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Dragon Ball – The Third Dimension – Chapter 6 & Epilouge

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Chapter 6: Do you Believe in Destiny?

Do you believe in Destiny? It’s a question Ecanoya once asked Crimson. The question flew right over his head then, but now, there was hair on his chest, the boyish tummy he had when Ecanoya died was now replaced by chiseled abs and a disciplined body. A world of knowledge was open to him that he could not have possibly wrapped his head around before. Everyone was sitting around, talking casually. Ryal had cut down a tree, using his hand like an axe, and comfortably plopped down on the stump, talking to Malkor. Crimson felt more eased, knowing that those around his friends meant no harm. He eavesdropped on Ryal and Malkor to see if they had anything interesting to say.

“Your beard is so bushy.” Malkor groaned in disgust.

“You’re just jealous because you Zenkons can’t grow magnificent facial hair.” Ryal stroked his beard. “Perhaps it does need a trim though.” The two chuckled a bit. “You got really strong, I can feel it.” Ryal laughed.

“Everyone has. It’s like our ki has grown with us, molding and shaping in the ways we have, spiritually. I can very distinctly tell everyone apart. Especially Jason.” Malkor whistled.

“Yeah, that buffoon sure is something isn’t he?” Ryal scratched his beard once more, the itching spreading like an infection as he paid more attention to it. Crimson turned away from watching Ryal scratch himself to look towards the X-Force members, who were keeping their distance from Pyra, who was chatting with some of his lackeys. Crimson was too far to hear the talk, so he shifted his attention to what the X-Force members were saying.

“This is your resistance?” Gabr rolled his eyes. “A couple of strong people aren’t going to change anything.”

“Says the Arcosian who tried to make nice with his people by just changing his name to something local.” Syn snorted.

“What does my name have to do with anything?” Gabr narrowed his eyes. “I like it.”

“Out of curiosity, which one of three major families do you descend from?” Quads asked, trying to switch subjects.

“My head is green, and that asshat couldn’t tell me apart from Sobrium. Obviously I am a Heat.” Gabr spat sarcastically. Quad backed off with an annoyed sigh.

“Having trouble keeping the peace?” Ichirou chuckled as he patted Quad on the back.

“You’ve been in the X-Force longer than me and Trips. How did this team survive with the amount of arguing that goes on? Especially in the old days when you had that other Arcosian with you, and that Namek.” Quad huffed. Ichirou blinked, staring at him for a bit before he burst into a fit of laughter.

“Come on Quad, we may argue, but at the end of the day, this team is a family. We’ve all overcome issues together and see each others as equals, sure, Oozak and Harpor left but it wasn’t out of hate, or anger. Not even Aohi left for that reason.” Ichirou explained, slapping his friend on the back.

“Is it Ahoi or Aohi? Everyone always says it differently.” Quad groaned.

“He switches it up, trying to confuse people who are tracking him, it never really works but he still tries anyway.” Ichirou explained. “My dad is weird like that.”

“You think your dad is weird?” Double snorted. “I have over thirty brothers and sisters, rarely from the same mother.”

“I can see you picked up from your mother then, I mean who wants to stay with a face like yours for long?” Trips snickered. The entire X-Force began laughing. Crimson cracked a smile as he looked over to Derek and the two strange men with him.

“Absolutely not.” Judes narrowed his eyes. “I don’t care about any crusade for the greater good.”

“Agreed. We are pirates not rebels. Ahh, you know what I mean!” JayJay grumbled.

“This could pay well.” Derek smiled.

“No amount of cash will get me to try and take down an empire.” Judes grumbled.

“Are you sure about that?” Derek asked.

“Absolutely!” Judes pounded his fist on a nearby tree. “This entire time you were spying on us for a rebellion on the ass end of the galaxy!”

“Technically I wasn’t spying on you.” Derek shrugged. “I was supposed to eliminate pirate groups but instead I joined up, because you guys were good company.”

“You thinking touching words will make us forgive you?” JayJay scoffed. Derek was running out of things to say. He didn’t know how to convince the two of them to stay. He was so used to having these two bumbling about with him that he forgot what their primary drive was.

Crimson knew Derek well enough to know that he sorely lacked social skills. He glided on over to Derek’s side, plopping down next to the three of them.

“Who are you? You weren’t invited, get out.” Judes snapped, pointing his finger in a random direction as though Crimson were a lost dog. Urked, but keeping his cool, Crimson thought on his lessons with Wyrmhame.

“Did you ever hear of the Mungsuu heist?” Crimson asked.

“Of course.” JayJay rolled his eyes. “Sexiest heist ever. Largest haul any pirate crew has managed to grab to date. And that’s impressive for a two-century old heist.”

“Do you want to beat it?” Crimson asked. Judes and JayJay looked cautiously at one another, but were nonetheless curious.

“Sobrium’s transport ships are among the best in the galaxy. They are meant to haul enough cargo to supply entire planets, but due to Sobrium’s swarm tactics, they were repurposed to fit people. Over ten-thousand people can live comfortably in a single cruiser. Think of how much ten-thousand people’s worth of supplies is. Sobrium usually sends four to five of those ships to a planet he wants to conquer at a time. The night he took over Taton, He had his cruisers touch down on other places, taking them over in his stead, which greatly expanded his reach on Soluris. Now, think about how much you could scrap those ships for, let alone the goods inside them.” Crimson finished his lengthy explanation. The three sat dumbfounded, and Crimson saw the sparkle in the pirates eyes. He had them hooked. Now it was just a matter of reeling them in.

“You won’t even have to do much either. You could just handle all the little guys, then take the ships and leave without another word. A ship for both of you.” Crimson made a little hand gesture to symbolize a ship taking off.

“You want us to take on twenty-thousand men?” Judes asked.

“Twenty-thousand forced soldiers who don’t want to be there, and are hastily trained and poorly equipped individually. So long as you avoid any of Sobriums elite, and he only has about five of those per Twenty-thousand force, you could probably wipe out the forces together. Besides, I highly doubt all of them are going to focus on just the two of you.” Crimson shrugged. Judes sat back on the log he was resting on. JayJay snickered a bit.

“Taking on an army of over twenty-thousand? Just the two of us?” He smirked. “Well, the money is a good incentive. I value my own life, but that much money…” JayJay turned to his partner, who took a deep breath, holding it a bit before exhaling in defeat.

“Fine.” Judes sank down. “We will come along with your stupid suicide plan.”

“That’s the spirit!” Derek shouted. Hearing the usually quiet Derek shout made Crimson jump. It was a pleasant surprise to see him coming out of that shell he had when he was younger. Crimson got up and started walking around. Paul suddenly pounced him and pulled him over to Berta, presenting him like a prized possession.

“This is my childhood best friend: Crimson. He’s the one I told you about. From all the orphanages.” Paul smiled, dusting off Crimson’s shoulders.

“My name is Berta.” She extended a hand. Crimson reached out and shook her hand nervously. She had an incredibly firm grip. “I grew up in my fair share of orphanages.”

“War seems to leave everyone an orphan.” Paul sighed.

“Enough talk!” Double shouted. Everyone turned their heads. “We need to get down to business. We have a plan so far, but we need to do a power check to see who goes where.”

“Simple enough.” Pyra laughed as he walked towards them. He grit his teeth and began charging up his power. It hit everyone like a wave. Pyra was leagues ahead of them all. “Do I get front lines?” Pyra smirked. His aura lashed out, a bright red fire.

“Be patient.” Ichirou scoffed. “Everyone who can, unleash your Super Saiyan power.” His eyes wandered to Quad. After commanding others, Ichirou transformed, being surrounded by a glowing golden aura. Double ascended as well, and Derek took a few minutes before finally attaining the form for a second time. He was not yet accustomed to it. Quad looked into the distance, disappointed in himself for being the only Saiyan to not yet reach that level in the group.

“Now don’t feel offput by this, we will still judge fairly-” Double began before Ryal powered up as well, snapping trees so easily that they seemed like simple toothpicks with the sheer force of his power. His aura was a soft red, matching the firey passion that burned within.

“I don’t fall behind.” Ryal grinned. Crimson stared in awe at Ryal, whose power equaled that of the Super Saiyans, perhaps even going beyond just a smidge. Jason, taking this as a challenge, also raised his power to show that he too, was above the Super Saiyans. Jason’s aura was a more vibrant red, and it shone with tenacity. The difference in quantity was more apparent with Jason, but there was something about Ryal that told Crimson he may be the strongest.

“Stop getting out of control. This isn’t a competition, this is a strategic meeting.” Double scolded them. Judes and JayJay were next to show off, and the two were actually almost as strong as Derek was, when he wasn’t a Super Saiyan that is. Their auras were both purple, showing selfishness. Berta was stronger than all of the Saiyans in their base forms, but not when they transformed, and her aura was a vibrant, carefree cyan. Syn was below the Super Saiyan level by just a bit, but he was cocky all the same. His aura was orange, showing off his happy attitude quite well. Quad was the weakest by far, but no one commented, for the sake of his feelings. His aura was alike the other saiyans, a calm blue. Trip’s power jumped around like it had a mind of its own. It was very strange compared to the relatively static powers of the others. His was a bright yellow, but not quite golden like the Super Saiyans. Trips ranked third from the bottom, getting just above JayJay, but below Judes. Malkor was just as strong as the Super Saiyans, and his aura was a calculating, yet shy green. When it came to Gabr’s turn, there was something different, aside from the black aura that radiated with resolution. When he powered up, he grew far taller, standing at nearly ten feet. The horns on his head became far larger as well.

“What the hell did you do? Take some kind of freaky steroid?” Berta asked.

“Transformed. Didn’t you know Arcosians have two suppression forms on average, sometimes more? In our true forms, our powers can get out of hand. Our stamina is not impressive in the slightest when at full power, so suppressing it allows us to store energy for the big fights ahead.” Pyra commented. Gabr let loose a fierce shout that thundered through the valley, and a bright light erupted from him, blinding everyone. When their vision returned, Gabr stood there, in a far different form than before.

“This is the original form of all Arcosians. We are born like this.” Gabr commented.

“You’re telling me he can do that too?” Ichirou shouted, pointing at Pyra. “And Sobrium? Now this really is a suicide mission.” Gabr’s form was not alike the rough previous forms. The pink skin that lay in between the white patches was gone. His skin was very smooth, much more like a humans, in fact, eerily close. His head no longer had horns, and instead the light green dome was enlarged. His tail even changed, becoming smooth, instead of lizard like. His facial features were more prominent too, with larger eyes and lips. His power was second only to Pyra, but the gap wasn’t as large. With some training the others could definitely catch up. Gabr huffed and returned to the form he had before.

“That was tiring. How did I do?” Gabr asked.

“Not too bad.” Syn smirked.

“So, who hasn’t gone yet?” Double asked. Paul stepped forward. Even he had grown exponentially since Crimson last saw him. Paul’s power was at the halfway point between Gabr’s first and second suppressed forms, which put him at roughly three-fourths of the full Super Saiyan power. Now that everyone was properly scaled, it was time to make a plan of attack.

“Crimson, why haven’t you gone?” Paul asked. Everyone turned to Crimson, and his heart skipped a beat. He didn’t have the complete confidence the rest of them did. He decided the best way to go about it was to just do it. He powered up to maximum in seconds and everyone’s eyes widened.

“That’s pitiful.” Ichirou laughed. Crimson disappeared from sight and appeared behind Ichirou, using Instant Transmission to help with his tricks. Everyone flipped around in surprise.

“I have a few tricks up my sleeve.” Crimson smirked.

“Being fast isn’t going to help in the long run.” Double sighed. “I am sorry kid. It may be best if you go home.” Crimson gritted his teeth and decided to go with the last solution.

“Fine then. Let me fight.” Crimson challenged Double. The power of the Angel was his. The others couldn’t sense it, but Crimson could, and he knew that if he took the full minute and seven seconds he needed to activate twenty percent of the power he needed, then he could probably take on one of the super saiyans and impress everyone. Twenty percent wouldn’t put him in too much danger, it should be fine to use casually, right?

“Alright.” Jason stepped forward. “You fight me.”

“That’s going overboard-” Malkor began but Jason raised a calm hand.

“If he is serious about this, he needs to know what he has to measure up to. I guarantee you that I will not be the strongest person there. Probably not even close. If you can last against me, then I bet no one will be against bringing you along.” Jason smiled.

“It’s not just that Jason, he has no experience.” Ichirou commented. “Even if he was equal to you, his lack of experience would make him a liability.”

Just a few more seconds and Crimson would have the power. Jason walked up to him, and everyone began to clear the area.

“I remember when you dove in that ring to save me. Now let me dive in to save you. I can’t let you come Crimson.” Jason frowned. He didn’t want to be the one to doubt Crimson, but he had to be realistic. If any of them should make it out of this, it should be him.

“I am not asking.” Crimson stared forward at Jason. The aura surrounding him changed from a soft blue to a pure white. It was the only visible change that twenty percent caused. Aside from a few raised eyebrows, no one noticed. No one but Ryal, that is. Ryal knew of techniques, both ki and magic, and what Crimson just did was neither, yet at the same time, somehow both. He couldn’t sense exactly what the technique did, but he was suspicious.

Jason threw a surprise punch at Crimson, but he ducked it, dropping to a squat before lunging upwards to shoulder Jason in the stomach. Jason stumbled back, looking up in surprise. “That was a lucky hit.” Jason grumbled. Crimson tried not to get cocky, but a faint smirk crawled its way across his lip. Jason sent a faint left hook towards Crimson. Crimson was not experienced enough to see through it, and fell for it. When he went to dodge right, Jason brought his fist out to jab Crimson right in the ribs. Crimson coughed, feeling his bones crack slightly from the force of the blow. Angel Form increased speed and power, but barely affected durability. Crimson slid back, studying Jason. Malkor jumped in.

“We’ve seen enough. Obviously Crimson does have some tricks up his sleeve.” Malkor yelled.

“I haven’t even gotten started. Stop holding back Jason.” Crimson smiled. “I can take it.”

“Is that why you’re holding your side?” Jason asked, crossing his arms. Crimson didn’t even noticed that he instinctively covered the most pained area. Jason lunged over Malkor. Crimson dropped on his back, barely feeling the cry of pain from his ribs. Jason altered his course mid-air attempting to take out Crimson’s knee. Crimson pushed himself off the ground, avoiding a devastating impact.

“You little shit.” Ryal gritted his teeth, finally understanding what Crimson did. “Where did you learn that?” Crimson weaved out of the way of Jason’s next punch, but while he expected Jason to use another limb to attack, Jason instead wrapped his extended arm around Crimson’s head, holding him in place as he brought his knee to his skull. Crimson caught his knee just at the last second, before planting a foot on his chest and kicking off, flying back down to the ground. Jason followed quickly. As he launched a chop kick to Crimson’s side, he stepped into the attack, pivoting himself and bringing his elbow up to meet Jason’s chest. Jason flung himself headfirst into Crimson’s elbow. He spat out a curse before grappling onto Crimson’s shoulder, and swinging under to put him in an armbar. Crimson flipped around Jason before he locked it in place, attempting to choke him out. Jason dropped as soon as Crimson got his arm around him, throwing him over his shoulder. Jason rubbed his chest as Crimson slowly got up.

“Still think I’m holding back?” Jason grimaced.

“Yes.” Crimson answered. Before they were able to head in for another round, Ryal stepped in between the two.

“You. Talk. Now.” Ryal pointed at Crimson. Jason shot a confused gaze at Crimson, who shrugged in response. Crimson followed Ryal into the woods, leaving behind several stunned and confused comrades.

“What just…” Judes blinked.

“I don’t know, but as long as he’s on our side.” JayJay chuckled.

“I’m proud of him.” Jason smiled. Paul had a big, stupid grin on his face as well. Their friend no longer had any reason to doubt himself.

“Were you holding back though?” Malkor whispered to Jason.

“Big time.” Jason whispered back. “That was my maximum according to what I’ve shown you guys, but I got a bunch more strength.”

“Why not show us?” Malkor questioned.

“I am not used to fighting at maximum. It’s kind of like that Arcosian said. I get tired too fast. I want to save it for actual fights. Still though, he has come really far. How he managed to suppress his power and fight me at the same time, I will never know.”

“That was insane. It was a boost beyond Super Saiyan.” Ryal poked Crimson in the shoulder.

“Yeah, and?” Crimson shrugged.

“And you did it with magic.” Ryal dug his finger into Crimson’s shoulder. “Do you know the adverse effects that has on your body? Magic has rules, limits. You can’t just summon power without a price. Do you even know what that price is?”

“Of course I do. I’m not stupid. I wasn’t using the full technique. Just twenty percent.” Crimson smiled. “I am being responsible with it, I promise.”

“No, you don’t understand how wrong this can go.” Ryal narrowed his eyes. “I grew up surrounded by magic. Ki and magic are two vastly different things. Trying to mix them almost always ends bad.”

“Ryal, please, I know. I won’t abuse this. Besides, it has a lot of limits put on it to make sure it doesn’t break me in two.” Crimson smiled. “For example it takes a full minute to get just to twenty percent, and the highest I have ever gone is forty, and that took ten minutes.”

“What are these percentages for?” Ryal asked.

“Well the full technique is a humongous boost, if it’s all its cracked up to be, if I used it I could probably take on Pyra at his maximum. The percentages are there to protect me so I may grow accustomed to using it, and learn the limits of each percentage. Intervals of twenty are best because they are easiest to learn, while still providing reasonable challenge.” Crimson explained.

“You screw up with this, I am not helping you. Understand me?” Ryal pulled his finger from Crimson’s shoulder.

“I understand you.” Crimson nodded sincerely. Ryal stomped off, leaving Crimson to think on the threat. Ryal plopped down back next to Malkor, who was going to question what he said to Crimson until he saw how annoyed Ryal was. It was obvious the two just needed some time apart before things got back to normal.

“See, what did I tell you! He always comes through for us.” Derek smacked Paul in the stomach.

“I get that you guys are all giddy that your friend can jump onto this suicide mission, but what he just did isn’t better than anyone here.” Double rolled his eyes. Syn sniffed the air and stuck out his tongue in disgust.

“What?” Gabr asked, turning to his friend whilst the rest of the group conversed on a plan.

“It’s those foul slug people. Some are flying this way.” Syn spat in disgust. Paul overheard him, going to smack him on the back of the head, but Ichirou grabbed his hand before Syn noticed.

“It’s not worth causing a divide in the group.” Ichirou whispered. Berta placed a calm hand on Paul’s shoulder and he took a step back, settling down. Kuele and Bolt landed in the clearing. Pauls face seemed to ask all sorts of questions, but Ichirou simply released his hand gently and sighed. “It’s a long story, but all you need to know is that it won’t cause us too many problems. Syn talks big but he really is a softie once you get to know him.”

“What do you want slugs?” Syn shouted. Double bonked him on the head, trying to keep things peaceful.

“We heard there was a chance we were going to take a fight to the tyrant. We would like to help.” Kuele smiled.

“Just you two?” Trips snorted.

“Looks like you can use all the help you can get.” Kuele straightened his vest and stared on, ignoring Syn’s attempts to get a rise out of him. “And no, we have one more.”

“He isn’t wrong.” Berta sighed “We are seriously outgunned if we plan to take on an army.”

“The woman is right.” Pyra responded. “We can put a dent in their forces, but I’m afraid that does nothing to Sobrium. He can always recruit more cannon fodder. He has more than enough troops for the lot of us, and even I, at my best, can’t keep fighting large numbers forever. We can’t let him wear us down.”

“Which why we need teams to take on the army, trying to bring them to clash with ORBL forces whilst the rest of us take out the big players.” Quad commented.

“Right.” Double agreed. “We can talk this over inside the ships. It’s getting late. Anyone who doesn’t want to come to planning can sit outside and catch up with one another. It’s been five years, and things are moving fast. I won’t put it past you if you want to slow down a bit.” The group slowly started moving towards the X-Force ship, but a few stayed behind. Everyone went to the planning except for Crimson, Paul, Derek, and Jason.

“We need to talk.” Crimson sat down by the three. “About what’s happened.”

“The sad part is that so many things have happened that it’s kind of hard to tell which thing you are referring to at this point.” Derek sighed.

“It’s new news to you guys, old to me.” Crimson choked up.

“Well spit it out already!” Jason laughed, but his smile vanished as soon as he caught the look on Crimson’s face.

“Jacob is alive.” Crimson swallowed the lump in his throat. “He is the One-Armed Super Saiyan that has been causing Sobrium so many problems on Soluris. His near-death experience has, well, changed him.”

“Changed how?” Derek asked cautiously.

“He’s insane. He tried to kill me because he thought I was just another hallucination.” Crimson told them.

“Where is he now?” Jason asked.

“I know what you’re thinking-” Crimson began before Jason cut him off.

“I want to know Crimson! Together, as a group, we could help him!” Jason shouted.

“He wouldn’t even recognize us!” Derek stepped in. “Think about it Jason, we are all sixteen now, we aren’t boys, Paul is at least six feet tall, and his shaggy hair is the only thing he could recognize. Seeing the scruff on his chin would convince him that it wasn’t Paul! If he attacked Crimson he is obviously delusional. He will have no sense of time, nor place. If we just came out of nowhere and tried to tell him that we all survived the attack, how do you think he would fair? Would anything change compared to when he attacked Crimson? To him we would just be more visions coming to trick him.”

“It could work! The only one here who looks far different is you Derek, because you’re blind, and don’t need those glasses anymore. You have your slightly spiky saiyan hair, it’s pretty hard to miss that.” Jason continued trying to convince the others.

“You know I am only half-Saiyan, right? My hair still grows like everyone else’s. I’m sure it’s far different now than when I was a child.” Derek began giving up hope of convincing Jason otherwise. Paul stood up and walked over to Jason. Derek snapped up and looked to Paul, who stood right in front of Jason, at least half a foot taller. He hugged him tight. Crimson and Derek were taken aback by this.

“It’s okay to let go Jason.” Paul bit his lip. “I know this is hardest for you, because you were with him at the orphanage longer than any of us. You saved my life, you thought he was dead, you don’t have to go blaming yourself. None of us blame you, he doesn’t blame you, but it’s clear that your Jacob, our Jacob, is long gone. Don’t do that to yourself. Don’t see him like that.” Jason felt oddly comforted by the supportive hug, but pushed Paul off.

“I get it…” Jason trailed off. “Yeah, it’s fine. Whatever. I won’t go after him. Not when we have so much to prepare for. If we died fighting Sobrium after we told him we were alive that would truly destroy him.” Derek was surprised that Jason was brought to see reason.

“You have a way with people.” Derek chuckled. Paul blushed, and Crimson ruffled his hair.

“So, after this is over, what’s the first thing you are going to do?” Jason asked the group to change the topic.

“Take a proper shower.” Derek laughed. “In all seriousness though, I think I would like to find my mother. I know she is still out there somewhere. It was my dad that left me in the streets to fend for myself until Jacob scooped me up and put me into the safety of his care. I just want to see her again. I barely remember her face.” The mood grew somber as the others forgot their jokes.

“I want to see if I can repair the orphanage and continue the legacy.” Paul admitted.

“I want to find my father so I can bring him to justice for what he did to my mother, and for not being there for Harmony and Melody. Maybe if he just left us alone, the two of them wouldn’t have-” Jason stopped as Paul placed a hand on his shoulder.

“No more ‘what if’s’ and ‘maybes’. Let’s just focus on the future.” Paul took his hand off his shoulder and Jason nodded slowly.

“I think I will travel.” Crimson sat back and stared up at the sky. It was getting dark, and a vibrant orange overtook the sky. “See the galaxy, help people where and when I can.”

“You could stay and help me with the orphanage.” Paul proposed.

“Sounds great, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think I can. The fight’s just not going to end so simply for me.” Crimson sat up and looked at the ground.

“Ecanoya would want you to lead a peaceful life.” Derek reminded him.

“I failed Ecanoya the moment I leveled a small village of innocent people.” Crimson kept his gaze towards the ground.

“You only did that because Darwin wormed his way into your mind after months of torture. You were broken, but now you are fixed.” Derek tried to keep his spirits high. Derek knew as well as Paul or Jason that if he let Crimson brood he would tear himself apart worse than anyone else could. Ryal and Malkor came out of the brush and sat down by the group.

“What are we talking about?” Ryal asked.

“Aren’t you supposed to be at the meeting?” Jason asked him.

“Right now its a bunch of bickering. Until they can figure things out we don’t want to sit and listen to them.” Malkor butted in.

“We are talking about what we will do after this is all over.” Paul smiled.

“Oh, that’s easy.” Malkor laughed. “My dad owned a restaurant before Taton was attacked. He cooked the most delicious food. I would really love to do that. Think of how useful ki would be in the kitchen! I could literally sit and read while working at the efficiency of an entire team! It would be great!” Everyone started laughing at the thought of a bunch of pots and pans floating around a room, making a variety of dishes.

“Oh man! Ki is convenient that way, isn’t it?” Derek laughed. “Brushing my teeth has never been easier. I have become a multitasking champion.”

“You? Ha!” Jason laughed. “I could brush my teeth, floss and wash my face all at once.” Crimson laughed so hard his abdomen became sore. Jason always had to one-up everyone.

“My mornings consisted of brushing my teeth whilst doing one armed handstand pushups, and dodging the ki blasts I was bouncing around the room at the time.” Crimson bragged.

“I ate a giant bear.” Ryal butted in.

“What?” Paul blinked.

“The planet I went to. My mornings consisted of wrestling mountain sized bears into submission and then eating them. It helped me focus on and get over my one weakness: Flying.” Ryal stated blatantly.

“You still haven’t told us what you’re doing after all this.” Crimson noted.

“Oh, yeah. I am probably going to go make amends with my sister, Brianna. It will take a while but once I smooth things over with her I may go travelling.” Ryal commented.

“You too?” Crimson asked with a sparkle in his eye.

“You thinking what I’m thinking?” Ryal smirked. The two began to count down in unison.

“Travel partners!” They both shouted at the same time, high fiving afterwards. Ryal loved the idea. This way, he could keep a close eye on Crimson and his use of that dangerous technique, and he wouldn’t be totally alone while he experienced the wonders of the galaxy.

“What are you bums talking about?” Berta asked. Judes and JayJay were behind her, their faces decorated with a defeated expression.

“What are you going to do after this whole ordeal is over?” Paul asked.

“I’m going home.” Berta sighed, putting her hands in her pockets. “Plenty of people back home still need me. Have to make sure another war doesn’t start.”

“You sure you don’t want to stick around?” Paul asked softly. Berta blushed slightly, a small smile crawling across her lip.

“I wouldn’t want people to know I was sticking around with Godslayer, would I?” Berta stuck her tongue out and Paul began laughing. Crimson pretended to roll his eyes, smiling afterwards.

“How about you two?” Derek asked.

“Judes and I will probably start up another pirate group. A sexier, bigger one than ever.” JayJay raised a finger to enunciate his point.

“Or, better yet, we could just go settle down somewhere with the money we make for a ship.” Judes smiled at the thought.

“And, after you settle down, let me guess: You’re going to open a shop?” Jason asked sarcastically.

“That very thought disturbs me.” JayJay shuddered. “No, just settle down somewhere. Nice and quiet, where we don’t need to ever use ki again, nor have to deal with any people.”

“Sounds pretty peaceful for two pirates.” Derek noted.

“All any pirate really wants in the end is to be left alone.” Judes smiled sadly, thinking to the boss of their old crew. Judes and JayJay sat down in the grass and Berta found a place to sit down next to Paul.

“So, want to fill us in on the argument they are having?” Derek asked.

“Oh it’s just stupid location stuff. The X-Force guys think we should try to bring Sobrium and Darwin here, as that would be easiest considering how useful this planet is to him for soldiers and resources. Pyra suggests we take the fight to his castle, which would require us to move at light speed through over twenty star systems filled to the brim with well over thirty million loyal Sobrium subjects.” Berta yawned.

“Why does Pyra want to go there?” Ryal asked with a groan.

“It’s the only place Sobrium is guaranteed to be. Plus we are supposed to attract the ORBL into thinking that Sobrium is fighting the Heats. Pyra said his brother gave him this idea.” Malkor informed him.

“So basically make it a three way fight where we all try to do some serious damage to each side? I am down for that.” Jason laughed.

“Right, except the problem is no one can agree on which one is more likely to bring the ORBL. Pyra thinks that if someone were to attack Sobriums capital, the ORBL would take a chance and hit them where it hurts, whilst the X-Force thinks with a few well placed connections they could trick all of the big players of the ORBL to come to Soluris. Ghost was already here after all.” Malkor continued. Everyone thought on the plan for a bit, swishing it around in their heads.

“Aren’t there three kings of fighting? Like the top three strongest people in the ORBL aside from Orion himself?” Derek asked.

“Aohi, Ghost, and…” Paul paused for a bit, trying to think on the last name.

“Exo!” Ryal stood up proud. Paul snapped his finger, pointing at Ryal to signal that he had jogged his memory.

“Exo is supposed to be the second strongest, and none of us have had any experience fighting him. He can’t show up if this plan has even a tiny chance of working.” Berta reminded everyone.

“He won’t show up.” Ryal noted.

“Why not?” Crimson asked.

“He’s my dad.” Ryal scratched his head and laughed. He expected everyones jaws to drop but those who knew him seemed to shrug it off. “I got a proper measure on his full power. Even at super saiyan, no one here is anywhere near his power, not even Pyra! If we are going to meet two more people like that, then we are screwed.”

“Not if we all team up.” Double commented, coming out of the bushes. “We got it all figured out.”

“What’s the plan, big man?” JayJay asked.

