Chapter 5: What Makes a Hero
What makes a hero? Is it their costume? Their sense of justice? How many bad guys they punished? Crimson didn’t really know the answer. Right now, it wasn’t important. He saw that ball of ki in the sky disappear and he doubled his efforts to get there in time. He dove to a clearing in the woods, looking at the craters that dotted the landscape, making it look like a giant was stepping through the area. He landed right next to Paul, looking across the clearing to see a man propped up against a tree, and another lying unconscious in the crater. Crimson quickly ripped a Senzu bean out of the bag and put it in Paul’s mouth.
“Paul, if you can hear me, chew this.” Crimson whispered softly. There was no response, but Crimson felt what little of his life energy left sway in his direction. He recognized Crimson, but not by sound. Crimson grabbed Paul’s jaw, unsure on how they did this in the movies, but he forced him to chew it, then rubbed his throat to try and get him to swallow it. His life force was draining away rapidly, and he could barely feel it by the time he swallowed it. He began to stabilize, and slowly recover thanks to the bean. Crimson gave him another just for safe measure, then hopped over to the one propped up against the tree. He put on in his mouth, and whispered the same thing he had to Paul, then hopped to the one in the crater and repeated the process. After he had finished he took one last gander at Paul’s life force before taking off. The other’s couldn’t know that he was there, not yet at least. He made his way back to Kuele’s lookout as fast as he possibly could. He turned once to see the man against the tree get up and look around, seemingly unaware of Crimson’s intervention.
“How’d it go?” Kuele asked. “Did you interfere?”
“I only stopped Paul from dying, I don’t know where the others went. I gave him two senzu beans.” Crimson informed.
“Two!” Mothro shouted in anger. “Those things don’t grow on trees!”
“You gave them to me in case of emergencies. He was dying, I am pretty sure that qualifies.” Crimson grumbled. Mothro said nothing, and proceeded to mumble angrily to himself.
“None the less, I am confused as to why you didn’t stay longer.” Kuele commented.
“My training here isn’t finished. I felt Paul’s power, even as he was dying I could tell it was higher than mine. I may have picked my old training back up, but it isn’t intense enough. I need to constantly make sure I am at my physical and mental limit at the end of each session.” Crimson nodded and faced the sea of clouds. It was the dawn of a new day. Not just for the planet, but for him as well. He would earn his place alongside his friends on the battlefield. He would be watching over them like a guardian angel, just as they had watched over him.
“So are you a zombie?” Jason asked with his arms crossed. “Or are you hiding some weird ki technique from us?”
“I don’t know! The last thing I remember I was bleeding out, I felt something familiar, and I woke up seconds later feeling better than I have ever felt in my entire life.” Paul chuckled.
“Looks like luck is on our side for once.” Derek sighed. “Finally, something went our way. No one died.”
“No one except for Bryce and Cabba.” Paul looked down at the ground.
“And they would have died much faster had you not hesitated to hit Cabba.” Jason remarked bluntly. “You are way too soft Paul.”
“So I will get stronger.” Paul growled. Ryal watched the others, sitting with Malkor.
“Where were you all night?” Malkor asked Ryal. “I thought you were coming back to camp.
“I was, but I found out something.” Ryal replied. He stared up at the clouds as they moved softly over the sky. “I have to go.”
“Go where?” Malkor asked.
“Home.” Ryal responded. “There is someone who is probably worried about me right now.”
“Go on then, we’ll wait.” Malkor smiled.
“No, we won’t.” Double rang out as he walked into the clearing. Everyone turned to face him, confused.
“Ghost knows we are here, and we just killed two of his students. He is going to send a bigger force next time.” Trips sighed. “We need to leave. We need to get off of Soluris.”
“Leave the planet we are trying to save? No way.” Derek responded.
“I agree.” Malkor said with a raised brow. “What would be the point of fleeing right now, after we have just begun to see the progress of our training.”
“Ghost will kill all of us. That is the point.” Quad sighed. “However, I have come up with a plan that Double and Trips approve of.” He walked into the center of the group, and everyone huddled around. “We are going to separate. Each of us is going to go to a different planet to train. For five years.”
“Five years!” Ryal shouted. “That’s way too long!”
“Imagine how much more powerful you could become in that time. Besides, then you would all be adults. Plus we aren’t sending you to some random moon to train. We picked out different planets specifically for the lot of you. None of you will be anywhere remotely near each other, which not only limits the possibility that Ghost will wipe us out, it will also make it unlikely that we will have any distractions during fighting.” Quad crossed his arms.
“For starters, we picked out a Sobrium supporting planet for Jason. We figured that it would be best to send him to a planet where he can learn to control his rage, maybe even get rid of it all together. The inhabitants are all half of his current power, which means that he will have to learn to be smart, and fight using his head.” Trips smiled.
“I get it.” Derek sighed. “You want us to not only get stronger, but conquer our weaknesses as well.”
“That is all a part of growing up.” Double nodded. “Paul will be sent to a planet with constant civil war. One half of the planet fighting the other in a seemingly never ending battle. This is the best choice to help Paul learn just how brutal war can be if he is too soft.”
“And me?” Derek spoke up impatiently.
“You will go to the stone hop star system. A collection of at least a hundred moons scattered around a single star that are all connected through technology and pipes. The place is run by a notorious pirate gang. Go there and wipe them out, just like how Jason will wipe out Sobrium supporters.” Quad informed Derek.
“What will this help me fix?” Derek asked out of curiosity.
“Nothing really, you are a perfect fighter physically, like ryal right now. You just need more experience. Get stronger and come back within five years. That’s all I ask.” Quad nodded. “Malkor will go to a new planet we discovered recently. It is far away from the frontlines, which is why the Heat’s have used it as one giant fighting ring. Only higher ups in the ORBL know about it, so you will be mostly invisible if you go there. People will just think you’re a kid with a big dream and a big power level.” Malkor took a deep breath, not too keen on the thought of going undercover, but he guessed that was the point.
“What about Crimson?” Ryal asked before Quad got to him.
“Who?” Trips asked. “Oh right, that kid. Considering we don’t know where he is, it would be best to leave him be. That is, if Ghost hasn’t already sent someone after him.” That was a nasty thought to the lot of them. Ryal decided not to tell them that he felt Crimson’s power level earlier. No one seemed to notice that he was nearby, watching over them like a silent guardian. How did he heal Paul though?
Ryal shook his head and walked off. “Where are you going?” Double asked angrily.
“Home.” Ryal replied. “I can train there. It’s where I got as strong as I am now, and I can get much stronger.”
“I thought you wanted a sparring partner?” Derek questioned.
“I needed one, but now I don’t. I’ll see you guys in five years.” Ryal waved his hand, not even turning around to face them, then he stuffed his hands in his pockets and walked off. As he got farther and farther from the others he couldn’t hear their voices growing distant. He looked back to see that they were all following him. “What are you all-”
“Shut up already.” Jason groaned, crossing his arms. “We are a team. We can at least see you off. Besides, it’s not like there are spaceships in that forest for us to use.” Ryal knew better than to argue with Jason, and just continued to walk. If the forest attacked them they should be alright due to their power.
“A few ground rules before we get to my forest.” Ryal said. “My dad taught me them, as my mom taught him!” Ryal turned and stared them down, placing his fists on his hips and staring at the ground. “One!” He shouted. “Do not kill or harm any animal in the forest even if they attack you!” Everyone rolled their eyes and agreed. “Two! Do not drink from the sacred waters. Only the lake by my house is for humans to drink from!” Again, everyone agreed. “Finally, do not touch the trees. Don’t even brush them with your hand.” This final rule confused everyone. If it was his customs they were fine with that, but it was going to be nearly impossible to move through a forest without touching a tree. Ryal began flying off at top speed. The others immediately followed suit, making their way to his house as quickly as they could.
When they landed they were at Ryal’s cabin. They were all left breathless by the beautiful scenery. A small rock formation jutting out into the water like a pier, towering pine like trees decorating every section of the shoreside, with incredibly thick brush. This place was untamed. Ryal was lucky to live in such beauty. His cabin was nice looking too, enough to inspire a whistle from Double.
Ryal knocked on the door, waiting for Brianna to open it. She was taking her sweet time so Ryal shouted. “Oi, open the door you lazy witch!” Brianna opened the door, about to get mad at Ryal for calling her a witch when she saw eight people standing behind him patiently. She recognized Derek, and offered him a smile, before she quickly grabbed her brother by the collar of his shirt and pulled him inside.
“One moment please.” She requested sweetly as she shut the door.
“Ow! That was my head!” Ryal shouted, muffled by the walls of the cabin.
“And you’re lucky I let you keep it!” Brianna shouted back. “Eight people! Eight! I was fine with Derek since he is blind, and actually kind of cute, but now you bring seven more people here! This is our sacred forest, not your clubhouse!”
“Ow!” Ryal shouted again. “You crazed lunatic put my machete down!”
“I’ll stick it up your rear end if I don’t get an explanation!” Brianna retorted angrily. Meanwhile the kids outside were rolling on the grass, tears in their eyes. They were laughing so hard it hurt. Ryal let out a few more cries of pain when the forest began to rumble. Brianna and Ryal immediately burst out of the door and looked at Jason, who was propped up against a tree laughing.
“You idiot!” Brianna shouted, trying to stab Ryal again. Ryal grabbed his machete and ripped it from his sister’s hands, causing Brianna to let out a cry of surprise. She turned her attention to Jason, who wiped a tear from his eye.
“I haven’t laughed that hard in-” Jason managed to get out before vines grabbed him and pulled him deeper into the forest. Ryal took off after him, but when the others tried to follow he stopped them.
“It gets too thick for non-locals to go on at this point. Don’t risk it.” Ryal said before running off.
“I think I realized his weakness.” Quad sighed.
“He underestimates everyone.” Derek finished. The group quickly followed by taking flight, keeping well above the trees, but they were unable to see anything. Below them, Ryal quickly navigated the familiar territory, hopping over rocks, pushing off of certain trees, jumping from branch to branch. It was much easier than it was before however, and he was able to keep up with the vines that would have been long gone by now. They were pulling Jason to the heart of the forest, and even Ryal was having trouble navigating through the thick brush at this point. The trees were so tall, and the brush was so thick, that the forest seemed to have been thrust into night time. Ryal pushed through the bushes more and more, until he came to a familiar dome of trees. The trees in this area were massive, completely dwarfing him. He looked like a measly fly, tiny and insignificant in the face of the tree. The trees opened up to a clearing, where they all covered too much of the forest to let in even a tiny bit of light. The only light originated from the heart of the forest. A giant dome-like structure in the middle of the clearing, hidden under the roof of the massive tree branches and house sized leaves.
The dome itself was comprised of nothing but tree branches, but a calm orange light escaped through the cracks in between the trees, illuminating the forest clearing, but not enough to drown out the thousands of fireflies in the area. There was only one, massive tree that rose from within the dome and joined the others at the top of the forest. Ryal took a deep breath and walked towards the one place in the forest he had never been, and was never allowed to go. Ryal stepped into the small archway at the entrance and covered his eyes, blinded by whatever the source of the orange light was. He walked for what seemed like minutes through a narrow hallway of tree branches. The ground became wet at a certain point, and then Ryal began to wade into water. The light was growing brighter, and he had to move forward, placing his faith in only his ki to sense anything coming towards him.
He was eventually neck deep in the water, and began to swim towards the source of the light. After almost thirty minutes of moving through this impossibly large hallway, Ryal came into the center of the dome. It looked exactly how he expected it to look. The tree that rose from the middle of the dome was rooted on a small island in the middle of the strange lake. The water had strange, glowing plants underneath the waves, and fireflies buzzed around the place in groups so large they looked like a single organism. There was no sign of the source of the orange light, so he assumed it was just magic.
He made his way to the center island to see Jason tied up against a tree, facing towards a woman wearing a generic white gi, identical to his. Her hair was messy and long, with the same shade of blonde that Ryal had. Ryal couldn’t see her eyes, but he knew they were the same piercing blue from all those years ago.
“Mother.” Ryal said as he got to the center island, his clothes drenched.
“Yo kiddo.” She said, turning around to face her son. “I told you to call me Ioze.”
“I can barely pronounce that.” Ryal said with a sad smile.
“You know what you just did, don’t you?” Ioze asked.
“Yes.” Ryal nodded.
“You know the consequences, don’t you?” Ioze asked. Ryal paused for a bit, taking a deep breath to steel himself, before answering.
“Yes.” Ryal responded again.
“I assume you are here to save him?” Ioze asked.
“I am.” Ryal responded simply.
“And you would betray our promise to the forest to do this?” Ioze frowned.
“I would.” Ryal choked.
“My duty as the maiden of the forest comes first, but as your mother, I must ask…” Ioze trailed off and closed her eyes. She looked back up at Ryal. “Why?”
“Why indeed? Why would I risk it all to save some loudmouth, stuck-up brat who can’t control his temper? It’s because I’ve grown up. There is more out there to protect than the forest, and I need his help, not just as an ally, but as one of my friends.” Ryal said. “Please don’t do this mom.” Ioze held back a few tears, but knew she had to abide by the rules as she had done with several others. Even if this was her son. She turned to Jason, making sure that he was properly drugged. She had sensed the boy’s ki, and he could break even the magical vines, so she made sure to drug him as soon as she caught him off guard. He couldn’t wake up before she fed him to the forest. She turned to see Ryal holding his machete, looking not at her, but at the vines.
“You truly are serious about this it seems. Then Ryal, as the thirteenth maiden of this forest, I hereby revoke your sacred protection to the forest, and will treat you as any other intruder. The punishment for threatening the forest…” She stopped and stared into her son’s cold blue eyes. He had grown so much over the past few years. She knew of his pain at Willowpeak, as she was constantly watching him. She gritted her teeth and finished. “Is death.” At this point the plants from underwater began to rise up, revealing themselves to be giant thorned vines, with bulbous lights attached to them. The lights leaked a fluid that smelled familiar to Ryal. It was definitely a poison. He turned back to see his mother standing, with her arms crossed and a cold expression upon her face. Ryal wanted to rescue Jason and escape as quickly as possible, so he threw his machete at full speed towards the vines. It would pierce right through the tree if he timed his throw correctly. His mother caught the blade between her fingers however, and stood unfazed. “I am a magic wielder and a fighter, just as my mother before me. Ryal, your punishment is unavoidable.” Ioze remarked.
Ryal leapt forward, trying to get past his mother. She was impressed by his speed, but wasn’t unable to keep up. She grabbed his leg before he was beyond her reach and threw him back. Ryal punched his fist into the ground to prevent himself from going into the water, which now smelled like a giant lake of poison.
Ioze launched forward to hit her son square in the stomach, but Ryal rolled out of the way, only getting grazed by the attack. He responded by tripping his mother, and making a break for Jason. Ioze jumped to her feet and flew up. She pointed at Ryal and the plants in the room began to work their way towards him. Ryal was about to reach Jason when one giant, thorny plant fell onto the ground in front of him, shaking the earth. The bulbs rocked back and forth, splashing their poison everywhere. Ryal dodged the falling droplets as best he could, but one managed to hit him on the arm. He howled in pain as it burned his skin. He realized immediately that this wasn’t poison, it was acid.
He jumped over the plant and grabbed Jason, ripping the first section of vines off of him. The forest roared with pain, causing the earth to begin shaking below Ryal. He fell off the tree and started falling towards one of the spikes. He was about to get out of the way when he felt his mother press down on his back to push him towards the spike. The sudden burst in speed nearly cost Ryal his life, as he only adjusted at last second, grasping onto the spiked with both hands. His mother jumped off his back and he kicked off the spike towards Jason. His mother flew up and delivered a chop kick to his chest. Ryal put his arms up to guard the hit, but she immediately switched from a chop kick to a roundhouse. Her superior mastery of flight made it easier for her to quickly shift attacks, and harder for Ryal to counter. Ryal got smacked into Jason, looking at him and realizing that he wasn’t fighting for himself, nor his pride. He was fighting for someone else. He felt a strange strength flow into him, as if this realization made it easier to do what he knew he had to do to save Jason.
Ryal kicked off the tree, narrowly avoiding Ioze’s next kick. Ryal grabbed one of the plants, and rode it along the outside edge of the dome. It was swiping along the outside to shake him off, but he stood perfectly balanced, his arms crossed as he faced his mother. He flung himself towards the center island, tucking and rolling as he ran forward. He threw a wild hook at his mother, who scoffed angrily and raised both hands to block it. Ryal then thrust his other hand forward as fast as he could, in it he held the machete he recovered during his roll.
It was all too late for Ioze to block it, and she felt the blade pierce straight through her abdomen. Blood trickled down from the corner of her lip and Ryal gritted his teeth, pained by what he had just done.
“I’m proud of you.” Ioze murmured as she fell on her back. She gasped for air and settled her breathing. Ryal fell to his mother’s side, holding her hand.
“You got strong kiddo.” She laughed. “Your father would be… so proud.”
“Mom… I’m so sorry.” Ryal sniffed. He had lost his warrior ways, and in that moment he was a child again. He had not seen his mother in years, but what he did made him forget all that. All he could think about were the years that she was there. When she held him and helped him learn martial arts while his dad taught him to hunt and travel.
“You want to see your dad?” Ioze hacked before spitting blood to the spit. “It’s alright to leave me here, I am not that weak.”
“Dad’s dead.” Ryal said, confusion decorating his tone.
“And who told you that?” Ioze questioned.
“I buried him myself.” Ryal reminded himself.
“Go check his grave. He won’t be there.” Ioze smirked. “I wouldn’t marry a man who would die to a simple cold. Your father left Ryal. He returned back to his home planet.”
“You mean-” Ryal began before Ioze hushed him and continued.
“I am about to pass out kid, listen closely. Your father came here long ago, and caused a great stir in the forest. The plants couldn’t beat him, the animals backed away in fear. No clay creature I made was even a challenge, and he turned to me as I begged him to leave the forest alone, and he frowned. He told me he never intended to harm the forest-” Ioze said before Ryal cut her off.
“Yes, yes, I know, and that’s how you two fell in love, please get to the point.” Ryal sighed.
“As impatient as ever.” Ioze commented. “Fine, your father arrived here, but after you were born he began to build a second space pod. He wanted you to go to his hunting planet and train. Train to become stronger and live the path you choose.”
“Where is it?” Ryal asked.
“Sub basement of the cabin. Your dad hid the trap door under that strange brick wall in the corner. Just break it and go down there. He dug a tunnel for you to get to it. It goes inside the mountain.” Ioze grunted and coughed again. “Don’t fret about this, I was glad to see you again.” Without another word Ioze could no longer fight away the pain, and she slipped into unconsciousness. Ryal looked at his machete, then to Jason. He wondered if this was going to be worth it.
Ryal cut Jason down in one fell swoop, and he immediately jolted awake. Jason fired a blast off in a rage, and Ryal sliced it in two with his machete, saving the forest for a bit longer. Jason grumbled and followed Ryal without another word. Ryal took one last look at his mother, and he wasn’t really sure whether or not she was actually trying to kill him.
Ryal returned to the others quickly, but found them missing. Paul landed nearby as soon as he saw them, and run up to Jason, bear hugging him. Malkor joined in on this soon after, latching onto his back. Jason begged for mercy, but Derek soon joined in, and it felt like he was going to pop.
“I found out where I am going to go.” Ryal sighed.
“Where is that?” Double asked as he swooped down to join the reunion.
“My dad’s old hunting grounds. He wanted me to go there and train since I was little. See you all in five years” Without another word Ryal turned away and walked into the cabin. The bear, Vlac, immediately attacked him, but nearly broke his teeth when he chomped down on Ryal’s arm. Ryal shoved him to the side and opened the trapdoor to the basement, falling through. Just as his mother told him to, he punched right through the brick wall and found a small opening in the ground. He dropped down and created a ball of ki for lighting. He was in a massive tunnel system, and he could see the roots extending down from the ceiling. Tree roots spread past him and Ryal was surprised how carefully his father had dug. He was tired of tunnels, and shot forward as fast as he could. He dodged the tree roots out of instinct, despite his banishment from the forest. He thought about how much his sister would hate him when she realized what he had done. She may actually try to kill him the next time they meet.
Ryal entered a small room, and saw a circular pod, just as his mother said. The pod was on top of some sort of spring mechanism. Ryal touched its side gently, and the pod slowly opened with a wheeze. Ryal waved dust away from his face and got into it.
“Hello son.” His father’s voice spoke out, scaring Ryal so bad he nearly blew up the pod. “I left this message for you in case the day came when you found out I was still alive. I’m sorry I left you. I had some business to take care of, and I couldn’t have the thought of leaving my son behind dragging me down, so I let you think I died. Press the big green button on the right side of the pod. It has the coordinates to our homeworld locked in. This pod is specially made to make sure you arrive there in five days. It will be a very uncomfortable trip, but don’t fret. You will be fine. The recording will continue when you get there.”
“Blah, blah blah.” Ryal slapped the button on the side of the pod, and suddenly he was looking at the empty void of space. He was moving at insane speeds, leaving Soluris. He looked behind him, but there was no window at the back of the spherical ship, only one in the front. Ryal sighed and decided to fall asleep. It was going to be a long, boring journey.
“He’s gone, isn’t he?” Paul asked with a sigh.
“Where did that idiot get a ship?” Jason grumbled.
“That ‘idiot’ saved your life. Be more grateful.” Derek groaned. He was getting really tired of Jason’s bratty attitude. Out of all of them, he was the only one who hadn’t matured. He hoped these five years would give him enough time to calm down and grow up, or else he may become physically sick of dealing with him. Even Paul was feeling a bit annoyed with Jason.
Double was flying with the others when he sensed something in the distance that made him stop. It was familiar somehow. Everyone else stopped and followed his gaze, sensing for whatever had stopped him.
“Crimson!” Paul shouted with a goofy grin on his face. He was shaking with excitement. It was as if his body was trying to move on its own to go meet him.
“Don’t.” Quad sighed. “While you were all training I got Syn and Ichirou to agree to bring the ship back here to us. If we aren’t there, they are going to leave.”
“Is that some sort of military agreement?” Derek asked.
“No, they are just assholes.” Trips groaned. “They can’t wait for two seconds. One time, they left Double and I on a gas giant for three whole days. We had to share an oxygen tank.”
“What were you doing on a gas giant?” Malkor asked.
“Training. High pressure, wind speeds, varying temperatures. Made it a great place to train.” Double answered
“So they are going to drop us all off?” Malkor asked.
“Yes they are.” Double confirmed. “Now hurry up. You can catch up with your friend in five years.”
“I haven’t seen him in almost a year.” Paul complained. “Can’t I just go and say goodbye?”
“As soon as Ichirou lands the ship, Sobrium’s men will immediately lock onto us. I know we could beat them, even with the governing officers, but I don’t want to take that chance, not with our ship here. As soon as they enter the atmosphere we have to be in the ship and leaving. Understood?” Double didn’t wait for a response, and immediately took off towards the agreed site. The others followed close, but were a little hesitant to leave Crimson alone. After all, he was the weakest of them all. What would happen if he were to be caught? They wouldn’t even have a chance to help him. Derek and Malkor talked about this for a while, sharing a heartfelt conversation, but decided to leave him behind. The two of them saw themselves as parts of something greater. Neither would go as far to call it “chasing a destiny” but as two logical people, they knew that they could make a change in this galaxy.
Jason and Paul flew a bit slower, exchanging very few words.
“He’s weak, thick-headed, and has no talent for fighting, but damnit he is one of us.” Jason looked down towards the ground.
“I agree. I don’t want to come back to find his lifeless body lying somewhere in the rubble of Taton like… some trash.” Paul sighed. “Even so, we need to get strong. In this galaxy, only the strong prosper, so it’s only logical that it takes someone stronger to counter them. Look at Derek. He’s blind, but he is one of the best fighter’s we have. That’s true strength. I wish I could be more like you guys.” Paul joined Jason in staring towards the ground in defeat. Due to the fact neither of them were paying attention, they both rammed into Derek’s shoes.
“Guys, please.” Derek begged. He turned his attention back to following Double, who was far ahead of them. In but an instant, a ship was suddenly in front of them. It wasn’t too big of a space vessel, but it was definitely impressive. It was shaped like a rhombus, with two wings on either side. Its metal was a shiny silver, and there was a large ‘X’ painted on both sides under the wings. Gravity machines on the wings allowed it to float as it was. The hatch on the back opened, and a short, incredibly beefy man was standing there. His hair was spiked and jet black, and he was shouting something. No one paid attention to whatever he was saying and immediately dove for the ship. Double and Trips were the first to get inside, and they made their way to the front of the craft, strapping themselves in. Quad followed soon after. Ichirou, who was at the front of the ship, was a shirtless man littered with battle scars. He was as well built as Syn, who was still shouting at the kids to hurry up, but his muscle was a bit more lean, not as bulky in appearance. His hair was also black, and spiked to the side.
“We are picking up incoming hostiles!” Ichirou shouted.
