this just a minute too late, and knew it was too late to escape the house sized hand coming towards him. So he decided to take it head on. Ryal lunged at it, grabbing onto the hand with both of his, he began to push on it, using all his ki and strength. The hand slowed down, but it didn’t stop. As it pushed Ryal on its arm, and used its own body as support to save himself. He instead poured all his ki into pushing the arm, and it began to stop. Ryal let out a fierce roar as he pushed the giant’s hand so hard, it sent it flying onto its side. The earth trembled beneath it as it fell, crushing a miles worth of the forest. The Giant grabbed the side of the mountain and used it as support when it was getting up. Ryal landed on the top of a nearby tree, gazing up at the giant.
The giant tried to kick Ryal this time, and he easily dodge it. He flew to its head and hit it as hard as he could. The face cracked open and a red light began to pour out. Ryal was panting now. He was in a bad spot. This clayman was far stronger than it looked. It wasn’t just some big, dumb brute, it was a seriously powered up ki monster. The clayman clapped, sending shockwaves through the forest. Ryal’s leg was caught in this attack as he tried to escape and he let out a cry of pain. The clayman began to crush his leg more and more and Ryal’s screams of agony echoed through the forest.The clayman stopped moving and Ryal growled.
“Brianna! I know you can hear me! Don’t you stop this thing for a damned second!” Ryal shouted. There was no response, the clay giant did not move. “I said keep it up Brianna! I have a plan!” The clay giant slowly moved back into action and continued to crush his leg. Ryal put all his ki into his leg and bent his knee in order to separate the two massive stone hands. Ryal launched himself out and looked at his leg. It was torn up, bloody, and most definitely broken. The clay giant tried to attack in the same fashion again, but Ryal dropped to the ground this time. It raised its leg to stomp him on his way down, and this is what Ryal was hoping for. He quickly dashed to its other leg and gave the back of the giants knee a great hook punch. It fell over quickly, and Ryal flew up, passed its head and above the clouds. He kept flying higher and higher into the atmosphere until even the lake by his cabin was only a speck on the ground.
“Spiral Sledgehammer!” Ryal shouted to pump himself up for the attack. He locked his hands together, forming a sledgehammer like shape with his fists. He raised it behind his head and let himself fall. As he fell he began to tilt forward, which allowed him to pick up an intense amount of momentum as he spun downwards towards the giant. He used his ki to make him move far faster than terminal velocity. He focused as hard as he could when he approached the giant. He made sure his very last spin had him coming up and over to strike it directly with his sledgehammer. The giant put its hands up in defence of the attack. Ryal struck his hands with his sledgehammer, shatter in the giants clay arms. Ryal wasn’t done however, as the momentum carried him forward enough to continue spinning right through the rubble of the giants arms. Ryal aimed his spin right for the crack in its head. He hit it as hard as he could, but the clay resisted his attack. Ryal began to shout to amplify the power behind his attack. His shouts grew louder and louder until even Brianna, in her trance, could hear it. Ryal broke straight through the giant’s head and went flying to the core of its head. Ryal grabbed the small red gem in its head while he continued to spiral through it, and ripped it out the back of its head. Ryal went flying to the ground, hitting the ground like a meteor, causing the ground to form a crater around his impact point. Ryal sat on his back in the crater, propped up against the dirt he had pushed up. The giant began to turn towards him, and Ryal held the gem in his hand. He crushed it as easy as one would crush an egg.
The giant fell apart instantly. Ryal got up and limped back to the cabin. Some of the animals of the forest came to give him support, including a giant bear he named Vlac.
“Thanks bud.” Ryal said as the bear walked with him. The bear only responded with a huff. There was a lot of forest he wanted to help fix before he left, but he was so eager to see his friends that he was going to take off as soon as he made sure Brianna was alright. Forming and controlling things was intense work for her, and sometimes after long battles she would pass out. If she was sitting on the edge of the lake that was bad news. When Ryal arrived at the cabin, Vlac pushed him off his shoulder. Ryal thanked Vlac then limped to the cabin, slowly opening the door to see that Brianna was passed out on the couch, some deer and rabbits were sitting patiently at her side. A rabbit nipped his foot and Ryal laughed.
“Sorry, guess we both went a bit overboard today, huh?” Ryal apologized. The rabbit returned to Brianna’s side. Ryal plopped down on a cushioned chair and stared outside the cabin window. The forest was hurt. Brianna was right to evacuate most of the animals while Ryal had his final fight. Still, that last fight was the closest he has been to death. His leg was basically dead weight at this point. Ryal suddenly had an idea. He pushed himself up with one leg and looked at the animals.
“If she wakes up, tell her I went to see a healer.” Ryal told the rabbits as Dayereh popped into his mind. He left the cabin and took flight to head back to Willowpeak. He thought of all the things he would tell his friends when he got back, and he wondered how strong everyone had gotten. Saguaro would love to see all the attacks Ryal thought of. Ryal was so lost in thought that his leg didn’t even hurt anymore. As Willowpeak came into sight, Ryal could see a fire on the horizon. He was flying very high in the sky, so that fire was probably at least a hundred miles from Willowpeak, probably more. Ryal arrived at the peak of the humongous mountain and looked around for the town. At first he thought that he may have flown too high on the mountain, but then he tripped over something in the snow. Ryal held his leg in pain then he looked at the lump in the snow. He wiped the snow off of the object and saw a frozen body of someone wearing a Blue Bowtie Battalion uniform. Ryal jumped back in surprise and then looked over the field. There were lumps everywhere. The reason he couldn’t see the buildings is because they were buried in snow, and made up the small hills that dotted the mountain. Ryal turned and made a bolt for the shack. Even the shack was gone.
Ryal dug through the snow for hours and eventually found the trap door. It was frozen shut. His heart raced and he ripped the door off its hinges and dropped into the hole. He looked around the entrance area and was greeted by unfamiliar faces.
“Who are you people?” Ryal asked. “Where are the people who used to be here?”
“Most likely, they are all dead.” A familiar voice said as it stepped out of the shadows. It was Jem, the butler who managed the downstairs rooms.
“Jem, what happened?” Ryal demanded to know.
“After you left, the compound was raided by Sobrium’s soldiers who were most likely tipped off by surviving members of the Blue Bowtie Battalion. Almost everyone was taken except for those, who like myself, are always in hiding.” Jem commented in his prim and proper voice. He sounded more like an outside announcer to the events, someone who was not affected in anyway by them. This almost set Ryal off. He wanted to lunge across the room and hit Jem, but he held himself back just enough to ask.
“Where is Saguaro, Crimson, Bryce, all of them. Where.” Ryal said in a low tone. His hands were shaking with rage and confusion. Just the thought of everyone dying while he was away made him want to explode. It filled him with a rage he had never experienced before in his entire life. Those people were some of the first friends he ever had outside of his family and the animals in the forest. If they were gone, it would be one of the few times Ryal had gone through lose. He wasn’t ever very good at dealing with loss either.
“The children were the target of Sobrium’s troops. Once he had received information that we were preparing an army to stand up to him, he focused all his efforts on taking a few of the children. Saguaro disappeared before the compound was raided, and one of our scouts found his smoldering corpse several miles from here. We gave him a proper burial-” Jem stopped as the mountain began to shake as furiously as Ryal’s hands were. For the first time, Jem was taken aback, completely surprised at Ryal’s power.
“And the others?” Ryal asked, on the brink of a total meltdown.
“The guards escorting Bryce and Crimson were attacked by one of the princes of the Heat family. Bryce escaped back here with his sister, and Ghost brought them further underground to personally train them, along with all the other Saiyan children that had escaped.” Jem told Ryal.
“Just the Saiyan children?” Ryal asked, his rage dissipating as he became curious as to the truth behind this.
“Yes, the Saiyans children are all naturally gifted in combat, even if they were living in peace for tens of thousands of years, the Saiyans would never grow feeble and weak. Cabba and Bryce barely trained and yet they excelled beyond any other student. Ghost took extra precautions to recover any Saiyan children that may have been kidnapped.” Jem informed. Ryal raised his hand up to pause Jem, his head now clear and his thoughts calmed.
“You are telling me that all along, no matter how strong any us were, the Saiyan’s were the top priority in terms of training and safety?” Ryal asked. The other people in the room seemed to pay no mind to the conversation, which bothered Ryal even more.
“I shall be honest with you, child. We are setting out to win a war here. With Taton’s fall, we have thousands, no, hundreds of thousands, of revenge hungry people who want to get at Sobrium’s throat. Even children want to take him down. They Saiyan’s are naturally feared for their violent nature and ability to attain high levels of power very rapidly. We wanted to keep every kid to train and prepare, but we knew they could only go so far. Especially humans.” Jem finished before walking down into the mines. “If you want to take this up with Ghost, go ahead and ask him. You should remember where his office is from when you lived here. Keep in mind though, you are no longer part of this rebellion. You left.” Jem said before stopping and turning around. “And if you want back in, you have to prove your strength. Show him what I mean, if you would so kindly, gentlemen.” Jem smiled before turning back and walking off.
A man lunged at Ryal and struck him across the face. Ryal didn’t even budge and the man fell to his knees. “God damn kid!” He screamed as he clutched his hand in pain. Ryal could see his tail flicking behind him, and then his eyes shifted to the others. Every single one of them was Saiyan. There were at least five of them, counting the one that probably broke his hand striking him. They were nothing like the constructs that his sister could make. They would yield to pain. These people were the reason the others were gone now, and even though Jem never told him what happened to them, he had a pretty good idea.
While Ryal was thinking the four saiyan men were all attacking him, while the one sat on the ground holding his hand. Ryal wasn’t budging in the slightest. When he finally noticed, the men had already exhausted themselves. Ryal flicked the one to his right, feeling his nose breaking and sending him crashing into the dirt floor. the room became dusty, because the impact was so intense that it sent almost all the dirt in the area tumbling about. Ryal sighed and walked off, following Jem. Saiyans stared at him as he walked past. There were so many of them here, every room that was once filled with a variety of races was just nothing but saiyans now. When Ryal got to the training room he peered off the catwalk to see the mats and training dummies all in use. He immediately noticed Bryce and Cabba hitting one of the dummies together, working as a team. Ryal was slightly impressed with how fast they had gotten. They were probably about half his current power at this point. Ryal jumped over the catwalk and landed on the floor. Everyone in the room turned to see him. Most continued to train, while others gave him challenging looks. Ryal walked over to Bryce and Cabba, who were completely shellshocked.