“Well, for starters, we are going to have four teams. Two teams for the ORBL, one for Sobrium, and another to deal with the grunts.” Double began his lengthy explanation of the plan. “To start, we have put people who best work together in groups with one another. Pyra will be heading the Sobrium group to go after Darwin. Now then, we’ve plotted out the safest routes to take on Sobrium’s home world. With the few shots of the planet provided by the Heat’s, we are able to discern the planet is made of pure katchin, making it nigh impossible to blow up. This means the fights on this planet will be all out, no need to hold back to avoid damaging it. Sobrium’s fleet will be engaging Heat’s fleet in the orbit of the planet, giving us the time we need to fight the leaders. However there will be heavy resistance on the ground that our grunt squad will have to deal with. Unfortunately, the Heats can’t spare too many troops because of the rebels. We need to clear space for the ORBL ships to land so we can ambush their leaders after they grow tired from battle. The X-Force will take on Aohi. Derek, Ryal, Paul, Jason, Malkor and Berta will be taking on Ghost, while Judes, JayJay, Bolt and Kuele will take on the grunts.” Double grinned with confidence. “The final group for Sobrium consists of Crimson, Dayereh, and Gabr.”

“Gabr’s not going with you?” Jason asked curiously.

“Gabr volunteered to stick with Pyra’s group. It may be best considering this Dayereh that the Namekians talk about is a bit of an unknown asset, but the Sobrium crew neeeds more people. We haven’t measured him up yet, and we don’t have too much time to wait. Pyra already put the word out of an attack.” Double ran a hand through his hair and sighed.

“I know Dayereh, he’s as strong as me, if not stronger.” Crimson commented. Double nodded in response and sat down, looking over at the group.

“Look I know that this is a lot to drop on you, but I understand if you want to leave right now. The odds that we pull this off, even with five years of preparation, are slim to none.” Double looked at the people sitting on the stumps, and he caught flashes of them five years prior, when they were still children, playing games and running around. This was possibly the largest gathering of natural talent anywhere in the galaxy. Did he really have a right to ask them to die for him?

“I am not leaving.” Derek clenched his fist. “I am done running. It’s time to stand and fight. We have lost everything we have ever loved to these people and their war. It’s time to stop them from taking anymore.”

“One problem with that.” Crimson sighed. “We can’t take on the Heats during all this mess. If we push Sobrium out of the picture and cripple the ORBL, the Heats will regain the control of the galaxy they lost nearly a century ago.”

“Then that will come after.” Ryal nodded. “We will need to travel a bit, get stronger, recoup from our loses, but I think that we can eventually bring peace to the galaxy.”

“Well if you’re confident in this then I guess there is no reason to doubt ourselves!” Jason laughed and slapped Ryal on the back.

“Someone needs to be confident for the little guys.” Ryla slapped Jason back. Jason gritted his teeth but laughed.

“I can arrange to have new clothes made for all of you.” Double nodded to each of them.

“I want a gi with a white bottom and black top.” Ryal noted. “Oh and a strap to put my machete on the belt.

“I’ll wear the same.” Jason nodded to Ryal. The two shared a smile of mutual respect.

“I would also like a razor.” Ryal scratched his bushy beard. “This is a bit too manly for me.” Derek gasped sarcastically, and everyone else broke out laughing.

“If it’s all the same to you.” Malkor began.” I would like to just wear a traditional Zenkon robe.”

“JayJay and I want plain cloths.” Judes shook his head.

“Don’t speak for me!” JayJay growled. “I want something sexy! Gorgeous! Fabulous.”

“Ok then.” Double slowly turned to the others.

“Skip me, I already have something in mind.” Crimson waved him off.

“Same thing as Ryal and Jason.” Paul raised an arm..

“I guess I will take that too.” Derek shrugged.

“Why not.” Berta sighed, punching Paul in the arm for tugging at her heartstrings. “I guess I’ll take the same gi that they did.

“Alright, that’s settled.” Double got up and walked off. He returned a few moments later with Kuele, who used some sort of magic to give everyone the cloths they had asked for.

“That is so cool.” Paul smiled like a giddy child, looking at his new cloths.

“I’ll be right back.” Crimson waved to everyone, then flew off. Kuele looked up, wondering where Crimson was heading off to. As soon as Crimson left, Dayereh arrived. Kuele nodded to his son, who nodded back.

“Oh great, more slug people.” Syn stuck his tongue out, making a fake gagging motion.

“Knock it off.” Ichirou smacked him in the back of the head. Syn groaned and kept moving, letting the entire group exit the brush. The X-force were all outfitted with their own gi, everyone except for Quad, who wore only baggy pants and no shirt.

“You guys should rest up for the night, we have a long day ahead of us, and we still have to get the rumor out there that the heats are attacking Sobrium.” Trips noted, clapping his hands together. No one disagreed, and immediately found a place to lay down. Derek stared up at the stars, and wondered which one they would be going to tomorrow.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Hey Ecanoya.” Crimson smiled as he overlooked the calm sea, standing aside Ecanoya’s grave. Natania and Takara had left the things he asked for on the grave marker. “I don’t know if you can hear me, but I’d like to imagine you can.” Crimson sat down, overlooking the cliff and watching the evening waves crash into the side of the cliff, before slowly sinking back down.

“It’s been a hard life without you, but I’ve somehow managed to do it.” Crimson turned to look at the grave. “I got here, to the point where the rebellion was supposed to be heading.” Crimson stopped, turning his gaze to the stars. “I’m not stupid. I know that tomorrow will make that willowpeak massacre look like a pleasant daydream. I can’t even imagine how many people have been living their lives up to the point where it will end tomorrow. All those stories, ended by our own hands.” Crimson looked at his feet, staring at the sparse pieces of grass on the cliffside.

“Through it all though, I have realised one important thing: I am not you, and I don’t have to be. All my life I have tried to imitate everything you do, from the way you treat people to the way you help them. I can’t be you, but I can still carry on your legacy.” Crimson stood up and turned to face the grave marker. On it, lay Ecanoya’s dusty old Taton City Guard jacket. It was with this same jacket that he did his best to improve the lives of those around him. Crimson pulled it from the gravestone and slung it over his shoulders. It was far too big for him, but this didn’t matter too much to him. He adjusted the coat to be comfortable before bending down to pick up Ecanoya’s City Guard Sword. He always said it was a symbol for peace, not a weapon of peacekeeping, so Crimson was going to carry on the tradition. He wouldn’t use the sword as anything but a reminder to those who saw him that he was there to help.

Ecanoya’s sword was custom made for him, and being quite a large man, the sword was longer to fit at his side and not look short compared to the rest of the guard. Crimson slung it over his shoulder, fitting it on his back. He drew the sword and inspected the blade. Natania had it sharpened just for him. Crimson smiled, then sheathed it again. He would have to thank Natania for digging through Taton’s ruins to find Ecanoya’s old apartment and retrieve these things. Crimson flew up, taking one last look at Ecanoya, before flying off, finally ready to leave his past behind him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Where do you think you’re going?” Jason asked, crossing his arms and staring over at Derek. Derek let out a defeated sigh. There was a long silence between the two, and Jason continued to prod Derek as he walked away. Eventually Jason got physical, pushing Derek and repeating his question.

“I want to see Jacob.” Derek grumbled.

“You’re a damn hypocrite.” Jason hissed. “All your big talk about ‘what’s broken can’t be fixed’, yet here you are, about to go against your own word.”

“I need this Jason!” Derek barked at him. “Jacob is my family! The only family I have left.”

“What about me?” Jason asked, piercing him with a cold gaze. “He’s the only family I have left, yet I gave up on finding him. Don’t tell me you just wanted to see him on your own?” Derek didn’t even reply, confirming his selfishness to Jason. Jason simply clicked his tongue and put his hand on his hips. “Let’s go, you selfish ass.”

“Why?” Derek asked.

“I wanted to see him anyway. Search for his ki, we can find him and talk to him before Crimson gets back. I’m sure we can convince him that we are real, and that we are living on with our goals.” Jason trailed off

“Wait.” Paul called out from behind. He had been eavesdropping on them, and while he wasn’t proud of it, he definitely wanted in on this. “Add one more to the party.” Paul sighed.

“Sure you want to go without Crimson?” Derek asked Paul.

“Crimson seemed too shaken to even approach him.” Paul gazed off into the distance, watching the foliage sway in the breeze. The dirt path they stood on stretched for miles in each direction. Taton’s ruinous outskirts were just barely visible in one direction, as well as the towering buildings in the middle of the city, standing, barren and gutted, from explosions and fires.

“I can sense a power like his, although it’s a slim similarity.” Derek pointed in a direction.

“If this goes south,” Jason began, taking a breath to calm his nerves. “If we truly see him beyond the point of no return. We should end his suffering.” Derek and Paul didn’t protest, but it was a tall order. Jason flew up, waiting for Derek to lead the way. Derek shrugged at Jason’s impatience, taking off in the direction of the power.

They landed close, deciding to take the rest of the way on foot. Paul was trying to bounce around ideas of what to say or ask, but Jason wanted to see how bad it was for himself. Derek couldn’t stop thinking about what Jason asked. There was no way he could kill Jacob. The reason any of this is possible is because of him. Ecanoya was reluctant, but Jacob was supportive. If it weren’t for Paul tying the groups together, Ecanoya would have taken Crim and went their separate ways. Jacob made him strong, both before and after Sobrium. When the Saiyans beat him for being a Trashblood, their term for Half-Saiyans, he wasn’t able to get up for days. The slums were no nice place, but Jacob saw him and picked him up, no questions asked. Before he knew it, he had cloths, people who wanted to talk with him, no matter his race. It was a gift he was very grateful for, and a reason he was all the more bitter when Sobrium tore it from his grasp.

“Who are you?” A voice shouted from behind the trio. Paul jumped so hard it looked like he was about to take off into space. They all turned to see a man, in the Super Saiyan state, golden hair, emerald eyes, but he was incredibly messy. His beard was wild and out of control, but one thing that never changes on a full blooded Saiyan is his hair. They all dropped their guard, staring at his hair.

“Jacob?” Paul asked softly.

“Who wants to know?” He barked back.

“It’s us, Jacob.” Jason stepped forward. “It’s Jason.” He took another step forward, and Jacob growled, raising his guard like a wild animal. Jason gestured a hand backwards. “This is Derek, and this is Paul.”

“Impossible. They are only kids.” Jacob snarled at them. Paul was on the verge of tears, but seeing Derek already crying shook him out of his daze. In this moment the past five years where these boys became men didn’t matter. They were just kids again. Kids in desperate need of the family that they lost. While they all hesitated, Jacob pounced on Jason, throwing him to the ground. Jason was caught completely off guard, and looked up at Jacob with fear in his eyes.

“Don’t ever speak those names to me!” Jacob screamed at the top of his lungs, so much you could hear the scratching on his throat. “Never!”

“It is us though! Jacob why don’t you recognize our energy?” Paul asked. Derek raised a hand, trying to stop him.

“Ki matures with the individual.” Derek whispered. Jacob picked up Jason and hurled him against a boulder. The boulder shattered into rocks, kicking up a dust cloud and blinding Paul. Jacob tried to follow up by hitting Paul, but Derek was able to stop him.

“Listen to us Jacob! You are hurt! You lost sense of time! It’s been five years since you last saw us!” Derek tried to reason with him. Jacob spun on heel and tried to hit Derek. He was able to stop it, if just barely. Without Super Saiyan he wasn’t strong enough to deal with Jacob on his own. Jason came barrelling back, clearing the smoke away as he arrived. He headlocked Jacob.

“We are your kids! Not your enemy!” Jason yelled.

“Liars!” Jacob kicked back, using his one arm to throw Jason over him, and his leg to kick Jason off. Paul stood, unmoving while Derek ascended to Super Saiyan. Jason got up again, blocking a wild hook from Jacob, while Derek pinned him to the ground, easily subduing him. It was at that moment that he saw the cause of the insanity. Not the trauma or the loss. It was something physical. There was a giant scar on the back of Jacobs head. He cracked his skull open after he fell.

“Jason…” Derek trailed off, sniffling. “We can’t fix him.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Jason shouted over Jacobs crazed growls.

“He has brain damage. You said it yourself! If we can’t fix him we put him out of his misery!” Derek commented.

“So? People have come back from worse!” Jason shouted, leaping to help Derek keep him pinned. Jacob wasn’t nearly as strong as them at this point, but his animalistic fury made it difficult to contain him.

“Jason we have to… say our goodbyes.” Derek gritted his teeth, his face decorated with agony.

“No!” Jason responded. “Not like this! Not like an animal! He has to hear what we say.”

“He won’t Jason! He is damaged! He can’t think properly!” Derek shouted back. Hoping some of the facts would penetrate that thick skull of his

“That isn’t right!” Jason began pushing against Derek.

“Nothing is right anymore.” Derek replied, raising a hand to kill Jacob. Jason jabbed Derek in the head, sending him flying off of Jacob. Jacob immediately lunged for Jason’s throat. Paul grabbed Jason and pulled him back. Jacob would have hurt himself. Jason gave Paul a quick ‘thank you’ through simple eye contact.

“We can’t lock him up, what do we do?” Paul asked.

“I’ll kill you! Like all the other fakes!” Jacob screamed. “How dare you bring them up! I’ll tear you to pieces!”

“Jacob calm down, damn it! It’s really us this time!” Jason shouted at him.

“That’s what they all say!” Jacob tried to attack again, but Paul put him in a full nelson, holding him tightly. Jacob couldn’t overpower Paul’s raw strength, which only made him more aggressive. Jacob bit Paul, breaking one of his teeth. Paul cursed, tightening his grip on Jacob. Derek came flying back and attempted to jab through Jacobs abdomen. Paul threw Jacob off to the side and caught Dereks hand merely inches from his chest.

“Stop this!” Paul shouted at him, his anger building. “I’ve had enough!” Ignoring him, Derek tried to push past. With a cry of rage that echoed through the forest, Paul struck Derek, breaking through the ki that protected him like tissue paper and crushing his nose. Derek went flying back, slamming into the side of a cliff. Jacob stopped for a second, lost in thought. Jason saw this and his eyes lit up with hope.

“It’s us. For real this time.” Paul whispered softly. “I’m so sorry I did this to you.” His voice became barely audible, and he started whimpering. Jason and Derek stopped, turning to Paul and realizing just what he had been living with for the past few years. Jason never once blamed Paul for Jacob’s death, but Paul had. Paul hugged Jacob tightly, and Jacob’s face flushed white.

“H-How long?” Jacob asked.

“Nearly six years.” Paul responded.

“It only feels like it’s been days.” Jacob responded, trailing off.

“We stole your magazines when we were eight.” Jason admitted to Jacob.

“Wait, that was you?” Jacob jumped back from Paul’s hug, thinking on it.

“Ask me something only one of you would truly ask me.” Jacob grumbled.

“Who are Crimson’s parents?” Paul suddenly chirped. Dereks mouth went agape. It was a great question, none of them knew it. Paul’s parents were killed in a gas leak, Derek’s left him, and Jason’s father left his mother, who then killed herself. They knew the story of every kid at the orphanage. Every kid, that is, except for Crimson.

“Crimson’s… parents.” Jacob thought on it for a bit, then sighed. “That does sound like something you would all ask. He was never curious about it, but you guys were.”

“Please. I have been wondering since I met him.” Paul begged Jacob, who then sat back, staring up at the three of them. He gently felt the area where his arm once was.

“Crimson’s parents were assassinated.” Jacob began. “Ecanoya was put on call a long time ago, to look into the use of ki in an apartment in the slums. When he got there, he told me there was blood, everywhere. A crimson color that stained everything in the room. He heard muffled cries, and went into a room, finding a space in the floor where the baby boy was hidden. He had no name on record, nor did his parents. They were nobodies. Ecanoya named him Crimson, because this was always going to be a part of him, but he wanted to help teach this boy that even the worst experiences can bring about something good.”

“Then why didn’t he tell him?” Derek asked.

“That was before he found out that it was an assassination, not just a random murder. His parents were killed because they were both key figures in the fight against the Heat Empire. With them dead, the most effective resistance against Heat in the last half a century crumbled to dust. They weren’t royalty or powerful warriors. Just people, and they were making a difference. Ecanoya knew from then on that Crimson’s tie to his past had to be completely severed. No one could know. He only trusted me because he wanted me to keep him away from the parts of town with suspected Heat Empire activity.” Jacob sighed. “It was always a hassle.”

“All this time, I thought it was something bigger.” Jason frowned disappointed.

“This is big. Crimson is the direct descendant of the nameless couple that led a rebellion against Heat. This means that he could mobilize those that went into hiding.” Jacob narrowed his gaze.

“Do you guys even know what this means?” Derek laughed.

“What?” Paul asked.

“Now we have a way to go after the Heats after Sobrium!” Derek shouted happily. The three grinned widely. They all knew they had to keep this to themselves, but Jacob was right up in Derek’s face in seconds.

“You are all still after Sobrium?” Jacob grumbled. “What the hell is wrong with you?”

“You sound like Ecanoya.” Jason scoffed. Paul gave Jason an angry gaze, which he shrugged off.

“Jacob, we are stronger now.” Paul smiled. “We have a shot at this.”

“Maybe, but- Ah who the hell am I kidding, I can’t stop you, and I am in no shape to go with you.” Jacob sat back down. “Please just promise me you will come back… I need you guys. It’s hard enough convincing myself this isn’t all in my head. I don’t need you disappearing again.”

“Of course, we are all coming back after this fight!” Paul said optimistically. Derek, however, wasn’t so sure. They all hugged Jacob before leaving, and flew back to the ship, hundreds of things weighing heavy on their minds. Jacob sat for a while, scratching his head. Was it a hallucination? Yes, probably, those hugs felt weird. His shoulder was wet after Paul hugged him. Whatever the case, he was done killing the hallucinations of the kids. Now, he would protect them.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Is everything set?” Ryal asked

“Of course.” Judes yawned, looking at the small toolbox in which their provisions were stored. “Just waiting on that one kid.”

“Crimson.” Ryal walked past him.

“Don’t care about his name. He’s probably going to be dead by the end of all this.” Judes shrugged. In a rare loss of self-control, Ryal snapped, turning to hit Judes, but JayJay caught him.

“What my friend is trying to say is, this has no happy ending. Don’t expect one, or it will make the loss all the more crushing.” JayJay looked at Ryal, and Ryal could tell he was speaking from experience. Ryal nodded in understanding, and stepped off the pristine Heat ship into the evening air. The world felt so crisp, and alive, more so than usually. Perhaps it was this weird energy that was passing between the group.. Ryal felt Crimson approaching, so he waited outside the ship. When Crimson landed, Ryal raised a brow at his new attire.

“It’s Ecanoyas.” Crimson commented. “Figured it would make sense.”

“It’s a bit big on you, don’t you think?” Jason asked, popping into the conversation. “Almost looks like a trench coat.”

“Don’t over exaggerate, It’s not that bad.” Crimson rolled his eyes, moving past Ryal to board the ship. Jason stopped him by placing his hand firmly on his chest.

“You don’t ride with us. You ride with the pirates and Dayereh.” Jason told him. Crimson nodded and left. He turned to ask where they landed but Jason had already closed the hatch. Ryal must have either gone in or left because he was nowhere in sight. Crimson flew up, sensed for Dayereh’s ki, then swiftly made his way over to him. Their ship looked more like a luxury airline plane than a space ship. It had quite a few dings and scratches on it.

“This doesn’t look like it’s meant to keep up with warships.” Crimson commented as he entered the ship, closing the hatch behind him. Dayereh sat silent next to him, as well as Pyra’s two lackeys. Judes and JayJay were up front, fiddling with controls.

“It’s not.” Judes confirmed. “It’s a luxury liner, meant to get somewhere quickly, but comfortably.”

“That means we are going to have to cut out of top speed after everyone else.” One of Pyra’s men swallowed. They both looked as though they were condemned to death. They were pale, their breath uneven and ragged. Dayereh had a similar look about him, except his knuckles were whitened, his fist clenched, and his face was decorated with fear. Crimson placed a calm hand on his shoulder. Dayereh snapped back from whatever far away place he was in and gazed towards Crimson. No words need be spoken, his expression gave Dayereh all the confidence he needed.

After a few seconds the ship lifted into the air. The radio screeched to life, sending a throbbing pain into Crimson’s eardrums.

“All good?” Gabr asked through the crackling static.

“Not really.” JayJay groaned. “Radio is damaged.”

“How badly?” Pyra’s voice pierced the static.

“Not too bad. Just a bunch of static.” JayJay affirmed. “We should still be good, in case the plan to get planetside changes.” There was a bit more chatter, but eventually the ship snapped to face upwards. Judes pushed it to full speed and let it burst from the atmosphere. Dayereh looked out the window, staring towards Pyra’s ship. It carried his mentor, his father, his friends. In an instant it disappeared into a small flash of light. Then they joined it, snapping into a speed beyond anything he had ever seen before. The stars themselves moved by them. It was like floating just within reach, before disappearing into the distance. The ride was long, and Judes confirmed to them they were at least a day out from the outskirts of Sobriums inner circle of solar systems.

The radio on the ship was short range, meaning it couldn’t contact the other ships until they broke this speed. Judes and JayJay spent a lot of time examining the cargo deck below the main ship, bringing up strange and exotic foods. They offered a strange octopus leg to Crimson. At first he denied, but then he remembered Ecanoya’s strange obsession with always trying new things. He turned nervously to Dayereh, who looked incredibly glad he didn’t have to eat. Crimson took the platter, thanking JayJay, whom sat down to snack on some candy he brought up. It didn’t actually taste too bad. It had a salty taste, but a softer texture, like shrimp. After the meal Crimson conversed with Dayereh.

“So how strong did you get while I was away?” Crimson asked.

“A crap ton.” Dayereh joked. “I actually hit my stride after you left. Pity you weren’t there to see it. Bolt was training me, and Kuele gave me the greatest honor a Namekian in our village can have.”

“He made you an elder?” Crimson stared at him in a happily surprised shock, a wide grin on his face.

“Yeah. If Kuele dies here, I will be one step closer to becoming the guardian of Soluris.” Dayereh stared at the ground. Crimson immediately regretted his reaction, seeing that the thought was something that deeply troubled Dayereh. He remained silent for the remainder of the trip. The suddenly quiet air was shaken when the ship started to shake violently. Judes shot awake and dove for the front of the vessel. Pyra’s lackeys were staring out the windows, looking for the source of their problem.

“We are being shot at?” JayJay screamed.

“How are they hitting so close?” Judes panicked. “We are moving at lightspeed four!”

“They are probably trying to hit the slowest target.” Crimson noted.

“Not helping.” Dayereh narrowed his gaze.

“It’s the truth.” Crimson shrugged.

“Take your truth and stuff-” Judes began before the back of the vessel was struck. The two heat soldiers were sucked out into the vacuum of space instantly, but Dayereh managed to grab onto a ship’s window and Crimsons hand before they were sucked out. The ship began spinning out of control as it entered the orbit of their destination. Crimson could hear Dayereh screaming something. Dayereh let go, then screamed out in rage.

“Crimson, no!” Dayereh cried.

“We gotta bail!” Judes shouted, diving out the back of the ship. JayJay followed soon after and Dayereh was the last to go. Dayereh hit the ground hard, but it had no give. It was like landing on titanium without ki. The entire surface was a black metal of some kind. It looked like a normal planet, with trees, paths, rivers, but all of that was on top of this black metal that replaced rocks and dirt.

Dayereh gazed into the sky, watching their ship get blown to pieces a million times over. Pyra’s ship exited light speed next, crashing into the ground with a heavy boom, however, it was light enough for the ship to remain intact. The X-Force ship made an even more graceful landing, by touching down in a river nearby. Everyone immediately got off their ships. Dayereh met up with Paul, looking at everyone.

“Where’s Crimson?” Paul asked, looking around panicked.

“They hit us while we were coming in, Crimson got flung out of the craft!” Dayereh responded. In the orbit of the planet, at least a hundred Heat ships exited light speed, followed by thousands more Sobrium ships. It was hard to even tell which ones were Heats through the mass of moving metal in the sky.

“That’s our cue!” Pyra shouted. Everyone followed Double as he ran down the river, going to a nearby cave, just as they had planned. It was miles away, but to them that distance was tiny. They got there in seconds, then saw a small scrap of cloth.

“Crimson.” Jason noted. “He must have gone ahead.”

“We have to catch up!” Paul shouted.

“Not so fast.” Ichirou stopped them, placing a hand on Paul’s chest to slow him down. Ichirou pointed back at the cave. “This is the Cave of the Dead. It’s said that it is so quiet and dark that you can hear the dead whisper to you. Don’t stop moving while you are inside, no matter what you hear. If you do you may never come out.” Everyone gulped, looking back and forth between one another before stepping into the cave.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ichirou’s words haunted them through most of the cave. It was so dark they lost track of each other. The X-Force members felt naked and alone, they couldn’t find or hear one another. The caves unique shape muted any sound. All was quiet, except for the Namekians. Dayereh, Kuele and Bolt could all hear, but it was very quiet, which was unnerving to them. In the darkness, the group began to separate. While the Namekians tried to shout to them, they only heard footsteps. They couldn’t get close enough to actually be heard, and then the footsteps disappeared altogether, leaving them all alone. At the first sign of light, the Namekians burst from the cave, gazing out to a sight of horror. The sky was on fire, giant empty metal ships plunged towards the ground, shattering on impact like glass. Dayereh didn’t want to think about what would it would have been like to actually be on any of those ships.

As agreed, they didn’t wait for anyone to catch up, and simply rushed towards the objective. Every time they looked up from the path, it was a sky alight with laser fire, both from people fighting with ki, and ships firing upon one another. Just then, new ships blasted into view, opening fire on the other ships. They all had the ORBL symbol on the side. The battle had just begun, and they were all behind schedule. Dayereh led the group, blasting past trees until a giant naturally made castle came into view. It was a twisted lair, with katchin jetting out in spikes with naturally formed tunnels inside for the windows. This was their first stop. As they approached they started to see ground troops fighting, but they were far to slow to even notice them. As they were about to charge into the Castle grounds a giant blast flew out of nowhere. Had Bolt not heard it, it would have hit Dayereh dead on. He grabbed Dayereh and threw him back, bashing the blast to the side.

A Saiyan floated down gently, gazing at the group. He introduced himself. “I am Auberg, the ninth member of the Ten Titans, you will not get any further.” He announced, standing in their path. Bolt, Dayereh and Kuele passed nervous glances to one another. Collectively, they were stronger than him, but he was no joke. Without warning, Auberg pounced on Kuele. With his trained eye and powerful senses, Kuele easily dodged. Years of watching the happenings of planet Soluris made it almost impossible to surprise him. Auberg threw another punch back at Kuele, who caught it. Dayereh and Bolt were in as much shock as Auberg was.

“H-how?” Auberg asked in surprise.

“I am the last Namekian leader. All others have abandoned the practice and conformed with the societies of the universe. I have watched millions, no, billions of people suffer. Every day I work to make sure those same fates do not befall the last truly free Namekians. You will not slow me.” Kuele threw a punch at the man’s face, but he was not a novice. He kicked off of Kuele, forcing him to release his grip or be pulled with him. Wasting no time, Bolt slid over to where he was flying past in the air, chopping his hand down to hit him. The man twirled, pushing one leg down into the ground and launching himself forward yet again, but Bolt was fast enough to chop him in the leg, which sent him straight into the dirt. The man cried out in pain, but persisted with gaining distance. Dayereh cut off his escape, making sure he couldn’t launch forward again. The man grabbed a nearby tree, swinging around it and shooting back at Bolt. The surprise attack was effective, slamming Bolt down into the ground and causing him to spit blood.

Enraged, Kuele flung himself on the man, grabbing him by one arm and throwing him into the ground again. He simply put his arms out in front of him, catching himself and throwing himself into the air, before gracefully landing. With his arms crossed he nodded. He was now finished reading the opponent. The first one Auberg hit wasn’t the strongest, or most experienced, but he was by far the fastest, definitely faster than most of the other Ten Titans, and his reaction time may even tie the leader of the Ten Titans. The one he hit was the opposite of that, he was incredibly strong, but with poor reflexes. The third one was the one who concerned him the most. He felt stronger than the other two, but Auberg didn’t know how to truly sense ki, so he could only make educated guesses.

After he was done confirming what he had just learned with himself, he lunged forward, aiming to hit Bolt again. Kuele immediately jumped to his defence, falling right into Auberg’s trap. Auberg brought his knee up to strike Kuele right in the chest. Kuele coughed, the breath knocked out of him. Kuele tumbled a few meters before stopping himself, clasping his chest in pain. Bolt reacted by throwing a strong punch right towards Auberg’s gut, but he was expecting this. Auberg twirled out of the way, only to be caught off guard by Dayereh, who was waiting for the opportune moment to strike. Dayereh through a punch at Auberg, but barely missed as Auberg sailed past him with the previous dodge he used to get away from Bolt. Auberg got his balance back and wiped off his gi, before looking to see Dayereh pulling his fist out of the ground.

“He broke Katchin.” Auberg stared on in horror. “Most Titans can only crack Katchin.” Auberg immediately tried to fly off to warn the others of this new opponent, prizing information over pride. Bolt, thinking quickly, picked up a piece of the Katchin that broke off from the ground, He hurled with every ounce of strength he could muster. The shard slammed into Auberg’s side, piercing straight through him. Auberg collapsed to the ground, crawling forward a bit, determined to finish his mission. The three of them surrounded him quickly, but the man was far from done fighting. He jumped to his feet, surprising Dayereh with a ki blast to the face. Kuele shoved Dayereh out of the way as he stared in surprise, blocking the blast for him before bouncing it off into the sky. Bolt proceeded to stomp Auberg’s head until he fell unconscious.

“My apologies, Grand Elder.” Bolt stared down in shame. “I should have stopped that.”

“No, no, it’s fine. Dayereh may have the power, but he does not have the reaction time that I do. That would have caused far more damage to him than it did to me.” Kuele smiled to his sons, rubbing his arms. All Dayereh could do is stare in horror at Kuele, whose green skin was charred black from the heat of the attack. It was so powerful that it inflicted massive damage to Kuele’s arms. Kuele sighed, tearing off one of his arms almost like tearing off a bandage. Dayereh and Bolt both cried out in surprise as Kuele tossed the limb to the side.

“Kuele!” Bolt shouted. “You should have just let it heal!”

“It would be faster to do this.” Kuele groaned. He stuck his stump out, and in mere moments a new arms shot out, replacing it. Kuele repeated the process for the other arm. He turned and put his hand on Dayereh’s shoulder.