“Evasive maneuvers!” Double shouted. “Roll out of the way!” Ichirou immediately turned the ship to evade a massive ki blast. Below the ship was a red skinned giant, with smoke trailing from his mouth. Derek hopped inside, followed soon by Jason. They stared out the back with Syn, urging the other two to hurry.
“Double, That’s Gundlr!” Syn yelled towards the front of the ship.
“I know!” Double cried out in frustration. Malkor got on the ship soon after, sprinting with the others to the front.
“Sorry kid!” Syn said, running away from the back hatch. Paul was almost there until Gundlr grabbed his leg. Paul looked up for help, but no one was there. Malkor, realizing Paul was not yet on, passed Syn on his way to help. He dove out of the ship and grabbed Gundlr by the neck. He easily plucked him off and held him by his skull. He started to squeeze, laughing in his brutish way.
“Paul!” Jason said, diving towards Gundlr with a cry of rage. Gundlr threw Paul towards Jason, causing the both of them to tumble over. Jason was immediately knocked out. Malkor cried in pain as he felt his skull give in to the pressure applied to it. Everyone watched in horror as Gundlr squeezed the life out of Malkor as slow as he could. Double was fighting with Ichirou about leaving, but the ship was beginning to prepare for travel. There was a shout from outside the ship and Gundlr was gone. Malkor was on the inside of the ship looking behind him. Everyone froze, wondering what had just happened. The kids all jumped up to see what happened, but the ship was already in space, with the hatch locked tight. Double sighed and sat back in his chair.
“That was a lucky break, whatever that was.” Trips commented.
“I couldn’t even see what happened.” Syn grumbled. Double got up from his chair and went over to the kids. There was a small hallway in the ship before they reached the main room, where all the seats were, as well as the controls. Double pointed to one of the doors on the side.
“That’s where we go to the bathroom.” Double informed them, before his hand glided over to the other door across the hallway. “That is where we eat. Jason is being dropped off first, because his area is the most dangerous, followed by Paul, Derek, and Malkor. Then we are going home. Remember the plan. Either we pick you up exactly where we dropped you off, or you find your own way back to Soluris.” With that, Double entered the kitchen and began to prepare his first electronically cooked meal in months. Malkor went to the bathroom, and Jason leaned on the wall outside. Derek and Paul sat on a couch imbedded in the wall of the ship. Ichirou and Syn offered them threatening gazes.
“You almost got us killed.” Ichirou scoffed.
“Are you dead right now?” Derek retorted. “No? Then shut it and drive the ship.”
“It’s on auto-pilot you dunce. One little touch of the wheel while we are moving this much faster than light, and we are screwed.” Ichirou snorted. He disliked these brats. Double he was forced to pick up, but he didn’t like the guests. Paul got up and stared out the window on the side of the room. It covered a good portion of the rhombus shaped front of the ship. In fact, the entire front of the ship was nearly nothing but windows. He looked down and saw an empty void, making him wondered just how vast space was.
Gundlr gurgled and spat. “Who was that?” He held his eye and looked around. Crimson had been approaching the ship, and saw Paul being choked, but he had no clue what actually saved them. He might as well take the credit for it since it was apparent someone was on his side.
“I did.” Crimson lied, floating down in front of the giant red brute. He was far more intimidating up close. Gundlr punched towards Crimson. It was fast enough to create a minor sonic boom, but Crimson managed to dodge it due to the predictable nature of his strike. He wasn’t a martial artist, which gave him an advantage. While he was fighting, Gundlr would likely forget about the ship, at least for the time being. It would give them all more time to get deeper into space, or reach wherever it is they were going. He was envious of his friends. He always wanted to go see the stars up close and personal.
Gundlr launched another flurry of wild hooks. He was fast for his size, which made Crimson all the more wary of getting hit. Gundlr began to speed up in his rage, but was still predictable enough. Crimson began to gain distance on Gundlr, causing him to roar in rage and drop to the ground. Gundlr hurled a couple slabs of rock at Crimson from the ground, but he swatted them aside with ease.
Crimson clenched and unclenched his fists, looking at the aura that surrounded him. It was like a blue flame, rising steadily all over his body. He lunged towards Gundlr, who let out a cry of surprise and dodged out of the way. Due to his massive size, he nearly got hit by Crimson’s divekick. Crimson turned immediately and swung his other leg around in a roundhouse kick. Gundlr fell back, hoping to avoid a blow to the head. Crimson hit him square in the chest, flattening him along the ground.
Gundlr pat blood and reached up to grab Crimson’s neck. Crimson jumped back, but he wasn’t quite fast enough to get out of reach. Gundlr grabbed his leg and slammed him into the side of a nearby tree, snapping it in two like balsa wood. Crimson planted his free foot on Gundlr’s massive hand, pushing away to pry himself off. Gundlr swung Crimson around, continuing to break all nearby trees. They did little more than break under the power of Crimson’s aura. Gundlr, realizing the futility of his attack, began to slam Crimson into the ground like an angry baby. Crimson was still fine however, but could feel his ki depleting from how immense the attacks he had to block were. If this didn’t stop soon he wouldn’t even have a chance.
Crimson reached down with his arms, pulling at Gundlr’s hand. He ripped his fingers away, and jumped out of his way. Gundlr roared in anger and ripped a nearby stump from the ground and chucked it at Crimson. Crimson held his arms up to block the object from hitting him, but by the time he prepared for the stump, Gundlr was at his side, jabbing him in the ribs. Crimson stumbled to the side, narrowly avoiding the stump that Gundlr threw. He regained his composure immediately and dropped to the ground, kicked forward to take out Gundlr’s legs. He jumped upward, and attempted to belly flop Crimson while he was on the ground. Crimson rolled out of the way, and as Gundlr hit the ground, he caused Crimson to bounce up from the ground. While he was airborne, Gundlr opened up his mouth and fired a ki blast. Crimson chopped the blast in half, then felt the windforce of the explosion that occurred behind him. Gundlr spat a few more of those attacks, and Crimson casually moved his head out of the way, dodging every single blast.
“That the best you got?” Crimson teased Gundlr. “I thought you murderer’s were experienced fighters, but you are no more than a fussy baby throwing his power all over.” The comment got under Gundlr’s skin, and Crimson could swear that it was getting more red by the second. Gundlr exploded forward, throwing up rocks and grass from the place where he took off. Crimson perfectly predicted his wild movement, and stuck his foot out. Gundlr ran full force into Crimson’s foot. “Wear yourself out already?” Crimson teased again. “If you’re one of Sobrium’s best, then I have nothing to worry about.”
In truth this was all a bluff. Crimson nearly felt his foot snap in half when Gundlr crashed into it, and it did more damage to him than it did to Gundlr. He was going to have to keep the fight in the air to prevent him from recognizing the bluff. Gundlr crashed both his hands together, trying to squash Crimson’s head in a clap. Crimson flung himself backwards, and looked at Gundlr upside down. He headbutted him as hard as he could, breaking his nose immediately. Gundlr fell away from Crimson, holding his nose and screaming at the top of his lungs. Crimson took this chance to put both his hands above him, holding them just above his head. He created a ki ball that nearly touched his hair.
“Crimson…” He began, struggling to keep it intact. He was pouring all of his power into it for a last ditch attack. “Cannon…” Crimson continued, staring at Gundlr, feeling his power pour into this ball of ki he held above his head. This attack gave him flashbacks to the time Paul told him it would be easier to name his own attacks, considering his name was indeed, an adjective. It put a smile on his face and gave him the willpower he needed to put more power into the attack. Every last bit of his strength went directly into it, and lightning began to crackle from the red sphere above his head. “Fire!” With that final word, Crimson brought one of his hands down from his head, holding the sphere and aiming it forward. With his arm extended, the ball shot outwards into a giant, continuous beam. Gundlr tried to move out of the way, but he had been too distracted He took the hit directly to the side of his abdomen, and it pierced right through him. The forest in the distance exploded, looking like something out of an action movie. Crimson panted, and began to slowly float down towards the ground. He was barely able to move at this point.
Gundlr fell to the ground in front of him, sitting on one knee. He smiled to Crimson, and his eyes turned a bright green. “I can’t be killed… by the likes of you.” He huffed. “I’m the ultimate lifeform, I adapt to everything, even death!”
“I call… your bluff.” Crimson spat and stood up. “Ready for round two?” As soon as he got the sentence out, a fist planted itself firmly into his abdomen. He coughed as the air was knocked out of him, and he was pushed skywards. He fell limp as he went flying upwards. Gundlr charged at him with an animalistic roar. Crimson recovered quickly, and rolled out of the way. He fell to the ground, slamming down on one knee. He looked at Gundlr with gritted teeth and a gleam of determination. Gundlr slowed his animalistic assault, anticipating an attack. Crimson had counted on his caution, and ripped out his senzu bean bag. He stuffed the last one he had into his mouth and crunched down on it. Gundlr growled, angered by the trick. He lunged forward at Crimson, looking like a red comet crashing towards the ground. With enough energy, Crimson finally used the technique he had been trying to master for the longest time. He placed two fingers on his forehead and concentrated.
In an instant he disappeared, transmitting himself behind Gundlr. Gundlr tried to turn around, but Crimson connected a chop kick to his ribs, followed swiftly by a hook to his back. Gundlr plummeted towards the ground, hitting it with a large thud that sent grass and dirt flying up into the air, almost reaching Crimson. With not a second of hesitation, Crimson dropped down onto Gundlr’s spine and he heard the snapping under his foot. Crimson hopped off and swiped his hand, clearing away all the dust. As soon as he had a clear view, he saw Gundlrs face lunging towards him. Crimson put two fingers on his head again, but Gundlr grabbed his arm, pulling it away quickly. It was at this moment what Crimson realized what Gundlr meant by adaptable.
Crimson swung over Gundlr and planted his knee into his spine, attempting to incapacitate him again. Gundlr flinched for a few moments, and Crimson watched his back and saw that his knee had dug through his skin, snapping his spine clean in two. It was visible from his back, but even with such a grievous injury, Gundlr began to heal. Crimson put Gundlr in a headlock, squeezing as tight as he could. He continue to his his spine. Gundlr roared in pain and swung his arms wildly at Crimson. He clocked Crimson right in the cheek, dislocating his jaw. Crimson continued choking him however, causing Gundlr to swing even more ferociously. Crimson worked on dodging his strikes until they began to calm down, until ceasing all together. Crimson held on for a few more minutes just to be sure. He pulled himself out from under the giant’s back, and began gathering power in his fist. He held it to the sky, grabbing Gundlr with his other hand. He threw Gundlr high into the atmosphere, then took a few breaths as he charged his attack. He wung his fist around as Gundlr fell, intending to connect with him the moment he made impact.
Gundlr woke up and saw the ground rapidly approaching, but he was in such a daze that he didn’t even realize what this meant. He coughed a bit, rubbing his throat. As soon as he saw a bright light in the distance, he attempted to correct his course, to avoid it enough to get away.
“Rising Star!” Crimson shouted, swinging his fist around and striking skywards again in a full uppercut. All the energy in his fist exploded outwards, heading directly up towards Gundlr. Gundlr panicked, shaking back and forth, attempting to get out of the way, but the attack was too fast. The yellow beam of energy hit him dead on, piercing straight through his ki barrier. Gundlr thought back to what the scientist said. That his bones were indestructible. He could adapt to anything, this was no different. All he had to do was endure the pain. The power of the beam was too great however, and he felt his bones beginning to crack and break apart. He let out a scream of pain as he was completely vaporized by Crimson’s attack.
Crimson sat there, panting and staring up at pieces of rocks, dirt, and plants that had been sucked up with the beam as they fell gently back to Soluris. Gundlr was no more.
“That was for Ecanoya, Ko, Mur, Saguaro, everyone! That was for my friends who live as warriors instead of children! That was for Rob, Daphne, and all the people from the orphanage! Including Jacob!” Crimson shouted before someone interrupted from behind him.
“Whose Jacob?” He asked. Crimson turned around and his eyes widened with surprise.
Ryal snored loudly, completely unconscious inside the pod. The pod began to rumble as it entered an atmosphere, and Ryal opened on eye. He looked out the front window of the pod, and saw dirt. The door slowly opened and Ryal yawned, climbing out of it.
“It’s about damn time!” Ryal shouted, stretching. He jumped out of the crater and looked around the clearing. The planet was even more lush than his forest, completely untouched by generations of man. The sky had a big red sun, and there were moons all around the planet. The trees around the area were as tall as the ones in the heart of his forest. He heard the pod begin to play a recording, and immediately hopped back down.
“Welcome, to our home world.” Ryal managed to hear as he landed. It was his father’s voice again, although this time it sounded a bit different, older. “This is the planet where I grew stronger. My father took me here when I was young, and his father before him. This is the world of hunters, the planet of giants. Far from the galaxy, it drifts around a lonely star, accompanied by twelve beautiful moons, the freshest water in the cosmos, and the biggest game you could ever hope to hunt. I only ever managed to make it to the equator in my first three years, and I bet that is where I will still be waiting when I come back here. I have never gotten to the dark side of the planet, the creatures there are too big and powerful. I made sure you landed on the north pole. It’s pretty hot, right? You should be in an oasis area. Try to hunt the game here to get stronger son, I believe in you.” His father broke into a coughing fit and then continued. “I probably won’t be here by the time you find out about the pod, at least not anymore. There is much for me to do around the galaxy. I have a cabin on the equator, right before the planet shifts from sunlight to complete darkness. Have fun, and stay safe.”
Ryal heard the recording click off, and smile creeped across his lips. This place was going to be the best. The oasis around him was lush, making a desert look even nicer than his cabin. He began to fly up, when he heard a sound alike wings flapping, but it was incredibly heavy. Whatever made the gust nearly shoved Ryal back to the Earth. He looked up and his jaw dropped. It was a bird, about the size of a house, with a wingspan that cast enough of a shadow to convince someone it was night. It looked like a woodpecker. Ryal followed it as it approached a giant palm tree, and landed on it. It was like being an ant, watching a woodpecker work. This place was truly the ultimate hunting ground.
Ryal returned to his pod and grabbed his machete. He jumped up, flying next to woodpecker. It sounded like an explosion every time it pecked the wood. Ryal maneuvered around the wood chips the size of cars that shot out as the bird broke into the tree. The woodpecker stopped and turned its head to him. It tried to grab him, but he jumped back. It took flight and began to chase him as he flew. He wasn’t too good with flying, so he dropped onto the ground as quickly as he could. He heard the massive beak clap together behind him as he dropped. It was closing quickly. Ryal landed on one hand, spun his foot along so the bird couldn’t grab it, and as it opened its mouth to consume him, he pushed off the ground, unsheathing his machete and stabbing towards its eye. He hit the bird dead on, causing it to let out a shriek of pain, then fell limp. Ryal panted a little then shook excitedly. If this was the small game on this planet, then what would this worlds game be like?
Ryal spent the rest of the week setting up a home around the oasis, using the chips of the tree that the woodpecker broke off of him. His father was right about the water as well, it was so rejuvenating that it was almost magic. Speaking of which, he was planning on practicing it more. His sister taught him the techniques that let him get the upper hand on Bryce, and he would like to make sure that it improved along with his strength. Ryal went into his makeshift house, and flopped down on the giant leaf he had made into a bed. It was incredibly comfortable, and Ryal quickly fell asleep.
Paul dropped from the ship at the edge of the planet’s atmosphere, crashing towards the surface as fast as he could. As he fell, there were a tremendous amount of bullets shot in his direction. Paul gritted his teeth and began to roll out of the way of all these bullets, dodging them to the best of his ability while not losing his speed. He landed next to a floating tank, and a soldier turned to shoot him. Paul flicked the soldier’s helmet, bending it inward a bit and instantly causing him to crumple. Paul covered his mouth in surprise. A soldier came up next to him and shot him in the head. The bullet bounce off of Paul’s head and exploded the front end of the gun. The soldier shook in his boots and Paul knelt next to the corpse, regret plastered across his face. He heard the soldier faintly breathing and he sighed in relief.
The soldier that shot at him initially pulled out a plasma rifle and shot at Paul. Paul slapped the blast away, but winced in pain. He looked at his hand, which was now burned. It was definitely not the same type of laser that was used by the Blue Bowtie Battalion, it was incredibly powerful. He gulped, imagining what would have happened if he had been hit by those while falling. However, due to the fact that the soldier did not use it outright, Paul understood that they were conserved for people like him. He clenched his fist and swung around, breaking the gun in two. He lifted the soldier up by his throat and looked him in the eyes.
“Who can stop this violence?” Paul asked.
“No one!” The soldier spat. “Not on my life will I ever stop killing the men of the south!” When he finished saying that, the area was filling with fire from bullets and plasma rifles alike. Paul threw the man behind the tank to protect him, and dove for cover. The tank fired a plasma shot into the woods and there were several screams as an explosion erupted from the forest. Paul covered his eyes, shielding himself from the bright blast. He flew up and looked out in the forest, trying to find anywhere, anywhere at all that he could escape the violence.
Everywhere within eyesight was covered in explosions, gunshots, and screams. Paul’s teeth chattered, and he felt weak. There was so much death everywhere around him, he knew it would be horrible, but this was far beyond his worst nightmares. He dropped down to the ground, and saw a man reaching up to him, begging for help. Paul immediately reached out for him, but an explosion sent him flying backwards. He turned to see a tank aiming directly at his head. Paul got his guard up as fast as he could, but he took the tank shell directly to the head. He fell over unconscious on the spot.
Paul groaned and woke up. The sky was black with smoke, and all around him were the dead and dying bodies of the men from the battle. There was no longer a forest, just a barren wasteland of charred tree stumps. There were hundreds of vehicles scattered about, mostly tanks, that were utterly destroyed. Nothing but twisted metal. Paul got up slowly, coughing and wheezing. The air was barely tolerable. He limped over, looking at all the wounded men.
“Why hasn’t anyone come to help them yet?” He asked aloud.
“We don’t do that anymore… the wounded are left to die.” A man responded as he sat still. He held a bloody picture of children in his hand, and was missing an entire leg. Paul gritted his teeth and lifted the man up. Despite his protests, Paul carried him away. He couldn’t fly, as someone may start shooting again, and he was still too dazed from that shot to be able to dodge in time. He walked across the wasteland, carrying the man, who only groaned and cried out in pain. There were several more like him, none of which asked for help, or even looked at Paul angrily. They had all just given up hope. It all made Paul sick to his stomach. As he regained his bearings he began to run. As he ran, he kept the man held in the air slightly, so he didn’t bounce up and down on Paul’s back. His leg had been shot off by a plasma weapon, so he wasn’t bleeding too much. However, Paul didn’t know just how long he had been sitting there.
Paul saw a city in the distance and sped up his run. He made it there in a few minutes, looking around for the hospital. He asked for direction from several locals, all of which pointed in a direction, but didn’t give him details. Luckily, there was a nurse on the outside that gave it away when he neared it.
“Save him!” Paul screamed. The doctor immediately got to work, pointing to a nurse to help him as he made his way down the hallway. He muttered to himself at how ugly the wound looked, and that it may already be infected.
Paul sat outside the room for a few hours, waiting for the news from the doctor, his hands trembling. The doctor came out of the room, wiping the sweat from his brow. He looked at Paul and coughed.
“He didn’t make it. The wound wasn’t completely cauterized, he just lost too much blood.” The doctor frowned. “A shame too. I will have to tell Barb and the kids.”
“You knew him?” Paul asked.
“I did.” The doctor nodded. “This was just one minor battle between two towns from the north and south. For now we are all going to recuperate, then return to fighting as soon as we can.”
“Is there anyway to stop this? How do I stop the madness? What do I do?” Paul held his head, having a mental breakdown.
“No one is strong enough to stop this war without killing everyone outright. It’s best that you just rest for a bit kid. They will probably force you into the war later in your life, you might want to make peace with that.” The doctor pulled his gloves off and threw them in the trash, walking off. Even he had given up hope.
Paul tightened his grip and looked at the mirror, seeing anger in his eyes. He was filled with determination, and knew these next five years were going to be dedicated to ending the war.
Derek sat in the bar, wiping mud off of his face. “Picking on a blind kid. How tough of you. Momma must be real proud.” Derek smiled towards the laughing man. The laughter stopped as the men looked to one another.
“You don’t seem to understand where you just got dropped off pipsqueak.” One of the men laughed.
“In a dingy bar with a bunch of dumbasses who make rocks seem like intelligent beings?” Derek responded. A man took a swing at him, but Derek slid back. They definitely knew how to use ki, but it was obvious they didn’t train it at all. The next man jumped forward, and Derek planted his foot on his chest, fell back, and launched him directly over him. He crashed into the bar counter, which angered the bartender, causing him to join in on the fray by choking the man who just crashed into the bar. One of the patrons broke a bottle and tried to cut the bartender, but he stretched out one arm and held the patron by the neck, choking two men at once.
Another man hopped the bar and attempted to smack the bartender with a pan, but he swung one of the men over, causing him to take the strike instead. He then chucked the other man towards the one with the pan, sending both of them rolling along the ground. Derek kicked away a patron who attempted to pull a gun on him, and rolled up against the edge of the glass dome the bar was in. Someone swung a chair at him, but they might as well have been standing still. Derek maneuvered around the man easily, and kicked his back, shoving his face into the wall. Someone rushed up to Derek, attempting to grab him, but Derek kicked off the man’s back and shoved his foot into the assailants gut, causing him to fall forward, coughing. Derek looked around at all the chaos that had erupted. One man getting thrown around was enough of an excuse to start a brawl.
These pirates were all part of rival crews, brought together for some purpose Derek did not yet understand. A bar was the best place to meet and greet with thugs, so Derek figured if he knocked a few of them around and abandoned the stealthy investigation style, he can go undercover like Malkor was, and get some real information on the enemy.
A few minutes later the fighting died down, and there were only a few people left standing. The bartender, a giant, grey skinned behemoth who looked like a fish with legs, turned to Derek. He lunged over the counter, obviously still in his rage. Derek delivered an ax kick to his head as he soared through the air, smashing him into the ground and knocking him out on the spot.
“That was insane!” One of the pirates shouted in excitement.
“Who’s up for another round?” Another shouted from the corner. He was bouncing up and down on his tip toes, and Derek could tell the two who were left standing weren’t ordinary thugs. He walked over to the one who wasn’t bouncing, and he tensed up, expecting a fight. When he saw Derek was not interested in challenging him, he relaxed and cracked a smile.
“Never seen a blind man around here. Not one that lasted too long at least.” The pirate commented.
“I am not your ordinary blind man.” Derek stated.
“What crew are you with?” The man asked.
“No one. I was looking to join one actually.” Derek admitted. The man smiled again. Derek figured it would be best to let him believe that Derek was really blind. He had gotten tremendously better at making shapes out of ki. He could tell a person apart from their strands of hair, although he was still having trouble navigating some spaces. He tried projecting his energy, like a sort of echolocation, but it was much harder than it sounded.
“My names Judes!” The man laughed. “And that over there is my partner from the Swirly Pirates, JayJay.”
“Sexiest pirate alive.” JayJay commented. “We are actually looking for some more people to join our crew. Sold a bit too many hands to the war efforts of a few planets. Not many of them came back either.”
“Sound great.” Derek smiled. “When do we begin?”
The smell was putrid. They were everywhere. In the streets, in houses, running around outside of schools. Sobrium’s people sickened Jason to his stomach. He felt their power however, and this was definitely one of his most valued worlds. They were incredibly powerful, but if Jason played his cards right, he may come out of this training as the strongest one yet.
He walked down the street casually. This planet’s residents all looked like Namekians, but they were different. They had no pink spots on their arms that showed of their muscle, and there were females among them. They all had no hair, and big lips. They shot Jason funny glances as he walked down the street. Jason could tell they knew he wasn’t a Sobrium supporter.
One of them grabbed the children and began funnelling them back into a building that Jason could only assume was a school, or a shelter of some kind. A man approached him from behind, obviously with hostile intentions. Jason swung around before he could get the jump on him, kicking the man in the leg. Due to being caught off guard, the man’s shin snapped in two like a toothpick. He fell over, crying in pain, and that is when the other townsfolk sprung into action. Jason fled from the group, a smirk on his face.
One leaped to hit him, screaming “Hail King Sobrium!” Jason stepped to the side, letting him fall into an alley behind him. He swung his foot around and struck the man in the side of the head. He went straight through the brick wall on the side of a building, and before Jason could pursue him, someone armbarred him from the back.
“Give up!” The woman shouted. “King Sobrium would have killed you on the spot, but we will be merciful.”
“That makes one of us.” Jason snapped his arm from her grip, ripping the shoulder out of the socket with a sickening pop. Jason then reached out for her trachea with his other arm, and crushed it in his grip. The other assailants stopped and stared in horror. They were looking at something that wasn’t natural. A beast, not a boy. “It sickens me how devoted you all are to a murderer like Sobrium.”