“R-Ryal?” Bryce asked.
“Yup.” Ryal responded with his hands in his pockets. “Who else could make such a manly entrance?” A saiyan man came up behind him, monologuing about Saiyan superiority, Ryal didn’t care to let him finished, and hit him with a backfist so fast that he struck the man in the side of the head and set him flying into the training dummy rack. Ryal gazed around the room and everyone had stiffened to stare at him.
“Is Ghost in?” Ryal asked. Bryce nodded and Ryal slapped him on the back, and he stumbled forward. “Thanks pal!” Ryal got back upstairs so fast it almost looked like he teleported. Everyone went back to what they were doing as Ryal kicked down the door to the dormitories. With his hands still in his pockets, he arrived at Ghost’s door, and kicked that one down too. Ghost was standing with his arms crossed, Jem waiting patiently at his side.
“Alright Ghost.” Ryal said as he stepped one foot onto the door that lay on the floor. “Let’s Talk”
“Pass” King Heat sighed as his assistant listed off his options. “Planet Borthon is not profitable in any way shape or form, and Zerko and Inta are both inside the territory of of our enemies. Zerko is controlled by the pirates, and those are a bunch I would rather no tangle with right now, and Inta is inside ORBL space.
“My king-” The assistant began with a stroke of fear in his voice. Heat sighed.
“Just because I killed my last assistant for speaking out of turn does not mean I will do the same to you. I am in a lazy mood today. State your opinion.”
“I know you may not see these planets as profitable, but your son, Heater, he took an inter-” The assistant managed to get out before his neck was snapped. The others in the surrounding area of the palace paid no mind. Heat continued to walk down the garden path, leaving the assistant to rot and feed the animals and insects that buzzed about the bright red roses with purple stalks. Heat personally didn’t like having a garden outside his palace. It made him look soft, but it was great to take a walk in, it soothed his mind and calmed his nerves.
“Markov!” Heat shouted out towards the giant castle that lay in front of the garden, its stone charred to a midnight black.
“Yes sir?” Asked an elderly saiyan man as he left the castle. His hair was grey, and he had a long curly white beard with a moustache to match. His attire was unlike the fancy attire of the rest of the castle, and was simply a white gi. Markov was one of the few exceptions to Heat’s presentability rule inside the confines of the castle, he was a general in his army after all.
“If you would be so kind as to fetch one of the feet lickers from my castle to be my newest assistant, that would be much appreciated.” King Heat sighed.
“At once, your majesty.” Markov said with a bow before leaving. King Heat entered his castle’s foyer and looked about at the many people from several different races that were all talking and listening to classical tunes. The gathering bored him, and so he made his way to the other side of the room, receiving the occasional bow from those wishing to grovel at his feet. His empire was full of people who stab each other in the back just to get close to him. However, those that took the daring route and joined the army were the ones that Heat actually cared about. These politics were dull, and Heat found no interest in them. They were necessary to control all aspects of his empire, but they still did not entertain him as much as battle strategy does.
Heat climbed the stairs to the second level of his castle and thought back to his youth of blowing up and conquering planets. The world was simple back then. If he wanted something he could take it. Once his father was killed however, he had to take over managing the empire. When he sat on the throne for the first time he realized just how much power he had gained. Not battle power, that meant nothing compared to his position now. He was at the top of a long, long chain of command that had been building for centuries.
Heat stopped and peered out a window at the outside of his castle. A sea of Molten magma spread as far as the eye could see. Heat enjoyed his home inside a volcano. It was too bad that they had to take extra precautions to protect those that could not handle the heat of the magma.
“Father.” Inferno began as he approached his father from behind, standing a few meters behind his shoulder. Even the prince, his son, was terrified to approach him. “Where have you been all day?”
“I was out for a stroll on the outside of the volcano. The one thing the cooling insulation does that I appreciate is to allow plant life to grow on this wasteland of volcanoes and ash.” Heat commented as he watched the magma bubble. None of the caretakers in the hallway even approached the windows, as the light from the magma blinded them. It was a hobby of his to punish the castles caretakers by having them stare at the magma for an hour. That is why most of them were half blind.
“Pyra and Warmer are awaiting you in the throne room. The informant is here.” Inferno said before giving his father a slight bow and walking off.
“Boy.” Heat said before turning around. Inferno stopped and turned to his father.
“Yes fath-” Inferno got out before Heat slapped him across the face hard enough to knock him off balance. Inferno fell back and landed on his backside.
“When you bow, you go all the way down. Do not be so pompous as to only give me a half bow.” Heat growled
“Makrov is allowed to-” Inferno began before his father rose his hand again, silencing him.
“Makrov is a general, you are a prince. You will learn to be proper. You will learn to be respectful. If you continue to be disrespectful you will end up like Blaze.” Heat threatened. Inferno gulped and stood up, giving his father a full, proper bow, just as he was taught, and then quickly hurried off to the throne room.
Heat sighed and continued to peer out the window for only a moment longer, reminiscing in the days before he had to deal with his children. Before he was named king of the Heat Empire, he only had one child. Then as his enemies grew in power and wars grew more intense, he had more children, each more defiant than the last. His last child, Blaze, struck him. It was over something trivial as well, although Heat did not care enough to remember it. He believed that Blaze struck him because he blew up a couple planets on their way back home from the planet Soluris. It was after they convened at the other volcano home they had on that planet, right after intervening with Sobriums attack on the rebellion. It was a shameful mission, and was a total failure. He wanted to keep the rebellion in play so that he could possibly spark more fighting between Sobrium and those children. Soluris was an important planet, and many of his criminal rings that bring him both incredibly talented soldiers and massive income stem from that planet. Even when the legendary peace city of Taton was reduced to rubble, the fighting rings still continued down in a mines outside of town. Heat was a bit ashamed that they had been found out. There was a Namekian warrior among the ranks that Heat found could make a fine addition to the grunt ranks, but unfortunately, he was crippled by a passerby.
Heat had begun walking to the throne room while lost in thought. Instead of entering through the main doors, he looked at the sides. His throne room was deep inside the castle, and the temperatures reached to temperatures of one hundred degrees celsius when one got near to the throne room. Heat did this to deter those that grovel to his feet, or the weak soldiers, from ever approaching him when he was atop his throne. Only the strong may seek an audience with him. He looked to either side of the massive door made out of a dark brimstone. He pushed the massive doors open with ease, and he entered the heart of the volcano. The throne room was a long and wide hallway. Instead of a red carpet rolling up to the throne, there was a thin piece of glass that stood just above an active part of the volcano, where one could watch the lava shift restlessly below the surface. The throne in the room was not even visible to anyone who entered. It hid behind a curtain of magma that poured from the upper parts of the volcano. A lavafall, as his sons referred to it. Heat walked up the massive stone steps to his throne, passing by his sons, who sat on the steps, staring at the door. He moved through the sheet of magma, letting it pour onto him without feeling so much as a peck of heat. He sat down on his golden throne, awaiting the arrival of the informant. Anyone who entered the room knew better than to think Heat could not see through the lava, especially this informant.
The informant came into the room, the door gently closing behind him. He kneeled just before he reached the steps. Heat could sense that he felt a slight sting from the heat of the volcano, so he did not speak for several moments, letting him kneel down on the heated glass
“What is the report from the last six months?” Heat asked.
“Well, your majesty.” The informant began before swallowing, hiding his pain as mere nervousness. “It was difficult to gather information after your assault on Sobrium. He disappeared again, but I did learn that the rebellion is still alive, but not in a good way.”
“Skip the bad news for now, give me the boring details.” Heat sighed.
“Well, for one, Darwin has a new pet.” The informant stated. “One of the children from the rebellion was taken captive. I don’t know what Darwin did to him in the span of five months, but he is completely void of emotion. My brother has gone back to Sobrium’s side to recruit on other planets. The other two officers are sitting in the temporary government office in Taton, ruling with an iron fist, but are otherwise inactive outside the recovering city.”
“Hmm. So what is the bad news?” Heat asked.
“The saiyans from the rebellion that escaped were all part of a secret recruitment strategy that one of the Three Kings of Fighting put forth.” The informant answered.
“The rebellion was actually a ploy to recruit more saiyans to the ORBL? Hmph. That is quite the plot twist.” Heat chuckled. “And one of their best members, a King of Fighting, was personally there to oversee this?”
“Yes, I hypothesize that he had been shooting a rallying cry out, knowing saiyan children instinctively want to fight back against those they hate. The others that arrived were mere cannon fodder, used to protect the important children.” The informant said before standing up.
“Well things are turning out to be quite interesting. Wouldn’t you agree, Yvemer?” Heat asked as he stepped out of the magma fall. The blue skinned soldier, who was one of the officers of Soluris nodded in agreement.
“Yes your majesty.”
Ryal spat blood on the floor and stood up again. His leg was still broken, but not as broken apart as Ghost’s office was.
“Do you seriously not comprehend the power gap between the two of us? I am barely trying here. You certainly have gotten strong Ryal, but compared to me, you went from being a microscopic amoeba to an ant.” Ghost chuckled.
“A man never backs down!” Ryal shouted as he propelled forward. By the time Ryal reached the spot where Ghost was, Ghost had already moved and kicked his leg up, sending Ryal into the ceiling. Ryal coughed and fell to the ground. Blood leaked out of his mouth as the extent of his internal injuries became painfully apparent. Ryal fell from the ceiling and was about to hit the ground when Ghost smashed him across the room into a wall near Jem. Ryal got up again, and gritted his teeth.
“It would be a shame to kill you here and now Ryal. You have promise, for a lowly human. You could join our cause, fight against Sobrium and Heat, and then, finally, help us conquer the galaxy. I can always tell when someone has the potential to be a major figure of power. Out of all the humans, namekians and various other races here, only you and Jason could possibly contend with a pure blooded saiyan. The rest were trash, especially your friend-” Ghost got cut off as Ryal launched forward with previously unseen speed, hitting Ghost in the stomach with the edge of his fingers, which he had extended out like the end of a spear.