“Keep training. Pain is another hill one has to climb. If you are prepared for it, it will never slow you down.” Kuele smiled to Dayereh. The three walked onward, before they heard rustling behind them. Auberg was up again, wiping the blood from his head like sweat. He leapt at Dayereh, who countered instinctively with a jab to the face. Auberg was in a state of rage, and the punch barely phased him. He wrapped his hand around Dayereh’s skull and pinned him to the ground.

Kuele kicked him off, but he recovered fast enough to bounce right back on top of Dayereh. Dayereh was guarding himself from Auberg’s wild swings, but they were starting to hurt. Auberg swung back and clocked Kuele in the jaw, but he simply turned back and grabbed Auberg by the back of the shirt, throwing him off. Bolt ran forward and threw a punch, Auberg dodged swiftly, and the punch went straight through a tree. Bolt ripped his arm to the side, cutting the tree in two and catching Auberg by surprise. Auberg fell to the ground but caught himself with his hands, throwing himself into the air to avoid the pain of colliding with the ground.

The battle took to the sky as Dayereh flew up, slamming a punch into his gut, then kicking him whilst he was dazed, sending him spiraling off into the distance. He flew back nearly just as fast as he was hit away, throwing a hook to Bolt’s cheek. The hit was dead on, but Bolt merely stared at him through the hit, as though he was not phased by it at all. Bolt quickly latched onto Auberg’s wrist, causing him to yell out in surprise. With one arm, Bolt twisted his wrist in a swift motion, breaking it. Auberg cried out in agony, and Bolt hit him in the face, shutting him up. The man bounced back, but Bolt pulled him back by his broken wrist, continuing to beat him like a paddle ball.

Dayereh and Kuele watched coldly as Bolt beat this man beyond recovery, then dropped him onto the ground with a swift chop kick to the ribs. Auberg bounced off the ground, but grabbed onto a tree to catch himself and stand upright. He took a deep breath, staring at the Namekians, who were in complete awe at his pain tolerance. The man bounded off the ground, grabbing Bolt’s leg and dragging him down to the ground. Bolt was caught completely off guard and was slammed into the ground hard enough to break bones. He coughed up blood, which caused Kuele to panic. Immediately, he rushed to Bolt’s side, elbowing Auberg, but the more they hit him, the more powerful he got. He ignored the elbow in his sternum and grabbed Kueles head, slamming it into the ground several times.

Dayereh rushed to their aid. He kicked the man hard enough that his grip on Kuele slipped, and he went tumbling through the forest. Dayereh helped Kuele and Bolt up, and they all scanned the tree for any signs of his next attack. The man hadn’t countered yet, making them all uneasy. Fireballs began to rain from the sky, and the group looked up to behold a small, six man ship heading straight for them. It had burst into flames, and it seems that all the crew either fled or died. All they all dodged to avoid the ship as it shattered on the hard Katchin ground, the man attacked. Auberg came out and grabbed Dayereh’s head, slamming him into the ground, whilst whipping around to chop kick Bolt, who immediately rushed to Dayereh’s defence. Bolt went flying off to the side, whereas Dayereh was pinned to the ground. Kuele had been waiting for this moment though, and he began to draw a sort of spiral in the air. Auberg watched intently, waiting for even the slightest movement to pounce out of the way.

The little green spiral glowed very faintly, and when Kuele finished it, he simply shoved it gently towards Auberg. Auberg jumped to the side, not taking any chances, he watched the attack intently. It did not change speed or grow bigger, it simply just floated lightly. Auberg chuckled, going to leap back onto Dayereh, but he was gone. Auberg realized it was a trick, and spun around only for Bolt to launch a powerful ki wave at him. All went white for a second before the three namekians assured themselves that Auberg must have died. He had to have from a blast that big. The three walked out of the forest and onto the path, staring back at the castle, thinking to themselves. Should they move on, or stay and make sure he really was dead? A rustle in the bushes set them all on the defensive.

A little racoon-dog animal popped out, holding Auberg’s charred hand in its mouth. Dayereh nearly puked, and Bolt and Kuele felt uneasy. The racoon-dog shook the hand in its mouth before running off. The three hastily walked towards the castle, noticing that since the ORBL arrived, the smoke and fire in the sky and on the planet had only worsened. Had anyone even made planetfall other than them?

Raspy breathing behind them sent chills up their spines as they turned to see Auberg. His arm was burnt off, his face was dark and he was covered in blood. This man shouldn’t have been alive, let alone standing after all that. Auberg’s indomitable pride would not let him die here. He leapt at the group, aiming to send a ki blast straight into Dayereh’s mouth. Kuele didn’t even flinch, simply turning around, which confused Auberg.

“You’re already dead.” Kuele patted his two friends on the back, causing them to turn and start to walk with him. “The moment I used Vortex Blast, you died.” Auberg shook his head, ignoring Kuele’s strange words, simply launching forward in a rage, but something had caught him. He couldn’t move forward at all, instead he was being pulled back. Kuele turned to watch his attack do its work. The small green spiral had grown into a massive energy tornado, that looked like a funnel. It sucked Auberg in and bounced him around, shattering his ki defence all over the place. Auberg was spun around on the vortex, unable to escape its draw, he simply planned to tough it out, but it didn’t stop. The attack relentlessly bounced him around, and the ki felt like wind more than energy, piercing through him. He couldn’t stop this attack, nor could he defend himself. In that any normal person would accept death, but Auberg merely thought on how to escape. As he approached the center of the funnel, the severity increased. If he went through the gap in the middle he could possibly dig himself to safety.

He dove straight for the center of the funnel, and Kuele merely shook his head, now assured of his victory. As he went for the funnel, it squeezed tighter. Instead of being a wind like ki, it simply became solid, like most ki. Because the rest of the attack had wiped out his defences, Auberg was vaporized almost instantly. Kuele clenched his fist, causing the entire spiral to squeeze into a small ball before dissipating softly. Dayereh was in awe of such an advanced ki technique, and wondered if they would encounter anything like that soon. Which also begged the question. If that was number nine, then what are the other Titans like?

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Berta was wandering through the darkness, unable to feel anything but her feet hit the ground. She couldn’t find any walls, or people for that matter. She tried to use ki to light her path, but it barely even made a difference. It’s like the cave was absorbing all light and sound that she tried to make. She began to panic, running forward, when suddenly someone called out to her. It was such a familiar voice, sweet and soft, with the slightest hint of a hum. She slowed herself, listening to the voice, but remembering Ichirous words to not stop moving. The more she listened to the voice, the more she began to recognize it.

It was her mother, calling out to her daughter like she was lost in the darkness. “My sweet Beatrice.” The voice called out. Berta nearly tripped when she heard that. This was not an illusion or a trick made by the enemy. She never even told Paul her real name. She always went by the nickname her father gave her, which was Berty, but put an ‘a’ at the end to make it sound less like a man’s name. Her lip trembled, as the thought of actually being able to talk to her deceased mother was tempting. She wanted to stop, but her body wouldn’t let her. The voice followed her as she walked, causing her to start tearing up.

“Shh, honey, please don’t cry.” The voice soothed her. “I’m here for you, as I have always been.” Berta walked faster. She couldn’t keep listening to this. All her life she had tried to push the memory of her mother out of her head to make what happened less painful. Very few understood the pain of trying to get rid of the very few memories one had of their mother. She was practically running when she saw the first sign of light. The voice, in almost a whisper, then said it’s last words to her that made her stop.

“Give em’ hell, hun.” Her mother said, before her voice seemed to fade back into the cave. Berta turned around, but no one was there, and there wasn’t even a sign that she had been followed. She wanted to go back, so desperately, but she couldn’t. As she stepped out of the cave she saw a giant castle in the distance, but it was way to the east. The ORBL had already arrived and the battle in the space above the planet was tense. It didn’t look like any ships have even attempted to make planetfall yet. Sobrium was putting up a good fight for his home. Berta bolted off down the path, but in her head she was worried for Paul and Crimson. She hadn’t seen either since they got to the cave.

Everything had been going so fast she completely forgot about Paul. She thought about waiting for him, but there were chills going down her spine. It was nice to hear her mother’s voice again, but just the thought that she was possibly walking alongside centuries of dead people and couldn’t even see them terrified her. No, sticking to the plan was best right now. She continued towards the castle in the distance, only taking occasional glances at the sky to make sure falling debris didn’t hit her. Even if this planet was impregnable, after this was all over, it will just be another massive junkyard.

Berta walked for what seemed like an eternity without seeing any of the others. The loneliness began to claw at her mind. Irrational questions began to poke at her mind. ‘Did the enemy get them?’ ‘Are they stuck in the cave?’ It was torturous and she hated it more than the cave. The longer she walked without even the sign of the enemies, the scarier everything became. Her footsteps seemed to echo too, which concerned her the most.

Finally, she couldn’t bare it any longer, so she stopped, frantically looking ahead for someone. After she stopped though, she still hear footsteps. They were like hers, but behind her a bit. She spun around, staring behind her in anticipation for a fight, but there was no one there. The footsteps continued to approach, getting closer and closer. No matter how many times she turned, they were always behind her. Finally, she decided to fly up, looking down for whatever was playing tricks on her.

As she floated in the sky, she heard footsteps behind her. Her heart nearly exploded from her chest. She was terrified. She spun around, looking for the source, but it wasn’t there. She flew off at top speeds towards the castle, but the footsteps still inched closer, the pace not increasing. With a sudden realization, she snapped her feet to the ground, stopping her flight in an instant. She turned slowly, looking around her. She needed to use her ki, not her senses. This was a new technique, no doubt about it. She had heard of ki being used in ways like this. Her father told her that of the top thousand or so strongest ki users in the galaxy, about nine-hundred of them could manipulate the properties of their ki into something else, like fire, wind, and even sound.

This also brought with it the terrifying fact that whoever was torturing her like this was in the top thousand. Out of the hundreds of billions of people in the galaxy who knew ki. She was being hunted by the best of the best. She was not a powerhouse Ki user like Jason, nor a technique master like the X-Force members. The sound drew closer, until it sounded like someone was walking next to her ears. It began to grow louder, deafening her to anything but the slap of feet on the ground. She held her ears, trying to block out the noise, but it wormed its way through her hands until her eardrums began to pound.

There was only one thing she could do. She had to find the source, the user. If she could beat him before the ki technique crawled its way into her brain she would survive. She flew so far since she last encountered them though, how could she possibly defeat them now? Berta shook her head. Self doubt will only make her situation far worse. She had to believe in herself, and think. The enemy hit her a few kilometers back, but to maintain a ki blast like this, they would have to know where she was in order to track her. Sensing ki on this planet was hard, there were billions of signatures in the sky, on the ground around the planet, everywhere. She was no master, but it should be hard to sense someone a few kilometers away, no matter how big the power level at this point. It’s the only reason she can’t find any of the others.

He had to be close enough to see her, but far enough to avoid being seen. Berta dropped to the ground, ignoring the thunderous footsteps in her ears for just a moment, and when she did the answer became clear to her. She leapt high up into the sky, staring directly at a very surprised man.

“How did you figure that out?” He asked curiously, scratching his chin.

“The sky is the last place someone looks towards when trying to find a pursuer.” Berta shrugged casually. The noise in her ears was unbearably painful, but she wasn’t going to show any signs of weakness. The ringing in her ears only seemed to grow worse,

“My name is Killer. Well, at least that’s what my friends call me. I know, an assassin named Killer is about as unoriginal as it can get, but it stuck.” Killer chuckled.

“Ya’ going to give me your life story or try to kill me?” Berta asked, annoyed.

“Bit of both.” Killer shrugged. “Contrary to popular belief, this job really isn’t that fun.” Berta threw a quick jab at his stomach. In a split second Killer raised his hand to catch the punch right before it connected.

“Damn, you aren’t as weak as you seem, Heat girl.” Killer laughed

“I am not a Heat.” She grit her teeth. “And I am not ORBL, either!”

“A mercenary? Ahh, in that case I guess I don’t have to feel bad about this. As strange as it sounds, I hate people who kill for money.” Killer chuckled. He flicked the air, causing a sonic boom that blasted Berta straight into the ground below. She bounced off the hard katchin floor, coughing a bit. Tears welled in her eyes from the pain, as she clutched her back. She stared back up at the man, only to see a razor thin ki beam propelling towards her. She leapt out of the way, but she didn’t hear the flurry of similar attacks slamming towards her.

Berta was slammed to the ground from the barrage of hits, and as she tried to protect herself from them, they bounced her off the ground like some sort of human ping pong ball. She felt something in her back crack, and not in the good way. As she focused on the barrage from above, she didn’t hear Killer as he slammed towards her from her right, catching her as she bounced up with a strong hook to the ribs. This time, she definitely felt something break, and she flew off, skidding off the ground like a pebble in a pond, before coming to a stop nearly a mile away. Blood was leaking from her lip, her vision was blurry, and she got hit by yet another attack she couldn’t hear. His specialty was sound. It had to have a weakness. He must be moving towards her via ki sense. He can’t hear his own strikes, can he? That could help. If she could somehow get him to rush in front of one of his own attacks, she might actually survive this.

How would she do that though? He felt invincible. His strength was far beyond hers, and he had a specialty. He was practically toying with her. When she snapped from her daydream, she looked up to see multiple ki blasts surrounding her. He was nowhere in sight, but she checked the sky out of habit. It was her big mistake. He knew she would look up, so he came in from a nearby bush and swung a swift chop to her throat, aiming to take off her head. He was going to laugh in triumph, until he realized his hand was missing, and so was she. Knowing better than to panic, he quickly slammed a ki blast onto his new stub to stop the bleeding. Killer thought through her actions, trying to learn from the mistake so she couldn’t take his last hand.

Berta rolled down a small hill, bouncing off the rocks and rolling through the brush. The hard Katchin ground had no give, and she got several bruises on her way down. She rolled into a stream, and she lay there, aching, staring up at the fiery sky. The water of the stream rushed past her, cooling her wounds. She had done an incredibly risky move just then. His ki attacks were silent, which means he can’t hear them either. She extended her own ki to grab one as stealthily as she could, and then pulled it towards herself when he attacked. It took off his hand but it also sent her flying away. No doubt he was looking for her right now. The terrible ringing had finally stopped, or maybe she was just in so much pain she didn’t feel it anymore. Maybe she could find some way to outthink him again, but he wouldn’t fall for the same trick twice. She was so heavily wounded from actually bringing the ki blast into herself just to take his hand that it’s a miracle she even had a torso anymore.

“Hey.” She heard Killer say from behind her. She was on the ground, so she had to look up and see him at the end of the stream, with some sort of force fast approaching. She thought quickly, shooting her ki out from her hands against the wet stones, blasting herself into the treeline, where thorns poked into her skin like tiny needles. Everything was so frantic in the following moments, but her mind settled on one thing. He was using ki to amplify his voice now. He could quite literally kill her with a whisper. As she bounced through the brush she came to lie on a small tree, her arm wrapped around it, she held herself up so she didn’t slide back down the cliff face.

Killer dropped from above, using his remaining finger to slam a deadly poke just below her sternum. She let go of the tree and tried to grab his hand to stop him, but as she slid down the hill, his finger slammed into her eyeball. It was the single most excruciating thing she had felt yet. More painful than her ribs cracking, her body being blown around like a ragdoll, and her skin melting from the ki overpowering her shield. She kicked and screamed, slamming trees down the hill with the force of her blows. As tears welled in her other eye, she quickly brought her other hand to rip his finger from her eye. As his hand tore from her socket, he flicked the remainders of her eyeball off his finger in disgust. It would be a terrifying and gruesome sight, if she wasn’t crying so hard she couldn’t see straight.

Berta berated herself. How could she look so pathetic in front of an opponent who is stone cold despite losing a hand? This just shows the difference in experience. She began to feel the thought of accepting death creeping into her head, but she slammed it down. She leapt onto him, and squeezed tightly on his remaining hand, and as she heard the very beginning of a word forming, just the way he breathed, she slammed his remaining hand straight into his mouth, something Killer honestly didn’t expect. As she did, he tried to fire a ki blast with his other hand, but since his hand wasn’t actually there, it didn’t quite form right away. Berta used this opportunity to grab his head with her hand, sending a ki blast through her hands and letting it explode right on his face. Her piddly ki wouldn’t break his ki shield in one go though, so she used every ounce of strength she could to fire a barrage of them into his head.

Eventually he just stopped trying to attack her and fell limp as his ki could no longer protect him and the damage began crushing his body. Berta didn’t notice however, as in her frenzied adrenaline fueled rage she simply kept blowing ki blasts into his face until her hand clutched nothing at all. His headless body collapsed to the ground, sliding down the hill slowly. She could faintly make out a little medal on his chest. She recognized it as one of Sobrium’s medals for his Ten Titans. It bore the number Ten. Their weakest. She rolled her eyes in frustration. Berta climbed the hill, using one hand to clutch her chest, she would stare down the path. A few ships were crashing down to the ground, but nothing near her. She pressed onward, trying to sense the other’s ki so they could regroup.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As childish as it sounded, Double did not want to be separated from Trips whilst in the cave, so he placed a hand on his shoulder. Of course as soon as they could no longer hear or feel one another’s ki presence, it was far more terrifying. They relied entirely on the one hand on Trips’ shoulder to help guide them through the darkness. Trips and Double both heard whispers in the darkness, but they were numerous and indistinct. They had both lost so many people, that it just felt like a crowd at this point. Whether these were actually the whispers of their dead friends and family, or simply the tiniest of echoes inside the cave, didn’t matter. It was unsettling. Trips stopped when he began to hear the faintest echoes of footsteps.

“What?” Double asked, instinctively, having forgotten about the silence of the cave, but to his surprise, he could hear his own voice, albeit it was still a whisper. How this place did that was a mystery to him.

“If we can hear again, that means we have to be close to an exit.” Trips commented.

“Yeah, but where? I still can’t see anything.” Double groaned.

“Just follow the sounds.” Trips shrugged, and kept walking. After a few turns they could hear far better, and even see a little. They followed the light to an exit. It seemed they were the first ones out of the cave, but there were several exits, and they couldn’t be sure that no one stopped in there. As they came out, Double took his hand from Trips shoulder and stretched.

“Damn that place was way too silent.” Trips shuddered.

“Far too quiet for a war zone, that’s for sure.”  Double commented, moving through the woods towards a castle in the distance. A clearing halfway down the path is where they were supposed to regroup. A ship slammed down nearby and Double could sense the faintest hints of familiar power signatures. The Namekians were already out, and it seems they encountered the enemy. They weren’t the only ones.

“Double…” Trips trailed off as his eyes darted to the bushes around them.

“I know.” Double nodded in understanding. They were definitely being watched. Double was a veteran fighter, and he quickly assessed all possible hiding spots. He shot a single ki blast out to hit the nearby shrubs. A figure quickly darted out of the way, and when Double turned back, he saw a woman standing in the road, her arms crossed.

“Done with hide and seek already?” Double asked.

“After seeing such a basic attack, yeah, there is no point in hiding anymore.” She smirked. “After all, what are a couple of ORBL soldiers compared to the Eighth Titan: Sky?”

“God, these people never shut up, do they?” Trips joked with Double.

“No they do not.” Double sighed. The woman, angered by their mockery of her introduction, slammed forward and thrust a punch towards Trips abdomen. Trips was on guard, he knew she was strong, but in terms of raw power, he doubled her strength. She connected her hit and Trips’ ki shield completely blocked it, as expected, until suddenly an immense force came pouring through like a burst of wind, turning a seemingly harmless blow into a rib crushing attack. Trips flew back, blood leaking from his lip as he yelled in surprise.

“Trips!” Double called out as he leapt back to his friend.

“Double, no, she has a strange ki property!” Trips shouted, and Double immediately spun to be on guard. The woman shot a blast down at them, about the size of a beach ball.

“Time to die now.” She yawned.

“Do you people always need to be so conceited?” Double growled.

“Maybe I am a bit full of myself, but I earned that right through hard work.” She shrugged. As she pushed her hand out to keep the Ki blast on course, Double raised his hands to block.

“Wait, no! Stop Double!” Trips warned, but it was too late. The ki blast slammed into his hands as he attempted to catch and throw it off course. Like Trips, at first he thought he had it, but then it gained a sudden weight, immediately slamming him into the ground. He had to go Super Saiyan just to keep the blast from completely overwhelming him, and even then it just grew heavier. He immediately used his ki to create a clone of himself, escaping while his clone took the brunt of the hit. He coughed blood, turning to see his clone, a giant hole where his torso once was. The clone faded away, and Double was able to reduce the damage, but he needed to end this fast. Trips needed medical attention and her ki seemed to only get stronger over time.

She closed in to him, running her hands along the leaves and branches on the ground as she got closer. Double watched carefully and when she slapped her hand into the air in what he thought was an attack, he was suddenly beset upon by the leaves and sticks she had been touching. They slammed towards him with more force than a bullet, and even in his Super Saiyan state he couldn’t avoid them. A leaf completely cleaved through his right arm, leading a almost coin slot like hole, and a stick punched through his abdomen. The woman seemed to revel in her victory, that is, until she realized Double had yet again made his clone take the brunt of the damage.

His clone was his own ki property. Unlike most other clones like those that Quad could create, his was not form a technique. It took little effort to make his clone, like making a ki blast, and it did not split his power, however it came with the drawback that Quad’s clones didn’t. Although he doesn’t show it, if the clone is heavily damaged, once it disappears he will take a fraction of that damage upon himself. It wasn’t quite a get out of jail free card, but it was close enough to one.

Sky jumped into the air again, and Double sent his clone after her. She tried a very simple jab technique, and Double had his clone use its superior speed to leave an afterimage to trick her. His clone aimed a swift punch towards her spine, but she caught this out of the corner of her eye, and fired a blast back to hit the clone. The blast drilled through the clones ki shield, forcing it to disappear and tolling Doubles body more. She then turned her attention to the real one.

She fired three consecutive blasts, both similar to the previous one. Double countered with his own Super saiyan powered blasts. They completely consumed the blasts, and Double cracked a smile, that is, until the blasts came rocketing back towards him. He managed to dive to the side thanks to his powered up speed, and he deduced her specialty.

“Your ki, it has the property of gravity, doesn’t it?” Double questioned. She scoffed and began to fire a barrage of attacks, clearly hoping to end the fight sooner. Knowing her secret, Double leapt into the air, using the fact she reduced her visibility with her barrage to his advantage. As soon as he was in the sky above her, he shot a few ki blasts down towards her. She barely had time to react to his Super Saiyan attack, only putting up her arms in defence. Double snapped his finger, expanding the attack and pressuring her more. The power of a Super Saiyan was far too much for her to react to, and she was nearly completely eviscerated in an instant.

“Too bad you spent all time training your ki property instead of your body. Had your raw strength been up to snuff I might have actually lost..” Double commented as he picked up Trips, carrying him off over his shoulder. She was no joke however, Double only won that because he used Super Saiyan. He worried about the others..

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Despite the advice of Double and everyone else, Paul stopped walking. He heard such a familiar voice in the darkness, behind him, as if trying to catch up. It was warm, caring, he wanted to wait for it. He listened for it again, and it spoke to him.

“Paul?” It asked with a whisper.

“Hello?” Paul asked, but he couldn’t hear his own voice.

“Paul?” It asked again. It continued to call his name, and he tried to look around, a fruitless effort to find where it came from. Then he began to smell something, faint. Gas? His mind flooded with thoughts, until the voice repeated again, this time, very clear, and very close.

“My boy?” She asked.

“Mom?” Paul choked, barely able to say the words. It had been so long, but he could never forget the sweet chirp of her voice. He could swear he felt a warmth on his face, but when he reached to feel it, he just touched his own cheek. He sat there, alone in the darkness, unaware that Derek was passing by, within arms reach.

“Paul? Jason?” Derek called into the darkness, but he couldn’t even hear himself say it. This cave had a strange darkness to it, one that Derek was too afraid to confront. He heard whispers, and when he went to follow them, they would stop. It felt like people were following him, but keeping him distant. He heard a voice behind him and it nearly froze him.

“What happened to your eyes?” Ecanoya asked. Derek couldn’t feel any ki because of the ki. It was the first time since he was initially blinded that he was truly unable to see, but he heard Ecanoya’s voice. He could never forget it. Derek stopped moving, and turned, trying to reach out to Ecanoya.

“Where are you?” Derek asked.

“I am here, but you didn’t answer my question.” Ecanoya’s voice grew quieter.

“Darwin, he blinded me.” Derek repeated. He was unable to hear himself, but Ecanoya could hear him, and that’s all he needed.

“Even then, you can still see, can’t you?” Ecanoya asked.

“Yes! Ecanoya where are you, I can’t find you?” Derek grasped at the darkness. This all felt like a bizarre nightmare.

“Why are you so desperate to find me?” Ecanoya questioned.

“I need… to apologize.” Derek swallowed.

“For what?” Ecanoya laughed.

“For getting you killed.” Derek whimpered. After he said that, there was no response. Derek grew panicked and began calling Ecanoya’s name into the darkness.

“How is it, in any way, your fault?” Ecanoya chuckled.

“It should have been me when we were all lined up. You didn’t deserve that, Crimson didn’t deserve that. I did. I did and I haven’t stopped thinking that for the last few years.” Derek cried.

“Your guilt,” Ecanoya trailed off. “It comes from the fact Darwin picked you to live, over so many other people. The weight of their lives is a heavy burden Derek, and I know its pressure is immense, but use that weight and push forward. Go, you are holding up the others.”

“Please, I have so much more I want to apologize for.” Derek cried out.

“I am not the one who needs your sympathy.” Ecanoya laughed, and his laughter grew distant as Derek thought on this. He felt, a sort of lightness, in his soul. Even if it wasn’t real, Ecanoya was right. Derek needn’t blame himself for things he had no control over. He would have to push on. It was going to gnaw at his mind for years to come, but hearing Ecanoya forgive him, it made the pain ease.

Paul on the other hand, simply sat and listened to his mother’s singing, tears warming his cheeks as they rolled down his face.

“So sweet, so gentle. We are so very proud of whom you have become Paul. You did not let tragedy burden your soul, you continued to shine as a ray of hope for others in times of darkness. Our little beacon.” His mother cried softly. “Please don’t leave us again.”

Upon hearing this Paul snapped from his trance. Leave. He had to leave. There were others who needed him, it was not time to dwell on past regrets. He couldn’t let them down again. Paul got up, and walked off, each step growing harder as he listened to the echoing pleas of his mother. He began to hear footsteps nearby, that weren’t his own, and he broke into a sprint, reaching out to grab at their source. Surprisingly his hand grabbed someone’s nose.

“The hell?” Derek screamed as he felt something grab him from the darkness, leaping back.

“Derek?” Paul asked, his voice barely audible now.

“Paul!” Derek screamed. “Don’t ever do that again!”

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.” Paul looked at the floor, guilty.

“You can let go of my nose now.” Derek squinted at the darkness.

“Right.” Paul laughed softly. The two walked side by side, not mentioning that they had heard something. Neither knew how long exactly they sat there listening to the darkness speak, but they knew they wasted valuable time. They pressed on, talking to one another to keep a grasp on the others location. As they came out of the cave and into the light the battle had progressed significantly. The some hundreds of ships that were in the sky were now at least a hundred, many were still being blown up and came raining down like meteors towards the planet. It was hard to fathom how many lives were taken with each ship that went down. The humongous cargo ships Sobrium repurposed for troop transport were the absolute hardest to think  about. When they got here seven of them dropped onto the atmosphere to find the brigand of Heat ships. That’s almost a million people on their transports alone. Now there were only two in the sky.

Paul felt for Bertas ki, but it was weak, and moving towards the castle. He panicked, rushing forward, but Derek’s ki sense was far sharper than Pauls and he leapt after him to pull him to a stop. A small wire was stretched out across the path in front of them. They carefully stepped over it. Derek took the lead, sensing for traps. As Paul went to step over however, the string suddenly surrounded itself and ki and snapped upward like a lasso, reaching to wrangle his leg. The kis volume was small but it was extremely dense, like a ki disk. If it hit it would rip his leg clean off.

Derek reached back to try and help but he wasn’t fast enough, Paul knew brute strength wouldn’t get him out of this situation so he did the only thing he could. He dropped his ki shield, leaving him completely vulnerable, and used it to grab onto the part of the string that wasn’t lassoing around his leg. It was taut, meaning someone was holding the other end. He used the ki on his hand to make a ki disk, all of this in a split second, and cut the string. It fell around his leg loosely, ki quickly dispersing from it as it was no longer tethered to the user.

Paul let out a breath, falling back to back with Derek as they both scanned the treeline. Derek sensed someone hiding their ki about twelve paces to their left, running through the brush. They didn’t make much sound, but he could hear the slightest twigs snap and leaves rustling. It was hard to tell sometimes however. A twig snapping? Or a ship getting shot in the distance? Derek sensed them as they prepared a ki blast, he could make out their shape forming it, and he felt their power. He slammed Paul back to push both of them out of the way as soon as he fire. It burnt through the forest, slamming past them by just inches Paul nodded his thanks, but Derek didn’t notice, using all his power to sense where the opponent was next.

“You can see them?” Paul asked.

“Yeah, but he’s using the life and ki of the trees and brush around him to make it harder to pinpoint him. He’s moving in tune with them.” Derek commented.

“How would he know you’re blind, he hasn’t been close enough to see the scars on your eyes?” Paul asked, confused.

“Someone might have tipped them off about us. Maybe they tortured one of our friends for the information.” Derek noted. It was unlikely that they would be careful to catch and torture someone in the middle of an intense battle. A traitor was more likely the reason, but who? Pyra would be a wise assumption, but there were several other people he had only just recently met. He didn’t have a good enough read to just start pointing fingers. He already had trust issues, but this just took the cake.

“Then do you think there were others waiting for everyone else out here?” Paul asked, looking around nervously, his eyes filled with a slight panic.