“King Sobrium kept our planet on the map! He never treats his own people wrong!” One man shouted. “Only those who resist are treated like trash!”
“When the military get’s here, you’re dead!” Another shouted as he clutched the woman’s body in his grip. “D-e-a-d!” Jason felt power levels far greater than his approaching from the distance, and immediately fled the scene. Some citizens tried to follow them, and they kept good pace, but their power was not obtained by training, and their stamina quickly depleted. Jason made a break for it at this moment, and escaped his pursuers. He immediately veered to the right in order to throw off his pursuers. He turned around and fired a large ki wave in the other direction to make it seem like he had gone that way. All these people on this planet were brainwashed. Jason held his shoulder and roared in anger. His pain was his strength. He was practically addicted to pain these days. Every time he felt any sort of pain he unlocked power he didn’t have regularly. Like when he was fighting Cabba. He not only absorbed Paul’s power, but used the peak of his. He smiled eagerly, thinking of how strong he could get in the next few years. He felt a little lonely on the first night in the wilderness. No softhearted Paul to play a prank on, no Derek or Malkor to talk to, or annoying Ryal to fight with. Even Crimson would have been nice to have around, despite his annoying self-loathing. He was utterly alone. He looked at the stars in the sky and he realized that they had opened up to him.
No longer were they simply little twinkles in the sky. They were worlds, billions upon billions of kilometers away. His friends were probably all looking up at the sky right now, wondering how he was doing.
Malkor took his eyes off the night sky and looked around the dingy planet. It was practically a moon with a few trees on it here and there. The place was packed with a bunch of thugs who looked down on him, and it wasn’t just because he was chin level with their knees.
“Nice hit!” A cackle emerged from the back of the crowd. “I felt the ‘heat’ from here.” Due to his height, Malkor had no trouble maneuvering around the laughing and cheering crowd to see makeshift ring, on it stood a Saiyan man, bleeding and broken on the ground, before another Zenkon. Across the ring, sitting in a large throne like chair, was someone Malkor definitely didn’t expect to be there.
King Heat leaned forward in his chair. “I love these little gatherings. Much more interesting than politics!” He clapped his hands and leaned back. “Finish him off, and you can join the fighting ring, give him mercy and you have to win another round.” The Zenkon bowed and shot a tiny ki beam straight through the Saiyan’s heart, causing him to seize for a second, then fall limp. A man jumped up on the stage and removed the body, then Heat scanned the crowd. “Let’s see…” He stroked his chin. The Zenkon hopped off the ring on Heat’s side, where several fighters stood. They were definitely stronger than Malkor, which began to cause him some panic. He slinked back through the crowd until someone grabbed him by his robe and held him up.
“What about this little tyke?” He laughed. Heat chuckled.
“He’ll do! Throw him in!” Heat shouted back. Malkor screamed as the man chucked him like a football onto the stage. He tumbled a little bit, but stood upright in only a few moments. He looked up at Heat, and kneeled. It was the only thing he could think to do.
“Stand up you idiot.” Heat rolled his eyes. “Politicians, citizens and royalty bow to me. You are none of those. You are a warrior when you are in this ring. So stand up and fight. You spend another second on your knee and I will serve it as the main dish at tonight’s feast.” Malkor jumped up immediately. Heat smirked, knowing this one would not last very long. He pointed at a man in the back of the crowd.
“Yes!” The man shouted excitedly, jumping onto the ring before he got a glimpse of his opponent. “Aw it’s just a kid. Are you sure about this King Heat?”
“Of course I am, now fight! Come on, I am very busy today, I want to get this year’s fighting ring set up as quickly as possible. I only have two-hundred out of the two-hundred-fifty I need.” Heat encouraged. The man nodded then lunged at Malkor, planting a cheap shot in his gut. Malkor fell to one knee and spat blood. The man then ruthlessly delivered another kick to Malkor’s side, sending him across the ring. As Malkor flew, he charged an attack between one finger and his forehead. Lightning flowed between the two of them. Malkor stopped his flight by dragging his hand along the ground and growling at the man. He fired his ‘Brain Wave’ attack at him. The man, taken aback by the speed and randomness of the lightning bolt, jumped back. Malkor lifted his finger and had the attack follow him. The attack bounced off of the stages floor and struck the man right through the gut. He spat blood and fell forward. Heat perked an eyebrow, not expecting such an outcome to be reached so quickly.
“Finish him off or fight another round, your choice.” Heat sighed. Malkor thought rationally about the situation. If he finished the man off, then he will have successfully infiltrated Heat’s fighting ring, and would be fighting everyday to increase his power. If he didn’t however, his next opponent may not be so nice. The choice was obvious. His opponent was a thug and a murderer anyway; sparing him would do nothing. Malkor stomped on the man’s chest, crushing several of his organs and killing him. Malkor hopped off the stage and stood by the other Zenkon.
“Nice fight kid.” The Zenkon whispered as Heat chose another fighter.
“Thanks.” Malkor blushed.
“Hey, want to join my team?” The Zenkon asked.
“What’s a team?” Malkor asked, staring at him with a confused expression.
“Heat allows groups of four to five people in his fighting rings. These people will never fight each other in matches via random selection, and can only fight if they both agree to. If one member of a team receives Heat’s approval for his army, then the rest will receive a special look from Heat as well. It’s a great way to get closer to Heat quickly. You probably already made an impression with that incredibly strange attack of yours. Names Oloy by the way.” Oloy informed.
“I’m Malkor.” Malkor introduced himself. The two shook hands.
“Surprised to find another Zenkon here, especially a kid as strong as you.” Oloy yawned.
“I wanted to stop living in the gutter.” Malkor lied. Oloy cast a glance his way, catching something strange with how Malkor said it, but didn’t suspect that he was lying.
“You’re a strange kid. Let’s get down to business, alright? From here on out, you, me, and my buddies will own this ring.” Oloy smiled, turning to the fight currently taking place.
The ship’s engine was loud and gurgly. That was not a good sign. Blaze rushed to the front of the massive vessel. “Report!” He shouted, brushing smoke out of his face.
“We hit a space mine sire! Engines Moulin, Raginis and Marshall will be burned up in landfall! Estimated thirty percent loss of crew lives, and that’s if we are lucky!” The captain shouted.
“Damn it! How are the other battlecruisers?” Blaze asked.
“Shaken, but only one is in worse state than we are. This won’t affect our victory sir!” He responded. Blaze walked to the front of the ship and stared down at planet Gilgea. He took a deep breath and prepared the ship for impact. He used his ki to slow the ship’s impact as it entered the atmosphere, hopefully reducing casualties from the crash. “Engine Stonewall just gave out sir! We are plummeting now!”
As soon as the ship touched the ground it sent a shockwave through the entire vessel. Its thousands of passengers felt it in their bones, right before it chucked them into walls or down hallways. The ship fell over and began dragging through the ground. Blaze did his best to protect the ship, and all he was trying to do now was slow it to a stop. The ship’s power went out as it continued to take damage, and then lights began to rip from their positions and dangle from the ceilings. The ship stopped completely when the side of it struck a plateau. Blaze fell forward, landing on his hands and knees. He pushed himself up and looked around the dark room, only barely illuminated by the sparks flying from the fallen lights. Dust was thick in the air, and a good portion of the windows had caved in as dirt funnelled into the front of the ship.
“Joan!” Blaze shouted, looking for his second in command. She stood up, waving smoke dust away from her face.
“I’m fine, I’m fine.” She coughed. “We made landfall, the others should be here soon.”
“Alright.” Blaze nodded. “I’m going to go ahead and meet up with them, and lead the siege on Protenor castle. Check casualties in the ship, see how many can still fight, and meet us on the front lines.” Joan nodded and ran off to the back of the ship. Blaze sighed, hoping she would be alright. He jumped out the front window of the ship, through the tiny sliver of space that wasn’t buried under the dirt. He looked back at the massive space vessel and frowned. They were expensive, and this was far beyond repair. It was rectangular, but curved more towards the front. Inferno had jumped out of the cylinder on the front of the rectangle. Class five Invaders, the most reliable troop transport ship in the cosmos, and here it lay after one strike from a mine. So much for his savings.
He ran off at top speed as soon as he saw another Invader land safely in the distance. The soldiers funnelled out of the ship and raised their fists.
“Hoorah!” They shouted as they hopped off the ship. Blaze ran up to the edge of a cliff and pointed directly outwards, over the arc of the massive ship. Soldiers looked up and continued to shout things at Blaze, but his voice boomed louder than all of theirs.
“Onward! To the castle!” He roared.
Meanwhile, on the inside of the castle, Inferno sat, legs crossed, bored out of his mind. “Is he here yet?” Inferno asked one of the soldiers.
“Sir how can you be sure that Blaze will-” The woman began before Inferno cut her off with an angry glare.
“My father and brothers may not believe it, but Blaze is smarter than they think. However his emotions cloud his judgement. The price of Invaders, along with other class three to five ships has shot up in the past months, meaning someone most likely bought a large quantity on the intergalactic market. Their account was untraceable, the vessels picked up by cloaked figures, who didn’t so much as speak a word when they picked up the ships, and no one has a clue where they went. Even my top spies lost their ships. Now I have run through the numerous Heat empire rivals with enough money to purchase such a large quantity of ships, and this is where my brothers stopped caring, but surprisingly, father was in good enough of a mood to listen to me. I told him Sobrium would be a likely candidate, but he was too busy fighting the ORBL on the southern side of the galaxy. To mount an attack on us would be costly and inefficient, even if he does have the manpower to do it four times over.” Inferno began to explain before the soldier questioned him again.
“Because most of them are incredibly weak, correct?” The soldier asked.
“Correct. See, I knew I kept you around for a reason!” Inferno laughed then continued. “By working through the problems, I knew that the ORBL wouldn’t dare move now without the Kings of Fighting, which by the way, is a very unoriginal name. Ghost is on Soluris doing god knows what, and Exo has been missing in action for a few years, although I think he will surface again soon. No one knows exactly where Aohi is, either, which severely reduces the ORBL’s attack power. ORBL is out of the question, as is Sobrium. Then I thought, perhaps the pirates or the cultists? I know very little about the cultists, but a bit of digging showed they do not have the funds for vessels beyond fourth class, and the pirates are currently having their own little civil war, so there is only one faction that could possibly have gotten those ships.” Inferno smirked. “And they are led by none other than my brother. Finally, the matter of why this planet out of all of ours? Well of course the reason is that it is mine. Blaze always hated me, and so now he wishes to start a war with this new Blazing faction of his, with me as the first target simply because I am the weakest of my brothers. A fundamental error in any leaders planning is to underestimate the enemy. The proper knowledge is better than any tens of thousands of ships and troops. I will stop the child throwing a hissy fit here and now, with all the fiery passion befiting of my name. Therefore I name this operation… Blazing Inferno.”
“Brilliant deduction sir! I am still a bit unclear on how he was able to make massive cruise ships vanish without a trace, and how you knew it was your brother.” The soldier inquired.
“Simple. My brother facades as a fighter for truth and justice, attempting to ‘overthrow the cruel reign of the Heat’s’. I know the truth though. He took his money, his friends, and he hid when father threw him out. He got an advisor because he’s a dumbass, and they told him to buy invader ships for the troops, but to make it as discreet as possible. The silly little cloaked figures trick was to try and throw off a passerby into thinking the cultists bought it. Only an idiot would be puzzled by such a simple mystery.” Inferno rolled his eyes and got up from his throne.
“Sorry sir.” The soldier scratched her head and followed Inferno as he left the room. Inferno walked outside the castle, and took a stroll along the courtyard. His brother would be arriving any minute now, leading his main force right up to the gate. Inferno, knew he would most likely break off from the main group, attempting to infiltrate the throne room directly. He always did have a thing for dramatic entries. For this reason, Inferno put a spring loaded trap in the throne room. If he crashed through the stained glass window, he would ultimately end up activating the alarm. Soldiers would lay in wait for Blaze, separating him from his strongest men. Inferno’s biggest advantage, is that Blaze was unaware that Inferno was expecting him. The castle has a skeleton crew, but the surrounding lands were full of soldiers waiting to ambush Blazes army as soon as they came within five miles of the castle.
Inferno peered outside the gate and saw the first few ki blasts exchanged in the distance. He waved his hand to his men and signaled them to prepare for battle. In the meantime he would sit in the basement, monitoring the battle. It shouldn’t take long enough that he would need to reprepare some things, but in the event Blaze was smarter than he thought, Inferno wanted to be prepared. His father did trust him with this matter afterall.
Blaze ran up the hill as fast as he could, listening to his soldiers joke about his head.
“Sir, your head gleems so bright in the sunlight I fear it may just give us away.” One laughed.
“We all have shades of red, it’s not my fault that mine is the brightest.” Blaze shrugged. Then, in a split second, men came pouring out of the bushes. Blaze jumped back to avoid one of their strikes. He kicked the man in the back of the neck, killing him instantly. Blaze immediately grabbed his strongest warriors and snuck around the side of the castle. Everything was going just as Inferno had predicted it. Blaze crashed through the large window in the throne room, and he and his group were immediately ambushed.
Blaze swung his arm around to hit a man trying to get the jump on him. The man tumbled away with a muffled cry. Blaze reacted to his instincts, blocking an incoming kick, and ducking a punch thrown at him. He shot his free hand forward to stagger his opponent, then pulled the woman over top of him. He heard the cries of his men, and turned to see them being swarmed by fighters, cornered and broken off from all support. Blaze realized the same was happening to him.
“Go!” Aeric shouted. It was one of Blaze’s friends. One who gave him the courage to start this rebellion in the first place, and here he was, giving up. Blaze gritted his teeth and tried to push forward, but his opponents were too coordinated. He couldn’t gain any ground. Blaze tried to do as his father taught him, and learn from his opponent. He tried to scan just one of them, to find a weakness he could exploit to go save his soldiers, his friends. Almost like they knew what he was thinking, some of the men broke off from the weaker troops, and headed towards. Blaze, attempting to push him into a corner.
Aeric let out a cry of pain, causing Blaze to look in his direction. One of those fighting him had broken through his defences, and put a cannon ball sized hole in his chest. They all immediately backed off and split up to fight Blaze’s other friends. “V’sop!” Blaze cried as he watched his next friend receive a fatal wound. Blaze forgot his reason, and his training, and rushed forward. His raw power was not enough however, and the men all grabbed him and threw him back. Blaze dodged the next kick to his head and heard another one of his friends cry out.
“Leave!” She managed to say before she was completely overwhelmed, and Blaze could no longer see her through the group that was assaulting her.. Blaze gritted his teeth and jumped out the window. He knew what they were all thinking, but it was painful not to hear the goodbyes himself. He returned to a ship in mere seconds. He grabbed a communicator and told all troops to flee back to the ships as fast as possible.
Inferno resurfaced and told his men to pursue them vigorously, doing their best to thin the number of soldiers that escape. Inferno took a stroll in the courtyard of the castle, gazing up at the watchtowers. All but the southernmost tower were practically untouched. The southernmost tower however, had completely collapsed. Inferno estimated a few deaths from the collapse, civilians of course, any soldiers caught in the collapse would be fine. Still, it surprised him that Blaze was able to get his men so close to the castle.
He walked up the stairs on the side of the courtyard, arriving at the first wall outside the castle. The landscape of the forest planet was quite devastated, but the invading forces were all but gone at this point. There was not even a trace of their ships anymore. Inferno smiled and ordered the soldier to grab him a chair so he may look out on the battlefield in comfort, and to contact his father. He had already won the war.
Pyra sat alone on a small moon. He stared out into the empty void of space and thought on his loss to Darwin. He had always been one step ahead, somehow constantly growing in power. If his father would just let him use his transformations, he would crush Darwin. His family line has their own transformations, and it generally disgusted Pyra to have to restrict himself to the same form Sobrium used. He grabbed some of the sand on the moon and chucked, letting it drift away into space. Pyra sighed and stood up. Perhaps he just needed to go about this with a different mindset?
If intense training wasn’t working, either it wasn’t intense enough, or he’s missing something. He was too prideful to ask his father or brothers, and this only made the situation worse. He took a few laps around the moon, thinking to himself as he ran. How could he possibly beat Darwin at this rate? He mopped the floor with him and his brother, and it looked like he was holding back too.
That wasn’t the only thing that troubled his mind either. His father casually flicked the planet where they buried his brother away as if it meant nothing to him. Pyra stopped for a moment and realized just why Darwin was there. He wasn’t there to fight, that wasn’t his goal. He was there to dig up Heater’s grave. That must have been why his father was in an even more foul mood than usual. Darwin stole Heater’s body.
Pyra ran a bit faster after this realization. Not only did he lose to Darwin, but he let Darwin take the body of his brother. His father’s most prized child, the one the old prophet said would one day come to defeat his father in fair combat and claim the throne. No wonder he was so angered. This only motivated Pyra to run faster, and train harder. If he was going to do one thing in this war, it wasn’t going to be going to a tourist attraction planet so his father can check out the kids and pick up some slaves. He was going to avenge his brother’s death, no matter what it took. Sobrium would pay for what he did for Heater, for destroying his pride and having his henchman steal his corpse from it’s resting place.
Through his intense training, Pyra found himself asking one question however: Why did his father not stop Darwin? He slowed down in his run and thought on this. It generally confused him. Had Inferno, Blaze or even he been in that grave it would come as no surprise that Heat would react with only minor displeasure. Perhaps he was preparing for a counterattack? Or perhaps his father had grown angry at the false prophecy given to him, and decided to hold Heater in the same regard to the rest of his children?
Pyra shook his head and continued circling the moon. It did not matter, he needed to train if he was going to kill Darwin in his restricted form. It was practically his purpose in life now, and what a fun purpose it was.
“I honestly don’t remember that name.” Olve cleaned his ear and looked at the earwax. Bryce was far dirtier than Crimson remembered, less groomed, and there was something different about him.
“Bryce? Where did you come from?” Crimson asked.
“You really did a number on that red guy.” Olve commented casually. “Although you needed to use a ‘get out of jail free card’ to do it.”
“Bryce.” Crimson trailed off. Something was not right here. Crimson kept his guard up, but Bryce’s head shifted, noticing this.
“C’mon Crimson, we’re friends right?” Olve smiled. Crimson loosened his guard for a mere second and Olve launched forward, planting his knee in Crimson’s stomach. Crimson spat blood and immediately realised the severity of the situation.
“They were my friends too, one time. Until Ryal basically invited everyone who hated us to our front door.” Olve sighed, shoving Crimson off his knee. Crimson curled into a ball, holding his stomach.
“My, my, my, have you gotten strong. Look at you, ‘The useless one’. You call yourself useless, but you singlehandedly took on a officer equal in strength to the strongest of your friends. What a load of crap. Where did you get this strong Crimson? What kind of freak of nature are you? Everyone with ki can sense peoples potential to grow with ki. When I look at you I see nothing, yet here you are, the third strongest of all your friends.” Olve growled. “You are cheating the natural order of things human.”
“Bryce… what the hell?” Crimson managed to get out between a sputter of coughs.
“It’s Olve now. Remember, I am a Saiyan. I have Saiyan heritage, Saiyan blood. I have my pride. Can you guess the one thing I don’t have anymore?” Olve stared at Crimson, meeting his pained gaze.
“Where’s… Cabba?” Crimson asked. Olve kicked him in the side, sending him rolling towards a nearby tree.
“Dead. Jason killed her, and Ryal slowed me down with techniques I have never seen before. Something that was not ki. Not in the slightest. I only got there in time to be the burden, and she sacrificed herself to save me. It was on her death that I threw away any ties I had to you humans. Including my weakling name. I am Olve, proud, strong, and the one who will kill you. Not now though, not here. You are the last on my list Crimson. You weren’t even there when she died. You have no responsibility in this matter.” Olve stared at Crimson impassively.
“Then why?” Crimson asked, using a tree to help him get on his feet.
“Because I can.” Olve replied. He attempted to launch forward to knock Crimson out, but Crimson used his instant transmission technique again, placing two fingers on his forehead and appearing behind Olve. Olve let out a surprised shout, before Crimson planted his foot into the back of his head and pinned his head to the tree. He might as well have kicked a concrete wall at full force before learning ki.
“Jacob was our friend and motivator. He was from the orphanage where we grew up, and he was there when we met new people in the rebellion. He’s dead.” Crimson sighed.
“Did I touch a nerve with that question?” Olve asked, straightening himself and moving Crimsons foot off his shoulder with ease. “I remembered who he was a while ago, but I just don’t care about nobodies. He was a Saiyan that abandoned his heritage, and that made him weak. That’s why he died.” Olve shrugged. Crimson closed his eyes and turned to leave.
“You never answered my other questions now that I think about it.” Olve yawned. “Like how are you getting this strong? You are accelerating in power at a scary fast pace.”
“Doesn’t matter. That training method is done.” Crimson sighed, thinking about Mothro. He left the lookout shortly before Crimson took off to try and see his friends off. No more senzu beans to help him constantly train throughout the day, but that shouldn’t matter. He was planning on sleeping less to make up for this. Olve hit him while he was lost in thought, not hard enough to knock him out, but enough to send him tumbling forward. He fell on his face and let out a grunt. Crimson groaned and got to his face, facing Olve.
“Don’t walk away from me. I am actually interested in your training, Crimson. It may be the one thing a human can ever give me. If I used your training, I would get strong enough to flick all you friends to death. Tell me, and I won’t kill you right here and now.” Olve growled. Crimson could see clearly that there was truly no negotiating in this situation. He thought about using instant transmission to escape, but he had never done it long distance before. It may be his only chance, but Olve had already seen it, and may even be expecting it. As if he was reading Crimson’s thoughts, Olve said “If you even think about using that technique of yours to escape I will tear off your fingers.”
Crimson cursed. He really wasn’t getting out of this one. His only hope was to try to instant transmit somewhere nearby, then try for long distance. He began to notice that Olve’s power was rising rapidly, dwarfing his in a fraction of a second. He looked up to see Olve had a glowing golden aura. His hair stood up higher, and shared the golden color of his aura, and his eyes became an almost shining emerald. Crimson couldn’t believe the amount of power he had gained in such a short time. It was like being stuck with Darwin all over again. Olve noticed the strange fear in Crimson’s eyes.
“Where was all that bravado you had a second ago? I told you we Saiyans are superior. Strength like this is literally in our genes, it is all a matter of tapping into it.” Olve clenched his fist and stared at it for a moment, before unclenching it and returning his attention to Crimson. Crimson was gone. Olve roared in anger and looked around. He felt something hit the back of his neck and then everything went dark.
Crimson stared, surprised for a second time in just a short moment, at the One Armed Super Saiyan people had been talking about. “Jacob?” He asked with a weak voice. Jacob looked him over and thought for a little bit, before replying.
“It is you. Crimson.” He said. His appearance was altered, like Olve’s. Crimson gave him a second look and noticed that the power was gone, as was the strange appearance changes. Jacob’s hair stood up straighter than Olve’s in this “Super Saiyan” form, and he had a meaner glare in his eye. “You died.”
“Jacob I didn’t… I wasn’t. You’re alive…” Crimson stuttered, trying to find the words.
“I didn’t die… it was you… and Ecanoya. I was falling… and falling. Then I was floating, watching you cry over Ecanoya’s body, watching Jason come face to face with King Heat, watching Derek getting dragged into Sobriums ship despite their promise of pardon. I saw it all in a flash, and something snapped inside of me. A will to live that I haven’t had before.” Jacob stared at his hands. Crimson was in awe at how powerful Jacob was. There was a clear difference between him and Bryce. He was experienced with this new form. He knew how to shift his newfound power much easier.
“Tell me, am I hallucinating? Have I finally gone mad and started attacking other Saiyans because of mere visions?” Jacob asked.
“No Jacob. It’s really me.” Crimson choked. He began to hear a slight whisper in his head, like there was another voice speaking to him.
“Crimson, hurry back! We have a situation!” Kuele said.
“What?” Crimson answered aloud. Realizing the severity of the situation he turned to Jacob. “I’ll catch up with you soon, just return your power to this level and I should be able to sense your ki.” Crimson said before taking off. Jacob appeared in front of Crimson, preventing him from leaving.
“You aren’t leaving my sight again Crimson. You are the last of the children left. You belong with me, not anyone else. Ecanoya would want that.” Jacob said.
“Jacob, please, we can talk later, but right now I have to-” Crimson began, but stopped when he saw the psychotic glare in Jacob’s eye.
“If you aren’t a hallucination, stay here, it will be alright, won’t it? You’re a kid. You don’t have anywhere better to be.” Jacob smiled. Crimson began to shake in fear. This wasn’t Jacob. This wasn’t Jacob at all. “Or maybe you are a dirty, lying hallucination. A filthy fake! How dare you imitate the ones I love!” Crimson wanted no more of this, he placed his fingers to his forehead and vanished from Jacob’s sight. When Crimson disappeared, Jacob was truly convinced it was a hallucination, and began screaming in agony, holding his head and muttering the words of a madman.