“Didn’t want to have to resort to my techniques just yet, but I guess I will give it a whirl.” Ryal laughed. Blood leaked from his mouth and ran down the side of his cheek. “That one was called Lance-a-lot.” Ryal laughed. As Ghost got up, Ryal tried the same attack again. Ghost stopped him this time, simply grabbing his fingers and breaking his entire hand in a matter of seconds. Ryal barely registered the pain through sheer willpower. He fell to his knees, but he did not say anything else.
“I already saw through that technique. You mastered ki quite well to be able to transfer your passively defensive abilities energy into your offensive abilities. That hit was quite hard, but it left you wide open. I am not called a King of Fighting for the fun of it, Ryal, I am the real deal.” Ghost said impassively as he released Ryals hand. “This is your final chance. Get out, join us, or I will just kill you right here, right now.” Ryal knew better than to let his ego answer this question. He quickly disappeared from view, arriving on the outside of the shack in a matter of seconds. He fell over in the snow and took a couple of deep breaths before sitting up. He immediately made his way home, barely having the energy to fly properly. When Ryal saw the forest come into view, he let loose a sigh of relief. The trees were distinguishable from surrounding forests in that they were a blueish green. The mountains were visible in the far distance, and lakes and ponds littered the forest. Ryal landed near the first pond he saw and took a few deep breaths.
Ryal washed his face with the water, his open wounds slowly closing and healing. Ryal then took a drink from the pond, and as the water moved through his system, he began to heal his internal injuries as well. The water was cold and refreshing, and Ryal wanted to just fall into it, but it was against the rules his family had set. Only the lake near his house was theirs to swim in and enjoy, the rest belonged to the forest and the animals. With his body slowly restoring, Ryal got up and limped back home. He began to feel something other than pain. He felt pure rage.
The fact that his friends were all just tools to further someone’s agenda made him sick. And the power that he had gained, the magic of the forest that helped train him. It wasn’t enough to beat that monster. Ryal didn’t know what to do. He spent a while dwelling on this, thinking of how in the world he was going to train if he had no one who matched him, nothing that challenged him, pushed him to be better. Ryal heard a rustle in the trees and immediately dropped down low and snuck through the brush towards the sound. It was not an animal’s sound. He was very familiar with the animals of the forest. The sounds they made while moving through the forest were respectful, light. This was someone tramping through the forest blindly. Ryal could tell by how it was moving that whatever it was, it was wounded. Even he didn’t disrespect the forest when half dead. Ryal wondered why the forest did not already lash out at this intruder.
He slowly made his way towards the rustling. It was not hard to catch up to it with his strength returning. Whenever the rustling stopped, so did he. That tall grass made a perfect hiding place. Ryal peered out, just a bit, into the clearing that he had heard the sounds stop in recently. There was a pond there, and a figure lay passed out on the the water, just barely missing the waters touch. Ryal approached the figure. Their clothes were ragged, and it looked like a winter coat, but it was so torn and tattered that it was impossible to tell what it was at this point. There were cuts and bruises all over this person, and Ryal was very careful as he checked them out. One wrong move could kill someone who actually meant no harm to the forest.
He slowly grabbed the person’s shoulder and rolled them over, taking care not to hurt them any more than they already were. When he got them onto their back he paused for a second and studied their face. His lip began to tremble and he stumbled backwards. He was taken aback as he stared at the dirty and wounded body of the stranger. Shaggy black hair, soft and weak complexion, but the feature that assured Ryal of his suspicions were the thick glasses upon his face. It was Derek. He was alive.
“Paul!” Jason yelled out as he was preparing to leave.
“Yeah, I know, I scouted that spot earlier.” Paul groaned. “There was no sign of him.”
“God damnit.” Jason said as he smashed the makeshift table into pieces for the seventh time. Paul had given up on fixing it. “He has got to be out there somewhere. Darwin. I don’t know what that bastard did to him but I swear I will kill him when I find out.”
“Calm down Jason, let’s think about this rationally.” Paul suggested before Jason’s look of rage quickly quieted him.
“That was Crimson. Even if he has been brainwashed, it’s still him. He is alive! He might also know what happened to everyone else. We need to get him back.” Jason sighed. He fell back on the floor. “All this time I sat here, training… what was he doing? Does he know where Derek is?”
“What about Ecanoya?” Paul asked. Jason scratched his chin for a second then sat forward.
“Ecanoya is dead.” Jason said bluntly. Paul closed his eyes and took a second to get his bearings. He had expected it, but it was still painful. Memories flashed through his head, times when Ecanoya brought Paul along for the outings with Crimson. Paul knew why Jason didn’t feel as much pain though. He had known Jason all his life, and Paul had known Ecanoya. Yet here they were, completely flip flopped, where Paul was with Jason and Crimson was, most likely, with Derek.
Paul had gotten much stronger since training began. It was about a month since he had gotten back up, and only a week since they found the footage of Crimson. Paul was beginning to lose hope that they were even still in the area, and he had too many questions. Jason on the other hand, was stoic and almost silent. Something was really off about him. What had happened in that outside escort group? What did he do with all those soldiers around, and how did he escape? Paul need an answer for one of these questions or he was going to lose his mind.
“Jason.” Paul began. “How did you get free in time to get over to us?”
“I didn’t free myself at all.” Jason swallowed nervously. “A man who looked exactly like Sobrium did. It was King Heat. Two kings in one day. I found out from the fishing village that Ecanoya was executed and Crimson was hit too, but some said they saw him breathing, which I guess we can say was right-” Jason stopped and a smile spread across his face.
“What is it?” Paul asked.
“I think I just realized why Crimson attacked that village.” Jason said before jumping up. “Think about it, they Sobrium wanted an audience for the execution, and this was the nearest town, meaning these people were the pro-sobrium villagers at the execution.”
“Crimson isn’t someone to take revenge.” Paul growled at the thought.
“Do you honestly think he would overcome the memory of Ecanoya’s death enough to remember his values in only six months?” Jason sighed. “When my sister died I was blinded by many emotions, and none of them were good ones. Even now I know how much I have changed. I acknowledge the fact that I value life less now, it’s easier for me to hate. I just don’t care. That is the same spot Crimson is in right now. At this moment nothing matters to him, not even us. Which is why we need to find him before that anger eats him up as it has me.” The way Jason talked was as if he was too far gone to save. Paul wasn’t used to being the one to have to pull everyone else out of the fire. He blamed himself for all of this, even though, logically, he knew he was not to blame for Crimson and Jason’s hate.
Paul had just begun to recover from the thought of Crimson’s death until he saw that tape. The world is not black and white, is what he would keep repeating to himself in times like these. Paul went off on his own later, trying to cool his head with a stroll in the wilderness. There was something he was missing. From what they gathered, most of their friends from the rebellion were still alive, which was really lucky, but there were no sightings of someone matching Saguaro’s description, nor Ryal’s recently, which probably meant the worst. Derek had actually met up with someone after he escaped his group all those months ago, and when Paul met them they said that someone was looking for only the saiyan children from the group, which included Derek. Paul never actually told anyone that Derek had revealed his secret to him accidently many years ago. Derek was half-saiyan. Jacob kept it a secret, and asked Paul to do the same considering the half-breed racism and hate-induced crimes was on the rise in Taton at the time. The city of peace really had trouble living up to its name sometimes, but anything was better than the current state of things.
“Hey, you!” An unfamiliar voice called out. Paul paused and turned around. There was a tall man standing before him, his skin color was black and his head was completely bald. He wore no shirt, which showed off how massively defined his muscles were, but it also grossed Paul out. “I am talking to you shortstuff!” The man called out again. Paul began to sweat nervously. He was already overloaded with problems and just couldn’t think of anything to say in response. This man was too tall and broad to be a human, so Paul had no clue what race he belonged to, which made him nervous. During his scouting he found that there were entire races that were loyal to Sobrium and his faction, and if he didn’t know what race this man was from it would be harder to tell if he was monitoring him or not. Paul played along.
“Yes, sir?” Paul asked as politely as he possibly could.
“You are starting to near the ruins of Taton’s outermost section of the city. You need to be careful, you’re going to enter Sobrium territory real soon, and they don’t take too kindly to unregistered citizens.” He commented.
“How would you know if I am unregistered?” Paul asked. The man gave a deep, growl like huff then shouted excitedly.
“Quin!” He screamed towards Paul. Paul blinked and his eyes widened.
“Wha-” Paul began before the man screamed again.
“I am Quin! Part of the Aftermath Warriors! I can sniff out a free citizen from a mile away! That and your power level.” Quin said as he calmed down.
“Oh.” Paul said as he realized that he hadn’t been hiding his power level. He was so lost in thought that he even lost control of something that usually came naturally. Paul sighed and turned to continue his walk, his head down and his power level hidden. He bumped into the man’s sweaty abdomen not a second later.
“Don’t walk away just yet!” Quin shouted in his over-the-top voice. “We aren’t done yet! I, Quin, of the Aftermath Warriors, have been looking for you and your friend! Citizens reported what you did for them, even though they were a Sobrium supporting town, and we caught wind of it too. I want to take you out!” That made Paul jump back, pulling his hands out of his pocket and getting ready to fight.
“You might be misunderstanding, I didn’t help those people because I support Sobrium, I did it because I-” Paul tried to reason but he immediately noticed the man’s power rising. Learning to control ki made sensing energy far easier for him. Paul continued to slide back a few steps. The man’s power was equal with his own, which made matters worse. Jason was miles away, and there was no way he would arrive to help in time.
The man began to shake uncontrollably, spasming like he was having a sort of seizure on the spot. Paul squinted his brow, confused at first, until he saw the man beginning to multiply. Suddenly there were two of him, then three. A few seconds later, four, and finally, five. Paul was shell shocked so much that he let his guard down. The five men rushed him, but they were slow enough that Paul was able to react just in time. He fell back to dodge a head-level kick, but as he did that his feet were taken out from under him. As he tried to regain his footing, a third attack pressed him into the ground with a mighty kick, and the fourth and fifth attacks hit him simultaneously in the stomach, causing Paul to burrow into the Earth as he spat out blood. He looked up to see all five figures surrounding him. His hand twitched and then clenched into a fist. He launched at one nearby as fast as he could. As they prepared to defend themselves, Paul instantly switched targets, faster than any of them could track, and struck a nearby one in the face, sending him flying off down the path. After he got so far away, he simply disappeared in a puff of smoke.