“Calm down Paul, I am sure the others are fine.” Derek tried to keep Paul calm as he thought of a plan. The ambushers were professionally trained, had Derek not been blind one of them would have most likely been wounded. Another blast rocketed out of the forest, spiralling like a perfectly thrown ball. Derek again moved Paul and himself out of the way with a single and swift leg movement. Paul was now completely lax, letting Derek focus on protecting them as he watched for things Derek’s echolocation-like ki couldn’t find.

With a gentle wave of his hand, Derek put energy into the air in front of him, sending forth a hard gust to the forest. The figure responded by raising a single hand and weaving his fingers through the air, creating a much more skilful counter to his push. It was more of a clamp whereas Derek’s was a wall. It grasped Derek’s and held it in, whilst also distorting the air around the figure so he may escape Derek’s view once again.

Paul took two steps to the right and ended up on the edge of the katchin path, standing in the grass. “Paul, what are you doing?” Derek shouted. Paul hushed him with one raised finger as he stood there. Derek felt a ki blast charging nearby and he leapt into the air, hoping to draw the assailant out into the open, and to use the debris in the sky as possible cover. Paul, however, still wasn’t moving. Then suddenly, he just vanished, without a trace. Derek stopped to send out a sort of stronger ki pulse than normal to see where he was, but he couldn’t the man below shot a ki blast through the pulse and it buckled inward, then dispersed. Derek slammed to the ground at top speed.

Falling right into his trap, the man came out, clotheslining Derek with an extended arm and sending him spiraling off to the ground, causing him to tumble back a few miles. Derek bounced off the ground, regaining his footing but continuing to skate back along the smooth surface of the planet, like some sort of slide. The man followed, throwing a quick flurry of jabs. Derek narrowly weaved around each jab, the man was far scarier in close quarters. As he slid back at high speeds and the man continued to hit at him, Derek lifted himself from the ground, entering the air but not slowing his momentum, instead using it to push off and gain distance from the man. This gave him a moment to process what was happening and think of his next move.

Derek instinctively searched for the man, using a tiny ki pulse to gain details on his shape as he did every minute. He took in every detail of the man, and to his horror, he realized he knew this man. It was Jervil, one of the four officers from Taton. He was there that day. The day when Daphne and Rob were killed. Dereks anger flared, but it was cut off when he heard the most terrifying, blood curdling scream of pure rage to ever grace his ears. In an instant, before Derek could read the man with another periodic pulse of ki, he was slammed into the ground, a hand on his face, holding his skull firmly against the katchin ground. The man looked just as surprised as Derek did, and the next pulse within a second revealed Paul’s figure, a firm grip on the man’s head, crushing him into the katchin ground below.

Paul slammed a fist down with unyielding rage, causing a crater to form in the katchin, snapping a large group of it from the ground. Paul’s hand was bleeding, but if he noticed he didn’t care. Derek dropped to the ground, Paul raising another hand aiming to smash the man’s skull before Derek grabbed his shoulder. Paul spun, tears and hatred in his eyes. Without any words Derek read his pain and he shared it with him. It was hard to forget that, out of all of them, Paul was the only one who was still just a kid. Paul stopped crushing the man’s skull and he let go, a strange popping sound filling the air as the blue skinned warriors skull snapped back out. His blond hair was a mess with blood and he could barely see Derek and Paul through a thick haze. Derek and Paul pushed forward together, and as Paul passed by the man he offered him a sad glance, deeply disturbed by what he had done.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The cave was hell. It was like being put in a sensory deprivation tank, where you had to really reach to find the sides, just to have something to lead you. Gabr couldn’t see, he couldn’t hear, and he couldn’t even use ki to sense where the others were. It was the silence that bothered him the most. This cold, unfeeling silence that wormed its ways into his ears and gave his mind all sorts of thoughts about what could lie ahead. Gabr was better than this, and he knew it, so he pressed forward regardless of his fears. What felt like hours, time inching on ever so slowly with each step, eventually ended at the end of the tunnel where Gabr could see light, and hear his own breathing again. He gently pressed towards the light, a funny thought crossing his mind. What if he took a wrong turn and that ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ was the end?

He chuckled to himself, which startled him as he had almost forgotten what he sounded like in that place. With gentle steps he pressed out of the cave rolling his shoulder. How long had he been using the wall for support? He had to squint, the light outside was blinding compared to the darkness in the cave. He looked up to the sky and saw the war was well progressed at this point. Ships were flying all over, people were launching ki, however, no one had made planetfall yet. At least, not in one piece.

He hadn’t practiced his ki sense in a while, and as a result he was having trouble pinpointing the others. He felt some of them, but none of the X force members, so he had no clue who was who. The area he came out in was densely forested, trees everywhere. It was hard to see through all the brush, which made this location prime for an ambush. Gabr set out to quickly find a road or a clearing, if he were to be attacked from the brush when his ability to sense an opponent was so poor he would surely suffer a major blow.

“Such an amateur.” A voice range out behind him, causing Gabr to stiffen as he spun around. He saw an Arcosian, standing there. His dome color was a sky blue. For others most Arcosians could only be told apart from color, but Gabr had seen a few others with this color, yet he could still tell from the small details of his face who exactly he was staring at.

“Cryo?” Gabr exclaimed.

“It has been a long time, Gabr, that is what you are going by these days, yes?” Cryo smirked, walking over to Gabr with small wags of his tail.

“What is the head of the cold family doing here, serving Sobrium?” Gabr asked, pointing at Cryo’s Ten Titan medal, a silver medal emblazoned with the number two and stuck on his shoulderpad armor.

“Sobrium simply shares a common goal with me. Plus, I am not really one to rule an empire, the battlefield is where I am most comfortable.” Cryo smiled, reminiscing on some old memories. “However, you are part of a small rebellion? Really? I didn’t think you the type to put your life on the line for such an ill-constructed, risky plan, where over half your fighters are practically children.” Gabr’s eyes widened as Cryo finished this. Cryo’s lip curled into a smile as he strode closer to Gabr, staring him directly in the eyes.

“Especially when not all of you are even loyal to the cause.” Cryo smacked his lips, backing off and giving Gabr some space, the two of them intently staring at one another.

“If you are going to try and stop me, forget it. You may have more experience, but my raw power is far greater than yours.” Gabr warned Cryo.

“That is the problem with everyone these days. They think it’s all about making your ki stronger, not smarter. It’s true, I’ve barely progressed as far as my overall strength goes, but I’ve already hit my limit. It would take a month to make any noticeable progress, so instead, I have focused all my efforts on making my ki more diverse. And awakening my ki’s hidden property.” Cryo would narrow his eyes slightly, scanning Gabr’s face for any sign of fear, or hesitation. Gabr was no amateur, the story didn’t make him budge an inch. He was the right balance of composure and caution.

“Though, I wonder if your statement is even true, considering you haven’t been in a fight for almost a year.” Cryo commented.

“How-” Gabr began before being promptly cut off.

“How?” Cryo chuckled. “How is not important. You simply are just a child playing hero. This is war. In war information is better than any ship or weapon. With the right amount of information even the most hopeless of situations can be won. I know about most members of your little group, save some of your newest members. And so do the other Titans.”

“Enough.” Gabr cut in. “I don’t have time to sit here and idly chat with you while the world burns.

“Why not? You won’t have time for much anything if you take one step towards that castle. The only reason I haven’t killed you where you stand is because you are one of the few members of our species I still hold in high regard. Don’t make me regret that.” Cryo threatened. In an instant, Gabr could feel Cryo’s threat , like an aura of ki you didn’t need any techniques to feel, it was intense, yet calm at the same time. The eerie calmness of someone who’s prepared to take a life, as he has done countless times before. Cryo uncrossed his arms, staring forward at Gabr.

Edited up to here // Found no errors so far. Good job Crim!

Without any words, Gabr steeled himself. He had a promise to keep with Double. It was Cryo who launched the first attack, a flurry of kicks towards Gabr’s abdomen. Gabr took a single step back to get out of his range, then reached forward to grab one of the legs. Cryo wasn’t as fast as Gabr, but his experience made up for this. The moment his leg was grasped, he lifted his other leg off the ground, sending it to Gabr with a twirl.

Gabr had to let go of Cryos leg to avoid taking the hit, but as he let go, Cryo put all his force into his leg, shoving it into Gabrs abdomen. He curled his toes, grabbing Gabr and flying up into the air with him. Gabr reacted by shooting a blast, but Cryo somersaulted in the air, releasing Gabr as he came around, making Gabr’s shot veer off course, and sending him plummeting to the ground with incredible force. Gabr would immediately jump to his feet as Cryo shot a single ki blast down towards him. He leapt backwards through the brush, trees flying by at speeds that made them all look like a single blur. The ki blast followed him all the while, with Cryo manipulating it to keep Gabr on the run.

Cryo took this time to form a javelin out of ki in one hand, hurling it towards Gabr. The faint sky blue light that emanated from it gave it away just in time for Gabr to change course, taking a small gash to the leg. The pain was enough to make him stumble, forcing him to raise his arms to block the ki blast. Unlike most ki blasts, it wasn’t hot to the touch, but instead cold. Gabr watched as his arms began to coat with a small layer of Frost, before he managed to deflect the blast, sending it twirling into a sky, hitting a random Sobrium fighter ship. The tiny vessel came crashing to the ground, completely frozen. Gabr himself had not yet tapped into his ki’s property, which made countering Cryos ki blasts all the harder.

Cryo formed a bunch of daggers around himself, all made of pure ice, he would send them all flying to Gabr as he observed how he avoided this attack as well, waiting patiently to learn all of his tricks before striking. Gabr could hear the knives before he could see them, and turned to let loose an uncontrolled burst of energy, melting the ice. Small puddles came flying towards Gabr, landing on his skin. Even after melting the ice, it was still cold enough to cause his skin to frost slightly. Gabr rubbed his arms for heat as he flew up from the treeline, scanning for Cryo.

Cryo formed a ki energy sword in his hand, then gently converted it over to becoming a sword of pure ice. It was longer than he was tall. Gabr sensed Cryos ki, turning to watch him swing the sword his way with a skillful lunge. He sidestepped it, aiming to slam his fist down to snap the sword in two. Remembering the water droplets however, Gabr stopped midway and backed off, realizing what would happen if he touched it.

“Like it? I call it the Cryo Blade.” Cryo gently ran his hand along the edges. Knowing Cryo was trying to distract him, Gabr flew cautiously backwards, getting out of the swords reach. With one motion Cryo flung the sword at him, longer than before. Gabr didn’t expect the sword to grow longer, and he barely ducked in time to save his head, but not his horns. One of his horns was cut clean off, the blood not having the chance to gush out as it was frozen. It was like an intense brainfreeze, as the cold spread through his blood towards the rest of his head. Gabr immediately heated the wound, as Cryo reared back for another swing. Gabr touched down on the ground, Cryo barely being a speck in the sky. As he brought his ice sword back, it grew longer, long enough to reach him, despite him being half a mile away. He swung again, Gabr narrowly dodging as he heated himself back up just in time to avoid his blood veins freezing. He kept avoiding blow after blow, but the sword kept growing longer to chase him. Worst of all, Cryo was able to lengthen it without increasing its weight or sacrificing its power. Each slash was as fast as the last.

Gabr had no time to transform with this, and if he didn’t, Cryo would eventually get around him. Cryo never seemed to leave his suppressed form either, not even in his encounters with him before. No one has ever seen Cryo go all out, perhaps because he simply prefers not to take the risk. Gabr avoided the next swing, staring up at the massive sword as it cleaved apart forests with a single swipe. It swung past his head again, cleaving nearby rocks in two. Despite being just ice, it was incredibly sharp. Cryo was so far away he was barely a spec at this point. Gabr then realized, at this distance, Cryo could sense him, but he couldn’t see him. He shot off a ball of ki into the sky, a dim one, trying to throw Cryos senses off. It worked, and the next swing cleaved the ball in two, but melted the sword in the process.

Not wasting even a second, Gabr poured all his heart and soul into transforming, a powerful scream escaping his lungs as he grew in size, attaining his second repressed form, just a hair under going all out. He was a bigger target now, but having more power helped tremendously. Gabr was probably playing it safe because there weren’t that many Arcosians in the universe. The likelihood he has fought a race that can use transformations like the Arcosians do, as suppressions instead of power ups, is rather low. If he had found one of the Saiyans, no doubt he would have killed them before they could go super saiyan, or maybe even after. Cryo is well known for taking advantage of every weakness. A drawn out fight against him is almost a guaranteed loss.

Cryo, sensing Gabr power up, charged up a quick ki wave, letting loose the constant barrage of ki towards Gabr, who was miles away. With his newfound strength, Gabr let loose his own wave, the two attacks slamming into one another, sparks flying everywhere as the the two forces violently ate away at one another. Gabr was able to overpower Cryo, almost easily. His wave picked up momentum as it went, eventually shoving the attack straight back at Cryo, but it phased right through. In that moment Gabr felt Cryos fist connect with his back, and he realized that Cryo had left an incredibly strong afterimage in his place to give off the illusion he was trying to fight with the blast. Gabr went flying forward, tumbling over hills and through rivers, finally stopping as he slammed into the side of a downed ship. The surviving Sobrium soldiers inside stared in awe at the Arcosian who suddenly burst through their walls.

Gabr took a moment to rest. However, several seconds past before Gabr realized something wasn’t right. Cryo should be on his way here already. Gabr immediately fled the ship, flying into the air, witnessing Cryo’s true strength. A wall of ice, maybe hundreds of feet tall, stretched for miles on either side, Cryo floating ever so slightly above it. He stuck out one hand, melting all of the ice in an instant, releasing a massive tidal wave towards Gabr. Gabr tried to fly up to avoid it, but he still hadn’t gotten his breath back, and the waves caught up with him and sucked him under. As he was pulled in, Cryo shot several ki blasts into the water.

“Boiling Tsunami.” Cryo shrugged. “I am not the best with inventive names, but I think it gets the point across.” As he went to turn and leave Gabr to die, he felt his power shoot up yet again. His eyes widened as the tsunami parted, like an ocean splitting in two, Gabr floated up gently from the center, his hands outstretched, as he attained the final form for all Arcosians. Their true form. Where his one horn was removed, there was a slightly darker patch of flesh, but other than that, his previous wounds were almost unnoticeable.

“Amateur. Relying on power to get the upper hand.” Cryo thought to himself. Gabr closed the distance between them fast, ramming his fist towards Cryos abdomen. Cryo had experience with faster opponents however, and changed the property of his aura to match that of his ice. The moment Gabr’s fist connected, his hand began freezing. Adrenaline forcing its way through every part of his body, Gabr quickly rubbed his hands together, creating an intense heat that melted the ice off, but burned his palms. Cryo took this time to create a large disk of ki. Like the sword, Gabr could tell it would easily cleave him in two if it hit. He dropped to the ground, using the forest for cover as he thought to himself.

Making the ice was most likely a burden on Cryo. Gabr began to piece together why Cryos techniques were all meant to end fights in one swing. They had to be incredibly taxing. The cold itself may not actually have an effect on him, but producing that kind of sustained cool must have serious drawbacks. If it were any other fighter, Gabr knew he would have already won, but this was Cryo. He can turn even the most brutal drawbacks into a game-changing strengths. He was just that good at planning. It was what made him so terrifying. However, if Cryo is just playing second-fiddle, who could possibly be number one?

The disk came buzzing through the forest, sounding like a chainsaw as it cleaved through the trees, but froze them back into place just as fast as it cut them. Gabr, now at full power, was able to easily sidestep the disk. As it slid past him it boomeranged, skidding off the ground and heading towards his backend. Gabr leapt into the air, slamming towards Cryo, whom had one hand outstretched to maintain control of the disk.

Noticing Gabr intended to bring the disk closer, Cryo let it go, the energy simply disappearing into a sparks as the weakened ki disk simply fell apart as it hit Cryo. Something else hit him at the same time. Gabr’s fist plunged straight into his abdomen. Gabr was through playing defensive, and went on the offensive now. Cryo went spiralling towards the ground, Gabr catching up to him before he hit, smacking him in the spine with a solid hit, ping-ponging him back and forth in the sky. Sonic booms would erupt with each hit, demonstrating just how much force Gabr put behind each punch. He was too fast for Cryo to freeze his hands. He stopped volleying Cryo back and forth, letting him drop towards the ground. His own tsunami was slowly washing back downhill towards where Cryo was falling.

Gabr’s eyes followed Cryos every movement, waiting for him to do something, but he didn’t. The waves washed over him, consuming him. “Killed by his own technique. Not how I thought he would end.” Gabr looked at the water with remorse. It spread for miles until eventually it dissipated. The fight had taken him quite a ways from the cave, but it was easy to see as it was the largest hill in sight. The water didn’t make it over there, which relieved Gabr. No doubt the others were facing trouble, if the boiling water slipped into the cave, those stuck in there would drown without knowing how to get out.

Cryo stood up, his breath visibly fogging the air as he slowly raised one hand. Gabr dropped to the ground, his guard up as he prepared to take on Cryos next technique. “Absolute Zero.” Cryo muttered under a cold breath, before a powerful gale came forth from him. The wind swept over the trees and bushes, the rivers and animals for miles. Each of them was instantly frozen all the way through. Gabr flare up his power to maximum to try and insulate his body but it was just barely enough to protect him. The exertion caused him to drop out of his final form, to a repression form as the sheer exhaustion would have killed him if he kept going at maximum power. Cryo walked forward slowly, his body covered in frost and his breath was an incredibly visible steam. However the cold had already past. Everything was frozen but the air was still too warm for Gabr to see his own breath. That’s when he realized why Cryo didn’t do this earlier: It drops his core temperature. Using it too much would kill him.

“I d-didn’t m-mean for it to go that f-far.” Cryo’s teeth chattered as he shivered. “I should have o-opened with this attack, a-all the other abilities have w-worn down my resistance.” Cryo stared in awe at how Gabr was still breathing. This attack froze everything. Only the top percentage of fighters could survive it, let alone stay conscious. Absolute Zero can freeze even the hottest flames. Other members of the cold family could use basic ice, but Cryos was a more powerful version. As far as he knew, only King Heat had an ability similar, with his being a fire that consumed everything.

Taking some time to warm up, Cryo grit his teeth and tried to steady his speech. “This has been an incredible learning experience. Thank you Gabr, you’ve helped me think of ways to breach my limits and deal with opponents whose ki is potent and thick enough to block Absolute Zero. I once froze a small star with this, if that’s any consolation to you, Gabr. You can die knowing you truly were tougher than the stars.” Cryo steadied himself, aiming a basic frozen ki blast to hit Gabr in the head. A painless and instant death, something someone like Gabr deserved.

The blast launched in an instant, and Cryo watched, making sure it hit its mark. His guard dropped slightly, but his eyes snapped to Gabr’s hands as he clenched his fists on the ice, leaving little finger-line tracks along the ice that layered the katchin. As the blast froze the remaining horn on his head he pushed himself up, launching himself into the sky as the blast crashed into the ice, creating a small smokescreen. Cryo looked around frantically as he realized his error and immediately set out to put himself in a better position. Gabr lunged from the shadows, gritting his teeth as he shattered his icy hron against Cryos stomach, breaking his armor into pieces. Cryo coughed blood as Gabr grasped his skull, letting out a savage cry as adrenaline pumped him full of painkillers. He flew with Cryo into the ozone, lasers flying in every which way as ships fought one another.

He reared Cryo back, slamming him against a passing Sobrium ship, like sticking someone’s head through a moving train. Cryo’s natural ki barrier shredded the ship like tissue paper, but his head slapped back and forth like a bobblehead as the metal connected with his skull several times in a single second. Gabr’s grip tightened as the ship, now with a huge gash in the side, was blown out of the sky next to them. He threw Cryo at another nearby Heat ship. Cryo regained his composure for a moment as he went tumbling, his view quickly changing from an view of the ground to a view of the sky. He planted his feet on the ship he was thrown at, creating a huge dent in the side. He launched himself at Gabr, grabbing shrapnel of a broken ship as he did so.

Freezing the shrapnel, he threw it at Gabr, whom responded by grabbing a larger piece of shrapnel to use as a shield. The Heat ship turned its guns on cryo, firing at him. The blasts pelted him in the back, and in an instant, he shot several freezing ki blasts to destroy the ships guns. He turned to try and find Gabr, but he was missing. He looked up intensively to see Gabr finishing the arc of his spin as he brought both hands down like a sledgehammer upon Cryos head, the hit forcing tears from his eyes. Cryo slammed towards the ground with such force he lit on fire like a meteor, streaking to the ground and crashing into the katchin, cratering the nigh-invincible material. As he bounced off the ground, he slammed his foot below him, not wanting to stay on his back for long.

Cryo stared up at Gabr, whose black aura pierced the bright flashes of light in the sky. Cryo let loose his power, his aura flowing out, a cool blue, as he bounded off the ground with a sonic boom. The two lights streaked across the sky before coming in contact, as Gabr and Cryo connected, both hitting one another with a solid punch. They broke off, then flew back at one another again, Gabr blocking Cryos kick, then breaking off and trying to swerve behind him to hit him with a heavy elbow to the skull, which Cryo blocked by raising his arm over his head. As the adrenaline began to wear off, Gabr felt severe fatigue set in as he began aching all over again. Not wanting to give in to his body’s natural limits, Gabr chose to ignore them, and he slammed one fist outwards, harder than he should have, straining his ribs, pulling several muscles. The hit caught Cryo completely by surprise as it connected square in his jaw. He flew up towards space, slowly disappearing from view. A few seconds passed before a humongous freighter ship suddenly had a speck hit it, but this speck caused half the ship to buckle inward like some sort of distorted frisbee. Cryo fell back down to the ground, his aura dissipating. Gabr fell with him, completely exhausted. The two hit the ground at the same time, with Cryo barely able to move. The punch had blurred his vision to the point it felt like he was staring through a wet window. The only clear thing to him was Gabr getting him, and slowly limping off into the frozen woods.

The cool in the air soothed Gabr’s wounds, but as he got closer to the meeting place, the chill slowly disappeared, and the forest around him was alive again. He collapsed onto the ground, spitting blood. He couldn’t finish Cryo off, in fact, Cryo actually won this fight. Gabr had lost both his horns, and suffered severe internal damage. All he could do now was hope the others were alright as he hobbled to the meet up place.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Quad immediately regretted being prideful at the entrance to the cave. His Saiyan blood made him refuse to hold hands, nor grasp someone’s shoulder to make sure they didn’t split up. Once he was actually inside, it was a different story. He had spread his arms out, searching for everyone, but he must have wandered off from the group without even realizing it. He could feel the walls of the cave, just barely. He pressed forward. As he used the wall for support, he swung his other arm out wildly, trying to feel for someone, anyone, but he was alone. He began hearing whispers in the cave as time pressed on, and he sword that it felt like he was just barely grazing someone with his hand, but when he reached again there was nothing there. The air was dry, and cold, it tasted like death. Quad stopped moving for a second as one of the whispers caught his ear. It was so familiar, but so distant. He listened closer, and it got closer.

“Comber.” It spoke. Quad immediately tensed, a chill running up and down his spine. That was his real name. His X force code name was all anyone knew. Anyone except… no, it couldn’t be. Quad pressed on, but he heard the voice get closer, clearer, and more familiar. “Comber.” It hissed again. “What are you doing, bro?” Quads knees immediately gave out, his strength sucked from him in an instant. He shook in fear as he felt a hand on his shoulder, a very gentle hand. He turned, but the feeling disappeared, and his heart began to race.

“Pinache. Is that you?” Quad asked nervously to the darkness. He couldn’t hear himself, but it could hear him, because it responded:

“Yeah, it’s me.” In such a soft whisper that Quad almost thought it wasn’t real for a moment, until it began speaking again. “Where are you, Comber? Why did you leave me? I thought you promised mom you wouldn’t-”

“Shut-up.” Quad punched the wall next to him, his voice trembling, although he couldn’t hear it. “I know I let you down. I let you down as your brother. I let our parents down as a son, and I let the entire force down as a fighter. I couldn’t even protect my own brother, how can I possibly be worth Double’s time?” He shouted. He grew louder and louder, straining his throat but he didn’t even hear his own breath.

“Remember that time back in Taton, when we first arrived. How you found those kids next to their parents corpses, and you immediately went over and got them to perk up by acting goofy and helping them overcome it, just ever so slightly? I do. I always thought that was the coolest thing, and it’s why I admired you as my big brother. I’m gone now, though, and you are still here. So why are you letting me weigh you down?” Quin asked, Quad listening carefully and putting the pieces together for parts too quiet to hear.

“I- No, you’re right. I can’t use you as an excuse for inaction anymore. I” he paused a moment. “I have to survive this, so I can go home and look Mom in the eyes, face down our little sister, and tell them what happened. I am done letting you down, Pinache.” Quad spoke. His eyes were full of tears, his throat full of mucus, but he knew his resolve came through in his voice.

“Pinache?” Quad asked to the darkness as he turned. There was no answer anymore. When the doubt in his mind left, so did Quin. “So, your job is done, then mine has to be too soon. I’ll start standing out on my own, Pinache. I’ll drop the codename. I’ll drop the ORBL. I’ll be my own person.” He clenched his fist. While he wasn’t sure if he could fulfill all those promises, he had to try. He got off his knees and began walking forward. Eventually, he saw a light. He grasped for it, stumbling outside into the blinding light. He shielded his eyes as they grew accustomed to the outside once more. The sky was filled with fire and smoke, the battle was well underway. He wasn’t the tactician of the X-Force, but he could tell that ORBL and the Heats were getting hit hard. This was Sobriums home territory, he knew it best.

Quad flew up slightly, staring over the fields until he saw the clearing in which they were supposed to meet up. A laser came shooting past him as he swiftly sidestepped and dropped to the ground. Flying was becoming more and more dangerous as the battle became more hectic. He quickly ran forward, noticing the ground was strangely wet. That single moment he took his attention off the route in front of him, a blast bounced past him. Actually bounced, like a ball. Quad was distracted enough that he didn’t notice until it was too late, as a kick was delivered straight to his ribs. It wasn’t full force, but it stung. As Quad stumbled a few steps, he turned to see a saiyan man. He was black, like he was, with his spiky hair lulled out to the side. He had a tail, unlike Quad anymore.  His Gi was sloppy, covered in food stains, and he had the slight shadow of a beard.  He was holding a small box of cookies in his right hand.

The man stared at Quad, a half interested look on his face as he bit down onto the cookie. He chewed on it obnoxiously loud, seemingly to purposely annoy Quad. “‘Sup.” He spoke between bites, his mouth stuffed. “Name’s RJ. I’m a Super Saiyan. How ya’ doin?” Quad gazed cautiously as he circled the man, holding his hurt ribs.

“You’re a Super Saiyan?” Quad asked, confused on someone seemingly so lazy could possibly attain such a level.

“Yeah, I am a Super Saiyan. Are you a Super Saiyan?” RJ asked as he reached for a cookie, his box empty, and a saddened expression growing across his face. He dropped the empty box and pulled another out from his gi, and began eating more.

“No, I am not. How did you know I was a Saiyan?” Quad questioned him.

“I was told the only black one was a Saiyan.” RJ yawned, mowing down on some cookies. He chewed with his mouth open, spewing spit on Quads chest.

“Wait, how did you know about me?” Quad stared, suddenly stopping in his tracks as he saw a little uncleaned Ten Titans medal on his chest with the number five. RJ, without ever moving his hands from his cookie box, leapt into the air, and dropped down towards Quad with an Ax kick. Quad narrowly avoided it, backing off to split into four copies.

“Oh, there are four of you? That doesn’t sound right.” RJ groaned, rubbing his eyes. They were bloodshot, as if he didn’t sleep much. He watched Quad and his clones begin to encircle him, and he began quickly stuffing the rest of the cookies in his mouth, not wanting his meal to be ruined by Quad. “I have things to do today, so let’s end this quick.” RJ put his hands in his pockets, and in an instant he flared up into a Super Saiyan, staring around with emerald eyes. One of Quads copies leapt at him, and he kneed it so hard he split all the trees for a hundred meters into splinters. Quad sent his other two clones after him as he immediately realized the danger of the situation. He didn’t have time to waste. RJ jumped, doing the splits to kill the other two clones as Quad blasted off to safety. RJ stared up, wondering if he was worth chasing.

“Whatever, with how weak his clones were I don’t need to waste my breath. He’ll die soon enough.” RJ shrugged, sitting down and pulling out another box of cookies. As he chewed on them, he wondered if he would get yelled at for letting one of them go.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“We took a wrong turn.” JayJay groaned.

“How can we take a wrong turn, it’s a forest!” Judes exclaimed.

“Yeah well we both got lost in that cave, and we don’t know where we came out. All these damn clearings look the same.” JayJay sighed

“They really do, don’t they?” Judes chuckled softly, casting a casual glance at the war in the sky.

“You are thinking of the rest of the crew, aren’t you?” JayJay patted his pal on the back.

“I try not to. I know you and me always promised we will just move forward. We just spent so much time with the captain, I can’t help but wonder if any of the others made it out alive.” Judes sighed, sitting down on a rotting log.

“I know what you mean. We get out and the only other crew member we have is secretly a traitor sent to kill us.” JayJay wiped some moss from the log before setting himself down next to his friend.

“It was a tempting offer though. You remember what Sobrium did to your parents as well as I remember what he did to mine.”  Judes watched the lasers fly around in the sky, a complete war zone in orbit seeming almost tranquil from the ground.

“You promised me that we would never go on and do that vigilante crap.” JayJay stared him down.

“I know, but you were there with me in that moment. Derek tried to play us like a couple of idiots, thinking we cared about greed more than our own lives.” Judes commented. “What we really wanted was vengeance and you know it. The conviction in his voice, a blind man’s voice no less, just struck me somewhere that lit a fire I haven’t felt in a long time.” JayJay didn’t say anything, he simply sat and watched the sky with Judes.

“Come on now, let’s hurry. The troop ships are going to start boarding the planet soon.” JayJay slapped Judes on the back as he got up. “Don’t want them all to miss my beautiful greeting performance.” Judes rolled his eyes, getting up to join his best friend as the two of them flew off in a single direction. Judes stopped suddenly, pointing out the jagged Katchin castle they were supposed to meet near. JayJay almost cried he was so happy. He did not want to be lost in a war zone again. They both blasted forward, until a sudden blast from below nearly took Judes head off. JayJay barely had time to raise his guard before a stranger nearly broke his entire forearm with a single kick. He somersaulted backwards before straightening out to face the both of them. They got a better look at this strange man.