Crimson arrived back at Kuele’s lookout soon after, and began gazing around. No one was there. He couldn’t sense a single living thing on the lookout. He didn’t even stop to celebrate how his long distance instant transmission worked. He jumped off the lookout, skipping over all the steps and landing at the bottom by the village. He ran around, door to door. There was not a Namekian in sight. The entire village was abandoned, and by the time he got to Dayereh’s house he was already in such a panicked frenzy that he ripped the door off it’s hinges.
He ran inside. All the windows were covered. He heard quiet breathing, and readied himself for battle. The drapes on the windows soon fell off to reveal the large crowd of Namekians gathered in Dayereh’s house, surrounding a single table. Kuele and Bolt were at the opposite side of the table, With Dayereh sitting next to it.
“Surprise!” They all yelled. Crimson immediately dropped his guard and looked on the table, to see a rather poorly made cake with a Namekian number he didn’t recognize on the top. He immediatly realized what this was, and fell to the ground.
“Kuele… did you know who I was just with?” Crimson asked.
“Doesn’t matter! Come blow out your candle before the cake melts, we all worked hard trying to make this! We don’t eat, but we all think it still turned out alright!” Dayereh laughed.
“I know Crimson, but we can talk after, please, sit and enjoy this occasion. A birthday only happens once a year after all, and you were there to celebrate Bolt’s.” Kuele laughed. “However that training session probably wasn’t too much of a celebration for you.”
“It was him Kuele.” Crimson answered, still on the floor. “Jacob. And Bryce was there… but he was different. Kept going on about his Saiyan superiority and how he was going to kill my friends. What happened two days ago. What was going on?”
“I will tell you if you eat the damn cake.” Bolt grumbled. Crimson swallowed the lump in his throat and got up to try the cake. It was incredibly sugary, and the frosting was a bit too creamy for his taste, very loose, but overall it was a really good effort made by a race that doesn’t eat. Of course he should know this considering Rob had cooked food for the orphanage for years. It wasn’t the best food in the world, but he got pretty good at making it. He missed seeing Rob, even though his communication was only through simple nods and single words. Crimson wolfed down the cake, and offered thanks to everyone before joining in on the festivities. He had to at least pretend to be happy to get what he wanted.
Bolt eventually pulled him to the side. “Happy birthday.” He grunted, before explaining to Crimson what he wanted to know. “Bryce and Cabba launched a surprise attack on your friends, ordered by Ghost, who was using the weaker races to try and help build up the Saiyan children. Separating the wheat from the chaff, as he would put it. I assume you know the legend of the Super Saiyan? Well Cabba attained that power, but your friends were able to keep on a near even level with her because she didn’t want the glowing golden aura to give away her surprise attack. Ryal slowed Bryce down with magic-”
“Magic?” Crimson asked. “First I was asked to believe I can shoot lasers out of my hand, and now I am supposed to believe in magic?”
“Listen please. I’m tired of talking already, but there is more of this story to go.” Bolt sighed. “Your friends have left the planet, as you are already aware, but they won’t be back for five years. As for Jacob, Kuele knew he was alive, but decided not to tell you. The loss of everything he had left has sort of driven him over the edge. I am sorry to say that he is too far gone, believing he is having hallucinations everywhere, and killing all of Sobriums men he can find. He is the One-Armed Super Saiyan.” Bolt said in as comforting a voice he could have.
“What is all this Super Saiyan business?” Crimson asked. “How did Bryce get that much stronger? Why was Jacob stronger? What is it exactly.” Bolt laughed and looked at Crimson.
“It’s basically a cheat to get more powerful. Saiyans have it in their DNA to be that strong. All it requires is either a traumatic event, a breaking point for someone, be it through pure anger, rage or frustration, and they will attain it. A Super Saiyan can also teach a regular Saiyan how to attain the form, and if someone who has trained in sustaining their Super Saiyan power was to have kids, those kids would have an easier time attaining the form as well. Thanks to Taton’s fall, Super Saiyans started popping up everywhere, that’s why you didn’t see Sobriums soldiers in the first few weeks, why they didn’t come to force all the refugees back into Taton as a slave work force. Super Saiyans were causing them worlds of problems. Enough that Sobrium had Darwin stay here and eliminate all of them…” Bolt stopped. “Almost all of them.”
“All this time I have struggled to be barely close to my friends strength, just to keep up to their shadows, and there are people out there who can dwarf their power with a fraction of the effort, just because it’s in their DNA to be strong? What happened to the years of peace waning out their warrior ways? It’s not fair.” Crimson looked down.
“You have exceeded your friends in strength.” Kuele walked over and patted Crimson on the shoulder. “You didn’t even notice it, but even Bryce was acknowledging you as the strongest one. When it comes down to ki fights, it isn’t all about boasting a big power. Gundlr slaughtered some of those Super Saiyans without a second thought because they fought like a beast, and a beast like Gundlr has more experience fighting that way. You beat him because you had the techniques, because you had the know-how, and because you were smart about it. Stop throwing yourself under the bus. Train like you have been for the next five years, and I guarantee you will be equal to your friends when they return.” Kuele smiled and pulled Crimson into the festivities once again. Bolt gritted his teeth and let out a sigh of anger. He was hoping for at least a ‘thank you’ for blabbing all that information.
“He got the best of me.” Olve roared. He stomped around the training area, while Ghost watched him impassively. “There has been so much you haven’t told me! Jacob is alive, and a Super Saiyan! Double is your son? What’s going on?”
“I have many sons and daughters.” Ghost shrugged. “I can’t count how many woman I have been with on one hand. As for Jacob, don’t feel too bad. He is off his rocker, and fluctuates in and out of Super Saiyan, making it hard to get a lock on his power even with a scouter. He just has more experience maintaining the form, and you were busy confronting Crimson.”
“And him!” Olve growled as he punched a hole through one of the punching bags. “How in the world did he get that strong? He’s human, and he killed someone Super Saiyans couldn’t beat!”
“Indeed, it is strange. I would probably attribute it to whatever allowed him to gain all of his strength back midway through the battle. He simply taunted Gundlr into following into his attacks, and wore him down enough. People have always made the mistake of taking Gundlr head on in the past. Crimson kept his distance. Someone must have been teaching him about the officers, but who could have that kind of information?” Ghost scratched the stubble of his beard.
“Or maybe he is just that strong.” Olve crossed his arms.
“Strong enough to kill a Sobrium Officer before he even got started with his fight? Sure, someone hit Gundlr, got a lucky shot in, but it shouldn’t have slowed him down that much.” Ghost thought for a bit.
“Hey Ghost, could you take on Darwin if he ever found us?” Olve asked, changing the topic. He didn’t want Ghost to know that it was actually him who hit Gundlr, allowing Crimson to finish him off. He didn’t want Gundlr to take the joy of killing all of them away from him.
“Oh most certainly. Darwin rarely shows his full power, but I have seen it once, during a three way battle with the Heats and Sobriums army. Sun-side battle, is what it is referred to as now. I wiped out the Heats forces, and then fought King Heat himself. He is the only person in existence to ever match me at my full power, and I believe he would think the same of me. I know Heat well enough from that one encounter to know that he would have flicked Darwin into the next existence without need to remove his power limiter, so I would be able to do the same.” Ghost laughed “Oh and before you ask, all Arcosians hide their power, because they are born with a massive power level. Or at least, the ones who are alive nowadays are. I think long ago they were considered mutants by the rest of their race, but the mutants were the only ones to survive, and they declared themselves royalty. They use limiter forms to suppress their massive power, because they cannot sustain it for extended periods of time, just like we Saiyans cannot sustain our full power, our ‘Super Saiyan’ without serious dedication to training our bodies.” Ghost finished his explanation to Olve, hoping that he was listening enough to actually take this into account in the battles to come. The loss of Cabba put him down to only seven Super Saiyans from this entire trip, and thirty regular Saiyans. If he could get them all to be Super Saiyans he would have the manpower to take out Sobrium, and possibly the new faction of Heat rebels before they realize their efforts are futile to try and turn their attention elsewhere. This was shaping up to be an interesting endeavor.
Ryal stopped to take a few deep breaths. The “desert” side of the planet was really just a sandy beach at the north pole. He had spent the majority of the last two years slowly making his way south. He had traversed through mountains that extended beyond the planet’s ozone, and made his way through rocky wastelands with plateaus scattered everywhere. Finally, he saw trees in the distance. He extended his step and ran harder than before. It only took a short thirty minutes before he was at the base of the trees. They were exactly like the ones that littered the densest part of his forest. Ryal stared in awe, as all the gears clicked together on where exactly those trees must have come from. If this truly was his dad’s homeworld, then it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say he brought some saplings with him when he went to Soluris.
He heard what sounded like waves crashing against the shoreline, and he perked up. He sprinted towards the source of the sound, making his way into the forest and finding a lake, or rather, a pond. A pond on this planet merely looked like a lake, and it made Ryal all the more excited to see a lake on this planet. It would probably look no different than an Ocean. Ryal made his way to it as fast as he could. By the time he reached the water, he had all but exhausted himself. He flew out over the pond and saw his reflection. He stopped for a second and stared at it. He was a barbarian of a man now. He had barely noticed the changes over time, aside from his hair. It was very wild, not kempt at all. He had the shadow of a beard, and his eyes were more set now. His features were more chiseled, and he couldn’t tell for sure, but he was sure he had grown taller. He really didn’t have anything to make a comparison to at this point, everything was gigantic. He expected to reach the equator in another year or so. The animals on the planet were incredibly tough. It took an incredible amount of force to make the weakest of animals feel his punches. He wasn’t using any ki attacks anymore. Over a year ago he decided that it just wasn’t for him. It slowed his progress down, but he was seeing results now.
He decided he liked his new look, and kept going to the other side of the pond, where he set down for a break. He yawned loudly and took a drink from the water. He grew tired and decided to take a short nap. It was a rather short lived break however, as the ground soon began to quake. Ryal jumped and looked around for the source of the earthquake, but couldn’t see anything past the tree sized grass on the ground. He heard a thunderous crack as one of the branches were broken off of humongous bushes. Something was approaching him, and fast. Whatever it was came tumbling out of the brush, rolling into the pond and causing such a splash that it looked like a tidal wave. Of course the force of a tidal wave was nothing to Ryal at this point, so he simply stood there and let the waves wash past him, then settle back into the pond. A massive boar stood up. The boars would have stood only a bit shorter than the mountain back at his home.
It was wrestling with another boar, no doubt over territory, but Ryal couldn’t stop himself from asking how exactly they tasted. The Boars didn’t even seem to notice him, instead they continued their battle. Ryal sat back and watched these mountains slam into each other. It was awesome to watch, like something out of a cartoon he would watch when he was a kid. Their little scuffle only continued for another minute or so before one of the boars got bored and ran off. Ryal quickly jumped to his feet and rushed after the single boar that was left standing. It squealed in surprise as Ryal struck it in the side, toppling the mountain sized pig. It went rolling into a nearby tree and got up, shaking it’s head angrily. It charged towards where it was hit, and Ryal was ready for it. He grabbed the pig by the snout and threw it over his shoulder. He caused the pond to explode again, launching water everywhere. The boar squaled, and got up, trying to run. Ryal ripped his machete from his sheath and charged the boar, managing to get to it’s throat before it took another step. It was an absolute mess, and Ryal’s gi went from white to red after that, but that night, he had one of the largest meals he had ever had in his life.
The following morning, he ate a bit more of the boar, but he could already taste the hints of rot on the meat, and quickly got his things together so he could leave the boar to nature. He felt in his element here, this planet was very much like home. Thanks to his training in the rocky plateaus area, he was able to get this strong. It felt good, but he wasn’t going to rest just yet. He had a long way to go, and his father said that things only get tougher from here on out. He only caught a temporary break. He trekked the forest’s terrain for two more weeks, easily dispatching any boar or wolf that came after him, but there was a roar that made him stop dead.
Something about it was familiar, yet new to him. He walked over a hill and came to see a clearing in the forest, where a bear had just killed a deer. This bear was by far the largest thing he had come across on this planet. It was absolutely massive. It was standing on it’s hind legs, and it’s head brushed the bottom of the tree branches that Ryal would have to fly for a solid minute just to get to. He stared at the behemoth and a smile crossed his lips. He finally had a challenge. He immediately pounced for the bear, creating a sonic boom as he flew towards the creature’s chest. The bear huffed and swung one giant paw down towards Ryal. He flew to the side to avoid the paw, and jumped onto the bears arm, running up the arm under the cover of its thick fur.
The bear roared in defiance and fell to the ground. Ryal almost lost his footing, but luckily he was already on the bears shoulder. He pushed off the ground and launched straight for the things head. He swung his fist as hard as he could, connecting with the Bears cheek. The Bear roared and slowly fell to the side. Ryal held his fist, knowing he had nearly broken it with that single punch. The Bear landed on its back and scuttled to its feet, running away. Ryal looked at his hand, feeling the bones on the inside. They were definitely broken. He felt an odd sense of happiness. He finally had something to test his power against. Ryal was determined to up his game for the next few weeks, and begin to hunt wild bears.
While the plan slowed his march south, it did give him a good boost in power. By the time the month was up, he could toss bears of the same size as the one he met on the first day around like ragdolls. It made him feel incredible. He could quite literally topple mountains now. It was a strange feeling, to know he was starting to become powerful beyond his wildest dreams. All he could think about day and night was his dad. What had he been doing on this planet all this time? For years of his life he had thought his dad was dead, and learned to cope with this. He tried to follow in his dad’s footsteps and become a warrior, but that only led to problems for those at Willowpeak. It was frustrating how much he didn’t know.
He grabbed the bear, lifting it over his shoulder casually, and walked off. The bear was probably closer to the tens of tons. Ryal had no clue how in the world he could possibly eat it all. As he was carrying the bear, he began to notice that the temperature was rising. It was a very noticeable difference. Ryal suddenly realized that he must be nearing the equator, and he hurled the bear into the sky, and sprinted forward. He felt a small quake when he was several miles away, and smiled to himself. He kept sprinting forward, making it through the forest, and noticing that the sky was slowly becoming darker, like a sunset. The planet has not once had a night time in the full two years he had been here. It was actually rather awesome to have a constant sunshine, but he was excited to see what was on the dark side of the planet.
He kept making his way south for the rest of the day at full speed. With the large increase in his power, he was able to make a trip that would have taken him a month when he arrived. He came to a spot where the sun seemed to be almost completely gone. Satisfied that he was either on or near the equator his father was talking about, he took off directly west. He wanted to find his father’s house first of all. He wondered how proud his dad would be to find out that Ryal beat his record of three years to get to the equator.
His head flared with pain as he rammed full force into a tree. He tumbled back and got to his feet, groaning. He rubbed his head and looked around. He realized that he veered a bit off course, and ended up on the dark side of the planet. There was a hiss behind him. Not a gigantic monsters hiss, but a soft, threatening one. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up, and he looked around. It was too dark to make out anything. Ryal, in a moment of panic, launched a ball of ki into the sky, holding it there to provide light for the immediate area. Whatever was hissing at him scuttled away with a ghastly scream. Ryal decided to keep the ball of light close to him for now. He ran north until he could see light a bit better. He was surprised how fast he was plunged into darkness. He continued to run, but this time he was far more careful about it. He could swear something was following him, and it kept him on guard. There were cracking branches, whispers, and distant hisses.
Something pounced at him from the darkness. In an instant he grabbed it and threw it towards the lighter side of the forest. He jumped forward and immediately threw his knee at it. Getting a bad vibe, Ryal stopped mid jump, pressing his hand on the ground and sliding back. He heard jaws snap shut, along with another, louder hiss come from the figure in front of him. The ball of ki he had with him showed the horrifying creature in plain view. It was a see through figure. It looked like a fat humanoid torso, without arms or legs, and a massive head. On the see through head, he could make out rows of teeth, lined from ear to ear on its face, the only things that weren’t see through. Saliva dripped from the monster’s gaping maw, and it opened its maw wider and hissed again. Ryal could see blood veins and a single organ pulsing through the monsters see through body. He lunged forward, attempting to strike the organ, but the monster moved almost as fast as he did. It launched its mouth downward and attempted to swallow Ryal whole. He ripped his machete from its sheath and slashed upwards, cutting the inside of the creature’s mouth, and causing it to fall back with a roar of pain that sounded like a bellowing lion, but chittered occasionally, like a lion.
Ryal screamed in pain as the noise pierced his eardrums and stung deeply into his core. He jumped forward and plunged the machete into the creature’s chest. It slid through it like a soft slime, and plunged deep into the organ. The creature seemed to spasm for a second, and Ryal attempted to rip his machete from its chest. It stopped it’s spasm, and its max loomed over Ryal. Ryals machete was stuck in its chest, and he was unable to rip it from the things chest. It attempted yet again to swallow him whole. Ryal had to abandon his machete and jumped to the left, using a roundhouse kick to try and press the things max to the ground. Again, the creature was like a soft slime, and his foot sank right in. It hardened immediately, and Ryal couldn’t pull his foot from its head. He screamed in pain. It felt like it had gotten it’s teeth into his leg already. The creature turned to look at Ryal. It knew it had him trapped so it made a chittering sound. Ryal brought the ball of ki and threw it into the things mouth. It made that piercing scream again, but this time it was far louder. Something nearby responded with a similar noise, and then there were several other screams from the dark side of the forest.
Nearly crippled from the creature’s scream, Ryal fell limp for a moment. It tried to swallow him whole in this time, and it moved incredibly fast. Ryal regained his composure in time to grab the sides of the things mouth. He had to use his full arm span to hold the thing at bay. He gritted his teeth and squeezed his arms together, trying to close the things mouth. It’s resistance was impressive, and it did it’s best to try and stop Ryal, but he was slightly stronger than it, and managed to seal its mouth shut. It twitched for a bit, and Ryal ripped his leg from its side, pulling out a chunk of its strange flesh with it. He felt the ki ball in its body and put more energy into it, expanding it until the creature swelled up. Ryal punched it square in the stomach, and the ki exploded outward from his point of impact. It popped like a balloon, and collapsed in a heap to the ground. He caught his machete as it flew away from the things body and immediately shoved it back into its sheath. The creature’s flesh still stuck on his leg melted off, and he looked around. He heard those ear piercing screeches all over, and immediately began to run.
What was quiet, unnerving footsteps and whispers before, became the sounds of creatures bounding after him, hollering, screeching and screaming. He saw a light in the distance, and doubled his efforts to make it there. It was faint, strange, and homelike. As he neared it, the light grew brighter and brighter. The creatures sounds grew more and more distant as he neared it. He came upon a giant wooden construct and bashed the wall. He went tumbling inside and looked around.
This place was a cabin. Not like the one back home though. It was huge, monstrously so. He looked up and saw the ceiling of the house was about the same height as the bears he had been fighting. He watched the entrance he had made in the side of the wall, but saw nothing pursue him. He looked up to see that he had burst through what appeared to be a gigantic door. He flew up as high as he could, reaching the ceiling. He looked down to see the cabin was almost an exact replica of the one he grew up in. He dropped onto the dining table and looked around. He heard what sounded like a raging rapids and the door to what the bathroom in his cabin opened up. Everything went dark in a second and he heard a thunderous voice speak out.
“My son.” It said, and the darkness went away as the giant lifted his hands away from Ryal. It was his father, Exo, or rather, a giant version of him. “Welcome to our true home.” He smiled. His dad’s face was just like he remembered. His hair was not too rugged, but a bit on the wild side. His face was a bit more wrinkled, but he was definitely bulkier, or this could all just be what he is seeing on the giant version of his father. His father took a deep breath, and then began to shrink down. He was normal size in a few seconds, and put his hand on Ryal’s shoulder. “How long did it take you to get here?”
“Two years.” Ryal smiled nervously.
“Two years!” Exo shouted with a smile. He slapped his son on the back. “Way to become a man! You beat not only my time, but the entire family record!”
“Dad, I have a lot of questions.” Ryal stated.
“I bet you do, but first, I have a lot to tell you about the family’s history. You have come of age where I tell you where your true heritage lies.” Exo began. “For you see, we are part of an ancient tribe of humans: Giants. For thousands of years we have lived on the outskirts of the galaxy, keeping to ourselves. While our true form is what we appear as right now, we can also attain the form of a giant. Before you get excited though…” Exo paused and looked at Ryal’s confused expression with a smirk. “I am not going to teach you how to become a giant like your manly father.”
“Why not?” Ryal asked skeptically.
“Because you are the first in our generation to meet an age old prophecy, my boy. A warrior born of the clan of giants who will work with the purest of hearts to destroy that which plagues the galaxy with destruction. A boy who is able to pass all trials and make it to the family home within two years, and on top of that, defeat one of the cursed creatures of the dark forest without any prior knowledge of their existence. Besides, as I will remind you many times in the future, the giant form is not the best for offence, it’s just comfy to sit around in.” Exo cleaned his ears out and looked at his finger. He yawned and looked at his boy. “Now that the fun history lesson is over though, it’s time to get serious. You are now in the family home. Traditionally, there are always three generations of the family here at a time, the wise ones, the parents, and the trainees. Unfortunately, my parents both went missing when they went to go see what was at the south pole of the planet.”
“Do you know what’s at the south pole, father?” Ryal asked.
“Of course I do. I am the strongest member of our family from any generation. It isn’t pretty though. That thing, whatever it is, is a giant to us giants. If you saw the bears on this planet, you probably felt like an ant. This thing has the same effect on us giants. It is like the creatures that chased you in here, or rather, it is those creatures. They are all the spawn of that giant creature. One day, I wanted to go kill the thing to exact revenge for my parents, but then I stopped to think: Why would I do that, if my son can?” Exo smiled.
“Dad, I have to head back to Soluris on the exact day I left in three years.” Ryal informed.
“That’s more than enough time to get you strong enough to face that thing.” Exo smirked. And that was how it started. His father began training him again, just like when he was a kid, except this time he used his ki. Time flew, and all the questions he had for his father didn’t seem to matter. Two and a half years after that fateful encounter, Ryal finally managed to knock his father down in a fight. Exo wasn’t even surprised by it either. He simply got up, dusted himself off, and patted his son on the shoulder before returning to his giant form.
“How many days left Ryal?” Exo asked while he sat at the dinner table with Ryal. Ryal rather, sat on the table. He had grown accustomed to his father’s giant form by now.
“Two.” Ryal stated.
“You’re ready kiddo.” Exo smiled.
“You really think I can take that thing on?” Ryal asked.
“Hell yeah, I do. You’re a man after all.” Exo gave his son a thumbs up. “Plus, it will be a final test of your power. If you do happen to kill the thing without ki, I will let you go. If you don’t manage to kill it, or have to resort to ki blasts and not your brute strength, then you are going to stay here and train a while longer.” Ryal nodded in understanding. He got up and jumped over to the hole he had made in the door years ago.
“So I just fly south until I hear the roar?” Ryal asked.
“Yup. That’s how you know you are close. The thing roars to alert the little ones that there is an intruder.” Exo informed. Ryal took a deep breath, tightened his black belt on his gi, and charged out the door. He moved at top speed, and heard the roar in a matter of seconds. He was already several hundreds of miles from the cabin, so his father would not be able to help him. Creatures lunged at him from the darkness, and although he couldn’t see them, he felt their presence. One bit down on his leg, but it’s teeth only shattered on impact. Ryal grabbed another one by what felt like a throat, and gently squeezed his hand, snapping it in two.
He kept heading towards the source of the roar, and eventually he saw it. It was a massive, humanoid creature, stuck in the ice. It because it gave off a white light. It had the same, blood-like veins running through its semi-transparent body. It stared at Ryal. It had no facial features, yet it looked very human. It swung its fist at Ryal, and he jumped back. This thing was actually fast for its size, terrifyingly so. He couldn’t imagine what it must have been like for his grandparents.
It roared again, and tried to squish Ryal with a clap. Ryal dove into the ice, and looked at the things legs. It truly was a giant among giants. Even though its body glowed, its legs stretched so far into the abyss of the water that Ryal couldn’t see its knees. He waited for it to try and attack him while he was in the water, but it didn’t. Confused, Ryal flew up. The creature smacked him to the side as soon as he surfaced, sending him flying miles away. Ryal regained himself in a matter of seconds and looked up at the behemoth. He decided to start playing more offensively, and jumped high into the sky, high enough that he was next to a moon that floated just a mile or two above the creature’s head. He put his hand together and fell from the planets orbit, yelling at the top of his lungs.
“Spiral Sledgehammer!” Ryal cried out just as his fists connected with the thing’s head. It roared in agony, and its face seemed to crack like glass. It looked at Ryal and grabbed him out of the sky in a split second. It wrapped its thumb around him and began to squeeze the life out of him. Ryal screamed in pain and tried to wriggle himself free to no avail. He flexed his arms, trying to raise them up enough to have just the right amount of space to push the thumb away. He placed his palms on either side of the thumb and started to separate them, allowing him a bit more breathing room. He continued to open the giant thumbs space until he could get free. He placed his feet on the skin and tried to launch off of it, but it became slimey, causing him to sink inward. He groaned in frustration, and flew away from the slime as fast as he could, and ended up pulling the creature’s hand with him.