Paul realized then that all the fake versions of the man were far weaker than the real version, and he would have to take a few hits if he was going to hope to end this soon. As the second attack came Paul let the first hit connect. “Wait…” he whispered to himself. The second attack was coming from below, and he let that one land as well. “Wait for it…” Paul whispered again. As the final attack came his way, another double punch Paul snapped into action.
He whirled around and caught both punches as they came his way, stopping them with a massive amount of energy. One punch pushed in much harder than the other, and Paul released the clone who used the weaker punch. Paul gripped the man’s fist tightly and swung him around. He began to fly up in the air as he spun the man in circles. The man only gave out a panicked cry as he yelled. Paul let go soon after, and the man flew off into the distance like a missile. The clones that stayed on the ground all disappeared as soon as he had gotten so far away. Paul slowly lowered himself to the ground and made a sprint back to the cave. It wasn’t a short journey at full power, and Jason was already waiting on the outside of the cave by the time he arrived.
“What happened?” Jason questioned.
“I got attacked by someone who thought we were Sobrium supporters… at least I think that’s the reason. We gotta go before they get here Jason.” Paul said as he began to gather the sleeping rolls.
“Nah.” Jason said, his hands in the pockets of his tattered coat. Before Paul could protest Jason’s outrageous attitude, he heard people landing outside the cave. In total there were four of them. Paul dove out of the cave and stood next to Jason, who was already waiting for him. He looked up to see only three men outside, one being Quin, and someone who looked like him, but somehow managed to be even taller. The third man had skin that was a light gray, almost pure white. His eyes were slits in his chameleon-like head. The all yelled out their names.
“Quin!” Quin shouted in his regular tone before taking a ridiculous pose.
“Quad!” The taller version of Quin shouted before kneeling down in another equally ridiculous pose.
“Trips!” The lizard like man shouted as he too, got into a pose. When they all finished posing it revealed the fourth man that was standing behind all of them.
“And you can call me Captain Double.” The man laughed as he crossed his arms. “We are the aftermath warriors, and we hunt down any remnant of Sobrium’s army that is found outside of the safe zone. Local forces have been depleted thanks to the Heat, so any supporter outside of Taton’s protection will face justice with us!” Jason sighed and Paul groaned in embarrassment.
“We aren’t with Sobrium, and I have no clue what gave you that idea.” Jason said.
“To be honest, when we saw a Sobrium supporting village mercilessly destroyed, we immediately thought it was the Heat’s, but then Trips saw you from the bushes, saving people from their burning houses like you were heroes! You protected Sobrium’s people! You are no better than he is!” Doubs ranted without noticing how angered Jason was becoming. The ground began to quake minorly and Quin backed up in fear. Dubs continued to monologue while Jason’s shoulders trembled with rage, and the ground began to crack. Jason’s power was visible, like a transparent energy attack that colored the air around him. It was a deep red. His energy increased so fast with his rage that loose pebbles and stones on the ground were flung into the air.
“How… dare you… compare me to that monster!” Jason shouted through gritted teeth. He was making an effort not to lunge for their throats. “How dare you think for even a second that I am like the man who is responsible for the deaths of my siblings!” The aftermath warriors got out of their poses and began to look worriedly back and forth.
“Quad pass me a scouter!” Trips requested. Quad fumbled along in his pocket and then tossed a scouter over. Trips put it on and began to scan Jason. His eyes widened as the numbers to display continued to rise.
“It’s… one-hundred thousand… and still rising! That’s unreal for such a child! How can he be as strong as our fearless leader?” Trips asked. He quickly shifted to Paul. “His power level is fifty thousand! How- How are you both so strong?” Trips began to panic, thinking this might be the end for him. The men began to flee in terror, except the leader, who simply turned around silently, and walked off, more focused on regrouping his men than battling a child.
“Never thought I’d see the day when even ki users run away from us. Still, that one guy could split into multiple people, but it made him weaker. They aren’t that far off from our power in normal form.” Paul commented.
“If that’s the case they probably rely on swarm tactics instead of brute strength. And they think I am a Sobrium supporter. Their fighting style, it’s just like how Sobrium runs his army. Throwing wave after wave of disposable minions at people until they eventually collapse.”
“Hey, let’s get out of here anyway, I think it might just be time that we pay Taton a visit.” Paul said as an idea popped into his head.
“Why do you think we should go there?” Jason asked.
“Why else? We are going to raise some hell and kill one of Sobrium’s officers. That might get the rumors off of our backs, and it might make you feel better.” Paul lied between his teeth. He hated the idea of killing, even if it was someone evil. Jason however, seemed to support this idea wholeheartedly, and began to set off towards Taton immediately. Paul took a deep breath and followed suit.
The room she was in was incredibly hot, to the point where her skin had some blisters on it as a result of her sleeping on the stone floor. She barely had any clothing left after she had been delivered to this accursed place. She could hear a few other women in the room talking. When she opened her eyes she had to take a second to adjust her sight to the brightness of the room. The floor on which she slept is where a few other women also huddled together. She had only been delivered here a few days ago and she had already lost all hope. The room was a small prison like cell, but it contained some luxuries like a private bathroom and a cushioned chair. The light in the room was provided by intensely bright lines on the ceiling, but there were no bulbs, so no one could adjust anything to turn down the light. The door to the room was large, and glass. Simply touching it had burned another girl’s hand. Mur stood up and leaned on the wall, which wasn’t much cooler than the floor, but at this point she was getting used to the burning.
A few soldiers passed by the door to the cell, laughing and talking to one another. “I can’t believe Heat gave me a pass on that incident in the bar! I thought for sure I would be demoted!” A younger sounding bird-like man said.
“Don’t be a fool!” The older of the two bird-like men in the group chuckled. “Heat isn’t like Sobrium or those pirates, even grunts like us get kind treatment. Look at our rooms! You only just joined the army, yet you only have to share a room with one other person! Get to squad leader, like your big brother, and Heat gives you your own room and allows you to have a tier three slave!”
“Like the ones in that cell?” The younger one asked as he pointed into the room Mur was in.
“No, those are tier one. Any slave that has power or Heat takes a fancy to gets to be top of the line. Only sub-generals, generals and princes may have access to those fine beauties.” The third man, who was just out of sight, said with a sinister tone. “Enough of that now, one of the princes wants a new toy.” The guard said. They walked up to the door and put on a glove that looked like a giant oven mit, and then opened the glass. The girls in the room all stood up and lined up, as if they were in elementary school, by the door.
“You there in the back!” One of the men shouted as he came towards Mur and slapped her across the face before she could react. “When the door opens you line up and get ready to go to the show! Don’t pull any of that ‘I’m new’ crap, because I won’t buy any of it!” The man shouted as he shoved Mur to the line. A woman caught her and stood her up in front of her.
“Don’t worry sweetie.” She whispered into Mur’s ear. “It isn’t so bad if you can find a master. Then you can sleep in an insulated room with better food, just try for that, and life will be alright.”
“I am no one’s property…” Mur wanted to say, but she knew it would do nothing but make her sound stupid. As they marched through the hallways of the compound, Inferno came marching around the corner.
“Hello guards.” He said with a kind smile. His appearance was repulsive to Mur, but she was smart enough to not let it show on her face.
“Hello, your highness.” The guards said with a bow.
“We expected to meet you in the lounge, but if you would like to take a look at the merchandise before hand…” The older of the two bird men chuckled.
“I suppose it would be a waste of a trip. Alright.” Inferno nodded as he walked around the line of women, some with eager faces, and others who reeked of fear. Inferno’s tail flicked as he scanned the crowd. He grabbed a much older, Zenkon woman and threw her to a wall nearby.
“That garbage is not worthy of Tier one, have that younger guard escort her to tier four, for the politicians!” Inferno spat on the woman. The younger birdman went over to the woman and started dragging her away. A younger Zenkon from the front of the line started screaming for her mother. Inferno broke her neck faster than anyone could track with the naked eye. Mur gasped in horror and the other girls back away from the corpse.
“There, now you won’t miss her.” Inferno said with an ever present grin. He continued to walk around the group, eliminating certain girls from his choosings and sending them off to the lounge. Mur was the last girl left and she started at Inferno with a terrified gaze. Inferno grabbed her face and turned it. She tried to struggle and Inferno simply chuckled.
“Now we have a pretty one that has some fight in her. She will do. Leave us.” Inferno demanded. Mur got free of Inferno’s hands and slapped him. It hurt her far more than it hurt him, and Inferno knew it too. He pinned Mur to the wall and ran his tongue along the side of her face, leaving a long, warm trail of saliva along her cheek as she screamed in disgust.
“No one is coming to help you. No matter what you do, I am the one with power here. You will eventually break, and when that happens you will be mine both physically and mentally.” Inferno said as he released her, cackling wildly as he dragged her off, listening to her screams of terror as if it was a hilarious joke.
Pyra sighed as he rounded the corner, having spied on his little brothers display. It was pitiful how easy it was to sneak up on Inferno. Pyra had just returned from a four month training session on another planet, and his brother hadn’t even bothered to try and get stronger. Pyra had done push-ups for four straight days, sit ups for six, and squats for seven. He repeated that pattern each and every week until the last. Now he may just be able to take on Darwin, especially after the stories he had been hearing about Darwin as of late…
“How do we wake him up?” Ryal asked.
“I don’t know if that’s a good idea, he may need more rest.” Brianna responded.
“Well he almost drank from the water of the forest, and we both know what we would have to do if he did, so I would rather find out how the hell he got to this place. He couldn’t have tracked me over six months, and if so, what attacked him?” Ryal said as he wandered to the other side of the cabin, the animals in the room trailing him with their heads.
“So many questions, not enough answers. For starters, I would want to ask why the forest didn’t repel him. None of the animals bear any ill will against him, which means he must have a powerful bloodline. A weakling would have been eaten outright.” Brianna commented. She left the cabin to go gather more herbs, and Ryal could sense that she was still angry at him for bringing a stranger to the heart of the forest. Just after the door shut, Derek’s eyes opened with a quick breath. Derek looked around calmly, and Ryal studied him, wondering if he had gained his senses just yet.
“Ryal?” Derek asked. “Is that your energy I am sensing?”
“I didn’t know you could sense energy.” Ryal laughed.
“Crimson told me to learn… right before we separated.” Derek said before breaking into a fit of coughs. “Four months ago.” Ryal studied Derek for a bit and pulled his dirty glasses off his face.