His hair was spiky, tied back in a slight ponytail. He wore a loose green gi top with a black belt around his waist. His pants were grey and baggy. He wore a bright red bandanna, the same color as the tie for his hair, and the single armband upon his right arm. He wore a long black cape that reached all the way down to his calves, overlapping large shoulder pads. On his gi was adorned a small medal with the number four on it.

“Bryar.” Judes slowly got into a nervous fighting stance. Bryar was one of the strongest Half-Saiyans in Sobriums army, and the most famous. Almost everyone knew of his planet conquering capabilities. Sometimes he would only take his detachment of troops so they may witness him take entire civilizations by himself and making them heel to Sobrium. He was no older than Judes or JayJay, but his battle experience far surpassed both of theirs put together.

Bryar took only a single glance at Judes fighting stance. “You were a pirate weren’t you?” He concluded. “Large power with a mixed martial arts stance you picked up from your many survived battles.” Bryar dropped into a stance of his own. JayJay sweat nervously as he to dropped into his own fighting stance. Bryar lunged forward, a single kick aimed straight for Judes sternum. Bryar wasn’t overwhelmingly faster than he was, allowing him to weave to the right. A sharp pain rang through his back before he was tasting dirt in his mouth. Judes spat, looking up, staring up at Bryar, his arms still crossed. He dropped his other leg before turning to JayJay.

JayJay launched a ki blast at Bryar, who dodged it, closing his eyes as he did so to simply prove that instinct alone was enough to let him out predict JayJay. A cocky smile spread across JayJay’s face as he demonstrated his ki control, turning the ki blast around and sending it towards the man’s back. The man clenched his cape and shoulder pads, throwing them both off of his back, creating a small cover. JayJay moved the ki blast either way, not falling for his simple tricks.

Bryar maneuvered around the ball behind his cloak, kicking it with full force into JayJay. The black cloak glowed bright as it burnt into pieces, the blast slamming into JayJays stomach as he was sent into the ground. Bryar watched his shoulder pads fall to the ground, cracking the katchin like glass. Judes stumbled as it caused a slight quake. The man beat them without any hands, whilst weighed down by at least several hundred thousand tons. JayJay flew over to Judes, holding his ribs.

“We have to use it!” He screamed.

“But the time limit!” Judes yelled. “We’ve never done it right before, how can we pull it off under pressure!”

“It’s the only way we will stand a chance!” JayJay grit his teeth. “If those damn Metamorans can do it, so can we!” Extending their hands out, the two shuffled closer to one another, each in perfect sync, before crossing their knees over, and pointing their arms outward. They then quickly brought their knee down, leaning in to touch the tips of both their index fingers together. Whilst in unison yelling out.

“Fusion-ha!” They both said in unison. As Bryar closed in quickly on their location a blinding light caused him to recoil and shield his eyes with his arm. When the light subsided he felt a new energy. Dropping to the ground he stared at a strange man. He wore only a vest and baggy white pants, a small sash serving as the belt. He looked like a perfect mix between the previous fighters.

“You used the Metamoran’s combination technique.” Bryar remarked. “I thought they rarely shared such knowledge, and those whom they shared with could spend their whole lives without ever doing it right.” He sounded almost impressed. Almost. Despite the impressive power, they were only a bit stronger than Bryar himself. It would be a tough battle, but he had experience on his side. This is not the first fused opponent he had faced. They couldn’t risk a lengthy battle, and he was going to force them into one.

“We spent months practicing this technique with some old friends! JaDes is our name, the name of the one whom will put an end to your winning streak!” The new fighter announced.

“Unlikely.” Bryar scoffed, thrusting a single palm strike into their sternum. He was several times faster than before, but so was JaDes. JaDes caught the Palm, swiftly sidestepping and pushing Bryars arm forward, forcing him to approach as they outstretched an elbow for him to slam into. Bryar slammed his feet down to root himself in place, the kitchen’s smooth surface barely giving any traction. He managed to soften the blow, but he still took a heavy hit to the head. As he recoiled, JaDes, grabbing onto his outstretched arm, swiftly threw him over his shoulder. Bryar stuck an arm out to catch himself before he hit the ground, twisting and throwing a surprise kick towards JaDes head. He barely dodged, the kick taking a few strands of hair. As he fell back, Bryar raised his other arm and fired a ki blast point blank to JaDes stomach.

JaDes took the ki blast, gritting his teeth as he fell back, bouncing off the ground, then quickly scrambling back to his feet. Bryar came in fast, a roundhouse kick to their head connecting. Their skull rocked back as Bryar followed through with a longer roundhouse kick, wrapping the back of his leg around their head. As he did, he aimed to choke them out with his leg, preparing a disk as a precaution. JaDes recovered and quickly snapped into motion as he threw loosened his neck and shoulders, pushing Bryars leg up with all their might. The instant motion caused Bryars leg to slip from their neck and lock in around their jaw instead. This position was far more favorable for JaDes, who promptly bit his calf muscle.

Shrieking in pain, Bryar fell off, holding the bite mark as he used his other hand to release the disk towards JaDes leg. JaDes managed to roll under the disk, but Bryar brought his hand togethers like a clap, then expanded them outward. As he did, the disk grew into hundreds of disks, like a giant combine blade. Bryars slammed his arms to the side, the blades falling onto the ground and ripping through the forest, throwing trees and bushes everywhere, all of them sliced into paper thin strips. JaDes tried to jump back, but Bryar jumped to meet them, kicking at their back, causing them to stumble into the blades. JaDes caught himself with his ki, flying up slightly as he rolled over the blades. The spinning ki cut deeply into his back as he fell into the pile of debris behind it. The place looked more akin to a logging camp than a forest now.

Bryar immediately released the ki in the attack, knowing it would drain his energy too much to sustain it. Satisfied with the damage he dealt he dashed forward, a fist raised as he charged ki through it to smash apart the pile. The windforce from the explosive punch alone blew all the twigs and tree remnants far into the sky. JaDes grit his teeth as his cover was destroyed, he gripped his wounded back, dashing off. Bryar caught up, thrusting a knee into his wounded back, followed by slamming both fists into his head to send him sliding across the field. Panting a bit, Bryar lowered himself to the ground.

JaDes picked himself up, pushing fallen trees off of himself as he stared across the newly made clearing at Bryar, the intimidating figure drawing closer. He took a breath, stabilizing his shaking as he gently made a ki ball. Crushing it in his hand to scatter the energy, he threw it all at Bryar, hoping the tiny blasts would go unnoticed and punch through their opponent. An attack they dubbed ‘Sparkling Shredder’

Bryar caught a glint of the attacks light in time to save his own life. He managed to bound to the right instinctively, and he heard JaDes suddenly move. As he had bounded, JaDes did too, this time with a much larger ki blast in hand. He fired a wave point blank at a surprised Bryar, the blast pushing him far off into the sky, before Bryar caught himself, pushing himself off of it. He dropped to the ground, clutching his ribs, where the last had hit. He immediately dashed back to the site, but the fused fighter was nowhere to be found.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Malkor crumpled to his knees as tears streamed from his eyes. The whispers. They were everywhere, each of them a voice he recognized. All of them asked why he was alive, and they weren’t. His parents, his friends from the rebellion, the men he’s killed. They all whispered to him with spite in their voice. His mother especially. He was tall for a Zenkon, who rarely ever reached a meter in height. He was over a meter tall, but his arms were stocky. His mother called him an abomination and demanded his father would throw him out. He refused, and Malkor lived. Now his dad is dead, his mom is dead, everyone who ever came to their restaurant-shop was probably dead. All he could do is move blindly forward, and it just grew harder and harder with each step. He crawled a few feet forward, until he began to hear slightly, then see the slightest glint of light. He scrambled towards it, trying to get away from the voices.

Malkor didn’t even notice that on the other side of the wall, leaving an exit nearby, was Jason, huddled in a corner and crying desperately. He heard his sisters and his mother. “What are you?” They asked with horrified voices. Jason reached out to his sister Melodies voice, but she screeched, the scream fading. Jason cried harder, begging for this pain to be over. He just wanted his family back. He heard memories of a belt cracking, his father abusing his mother. He heard his mother’s ragged breath as she wasted away from starvation and sickness. He heard the door slam as his father left them all behind.

“Symphony, I’m tired of lugging around your weight! You and those damn little monsters!” His father Dissonant screamed as he shoved Jason’s younger sister Harmony off his leg. Jason spent the rest of the week with his mother, the last tender words to escape her mouth forever etched into his mind and soul, because tears blinded him so much he couldn’t see his own mother as she died. His little sisters waited for days, but he found the strength to take care of them. Jacob came for him. A Saiyan man who scooped them up in his arms and carried them back. Daphne bathed his sisters, while Rob fed him. His family. His new family, and the truest family he ever had. Then they too were taken away from him. Instead of moving on as he had with his mother he lost himself.

Jason sat and thought to himself as the voices from the past faded. He knew this rage and sadness inside of him would never truly go away. It would always be a part of him. He would give anything to protect the only family he has left. He slowly picked himself up and began to walk again. He heard his sister’s voices as he listened, but he didn’t stop. It was the past, and he had to move on, or he would never leave. He dragged his feet, as he had when he still wandered about the mines outside Taton. He saw a small beam of light and shielded his eyes as he pressed forward. There was rumbling outside as something came from the sky. He wormed his way through a crack or two until he came outside. A sigh of relief leaving him, he stared into the distance, Sobriums castle of Katchin sitting in plain view. He turned, feeling Malkors power. A smile crawled across his face as he flew over to greet him.

Malkor was out of it, and didn’t even seem to snap to until Jason spoke. “If I was an enemy you would be dead you know.”

“Yeah.” Malkor snapped to look at him. “Yeah, sorry. I just had a hard time in that cave.” He said, expecting to be made fun of. Instead Jason looked at him sympathetically.

“Me too. Relived memories of a dad who didn’t want me.” Jason commented as the two began to walk towards the meet up place.

“My mom was the one who didn’t want me.” He chuckled.

“You would have fit in well at our orphanage.” Jason slightly smirked. “Plenty of people like us. Parents, Aunts, Uncles, even cousins. People given up or abandoned or neglected by those family members.”

“Except my parents were still alive until Taton fell.” Malkor stared sadly at the path in front of him. Jason turned to read his face before walking in silence, not another word spoken between the two for quite some time. Malkor felt a presence, growing tense as he slowly scanned his surroundings with a wandering gaze. Jason noticed Malkors uneasiness and started moving more cautiously. A sudden flash of light caused the both of them to shield their eyes and leap back instinctively.

When the light drained from his vision, Jason stared forward with a squint, seeing a man stand in the middle of the road, a fist placed on each hip. He wore a scouter, and scanned both Jason and Malkor whilst their vision was still impaired. He had a strange bodysuit that showed off an incredibly muscular body. The man must have been at least seven feet tall. He had a heavy beard, with a scar over his lip. His hair was a tangle mess that fell down the back of his neck, and his eyes were set into his skull, so far that the irises were all one could see. Piercing orange lights stared at Jason. The man wasn’t human, like Jason was, which forced him to run through a list of the human-like races he knew to try and see what he may have in store. Malkors eyes fully recovered quickly, and he sunk into the brush of the forest.

The man quickly used his scouter to discover Malkors exact location. A blinding light filled the area and Jason was blinded again, rearing back in pain. Malkor shielded his eyes as he again, leapt back instinctively. When he opened his eyes this time, he saw a large burnt path in the forest. The light wasn’t from a technique, it was from the man’s ki itself. He could blind someone and attack them with a blast at the same time.

“Blinding Righteousness! Burning Passion! I am Justice, the warrior for good, defender of peace, and slayer of evil!” Justice shouted to the two of them. “All evildoers shall lose sight in the face of my overwhelming light!” He pointed straight at Jason as he continued. “You genocided an entire planet of innocent people! For that, the light shall claim you!”

“Shut up!” Jason shouted as he let loose a vicious explosion of energy towards the man. The wave travelled hard enough to make his hair blow back, but he stood unfazed. He raised a single hand to catch the blast. As it slammed into him at full force, he shouldered it, tensing up as he locked his arm in place. Energy dispersed all around him, but he wouldn’t budge. Jason kept outputting more and more energy, forcing Justice back a few steps. “Die already!” Jason screamed. Malkor wondered what made Jason snap suddenly, flying behind the man. The man put both his arms out to try and hold back the wave. As he did, he noticed Malkor behind him. He cursed his luck, and tried to jump out of the way so Jason would eliminate his friend. Malkor however, sent a single finger laser into the back of his knee, causing him to fall on one knee. The blast completely overcame him.

Malkor dove to the side, staring over at Jason whom panted heavily, his eyes slowly calming from his rage. He then stared back at the smoke to see the man lying on the ground. It was too easy. Jason ran over to try and hit the man again but Malkor attempted to warn him.

“He could be faking it!” Malkor shouted. Jason, for once, listened to someone else. He stopped midway through, staring carefully at the man for any movement. The entire top of his bodysuit was burned off, revealing an incredibly scarred torso. He pushed himself up gently, panting heavily as he stared at Jason, one eye shut from the pain.

“I am not dying here. Not now, not here! The galaxy still needs Justice!” He jumped to his feet, opening his hand and gripping his wrist. Malkor and Jason took a step back cautiously as the man charged a ball of ki. It was blindingly bright and Jason had to turn, unable to look directly at it. He felt the attack burn into his abdomen as he got launched back. He skidded of the ground, staring up at the man, who had a boot raised above his skull. His life flashed for a moment, before he heard Malkor.

“Alpha Wave!” Malkor shouted. A tiny laser shot out after Justice. Scoffing, the man grabbed Jason and raised him up as a shield from the attack. The laser went straight for Jason’s heart, stopping just before and going straight up, then straight past Jason.

“What the-” Justice began to shout as the Laser then diverted its course back to him. He dropped Jason and flew into the air. The Laser bounced off of invisible walls as it chased him all over the sky, zig zagging and bolting in nearly impossible ways. It homed in on him and he eventually decided to take the hit with his arm. He raised his right arm and the laser pierced straight through his forearm and went behind him, then came in for another attack. “You’re kidding me!” He shouted as he flew higher into the sky. The laser began to grow less and less precise as he got higher into the sky, and closer to all the explosions and ki blasts. There were a lot of other fighters flying up here. He decided to test something. He flew over to a random Heat soldier who was blasting at a Sobrium ship. Grabbing his shoulders he spun around and threw him in the direction Justice had originally planned on going. The beam followed him and struck him, going in and out until the man made swiss cheese look holeless.

“It’s remote controlled. That means I just have to blind the Zenkon to stop him from finding out where I am” Justice sighed in relief. He dropped to the ground quickly, the beam following him some more. He looked up in the sky, following the trail the beam had left to try and find the Zenkon. As the beam got closer to the ground he prepared a Justice Grenade, his signature blast. It worked like a two-piece flashbang. The blast itself let out incredible light, blinding anyone nearby, but it was also dense and packed with energy. After it hit something it would erupt into a flash that could cause permanent eye damage if one directly looked at it. He never used this around friends, but times were desperate. This Zenkon was dangerous to the Titans, only Sky or Cryo could stop the beam due to their unique Ki properties.

Malkor scanned the area, having the beam dissipate. The attack was heavily taxing, and took a lot out of him to produce an attack that could pierce anything. He had discovered his Ki property whilst training in secret. He called it Brain Waves. It allows him to control his ki with thoughts instead of physical actions. For example, if someone shot a ki blast but wanted it to change direction they would have to use more ki to pull it back or push it up or down. Malkor doesn’t need to waste such energy, yet the response time is instant. With just a thought he can make his ki move in any way he wanted. Opponents would get tired eventually, and then he would strike. The only weakness was sightlines. Without being able to see his opponent he can only send it towards guesses.

Jason was in complete awe at Malkors ki control, and took a moment to sit to the side. He wasted too much energy in that single blast and needed to catch his breath. Justice leapt out of the woods, leg raised, but Malkor was quick enough to fire another Alpha Wave in time to make him back off. Justice dropped to the ground, quickly sweeping a leg to try and trip Malkor. He landed it and Malkor quickly slammed into the ground. The beam disappeared as his thought process was interrupted by the pain. Justice took the chance, slamming a foot into Malkors side and slamming him into a small mound of Katchin. A loud crack rang through the air and Malkor fell to the ground, unmoving.

Jason gripped the bark of a tree so hard that the tree nearly snapped in two. He showed restraint by keeping his ki suppressed, so Justice couldn’t find him. Justice raised a hand, releasing a pulse of ki that blew away all the leaves and brush within a few hundred meters. Jason raised an arm to shield his eyes from the wind. He dropped it for a moment and saw Justice, locked in on his exact position. Jason stood up slowly as the Justice circled around, slowly staring at him. He clenched his fist, and it began to glow with ki. Justice blasted off the ground, flying towards Jason, who took to the skies. With a single leap JAson was flying. It felt like being in the middle of a fireworks show. Explosions going off everywhere, and ki blasts flying several directions. It was incredibly disorienting. Jason looked around, the single moment he took his eyes off his opponent causing them to disappear from sight. He suddenly gazed up by instinct to see him slamming his glowing hand towards Jason. He raised an arm in defence, letting it take the blow for him.

The arm became mangles as Jason fell to the Earth. It began glowing brightly. The mans ki was stuck on his arm like a slime. Jason couldn’t see. He threw his arm behind him to let him have vision, when he realized this was the man’s plan all along. He came in from the right, Jason’s affected arm tucked firmly behind his back, wasn’t able to defend him this time. He took a straight shot to Jason’s ribs. However, in his frustration, Jason opened his mouth and fired a blast straight at Justice’s head. The attack bounced off Justice’s head and he tumbled back in the air. Jason leapt forward, throwing his non-glowing arm into the man’s abdomen. Justice coughed up blood, but relented. He would not let Jason get away with his crime just because he was stronger.

Justice slammed fists into Jason’s sides, but Jason bent over, shining Justice’s light in his face to attempt to blind him. It didn’t even make him flinch, as he grabbed Jason, slamming a fist into his chest and dropping him to the ground. Jason fell, hitting the katchin ground hard enough to bounce up almost to the top of a tree before crashing back down to a halt. Justice landed on the ground, holding his his stomach. He stared back at Malkor, frowning. Even if he didn’t commit any crimes, he still associated himself with a beast like Jason. He was guilty by default. It’s all Justice could tell himself to stop the guilt from consuming him. However he took a closer look to see that it was only the robes on the ground. He scanned around him panicking. Malkor had ditched his heavy robes to reveal his rather tiny-ogre like appearance. Around him were hundreds of Alpha Waves, but they weren’t like normal. They were strewn together in the shape of a brain, the total shape being the size of a small house.

“Imagination Overdrive!” Malkor shouted as the brain shifted from its shape. It went from a brain to a tiger. The tiger roared with crackling energy as it pounced upon Justice. The creature wasn’t entirely made out of energy. It was like someone drew lines well enough that you could tell it was a three dimensional tiger. The tiger swallowed Justice whilst he stood in awe. “Imagination Overdrive: Beast World!” Malkor continued as Justice fell through the Tiger’s mouth, small lines of Alpha Rays burned him. He flew inside, staring at the outsides. The tiger was now more like a cage. He scolded himself for ending up in this position. A few of the Alpha rays broke off from the tigers main body to form small fish. The fish swam towards Justice, burning him as he tried to maneuver around them. This was unlike any ki property he had ever seen before.

Malkor switched the tiger to a bear, which gave Justice more space to move around in. The bear broke into a sprint towards a Katchin cliffside. Justice grit his teeth as the Bear slammed into the mountain, squishing him into the cage of Alpha Wave. Justice screamed, powering up and throwing his energy around to dissipate the cage and save his own life. He dropped to the ground, leaning against the cliff. Trees made from the Alpha Waves began to grow from the ground around him, he stared around as suddenly his environment became a wiry jungle of energy, none of which he could touch.

He walked forward, staring around as blood trickled down his body. He heard energy behind him, seeing another tree sprout. This moment of distraction forced him to make a sudden turn to notice Malkor was flying in the air above him. He raised his arm, trying to make a humongous flash of light to stop the Zenkons assault. However Malkor simply expanded his next attack, only hoping the man couldn’t kill him whilst he was blinded. He simply let himself be blinded, focusing on his next attack.

Justice turned to see a massive wire rhino charging at him. It speared him through the shoulder and crashed into the mountain. When Malkor could see again, Justice lay against the cliffside, unable to move. Justice grit his teeth as he watched Jason limp over, and Malkor dropped to the ground, falling to his knees and coughing blood. Jason rushed to his side, but Malkor raised an arm. “Using more than one Alpha Wave is incredibly straining on my mind and body. I’ve practiced using that many before, but I feel as though my mind has shattered. I am almost out of energy. Almost. Just give me a bit and I’ll be fine. Worry about him.” Malkor looked up at Jason.

Justice coughed, spitting blood as he stared at Jason. “I promised that child I would avenge his family. To stop you from doing it to someone else’s. I can’t believe I let a despicable monster like you get the best of me. Hiding behind your little friend.”

“And you hide behind that facade of justice whilst working for a tyrant.” Jason spat.

“We are all victims? Is that what you are trying to say? No. Sobrium came to my home planet and helped us. Our military was pathetic, our strongest fighter was a joke and couldn’t even use ki. He could have wiped us out in a minute but instead he helped us, gave us what we needed to pick ourselves up and be self sufficient. My people live, happily, because of him. And I get to deliver justice to monsters like you.” Justice groaned as he shifted to sit upright, facing Jason with a defiant grimace.

“When Sobrium came to my home he let his dog Darwin loose, and killed the only people I had left in the world. My sisters, the people whom had taken care of us. All the kids whom I had been an idol to. They were just more corpses added to the piles on Taton. Then he fired at the crowd to make them know fear, so they wouldn’t try to rebel.” Jason raised a hand as he faced him. “So where is the Justice for my sisters? For Daphne, for Rob?” Jason fired a single blast from his outstretched palm, not wanting to let him answer. Jason watched Justice slump over, and he turned, kneeling down to pick up Malkor and head off to the meeting area.

Malkor stared back at the man’s corpse, then looked up at Jason, relaxing with a sigh, taking the moment to relax.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Pyra had stopped in the cave, falling to one knee as he heard his brother whisper in his ear. Heater spoke to him. “Why weren’t you strong enough to save me?” He asked. Pyra gripped the katchin below himself. His brother Heater was one of his idols as a child. The voice faded a bit, he began reliving a memory. Long ago, when he was still his father’s newest child, before Inferno was born, Heater placed a gentle hand upon his little brother’s head. Unlike their father Heat, he showed no remorse, nor was he incredibly tough on Pyra. He cared for and catered his brother. “One day, you are going to blow our dad out of the water, I believe in you.” Heater smiled.

Then the memory faded and he relived a memory of being on a moon, a casket lowering into the moon, towards its core. He cried. His brother Inferno was about his age, and most likely barely remembered the funeral. Pyra was the only one in his family whom even seemed saddened by Heaters death. Some far off warrior took him by surprised. They say by the time Heater was found, the soldiers saw such a ghastly sight that they all killed themselves out of fear that the murderer would come for them next. Marked in blood next to Heaters mangled corpse, a name. “Yours truly, Darwin.”

From that point on Pyra had dedicated himself to becoming strong enough to best the man who bested his brother. His father didn’t seem to care about vengeance or anything of the sort. Inferno grew up without memory of their brother, and became as cold and calculating as their father, but with a cocky smirk to accompany that. Warmer went off to join his father’s best assassins, and rarely, if ever, returned home. Blaze came after Heater, but despite Pyras kind guidance, became a selfish brat later in life. He threw away his family’s gifts and tried to conquer his own family’s lands. Only Pyra could carry the memory of his brother.

He got up, walking forward through the cave, shaking his head. The guilt of his brothers death confused his proud soul. He rarely felt guilt for mistakes. He grew smarter with age. This caves illusions would not trick him into shedding more tears. The dead are gone, yet he remained. The cave opened up to light. Pyra moved forward, staring around. The war wasn’t far progressed when he left the cave. This was good. Darwin would most likely still be on the ground then.

A man leapt from the brush, brandishing heavy gi and yelling something at him. Pyra snapped back to his thinking about Heater. He remembered how his brother taught him tricks that let him beat even his brother Inferno in some strategy games. It brought a smirk on his face. “They can’t take your pieces if you knock them out.” Heater would laugh. Pyra had knocked Inferno out quite a bit.  

This all reminded him of a few trainees he had back at the palace. In the Heat Empire the armies most promising recruits were trained by the family themself. Heat himself had only ever taken two trainees. One of them was a namekian, who died with Heater, and the other is Makrov, their Saiyan general. The man who jumped out before launched himself at Pyra. With a single raised fist, Pyra caved in his entire skull, watching him drop to the ground dead. He continued moving on his way, wondering if he could come up with a training regimen for his new batch of proteges that would help him improve as well. He turned a bit to see the man he just killed. There was a medal, brandishing the number seven on his chest. One of the Ten Titans? Disappointingly weak. Pyra sighed, walking towards the meeting place.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Syn sat on the outside of the cave, bored out of his mind. He had bumped into Ichirou in the darkness. He purposely tripped him on his way through as well. Now, a little bit of guilt twisted in his stomach. He shrugged a bit, leaning back against the cave as he yawned. Ichirou stumbled out, staring at Syn angrily.

“You smug ass.” Ichirou stared angrily as Syn coyly smiled as he sat propped up on a small boulder, leaning against the caves outer walls.

“Nice field trip?” Syn asked.

“I nearly broke my nose.” Ichirou grabbed the front of his shirt.

“Woulda made you look better.” Syn shrugged. He moved on with Ichirou, whistling to himself. Ichirou complained about it for the next few minutes until he realized Syn had completely tuned him out. Something familiar made Syn and Ichirou both stop in their tracks. A namekian man stood in front of them, his arms crossed as he faced away from them.

“Oozak?” Syns jaw dropped as he rushed forward. “Oh sorry, you use your name Iguy around us.”

“Oozak is fine.” Oozak stated. He didn’t turn to face Syn, which confused both Ichirou and Syn. Syn gently placed a hand on Oozaks shoulder. Oozak gently turned to face them. Syn stumbled back and Ichirou’s heart skipped a beat. Upon his chest, a golden emblem shined. A number one brandished on it with katchin. The leader of the Ten Titans pin, third in all of Sobriums empire.

“Scared me for a moment. It’s a cool pin but you probably shouldn’t be wearing it. We almost got the wrong idea.” Syn laughed, reaching to pat Oozak on the shoulder. Oozak brushed his hand away and stared at him.

“You didn’t seriously-” Syn started before Oozak clocked him one, sending him sprawling into the trees. Ichirou immediately ascended to Super Saiyan, launching towards Oozak. Oozak stretched his arm out, grabbing Ichirou’s hair and whipping him into the treeline. The two both stumbled out of the treeline together, staring at Oozak.

“What the hell are you doing!” Syn shouted.

“Fulfilling my duty as the leader of the Ten Titans. I am protecting King Sobrium from invaders who wish him harm.” Oozak put his hands behind his back.

“You can’t be serious. Oozak you remember what he did to your people don’t you?” Ichirou shouted.

“I remember very well. I remember when my people rebelled against him. He offered peace to the families who surrendered him, but just ended up stuffing us in rooms and filling them with gas.” Oozak’s eyes grew dark. “For good reason. Peace cannot be achieved without casualties.”

“He killed hundreds of families!” Ichirou screamed.

“And in turn he made the rebels give up and lay down their arms, preventing millions from dying in the coming war.” Oozak commented. “I am not saying what he did wasn’t horrible, I am just saying after leaving the X Force I began to see things in a brighter light. Orion could no longer shove propaganda down my throat. Do you even know why Exo left the ORBL? Because Orion revealed his true nature. It really is just Orion’s Republic for Better Lives. Better lives for Saiyans, and no one else.”

“Come on, you and I both know that’s not true.” Syn scoffed. “I’m human, Orion treats me the same as any Saiyan.”

“That’s because you’re different Syn. You are the one in a million human who can surpass the galactic average for power. Just like Exo was. Soon you will realize it yourself. If you turn and leave that is.” Oozak crossed his arms, facing Syn.

“I am not fighting you, Oozak, my beef is with Sobrium, not you.” Syn narrowed his eyes cautiously.

“Then your ‘beef’ is with me.” Oozak dropped into a fighting stance, causing Ichirou and Syn to do the same, albeit reluctantly. “I am doing just a little bit of bad to stop a lot of bad.” Oozak frowned. He made the first move, launching forward and throwing a punch towards Ichirou’s head. Ichirou’s Super Saiyan speed let him jump far back enough to avoid Oozak. However as he leapt, Oozaks arm extended like rubber, grabbing Ichirou’s throat and slamming him incredibly far back, separating him from Syn. Syn leapt, attacking with a cross kick, which Oozak used his free arm to block. After he stopped Syns momentum, he gripped onto his ankle. Syn attempted to bring his other leg up to hit Oozak, which lifted him from the ground. Oozak threw Syn using his ankle, stopping him from connecting the kick.

Ichirou used both his hands to pry Oozak’s hand from his chest. He grit his teeth as he realized he must be miles away from Syn by now. He followed Oozak’s hand as it retracted back to its owner. Syn in the meantime, landed on both of his hands after being thrown, twisting so he could bring his missed kick around in a complete circle to hit Oozak from the other side. Oozak dropped to the ground swiftly, pushing a palm upward toward the side of Syns leg. Oozak was far faster, and far stronger. Syn felt his palm connect to the side of his knee, dislocating the joint. He fell to the side, yelling in pain through gritted teeth. He quickly slammed both his hands onto his leg to snap his knee back into place.