He ripped himself free of the monster, and it grew tired of Ryal making a mockery of it’s strength. It reached above its head and grasped the moon, pulling it down towards the planet to hit Ryal. In order to stop the creature from damaging the planet, Ryal flew at the moon, and kicked it as hard as he could. The monster lost its grip on the celestial object, and it went back into orbit, this time out of the creatures reach. Ryal looked down at the monster, and it stared at him. His eyes wandered over to the bones of the giants that had tried to face him in the past and he gulped. Those bones were his ancestors, who all tried to take this thing on. It wasn’t looking too well for him either, it could keep up with him, it had enough strength to crush him with just its thumb, and even though it’s stuck, it was hard to hit without trapping oneself in a position that was easy to attack.
Ryal looked at the bones on the ice and thought for a moment. A thought came to mind, and he dove towards the ice again. The creature tried to slap him away from it, but he pierced through the ice and got into the frigid waters. He looked at the creature, and again, it didn’t try to attack him in water. It’s hand stopped dead right above the water, and it just stared at the spot where Ryal entered. He realized immediately the reason it was stuck in the water. These creatures, whatever they were, can not stand two things: bright lights, and water. It must be the reason this thing was stuck here all this time, it cannot move because of the water. Ryal came out of the water and flew over to the skull of one of the giants. He picked it up and whispered “Sorry” before flying over to the water. He pushed the ice, causing it to crack and break. Ryal filled the skull with water, and threw the water towards the creature. It tried to recoil with a hiss, but as the water hit it, it began to glow a bit brighter, and completely froze in place, slowing its wild swings to a near halt. Ryal took this opportunity to finish it.
For the third, and final time, he dove into the water. He grabbed the things leg, and followed it down, down into the unforeseeable abyss. Once he found the creatures foot on the bottom of the massive body of water, he grabbed it and planted his feet on the stone floor of the ocean. He began to lift. He lifted with all his might, and the creatures foot came loose from the bottom, just a tiny bit. He stomped his feet down again, pushing himself to the maximum. He lifted this creature up, furthur and furthur. He held it by the ankle as he flew upward. As he began to run out of breath, he surfaced, carrying the creature high into the sky. Its arms weren’t long enough to reach him, and every attempt he made to kick Ryal only resulted in Ryal repositioning himself as he carried the creature further into the sky. It’s head smashed the moon he had kicked earlier into tiny pieces. As he rose higher, the creature grew weaker, and that was because he was moving it away from the shadow of the planet, and into the light of the sun. This far out in space, he couldn’t hear its awful screams, which made it all the easier to move him. He was completely weightless here, and unable to fight back in any way. Ryal gritted his teeth and began to spin the creature by his ankle, spinning in circles several times until he picked up enough momentum to perform Spiral Takedown. He hurled the creature into the sun, and it reached out for him as it flew. It was too weak to grab him, and the creature tried to grasp for Ryal, but it was too far gone already. It hit the sun and immediately disintegrated. Ryal dropped to the light side of the planet and took several deep breaths, coughing several times. Holding his breath that long took its toll on him.
Exo stood, waiting for his son. He whistled, completely impressed at how his son handled that situation.
“You are definitely your father’s son.” Exo laughed.
“Can I… Go now?” Ryal asked, smiling. Exo set down the space pod that he had arrived in and knocked on it a few times.
“You sure can. Don’t worry about your old man, I know where yours landed.” Exo gave his son one final hug before letting him get into the pod. “I am glad to have seen you become a man Ryal. Thanks for avenging our ancestors kiddo. That creature though, I know you are probably wondering just what in the world it was.”
“That is, among other things, one of the things I am wondering right now.” Ryal said as he adjusted himself to the seat of the pod again. It was smaller than he remembered.
“It was one of us, a giant.” Exo informed his son, who stared in disbelief. “Every creature in the forest is a direct result of his abuse of magic. I know your mother or sister must have taught you some magic by now, and I wanted this to be a final lesson before you leave. Just because magic can trick your opponents and make you seem more powerful, does not mean you should actually use it to make yourself more powerful. There is still a lot people don’t know about magic. It isn’t exactly commonplace like ki, y’know? If you have to, use it to get an edge in fights, but don’t abuse it.” Exo offered his son a soft smile. “I want to answer every question you have Ryal, I really do. However, now you are going to go live out a life of prophecy. I am sure we will meet again someday. And on that day I want you to tell me all about your friends, your adventures, your life in general. I want to see you grow up to surpass me. Don’t forget to celebrate your sixteenth birthday, either.” Exo reminded his son. Ryal nodded to his father, and the pod door closed shut, and sealed for space travel. Exo smiled to his son through the single glass window on the front of the pod, and Ryal waved goodbye as he pressed the button that sent him into space within a matter of seconds.
Malkor stared outside the window of what was basically a prison cell. It was dingy, dirty, smelled worse than Darwin’s torture chamber, yet he had spent the last five years of his life sleeping in here. This place was so barren, there was nothing to look at outside the window, and Malkor had no clue what was going on in the other corners of the galaxy. This day was a bit different however. There would be no fighting in the arenas. Malkor was a bit glad about that, because he had been fighting enough for the past few years. Every day he would get up, lick his wounds, and go out and get his ass handed to him again. Then he would come back to this dingy place, Oloy would patch up his wounds, and he would rest until the next day of fighting came.
Today, however, King Heat returned for the first time in three years to make a declaration to all of those in the Heat army. The fighters of the arena were supposed to stand on the stage and gaze out at the crowd of soldier. Oloy explained that Heat did this whenever he gave a speech at a fighting ring to encourage and intimidate the fighters. The speech was an incredibly important one as well, the marking of an heir to the Heat family throne. This was an incredibly big event, and most important of all, it was his one way ticket back to Soluris. Fighters from rings across the galaxy were going to show up and watch the speech as well. Malkor was tired of being undercover in the fighting rings. He learned practically nothing, got no closer to Heat despite becoming champion of the ring, and while the strength he has now dwarfs what he had five years ago, he wasn’t satisfied it was going to be enough.
He thought back on how he got to be such a big shot in the fighting pits. The match with the Saiyan man that bought him the title as the best was the hardest fight he had ever had in his life. Right at this moment, Malkor was waiting to be called to the ring. The champion was always called last. It was an absolute drag to have to sit in this cell and prepare to act like a villain again. At first it was incredibly hard to keep his cover, he was too nervous around all these people, but after a while, he grew accustomed to playing the part of a self-centered thug trying to play soldier. Every time he stared up at the few stars in the sky, he knew the others were out there, somewhere, waiting for him.
“Malkor!” Oloy said, banging on the door to his room. “Heat’s getting ready to call us all out.”
“Alright.” Malkor replied with a sigh. He made his way to the door and reached up to get the latch. He opened the door slowly, and he could start to hear the faint sounds of the crowd. Oloy was waiting for him, leaning against the wall across the hall.
“Hey, took you long enough.” Oloy huffed. “Heat will call all the fighters out but you, he will call you out separately, you get to stand right in front of Heat and the princes. Don’t look at him while he is talking, just a forewarning.”
“Why not?” Malkor asked.
“He brought his wife, Cherlynn. She was originally a slave, but Heat took interest in her before he took the throne, and she has acted as a maternal figure in the prince’s lives. Heat doesn’t seem to care about her too much unless someone is staring at her. He has no qualms about killing you right on the spot.” Oloy explained. Basically, don’t eye his wife, and he won’t mount your head on a wall. Malkor gulped and followed Oloy to the exit of the main building, the one that went to the arena. The sounds of the crowd melded together into practically one giant mess that made it incredibly difficult to hear what Oloy was saying.
“Is it true that Heat could fit his entire army on this planet? Ships and all?” Malkor asked.
“What?” Oloy asked, before taking a minute to decipher what he heard Malkor say. “Oh, yes it is. One of Heat’s soldiers is worth a hundred of any other soldier of any other army in the galaxy. That’s why he still hasn’t recruited us.” Once they stood at the exit with the other fighters, it was impossible to hear over the shouting. Malkor could feel the powers of everyone in the crowd, and he realized something that boosted his confidence by quite a lot. As he felt the powers of an individual soldier sitting at the front of the crowd, he quickly realized that he was several times more powerful than the man, meaning that even for a Heat soldier, he would be strong. The time in the fighting ring had certainly served him well.
“Quiet!” Heat’s voice boomed. The crowd came to a hush and stood in absolute silence for their king. “Fighters of this planet’s pits, please walk onto the stage and stand in attention!” Heat boomed. Everyone but Malkor left and stood on the stage in perfect rows. “Next, this fighting pits champion, please come forward and stand in attention!” Malkor gulped and walked to the stage as quickly as he could. This was the first time he had been this nervous in his life. He couldn’t stop thinking about what would happen if someone found out he wasn’t loyal. He walked to the front of the two rows, then walked down a small split in the middle, turning to face the crowd, standing only a few feet from one of the scariest men in the galaxy. Heat leaned onto the armrest on his chair and whispered to Malkor. “You didn’t bow this time, did you?” He laughed, but Malkor nearly pissed himself in fear. Heat remembered him so casually that it terrified him.
“I shall now present the princes in order of birth!” Heat yelled, and stood from his throne aside the arena. “Firstly, my son Warmer.” Heat turned to Warmer as he arose from his smaller throne, and watched him stroll confidently to the front of the arena. “Warmer, second born son of Heat, first of his name. Strongest of all of my sons by far, he leads a small band of elite on covert missions in the far reaches of the galaxy. He is best known for the successful offensive mission that slew Temperate.” Heat let the crowd clap and shout their approvals. Malkor stopped to think for a second. He had never heard of that name before. Temperate. He shook his head and kept paying attention.
“Secondly, my son Pyranimus, or as most refer to him, Pyra. Third born son of Heat, first of his name. He is the smartest fighter out of all of my sons. Pyra operates on solo missions, occasionally teaming up with his brother Inferno, such as the case when the two of them agreed to let Darwin beat Inferno into the ground in order to give Pyra a surprise attack chance. His greatest achievement was severely wounding Darwin McDarloss and causing him permanent brain damage.” Heat finished, allowing Pyra to stroll proudly to the front of the arena. He sighed and turned to Inferno, who waited with Mur on a chain by his side.
“You better leave that here.” Heat instructed his son. Inferno looked at Mur and shrugged, leaving her by his throne and standing up so his father may present him. “Lastly, Inferno, fourth born son of Heat, first of his name. Smartest of all my sons, whose crowning achievement was to lead troops in the Blazing-Inferno battle, resulting in a three percent fatality rate, versus the ninety-two percent fatality rate suffered by my fifth born sons forces. Now that all three of them are front and center for you, allow me to recount my favorite embarrassing stories about the lot of them so you may laugh and mock them, teaching all three of them some humility!” The crowd burst into laughter. While Heat was talking, Malkor heard a conversation occurring behind Heat. He didn’t turn his head, but he listened.
“How do you put up with them?” Mur asked Cherlynn. Cherlynn cackled softly and patted Mur on the head.
“You should learn to respect them sweety. You are lucky one of the royal family picked you and not one of the random soldiers. This way you will get proper treatment.” Cherlynn snickered. Mur sniffled, her hopes of finding an easier way to live dashed. Malkor froze solid when he realized who it was. If Mur recognized him, he would be screwed for sure. It’s been five years however, surely he looked a bit different, that’s how humans worked at least, they all change drastically in five years. Malkor was beginning to sweat nervously, so he turned his attention back to Heat, and the crowd who were practically on the ground laughing at the three embarrassed princes.
“By the time I got into the room to ask what was going on, Inferno was stuck in the wall, Pyra was hanging from the chandelier by his neck, and Warmer was nowhere to be seen!” Heat finished and everyone burst out laughing. He cleared his throat and looked out among the crowd members, seeing that some were losing interest.
“Now I am almost about to make the big reveal, but first I would like to ask something. Does anyone here know what happened to Gundlr? That big red Sobrium officer who was supposed to be one of his finest on Soluris?” Heat asked. Everyone began whispering to one another. No one had a clue what happened to Gundlr. No clue that Jacob hit him and weakened him just enough for Crimson to go toe to toe with him. Heat didn’t care really, but he knew it had become a fun urban legend to think about what happened to him, which got everyone interested again.
“Father.” Pyra whispered back to him. “Who cares if they aren’t paying attention, just announce it already.” Heat looked at Pyra with a death stare, causing him to shrink away.
“Boy, you best remember the only reason you are not in orbit right now is because your hard head would knock any ship that tried to leave the atmosphere off course.” Heat continued to gaze at him. However, he knew his son was right, so he stood up and yawned. “And now for the important announcement.” Heat paused and looked at every leaning into the tension, anticipating and guessing who will get the crown next.
“I announce here and now, as the sixty-eighth Heat to lead our family, founder of the Heat Empire, and the father of these three, that I have chosen Blaze to be the rightful heir to the throne.” Heat said to a crowd that was too stunned to respond properly.
“Before any of you whine!” Heat shouted. “I picked Blaze because he is the only son of mine with the balls to defy me and try to overthrow my empire! He has the most fire in his belly, and that is why I want him to be heir!” Heat laughed. The crowd, still stunned, were trying to wrap their heads around this turn of events. Heat’s sons all looked at him as if he had gone mad. “Oh don’t worry everyone, there is a catch!” Heat shouted, snapping everyone’s attention back to himself. “Blaze is the rightful heir to the throne if, and only if, he can take over half of my empire in the next five years. Otherwise, I shall choose an heir out of my three loyal children.”
Heat turned and walked off into the building, not even taking time to dismiss the soldiers. Inferno ran off of the stage and sprinted towards his father. “You aren’t serious, are you?” Inferno asked.
“Dead serious.” Heat commented as he made it through the doorway and into the cover of the building.
“Ahh, father, I see your plan. This is all a ploy to make Blaze come out of hiding.” Inferno smirked, confident in his answer.
“Incorrect.” Heat sighed. “I was being completely honest when I named him heir. The prophecy of each of my children being more rebellious than the last may not have been a negative one. When my father was murdered and I was thrust onto the throne as an early, unprepared ruler, I spent years perfecting my body and mind so that I may lead our troops into battle. I conquered thousands of star systems, grew a criminal syndicate that now covers the majority of the galaxy, weakening the economy of our enemies, while strengthening ours. I have built an empire to last through the ages. To think a son of mine could overthrow me and create his own empire? There is nothing more enjoyable. That is what it means to be a Heat. We are not politicians. We are conquerors, kings, practically gods compared to the rest of the universe. If Blaze can prove himself a better conqueror than I, I shall relinquish all of the Heat empire to him.”
Inferno was speechless, and he didn’t know what to say. “Father, I just want to know, why not me? Why not Pyra? Pyra is possibly the best candidate for being heir if you want a conqueror. Warmer is not a fan of the spotlight, and he is incredibly lazy when he is not on the job.”
“Why not? Well I would say it is because you have still room to grow. If anyone challenged you to a fight, you would probably lose without releasing your restrictions, and even then you’re only as strong as Pyra in his restricted forms. Pyra has much to learn, much indeed. I do not want a conqueror from my loyal children, I want a king.” Heat commented.
“Blaze would make the worst king! He has no clue how to handle an economy, bribe officials, help manage the smaller arcosian families who serve as the vassals in the empire! He wouldn’t even follow the building of the Heat army correctly! We accept only the strongest of warriors, while he would accept any riff-raff that wanted to help him!” Inferno shouted.
“Indeed, and if that proves to be a better strategy, so be it. I don’t see myself as a god, boy, and you should know this. I am open to new ideas. You should be too.” Heat stopped at the door at the end of the hallway and opened it, leaving Inferno behind him as he stepped through to the landing zone for his ship. Soldiers stood on the ready to board the craft. Heat made his way to the central chamber, where Warmer was waiting for him.
“Are you here to complain too?” Heat asked with a groan.
“Of course not father, I am simply wondering if you have a job or two I could veer off on. You know how I hate these politics, and now that you have embarrassed me in front of the soldiers…” Warmer trailed off. Heat chuckled and walked over to the throne in the center of the ship. It was golden, and laced with a fine red silk. He tapped a few buttons on one of the armrests, and a holographic display covered the dome like ceiling above him, including a map of the galaxy. He pointed out a few assassinations that Warmer could carry out, and shooed his son away. He sighed and leaned back in his throne.
Meanwhile, Malkor had already begun making his way towards a ship, slipping through the crowd. He wanted to ask if someone, anyone, could get him back to Soluris. He couldn’t see much but the ship’s top as he made his way through the crowd. He heard Oloy calling his name, but he didn’t even slow down. He had served his purpose in helping Malkor grow stronger, and now he was nothing but another thug.
Malkor got into the small clearing around the ship and looked at the few people surrounding it. It wasn’t a very large space vessel. Its hatch was open, and Malkor could practically see the entire interior. He stepped forward towards the three Saiyans surrounding the ship, and they stopped him.
“Sorry, can’t hitchhike with us, pal, this is one of the prince’s ships.” One of the soldiers said as he gestured over his shoulder.
“Ahh, my bad, sorry.” Malkor bowed his head and turned to leave, only to bump into Pyra. Pyra took one look at him and saw something that wasn’t quite like the other people here. Then, he recognized him.
“Ahh! You are the Zenkon champion of this ring.” Pyra remembered. “What are you doing trying to hitch a ride off this place, you are rather close to joining the ranks.
“I need to get back to Soluris to meet up with some friends.” Malkor answered truthfully. Pyra scanned him over for a few seconds and smiled.
“Mind if I tag along?” He asked. Malkor knew better than to show any sign of fear or nervousness, so he simply shrugged.
“Not at all. You’re the prince after all, not like I can really say no to you.” Malkor stated.
“Damn straight.” Pyra laughed and led Malkor onto the ship. “Let’s go quick though, my father wants me back to teach me something he hasn’t taught anyone before. I am rather excited.” Malkor nodded and took a seat in one of the chairs. Pyra, obviously, took the most comfortable chair in the room.
“Are you mad about not getting to be the heir?” Malkor asked.
“Nah.” Pyra answered without hesitation. “I don’t really have a desire to rule the Heat Empire. Really, I just want to get strong enough to take out Darwin McDarloss. It’s kind of a goal of mine to see him die.”
“You and me both.” Malkor muttered under his breath. Darwin was the only person in the galaxy who can deserved an ugly, terrible death. Every night he closed his eyes, and suddenly he was back in that room. His fingernails were being pulled off, his teeth ripped out, his bones broken in a way that looked like someone was chopping a carrot into tiny slices. Did the others have these nightmares? Or was it just him? Derek and Crimson were really the only two who knew what kind of hell he went through. He never told the others, and neither did Derek, about how truly sadistic Darwin was.
To think he wasn’t the only one who hated Darwin to such a level did not come as a surprise. As long as Pyra was going to help them end Darwin, he could tag along for the rebellion. Not like any of the others could stop him either way.
“Are you hurt?” Paul asked, with his hand on the little girl’s head. It was almost finished. He had almost stopped the entire war. The people on this planet had some knowledge of ki, but really, it was their technology that was scary. The first few months were spent training, because it only took one shot from a blaster to completely put him out of commission. This war was awful, but despite everyone telling him he couldn’t the only place that remained with a military was the southern capital, and their entire war effort was now to stop him from forcing them to make peace. This planet’s population grew exponentially. The race here was different from humans in two ways. One was that they only had a two month pregnancy, and the second was that he was older than most of the adults on the planet. The average lifespan of an individual living in a town on the frontlines of the war was only ten years. It was completely unbearable.
Never before had he felt more purpose in his life. He set the little girl down and looked around the desolate street. He heard a few tanks rolling in and clenched his fist. A heavy boom came from a building nearby, and Paul instinctively reached out and pushed his ki towards the tank shell. The shell buckled and exploded under the pressure, and Paul shielded the little girl from the shrapnel. As it hit him, the shrapnel crumpled up and fell. These people disgusted him. They didn’t even care that they were firing on their own citizens. The tanks rolled up to surround him, and he couldn’t fly off, because the risk of harming the girl was too great. Instead, he created a bubble with his ki, and as the tanks opened fire, the shells exploded, and the shrapnel bounced off his shield, hitting the ground near the tanks.
“We have the Godslayer in district three!” One of the tanks commanders yelled. “Send in blaster tanks!” Paul smirked, lowering his hand. He needed to stop doubting himself so much. He picked up the girl and used a new technique he had created for situations like this. He moved beyond his top speed, for only a brief moment, and set the little girl down in an alleyway.
“Hide.” He smiled softly. The little girl wiped her tears and ran off, and Paul used his technique to return to the center of the tank formation. He called it Flash Step, taking inspiration from some of the shows he watched with Crimson. It was hard to use his full power in the city. He was trying to protect these people, but it was like trying to pick up a full glass of water. If he wasn’t careful, it could spill, and make a mess of the city. It was a final test for his ki control however, and he wasn’t at all opposed to holding back. He would have to be a bit more reckless when the blaster tanks rolled in, because their shots were like ki attacks, completely different from the physical bullets and shells used by a majority of the military.
Most of the citizens have been evacuated to the center of the city. So they could “Be safe from the Godslayer.” That nickname didn’t suit him, but ever since he beat the king of the northern country in a fight, that is what people have been calling him. To some its the name of a hero, others, the name of a destroyer. Paul used it to suit his ends, regardless. The radio around his waist began to crackle with static, as one of the rebel leaders spoke.
“Paul? Are you there?” Berta asked.
“Yeah, I’m here Berta. I can see the castle in the distance. How is everything on your end?” Paul asked.
“Good, good. We are finishing up the capture of soldiers on the outskirts of the capital. They are surrendering in spades. Looks like we finally convinced everyone to lay down their arms.” Berta laughed. Her laugh was so soft, it really made Paul’s heart flutter. “The rest of the forces are surrounding the castle. Fly in and try to scare them into submission before you take on Zeck.”
“He won’t surrender?” Paul asked.
“He has no reason to.” Berta swallowed her nervousness. “He’s a real monster, apparently he could have crushed the northern king in a fight.”
“It’s true that they both know ki, but that’s probably just propaganda. Don’t you worry, I will stop him, once and for all.” Paul smiled and looked to the lights on the horizon. He wasn’t close to the capital center at all. He was too busy saving people. The king really was a monster, his own soldiers were firing on civilians, just to keep him away from the center as long as possible. He heard a blaster tank charging behind him, and he whipped around and stuffed his fist into the barrel of the tank. The soldier on the top gun peppered him with smaller ki blasts, but he may as well have been spitting. The main tank fired, and blew the barrel in two. His hand was completely unharmed.
The men in the tank crawled out and fled. Paul sighed and walked off. A blaster tank that was waiting on the other end of an alleyway fired at him as he exited. He slapped the blast away and let it explode in the sky. The tank turned its attention on a building nearby. Not wanting to put any civilians at risk, Paul was in front of the tank in little under a second, despite it being several blocks away. He grabbed the front of the tank barrel, and began to scrunch it down into the main tank, making it look like an accordion. The blaster tanks were far more durable than normal tanks, so this required actual effort. Tired of the games, Paul flew into the sky, and was immediately fired upon from several directions. When he focused, the bullets and blasts moved at a snail’s pace. He weaved around them easily and flew towards the castle. The intensity of the things being shot at him only grew as he made his way to the castle. He dropped down quickly in front of the castle, where a few generals were waiting for him, along with several tanks, spaceships, and soldiers.
“Open fire!” One of the men yelled in a gruff voice. Blasters were sprayed in Paul’s direction, tanks launched shell after shell towards him, and the space vessels unleashed their strongest lasers. As the dust settled Paul walked out, brushing some debris off his cloths. They were a loan from a friend after all, it would be rude to return them dirty. The men began to drop their rifles and the generals barked orders at them. Paul moved at top speed, getting inside the castle before any of them even realized he was gone. It appeared exactly how he expected it, a long walk down a royal blue carpet that led straight to a golden throne. The king however, was not what he expected.
“Godslayer…” The giant, purple skinned man sitting in the throne said slowly. He was incredible muscular, to the point where his muscles looked like they were built upon muscles. “cannon-ball sized biceps” wasn’t even an exaggeration at that point. His head was bald, and you could see the veins pulsating beneath his shiny polka-dotted forehead “A funny name for a man who has never killed a soul.” Zeck’s voice was deep and very basey. Paul jumped forward, attempting to grab the man by the throat. He blasted off his throne and rammed Paul with his shoulder mid flight, catching him off guard.
Zeck slammed Paul into the ground and raised his foot in an attempt to crush his head. Paul rolled out of the way, got behind Zeck, wrapped his arms around his waist, and attempted to supplex him. Zeck stopped right before his head hit the ground by holding himself up. He grabbed Paul’s head and attempted to crush it, prompting him to let go and jump to safety. Zeck was incredibly strong. He was starting to release some of his limits, yet he was still keeping up.