“Derek, your eyes!” Ryal jumped out of the chair, prompting a reaction from the forest animals.
“I know.” Derek said as he sat up. His irises were completely gray, and there were no pupils in sight. It was like staring at a thick fog.
“You’re… blind.” Ryal said in shock. “How? Who?”
“If you really want to know, Darwin did it. On the day I escaped Sobrium’s prison on this planet four months ago. The day the Crimson I knew came back from the dead.” Derek said with a sigh as he began to explain.
Six months prior to Ryal returning to Willowpeak, and Paul and Jason’s discovery of Crimson’s actions, he could be found in Sobrium’s personal war ship. He was sitting on the brink of death, in Darwin’s private quarters, surrounded by the skeletons of the other corpses Darwin had brought into the room. When Darwin found out Crimson survived, he tied him up in a chair at the desk in the corner of the room, and left him there. Darwin was asleep right now, cuddling the corpse of the dead koala like boy as if it was some sort of teddy bear. The room was hell. Maybe Crimson had truly died, and this place was the hell he was to suffer in for not saving Ecanoya, or anyone? For being a failure, he was condemned to this place.
The following day, or at least what Crimson assumed to be the following day due to Darwin’s skull shaped alarm clock blaring out a few hours later, Darwin grabbed Crimson’s chair and dragged it across the ship to another poorly lit room. There were a few other children still in the room, one of which was Derek. Crimson could tell that a majority of the others were either killed or taken elsewhere. Darwin left Crimson by Derek so he could “get cozy”. Darwin got his own chair and sat in the middle of all the tied up children.
“So, my lovely bunch of hostages, how shall I get information from you all this time?” Darwin asked aloud.
“I will never speak! Never!” A saiyan shouted.
“Well if that’s the case…” Darwin shrugged, and before anyone could even blink he was holding the boy’s limp body in the center of the room. “You won’t be any fun to play with.” Darwin dropped the corpse like a kid who had lost interest in a toy, then began to scan the room. He walked over to the corner, by a bunch of tools, but before he got there, the ship began to shake, like there was an earthquake within it. Everyone began to panic, but Darwin looked up with a wolf grin. “Nothing but a bit of space turbulence kiddos, don’t worry about it.”
“There is no turbulence in space.” Derek spat in a matter-of-fact way. Crimson turned to him with fear in his eyes. Darwin thought for a second, but then burst out laughing.
“It’s an expression smart ass, we are under enemy fire. I think it might be pirates, or maybe those crazy cultists. No one else would be brave or stupid enough to attack Sobrium’s capital ship.” Darwin thought to himself. “I hope they taste good…” He commented while he licked his lips.
Darwin left to go check on the source of the disturbance, leaving the collection of hostages alone and terrified. Crimson didn’t recognize many of them. There were no Namekian children, nor were there any saiyans. At least not anymore. The two saiyan boys that had been taken onto the ship were already executed for being prideful and thick-headed. Most of the children here were human, Zenkon, or a race Crimson didn’t quite remember. On top of all of this, he had no idea where Natania was, and she was the only remaining adult the last time he checked. Crimson took a deep breath and sat back. All the training Ecanoya had given him, the promise to be secret about it. He wondered if this is why Ecanoya didn’t want anyone to know. So he wouldn’t be dragged onto the ship and tortured. The only kids on the ship were ones that had a power level, even if it was only slightly above average. Right now, he could tell that he was the strongest kid in this room. Derek was a close second, but when it came to physical fights Derek wasn’t much help.
After a few hours Darwin returned whistling happily. He immediately walked back over to the table and began to fumble around in the tools. After a while he pulled out a giant pair of pliers, then walked over to Crimson.
“So let’s start here in the circle, then work our way around, shall we?” Darwin chuckled to himself then pulled his chair over in front of Crimson. “So, tell me where you’re from, why you went to the rebellion, and if we missed anyone.” Crimson sat in silence for a bit, both filled with sorrow and rage. When he saw Darwin he lost his ability for rational thinking and instead devolved into something less than human. An animal with one instinct, fight or flight. Darwin began to countdown and Crimson braced himself. “Three. Two.” Darwin slowed as he stared intently at Crimson with a huge grin on his face. “One.” And just like that he ripped Crimson’s arm from the binding and slapped the pliers on his finger nail. As the pliers latched onto the edges of his index fingers fingernail, Darwin pulled with incredibly force, plucking the fingernail out as if he was ripping off a bandaid. Crimson let loose a cry of agony and stomped his feet up and down, crying out as he rocked back in forth in pain. He looked at the end of his finger and watched all the blood leaking from it slowly drip to the floor.
“Oh, balls.” Darwin said as he scratched his head. “Sorry kid, looks like I ripped a bunch of skin off with it. Whatever though, you’re a warrior right? It will heal back to normal in no time.” Darwin said as he patted Crimson’s cheek before moving onto Derek. Everything became muffled as Crimson receded into the confines of his mind, thinking about a fantasy world far off, where he had the power to stop Darwin. To use the pliers to pull his teeth out of his mouth and bash his freaking head in for being a murderous psychopath. After Darwin made his way all around the circle, he placed the pliers on a Zenkon boys large claw like fingernail. The boy panicked and looked around to everyone else as Darwin counted down.
“Wait!” He screamed and Darwin perked up to listen. “Ghost! His name was Ghost!” The other kids in the room stared at him in disgust and the boy hung his head low. Their suffering was now for nothing. Darwin nodded his head back and forth in disappointment.
“I was looking for names, not campfire stories. What is the leader’s name?” Darwin asked.
“That is his name! It’s all anyone ever referred to him by!” The Zenkon boy screamed as Darwin slowly slipped his giant claw like fingernail out of place, then finally ripped it out.
“Alright kiddos, round ones over, and the winner is this little Zenkon boy. Sadly, broken toys aren’t really that much fun to play with, so…” Darwin trailed off as he crushed the boy’s throat. The Zenkon girl sitting next to him stared on in terror. “Round two! Back to the beginning. I am going to pluck your fingernails out one by one until I get some answers, and if I don’t I am going to move onto toenails, and then I am going to stick needles into the fleshy spots where your fingernails were removed, and drop bricks on the needles to send them piercing through your flesh and bone and out the other side.. That is only touching the surface of how much pain I will cause the strong silent types. Oh don’t worry now though, I am only able to kill a few more of you, after all, intimidation doesn’t work if there is no one left to intimidate, am I right?” Darwin said right before he started laughing as he continued working.
After Crimson had lost all the fingernails on his left hand, the group was down to only seven children. Every one of Darwin’s sadistic rounds, someone died. Either for his amusement or because they begged him to just end it. Darwin happily complied with those requests, and soldiers were now cleaning the floors of blood. Derek was taking raspy breaths and was gritting his teeth, trying to hold back tears. Crimson only listened as Darwin continued to torture everyone else. His mind drifted off yet again, only snapping too when Darwin was about to stick needles in his toes. Derek looked on in terror and spoke through his pain.
“Stop!” He cried out, and Darwin set the needles aside. “Ghost… he was… someone from the ORBL.”
“And you know this how?” Darwin asked.
“I just put the pieces together. The rebellion was well organized, too organized. It was too convenient to have every resource we needed right from the get go, the base looked like it was being prepared weeks, if not months before Taton was even attacked. The Heats and Sobrium were both linked to supporting the Blue Bowtie Battalion due to their supply of slaves and their ability to control populations through fear tactics. That ruled Heat out as the one responsible for the rebellion, after all, why would he try to wipe out the rebellion if he started it? Also, there are barely any saiyans and Namekians, both of which are races prided for their origins as fighters and spiritualists. They are the only two races that were barely present among those of us who were taken, which means Ghost most likely used Sobrium’s attack to weed out any race he found “unworthy”, and if I remember correctly from the lectures, the ORBL’s army is comprised of races that are known for fighting.” Derek explained in detail to Darwin. Darwin nodded his head excitedly.
“Well aren’t you a smart cookie.” He chuckled. “I like you kid, now if only you had started talking from the start, I would have probably understood a bit more clearly. Turns out, speaking through gritted teeth makes it hard to understand. Hey, you did it for your friend though, so props to you.” Darwin stood up and looked around the circle. He took a few of the kids and dragged them out of the room, while they kicked and screamed in their chairs. The door shut behind them, muffling the screams out completely. With the door closed, no light poured into the room anymore, and it was complete darkness. Crimson sat there in pain, slowly fading in and out of consciousness. He was so tired from withstanding the torture that he was able to rest, even with the amount of pain he was in. Derek tried to, but he couldn’t quite fall asleep. He kept thinking about when this entire affair would end. When Darwin finally killed him.
After a few hours Crimson woke up to hear that Derek and the other child who was left in the room were sound asleep. The sounds of their snoring was soothing in a way. He was extremely uncomfortable though, but he was a bit too hazy to place the source of his discomfort. Crimson adjusted his legs and quickly realized the source of his discomfort. His legs were submerged in water. He began to panic and called for Derek, who immediately shot awake. When Derek noticed the water he too began to panic. There was nothing they could do as the water slowly rose. Crimson thought about the Zenkon and how short he was, but then realized he was tied to a stool, not a chair. He was probably still able to breath. Probably. That wasn’t the worst of their problems however, as the water was rapidly rising to chest level. It began to slow once it got there, and it finally stopped altogether.
They sat in the freezing cold water for only an hour before it began to drain from the room. When Crimson heard the last of the water drain, Darwin burst into the room immediately.
“Rise and shine kiddos. Looks like you are our lucky winners of the game. Time to show you what you have won.” Darwin smiled as he untied everyone in an instant. He moved too fast to even feel a shift in the breeze.
“Now kids, take a look at your hands and feet.” Darwin instructed as if he was teaching first graders. Crimson looked at his hands and his eyes widened. They were completely healed. It was as if his nails were never plucked from his hands. He began to question his sanity right before Darwin spoke again. “Don’t you worry kiddies, you aren’t crazy, you just spent an hour inside Rejuvenation fluid, it speeds up your healing process. It probably felt cold, right? That’s because of the numbing agent that prevents your body realizing the rapid healing process. I tried to get it removed, but the eggheads told me not to. It can mess things up sometimes, and it isn’t pretty to look at, but hey, neither are you guys right now!” Darwin burst into another fit of his unbearable laughter.