Syn used dense ki to shield himself during the process, which stopped Oozak from approaching. Syn stared at him as he waited for the pain in his knee to fall to tolerable levels. He notice that his extended arm was now retracting quickly. He turned right all too late as the retracted arm came from miles away in an instant to slam into him at full force, cracking his ki shield into pieces. Syn went flying, tumbling down a hillside. Ichirou arrived, his aura calming after he landed from flight.

Ichirou’s Super Saiyan form intimidated Oozak enough that he powered up to match it. Oozaks aura glowed purple, radiating menace towards Ichirou. Ichirou stumbled back a step, dropping into a stance as he waited his opponent’s move. Oozak put two fingers from both hands to his skull. Electricity sparked from the tips of his fingers. Immediately after, Oozak pushed both of his fingers together, pointing them like a combined finger gun towards Ichirou. “Rail Cannon!” Oozak shouted as a beam spiraled from his finger tips towards Ichirou. The beam had a smaller beam spiraling along the outside, keeping the main beam tight and making it move faster than it was fired. As it accelerated, Ichirou, dropped down into a squat, preparing to dodge ot take it head on. As he raised his fist to try and slap the attack away, he briefly caught movement to his left that distracted him.

Ichirou raised a fist, slamming it towards the side of the attack. The attack punched off towards the distance, but Oozak leapt from the brush. Ichirou’s fist was extended, and he had no time to rear back for another punch. Oozak grabbed his extended arm and brought an elbow down on it in a split second. Ichirous humorous snapped in two, and he let out a bloodcurdling scream as he used his other arm to quickly send a pain ridden, yet sloppy punch towards Oozaks gut. Oozak released his upper arm, jumping back quickly. Ichirou followed through with a ki blast as his punch missed. The blast connected, sending Oozak tumbling back. Ichirou slumped to the side, holding his broken arm with one arm.

Syn leapt to his side. His knee flared with pain, and his face grew dark as he realized the grim situation Ichirou was in. Oozak broke his left arm, his dominant arm. He also took out Syns right leg, which was on his dominant side. Oozak was using all the little details he knew about them to slowly cripple them both. Syn moved in front of Ichirou, watching Oozak as he got up.

“Move Syn, you aren’t at the level of a Super Saiyan! If he snapped my arm like a twig, it’ll be worse for you!” Ichirou shouted, trying to push Syn aside.

“Yeah. However I still have two good arms.” Syn commented.

“And one bad leg! Get out of the way you prideful human idiot, you’ll get us both killed!” Ichirou spat. Oozak lunged whilst they argued. He planted a single fist into Syns stomach. Syn spat blood up, but through the pain he recovered quick enough to grapple Oozak, holding one hand around his shoulder, and one around his neck. He pulled Oozak into a headlock. Oozak, overpowered Syn, grabbing both his arms by the wrist and snapping them off of himself. Ichirou however, took this moment to reposition, delivering a powerful kick to Oozaks ribs whilst his hands were full. Oozak tried to block with his leg, but he wasn’t quick enough. Ichirou shattered three of his ribs with the kick. He tumbled to the side. Syn grit his teeth, staring at his broken wrists.

“You’re insane.” Ichirou sighed. Syn shrugged, gritting his teeth as his broken wrists flopped about. Oozak stood up, lunging for Syns throat. Syn leapt up into the sky, Ichirou throwing a punch to make Oozak back off.

“You’re not mad because I hate most of your kind, are you?” Syn antagonized Oozak. Oozak held his ribs, throwing a ki blast into the sky at Syn. Syn, with a single flip, was able to direct the ki attack off course. Oozaks face was serious, carrying with it a grimace, but it had a hint of regret for what he was doing. Ichirou played on this weakness by immediately aiming to kick Oozaks arm at full force, purposefully leaving himself open. If Oozak hesitated he’d lose his arm, but if he didn’t, Ichirou could guess where he would counter-attack. Oozak did neither, instead he tried to dodge. Syn shot a ki blast behind him to cut off his dodge path. Oozak turned a bit, leaving his arm in the way as the only target. The kick went through, tearing Oozaks arm off at the shoulder. Ichirou and Syn took a moment to rest, standing next to one another.

All three of them were panting heavily. Ichiro’s Super Saiyan had sapped almost all of his stamina. Oozak stuck his stump out, a new arm shooting out in an instant. The one advantage he had over the two of them. Oozak flew up into the sky, preparing another some sort of ki attack. Oozaks hands were both above his head, a yellow ball forming

“Syn, we need to block this!, I am too tired to dodge!” Ichirou shouted.

“Got it!” Syn yelled. He charged ki into his mouth, the first time he had ever really resorted to using his mouth for a ki attack. Ichirou pulled his one arm behind him, a small ball of ki forming.

“Final Assault!” Oozak shouted, the name echoing for miles. The attack was humongous, blocking out the sky as it closed in on Ichirou and Syn.

“Xevono wave!” Ichirou shouted as he sent a one handed ki wave. His wave slammed into Oozacks, the power struggle beginning. The weight of Oozacks attack pushed Ichirou into the ground, his knees beginning to buckle. He kept pumping out as much power as he could, but his Super Saiyan was failing him. He was seconds away from losing the form, and his life.

Syn unleashed a blast from his mouth, joining Ichirou as they both attempted to push back Oozacks attack. The struggle between the three wounded warriors seemed to darken the sky around them. Oozack’s arms locked into place as he pushed the beam closer and closer to them. Syn widened his jaw, trying to unleash as much power as he could, moving his broken wrists together to form an attack in them. Pushing his broken wrists out, Syn released a sloppy barrage of ki blasts to help push Oozacks blast away. Oozak began losing ground against their combined power, and knew that if he let go for a moment the attack would overtake him.

Oozak grit his teeth, trying to push with all his might but he was still losing ground. He yelled out, grit his teeth, shouted and kicked, nothing allowed him to overcome Ichirou and Syn. His attack was pushed back against him, slamming into him and sending him flying across the planet. Ichirou and Syn watched Oozak disappear with a pained scream, the both of them passing out next to one another.

“You held your own pretty good, even when Oozak was stronger than a Super Saiyan.” Ichirou complimented his friend.

“Yeah, I did.” Syn shrugged, laughing a bit as he got up. He had to stand up with just one leg, as his knee burned. Ichirou could barely move, not even having the energy to fly. The two relaxed a bit, Syn taking a few moments to lean against a tree. Soon after, he stuck an arm out to Ichirou. Ichirou grabbed his elbow, pulling himself up, the two friends leaning on one another for support. Ichirou felt a sharp pain in his back and he toppled over, bringing Syn down with him. Ichirou let out a cry of pain as Syn turned to see Oozak, standing there, purple blood trickling down his bare chest. His gi had been burned off on his upper body. He too was out of energy, but he had enough fight in him to deliver that punch to Ichirou’s back.

“Can you leave us the hell alone?” Syn groaned. “Damn traitorous Namekian.”

“I did it protect you idiots!” Oozak spat, his calm composure dropped. “If you can’t hold your own against me you would have died going after Sobrium!”

“Why did you join him? How could you just switch sides like that?” Ichirou asked through angered breaths.

“I told you, Sobrium is the lesser of three evils. The Heats and ORBL don’t care for people like us. Your little rebellion is doing nothing but hindering Sobrium from unifying the universe in actual peace.” Oozak coughed.

“Wait, how did you know about the rebellion?” Syn asked cautiously.

“Like me, there is someone in your group that doesn’t want to see you all throwing your lives away here. Enough of this. I’ll knock you two out and dump you in a bunker somewhere so you can recover. It’ll have a small escape pod, enough for the entire X-Force to cram inside and launch off. By the time you wake up, most of the troop ships will have landed and the fighting will be on the ground. It’ll be easier to escape.” Oozak straightened himself, walking over to Syn. Ichirou leapt up, trying to throw a punch towards Oozak. Oozak stumbled to the side in a sloppy dodge, and Ichirou didn’t have the strength to stop his momentum, flopping onto the ground. Oozak began kicking Ichirou’s head repeatedly, attempting to force him to pass out. Ichirou guarded his head with both hands, reaching out to try and grab his leg but only having his hands kicked back. Ichirou rolled off to the side, forcing Oozak to extend his kick, which gave Ichirou just enough time to catch his leg and punch the back of his knee, bringing him to the ground with him. Ichirou and Oozak began grappling one another on the ground, holding the other at arm’s reach with their good arms so they had more time to react to kicks.

Oozak’s leg snapped forward, hitting Ichirou in the chest, the clash broken, Oozak used this time to stumble up. Ichirou threw a punch at Oozak with his good arm, but Oozak stepped back, countering with a hook of his own. The blow hit Ichirou right in the jaw, forcing a pained cry from his mouth. Ichirou fell to his hands and knees, Oozak kicking him directly in the head. The blow jarred Ichirous head back, causing him to fall against the ground, his strength fading as fast as he did. When he closed his eyes, Oozak turned to find Syn. A sudden pain in his gut followed by spit filling his mouth made him realize Syn had gotten up. Oozak was so pumped full of adrenaline that he completely forgot about Syn.

“Give up Syn. You can’t beat me with two broken wrists.” Oozak panted, wiping his lip of blood.

“Your not so different Oozak. From the Saiyans I mean. All you naturally gifted races look down on us humans. We have no potential, only one in a million of us even gets to the galactic average of power, which is not impressive. We do have one thing though, a power neither Saiyans nor Namekians have.” Syn grit his teeth as he moved his hands back, flinging his arm at full speed at a nearby tree. He impaled his hand on a broken tree branch. Oozaks eyes widened as he stared at Syn, whose eyes were wide with pain, masked by adrenaline and rage.

“You all underestimate our limitless willpower!” Syn shouted, moving his other broken hand up. Because one of his hands no longer flopped around, he charged a proper ki ball in his hands, it was not sloppy, and he could very easily muster the strength now that he could make the shape. The process was sapping the last of his energy, to the point he began to feel like he was growing rigid like stone.

“You can’t be serious, you’ll die!” Oozak shouted, eyes widening. “You can’t expend that much energy!”

“I can-” Syn shouted as he carried himself on nothing but raw will, the last of his energy gone. “And I will!” Syn ripped his broken hand from the broken tree branch, throwing the ki blast towards Oozak. Oozak was too wounded from Ichirou to dodge completely, the blast slamming into him, taking off his arm. Oozak shouted in pain, falling to the ground, clutching his stump and screaming in agony. Syn crumpled to the ground, sweat falling from his face like a spout from a fountain.

Syn stared at Ichirou, crawling over to him. He slid his broken wrists under him, gritting his teeth. He lifted Ichirou using his forearms, his wrists dangling at the end. He limped forward, moving slowly.

“Stop, Syn! Don’t leave!” Oozak cried out. Syn ignored him, continuing to stumble forward. “You can’t die on me! You guys are all I have left! Don’t walk away from me! Syn!” Oozak shouted, watching his friend grow further and further away. His efforts to stop his friends from throwing their lives away was completely in vain.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ryal was not phased by the whispers. This cave radiated magic, but he couldn’t place it. Was it an illusion, meant to make people face their guilts, or was it truly a portal to the afterlife? It unnerved him, but he kept his wits about him. He recognized each voice. The children at Willowpeak. The people of the town. All those that died because he revealed to the Blue Bowtie Battalion where they were to save Mur and Saguaro. Now they were both gone. Ryal stumbled a bit when he heard Saguaros voice. He refused to listen, or to stop. He kept moving, trying to let his thoughts wander, but the voices anchored them to this cave. His eyes darted from side to side, expecting something to snap at him from the darkness. The hairs on his neck stood so straight that he felt like a porcupine. Ryal slammed forward, trying to leave the cave quicked, but ended up slamming into a wall ahead of him. He grit his teeth, grabbing the side of the wall and moving onward.

His knees trembled when he heard his mother’s voice. How could Ryal have done that to his own mother? His life had always been a train, moving forward, never stopping for anything. If there was something on the track he would run it over. However here, at the end of his tracks, he was stuck. The past was catching up with him and he couldn’t blame the caves magic entirely. In the past, he did feel guilt, but it never really slowed him down. He would just go through each day as they came, doing what he wanted, where he wanted. Sometimes he would hunt goats on the mountains outside his forest, or leave his forest with his father to hunt bigger game like deer, tetradon, or Lestersharks. Each day was a new adventure. On the clearest nights he and his sister would go to the top of the mountain range nearby. They would stare into the distance, at the horizon, where Taton’s lights shone so bright that it look as though dawn had come again.

He had never met other people, save for the occasional fellow hunters and trading post owners that his father visited with him. His first encounter with a real community was Willowpeak. Then he lost it. The small taste of companionship filled a small hole he had in his heart. He could have lived his entire life in the woods, never knowing anything outside his corner of the world. Then he had friends, more than he could ever imagine, people whowhom looked up to and respected him. That was something he never knew he wanted.

This is the thought that woke him from the spell. He slammed his fist into the wall, feeling the hill quake a bit. He reminded himself that he was not here to wallow in despair. That was how Crimson dealt with stress. He leapt up, slamming forward, moving through the cave as fast as he could. He attempted to illuminate the area with ki, but it did not shine. He infused the ki with magic. It felt pouring like milk into a full cup of water. For a brief second a face flashed in front of him before his temporary light went out, as if blown out like a simple candle. Ryal tensed, his body growing tight. The whispers drew closer to him. This caves magic was even stronger than the creatures on his home planet. It ate ki, it whispered to those moving through it, and worst of all, it felt alive.

Ryal saw an inkling of light at the end. He moved towards it, turning to see if the face had followed him, but there was nothing there. He dove back outside the cave, embracing the light by squinting. His heart was pounding, but he slowly calmed it. He moved forward, towards the clearing that he needed to make it to. The katchin path was strange. It was lost on him how grass grew through this material, let alone trees and bushes. After a little bit, he came over the hill, looking down to see the clearing, and in the distance, Sobriums palace of katchin. A gnarled abomination that’s towers reached to the sky like ghastly fingers. Ryal flew down the hill towards the clearing as soon as he sensed familiar ki. He landed, looking at the several other paths that convened there. The X-Force had gathered completely. Syn and Ichirou were being healed by Dayereh, whom was rushing back and forth between the X-Force members. Kuele gave basic healing to Paul and Derek, whom didn’t have any life-threatening injuries. Everyone tensed as they noticed Ryal, but relaxed when they recognized him.

Crimson stood leaning against a tree, staring up at the sky, and Ryal could see his mind was wandering, thinking about each life lost as the minutes passed. Next, Ryals eyes wandered to Quad, whom landed a few minutes prior. He seemed incredibly unnerved. Judes and JayJay were next to arrive, and they were both panting heavily. Pyra strolled into the clearing, a disappointed scowl on his face as he realized just how many were wounded. Afterwards, a five minute wait followed, with Berta arriving in the clearing, clutching the bleeding hole where her eye used to be. Paul bounded away from Kuele’s treatment to catch her as she fell. Everyone was a bit surprised by how fast he moved.

“Jeez, make it any more obvious?” Berta laughed, before her laughter sputtered into pained coughs. Paul screamed for Dayereh, whom grit his teeth. Dayereh was sweating from all the treatments he was doing, on top of his own fatigue from his own battle. He was restoring everyone to full health as best he could. He ran over, taking Berta from Paul, laying her on a flat surface in the center of the clearing. He set to work. Ryal sat down on a stump, looking over his shoulder at a small fighter ship that had crashed to the ground, inside, a dead pilot.

“What do you mean you can’t give her eye back!” Paul yelled, catching everyone’s attention.

“I can’t heal what isn’t there! Healing can path wounds up, restore energy, fix bones, but I can’t fix her eye because it’s been almost cleanly torn out.” Dayereh frowned. Paul grit his teeth, and Berta sighed, bopping him on the head.

“Dumbass.” Berta said flatly. “Stop crying and keep watch. We don’t want to get ambushed before the others arrive.” Paul wiped a worried tear away, nodding.

“Done.” Kuele wiped sweat from his forehead. Jason and Malkor gave him nods, stretching as they felt back at top percentage. Malkor walked over to speak with Derek.

“Did you notice?” Malkor asked, his voice lowering.

“Notice what?” Derek replied, his head slightly turning in Malkors direction.

“How we have a traitor.” Malkor spoke almost inaudibly. Even the Namekians couldn’t hear it.

“You shouldn’t go around with that info. What if I had been them?” Derek scolded Malkor.

“If you were, the information on us wouldn’t be so incomplete. You are far more thorough.” Malkor chuckled.

“I’m not so sure.” Derek sighed, looking around at the group of people he trusted.

“They waited at the exits to the cave, they knew most, if not all of our abilities, minus those we never publicly showed the group.” Malkor began.

“Then they gathered information on the ones they didn’t know about and planned to report back. I think I already figured out the traitor however.” Derek sighed, standing up.

“Who!” Malkor whispered loudly, nervously looking back to see if the Namekians noticed.

“Someone who isn’t a threat.” Derek sighed. “They won’t trip up the rest of the operations if my guess is right. Not after seeing this.” Dereks eyes narrowed on his candidates.

Gabr sat by himself, as Pyra walked up behind him.

“Who got the better of you?” Pyra asked, curious.

“Cryo.” Gabr scoffed.

“You fought Cryo and walked away? Impressive. My father spoke of how Cryo was the best fighter of the Cold family in generations.” Pyra laughed.

“You came with that Zenkon kid didn’t you?” Gabr asked.

“Yeah. I overheard him mumbling in his sleep one night about Darwin. It’s the only reason I asked to travel with him. I wanted to learn more about Darwin.” Pyra noted.

“I don’t understand your obsession with that psychopath.” Gabr scoffed.

“Darwin is insane, yes, but he isn’t crazy for crazies sake. I’ve fought him on three different occasions, beat him once, with the help of my brother Inferno. He tries to feign insanity to make his opponents raise or lower their guard, and then plays on that. Darwin is far more ruthless and calculating than he lets on. When he isn’t calculating, he is cruel. I just want to see his kind exterminated from the galaxy.” Pyra noted.

“You and me both.” Gabr nodded.

Paul walked over to Crimson, tapping him on the shoulder. “Hey.”

“Yeah?” Crimson turned to Paul.

“You’re sulking again.” Paul scratched his nose.

“I am not.” Crimson scoffed defensively.

“You are too. You are good at the whole brooding thing.” Paul laughed, moving to the side.

“You seem strangely desensitized to this kind of violence Paul.” Crimson asked.

“I saw a lot of things in my five years with Berta. Every day was a warzone. This is just like one of those days, but on a larger scale.” Paul commented, staring at the explosions in the atmosphere. Smoke had clouded a lot of the atmosphere.

“It looks a lot different on TV.” Crimson commented.

“Yeah. When we sat down to watch Space Suit, they never included the gut wrenching screams of the dying, the panicked cries of people in doomed ships, that kind of stuff.” Paul looked at the ground.

“And you say I’m good at brooding.” Crimson chuckled. Both of them shared a laugh as their eyes turned nervously to Sobriums castle in the distance. Everyone had gathered at this point, and now it was just up to the Namekians to heal all the wounded, and restore everyone’s energy.

Bolt stood away from the group, and a freshly healed Syn walked up to him.

“What do you want?” Bolt grumbled.

“Defensive?” Syn questioned.

“I am around racists.” Bolt scoffed.

“This is why I can’t like most of you Namekians. You are always on about honor, and have those serious expressions. You never lighten up. On top of that-” Syn began to talk about the many reasons he disliked Namekians, but Bolt tuned him out. Double stood up, moving over to Quad, and sitting down next to him.

“You seem distraught. You shouldn’t have doubts clouding your thoughts, not now.” Double counseled.

“I don’t want to talk about it.” Quad sighed.

“Not really a better time to do it. We may not have a chance for another conversation like this.” Double patted his back softly.

“A conversation in a warzone where the numerous distant explosions make us have to yell to hear one another?” Quad chuckled.

“There you are.” Double slapped Quads back. “You just need to lighten up.” Quad perked up, looking at Double, but his face wasn’t full of confidence. He couldn’t exactly be a pillar if he had no confidence himself. They group was lucky they all got through the Titans alive. It was completely miraculous, but miracles won’t save them from Darwin, or Aohi. Kuele fell to one knee, drawing the attention of the entire group.

“Kuele!” Dayereh called out. Kuele raised a hand to stop Dayereh from getting too close.

“Refilling everyone’s energy is incredibly taxing. I am fine.” Kuele assured him. Kuele stumbled to his feet, leaning on Bolt as he came over to help him.

“That should be everybody.” Dayereh announced. Everyone was incredibly grateful to have the Namekians around, even Syn. Jason helped Dayereh over to a small stump, allowing him to take his seat.

“Thank you, Jason.” Dayereh smiled.

“It’s nothing.” Jason laughed a bit. “I owe you more than a chair. I am pretty sure this is three times now that you’ve had to heal me.”

“Four.” Dayereh reminded him flatly.

“Four? There was the time in the mines, once at Willowpeak, and now.” Jason scratched his head.

“When you and Cabba were in a relationship.” Dayereh blinked. “And you ended it.”

“What? I just went to bed and woke up the next day.” Jason answered angrily.

“After she knocked you out as soon as you turned your back.” Dayereh stated. “I know you were just kids pretending to be adults for the most part, but you really did care about her, huh?” Jason seemed to stiffen at the question.

“I did care about Cabba at one point. As her strength grew so did her arrogance. She let Ghost worm his way into her head. At the end I barely recognized her.” Jason slumped.

“No one ever truly asked you how you felt, did they? Did anyone else even know?” Dayereh asked.

“Paul and Bryce knew for the most part. Paul promised to keep it a secret, and Bryce said if we didn’t kiss he wouldn’t acknowledge it. And we didn’t.” Jason chuckled a bit. “I know she was going to kill us all, but when she took Paul from us, I just wanted to make her feel the same way and take Bryce from her. Instead I took her life and turned Bryce into a killer worse than her.” Jason sighed, standing up.

“That’s because you act, you don’t think. You react to whatever’s in front of you and push it out of your way because you are frustrated. When you can’t push it out of your way, you get even more frustrated. Your built up anger will get you killed if you try to unleash it all on Ghost. I sensed his power once. His real power. The man’s stronger than what we’ve seen of Pyra by a large margin at Super Saiyan.”

“We have Ryal, as much as I hate to admit it, he’s a far smarter fighter than me, almost as strong as well. I’ll do my best to listen to what he, Derek, and Malkor come up with.” Jason nodded.

“I expected you to get angry about me lecturing you.” Dayereh chuckled, surprised.

“I’ve been lectured about my anger from pretty much everyone in this group. You’re just one of the only ones to say it could get ‘me’ killed. The pirates, the X-Force, Pyra, that chick with Paul, they were just worried about my tantrums ending up getting ‘them’ killed.” Jason admitted sadly.

A loud metal creak broke the silence, and the group turned their heads to the sky. A giant transport ship came barrelling to the ground. One of Sobriums. Followed immediately after, an ORBL ship, the same one that had chased Derek, Judes, and JayJay out of the pirate outpost.

“The wars moving to the ground!” Double yelled, everyone scrambling into their groups. They all stared at one another.

“Dayereh is in no condition to fight.” Kuele noted. Dayereh stood up slowly to protest, only to have his legs knocked out from under him by Bolt, forcing him to sit back down.

“Dayereh, stay here, come find us when you are recovered!” Kuele yelled.

“Aohi brought a lot of men!” Trips shouted.

“More ships are coming to the ground!” Judes pointed, a Heat transport ship plummeting from orbit, landing hard against the ground.

“You guys sense that?” Ryal asked. Malkor, Derek and the others in the group tensed. Ghost had just touched down on the planet, and he wasn’t hiding his presence.

“I can sense my dad.” Ichirou noted.

“There you are.” Pyra grimaced as he felt Darwin’s power level rise towards Sobriums castle.

Just before the group could truly say goodbye to one another, another ship came from the sky, another one of Sobriums, crashing on top of the group. They all split, Gabr leaping with the X-Force.

“Gabr, go with Crimson, they lost Dayereh!” Double shouted

“No time, that ship is going to pour out tens of thousands of soldiers any second now! My path back is cut off!” Gabr shouted. Judes and JayJay left with the X-Force, planning to hold off Aohi’s troops to allow them to battle Aohi. Kuele and Bolt took with Ghost’s group, to take care of his soldiers and hold off any Sobrium troops whom attack from the rear. Crimson was heading towards Darwin and Sobrium, unbeknownst to him, completely alone. Pyra had his hands tied with the foot soldiers that poured out of the ship closest to him. He wasn’t sure how far the group was and he couldn’t risk making a huge explosion to give his position away to Darwin. The groups fragmented, in a panicked rush, heading towards their final battles.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Trips flew right next to Ichirou, staring at him cautiously. Double seemed to pick up on this, flying over to Trips. Ichirou felt all of their stares but he didn’t say anything, and he forced himself to stare forward. He knew what they were all thinking: If it came down to it, would he pick his dad, or the X-Force? Truth be told Ichirou didn’t have that many memories of Aohi. He showed up one day, after having walked out on Ichirou’s mother. He never really treated Ichirou like a son, more like a friend. Before Aohi left the X-Force however, he had become extremely cocky. His bravado and ego were overflowing to the point it was unbearable to be around him. He knew he wasn’t the only one who was being questioned by the rest of the group. Taking out Aohi to weaken the ORBL and stop their plan for Saiyans sounded good on paper. However, the thought of fighting someone they used to drink, spar, and eat with didn’t sit right with any of them.

Trips looked over to the others, watching the forest past below them as they all flew towards Aohi’s ship. “Don’t take your eyes off the path ahead.” Double shouted to Trips. Trips snapped back to reality just as his mind began to start wandering. He looked forward at the ship ahead. A Sobrium cruiser landed near them, hundreds soldiers pouring out of the bays. A few fighters ships launched as well, flying off in several directions to reinforce separate areas of the planet. A few of them were blasted out of the sky by the cannons on Aohi’s ship, their metal carcasses scattering across the ground. Judes and JayJay sped up, standing in front of the group. They both stared forward as Aohi’s humongous force poured atop Sobriums men, ki blasts erupting everywhere as the small battle began.

“We’ll keep that from spreading over here!” Judes shouted to the X-Force.

“Time to nab us a nice and juicy ship!” JayJay laughed as the two flew off towards the group, joining in on the fray.

“That buys us some time!” Quad shouted, his voice nearly drowned out by the constant ringing of explosions. Gabr raised a finger, pointing to a single direction, and the group silently confirmed what he was pointing to. Aohi was flying on an angle towards a downed Heat cruiser, no doubt charged with keeping the Heats busy whilst Ghost took care of the big fish. The entire X-Force slammed to catch up with Aohi, except for Quad, whom needed more time to use his multiplication technique. As he came into view, they spotted Aohi’s small personal guard. His students and his elite soldiers. They would no doubt make the fight more complicated. None of them were strong enough to fight Aohi on their own. A series of one on one fights would lead to their quick defeat.

“Stick together until Quad can reinforce us!” Double shouted. Syn and Ichirou flew out in unison, immediately drawing the attention of Aohi’s personal guard. Two Saiyan men ascended to a Super Saiyan state, lunging at the vanguard. Ichirou’s near death experience had strengthened him several times over. As he ascended to Super Saiyan, even he was a little surprised at his own power. He put his hellish training from the last five years to use, slamming a hard right hook into the skull of the man who aimed to take him head on. The Saiyan spiraled into the ground, coughing as he bounced off the ground.

Syn took his opponent head on as well. At the last second before the man was going to connect his fist with Syns head, Syn shot a tiny blast below him, towards the man Ichirou had just knocked down, and propelled himself above his charging opponent. The man had already swung, leaving himself wide open as Syn dropped his elbow into the man’s spine, sending him propelling into the ki blast he had just launched. The blast exploded on both of the Super Saiyans, wounding them enough to allow the X-Force to regroup and move past.

Aohi wasn’t entirely caught off guard, as his remaining four guard had already sped towards the group, Aohi crossed his arm, keeping a careful eye on his surroundings. All of his guards were in a Super Saiyan state, but Aohi simply sat in his normal form, waiting, as he stared passively at the group. Double created his perfect copy, having it attack one of the guards in front of him. Double wasted no time, and just as Ichirou had, ascended to the Super Saiyan state. Gabr leapt forward to kick one of Aohi’s guards in the head. The man reeled off, flying into the distance. The man had been inches from the back of Syns head. The two guards whom Syn blasted earlier got up and pursued the X-Force.

Double’s real body turned, slamming a fist straight through one of the guards as he left himself wide open in his approach. It was obvious he was one of the students. Double dropped him quickly, turning to see a flash of a golden aura as one of the guards missed him by inches. Double felt the hairs on his head get cut as the man’s fist passed him by. Double slammed a knee upwards. The man was quick to retract his punch and push his other hand down to catch Doubles knee and cushion the blow to his sternum. He countered by flying upwards, pulling the knee with him. Double floated at an awkward angle, and the last free guard approached from behind to deliver a heavy blow to Doubles spine. None of the others had noticed, as Syn and Gabr were focused on the guard Gabr had kicked, Trips was keeping an eye on Aohi for the group, and Ichirou and Double’s double had their hands full with guards.

All four of the Quad’s arrived just in time to block the man by catching his fist. The group breathed a sigh of relief as Quad gave a thumbs up with each of his clones. He pulled the man’s fist back, whist one of his clones plunged a fist into his chest, his golden hair immediately dropping back to the dark black most Saiyans had. He dropped the man, and the four remaining guards flew up, surrounding the X-Force.

Aohi clapped his hands together. The force from the clap caused the trees below them to buckled and fall over, the leaves on the farther out trees blowing clean off. Everyone turned to face him.

“That’s enough of that. You guys get Gangal and Radis back to the ship immediately. I can handle the traitors. After that, go ahead of me to take care of the mission.” Aohi commanded.

“Sir-” One of the Saiyans began, a concerned tone showing.

“Don’t. I’ll be fine, now save the others before it’s too late.” Aohi sighed, putting his hands on his hips as he dropped to the clearing he had just made. The guards rushed their friends off. Syn went to stop them, but Ichirou grabbed his wrist. Syn turned angrily, but Ichirou just shook his head.