Zeck barrelled forward, trying to slam into Paul again, but he easily dodged it and planted his foot right on Zeck’s shoulder. Zeck tried to maneuver out of the way, but his own weight was working against him. Paul pushed Zeck out of the way, and flew straight up, breaking through the roof of the castle and flying high into the sky. Zeck let out a cry of rage and bounded towards Paul.
“This planet has always been mine! Always! For thousands of years, and you won’t take it from me!” Zeck tried to punch Paul, but now that he was far away from the city, he wasn’t worried about hurting anyone. He caught Zecks punch and a sonic boom immediately erupted from the point of impact. Paul didn’t even flinch. Zecks went to hit him again, but Paul didn’t even see him move. It was as if he were a statue, a very angry, gargoyle like beast. Paul looked at his hand and clenched his fist. This was his full speed. He hit Zecks at half power, vanishing from his sight and appearing behind him to catch him as he flew through the air. Zecks looked at Paul in shock, pain riddling his face, before Paul dropped him to the ground. He pointed his heel downward and fell onto Zecks stomach as he plummeted, sending him towards the castle. He took his foot from Zecks stomach at the very last second, sending him rocketing away. He crashed through the castle and the entire structure came crumbling to the ground.
Paul let out a sigh of relief, dropping to the ground. He really didn’t get a chance to test his new limits. “Hey, Godslayer.” Berta said mockingly as Paul turned around. She tossed him something and he stumbled to catch it. “You are still a klutz.” She chuckled softly. “You knocked down the entire castle Paul.”
“I beat the bad guy.” Paul shrugged.
“We have enough of a mess to clean up without you knocking down every house that belongs to an asshole.” Berta put a hand on her hips and tried to scold Paul. It didn’t really have an effect considering she was a foot shorter than Paul, and ended up looking more humorous. He moved closer to her, specifically so he would be looking down at her as she stared at him. The two made eye contact and had a standoff for a few seconds before Berta surprised Paul with a kiss on the cheek.
“Thanks, Paul. You saved everyone.” She smirked. Paul gave her a half-smile. Berta’s people from the resistance were all younger than him, but the surprising thing is, once people reached maturity, they seemed to stop aging. It was strange to him. Berta was fourteen years old, but she appeared to be a bit older than Paul. Berta flicked Paul’s nose.
“Stop your fantasizing, we got work to do before we head back to your home planet.” Berta laughed.
“You are really coming?” Paul asked her.
“Sure, I would love to meet your little band of renegades. Besides, all I know is how to rebel. I am not ready to settle down just yet.” Berta spun around and walked off, waving to Paul. “We got a ship ready on the north side of the planet.”
“Roger that, see you when you get there.” Paul smirked and flew into the air, listening to Berta yell at him from the ground.
“Show off!” Berta scoffed. Paul was on the other side of the planet in less than a minute, where he waited a few days for Berta to get to him so they could leave.
“Look out! The Godslayer is attacking sector four!” A soldier shouted, running towards his commanding officer in a panick. The officer immediately ripped the walkie talkie from the station and tuned the frequency to broadcast to all troops within range.
“The Godslayer is here. Evacuation of the citizens is our number one priority! Long live the King!” He said, slamming the walkie talkie back down and staring at the smoke a couple blocks down. A figure, large and imposing, began slowly moving forward. Its ki was soul crushing. A hatred beyond comprehension, and it was a ki presence so powerful, so intrusive, that even if he wasn’t scanning for it, he could feel it reaching out and touching him. It was horrible to stand before such a monster. The figure threw something towards the building he was standing in, and the officer didn’t even have time to tell his men to get down.
The side of the building was hit by a ki blast, and the structure disintegrated instantly. He dove out of the way in time, but as for his men, they weren’t fast enough. Not even their clothes remained. He looked on in horror, remembering how, just that morning, the very same soldier who told him about the Godslayer, was sharing his delicious rationed coffee with him, and telling a few of his terrible puns. Now he didn’t even have anything to bury, or bring back to the families. This was the last safe haven on the planet. The outsides were just piles of rubble, but he found his way here. Somehow, this man kept finding them no matter where they went. Jared, yet another soldier who had just died, dusted off some of the old texts and suggested that possibly, this beast was able to somehow find their battle power without a scouter.
The distress signal to Sobrium was broadcast from this building. Whether or not Sobrium was actually paying mind to their pleas for help, it didn’t matter. If he didn’t save the radio, his people were going to lose all the hope they had that someone would save them. As he rushed down the stairs at top speed he recounted the last five years. He had just returned home from Sobrium’s army, officially appointed as one of the planet’s few officers, by one of Sobrium’s highest ranking officers, the Ten Titans. Even if they were number ten, the weakest, it was still quite the honor to be personally recognized. Rumours began to circulate about a strange ship ejecting something from its cargo a few days before people started going missing. Civilians in a small town up and vanished, and the town was reduced to rubble. People immediately thought that pirates may be attempting to raid the planet, but when the rubble was shifted and a majority of the supplies in the town were still amongst the rubble, people began to wonder. From that town, that point of origin, it began to spread. Like a plague, town by town began to come under attack, each destroyed faster than the last, until there were bright flashes of light in the distance, and when reinforcements arrived, there was nothing but rubble and bodies. Even the citizens here were no pushovers. Whoever was attacking had to be on Ten Titan level strength. Sobrium always used them to take out large threats, but somehow, this one slipped past them. People have clocked its battle power in the billions.
When people turned to the him to jump into the fray, it was already too late. This creature, this vermin, whatever it was, had already grown beyond the strongest person on the planet, and had only moved on to taking on larger, and larger groups of not only civilians, but trained soldiers as well. Wasn’t this planet precious to Sobrium? One that is fiercely loyal to their king, and provides ample troops to fight on the front lines with the strength of at least a thousand of his blaster armed lackies. Why didn’t Sobrium show up sooner? If he had, then maybe, just maybe, the daughter he fought so hard to get back to would still be able to smile. He reached to gingerly touch the small necklace she had made for him. It was so small it practically choked him, but he assured her he appreciated it.
He burst into the radio room. He saw two things. Firstly, there was a weakened soldier, lying against the wall in pain, and secondly, on the floor across the room was a small, circular device that looked faintly like a pie, with two speakers on the sides, and a microphone right in between them. On the top of the object was the hologram display, for sending pictures. It was the only one left on the planet, and now he had to pick who to save: The soldier or everyone’s hopes. In his moment of hesitation, the Godslayer fired another ki blast at the building. He was toying with them! It wasn’t nearly as strong as the last, but it was definitely enough to kill his colleague. In a moment of stupidity, the Officer dove for the radio, then used his body to shield the wounded soldier from impending doom. Blocking the explosion nearly drained away what little energy was left in his body.
“Sir…” The soldier managed to get out of his mouth before breaking out into a sputter of coughs. “Hail Sobrium.”
“Hail Sobrium.” The officer closed his eyes in relief that at least one of the wounded survived. Any civilian in the building was probably taking the emergency exit as of right now. The officer stood and looked at the wounded man.
“Can you walk?” He asked.
“Yeah, it’s my arm and chest that got hit, I should be fine to walk.” The soldier responded. The officer tossed him the radio device, then told him his plan.
“Sir… you can’t.” The man choked.
“That was an order. Go.” The officer didn’t want to hear any complaining. There was no time to argue, so the soldier got up and reluctantly hobbled away at top speed.
“You.” The Godslayer spoke as he walked closer to the rubble. “Tell me where the rest are and I will finish off your race in one fell swoop. Prolong this and I will execute everyone slowly.”
The officer held on to his daughters necklace, and continued to count down. He felt his strength coming back to him as his resolve grew stronger. The scenery changed in a mere second as the Godslayer grabbed him and was on moved so fast he didn’t even realize what happened until it was too late. The officer dropped the hidden remote from his hand. He couldn’t spring the trap. He shouldn’t have waited so long. He just wanted to give his soldier time to get to the bunker.
“Maybe a change of scenery will jog your memory?” The Godslayer tilted his head to the side. The officer looked around in horror at the mounds of bodies. “I will make you king of a mound if you tell me where they are-” There was a boom coming from the sky as the Godslayer and the officer both turned their heads to see a portion of Sobriums fleet arriving to save the day. The officer closed his eyes. His job here was done. Surprisingly, instead of killing the officer, the Godslayer flew on top of one of the body mounds and stared up at the ships. There were no trees nearby, which meant he was most likely visible. The ships were massive in size, at least three football fields in length, and tall enough to hold all the residents of a decent sized town. And knowing Sobrium’s army, that’s a small attack force. There were canons littering its sides, and they were all thin and precise. Simultaneously, they all turned to fire upon the Godslayer, who only laughed in response. The officer got up and began to fly out of the blast radius. The ships opened fire only seconds after he escaped the range. There were so many lasers crashing down in the Godslayer that the officer actually felt hope that he may be wounded.
Alas, his hopes were dashed when the smoke cleared and he was standing there, his smile dropping and his face turning serious.
“Sobrium.” He proclaimed to the four massive ships and the fleet of single person vessels that hovered around them. “This is but a small way of paying you back for what you did to my sisters and my friends.” He held his arm out in a karate chop manner and ki began to surround it, forming what looked like some sort of ki blade. He slashed his arm at the ships and as it picked up momentum the blade extended miles into the sky and cleaved two of the massive vessels clean in two. The Godslayer manipulated the ki of the blade to give it the fluidity of a whip as he wrapped it around the next ship and used it to bash the last one. The smaller ships buzzed around in a panic like flies. The Godslayer plucked one from the sky in mere seconds and forced the vessel to land. It appeared to have a vacant seat for a gunner. The Godslayer knocked on the hatch, staring at the terrified pilot.
“Open up and take me to Soluris, then you can go home to your family.” The Godslayer curled his lips into a sinister smile.
“It’s only meant for planetary travel! Those large vessels were the interstellar transports!” The man cried out, knowing the hopelessness of his situation. The Godslayer thought on this a moment.
“If I gave the ship enough of a boost, do you think you could pilot it towards Soluris?” He asked.
“If you could do that, then I would be able to keep us going in the general direction.” The man promised.
“Wonderful!” The Godslayer smiled. The man opened the hatch as quickly as he could and raised the ship into the sky. The Godslayer hopped in, taking the gunner seat in the back of the vessel. It was actually kind of roomy. The seats were definitely meant for some drawn out fights, as they had a toilet cup in them.
“So if we are here…” The man trailed off, hoping his brain would give him the answers he so desperately needed in his current crisis. He didn’t want this monster to go look for another ship. “I believe if I point the ship in this direction and you give it enough of a boost, without any fuel, we can reach Soluris’s general area in about two days, give or take.” The pilot explained as he turned the ship to the proper position. He was preparing for the inevitable moment when he would get killed, but all he felt was a very sudden jerk, and his chest hurt. He looked around and they were in space. The man had punched a hole in the wall of the ship, keeping it plugged with his arm and firing behind them. The pilot turned his head just in time to watch the entire planet they were just sent to save explode violently, like the creation of a new sun. From the light, stemmed a beam of ki that belonged to the man.
He amped up the power and send them rocketing towards the proper speed to break the speed of light. The pilot worried the ship would not be able to handle this kind of rapid movement, but it was doing well. Now he just had to let autopilot keep them on course, and spend a full two days locked in the ship with a monster. No food. No water. If he found out that he wasn’t needed to get to Soluris at this point, he would most certainly kill him.
“How is your arm not gone from the speed we are going at? Or the coldness of space?” The pilot asked to pass time.
“I use my ki to transfer enough heat to my arm to keep it fine. If I pluck my arm from the wall we will have no oxygen, and I can’t have my pilot dying on me, now can I?” The Godslayer smirked.
Over a grueling two days travel, the pilot held out. “We are approaching Soluris.” He said, waking the Godslayer up. He was sweating from overexertion, probably due to keeping his hand warm. “Please slow us down so we don’t blow a hole in the planet on impact.”
The Godslayer rolled his eyes and launched a ki beam in the opposite way, slowing them down just a tad. He listened to the pilot tell him when and where to launch his ki for a while. The pilot was incredibly happy he had taken his deep space navigation lessons. After a few hours, Soluris could be seen in the distance. They slowed down just enough for the gravity to catch them at the outer rim, allowing the pilot to go in and safely land on the planet. They both hopped out of the craft and the Godslayer looked at the man, who expected to be murdered any second. He reached over and patted the man on the shoulder.
“Thank you.” He smiled, causing the man to look up with a gleam of hope in his eye. “I would let you go but you’re Sobrium scum.” Before he could accept what had just been told to him, The Godslayer snapped his neck in seconds, not with technique, but instead with brute strength. The Godslayer left his body next to the ship and walked off. Godslayer, huh? Jason couldn’t wait to tell the others about how he got that nickname. Now he just had to find his way back to that damn clearing.
Everything was not going as planned. This was bad. Really bad. Derek coughed and looked around the smoke for JayJay or Judes. Their recruitment efforts couldn’t have gone worse. The captain was dead, most of the walkways between the moons were destroyed. Of the millions of pirates in the area, on their ships, on the main planet, or on the moons, probably only half survived. The ORBL was making an extensive effort to wipe them out. The Swirly Pirates were definitely disbanded after this, but Derek needed to find JayJay and Judes before that. He needed to get out of here.
“Ahoy there, lower beings!” A voice called out as it walked through the upper catwalks. Derek’s ability to sense shapes was distorted, so he couldn’t tell who it is, but he knew it was most likely a person from the ORBL. He had almost gotten to an evacuation ship when they busted into the main chamber. Somehow, through all the fighting, no holes were punched in the glass dome. Derek was fortunate to be alive at this point. These ORBL soldiers were nothing like the ones he had been fighting with the Swirly Pirates. Something approached fast, and he jumped to the ceiling, looking down as the figure emerged from the smoke and reached for his leg. Derek kicked gently off the ceiling, meeting the guy head-on. Literally, he headbutted him. The man recoiled in pain and cursed.
“Wow, you let a pirate get the best of you.” The voice from before boomed, laughing heartily. The figure in question was small, and well built. It put a smile on Derek’s face to finally find someone shorter than himself. “Well a Saiyan pirate, but a pirate nonetheless!” After that Derek began to panick. His attacks towards the man were less thought out, and all he wanted to do was knock him down so he could face the voice. How did he know what race Derek was? Even Derek’s friends didn’t know what he was for a majority of his life. His heart was racing, faster and faster, and as his planned strikes devolved into simple swinging, the soldier he was facing found a way through his defences, ducking a punch and striking Derek right in the stomach. Even through the pain, the only thing that raced through his mind were questions.
How did he know? How did he know? How did he know? It was something that kept repeating, louder and louder, on loop like a broken record. Those days he spent in the slums of Taton. Alone. Terrified. Surrounded by filthy criminals on each street corner. Saiyans didn’t help him because he was half-Saiyan. No Saiyan helped him until Jacob. Jacob was walking through the slums, apparently visiting a distant relative, when he saw Derek, sitting alone in an alleyway, curled up into a ball. There were two Saiyan men throwing slander at him, and Derek distinctly remembers the kick they sent to his chest. It broke two of his ribs. Jacob chased them off, using his Saiyan heritage to convince the men to leave the “filthy half-breed”. The next day, Derek was next to the curious, little eyes of Jason, and his sisters. All the younger kids in the orphanage hid in the doorway of the nurse’s office, staring in at Derek. The first words he heard were: “Oh good! You’re awake!” Straight from Jason, a complete stranger. He was so kind to him, all of them were, really. For a while he got Jacob and Jason confused, but he always used a trick he had in his mind to tell their names apart. It was childish, and he was afraid the other kids would mock him for it. He always thought of Jacobs tail, with the “cob” in his name meaning his tail.
He never really befriended anyone but Jason and Jacob. Rob was too silent to make conversation with, and Daphne was always around the younger kids. She was kind though, and treated everyone with respect. Thinking back on it he still couldn’t believe everyone was dead. When he heard news of Jacob’s death, he was able to hold his tears in long enough to finish the reunion, before he went off alone to cry that night. It was the first time he had cried since his parents were killed. Jacob always knew of the racism and prejudice humans and Saiyans threw towards half-Saiyans, so no one but the orphanage caretakers knew his actual race. They wanted to spare him from a future riddled with prejudice.
While Derek’s head was stuck in the past, the man who was fighting him in the present grabbed his leg and threw him to the ground. Again, Derek felt no pain because he was stuck in thought. The change of scenery was enough to snap him out of his daze. He felt around for the man’s ki, and the next time he threw a punch, Derek dodged it, hooked his arm around his leg as if he were choking it, and began to channel ki through his arm, intending to shoot it out in one thin line to cut his leg in two. The man didn’t even realize what was happening, mistaking the move for a simple leg lock. He attempted to use his other leg to kick Derek in the head. Derek didn’t want to give up the chance to cripple his opponent, so he took the kick, and to his surprise, he felt nothing. There was no pain, and in fact, it felt like a baby softly tapped his head with its foot. He looked at the man, who was staring in surprise.
In his moment of panic, where he reminisced on his past and all his pain came flaring forward at once: Derek achieved something he never thought possible. His hair was a glowing gold, and although his eyes were grey and blind, they became as emerald as any other Saiyan would, with white pupils instead of black. Without a proper grip on his newfound power, he accidently snapped the man’s leg like a twig. When Derek noticed the man’s leg was hanging out in a direction that was painful to even look at, he cracked a smile. He had heard of all the Super Saiyans in the galaxy, and that they were more common towards the center of the galaxy, where most of the conflict was. To have finally achieved such a power was strange. It felt like it happened too fast. It felt rushed, and yet, he was oddly alright with it. He easily tossed the man aside, accidently breaking his wrist as he threw him.
“So then.” A short, stocky individual called out from the second floor balcony. Now that the smoke had cleared Derek could make out a clear image. “I guess my elite weren’t really elite enough then. My name’s Ahoi, I hate long talks, and to put it in terms you’ll understand: ‘Ahoi there matey’! I’m going to make you walk the plank! Arr!’” Derek sighed and prepared to fight, until that name clicked in his head. This was Ahoi. The third member of the Kings of Fighting for the ORBL. Apparently he was the one who picked the groups unoriginal name. Ahoi set his arms at his side and in an instant he became a Super Saiyan. Derek felt his power and immediately took in the situation. It was not a battle he could win. This man’s presence was terrifying, godlike even. The only time he ever remotely felt a power like this is when he was with Darwin.
Derek used his newfound strength to do the most reasonable thing he could: Run. He planted his feet into the ground and shot forward like a bullet. He bounded through the nearby hallway, and he could feel the man hot on his heels and closing in fast. He had to think. They were coming up on an intersection, and Derek decided to put to use one of his newest techniques. As soon as he hit the middle of the intersection, he shot four thin scythe-like ki attacks down each of the separate intersections, and he grabbed onto the one that went the way he wanted to go. His attack didn’t even make his opponent flinch. Ahoi came around the corner at top speed and doubled his efforts to catch Derek.
Getting a sudden idea that would be far better than catching the pirate scum, Ahoi blasted a hole in the glass catwalk they were running on, and since it was between two moons, it spelt bad news for everyone. Ahoi was actually able to move so fast that he simply disappeared from sight. Whether he went back to his ship or to hunt for more pirates, Derek didn’t care. He let go of his ki attack and let it slice through a table in the upcoming room. The emergency doors on the other side of the moon were about to close to protect the remaining oxygen in other parts of the pirate cove. He had under a second to get there, and with all his newfound super-saiyan might, he made his way through each room inside the moon, and dove through the small opening right before it closed. He coughed and took a few heavy breaths as he looked out into space. There was a giant ORBL ship that looked like something straight out of a saturday morning cartoon. It was a giant floating ball, with hundreds of spikes sticking out of it, spikes larger than a house. Aohi was flying out in deep space, going around the ship and disappearing into the spikes.
Assuming the ORBL were now leaving, Derek slowed his steps, and calmed his thoughts. The power of a Super Saiyan slowly ebbed away until he felt normal again. It felt like coming down from an adrenaline surge. He was tired, confused, and very sore. He made his way through the walkway, until a quake hit and threw him off. He looked around and it took a second to get his bearings with his ki sensing. That ship he was gazing at before had just started ramming into some of the moon’s, cracking them open. As it reared back to his a second moon, Derek charged at full speed to the emergency shuttle.
“Stop spray painting the emergency exit vehicle!” Judes shouted angrily.
“It’s not sexy enough for us to escape in. I will make it the sexiest ship alive!” Jayjay commented. Another quake set in, but thankfully Jayjay was quick enough to jump up and grab the ship and hold it in place. He finished his spraypaint in no time, putting a giant spiral on the side of the ship.
“This is the last swirly pirates ship we will ever travel in.” Judes sighed. He popped open the side hatch, bringing the stairs down. Jayjay got in first, followed by Judes, and then Derek. Derek used his ki to close the hatch behind him, before looking around the emergency shuttle. It was strangely homely. There was an actual bathroom at the back of the ship, with a door that lead to the engine room on the side of that. A small kitchen area and a couch, and a few beds with straps sitting on the side for when the ship enters atmospheres. The front of the ship was your standard run of the mill pilot area, with buttons, levers and screens that display information Derek couldn’t actually make out. Judes sat in the pilot seat, started flipping levers, and strapping himself in, and Jayjay did the same. Derek laid down on one of the beds and strapped himself in. Another quake came, and it was far closer this time.
“Where are we going to go?” Judes asked.
“Anywhere that’s not here.” Jayjay retorted.
“Actually.” Derek spoke up. “Take me to Soluris.”
“What? Why?” Judes asked. Derek was about to answer when he looked out the front window of the cockpit and saw the massive ball of spikes was now moving into position to hit the moon they were currently in.
“Judes now!” Jayjay pounced into action, immediately reacting by starting up the ship. Judes hesitated for just a brief second before getting to work. “Sexy boosters, check!”
“Trajectory found!” Judes responded and the ship turned to face directly at the enemy vessel.
“Derek! We have to go right through that thing.” Jayjay shouted. “Why are you strapped down! This moon has almost no gravity you dolt! It is not time to play sexy!” Embarrassed by his mistake, Derek got the straps off and walked up to the cockpit, crouching down to see out the window better.
“It’s a ramming ship.” Derek commented.
“Please, tell us something we don’t know.” Jayjay sighed.
“This particular ramming ship is meant to use a large object’s gravity against it. It reels back before dropping in at full speed. When it reels back, that’s our window to leave.” Derek informed the two.
“You do realize how close this is going to be, right? That is assuming we don’t crash into one of the spikes.” Judes commented.
“Always a pessimist.” Jayjay laughed. “Alright, all systems are good for launch. Oxygen systems seem a little strange, but we got bigger problems.” The massive ship reeled back, and Judes launched the ship out, aiming to slip out under it. A few smaller ships launched from an unknown location, and Judes jerked the ship off course to avoid them. They were giant black metal spikes, about the same size as the main ships. Derek then realized, at that moment: This ship was not a simple ramming vessel, it was a fleet transport for the ramming vessels. The ships that chased after them began to gain speed, and Jayjay cursed. “This is not sexy in the slightest!”
“Judes!” Derek yelled as he saw an opening for escape on the bottom side of the ship.
“Yeah! I see it! Hang on!” Judes jerked the ship down, then flipped it sideways to squeeze between the spikes. There was a scratching sound as they passed by some of the spikes. Derek looked out the side windows to see a field of spike like vessels, all sitting in wait. The ship began to ram the moon, forcing Judes to move at an angle to avoid getting pushed off course. In an instant they were out of the field of spikes, and Judes and Jayjay used their ki to speed things up, nearly breaking a few of the buttons. Derek could sense the ramming ships were still following them, and urged the two to hurry. The ramming ship was just about to pierce the engine when Judes finished correcting the course and jumped the ship to max speed.
Judes and Jayjay sat back and breathed a sigh of relief, but Derek gazed out at the stars. This was far from over. This was just a new beggining.
“Damn Syn! What a kick!” Ichirou laughed as Syn took a few deep breaths. Sparring Double was intense now that he had achieved Super Saiyan. Ichirou had also just obtained the power, but Quad was struggling with it. Trips tried to motivate him using Quin’s death as a source of inspiration, but Quad said the thought of his brothers death bringing him power sickened him. Doubles father, Ghost, is also a Super Saiyan, as is his Ichirous father, Aohi. The two of them were built to be rivals, but whenever they got tired of fighting one another, they would fight Syn.
Double’s clone jumped at Syn from the side, and Syn dropped to the ground and tried to lock his leg to cause him to stop suddenly. The clone dropped to the ground, but punched with enough force to rebound himself up to a standing position, leaving Syn’s guard wide open. The clone crouched down and threw a punch at the same time. Syn released his grasp on the clone, kicking off the ground to narrowly avoid a bone shattering punch.