After that Darwin got through another round of torture, this time just for the fun of it. He broke every bone in Crimsons hand one by one simply by pressing down on them with his finger.. After that he moved to Derek and did the same thing, only to his foot. After he had made the rounds of the three of them, he left the room and returned an hour later with two of the people he had dragged off from earlier. Crimson had thought they were dead, but he wasn’t sure if they were particularly alive. Over the course of a few weeks that was their routine. Darwin would come in, torture them, flood the room, then torture them a little bit more before heading off to bed or on errands. Crimson had worked up an incredible pain tolerance in this time, and could tolerate having a bone broken without feeling too much. Derek turned to look at Crimson every day, and knew that Crimson was emotionally and nearly physically dead at that point. He made no effort to talk, no attempt to cry or beg. At this point he barely even screamed when he was being tortured.
That day Darwin came in and gave them all some shocking news. “I am not going to torture you guys today. In fact, I am actually going to transfer over to New Taton and sit there for a while. Sobrium realized that there was more to Soluris than meets the eye, and he needs me to keep an eye out for Ghost. You kids are going to be coming with me. Well, at least my favorite three are. The other two are just going to be left in this room to rot.
And that was how Crimson, Derek and the Zenkon ended up back on Soluris. The room was no longer a cold Titanium, but rather a warm stone. The torture chamber had ample lighting, and it had a larger selection of Darwin’s “improvised” torture tools. They all sat facing a wall that was full of all sorts of sharp objects. They even got a meal once a day instead of once a week. The Zenkon began to speak to the other two, asking for their names, their race, their origin, anything to make the time pass by. Derek answered dishonestly, feeding the same lie that he was a human, and his parents died in a car accident in Taton. Crimson didn’t speak at all.
“Why isn’t he saying anything? Isn’t he your friend?” The Zenkon asked.
“He is broken. There’s nothing we can do. He has lost… everything, and he doesn’t know how to deal with that.” Derek responded. The two sat in a silence for a long time. Weeks went by without Darwin’s return, and the Zenkon had been raising hopes that Ghost had killed him. The very next day, in some cruel twist of irony, Darwin returned to start the routine up again. However, at the end of that session he grabbed Crimson’s chair and began to drag him off. Derek and the Zenkon protested, but there was nothing they could do for him.
As Darwin dragged Crimson off he scratched his chin and turned to look at him. “You know, I wonder what is the source of your suffering right now? Living in the past, or knowing your future?” Darwin laughed and opened up a room and dragged Crimson in, setting him alone in the darkness. That was where Crimson stayed for a week, maybe more. He couldn’t keep track of time. Darwin entered the room at random intervals, and he was so fast that it was hard to even process that a little bit of light had slipped into the room.
“You interest me kid.” He would say sometimes, when he couldn’t get a rise out of Crimson aside from when he stabbed syringe needles into his body for no reason other than to make him a pincushion. Darwin seemed to be conflicted, almost annoyed with the fact that Crimson would not even respond to him.
“I think I get it.” Darwin said after a long period of an unnerving silence. “All this time I had been thinking about the present. The torture, the murder, the mental torture, some more murder. All the things I am doing to you and your companions. That’s not it. No, no, no. It’s something else. My whole philosophical line, wondering how I could possibly torture you worse than you had already received mentally. I know how now. You answered my question from earlier. I gotta hand it to you kid, you are one tough cookie. You used to scream like a cat when its testicles are cut off, but now? You barely give me anything other than a whimper on the extreme stuff, taking an industrial cement drill to your knee, or a plasma torch to your back. And even then, I don’t think you’re really whimpering because of the pain. You’re whimpering because you still can’t get over the fact that I crushed your dear old dad’s heart in my hand while he cradled you in his arms.” Crimson twitched a bit, feeling the first emotion he had felt in a long time. Pure, uncontrollable rage. A venomous poison inside him that lashed out with the hiss of a snake, and burned hotter than any sun in the cosmos.
“Oh boy kiddo, I can feel your bloodlust from here!” Darwin chuckled. “Let me offer you something. You want revenge? You want your shot at the man who took your dad’s life?”
“He wasn’t…” Crimson began before trailing off. Darwin didn’t really care about who Ecanoya was to Crimson. This was all just a ploy to get him mad. And boy, it was working.
“Tell me the answer.” Darwin said in a serious tone, which is when Crimson began to feel a choking fear that snuffed out the fire of his rage.
“I nodded, didn’t I?” Crimson asked in hopes to get a rise out of Darwin, and hopefully to calm his nerves.
“Kid, just because it’s dark doesn’t mean I can’t see. I mastered ki sensing to the point I can make out the furrow of your brow in the darkest of rooms. I can feel the energy in your breath, and the rage in your mind. There is nothing you can do in here that I don’t know about.” Darwin smiled and leaned in closer. “You’re in my world.”
“I do.” Crimson answered honestly. “I want to tear anyone responsible limb from limb. What you have been doing to me and the others would only be a pleasant memory compared to what I want to do to you.”
“That’s the spirit.” Darwin whispered to himself. “Tell you what. I will free you and start training you to get stronger. It’s always fun to have some competition, and besides, since it’s off the record, you don’t have to worry about seeing Sobrium’s mug ever again.”
“You’re pretty disrespectful to someone who is supposed to be a king.” Crimson commented with a slight voice crack.
“Well it turns out that I have a special bit of power. Perks of being second in command I guess, but hey, I’m not going to disrespect the man who made me who I am.” Darwin chuckled before turning on the lights. Crimson recoiled in pain at the bright light before his eyes fully adjusted. The room was surprisingly peaceful. No corpses or blood like his room on the ship. There were two beds wedged in the corner, with only a green sheet and a pillow on it. In between them was a small dresser with a bookshelf on top of it. Crimson recognized a few of the stories on it too. There was even a small dining table. “You agree to be my training partner, I will move those two into this room. No binds, no daily torture, and a proper meal every day instead of once a week-”
“I’ll do it.” Crimson said immediately. “I don’t care what the catch is.” Darwin started clapping, which took Crimson by surprise.
“Man you really do remind me of… well me!” Darwin snickered. “You know how Sobrium and I got to become best buddies? Long ago, in a far, far away place, it was me sitting, tied into that chair, being tortured for information on the little rebellion I led against Sobrium on my home planet.” Crimson’s eyes widened as he listened. “Oh man, he took my wife, and my three children, and killed every single one of them in front of me, but I didn’t budge. He wanted me, badly. He knew about my races similarity to humans. It allowed us to blend in, with the one difference being that we are born with such massive potential that simply flexing would probably increase our power levels. As the last surviving member of my race, Sobrium obviously wanted that. Hey, can’t blame a guy for trying.”
“Why. Why would you join him after he did that to you?” Crimson asked.
“Same reason you’re joining me right now kid. The promise for the safety regarding the rest of my friends, something he dangled over my head until I went toe to toe with Pyra from Heat’s empire. That’s when they all died.” Darwin broke into another fit of maniacal laughter, as if it speaking about his past was like joking about another man’s misfortune. “Pyra is a tough one, bit of a softy. Had to run in to save his brother Inferno who I was just about to kill. He wasn’t as strong as me, but he was a slippery one! Gave me a head injury that shook me up pretty bad. After that I went from bad to worst. I valued no lives anymore, not even my own. Skinned my friends alive and joined Sobrium completely. Now I can have anything I want. Women, wine, feasts, and the ability to kill whoever, whenever I want. I’m practically a god. You could be too, given enough time.”
“You think I will end up like you? That I will kill my friends because I gave up on protecting them? Screw you. I will never be like you.” Crimson spat.
“This may seem cliche, or overused, but kid. You are exactly like me. I don’t mean this in the lame comic book villain way, I mean it in quite the literal way. You’re going to train under me to protect your friends, and by doing that, putting yourself as a secret third in command until I could reveal you to Sobrium. Nah, you are exactly like me. And I am betting, deep down, you know it would be easier to just give up on caring.” Darwin said coyly.
“I am not a quitter.” Crimson said, straightening his back and puffing out his chest to Darwin. “I don’t quit. Ever. I will never quit on anything again, especially not my friends.”
“That’s OK for you to think now. I can already see the demon in your eyes. You’re no angel.” Darwin sighed and flopped back on one of the beds. Crimson found that all the bindings he had were removed completely, without so much as noticing Darwin move. “This is going to be hard though. You have no talent at all. I mean, when you learn ki you always get a sense of someone’s potential, it’s not sensing their power, but just more of like an intuition. Everyone has it. Ever look at one of your friends and thought: ‘Man, he could be great at this if he really wanted!’ That’s what I mean. For you though, I got another kind of sense. The sense that even though you’re weak, and have no potential for fighting, you have potential for something else. How exciting!” Darwin squealed before breaking into a fit of childish giggling. Crimson was beginning to see his personality switches. It was like flipping a switch, he would become a completely different form of insanity at the drop of a hat. One moment he was a sadistic torturer, the next, a childish murderer, and the next he was a serious tactician. Crimson was getting sick of Darwin’s games.
Darwin took Crimson to another side of the facility, where there was a quiet little room with walls that were a purely black metal. “This place is made of Katchin” Darwin said knocking on the wall. “Even I can’t break the stuff. Sobrium puts a Katchin room on any planet I like to stay at. It’s heavy, but it can be moved, but as far as density goes, there is no way anything we do in here will escape the room.” Darwin clapped his hands and the door to the room closed, enclosing them in darkness.
“The room is tiny, it’s practically the same size as the bedroom.” Crimson commented.
“All the better for training. No matter what side of the room you launch a ki attack at, you will always feel the heat reverb off the walls. You will be able to clash your ki without having to put yourself in the danger of battle. After you make yourself about four times stronger, I will go and help you get revenge for your friends. Just as a tutor-student present!” Darwin said. He created a small ball of light from ki and put it at the top of the room.
That night, Derek and Maklor, the Zenkon, were moved into the new prison cell. At first they were hesitant that this was one of Darwin’s traps, but after two weeks of living in the room and receiving a boost in meals, their hearts sunk.
“That asshole…” Derek bowed his head and whispered.
“He talked to them, didn’t he? Didn’t he?” Malkor asked.
“Yeah. He probably gave Darwin whatever he wanted in exchange for fairer treatment for us.” Derek concluded.