“So, two of four got Super Saiyan.” Aohi commented. Quad’s temper flared, his entire body tensing with a silent anger. He remembered the cave, and he gently calmed himself. He wouldn’t let Aohi provoke him into attacking.

“We’re done with the ORBL’s lies.” Double shouted at Aohi.

“Which ones?” Aohi asked, cleaning his ears out as he stared on uncaringly.

“All of them.” Double clenched his fist. His golden aura spiked as Ichirou stood next to him. Aohi chuckled, staring them down.

“Not a very specific reason to throw your lives away.” Aohi smiled. “What in the world will I put on your tombstones?”

“Stop being clever Aohi, this is serious.” Gabr shouted.

“I’m always clever.” Aohi yawned.

“How can you follow Orion? You know all he wants to do is make a Saiyan-dominant Galaxy.” Double scoffed.

“And? What’s the problem with that?” Aohi asked.

“If you have to ask that question, then you are the problem.” Double’s gaze lowered. The others in the group nervously exchanged glances. Aohi stared at the group with a careful glance. He knew he was stronger than them, even if they trained non-stop. They would definitely rely on team tactics to take him out. Double’s Ki Property of Perfect Copy made things incredibly difficult. With Quads clones, he could usually tell which one was real, as the split of power wasn’t entirely perfect. With Double’s, on the other hand, it’s like he adds a second him to a fight, at full power and everything. The clones only distinguishing feature is that it cannot talk much. Double will need to be vocal in this fight, which can open up Aohi’s opportunity to take him out without second guessing himself.

Gabr leapt forward with Doubles clone, almost in perfect unison. Aohi was surprised at their speed, ascending to Super Saiyan to leap over Double, and slamming an arm forward to parry Gabr’s punch. He then twisted his legs in order to grab onto the clones neck. Ichirou’s follow up hook caused him to cancel his attack, spinning off to avoid them all, landing with a slight slide.

“Don’t think I’ll go easy on you just because you’re my son.” Aohi stared Ichirou down with such a cold glare that Ichirou’s spine chilled. Aohi’s expression changed to a curious one as he pointed to Gabr’s horns. “Missing something?” Gabr didn’t answer him, the group slowly circling him as he looked about curiously. “If you guys aren’t going to talk to me, I might as well just make this quick.

Aohi launched forward, Gabr barely turning to see him slam the clone back a few hundred feet. Gabr raised his arms to block Aohi’s follow up punch. He too went flying back. All four of Quads clones attacked. Aohi weaved around each kick and punch of Quads, the speed incredibly sluggish in his eyes. Quad couldn’t manage to hit Aohi as he effortlessly avoided nearly every blow.

“Now!” Quad shouted. Aohi’s eyes shot to the sky, where Double and Syn shot a combined ki blast at him. He slammed one arm upwards to block, leaving himself open to punches from each side. All four of Quads clones connected their next hit as Aohi was distracted. Aohi didn’t take much damage from the direct hits, but it was clear he was growing frustrated. He slammed his arm upwards, throwing the ki blast back where it came from. Double and Syn had long since moved out of the way.

Aohi spun, a complete circle sweeping kick that knocked over every single Quad. He leapt up into the air, shooting a ki blast down to try and erase them all. Ichirou leapt in the way of the blast, digging his hands into it, splitting it and sending it off into the distance. Aohi maneuvered to Ichirou’s side, aiming a hard jab to his ribs. Syn flew up, a blast in hand. Aohi underestimated Syn, trying to power through the humans attack to hit both of them. Syn’s ki blast erupted in a fiery explosion as Aohi poked it. Ichirou lifted his head to see Syn standing in front of him. Syn had pushed the both of them out of the blast radius in one quick movement.

“Have you gotten smarter?” Ichirou joked.

“No, have you gotten dumber?” Syn jabbed at him with a careless smile. “I doubt it did much, get up.” Syn turned to go before bumping into Aohi, who wiped some blood from his lip with his thumb.

“Correct you are Syn. Here’s your prize.” Aohi said coldly as he thrust a punch into Syns gut. Quad’s clones came from behind, hoping to force him to back off of the hit. Aohi made a half turn, pivoting, he dug his fist into Syns gut, and quickly pushed him off towards the real Quad. One of the Quads clones leapt in the way to catch Syn as he flew towards the real Quad. This was a distraction to make one of the clones pass as the real Quad. Aohi quickly turned as Trips slammed a punch into his stomach, though not incredibly damaging, Aohi didn’t even have time to counter before Trips was gone.

Ignoring Trips for a moment, Aohi searched for Double with a quick glance. Ichirou snapped forward in this moment, aiming an uppercut towards his father. Aohi caught Ichirou’s hand, twisting it at the wrist and sending him flying over himself, trying to keep everyone in the group on one side of him. Gabr sat with Double in the brush, helping him with a few basic preparations for their next attack.

Doubles clone was charging a powerful ki blast for Double, and Gabr was lending some of his energy to it. It would take time, but Double knew he could rely on the others to keep Aohi busy. Trips rounded back, lunging back for another quick strike at Aohi. Aohi barely raised an arm to block a blow to the face. He was concerned, Trips’s race was one that got faster as they grew older. Without even learning ki, some of their elders could match the speed of super saiyans.

Quad’s clones leapt at Aohi, two from above, two from both his left and right. All their attacks were rather basic, and Aohi again underestimated the teamwork of the X-Force. Assuming it to be a simple attempt to damage him, Aohi caught the incoming attackers with a quick succession of jabs, finishing the last one with a snap kick. Ichirou and Syn leapt in whilst Aohi countered Quad, aiming at the back of his only leg on the ground. The combined effort snapped his knee outward, forcing him to fall onto his knees. Aohi propped himself up on one hand as he fell, falling into a roll and firing three weak blasts of ki behind himself to hold the attackers at bay. As he gained distance, Trips struck him with a kick.

Frustrated, Aohi leapt to his feet, weaving around Syns incoming back kick. As he went to grapple Syn, Ichirou fired a blast at him. He swatted it away, as he would a pest. Quad followed up with a series of punches and kicks with his clones. Aohi, taking the assault seriously this time, put his foot down, spun on heel, and pushed his body weight into one of the Quads. The Quad fell down, dissipating from the extensive damage. Aohi leapt forward after this, a haymaker aimed at another one of the Quads, the one that had helped Syn earlier. Quad focused, forcing this clone to stay active a little while longer after Aohi had struck it. Aohi pursued the clone as it flew back, aiming a palm strike into its sternum. Quads other clone leapt onto Aohi, but he spotted it out of the corner of his eye, wrapping one of his legs around its neck as he flew the lower half of his body into the air, he crushed its neck.

The real Quad leapt forward, expecting Aohi to treat him like a clone and aim for a simple finisher. Aohi was insanely fast, and brought his legs from the now disappeared clone in a swift motion to hit Quad with the heel of his boot. Quad ducked before Aohi even moved, predicting such a basic action, he grappled Aohi’s waist, pushing him back as his last clone evaporated. He threw Aohi back as he tried to escape the grapple, aiming to slam him into the ground with suplex. Aohi pressed his feet against Quads chest, aiming to sit up and push off to break his grapple.

In this short time Trips managed to turn around, coming back to strike Aohi in the gut as he bent forward, causing him to instinctively clench his abdomen, which locked him in place a moment, allowing Quad to finish the supplex. While it didn’t do much damage, it left Aohi in an awkward position. Syn slammed forward, firing a ki blast at Aohi. Aohi grit his teeth, taking the blast to the face. He screamed, his aura flaring intensely as the very katchin below him began to crater from the sheer force. Quad and Syn were sent flying back. Ichirou and Trips shielded their eyes as rubble flew towards them, pausing their attacks.

Aohi took a deep breath, staring around as he began adjusting to the combo attacks the X-Force were doing. The fact Double and Gabr were missing concerned him, but he was too busy with the others. He didn’t want to waste too much of his energy in case another powerful opponent or group showed up after the X-Force. Trips pressed forward, aiming a strike to Aohi’s leg this time. Aohi had been timing Trips, and he fell back a few steps to avoid Trips as he came zooming past. Ichirou charged a larger, more powerful blast, sending it towards Aohi. He bounced the blast off his fist, sending it towards Syn.

Syn narrowly avoided his head being taken off by the blow. He screamed out as it scorched his arm. He fell to the ground, gripping the burned flesh. Aohi dashed after him as he lay on the ground. Quad made a break for Aohi, but Aohi had planned for this. Turning immediately, he picked Quad up, firing a blast point blank into his face. Quad screamed as he was thrown back, the skin on the right side of his face steaming as it bubbled and dried, like a strip of fat on a frying pan.

With Quad down, Ichirou set into motion to distract his father. He lunged off of one foot, raising a knee to strike Aohi in the back. Aohi stumbled a few steps as the blow connected. If he was hurt by the hit, he wasn’t showing it. Aohi swung backwards, aiming to strike Ichirou with a backhand. Ichirou was able to narrowly avoid thanks to the speed provided by his Super Saiyan. Aohi had secretly launched his foot back, kicking Ichirou at his kneecap, causing his knees to buckle, and Ichirou to fall forward. Aohi spun, catching Ichirou by the throat. He choked his son, lifting him into the air with one hand. Ichirou struggled, trying to wrench Aohi’s hand from his throat.

“You’re no son of mine if this is how you end.” Aohi scoffed. Ichirou began slamming his fist down, trying to break Aohi’s grasp on his throat, but it only tightened as he struggled. “Training and sparring with your Super Saiyan form is a waste of time, you should focus on getting better without relying it. I guess I should blame myself really, letting Ghost’s son teach you. Man has more kids than I have crew on my destroyer, and he doesn’t take time to properly instruct each of them on the Super Saiyan form.” Aohi spoke, as Ichirou began to cough, his struggling growing slower.

Trips dove into the fray, slamming a jumping side kick towards Aohi. Aohi caught Trips foot, letting it connect so he may find his position, and held it firmly under his armpit. Trips tried to rip his foot free, but Aohi was too strong. He began crushing down on his ankle, and Trips immediately shot several ki attacks into his back in a small barrage. Aohi released him in an instant, dropping ichirou so he may have both his hands to guard. Ichirou slammed into the ground, coughing hard.

Trips bounded past Aohi, picking up Ichirou and rushing him off to safety. Trips dropped down to a runner’s stance, slamming forward as fast as he possibly could. Aohi watched his surroundings, noticing the speed blurs that were Trips. He reached out to grab one, but Trips managed to dodge, slapping his hand. Aohi retracted his hand, clenching it into a fist. He carefully watched Trips, wondering how he could get past him. As Trips ran in a triangle formation around Aohi, the speed blur made it look as though there were three of him. Aohi watched each one carefully, but they were so incredibly fast that the moment they attacked him, they were already back in place in the formation before Aohi could counter.

Aohi began to adjust to Trips’s speed. As one of Trips speed mirages bounded towards him, Aohi slammed a fist out in preparation, but it disappeared in an afterimage. He felt Trips connect a kick to the back of his head, and he groaned in frustration. He leapt at the outer edge, attempting to break out, but Trips only barraged him with several attacks, making it clear to Aohi that brute strength wasn’t going to help him. He couldn’t let Trips proceed like this or he would only gain speed and momentum as the fight dragged on. Aohi flew into the air, but Trips flew up as well, his Triangle formation remaining steady.

Aohi cut to a sudden stop, aiming to dip down and outside the triangle before Trips could properly adjust to the change of direction. Trips was smart however, and had been following a bit slowly in case Aohi tried such a thing. As Aohi rushed the outside, he felt three punches connect with his jaw in a few short seconds. As a fourth came in, Aohi managed to finally grab Trips by the elbow as he ran past. Trips let out a cry as he was grabbed. Aohi threw him to the ground, following with a quick stomp.

“Go!” Double shouted. “I got the rest!” Gabr wasted no time arguing. He ascended quickly to his final form, lunging out only moments before Aohi would have painted the ground with Trips’s skull. He connected a quick blow to Aohi’s skull. Aohi spun with the attack, bringing a chop kick to Gabrs back, causing him to stumble forward, before following up with a reverse roundhouse kick to send him sprawling back the direction in which he came. Gabr managed to raise both his arms to guard his head, but he still fell backwards. Aohi aimed to kick him as he fell, but Gabr caught himself on his tail, propelling himself into the air using it.

Aohi groaned as he missed, aiming into the air and firing a ki wave up towards Gabr. Gabr caught it, shoving it back where it came with a surprising amount of strength. Gabr was incredibly grateful to the Namekians for restoring his stamina. He dropped down through the attack, pushing his own ki wave against it. Aohi squatted down, bracing himself against the ground as the attack began to pressure him. He felt sweat bead down his forehead as he struggled to hold Gabr back.

Gabr blitzed to the side, throwing a punch to his ribs. Aohi tensed, falling to the side as the blow connected. He took a single step forward to catch himself, trusting a jab to his left to strike Gabr. The blow hit Gabr hard, right under his ribs. He fell back, hacking and coughing. Syn stared stunned at how equally matched the two were.

Gabr slammed a fist upward, hitting Aohi square in the jaw. As Aohi flew up, he stopped himself with his ki, slamming two hammer-like fists down to hit Gabr square in the head. Gabr raised both hands to catch Aohi’s fists, the Katchin underfoot cracking from the pressure. Aohi reared back, striking Gabrs guard a few more times. Unable to break it, he resorted to firing a ki blast under it to blind Gabr. Gabr dropped one arm to block the hit and save himself from the blinding. Aohi spun up, dropping an ax kick from above onto Gabr’s single arm. The blow broke through, connecting square into Gabrs head as he went slamming into the ground.

Gabr almost immediately recovered, putting his arms in front of him to catch himself, his nose touching the cold Katchin ground. He pushed upwards, throwing off Aohi’s footing. Aohi stumbled a few steps, and Gabr reached out, grabbing him and pulling him in for a clean gut shot. Aohi coughed, spitting up some blood as he went flying back. Gabr gently brought his arm back to his side. Syn stood up, his pain having subsided, he shook the arm. It hurt incredibly badly, but he could still use it to it’s full extent, it would just be excruciatingly painful to do so.

Ichirou had caught his breath, rubbing his throat as he helped Trips up. The three rushed over to Quad. He was in a very bad shape, the right side of his face completely burnt. His eye seemed to have been lucky enough to be spared the burning. They wouldn’t ask him to fight for now, he had done enough for the group.

They all leaned down, checking on him as best as they could. None of them were doctors, but they knew Quad’s wounds were not pretty. He would most likely be scarred for life, even if the Namekians managed to heal him. “I’m sorry guys.” Quad cried.

“Nonsense, you did great, get your beauty sleep!” Ichirou shouted, turning to face Gabr. Aohi pounced onto Gabr from where he was hit towards, having almost immediately recovered. He maneuvered around Gabr, trying to grab his neck. Gabr was able to stop his arms before they locked around his throat, but he was having trouble overpowering Aohi. He took a few deep breaths, before charging ki into his tail. Aohi turned around to see the ki ball Gabr had charged with his tail all too late. It bashed into his back, exploding on contact. Aohi went stumbling into a small clearing as Gabr broke off from him. Gabr looked towards where Double was, wondering just how much time he needed.

“Where is he?” Syn whispered to Gabr.

“Preparing an attack with his clone. Double the charge speed, half the energy consumption.” Gabr whispered, eyeing Aohi as he brushed himself off. Trips, having overheard the whispering, nodded. Trips had practiced this combo with Double several times in the past. He sprinted forward, running in a circle around Aohi until he began whipping up a windforce too difficult to move through. Aohi sighed, cocking his arm back before he felt an energy signature from directly above him. He tilted his head up to see Double, sitting directly above him. Double’s clone passed him the energy ball it had gathered, and Double held it as his clone dissipated. Double crossed his arms, like a X, holding them out in front of him, a ki ball in the palm of each hand, glowing vibrantly. They radiated with enough energy to obliterate several planets into nothing more than dust.

“X!” Double shouted, raising the crossed arms above his head. “Y!” He continued, before slashing both arms out, releasing the two ki balls towards Aohi. “Z!” The balls grew in size, blending in with the wind force that Trips had caused. The energy began tearing into Aohi, and he screamed out in agony as he was struck by the immense energy. He tried to hold firm, but he succumbed to the blasts immense power. The whirlwind stopped, and dust shrouded the entire area.

Ichirou and Syn fell back, taking deep breaths, holding their wounded areas. Gabr dropped from his final form, leaning on his knees to catch a quick breath. Quad got up finally, limping over to the group, gingerly touching his burnt skin. Double landed by the group, relaxing against a tree. They all laughed softly.

“That was probably the toughest battle I’ve ever been in.” Double commented to the group. They all took relief in knowing it was over. “Hey Trips, come on and take a breather with us.” He called to the dust. There was no reply. “Trips?” Double asked again. He stood up, wandering into the dust, expecting to see Trips collapsed.

Double wandered the dust, laughing a bit to himself. “Sorry I made you work so hard buddy. You always get the tough job, ey? Don’t tell me you passed out on me again. I know that was a lot of energy to divert, but come on. Hey. Say something Trips! You are concerning me.” Double frowned. “I hope I didn’t hit you with that attack.” Double said, pressing further into the dust, walking at a slow pace, afraid of what he would find.

Aohi slapped away all the dust in the area, revealing his body, bruised and bleeding, the gi on his upper torso torn to shreds. In his hand, he held Trips by the throat. Trips squirmed, before a sickening crunch filled the air. The entire X-Force stared in horror as Aohi’s eyes slowly drifted to them, his golden aura flaring as he tore Trips’s head from his body, throwing it at Double’s feet. Double stared at his long time partner and friend, his lifeless eyes staring back up at him. His teeth chattered as he felt an overwhelming sense of dread, guilt and rage, all mixed into one. He stared up at Aohi, his eyes hiding an immense hatred.

“One down.” Aohi Smiled.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Crimson flew straight for the castle. Though he didn’t want to admit it, he wasn’t entirely confident he could beat Sobrium. Even worse, this lack of confidence would make using Angel Form far more dangerous for him. A soldier popped from the brushed, aiming to slam a knee into Crimsons side as he flew, with the intention of cutting Crimson off. Crimson pressed a hand against the dirt to slow himself just enough for the knee to miss. It never occurred to Crimson that Sobrium was most likely pooling most of his forces to protect him at his castle. He snapped a palm forward, sending the man in front of him flying into a nearby tree. He held back enough that the initial impact wouldn’t break anything. However, he had to take a step back to prepare for the larger forces ahead. He turned around and suddenly realized both Dayereh and Pyra were nowhere to be seen. His heart skipped a beat as a Heat Cruiser came crashing straight towards him.

Intending to use this to his advantage, Crimson took a deep breath, crossing his legs and meditating. He needed one minute to summon at least twenty percent of the Angel Forms power. It would take more time if he was distracted. The ship kept coming towards him, but he didn’t so much as open his eyes. He clapped his hands together and just kept focusing on summoning energy from the emotion of righteousness. He had to feel like what he was doing was right, and the more power he summoned, the more unforgiving the punishment for emotional changes in the form. There could be no doubt in his mind. It took him months to even get the confidence to believe anything he did was right. The ship’s nose was only a few meters from Crimson’s face when he managed to summon the power. His aura flared, a pure white. He pushed off the ground, catching the nose of the ship. He felt the several thousand tons of metal press into his abdomen, but he clutched the ship tightly. It pushed him back, but he significantly lessened the impact the ship would have taken from landing. He slammed into the ground, his feet catching and holding up the ship, with thousands of soldiers inside. He set the nose down, flying over to catch the body as it collapsed to the ground and help it’s fall become more gentle.

He panted, backing up from the doors. Soldiers peered out the sides of the ship, and a man in a battle suit, adorned with medals, hopped off the ship. He was obviously a high ranking official in the Heat army. “Thank you.” He bowed his head sincerely. “Where is Prince Pyra?”

“I lost him while I was on my way here. Our plan is to storm Sobriums castle but I can’t do it on my own and I don’t know what is holding Pyra or how long he will be there.” Crimson answered, speaking with respect. The man looked to the sword on Crimson’s back and his long coat.

“You aren’t one of ours. It doesn’t matter, though. I owe you for saving the lives of my men and assisting us in the mission. Please excuse us. We will storm the castle.” The officer took a breath, as if preparing himself for the bloodshed ahead. Crimson didn’t doubt he was an experienced commander. He lead his troops, giving out a rallying cry as they all flew towards the castle. Crimson smiled, letting them go, he sat down to catch his breath for a moment, as well as prepare for using forty percent of the Angel Form. Darwin may even be stronger than forty percent. He would need seven minutes and thirty seconds to gather the energy for forty percent. He had improved a bit at getting twenty percent, or maybe it was simply because all those people were in danger just a few minutes ago, but he had chipped off seven seconds from his total.

As he meditated there was a humongous surge of power from towards Sobriums castle. Crimson cut himself off midway, standing up as his heart pounded. He flew forward, preparing himself for what he would find. He stopped halfway, as he saw a large chunk of the forest in front of the castle had been cleared away by some sort of ki explosion. He dropped into the crater, looking at hundreds of bodies, piled inside. Some were burned beyond recognition, others looked as though they may be alive still. Crimson walked through the field of corpses, staring at all of them that he passed as he made his way to the center, where the largest pile was. He expected at least one of them to cough, or call out for help, but it was silent. The dust had already settled, and not a thing made a sound. Even distant explosions seemed almost mute in this crater. Crimson stared at the center pile, a grotesque mound of bodies, he traced it to the top with his eyes and he saw him.

Darwin whistled, holding the Heat Officer by the skull. The man was bleeding heavily, but somehow managed to survive Darwin’s attack. Darwin looked over the corpse field a bit as he turned to the Heat Officer.

“You know, I always thought the entryway to the castle could use more deterrents. I insisted Sobrium allow me to mount heads on pikes like they used to do in the old days, but he refused me. But this, I think this is much more effective. I just gotta shift the bodies around a bit, make a nice path to the castle and boom, no one will have the balls to-” Darwin stopped midway as the man punched him in the head furiously. There were tears in his eyes, tears for his men, tears of guilt for getting them all killed. He charged a ki blast, aiming to fire it point blank into Darwin’s face. Darwin took the blast, his head moving only a slight bit.

“You angry that I killed all your men? Or are you angry you got them all killed?” Darwin asked, a smile spreading from ear to ear. The man looked at Darwin with hate in his eyes, trying to hit him again, but Darwin used his free hand to grab the Officer’s outstretched arm, then slammed him into the pile of corpses. The man screamed in pain and anger. Darwin took the helmets off the corpses in front of the man as he kept him pinned down. The officer screamed in guilt and anger, but Darwin simply cleaned something out of his ear.

“This isn’t as fun as I thought it would be. Damn it, now I need something else to do.” Darwin sighed, shoving the man into the bodies. The mound began to part way as Darwin pushed the man into the bodies. The Officer struggled, but Darwin shoved him all the way to the bottom. He was so wounded that he could only claw at Darwin’s arm as Darwin buried him alive in the corpses of his own men. Darwin pushed some corpses over the top of the man, wiping his hands off on his pants with a “Blech”, before sticking a finger in his mouth and tasting it.

Darwin sighed, turning to face the general battlefield before he stopped dead. He pulled the finger from him, wiping his lip a bit. “So hey.” He looked to Crimson, whom was gently holding the Officer he pulled from the pile. “I am crazy, but am I crazy enough to see dead people?” He asked aloud, pointing at Crimson. The Officer gently looked up at Crimson, tears in his eyes as he passed soon after. Crimson set his body to the side gently.

“Wow. I really can’t believe it. Thought I did you in for good.” Darwin scratched the back of his head. “This is a bit awkward now.” Crimson didn’t respond at all, simply staring at Darwin as he slid down the mound of corpses. “Ooh. I get it. You think you’re on some sort of destiny trip is that it? Fate decided you get to live to come and take me on another day?” Darwin guessed, walking forward making large hand motions as he spoke.

“No. Not fate. Just luck.” Crimson answered as Darwin got eerily close to him. Crimson saw in Darwin’s eyes the months he spent being tortured by the man. Losing fingers, having hair pulled out, skin peeled off with his own toenails, terrible things Darwin was allowed to do due to the healing liquids. There were too many people Darwin had hurt, and Crimson knew if he didn’t stop Darwin here, he would mess up the rest of the battles on the planet.

“I wonder what thoughts are going through that head of yours.” Darwin commented as he stared into Crimson’s eyes. “Let me take a peek into that skull.” Darwin snapped an arm out to grab Crimson, and Crimson instinctively backed up. Darwin had already stuck a foot out to catch his ankle as he backed up. Crimson tripped over it, falling on his backside. He stared up at Darwin, who yawned mockingly. Crimson gave him a glare that showed Darwin all of his thoughts. “Oh. You intend to beat me? To save people is that it? That little almighty glare of yours. You really are serious about fighting me, for the ‘greater good’?” Darwin scoffed, staring up at the sky and running a hand through his hair. Darwin paced a bit, as if he was a disappointed father.

“So what. You going to torture me again?” Crimson challenged him.

“Torture is…” Darwin began, pausing a bit to turn to Crimson. “Torture is ineffective. Sometimes, though rarely with me, it is even counterproductive. I however, do find it, incredibly cathartic.”

“Using big words now, Darwin?” Crimson spat.

“Ho-ho! So the you got some bark. Let’s see how good your bite is.” Darwin yelled, as his face switched from calm to psychotic in a mere second. He lunged at Crimson, aiming to sink his teeth into Crimson’s shoulder. Crimson rolled backwards, kicking off the ground to launch into the air. Darwin threw his arm forward, grabbing Crimson’s leg and throwing him towards the ground. Crimson barely reacted in time to register he had been grabbed before he hit the ground. As he bounced Darwin slammed both feet into his side, propelling him into the Katchin. Darwin sat back, waiting for Crimson to bounce up again before striking him once more. He essentially dribbled Crimson with his feet.

Crimson during this time ignored the pain so he could focus on gaining more power. He slammed his arms outward, half bent. The next time Darwin kicked him into the ground, he clutched it, reducing the bounce. Darwin dropped down, aiming to hit Crimson directly in the spine, but he was lucky enough to already be moving to the right by the time his bounce stopped. Darwin turned, doing a somersault in the air, and landing with both heels on Crimson. Crimson had managed to raise his arm to block. Darwin bent down on his feet, like a bird on a perch, and he spat in Crimson’s eyes. With a cackle he hopped off Crimson’s arm and shot a ki blast towards him.

Crimson jumped to his feet, aiming to smack the ki blast away, but to his surprise it was moving around rapidly, following the motion of Darwin spastically flailing his finger about. Crimson walked towards Darwin, not even paying attention to the movement of the sphere. Darwin laughed maniacally as Crimson walked forward. He slammed the ball towards him, drawing it in circles to cut off Crimson’s escape routes. Crimson sensed its next movement after several moments of intense focus, he reached out, grabbing the ball and stopping it.

“Nah ah ah.” Darwin’s smile turned to a hate filled glare. “No one gets to ruin my fun.” Darwin pulled, this time actually putting effort into the attack instead of toying with Crimson. He ripped the ball straight from Crimson’s grasp, burning his hands. Crimson grit his teeth, Darwin slamming back inward to slam a headbutt into his gut. Crimson coughed, falling backwards, and clutching his stomach. Darwin picked Crimson up by the hair, holding him tight by his hair strands. Crimson yelled in pain, trying to pull himself free, but Darwin was more serious now, and even Crimson’s strongest punch in his empowered state didn’t so much as budge Darwin.

“This is the part where you cry things like ‘Monster! Demon! Beast!’” Darwin chuckled. “It is sad to see you dumb yourself down to a poster boy for ‘justice’. You had so much more potential when we were working together.”

“You made me slaughter a village of people.” Crimson feigned falling for Darwin’s tricks. Secretly he was putting all his effort into getting to the next level of the Angel form. “Your own people! Supporters of your cause!”

“Oh come on, I was building you! Those people weren’t going to do much in the war anyway. Tell me, if you are a war commander, not even with ki, but before you knew ki was a thing. Would you sacrifice a few potential soldiers for a state of the art tank? Most of our soldiers have gross things to worry about like ‘family’ and ‘going home.’ I was going to turn your hate into a weapon, let you blow off some steam! However you just held onto it, those damn morals of yours. Maybe if I didn’t killed that mopey idiot you had with you, you might have been more willing to cooperate. And-” Darwin stopped speaking a moment as he chuckled. “You clever little bugger. You got me going on and on and I was so wrapped up in my own monologue that I didn’t notice that you stopped struggling.” Crimsons eyes were shut, and he had stopped struggling against Darwin hold.

Darwin dropped Crimson immediately, aiming to chop his neck from both sides with his hands. Suddenly, his jaw snapped back, and he stumbled a step. He grit his teeth, blinking, before turning to see Crimson. Crimson’s aura radiated much brighter than before. Darwin hadn’t noticed it before, but Crimson’s aura was a soft blue, and it had been for the entire time Darwin knew him. When he arrived, it was white, but not like others. When most people charged their aura was white because it was just trickling off bits of energy, with no real consistency. But when people raised energy quickly, the color was very visible. Color can change as people age depending on personality, but white wasn’t even an aura color people could attain. Darwin played more cautiously now, leaping over Crimson and aiming a swift jab towards his kidney.

Crimson spun on heel, snapping a punch towards Darwin’s jaw. Darwin caught the punch with his forearm, budging a bit from the hit. Crimsons gaze was far more calculating now. Darwin slammed a foot down, pressing off the ground. Spinning mid air, he brought his boot towards Crimson’s head. Crimson stepped back, letting Darwin fall to the ground. Darwin began smiling again. “Now, this? This is going to be a hell of a lot of fun.”

Darwin kicked it up a gear, snapping forward at higher speeds, Crimson parried his punch, then raised a knee to block a kick from below. Darwin weaved to the side, slapping Crimsons side with one arm. Crimson grit his teeth, stumbling to the side, but bringing a roundhouse kick around as he fell. Darwin narrowly avoided the blow, grabbing Crimson’s leg and throwing him into the air.