“Time!” The real Double shouted from the side of the ring. His clone stopped in place, hopping off the ring to refuse with the original. “You got through the full ten minutes.” Double whistled. Ichirou slapped Syn on the back as he stood up and dusted himself off.
“Good job man! You crushed your last record.” Ichirou laughed.
“I didn’t even break a sweat.” Syn smirked. While he was smiling he couldn’t help but feel a bit unsatisfied. Simply lasting a while isn’t enough to win a fight, and if they were serious about betraying the ORBL, they needed to be prepared to go up against some really heavy hitters.
“Do you think we are prepared?” Quad asked from the sidelines.
“As prepared as I wanted us to be? No. Not exactly.” Double sighed, stroking his chin. “We got stronger than I expected in five years, but not nearly to the levels of the Kings of Fighting.”
“Which means we will have to form teams to take them on after all.” Ichirou groaned.
“Yeah, and if we have to have teams…” Trips trailed off.
“We can’t focus on the army of elites that accompany them. We will be totally open to blindside attacks.” Quad finished.
“I want to size up how strong those kids have gotten by now before I go and make assumptions.” Double explained. “Making any sort of major move against Sobrium or the ORBL is incredibly dangerous.”
“And then there’s Orion…” Ichirou butted in.
“I doubt Orion will show up to a battle unless it was going to be a pivotal turning point in one of the wars. Ahoi already resurfaced and started taking out any group of organized pirates he could find to try and stop them from feeding off of the ORBL supply ships. Ghost has been reported to have returned to HQ, and while Exo is still missing, having Ahoi protect the trade routes while Ghost stands on standby with his forces is more than enough to keep the war progressing.” Trips concluded.
“Good point, but The Lords of Fighting are equal to Sobriums Ten Titans, and Darwin could probably take Aohi or Exo, maybe even Ghost on a good day.” Ichirou replied.
“Not my father.” Double returned the focus of the conversation to himself. “Most of the Saiyans in the galaxy have only just begun to tap into their Super Saiyan power, but Ghost has had it for a long time. I have seen it with my own eyes: A Super Saiyan who can boost their power twofold over the normal transformation. Even the strongest, most advanced scouters exploded instantly upon detecting him at that state. Aohi and Exo are strong, and Orion even more so, but Ghost is on a whole different level.”
“Then we still have a lot of work to do.” Syn yawned. “Let’s get back to training. There is still a week left before we have to head back to Soluris.” Just then, a man crept into their bunker training room. The door made an awful metal screech as he gingerly pulled it open. Through the door walked Jem, Ghost’s personal butler and closest friend.
“Young sir, here is all the news I could find from the last five years.” Jem shuffled slowly to Double before handing him a stack of newspaper from various planets. Double tossed the stack to Quad, who jumped in surprise as he caught it. “You have one week before I tell him where you’ve been, Double.” Jem said bluntly, dropping his formal accent. “After that any favors I have ever owed you are paid in full.”
“Of course Jem. Thank you.” Double waved him off and turned to Quad. “Read through those. See if you can find anything on any of the kids while looking through them, I want to know how much damage they have caused. I expect a full report on what happened in the last five years.”
“Well for starters Soluris is in complete chaos right now. Apparently someone killed Gundlr and without their enforcer, the officers began to have trouble controlling the survivors in Taton. The one-armed Super Saiyan we heard of from before seems to be the one who killed him.” Quad explained as he read the newspaper.
“Anything else interesting?” Double asked.
“I will tell you if I find it.” Quad replied, not even looking up from the paper to meet Doubles eyes. So for the next week, Double changed up their training schedule just a tad bit to fit in a small period of time where they would trash any evidence that would give Ghost a clue to what they were up to. Quad wasn’t able to discover what exactly happened to most of the kids, which worried the X-force members. Was Ghost onto them? Did he tell Jem to leave out any information that may be useful to them? Only time would tell. As the final day rolled through, they skipped training entirely and burnt most of the things that would be useful to ghost and hid the ashes so there was no chance Ghost could recover them. Double left the newspaper however, as he didn’t want to give Jem the idea that there was something useful in those papers,
Double had the entire X-force board the ship three hours ahead of schedule, and they immediately took off for Soluris. If they had time, there was one stop they wanted to get in before they got to Soluris. There was an Ex-force member they wanted to get back into the game.
“This is your limit.” Bolt repeated, for a third time, louder and more clear than the last two times.
“I can keep going!” Crimson shouted, continuing to hold the boulder over his head.
“Not what I mean. It’s been three days since you picked it up. Nothing short of a mountain can give you a proper workout anymore. You’ve reached the point where you can’t improve anymore. Not without doing some serious damage to the landscape.” Bolt crossed his arms. Crimson gently set the boulder to his side and looked at Bolt.
“What about sparring?” Crimson asked.
“I can’t provide a challenge for you without causing damage to the landscape, as I just said.” Bolt grumbled. “Come back to the lookout. Kuele wants to have a word with you.” Still in disbelief, Crimson followed Bolt back to the lookout. It had been four years. Four years since his friends left. Since Jacob nearly killed him. What Bolt said, he knew it was true. He got a lot stronger, enough to have taken Gundlr on all by himself, but Jacob and Bryce were far out of his league. Bolt landed on the lookout, and Crimson followed shortly after. Kuele was standing there, with his arms behind his back as usual.
“Hello Crimson.” Kuele said with a frown on his face. “I have done everything in my power to make you stronger. You know that, right?” When Crimson nodded, Kuele continued. “Look, we Namekians have been happy to have you living with us for these past few years, but there is nothing more I have to teach you. I wanted Bolt to pass the message, but I feel it is best if I deliver it instead.” Kuele said, his eyes trailing off to Bolt.
“Kuele you aren’t saying…” Crimson trailed off. “You’re kicking me out? I thought the plan was to make me a peace fighter. What about all of the talk of my potential!”
“I was wrong. You just can’t get strong enough.” Kuele said, walking over to a bench nearby and sitting down on it. He locked his fingers and rested his chin on them. “I feel awful for filling you with false hope Crimson, I really do, but for now I can’t think of anything else to teach you. You know this too, you have mixed my teachings with Ecanoya’s, and have perfected your training routine. Yet you haven’t seen any increase in power in the last month. Meanwhile your friends…”
“My friends? How do you know what they have been up to?” Crimson asked grudgingly. Bolt slapped him on the back of the head, before explaining.
“There is one of this planet who is connected to the activities of the cosmos.” Bolt grumbled. “Kuele asked him for those particular pieces of information in order to see how your training compared. Those kids, your friends? They are on an entirely different level. Some of them are nearing even me in strength. A gathering of individuals so blessed with inherent ki fighting ability, despite having ”
“How’s Paul doing?” Crimson asked, shifting his tone to a more respectful one.
“Paul has already broken the monarchy of the northern part of the world he is on. He plans to spend the next year uniting the kingdoms under a common goal before overthrowing the southern tyrant. Busy enough work to keep his power raising at a constant. Our friend said that Paul constantly dreams of his friends, but his iron will to help the people around him often pushes him forward.” Kuele explained, before moving on to avoid any further questioning. “As for your friend Derek, he is still working undercover with pirates, and has grown accustomed to the brutish lifestyle. It’s hardening him for battles to come afterwards.” Kuele was about to talk about Jason, but decided to skip him for the time being. That boy was troubled. “Your friend Ryal met his father, a legendary warrior in the galaxy, and is now training under him. Malkor continues to fight in the pits, strengthening his mind and boosting his confidence. Every single one of your friends is far stronger than you, and I am afraid your training isn’t going to go much better. Especially with Super Saiyans around.”
“Super Saiyans.” Crimson huffed. “It’s still an unfair concept.”
“Yeah, I know Crimson.” Kuele sighed. “However, it is a power gap you can’t just lift boulders to make up.” Kuele let Crimson soak this in for a little bit, before getting up from the chair and placing a hand on his shoulder. “I am not giving up hope, however. The one who told us of your friends, he may have the knowledge we need to break through your barrier. Otherwise, this is about as far as you can go.”
Kuele gestured to Crimson, who followed him inside. They took the elevator to the top floor and Kuele strolled over to the window, gazing out at the sea of clouds. He thought to himself for a moment before turning and nodding to Bolt. Bolt pulled a folded piece of paper out of his pocket and slammed it against Crimsons chest. Crimson reacted in surprise, raising his hand to grab the piece immediately. He unfolded the paper and saw a crudely drawn map, detailing landmarks along a path, leading up to a single tree with the carving of a fortune tellers ball on it.
Dayereh rode the elevator upwards, and saw Crimson reading the map he drew. “You need to go north from here to find those landmarks.” Dayereh called to him. Crimson jumped in surprise and looked over his shoulder. Dayereh walked up to him, peering at the map.
“I am not the best artist, but I hope you can tell what most of those are.” Dayereh chuckled. Crimson squinted at the map, trying to make out exactly what one of the landmarks was. Dayereh placed his finger on it as soon as he noticed the confusion. “That is a cherry blossom, sitting alone at the top of a plateau. After this I spent most of my time on the last tree.” Dayereh smiled with pride. Crimson laughed and memorized the path.
“This is our only shot to help you Crimson. Don’t blow it.” Kuele stared him down. Crimson swallowed a lump in his throat and refolded the piece of paper, sticking it in his pocket for later. He got his bearings and headed off. He jumped off the side of the lookout, free falling until he broke through the sea of clouds. He looked back up at the small hole he made before the clouds moved back together to cover it. He continued to free fall, looking at the mountain as the slope grew less steep, and drew closer to his back. He flipped around and flew right along the side of the slope, speeding towards the ground. He broke off his course and launched himself over the forests, watching the landscape fly past him.
Crimson thought about his friends, wondering if they even had the time to enjoy the powers they had. They were practically superheroes now. It wasn’t enough though, as they were now leaving to fight someone else’s battle. No matter what, he would protect them. He knew they all needed his help, so he had to catch up. That brief period in time where he was stronger, in that moment he felt something he hadn’t felt in a long time: Confidence. He was so confident in his ability to help, but now he was lagging behind. As the trees disappeared and gave view to a massive river, Crimson flew in close, staring at his reflection in the water. He was far different. He was taller now, tall enough that he didn’t have to look straight up to look Bolt in the eyes. His hair was still short and brown, but a darker shade of brown now. He could also see a hint of facial hair. His build hadn’t changed too much, he was still a rather scrawny kid, but now his muscles were incredible well defined. If Paul had gotten bigger muscles than him, then he would be seriously disappointed in himself.
Crimson whipped the map out, turning around in the air and flying backwards. He stared at the map in his hands. The river was the first landmark, and he was going in the right direction. The next landmark was the poorly drawn cherry blossom. The river eventually made its way through a lush forest, vibrant with life. Crimson turned to see fish moving through the water below him. He slowed his flight so he could take all this nature in. This was how Ryal got to feel every day? His world was magnificent. There were some deer and strange dinosaur like creatures taking sips from the river, or fishing for food. Most of them paid Crimson no mind as he floated right past. The water was so crystal clear that Crimson could see every pebble in the river. He turned looked up from the riverbed, staring out ahead. In the distance he saw a plateau, where a lone, gigantic cherry blossom sat. He sped up, arriving there in seconds. He sat at the foot of the cherry blossom and looked for the next landmark.
The next landmark took him through a desert, where he found an ancient stone structure. As much as he would have loved to explore it, he had to stay focused. He took off and headed straight for the next landmark on the map. A duck shaped island in the ocean. At least, it kind of looked like a duck. Crimson had to turn his head to notice it. He dropped onto the island and peered at the map, trying to find exactly what direction he needed to head.
It only took Crimson a few minutes to the final checkpoint before his destination. A crater in the middle of a forest. According to the map, one of the trees in the forest should be marked with the insignia. Crimson flew around, circling the forest and expecting the tree to be something instantly noticeable, but the more he flew, the more frustrated he grew. He began to weave through the woods, checking each tree as fast as he could. He was about ready to give up when he caught the mark out of the corner of his eye. He walked over to it and stared at it for a few seconds.
“Opensaysme.” Crimson blinked, staring at the symbol. Nothing happened, but it was worth a shot. Crimson knocked on the tree, and to his surprise, he found out it was hollow. He walked around the tree and saw lines in the bark that he didn’t notice right away. He wrapped his arms around the tree and gently popped off the marking, creating an opening in the tree just big enough for a man to fit in. Crimson looked down at the trees stump and saw that it had a ladder in it leading down into a terrifying darkness. Crimson hopped onto the ladder and began his descent. He felt more and more claustrophobic as he descended the ladder. He felt an empty space behind him, and turned to try and see what it was. He lit up the area with a ball of ki. He saw a candle holder, with melted wax in it. There were so many cobwebs in the hole the candle was on that Crimson realized it hadn’t been touched in several years. Was the guy he was looking for even here?
He continued down the ladder for several more minutes. Eventually he saw a small sliver of light at the bottom of the hole. Now knowing there was a bottom, Crimson let go of the ladder and let himself fall to the bottom. The ladder rattled against his hands as he fell. He landed at the bottom and fell backwards away from the ladder, crashing into a wooden railing of some sort. Crimson stood up and looked at the ladder. It came down in between two bookshelves. Crimson looked to his right, and the bookshelf extended for hundreds of feet. He turned to his left and saw that it was parallel. Crimson turned around and looked at the broken railing. The wooden platform he was on creaked under his weight as he shifted. He stared out at a vast library. Over the railing, there were several floors below him, each with ladders leading down to them, and the bottom was merely a tiny speck in Crimsons vision. He looked up and saw that there were books on the ceiling too. He flew up and pressed his head into one of the cracks where he could see the book titles.
These books were ancient, and most of them were written in languages he had never seen before, not even in Taton. He dropped down a few feet and looked at the ceiling. There were giant lanterns every few steps, in both the ceiling and the floor. The walkway that went around the outside of the bookshelves also converged to the center, where a lone desk sat. Above that desk was a giant dip in the ceiling. It must have been at least a mile wide. From the dip hung a humongous lantern, with swirling patterns woven from brass on its sides. It spun slowly, illuminating every shelf on this floor of the library as vibrantly as the sun would. Crimson dropped back down to the walkway and started walking towards the center. Each shelf of this library was packed with books, there wasn’t a single shelf left empty, at least not on the floors Crimson could see. As he approached the desk in the center, he heard the click of a door come from another side of the walkway to the center.
A tall, blue skinned man shuffled to the center of the desk, he jumped into the desk, and began to write something down. As Crimson approached, the floor began to creak. If the man heard it at all, he didn’t seem to care.
“If you are here to check out a book, I am afraid you have come to the wrong place.” The man sighed as he continued to scribble something down with a giant feather like pen.
“I am not sure what you mean.” Crimson responded. “I thought Kuele told you I was coming.” The man perked up at the mention of Kuele, and turned from his seat. Crimson could see him clearly now. He was a bit pudgy, but very tall. Even while sitting he could look Crimson in the eye without tilting his neck too much. He had very funny looking antena coming from his hat.
“Kuele sent you? What for? I already told him all I could! Go away and bother some other guy!” He shouted before sighing and returning to his work on the book.
“Kuele said that you could help me get stronger.” Crimson continued, ignoring the man’s complaining.
“He shouldn’t be making promises like that!” He spat with a groan. “Wait a minute…” He stopped, stroking his chin and thinking for a moment. “You’re that Crimson kid that he wanted me to help!” He jumped up and looked down at Crimson. “Hmm… not really much now, are you?” The man tilted his head, inspecting Crimson. Crimson sat there, uncomfortable as the man walked around him, lifting up his arms and gazing at them before letting them flop to his side.
“Wow, I don’t think I have ever seen someone with such little potential achieve such a power level. You mortals can really astound me sometimes.” He laughed. “Oh wait, allow me to introduce myself properly. My name is Wyrmhame, and I am a Kai! No need to spare the details however, I won’t help you.”
“What?” Crimson shouted. “Why?” Wyrmhame stroked his chin and sat back down in his chair, looking at Crimson.
“Tell me why is it you want me to help you?” Wyrmhame asked, looking Crimson in the eyes.
“To protect the people who Sobrium has hurt, to make sure they aren’t hurt by him ever again. I want to deliver justice.” Crimson answered in an annoyed tone.
“Incorrect. Come back tomorrow with a truthful answer.” Wyrmhame responded, turning to his book and continuing his work. Crimson tried to get his attention again, but Wyrmhame ignored him outright. Crimson turned and left, using the same exit as before.
“Close the tree when you get back to the surface!” Wyrmhame yelled. Crimson gently placed the fake tree piece back in place before flying off to go report his failure to Kuele. He was flying so fast that he nearly blew past the place he wanted to visit on his way back. He dropped down at the bottom of the hill with a lump in his throat. He climbed to the very top of the hill and stared at the poorly made stone with the name scribbled into it.
“Hi Ecanoya.” Crimson sat down, looking at the gravestone. “I am sorry I haven’t visited recently. I have been trying my hardest to get strong. To live up to your ideals, but yet again, without you, I am failing. How did you get so good at teaching?” Crimson chuckled. “How many years was that dojo open before the Taton guard came and grabbed everyone?” Crimson looked down at the ground. “I miss you. I need you right now.” Crimson took a deep breath and stood up. He noticed something peculiar on the other side of the grave. He went around the grave and saw freshly placed flowers, and a small reef that had a piece of wood plastered in the middle with the words ‘Ecanoya Takara’ engraved on the plank. Crimson looked around the area. He was sure no one else knew about this location. Who could have gone so far out?
Crimson walked to the cliffside over the hill, sitting down and looking back at the reef. He stared out over the water. It was a calming view. In his grief, Crimson reached out to see if he could feel Ecanoyas’ presence. He closed his eyes, tears beginning to well up. His eyes shot open as soon as he felt something. He felt Ecanoyas’ power. It was so small that it was barely noticeable, but it was nearby. Not in the grave, which confused Crimson even more. Had it been some sort of residual energy it would have saddened Crimson, but this turned his world upside down. Ecanoya was out there, somewhere! Crimson took off immediately, heading straight for the source of the power. As he flew over forests he began to see more and more villages, and he realized that he buried Ecanoya right on the outskirts of Tatons, and by extension, Sobrium’s reach.
He dropped down at a small log cabin out in the middle of nowhere. He waked up to the door, his heart pounding against his chest like a gorilla against its cage door. He knocked gingerly. The door creaked open almost immediately. “Hello?” A woman asked softly from the inside. Crimson couldn’t see her because she was standing in the shadows, but he knew that voice.
“Natania?” Crimson gasped. She was shorter than he remembered, and her long hair was less cared for nowadays, and it was beginning to turn gray. She jumped out the door and wrapped her arms around Crimson.
“It is you!” She squeezed him as she cried. “I thought I lost everyone!” It put a smile on his face to hear Natania’s sweet words again. She let go and took a moment to compose herself. “How have you been?”
“Still trying to fight the good fight I suppose…” Crimson blushed.
“Well stop it! Ecanoya wanted to get you as far away from fighting as he could.” Natania put her hands on her hips and stared at him.
“Did you put flowers on his grave?” Crimson asked in a change of topic.
“I assumed you made that. You haven’t done a good job maintaining that grave Crimson.” Natania said in a sad tone. Crimson hung his head in shame. Natania noticed some scars on Crimsons face, very small and faint, and looked to his hands and saw similar scars.
“Crimson. What happened to you after they took you?” Natania asked slowly and cautiously. She feared that Crimson may have become one of Sobrium’s lackeys, who came back to attack her after she was freed.
“Torture.” Crimson responded. “Cold-blooded torture. No point to it. Just entertainment value. I learned a lot about the world from that.” Crimson stared off into the distance, his fingers twitching as he remembered what it felt like to be tortured every day. Natania noticed Crimson’s gaze of tranquil fury. She didn’t even want to ask what happened to the other children.
There was a shuffling noise behind her and Crimson peered around Natania to see a small, soft faced, black haired boy rubbing his eyes.
“May I ask who this is?” Crimson questioned, making his tone a bit more ‘kid friendly’. Once the boy spotted Crimson he immediately ducked behind his mom.
“Who’s that weirdo?” The kid grumbled as he walked next to his mom. “He looks stupid wearing those pajamas.” Crimson was irked that the kid made fun of his traditional Namekian gi, but he tried not to show it. Ecanoya always told him that if kids got a reaction they would keep doing whatever it was that bugged you.
“This is Crimson. In a way he is like your brother.” Natania said sweetly, grabbing hold of his little hand.
“Brother?” The kid asked in an annoyed tone. “I don’t want a brother.” Natania looked up to see Crimson’s confused gaze.
“Crimson, this is Ecanoya Takara the second, but I usually just call him Takara.” Natania blushed as she looked off into the distance. Crimson smiled a little at the thought she named a kid after Ecanoya, but it stung his heart to hear the kid be called ‘the second’. It made Ecanoya sound replaceable, and the way this kid was acting was very unbefitting of anyone who shared his name. Seeing Crimson still wasn’t getting it, Natania cleared her throat, getting Crimson’s attention.
“He’s Ecanoya’s son.” Natania revealed. Crimson’s eyes widened as his gaze turned to the young boy. Crimson pulled Natania to the side, scaring her for a moment as he went to talk to her in private.
“When?” Crimson demanded.
“Crimson I’m sorry I didn’t tell you… I just didn’t know where you were and with Ecanoya dead I had no one to help me raise him.” Natania began to panic. “Sobrium’s lackeys let me go because they realized i had practically no ki power.”
“What do you mean? I thought you said you knew ki. Ecanoya assured everyone that you could oversee-” Crimson stopped and thought on it. “He protected you so you could be closer to Mur.”
“Ecanoya taught me the basics of ki so I could stay close to my daughter. Look how that turned out.” Natania slid down the wall on the side of the house. “She’s gone. So are the rest of the kids. I tried to help as many as I could, including Tedeel and Tedum, and some of the girls that managed to slip away when that blasted Inferno attacked.” The mentioned of Inferno wrenched Crimson’s heart. All the survivors of the rebellion probably knew about what happened to Jacob, but they had the blessing of ignorance. They didn’t have to live with what he had become.
“Where are Tedeel and Tedum?” Crimson asked. He really wanted to see how they were doing after he left the two. He felt awful about it, and thinking back on that day just caused his heart to twist up. He always called Tedeel ‘Teedee’ and everyone else picked up on the nickname as well.
“They are alive, but not where you want them to be.” Natania sniffled and looked up at Crimson.
“Oh god… Taton.” Crimson muttered to himself.
There was a soft feeling on his leg and Crimson turned to see that Takara was punching the back of his knee. “Stop making my mom cry you jerk!” He continued to hit Crimson, but Crimson rolled his eyes and returned his attention to Natania.
“Ecanoya, stop that!” Natania demanded. Immediately, the boy got into an almost military stance as he stood in perfect attention for his mother.
“Sorry mom!” He shouted with a bow, shooting a nasty glare at Crimson, who only smiled in return. The boys face turned bright red and he stomped off.
“Crimson can you do me a favor?” Natania asked with a sigh.
“Of course, what do you need?” Crimson responded happily.
“Take Takara to Ecanoya’s grave. He has never been there, and he is starting to get to the age where he is asking questions about his father.” Natania sighed.
“That reminds me: How did you find Ecanoya’s grave? I didn’t even bury him there, I just carved the stone and set it up on a hill overlooking the Uup sea.” Crimson swallowed a lump in his throat as he informed Natania. “I never found his body.” Crimson sighed and looked up at the clouds. “I will do what I can.” Natania spent a few minutes explaining to Takara that he was to go with Crimson, something he was against until Natania promised him rice balls for dinner.
“Grab my hand.” Crimson said as Takara walked over to him.
“Eww.” Takara exclaimed. “I just met you, I am not touching your hand.” Crimson did his absolute best to not smack the kid upside the head right there and then. Crimson flew up in the air and crossed his arms. Takara stared in complete awe.
“Crimson one last thing!” Natania shouted as she came back outside. “Don’t show him… ki.” Natania sighed and looked over at Crimson as he sat criss-cross and floated a few feet above the ground. Takara reached out cautiously and grabbed Crimson’s hand. Crimson took off towards Ecanoya’s grave, but he kept low and flew very slowly. Takara was just like Crimson the first time he flew through the air. Whenever Ryal carried him to the hunting grounds, it was always such a beautiful sight. One could almost forget how much this world had been poisoned.
“How old are you Takara?” Crimson asked.
“Almost five.” Takara replied. Crimson spotted Ecanoya’s grave in the distance and Takara began to struggle as soon as he saw the ocean. “Don’t fly me over it!” He begged. Crimson landed immediately and set Takara down gently.
“Afraid of water?” Crimson asked. Takara stomped off towards the grave. Crimson followed close behind.
“This is my dad?” Takara asked.