“That or they killed him and are just trying to mess with us more.” Malkor crossed his arms. Just then there was a knock on the door to the cell. Derek tensed and jumped to his feet. Malkor followed suit. The knocking continued. Derek sighed and walked over to the door, opening the small viewing slot on it. To his surprise, he saw Crimson’s eyes peering back at him.
“Crimson?” He whispered. Malkor floated up and peered through from behind Derek.
“Crimson!” He shouted in excitement. Derek immediately shushed him before turning back to Crimson.
“How could you.” Derek growled in disgust. “All the others that died, they died in defiance to Darwin, they never begged for fair treatment of us, and we didn’t do it for them because we agreed! We agreed to never join his army no matter what we were offered, no matter who died! We would defy them to the end, even if we didn’t say it out loud! You’re a coward, and you disgust me.”
“I just came to check up on you.” Crimson sighed. “I was making sure he kept his promise.”
“Don’t come back.” Derek growled. “Don’t ever come near me again. You’re as good as dead to me. The Crimson I knew died when Darwin pulled him away on that chair.” Malkor’s gaze drifted to the floor. Derek slammed the slot shut and walked back to his bed. Crimson knocked on the door a few more times, but even Malkor ignored his pleads.
“Some friends, huh?” Darwin laughed. “You go out of your way to save their sorry hides and what do they say in return?” Darwin snickered then put on a terrible Derek impression. “Don’t come back, you’re dead to me!” Darwin walked off and Crimson leaned his head on the door. It was cold, and it felt empty. Just like his heart. Crimson closed his eyes and took a deep breath, before walking off into the darkness with Darwin.
A few months later, and Crimson got his chance for revenge. Darwin told him about the villagers from Willowpeak who had left to join another village far away. The entire village was Sobrium supporting. Crimson walked into the tavern, hidden under a cloak Darwin had bought him, although he doubted anyone would recognize him. He had lost his childish fat, and had begun to become far more toned, at least for someone who was fourteen years old. The tavern was musty, and there were only a few locals sitting inside it. Darwin tapped on his shoulder and said “I’ll cut the cameras, don’t do anything stupid until then. Or do, not like anyone will find out.”
Crimson decided the best way to claim revenge against the people who idly watched Ecanoya die was to use his signature move against them. He raised his fist up to the sky, and gathered power to it. There was far more power in his punch now that Darwin had trained him. He was going to level the entire town. Erase it, or wait, even better, he was going to set it on fire and watch it burn. Stand idly by while they all cling to their loved ones, waiting for someone to save them. His fist began to glow and he uttered the words he knew by heart. “Rising…” A few heads in the bar turned and their eyes widened with fear. Some patrons tried to run, but they wouldn’t make it very far. Crimson let his fist fall backwards and spin around. He brought it up with all the power he had put into his fist and stepped into the punch. The force of the punch exploded the building, setting it ablaze. Crimson had held back enough that the buildings aside from the tavern would only be set on fire. He watched people burn with a righteous look on his face. Justice had been served.
That night back at Taton, Darwin congratulated Crimson for a job well done. “Hey, are you ready to celebrate?” He asked with a smile on his face. Crimson raised a brow as Darwin led him into the Katchin training room. Darwin had ropes holding Derek and Malkor up against the ceiling, held only in place by little Katchin hooks that must have been added recently.
“Take revenge on the people who didn’t stand up to Sobrium in order to save Ecanoya.” Darwin said with a curled lip. Crimson nodded and walked over to Malkor.
“Crimson please…” He begged, but Crimson grabbed his throat instantly to shut him up. “Get him… out of your head!” Malkor choked.
“Give up Malkor. He’s just a quitter.” Derek commented. Darwin walked over and punched Derek in the face. Derek moved his jaw back and forth and sat up straight again. He spat on Darwin’s face and this set Darwin into his sadistic mode. He immediately created a ki blast and pressed it to Derek’s eyes. He screamed in absolute agony. Derek flailed about, trying to pull away, but unable to fight against Darwin’s massive strength.
“Little Half-Saiyan monkey! Did you really think because you got stronger every time I healed you from the brink of death that you actually became strong enough to defy me. Derek’s intense writhing had helped give him the push he needed to break the chain ropes and fall away from Darwin. Derek’s eyes were smoldering, a charred section that looked as if they were welded shut. “Since you’ve been such a dear guest, you got any last words?” Darwin asked as he moved closer. Derek raised his middle finger to Darwin and gave off a coy smile. Darwin whistled.
“You got balls kid. Those will be the second pair I remove I today.” Darwin smiled as he began to cackle maniacally.
“He’s going to… kill Derek! Don’t you… care Crimson?” Malkor asked. Crimson blinked and his rage had begun to fade. He dropped Malkor, who took several gasping, desperate breaths of air. Darwin punched his hand like a dagger through Derek’s abdomen. As he ripped his hand out and splattered blood around the room, Crimson tackled him into the wall in a second. Derek coughed and began to go into shock. Malkor grabbed him and immediately fled the room through the open door. Crimson could hear Derek’s faint, raspy voice.
“I forgive you.” Derek said with a smile. Malkor pulled him out of the room and they made their way out. Derek still had enough energy to fight off foot soldiers. He was losing blood fast, and Malkor didn’t know any healing magic. This wasn’t looking good already, but when they turned the corner and saw Gunlder, the giant red behemoth that served as one of the governing officers. This was definitely not good for them. It took him a second to realize what was happening before he began to growl and charged towards Derek and Malkor. Malkor, with the help of Derek, just narrowly pushed out of the way. Gunlder barreled through the walls of the compound like an angry bull and smashed a hole all the way to the outside world. Derek winced at the sight of natural sunlight after such a long time, but he began to wonder if it wasn’t sunlight that he was seeing, but the light that everyone says they are going towards in the end. He really hoped it wasn’t, because Malkor was dragging him towards it anyway. Gunlder came into view again, and started charging through like a broken record, doing the exact same formation and attack, hoping it would work a second time over. Derek threw Malkor to the side, and simply fell over without his support. Gunlder went flying over him and crashed through a few more walls.
“Thank god their guards are dumbasses.” Malkor laughed. Derek tried to laugh, but his abdomen hurt way too much. Malkor got him towards the edge of the light when his eyes finally adjusted. He was staring over miles of ruined city. The vast ruins of Taton were just beneath his feet this entire time. Malkor flew off, carrying Derek with him. Malkor was really good at using ki, and was able to fly without much problem despite carrying someone about four times his body weight. Crimson was just about to follow after them when Darwin came around the corner and grabbed the back of his head. He jumped off the top of Taton’s capital tower and pressed Crimson’s head downward, facing the ground, laughing all the way. Right before Crimson hit the ground, Darwin was ripped off of him and thrown back into the tower. Something caught him, and he took a few seconds to catch himself.
“For being one of the strongest in the universe, he is so reckless. C’mon Aftermath warriors! Let’s get out of here!” Double shouted as he sprinted off. Darwin was already in front of them before they took another step.
“I am really having fun right now, and I don’t like party poopers. Hand the kid over, and I will let you go.” Darwin promised with a sincere smile on his face.
“Not a chance McDarloss!” Trips shouted. “Quin, Quad, hold him off!” The two brothers nodded and used a multiplication technique. Quin made four more versions of him, as did Quad. The ten of them went to taking on Darwin, who blew through the illusions with ease, and smacked Quad into a nearby building.
“Brother!” Quin shouted before turning to see Darwin staring into his eyes.
“Peekaboo!” Darwin shouted before he swiped Quin aside, sending him blasting into the sky.
“Trips!” Double shouted as he carried Crimson.
“I know!” Trips responded before stopping to face Darwin. Trips technique relied on his incredible speed. He could move so fast it seemed like there were three of him. He attacked Darwin without taking into account the gap in their power. Darwin was happy to explain to him how large that gap was, with a swift backhand to the side of Trips head.
“You can’t trick someone who is faster than you with speed.” Darwin sighed before moving towards Double.
“I can walk!” Crimson shouted. “Get out of here and save yourselves!”
“Not a chance!” Double shouted. “We don’t walk away from those in need.” Double set Crimson down and spun around to face Darwin.
“Go kid, I’ll be fine.” Double assured him. Crimson flew off as fast as he possibly could, and Darwin was about to pursue before Double and his copy stood in front of him. Darwin groaned in annoyance and struck Double across the cheek, sending him flying into the wall. The clone disappeared and Darwin’s eyes widened in surprise. Double struck Darwin, forcing his face into the rubble on the street.
“I know what you’re thinking: ‘How did I get that wrong, his copy had more power than him?’ You would be wrong. My copies are the exact same in power to me. You can’t tell the difference. I don’t shift strength between us, I make it equal. That kid is long gone by now. Give up Darwin! The Aftermath Warriors have defeated-” Double almost got to finish his monologue before Darwin slammed into him, sending him reeling back into a nearby building. Double coughed, barely able to move.
“I was so close to making that kid a fun sidekick. So close! Oh well, there are always other fish in the sea. He isn’t going to get far in this world after all.”
About a mile out of Taton’s limits, Malkor collapsed. Derek found out that he had been grazed by Gunlder’s charge, and it had injured him. Malkor was unable to go on, and Derek left him at a hospital in a small little village he found on the way. He didn’t want to be anywhere near Taton. So he ran. He ran and ran until his wounds became too much to bear, and he collapsed in a forest. He could only move by feeling the life in the things around him, and there was a pond ahead, teeming with life. He had almost reached it before he passed out.
Ryal nodded in understanding, then sat back on the ground, leaning up against a bear. “So Crimson is alive?” He asked himself aloud.
“Not only alive, he got monstrously strong. Whatever training techniques he has, they work tremendously. I would say he is stronger than any of those Blue Bowtie Battalion guys now, maybe even one of Sobrium’s officers.” Derek noted. “He isn’t the only one, though. You are even further beyond him.”
Ryal scratched the back of his head and laughed. “I am not strong enough yet. Ghost mopped the floor with me.”
“Wait you found Ghost?” Derek asked.
“Yeah, went to attack him for being a total ass. Leaving everyone to die like that… covering up his intentions and weeding out the weak. I got really mad at him, but he had power like nobody I had ever seen, and I could tell he was holding back.” Ryal crossed his arms and thought for a bit. “I want to stop this entire thing. Sobrium, Ghost, Heat. All of them. I just can’t think on how we can do that now that we are all split up. Who do we attack first, what do we do?”