“That’s right!” Crimson smiled. “Ecanoya Takara, the most kindhearted, honest, and honorable person on the planet.” Crimson exclaimed with pride right before Takara spat right on Ecanoya’s grave. Crimson snapped instantly and grabbed Takara, holding him over the side of the cliff by the collar of his shirt. Takara looked down and began screaming. Crimson, realizing what he was doing, tried to bring Takara back on land immediately, but his shirt ripped from the sudden pull, and Takara went plummeting towards the sea. Crimson moved fast enough to be under him in mere seconds, catching him flying back up. He set the boy gently on the side of the cliff. Takara didn’t say anything witty, or try to yell at Crimson, he simply sat there and shook in pure terror.
“I’m sorry. I don’t know.” He muttered to himself over and over. “Please leave my mom alone. Please leave my mom alone.” He continued to shout hysterically. Crimson sat him upright and shook him.
“Takara. Snap out of it. Takara!” Crimson screamed at him. The boy looked at Crimson with tears in his eyes.
“They were hurting my mom.” Takara sniffled, trying to wipe the tears from his eyes.
“Who?” Crimson asked angrily.
“When mommy didn’t give them what they want he grabbed me and he threw me into a pond. I can’t swim. I can’t swim. Everything started getting dark as I sank down, and my mom dove in to save me. They took all of our stuff but let us live.” Takara recounted.
“Who!” Crimson asked, absolutely livid. “You are going to tell me who, and then you are going to apologize for spitting on Ecanoya’s grave.”
“I have nothing to apologize for.” Takara continued wiping my tears. “He is a dead jerk who didn’t protect me or mom.” Crimson thought about holding him over the edge again, but pushed the dark idea down.
“Who attacked you?” Crimson asked calmly.
“What are you going to do?” Takara asked.
“Deliver justice.” Crimson smiled to Takara. “That’s what the good guys do.”
“Are you going to kill him?” Takara asked.
“Of course!” Crimson responded, as if the answer would be simple enough for a four year old to get.
“Then you are no better than the bad guys.” Takara crossed his arms and looked away. Crimson thought on this for a bit and then responded.
“Some people are so bad, so wholeheartedly evil that you can’t let them live, because they will go on to cause more pain.” Crimson explained.
“But you still kill them, even though you could throw them in jail or trap them. You are no different than them! You are just a jerk who kills people for a different cause. That guy in the white suit killed people and claimed he was ‘doing it for a good cause’. You are no different!” Takara pouted. Crimson had nothing to say about this, but the white suit did concern him. Did Colonel white survive Willowpeak? If he did he had to be horribly disfigured. He would get to him later, he had a promise to keep.
“What do you want to know about your father?” Crimson asked as he thought on what Takara said. Takara began to ask basic questions. Where did he come from? What was his life like? How did he meet his mom? Crimson happily answered every question until Takara was satisfied. The sun was setting, and Crimson grabbed Takara and brought him back home. Natania thanked him, and asked him to stop by one day. Crimson promised he would return, casting a glance at little Takara. He really did look like a young version of Ecanoya.
Crimson took off, but instead of heading to Kuele, he went to Wyrmhame again. He flew down the ladder, and into the library so fast that he blew all the papers off of Wyrmhame’s desk. Crimson immediately recovered them and neatly set them all in a stack next to him.
“It hasn’t even been twelve hours and you are already back. This impatience just proves that you are unfit to protect anything.” Wyrmhame commented as he continued to write.
“I am very sorry about the papers, but I found what you were trying to tell me. I know now what you wanted me to think on. The morality of my situation. You think I am fighting for a cause that is selfish and not unlike those of the people I am trying to stop.” Crimson held his breath and waited anxiously for a response.
“That is correct, actually.” Wyrmhame turned around, standing up and looking at Crimson. “Just knowing what I want from you is not enough however.”
“So teach me.” Crimson begged. Wyrmhame sighed and thought for a little bit.
“Fine.” Wyrmhame replied. “Before I teach you, however, there must be a few mandatory lessons. You have missed much schooling, and need to catch up on it.”
“Why?” Crimson whined.
“Knowledge is power in its own right.” Wyrmhame laughed. “Also, allow me to introduce you to the only other person who lives in this library with me. She is a bit touchy, so try to be respectful.”
Crimson followed Wyrmhame to a lower part of the library where the walls slid out of the way and showed another, smaller room in the library, where a woman sat at a table with a crystal ball. She wore a very old timey dress, with a bonnet placed neatly on her head. Her appearance was youthful, despite her odd choice of attire.
“Hello mam, my name is-” Crimson began before the woman smacked him on the head with a folded up hand fan.
“Don’t you have any manners! Let a lady speak first.” She adjusted herself. “My name is Violet. Lady Violet. You are to refer to me as such and only as such, got it boy?”
“Yes Lady Violet.” Crimson bowed. She smacked him again and taught him how to properly bow. Wyrmhame had to cut her off.
“Please stop torturing the poor boy, he is here to learn how to get stronger.” Wyrmhame expected to be thwacked in the head as well. To his surprise she left Crimson alone, but kept watchful eye on him, to make sure he was respectful at all times.
“What technique do you want him to learn?” Lady Violet asked.
“The one that will help him the most.” Wyrmhame replied with a smile.
“You don’t mean that?” Lady Violet asked.
“Oh I do. I am willing to tempt fate on this one. He really does desire to do right by everyone.” Wyrmhame replied.
“The books you are looking for are on the bottom floor.” Lady Violet replied after she looked into her crystal ball.
“There is a bottom to this place?” Crimson asked, astonished.
“Oh there is indeed.” Lady Violet chuckled. “The strain on your body will be rather intense down there, so don’t push yourself too hard now.”
“Go and grab ‘History of the Galaxy’, ‘Order of Hope’, and ‘The Light Shines Brightly’. All of them are stored on the bottom floor. Can you do this for me?” Wyrmhame asked. Crimson walked out of the room and looked down. He could see what faintly resembled a bottom deep in the library. It was incredibly far down. Crimson prepared to jump down, but Wyrmhame put a hand on his shoulder.
“Are you mad? The bottom floor is entirely glass!” Wyrmhame shouted. “Below the glass is a deep dark pit that leads to areas where the gravity is too heavy for even me to go.”
“Why would you make that floor out of glass then?” Crimson asked angrily.
“It looks nice.” Lady Violet giggled. Crimson rolled his eyes and walked over to the stairs. On his way down the seemingly infinite flights, he saw all sorts of books, in languages he both recognized and didn’t. If there was a place in the universe to obtain knowledge, it was here. He had gotten so strong that he barely felt the increased gravity until he started nearing the bottom floor. It was like being back in the mines all over again, except his body was far stronger than before. How much would it have hurt to be down here when he was still a young boy?
Crimson scanned the shelves and looked around for the three books Wyrmhame asked him to grab. The first one he found was ‘History of the Galaxy’ a dictionary sized book written in English, with a leather cover. The title as etched into the leather on the sides, and the book looked incredibly old. The next was ‘Order of Hope’, a book that looked equally as old, but it was covered in a white leather. It wasn’t in English, so it was Crimson’s best bet. ‘The Light shines Brightly’ was also another obviously orange covered book, resting in a sea of brown and black covers. Crimson looked back up to the musty floors on the upper levels. He flew up into the air and slowly weaved in and out of the holes between each floor.
Wyrmhame had a desk on every single floor. Crimson counted each floor as he made his way back to the top. There were exactly three-hundred floors of books to explore, and some of the floors looked like they opened up to entirely different sections of the library. Crimson landed next to the desk in which Wyrmhame sat, gently setting the books at his side. Lady Violet gently floated atop a pink pillow next to Wyrmhame, staring with mild curiosity at the book. Wyrmhame opened all the books and began looking for the information he needed to prepare Crimson.
“Do you wish for a power beyond that of even a Super Saiyan?” Wyrmhame asked as he ran a gentle hand over the ancient pages, turning them so gently that it seemed like the book could crumbled at any second. Crimson nodded in response, not wanting to seem too desperate for the power.
“Good, then you are going to spend the next year preparing your body and mind for it.” Wyrmhame switched books and began sifting through it. “The power you need doesn’t rely on ki, but rather a power that everyone has, but none can access.”
“That’s vague.” Crimson stated. Wyrmhame groaned and turned away from the books.
“Look, the power you need and the methods of how to unlock it are hidden deep within these ancient scriptures. I will do my best to answer your questions, but after that, sit still, shut up, and don’t move a muscle.” Wyrmhame demanded. Crimson nodded in understanding before Wyrmhame rolled his eyes and began. “Firstly, the power is similar to ki, but it is branded differently. You can get the exact same amount of power from it as you would from your ki normally, but unless your opponents know what to look for, they won’t even be able to tell where the power is coming from. Lady Violet and I call it ‘The Heart’.” Crimson leaned in, listening intently. This was his only chance to help anyone.
“To put it very, very simply, it is the power of emotion. Subconsciously, all ki users passively gather it inside themselves, but can only use it at moments of extremes, such as grief or rage. The technique I want to teach you is old. Older than this library, or me, or Lady Violet. It is so old, in fact, that an actual date cannot be put on it.” Wyrmhame looked around, as though he expected someone else to be listening. He lowered his voice as he continued. “The five strongest ways to apply The Heart is to channel it through rage, grief, hate, righteousness, and selfishness. I believe you know which one I want you to use.” Crimson chewed on that for a little bit, and came to the realization that he didn’t know how to be ‘righteous’. Lady Violet noticed his confusion and floated over to him, sitting upright on the pillow as she tapped him on the shoulder.
“Buck up. Wyrmhame and I are going to try and teach you what it is to be righteous.” Lady Violet smiled. “In the meantime, please go back into my room and look for some books to read.” Crimson nodded and returned to Lady Violet’s room. As soon as he was out of earshot, Lady Violet snapped to Wyrmhame.
“I don’t approve of this.” She stated coldly. “We don’t have a right to change his moral compass to match our own.”
“Actually, we do.” Wyrmhame challenged her glare. “The boy is closer than most to how we feel, maybe the closest I have seen in several years. However he can’t find out that the power is drawn from what the user views as ‘righteous’, not the world. If he did, he wouldn’t even need to be righteous to use it.”
“What about the health risks?” Lady Violet put her hands on her hips. “You know The Heart is not meant to be harnessed on the levels required to maintain the technique. If uses this willy nilly he could seriously reduce the number of years he has to live.”
“I don’t expect him to master it in one day, Violet. I am going to build him up to it, using a normal school education to mask the fact I am altering his moral compass, and then gradually building him up. I expect that in a year, this boy will be able to safely use twenty percent of its full potential for at least a few minutes.” Wyrmhame grunted. Lady Violet smacked him for being disrespectful, before issuing her rebuttal.
“And if it kills him in an instant? Are you ready to bear that kind of responsibility?” Lady Violet glanced over to make sure Crimson wasn’t on his way out yet. “When the Order of the Angel’s originally started mastering this, only two-hundred of the original four-hundred members actually survived going past twenty percent.”
“That’s exactly why I got him to bring ‘Order of Hope’. I am going to make him the newest Angel form user.” Wyrmhame smirked.
“Those guys trained for years and still messed up. This will be the last time I bother you about this, but I really want to know that you are absolutely sure on this. I will be with you all the way, but this kid isn’t even in the top hundred-thousand strongest beings in the galaxy.” Violet cast a concerned look at Wyrmhame.
“I believe that he can do this. This is a genuine chance to bring back the age of true heroes! People who were selfless! Who travelled the galaxy and did all the good they possibly could! And it all starts with that boy! He will be the starting cry for a new era. One where we can try to make a line between good and evil, instead of living in shades of gray!” Wyrmhame yelled. He took a second to calm himself before speaking very calmly, and very softly. “When I look into his eyes, I see a flawed human being who strives to be better. I know he will try his hardest to make a difference. He is weak, he is struggling, and the angel form can put him on par with the rest of the universe.” Moved by his speech, Lady Violet dropped it and prepared to help Wyrmhame in his plan. All she could do is hope at this point.
He jolted as Syn placed a hand on his shoulder. “Double, stop moping about.” Syn smirked. Double stood like an oddly chiseled statue, staring out the window, completely lost in thought.
“You know…” Double spoke up, turning back to Syn. “When Quin, Quad, Trips and I first came here to Soluris we had thought we made it in time. We were trading high fives, shouting our praises so loud that it bounced off the walls of the ship and made an amusing echo.” Double chuckled. “When we got closer we realized that all those lights in the distance, they weren’t Taton. No, they were fires. Taton was burning, and we arrived just as Sobrium was leaving. When I think about the day we landed in the ashes and rubble that remained behind, all I can think about is how in the world those kids can keep pushing through all this.”
“It’s obvious.” Ichirou shouted, jumping up from his seat and puffing his chest out ever so slightly. “Those kids have only known fighting for the last several years of their life. It’s what they are: Fighters.”
“That’s not true.“ Syn butt back into the conversation. “These kids are not just fighters. I am sitting in a ship with two people who have been raised their entire lives to be fighters.” Syn cast a glance back to Double before returning his glare to Ichirou. “They are different, in a good way. There is still a chance for them to live a normal life.”
“That’s to be seen.” Quad huffed. “For all we know, every last one of them died or couldn’t make it back in time.” Trips was about to make a snarky remark, when Ryal’s space pod barrelled past their ship on its way to Soluris.
“You were saying?” Double smiled.
“That could be anyone’s ship.” Quad shrugged. On cue, yet again, another ship came jettisoning past. This one was a small luxury space liner, and it was incredibly banged up. Quad kept his mouth shut as another ship slowly moved passed. It looked large enough to hold fifty people, and was almost like a helicopter in shape, but the cockpit was on the tail instead of the front. This ship also made it’s way towards the planet. Trips turned to Quad and waited for his response.
“Spring shopping?” Quad chuckled. “Just because a couple of ships passed by us doesn’t mean it’s the kids.”
“All those ships seem to be converging towards the agreed meeting place.” A new voice called out.
“You have been awfully quiet since we picked you up. Still having second thoughts, Gabr?” Ichirou laughed.
“Me? Second thoughts? Absolutely not.” Gabr smiled. Gabr was an Arcosian, a member of the same race as Sobrium and Heat, but not as powerful as them. When Sobrium and Heat rose to power, the Arcosians who were not strong enough to form even a minor noble house on either side were forced to go into hiding. Gabr was lucky enough to meet up and become a member of the X-force when it was still under the leadership of Ahoi. His appearance was similar to Sobrium, as most Arcosians wore the same attire, but the color pallette matched the natural color of the dome on their head. Gabr’s was a darker green than Sobriums, but his appearance was otherwise the same.
“You sure? That cottage we picked you up from seemed really cozy. You had a couple video game consoles and everything.” Ichirou noted in jealousy. Gabr didn’t respond, returning instead to monitoring the ship on the radar.
“One more ship coming from the distance. It belongs to the Heat Empire! We need to go!” Gabr shouted.
“Calm down Gabr, one of the kids we sent off was put undercover with the Heats.” Double explained. “He probably just stole their ship.”
“For our sakes, I hope you are right.” Quad laughed nervously. The entire X-Force sat down in their chairs, and prepared to enter the atmosphere. Double was still unnerved by how few lights were on in Taton during the night. The death of Gundlr got rid of the planet’s attack dog, meaning as long as they landed fast, they could stay hidden. Gabr was out of practice in piloting, and put the ship down a bit too far from the destination, so Quad decided he would simply carry it over his shoulder using his cloning technique. Double’s heart pounded as they neared familiar territory. He saw the strange helicopter like ship over the trees, and moved through the brush. He peaked through to see Jason, sitting on a tree stump atop freshly laid dirt. Jason had repaired the damage done to the landscape several years ago.
“Hey.” Jason called out to the helicopter ship. “Took you long enough!” Berta burst out of the ship, excitedly glancing around the clearing. Paul rubbed his head as he followed behind her, carrying a few luggage bags over his shoulder. He dropped them on the ground as he and Jason stared at each other for a few quiet seconds.
“You got taller.” Jason snorted.
“You got shorter.” Paul smirked. Jason jumped up and gave Paul a bear hug.
“Watch out for that one.” Berta shouted. “They call him the ‘Godslayer’.” After dropping that information off, Berta winked to Paul before leaving to go relieve herself in the bushes.
“You stole my nickname…” Jason pouted.
“To be fair, I probably got it first.” Paul tried to free himself from Jason’s hug, but his grip was too tight to escape from. Jeez, he had gotten strong. Even his biceps had biceps at this point.
“In your dreams stringbean.” Jason let go of Paul and looked around for other arrivals. To pass time, he decided to have a casual chat with Paul. “So what the hell kind of ship is that? Looks like someone put the cockpit on the wrong end of a chopper, then grew it to a massive size.”
“Oh. It’s called a Tadpole ship. It’s mainly used for long distance transport of up to a hundred people.” Paul’s face became bright red. “Berta gave it to me.” Jason nudged Paul in the side and smirked.
“It’s only because you were in the pilot seat that we crashed! The pilot should have been sexier!” An unfamiliar voice called out.
“Oh! I didn’t see you doing anything helpful!” A second voice spat.
“Can you two please shut up? We are almost there.” Derek sighed.
“Where are we going by the way?” Judes asked Derek. Their voices grew louder as they neared the clearing and Jason eyed Paul.
“Looks like you aren’t the only one who brought guests.” Jason laughed.
“I’ll explain when we get there.” Derek grumbled.
“As stoic as ever, I see.” JayJay gave up, and continued to follow Derek through the incredibly thick brush. Derek punched through the last bits of brush and got into the clearing, staring at Paul and Jason. JayJay and Judes burst out from behind and looked around.
“So who the hell are these guys, and why did we flee to the ass end of the universe? Judes asked.
“This is not sexy at all.” JayJay frowned. The three of them went to the center of the clearing and sat down. JayJay and Judes tried to prod Derek for answers, but he was completely silent.
“Wow you didn’t show up with a dramatic flair this time.” Jason stated sarcastically as Ryal slipped through the bushes. He was almost completely silent as he went through the woods.
“Last time I tried to be dramatic and inspiring, you nearly killed me.” Ryal narrowed his eyes at Jason. Jason was still the stronger of the two, but Ryal knew his father gave him more than just strength. If Jason tried anything, he would be in for one hell of a fight. Another ship approached the clearing, and Double jumped out of the brush, yelling to those sitting in the center.
“Heat Empire incoming! That’s a royal transport!” Double shouted. No one even question Double’s sudden appearance, and instead, got into a fighting stance. Double grabbed everyone, and pulled them to the side. The ship landed a few miles away, letting Double breathe a sigh of relief.
“Derek. Where are we, and why is a Heat noble coming here?” Judes asked, terrified.
“No clue, I’ll explain in a bit.” Derek mumbled. Judes gritted his teeth and waited patiently. The rest of the X force left the brush to go hide with Double, in case they got ambushed. Ichirou and Syn made it first, with Quad and Trips lagging in behind. Gabr was walking over peacefully, and as soon as Jason saw him, he turned to his friends.
“They are already here! Get down!” Jason jumped out to defend everyone, attempting to hit Gabr. Out of practice, Gabr didn’t respond fast enough, and was hit directly in the head. As Jason reeled back to throw a second punch, Syn leapt out to protect Gabr.
“Stop! Stop! He isn’t one of them!” Syn shouted. Jason backed off, but stared at him, confused. Syn noticed the looked in Jason’s eyes, and he felt that Jason may try to kill Gabr anyway, just because he looked like Sobrium. “He is an Arcosian, like the Heats and Sobrium, but he doesn’t belong to either family.” Jason didn’t back off, so Syn continued. “Look, Arcosians are all split up into like, a hundred different families, and not all of them are as strong as Sobrium and Heat. Several years before the galactic war started, all these families served King Heat’s father, but he grew lazy, and some of them began slipping through his grip. When Sobrium started his war, he united some of the Arcosian families under his banner. Gabr wasn’t on either side during this, his family managed to stay independent and join up with the ORBL when it was founded! He doesn’t like either of them!”
Jason thought on this a moment, and finally concluded this to be an acceptable explanation, leaving to return to his friends, he dropped all the prejudice he had against Gabr.
“I could have handled him.” Gabr grumbled.
“You’re out of practice, while most of us have been training since you quit the X-Force.” Syn shrugged. “You need to get your groove back before you go swinging punches at our own members.”
“I can transform you know.” Gabr narrowed his eyes at Syn.
“And I could still kick your ass.” Syn chuckled. Gabr’s face became a bright red. He was fuming, and almost thought about hitting Syn. Syn was the one who recruited him into the X-Force though, so he had some respect for him. At least he didn’t quit like Ahoi, one of the founders.
Pyra strolled into view, gazing around. Malkor ran up to his side, his mind unusually calm. He could convince Pyra that these people were only against Sobrium, but he knew Jason and Ryal would argue otherwise, maybe even Derek if he thought Pyra was no threat to them. Still, he didn’t feel threatened. Pyra looked around the clearing, confused.
“Thought you said you had some friends to meet up with.” Pyra commented. Double stared in terror at Malkor. He was being accompanied by one of the galaxies strongest. Had he chickened out and led Pyra to them? “Also, I think it’s time you tell me more about your friends.” Pyra smirked. “I saw your face when I mentioned Darwin. This isn’t a fun group outing is it?”
“No.” Malkor admitted. “This is a group dedicated to Sobriums downfall. To Darwin’s downfall.” Pyra was intrigued, looking out at the bushes. He saw Gabr’s horns sticking up over the brush.
“Well at least they know what race is best suited for the job. You’ve no need to hide. I mean no harm. I know there are probably more of you, judging by that ship.” Pyra commented. “I am not going to kill anyone.” One by one, each of them hesitantly left the cover of the bushes. Pyra looked over the rag-tag group of fighters and was rather impressed. They were pretty strong, the lot of them. Not nearly as strong as Darwin or himself, but strong enough to make a difference.
“Perhaps I can join in with you guys, as long as you have a plan. You… do have a plan, right?” Pyra asked.
“We are ironing out the kinks. We will have to make a big bang for Sobrium himself to show up somewhere.” Double was cautious in telling Pyra the details.
“We plan to camp out a bit here.” Ichirou commented. Quad elbowed him in the side, causing him to grunt in pain, tensing up as the pain grew sharper.
“Excellent! It seems my father will have to wait a bit. I am going to make friends with commoners!” Pyra began to chuckle. Berta came out of the bushes, looking at everyone standing in a line, staring over at Pyra and Malkor. She didn’t recognize either of them, so she shrugged, strolling over to Paul and sitting at his side. “You allow women in your ranks?” Pyra questioned, dropping his smile. “Well I suppose that’s progressive. Only Warmer let’s women in his rank.”
“But not you?” Berta asked, slightly annoyed.
“Never found one worth enough.” Pyra shrugged. She was actually rather powerful, not nearly as powerful as the others, but if he met her on his own, he may have made his first exception. Paul could tell Pyra was sizing her up, and hoped all his work training her would pay off in the end. There were several quiet moments of awkward tension.
“The gang’s all back together at least.” Ryal gulped.
“Not all of them.” Paul looked off.
“Really now?” Crimson called out from behind the group. Everyone whipped around so fast that Crimson barely noticed the turn. To see Paul’s eyes light up with that much joy was worth all the years of hardships. Jason sprinted to Crimson, bear hugging him almost immediately.
“You’re alive!” Jason shouted. Paul jumped in and grabbed Crimson from Jason like some sort of ragdoll.
“I can’t believe it! You found us!” Paul shouted.
“Of course I did.” Crimson laughed, beginning to grow dizzy from the lack of oxygen. “What other group of strong people would gather on this planet? In this particular spot?”
“You weren’t with us when we were here.” Double noted.
“I was though, I came the night you fought Bryce and Cabba.” Crimson looked away. Paul dropped him.
“You saved me…” Paul trailed off.
“Why didn’t you stay?” Ryal berated Crimson. “You could have been helping us.”
“I had already found my place to train, plus I am most effective when training alone.” Crimson shrugged.
“Not true.” Syn shook his head. “By sparring, all of us have more battle experience than you, ten times over.”
“Life-Or-Death battle experience, probably not.” Crimson trailed off. “I killed Gundlr. I cheated kind of, but I did it.”
“You killed one of the officers?” Derek asked. He sounded like a proud older brother.
“Yeah, although I had to use the same medicine I used to save Paul to keep myself in the fight.” Crimson grumbled. He was embarrassed by his own weakness.
“Let’s all catch up later. For now, I want to get something to eat.” Trips commented. No one seemed to disagree. They needed to take care of themselves. There were people to save, tyrants to break, and worlds to help, they had to be ready for the challenges to come. After all, that’s what makes a hero, right?
Thank you so much for reading yet another overdue chapter. This one may not have been as action packed as the others, but I hope it will hold you over until the next chapter is done! Chapter 6 is looking to be the final chapter of the book, so it will most likely be the largest yet. Please! Leave a comment. I love comments! Special shout out to the long time fans, I will try to get some names into the final version of the story, short little cameos. I love you guys, and all you do for me. You are the best in the world, never forget that! See you on the devblog!
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