“I have a lot of plans, but I don’t think you would want to use the forest as a base of operations.” Derek said as he slowly stood up from the couch.
“Yeah, I don’t know why the animals left you alone, especially since you were powerful enough to damage the forest should you have recovered. I can’t promise Crimson or Malkor would be given that same mercy.” Ryal sighed. “Looks like Brianna is going to have to spend some time alone in the forest again.”
“Where’s your parents Ryal?” Derek asked.
“Didn’t I tell you? My mom is the forest, and my dad just up and disappeared one day.” Ryal sighed. “And before you ask, my mother’s life force is so closely intertwined with the forest that it is impossible to tell the two apart. She lives at the heart of the forest, alongside the oasis of the heavens, which is a sacred place to us. I am not even allowed inside, only my sister is. Last time I tried to enter I nearly got killed.”
“What’s in there?” Derek asked.
“An object of extreme power apparently. Who knows, I don’t bug my sister about it, although I am sure she will tell me eventually.” Ryal shrugged. “So, down to business. Who do we look for first?”
“Malkor, definitely Malkor. I know where I left him, and there is no way he could move on his own yet. After that Crimson would be the logical choice, but I have no clue where he ran off to. I heard rumors of two unusually high power levels from listening to guards outside my torture chamber. Apparently some kids were spotted a couple miles outside Taton, and one of them was equal to Gij’zr, which has made them double their efforts to identify them.” Derek explained.
“That could be Jason and Paul, or possibly Jacob.” Ryal noted.
“Oh yeah, and there is apparently a one armed saiyan with extraordinary power destroying patrols. Apparently he’s a super saiyan.” Derek laughed.
“Super Saiyan?” Ryal questioned.
“Yeah, according to legend, us saiyans are all born with immense power, and we can only access it through transforming to something known as a Super Saiyan. Even I, as a Half-Saiyan, should have this ability. I wish it were real though. Multiplying my power by that much is a really appealing idea. I would be able to crush any of the governing officers of Sobrium’s army.” Derek said while daydreaming.
“What about Darwin? We need to think about him before we go off and recruit people of that caliber.” Ryal asked. “ I never seen him, but I could feel his power dwarfing every other one in a hundred mile radius. He is basically a radio jammer for my ki sensors. I won’t be able to track him.”
“At first it was the same for me, but I don’t know. Being blind just made my ki senses even sharper.” Derek shrugged. “Let’s go grab Malkor, then head on to see if we can find Paul, Jason or Jacob. Crimson will have to wait, who knows what’s going on in his head right now.”
“I think I have an idea.” Ryal said solemnly as he moved over to the window and leant down on the sill, staring longingly at the lake. His day’s of peace were over now. He just hoped he didn’t ever bring the fight to the forest. He would never forgive himself.
“Come on Quin.” Double said as he continued to perform CPR. “Get up, damn you!” “Double… he’s gone.” Trips frowned. Quad sat quietly in the corner, staring at the dirty stone wall of the cave, a single tear falling down his cheek.
“No! This isn’t happening dammit! Quin, get up, you are a member of the Aftermath warriors… a fighter for the ORBL, you can’t go out like this. You still haven’t mastered your duplication technique like your brother.” Double trailed off in thought on how many times Quin would boast about his dreams of surpassing his brother. War had taken too much from them all already, but now, the war on Soluris has taken his friend as well.
“We need to think about a new solution.” Trips proposed. “People are rallying behind the aftermath warriors, but we haven’t built up nearly enough people to go after Darwin. Why did Sobrium have to leave that monster here?” Trips scratched his chin. A thought then quickly came to him. “Do you remember the other monster that we learned about earlier this week?” He asked with a coy smile.
“Those kids! The ones with the outrageous power levels! If we could get the guy who took on our entire group alone, we will boost our power by a lot. Nice thinking Trips.” Double smirked.
“We aren’t replacing Quin, are we?” Quad asked with a frown.
“Nothing can ever replace Quin. We just need someone to fill the gap he left.” Double sighed.
“That’s the same thing.” Quad growled then turned to face the wall.
“What about the Super Saiyan?” Double asked.
“The rumors are just rumors at this point. Sightings of him died down a while ago, although sometimes I do feel a strange power far off in the distance, and after a while it just vanishes. Maybe it’s more than a legend.” Trips smirked
“Doesn’t matter. Let’s get the kids now, before someone else tries to recruit them. If they got that powerful in such a short amount of time, imagine how strong they will be as adults.” Double said excitedly. The two packed up and left Quad alone with the body of his brother. When they reached the cave where the kids were, they found that they were not there at the moment. There was a fresh fire, but they were nowhere in sight.
“Maybe they went out hunting?” Trips suggested.
“Maybe.” Double agreed. He walked around the camp and spent some time examining each and every detail. There was a fairly old blood stain on the floor, and one of the makeshift cushions they used as a mattress was soaked in blood from a while back. This bed was used for one of them to rest up after a severe injury, but he didn’t know which one. The cave was littered with animal bones, most likely meals that they cooked from time to time. There was a small tree stump that had been uprooted and carved into a water basin. Double found it impressive what these kids came up with.
“Hey!” Paul shouted from the entrance of the cave.
“Oh, we were just looking for you.” Double said as he turned around.
“Then why are you rummaging through our things.” Jason asked with a growl as he stepped around the corner and into the cave.
“I am only here to look for you, no harm done.” Double shrugged.
“So what did you want?” Paul asked as he dropped his guard.
“Yesterday we staged an attack on the capital tower of Taton. Originally we were only doing reconnaissance, using our superior skills for duplication to cover as much ground as possible. It was supposed to be simple, but then, out of the blue, the top floor of the tower suddenly bursts open, and a few people come flying out of it, Darwin McDarloss included. He was attacking some kid with a high power level, and almost crushed him before I got there just in time. Once I thought I may be even to Darwin’s power. After that day I realized just how terrifying he really is. It’s like someone gave a fussy toddler the powers of god. He was a true sadist, even in a fight. We need help bringing him, and Sobrium by extension, down. Will you help us?” Double asked with a bow.
Without a moment of hesitation, Jason responded. “No. I hate you. Leave.”
“Watch your tongue-” Trips began before Double silenced him.
“If this is about the other day, I’m sorry, it was a misunderstanding.” Double said with his head hung low, still caught up on Quin’s death.
“That isn’t it!” Jason roared. “It’s the mear fact that you mentioned Darwin to me. Even his name makes my blood boil, makes my eyes twitch, my skin crawl with hate! I don’t want anything to do with that murderer!”
“I understand, we feel the same way, but this isn’t how we work. If we give up now, Darwin wins. The boy we helped to escape from him will only fall victim to him again.” Double sighed. Jason and Paul exchanged a glance.
“Short brown hair, tall-ish, pudgy, childish physique?” Paul asked.
“Yeah, everything but the pudgyness. Kid was pretty strong looking, must have worked out a lot before Darwin began to beat him up. Still not going to get over the fact that there are hundreds of people running around on this planet that are far stronger than us…” Double sighed. Jason read his face, and recognized that look of helplessness.
“I’ll agree on one condition.” Jason said.
“That is?” Double asked.
“You tell us what happened to Ghost and the others from the willowpeak rebellion. You’re from the ORBL, you must have heard something about it. Are there other survivors?” Jason asked.
“Wait, did you just say Ghost?” Double asked. “That can’t be, Ghost is one of the Three Kings of Fighting! He has more important things to do than help some kids.”
“That jackass who left us to die is a part of the ORBL too?” Jason asked.
“We don’t know that, he could have been in another group that left before we got there.” Paul reminded Jason.
“I am sure that he wasn’t there Paul. We can find out when we find Crimson.” Jason sighed. “One more request, I want you guys to tell me which direction that kid you saved ran.”
“I wouldn’t bother.” Trips looked down in sadness. “I’m afraid that as soon as we retreated, Darwin chased him into the deep woods for fun. He’s either dead, or in very deep hiding. It is unlikely that you will find a trace of him either way.”
“Damn.” Paul closed his eyes, his heart hanging heavy in his chest. They were so close to meeting him again, and now he was gone again.
“You guys are going to help us.” Jason demanded after some thinking. “If we can’t get Crimson, then we head for the source of hte problem. We take on Ghost.”
“Are you insane? Have you seen how powerful Ghost can be, because Double has first hand! He used to be under Ghost’s command long ago!” Trips shouted.
“That’s right, even if what he did is unjust and unfair, we would be slaughtered without a second thought if we tried to take him on. He isn’t smalltime like Sobrium’s officers, he’s big. Really big. Sobrium himself would have trouble facing Ghost in single combat, even if he didn’t transform.” Double explained. “It wouldn’t be wise to seek out revenge against him.” The wind blew a bit harder than before, and Jason stepped out of the cave, walking down the road, with Paul following close behind. Jason’s rage was brewing up a storm in the sky, and Double began to feel fear. This ordinary human child had way too much fighting potential, it was extraordinary. He couldn’t let him go through with this.
Just as Double was about to say something, he felt two large powers at the top of the cliff face the cave was in. He spun immediately and looked up, and Paul and Jason were staring in awe. Ryal was standing with his foot planted on a heavy boulder, leaning forward and peering down at everyone with a wide, cocky grin.
“Oi, Oi, Oi!” Ryal shouted with disappointment. “If anybody gets to kick Ghost’s ass first, it’s me! Get in line!” Paul and Jason cracked a smile, Ryal’s attitude, as well as his sudden appearance brought an overflow of joy to them.
“Thought we wouldn’t ever see your smug grin again!” Paul called out.
“Oh hey.” Ryal said dropping his grin. “Don’t talk about ‘seeing’. Derek’s still sensitive about the blind jokes.”
“Wait, what-” Paul began before he floated up and looked behind Ryal. There was Derek, standing with a coat blowing in the breeze, and large scars around his gray eyes.
“Oh come on Paul, you don’t have to look so sad.” Derek smirked. “At least I don’t need glasses anymore.”
“It’s good to have you back.” Jason smiled. “Now then, let’s fix our home planet!” Jason raised his fist into the air and the other three did the same.
“Hell yeah!” Ryal shouted to the sky. A moment of triumph in their reunion that would not last very long.
Thanks for another awesome year guys. Please, please, please comment on what you though so I can get feedback and know I should keep writing this.
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