Darwin began charging a ki attack, readying to blast Crimson into bits with a maniacal laugh. Crimson regained himself midair. He put his hands above his head, charging a red ball of ki. To his surprise, Crimson Cannon began to change color slightly. The light the ball gave off was white, instead of Red now. A strange effect of going into forty percent of the full Angel form. Crimson shook his head, shouting out loud enough for Darwin to hear.

“Crimson!” He began, the ball growing slightly larger. Darwin was still preparing his own attack when he heard this, and smiled. He was going to overpower and crush Crimson in one blow, then drag him back to the castle so he may live out the rest of his days as a toy for Darwin. “Cannon!” Crimson continued preparing the attack. Lightning began to streak out of the attack as a result of how much effort he was putting into it. The lightning began shooting out more rapidly, arcing against anything nearby as Darwin clutched the ki ball in his hand tightly. He threw it upwards, hoping to catch Crimson off guard. Crimson reacted just in time, bringing his hands to his front and letting out a yell. “Fire!” He screamed at the top of his lungs. His cannon lunged forward, slamming into Darwin’s own attack. Darwin was yelling as well, though Crimson didn’t notice. Their attacks pushed against one another, creating a large ball in the center as Darwin’s began to overpower Crimsons own attack and push through.

Crimson took a deep breath, putting everything he had into overpowering Darwin in this clash. As he let out a final cry, he overpowered the ball and sent it hurtling towards the ground, a large explosion ringing out, katchin shards flying out. Crimson smiled a bit to see he made an attack that cracked Katchin. What Crimson forgot was that Darwin’s attack was a single ball, and that he didn’t need to constantly put energy into it, like Crimson’s wave required. As he panted, trying to catch his breath, Darwin floated by him on his left, like he was floating in a pool. He relaxed, yawning as he slowly glided past Crimson. Crimson turned to him, sweat beading from his forehead.

“Gross. You name your attacks?” Darwin laughed. “Like seriously, why does everyone do that? Is yelling angrily not enough? It’s all a bit narcissistic if you ask me.” Crimson didn’t even budge in his resolve. He was at a percentage he rarely ever ascended to, and any slip could lead to his death. He thought about nothing but bringing Darwin to justice, and even so he would feel little pokes of other emotions that caused poking stings around his body.

Switching tactics, Crimson raised his fingers to his forehead. Darwin raised a brow, and suddenly Crimson was gone from sight. Darwin felt a presence to his right, raising a fist to hit Crimson. Crimson was clocked, stumbling back Crimson held his nose. “Not the first time I’ve seen that trick.” Darwin looked towards Crimson with a maniacal grin. “Probably won’t be the last.” Crimson grit his teeth, trying again, but Darwin again raised a fist to perfectly block where Crimson would arrive. Crimson stumbled back a bit, not yet through trying, he made one more attempt, but did so halfway through a punch. Even then, Darwin perfectly predicted his next attack. Out of options, Crimson dropped trying to use Instant Transmission.

Crimson lunged, throwing a hard right at Darwin. Darwin kicked off the air, zooming towards the ground to avoid Crimson. Crimson did the same, following instantly. The two weaved between trees as Crimson pursued Darwin relentlessly. Darwin continued flying very casual like as he avoided Crimson’s blows. The two suddenly broke into a large clearing, where ki blasts flew back and forth everywhere. Darwin and Crimson both looked up, stopping their game of cat and mouse to leap over a few blasts heading their way. They had wandered right into a battle between the ORBL and Sobrium’s forces. Darwin turned to Crimson, smiling, he slammed forward into the battlefield. Crimson’s eyes widened, and he was quick to follow. Darwin immediately grabbed a man who had his back turned, ripping off his arms and throwing them like javelins at Crimson. Crimson avoided both hits, slamming a foot towards Darwin. Darwin leapt up, aiming to slam a knee down on Crimsons leg to shatter it. Crimson slammed a palm to the ground, quickly twisting his leg out of the way as Darwin hit the ground.

Darwin wasted no time turning the tides on Crimson. He leapt after him with a frenzied yell, aiming to hit him with a wide chop kick. Crimson fell back, and a man who was behind him managed to get thrown into Darwin’s path. Crimson watched as Darwin tore the man completely in two with a single kick. He stood up, leaping after Crimson. He leapt, thrusting a haymaker at Crimson. Crimson narrowly avoided it before Darwin’s leg suddenly shot out in the direction he dodged, kicking him back through a few people who were battling. Crimson felt the bones of these other fighters break as he hit them, but he refused to let his ki shield drop for even a second. Darwin pressed through, appearing behind Crimson in a blink

Crimson turned, aiming to raise a fist instinctively to protect his head, but Darwin clutched his thigh, lifting him into the air and throwing him at a nearby cliff face. A man shot Darwin with a ki blast as he did this, and Darwin turned. Crimson didn’t see what became of him as he flew off into the distance, gripping his thigh. He turned, seeing the cliff that was rapidly approaching. He stomached the pain, flipping midair, landing onto the katchin cliff and pushing off to avoid injury from Darwin’s throw.

He only ended up kicking off right into Darwin. Darwin grabbed Crimson’s skull in his hand, slamming it into the Katchin hard enough that the entire cliff buckled inward. Crimson sat in the cracks, shards of Katchin pouring down the cliff around him. Darwin backed up with a hop. He wrinkled his nose, sniffing Crimson a bit as blood leaked from his mouth. He took a finger to the blood, shrugging, he stuck this finger in his mouth.

“Mmm.” Darwin pulled his finger from his mouth. “You know what this tastes like?” He asked Crimson, who was just barely awake. He pried Crimson from the cliffside. Crimson was barely even paying attention. His pain tolerance had increased thanks to Darwin’s torture all those years ago, but this is something Darwin had planned. Darwin purposefully under healed some of the parts of his body when he was torturing them, making weak spots on his body.  Each hit he did was on one of these weak spots. Crimson knew he had no choice. He needed to put all his cards on the table if he was to survive. He was going to try to increase himself to sixty percent.

He coughed, taking a deep breath, he turned to Darwin. “This tastes like failure.” Darwin looked at him, a smile plastered on his face. It still terrified Crimson how someone could look so sincere and friendly and speak with such malice. He lost the Angel Form due to a lack of focus, and Darwin smirked a tiny bit. Darwin grabbed Crimson by the coat, pulling him from the katchin. He yawned, now bored of this entire fight. He dropped Crimson. As Crimson fell, he slammed his heel into Crimsons abdomen. Crimson let out a bloodcurdling scream of agony as every part of his body suddenly surged awake again.

As he fell against the ground, bouncing with a crack as something snapped in his back, he landed hard on the rough katchin. He hated Darwin. He hated himself for being weak. He hated the universe that let people like Darwin get away with so much. He tried to summon Angel Form again, but only felt an intense sting in his body. His eyes widened, panic spreading through his mind as he tried again. He tried to focus on doing the right thing, as Wyrm had taught him. Again, only a sharp pain followed, forcing him to instinctively stop trying. He took a deep breath, putting his hands against the ground and trying to push himself up. Darwin dropped from the sky, landing a hard knee on his spine. Crimson hit the ground hard, screaming yet again.

“There it is. That sweet melody I miss. Through all my tests, I find that everyone screams just a bit differently, but yours, Crimson. Yours is special. So was Malkors. So was Dereks. That’s really the only reason I kept any of you around. You had a good set of lungs. Might have made a tasty dinner one night. Sing a bit more for me.” Darwin laughed. “Oh to hell with the metaphors. Just scream, okay?.” He began twisting his knees into Crimsons spine. Crimson let out another cry, punching the Katchin as he squirmed. Darwin held him firmly in place, not allowing Crimson to get out so easily. Crimson clutched the ground, trying to summon the power, but pain worse than what Darwin was inflicting flared within, and he screamed even louder, a piercing scream that those nearby could hear. Soldiers on the battlefield only half a mile away stopped fighting, as they listened to the blood curdling screams of agony escaping Crimson’s lip. However, they soon returned to battle.

Crimson knew there was no one to help him. No one cared enough to come save him. Pyra and Dayereh, if they caught up, would be at Sobriums castle, which was a few miles away. This was it for him. He tried summoning the power several times over in his panic, but each time he received a pain more severe. He didn’t understand why he couldn’t do it. He was thinking about what Wyrmhame had taught him. He was thinking the exact righteous things Wyrmhame had taught him. Yet he began to realize, deep down, it didn’t feel right. Fighting Darwin for the greater good felt slightly right, but there was much more to it than that. Crimson grit his teeth as Darwin began to twist off skin with his knee.

“I know you didn’t come here alone.” Darwin taunted. “Now I am not one of those amateurs, but I have to ask, Derek and Malkor are here aren’t they?” Darwin smiled. He let up just enough for Crimson to turn to see his smile. The tears and fear in his eyes spoke more than any words and Darwin smacked his lips. “Good. Good. We can have a big old reunion. As for the rest of your friends you told me about through panicked screams. I think I’ll kill each one in front of you. Including Paul.” Darwin whispered in Crimsons ear.

Something clicked right there for Crimson. All the power he had been gathering whilst Darwin tortured him began to swirl. Darwin’s eyes widened, and he leapt back. The katchin on the ground began to crack as Crimson stood up, blood trickling down his body. He pushed himself off his knees, staring at Darwin.

“Ahh, there is some of that energy I forced into your body to make you improve faster.” Darwin noted. He was a bit more serious in tone now, though he still held a big grin. He took breath, staring at Crimson. Crimson was ready to surprise Darwin. Angel Form summoned emotional energy, which was undetectable to most people. At such a quantity, however, Darwin was probably beginning to adjust to the different kind of energy Crimson had, meshing it together for a more accurate reading of his true power. Crimson knew Darwin was far smarter than he acted, and it would only be a matter of time until Crimson lost all the surprises up his sleeve.

Crimson knew Darwin was spurring him on, but Darwin actually gave him something he desperately needed at the time. Darwin gave him purpose. Following Wyrms definition of justice and how to ‘do the right thing’ wasn’t working. That was because it shouldn’t. Crimson pieced together the puzzle. Wyrm intentionally tried to reshape Crimsons moral code so that he wouldn’t abuse the Angel Form. Angel Form’s major flaw was that anyone, no matter how truly monstrous, could use Angel Form if they thought what they were doing was right.

His body had burned through most of it’s energy, but quitting meant Paul and the others died, and he outright refused to let Darwin win. With a vicious scream, he ascended to sixty percent, forcing himself past what he thought were his limits. At sixty percent, the aura was so pure white that it began to bleach his gi, making it the same color. Darwin hadn’t tried to stop the power up, but he instead sat there, curiously examining Crimson. Darwin watched Crimson clench, and unclench a fist. Crimson tuned to Darwin, raising a foot to take a step forward, before a large gust of wind blew past Darwin. His eyes snapped backwards, but Crimson’s elbow already planted itself in his side.

Darwin coughed as Crimson hit him dead on in the ribs. He fell to a low squat, using a peculiar and animalistic move in an attempt to rip through Crimsons achilles tendon in one swift movement, but Crimson simply overstepped Darwin’s hand, slamming it into the ground. He heard a few pops as the strike connected, and he turned to see Darwin’s face, full of confusion and fear. This may not be the most noble thing, but Darwin dying with fear in his heart instead of that stupid smile? That felt right to Crimson.

Planting a boot in Darwin’s face, Crimson kicked him backwards. Darwin skidded to his feet, lunging upwards. Crimson sensed Darwin was trying to raise his energy, and would afford him no such time. Leaping forward, he stuffed his fist firmly under Darwin’s sternum. Darwin had the wind knocked out of him as he stumbled back. Crimson took a deep breath as he grew accustomed to the state. He calmed his shaking hands, and focused on the task at hand. Darwin struck upwards, his palm grazing Crimsons cheek. In a swift combo, he brought a knee to Crimson’s opposite side. Crimson caught the knee, just barely, throwing it back to get Darwin off balance.

Darwin instead spun on heel as Crimson threw his knee. His leg came around, striking Crimson at full force. He barely raised his ki in time to save himself. Crimson took a step back, realizing he was getting careless now. Angel Form only buffed power and speed, with some sprinkles of heightened endurance, but not much. If he took a direct strike in Angel Form, it wouldn’t be much different than taking it without the form.

Darwin snapped forward, aiming to bite Crimson’s neck. Crimson managed to catch Darwin’s skull as his jaw snapped shut, scraping skin off his neck. He kicked Darwin back, leaping into the air, preparing a ki attack he thought right to end this job. Sticking his fist into the air, he began charging all the energy he could into it. Ecanoya’s move would be the one to finish Darwin. Crimson closed his eyes as he felt a weight slowly be lifted from his shoulders. With a deep exhale, he opened his eyes.

Darwin moved faster than Crimson ever saw him move before, slamming a fist into his gut. Crimson wretched, dropping his attack. Darwin bent his fingers slightly, digging his hand into Crimson’s chest simply by pushing the tips of his fingers downward while he clutched Crimson’s chest. Crimson screamed in pain, but dropped an elbow in response, hoping to break Darwin’s arm. Darwin held firm as he was struck. Crimson brought both arms up, slamming his fists down to break free of Darwin’s grasp. Unable to break free, he simply grabbed Darwin’s arm, attempting to pry it from his chest with brute strength.

“You know, honestly.” Darwin scratched his nose, his fear dropping in an instant as he smiled. “I didn’t think you had it in you. Sacrificing all those people just to get to me.” Darwin said, pulling Crimson in closer with his iron grip, leaning directly into his ear. “So sad. You sent those poor men to get killed. You got them killed. You. Just like how you did for Ecanoya.” Darwin smiled in Crimson’s ear. Crimson managed to rip Darwin’s arm free from himself in a brief moment of rage, because deep down, no matter how old he got, he would always be the scared little boy who needed Ecanoya for confidence.

As he broke free from rage, Crimson felt a tearing feeling across his body as his vision grow hazy. Darwin smiled wider, floating back a few paces. White cracks began to climb up and down Crimson’s body. In a single instant, all the energy of the Angel form burst from his body through these cracks. Blood exploded from the cracks as the light left them, leaving Crimson to fall against the ground with a heavy thud. Darwin landed with a yawn, placing a foot on Crimson’s head.

“Still awake in there?” He asked, twisting Crimson’s head, yielding a hard cough in response. “Good!” Darwin laughed. “You know, it’s almost poetic. As poetic as the last hundred or so people who have ended up in this exact same situation. They get some sort of power up, they hunt me down during a battle of some sort, though usually not quite as grand scale as this one, and they try to kill me. I lead them on for a bit, let them think they’ve truly surpassed me, then I break them, like the boring toy they are.” Darwin took his boot from Crimson’s head, pushing it into his side and rolling Crimson over, listening to him howl in agony. Blood pooled under Crimson, dying his gi a dark crimson.

“Look at that face.” Darwin remarked, getting close to Crimson. Crimson was crying in frustration as Darwin drew closer, he listened to his little whimpers. “I’ve seen it so many times, but to be honest with you, I never get tired of it!” He laughed, bouncing around, flailing his arms as he stopped suddenly, spinning on heel, and turning to face Crimson again.

He waved at Crimson, seeing if he was awake, cocking his head to the side. “Wow you are bleeding out fast.” He blinked. Darwin walked over, sticking a finger into one of the long cut-like cracks on his arms. As Crimson’s flesh parted open and Darwin wriggled his finger inside the wound, Crimson barely had the energy to do anything but feel the pain. He let out a hoarse, barely audible scream as he plopped his head to the side in the pool of his own blood.

“I trained so hard…” Crimson murmured. “For five years.”

“And what do you think I was doing? Sitting and waiting for you?” Darwin snickered.

Darwin stood up, putting his hands on his hips. “Well shoot. I was hoping I could have more fun with you. After all I did promise to have a reunion. However four’s a crowd, I think three is plenty company.” Darwin rubbed his hands together. “Well then, Crimson. After all this time I think it’s about time we say farewell. Just remember, you chose this path. Oh, and just a little bit more salt for that wound of yours. You aren’t the first person to approach me with that ‘Angel Form.’ The last guy who did, got a bit farther than you, and I still ended up prying everything I wanted to know from his eyeballs. ‘A’ for effort though, kid. You got me to get serious for a moment there. And you know me, serious and I just don’t mix!” Darwin broke into a maniacal laugh as he began charging a ki blast. Crimson couldn’t find the energy to move, or scream for help. Only watch as Darwin prepared to end his life. Crimson wouldn’t be conscious for what came next, as he passed out from blood loss as Darwin fired.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ryal flew with the others in silence as they made their way towards Ghost. He had warned them how strong Ghost was, but the others didn’t seem to listen. Sighing, Ryal began to casually think about how things were going at home. His family was scattered across the stars now. His sister lived on Soluris, his dad on some far off planet he didn’t even know the name of. As they flew, Ryal and the others suddenly stopped as they felt the powers of the X force clash with one equal to their strongest members. Ryal and Malkor exchanged a nervous glare, but the moment of pause left the group open.

Ghost’s forces barrelled towards the group. Ryal snapped out of his thoughts in an instant, slamming a full body punch right into one of their throats. The man went tumbling back, falling to the ground. Ryal scanned around. The others of the group had equally reacted in time, except for Paul, who was saved by Berta. Kuele began shouting to the group. “Go! We got this!” No one argued, and immediately, Bolt launched a huge ki blast that opened up a path for the group to go ahead. As the group barrelled through Ghost’s forces, Some of the Saiyans began to ascend to a Super Saiyan state, and Ryal’s eyes widened. He hesitated a moment, not wanting to leave Bolt and Kuele in such a lose-lose situation, but in this moment he was side kicked and sent veering off course into the distance before any of the group knew what happened.

Bouncing off of rocks and trees and colliding with the side of a mountain, Ryal flopped onto the ground. Pushing himself up with his arms, he lifted his head to see the heel of a boot approaching his skull in almost a blink. He rolled off to the side, kicking off the ground to get onto his feet. As he did, his assailant attempted to grapple him from behind, but Ryal wouldn’t let him lock in a full nelson. Instead, the moment he was grappled, Ryal slammed his elbows to his side, bringing his assailants arms down. Ryal kicked a leg back, striking the back of their knee and forcing them to kneel, before quickly ripping himself free from their grasp in the same swift motion.

Ryal jumped back a few steps, staring at his assailant, with a dropped jaw. Olve glared at Ryal with hatred in his eyes. Olve was far removed from the Bryce Ryal had known in the past. His once skinny and malnourished body was now equal in size to the most dedicated bodybuilders. Veins bulged from his arms, running through the muscles like wires through a machine. He looked as though he had been engineered to be the perfect Saiyan. Ryal didn’t waste time with words, Bryce was far beyond reason at this point.

Olve ascended to a Super Saiyan state, looking at Ryal. “First you, then Jason.” Ryal gave him no time to monologue, snapping forward with a sudden side kick. Olve threw a punch, parrying Ryals kick. As he did so, Ryal let his leg bend so Olve’s arm would extend forward as he connected his punch. After this, Ryal leapt into the air, bringing his other leg down in an ax kick motion to strike Olve’s arm dead on. Olve was caught completely off guard, his arm getting struck.

Barely flinching, he instead used his outstretched arm to lunge forward and grab Ryals ankle. Ryal brought raised his leg for another kick, but his other leg was also grabbed by Olve as it came down. Olve squeezed Ryals leg, leaving Ryal to glance quickly at the spot where he hit Olve. There wasn’t even a bruise. Ryal put his hands against the ground, twisting his entire body to rip a single leg free. Olve stumbled with Ryals twist, and as he did so, Ryal lifted one arm from the ground to strike him in the back of the head as he fell. Olve was getting frustrated of Ryal leading him around, and his aura flared outward. Ryal dug his palm into the ground and ripped both his legs from Olve. He used a ki blast to throw himself into the air with a small explosion, narrowly avoiding a counter kick from Olve.

Olve lifted an arm, firing a ki blast into the air after Ryal. Ryal stuck the back of his hand out to catch it, testing Olves power. The attack singed the skin on the back of his hand as soon as it connected, and Ryal put all his power into shoving it to the side enough to avoid a clean hit. Olve used this time to fly up and elbow Ryal in the gut. Ryal spat, coughing up a lung as he was thrown back. He collided with a tree, the entire thing snapping on his back like a rubber band. He slammed a hand on the ground, slowing himself and rolling to his feet as Olve pursued ferociously- and predictably. Ryal dodged right as soon as he got up, and sure enough Olve came flying past with a raised fist. Ryal, held his stomach, taking deep gasping breaths for air. He had the wind completely knocked out of him.

Olve turned course as soon as he realised he missed, heading for Ryal whilst he tried to catch his breath. Ryal flew back, trying to put distance between himself and Olve, but Olve gained on him fast. In one swift movement, Olve swerved mid-flight, getting behind Ryal and slamming a foot into his back. Ryal yelled, spinning forward, landing on a tree and propelling himself into the air, having gained some of his breath back from the earlier hit. Olve leapt up, almost appearing to teleport for Ryal. As he tried to track the blur, he looked up just in time for Olve to slam both fists in a sledgehammer motion into Ryals back. Ryal went rocketing off towards the ground.

Ryal took a deep breath as he quickly recovered, hitting the ground with a bounce, he leapt back to yet again avoid Olve’s head on charge. Ryal quickly snap kicked a nearby tree. The splinters sped towards Olve, like hundreds of tiny daggers. Olve walked through them as if they were droplets of water. Ryal landed against the ground, sliding.

“Go ahead. Use that dirty trick of yours again. I want you to feel the fear and confusion I did before Jason slaughtered my sister.” Olve taunted. Ryal simply stared at him, his mind too focused on the fight itself. As well as the little nagging thought in the back of his head. The longer he fought Bryce, the longer the group would face Ghost with one less person. Perhaps resorting to magic really was the best option he had right now. Even so, there was a bit of pride inside him that Olve poked. Someone with such simple attacks wouldn’t force him to rely on a trump card. He was going to beat Olve to prove not just to Olve, but to himself, that he is superior.

“Quit your whining.” Ryal taunted Olve back, dropping into a stance. “That’s all you’ve ever really been good at.” Olve tensed for a moment, having been clearly irked by Ryal. He quickly relaxed, thinking on things more rationally now. Ryal slid a single foot forward, feigning an attack. Olve prepared to guard, showing Ryal an opening that he actually lunged for. Olve took a clean hit to the side, grunting ever so slightly. Ryal smirked, sliding back as Olve countered with a broad haymaker. Olve was a lot like Crimson. Spent a long time training to get power, but no fighting experience. Ryal’s father had told him several times that so long as you can outthink your opponent, you can beat someone as much as ten times your strength.

Ryal drew back another punch, bringing it forward with a sudden stop. Olve thought it was another feigned attack. In the single moment of doubt he left himself entirely open. Ryal hit him again in the gut, forcing Olve back a few steps this time. Ryal took a deep breath as he focused seriously. He had to put every part of his body into an attack to make it most effective. Olve leapt into the air, charging up a large disk attack. Ryal watched carefully, knowing how easily the attack could cut him in two. Olve threw it directly at Ryals midsection. Ryal leapt to the left as it drew near, but to his surprise, the disk started following him. He grit his teeth, knowing in his mind he had to time this perfectly. He slammed his right palm upwards, and his left palm downwards, catching the disk at his chest. It sliced into flesh so easily, spinning like a blade. Ryal grit his teeth, bearing the gash as he began pushing his own ki into the attack to try and overload it.

Olve dropped in with a kick towards Ryal as he struggled with the disk, aiming to push him onto the blade. Ryal took a deep breath as he saw Olve coming. He dug his heels into the ground, spinning on heel to take the disk around himself and throw it back at Olve like some sort of giant frisbee. Olve kicked the disk straight on, but to Ryals surprise, it didn’t dig farther than a gash in his foot. Ryal didn’t waste the opportunity, leaping into the air, he threw some ki up into the sky. As it floated up, Ryal spun as he raised into the air, bringing both his fists together, he slammed them down on Olve as he struggled with his own Ki disk.

“Spiral Sledgehammer!” Ryal yelled as he pounded Olve’s back. Olve cried out as Ryal pushed him deeper into his own attack. Olve eventually managed to kick his own disk off his foot, turning to swing at Ryal, who had already maneuvered to the side. He caught Olve’s extended arm, aiming a quick elbow to his skull. Olve caught his elbow, the two of them struggling to overpower the other. Olve began slowly pushing Ryal back, throwing him off and breaking his grip on his arm.

Ryal dropped from flight, forcing Olve to relentlessly pursue him through dense brush. Growing frustrated that he couldn’t find Ryal, Olve began to blast the area indiscriminately. Ryal felt the very ground quake as Olve tried to uncover his position. Taking a breath, he threw more ki into the air. Olve continued to explode the surrounding area, not yet uncovering Ryal’s hiding place.

Ryal leapt into the air, and Olve raised a blast his way. Ryal cocked an arm back, and as Olve fired, he slammed his arm forward to smack the hit away. Olve flew forward towards Ryal, who lead with his right foot, leaving a small opening for Olve. Olve took the bait, thrusting a punch straight for Ryals lower abdomen. Ryal caught his fist in one swift motion, turning it completely sideways. Olve screamed as he felt his wrist snap. Ryal nearly sighed in relief, having finally done some real damage to Olve. Olve fell back, tears in his eyes, though they didn’t look like they were all caused by pain. Ryal lowered his guard as he sensed Olve was really crying in frustration and grief at what happened. He understood from this one look at Olve that there was another battle going on in his head.

Olve was still blaming himself for what happened to his sister. Ryal realized that Olve’s plan to kill him was probably some sort of redemption plan he convinced himself would relieve him of his pain. He could see Olve’s frustration at being led around and made a fool of by someone more experienced than he was, and he almost pitied him. Almost. Ryal thrust a foot forward, aiming to end it in one swift blow, but Olve’s frustration boiled over into a blind rage.

Olve let energy explode outwards from him, catching Ryal off guard. Ryal was blasted back nearly a mile in an instant. He skidded off the ground before rolling to his feet, only to catch just a blur of Olve. He instinctively jumped, staring down to see Olve ripping his fist from a large crater in the Katchin below. Ryal tried to predict his next move, but even though he saw it coming, Olve was so fast that at this short distance there was nearly nothing he could do. Olve slammed a fist into Ryals gut, sending him blasting off into the distance. As he drifted, Ryal released as much power as he could in that short time into the air.

Ryal stopped suddenly as he hit a large body of water. He sank slowly, staring at the surface. As he sank, he saw some fish move close to him, curious. He closed his eyes, calming his aura as he prepared himself. Olve was using too much power in a short time. It wouldn’t be that hard to wait him out. After his temper tantrum Olve would be especially vulnerable to Ryal’s attacks, but the problem was surviving the tantrum in the first place.

Ryal hid his power as he sank into the water. He could see Olve frantically searching for him above. Ryal knew it wouldn’t be long before he resorted to blowing up the area to find him, but the water should provide a temporary safe spot. He held his breath as long as he could, sinking further into the waves. The water was surprisingly cold for a warzone. It soothed his wounds and gave him a place to think and prepare to attack Olve. He heard the ground thundering above as Olve began his assault in the area, screaming “Coward! Come out!”. Ryal knew this was it. He began charging an attack and preparing to hit Olve hard. This was one of his trump cards. He let his power flare, and the fish around him swam for cover. He began charging a green ball of ki in his hands. He slammed out of the water at top speed.

“Rail Drill!” Ryal shouted. As he sped past Olve at top speed, he slammed the ki from his hand. In a spiral motion it propelled towards Olve, piercing straight through his shoulder, much to his surprise. Olve barely had time to gaze at the gaping wound. How could someone slower than him fire such a high speed attack so accurately whilst moving at their top speed? Olve turned, seeing Ryal fall from the sky after the hit. He took a breath, having instinctively fired one of his charged ki attacks as Ryal lunged at him. He grazed Ryal, but it was enough to cause Ryal to try and retreat back to the ground. No more games. Olve dove straight for Ryals back, kneeing him into the ground as he fell on him. Ryal coughed as he formed a crater in the Katchin, trying to elbow Olve off, but Olve withstood the blows as he grasped onto Ryals arm, pulling hard as he stuck a foot against his shoulder blade. Ryal began firing blasts off in this arm, all of his attacks hitting Olve, but if they were hurting, Olve didn’t seem to care. Ryal felt his shoulder pop, then something tear, and he let out a scream as his entire arm came clean off.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Having a path cleared for them, Paul, Jason, Berta, Derek, and Malkor dove for it. Getting through Ghost’s forces, the group barely flew a mile before they found Ghost, floating there, waiting for them. He was wearing full battle armor, and a scouter. He looked over the group, noting each member, stopping a bit on Berta, not recognizing her, but quickly passing her, before turning to the only one with Saiyan blood.

“Halfling.” Ghost spoke in a booming voice.

“What?” Derek asked, preparing for any sort of sudden movement, but Ghost didn’t so much as lift a finger.

“I will tell you this as unlike the other Halfling, you are part Saiyan. If you take your group and leave now, I will not pursue you. My men will not pursue you. You can return to Soluris,  Taton, or wherever it is you choose to live now. You may live out your lives peacefully. Know this, if you choose to attack me, I will not hold back. I will kill you with extreme prejudice. You will die, knowing your friends will follow you soon after.” Ghost threatened. Malkor realized that by ‘other halfling’, Ghost was referring to Mur. He took on the realization that if he died here, no one would know what became of Mur.

“Go screw yourself!” Derek shouted, not even giving the group time to hesitate. His inner hatred for being looked down upon as a Half-Saiyan boiled over in that exact moment. He fired a ki blast at Ghost, who slapped it away with barely a flick of the wrist. Ghost said no more words as he lunged forward, straight towards Derek’s throat. Derek wasted no time ascending to Super Saiyan. Jason slammed forward, going on the offensive to clash Ghost’s punch with his own. Ghost was surprised when Jason shoved him back, rearing back to immediately let out a cry, ascending to his own Super Saiyan form.

Paul shifted, moving towards Malkor and Berta, standing in front of them, ready to intercept Ghost. Malkor was still a bit mentally drained from using Imagination Overdrive on Justice, and had to take some time to warm his mind up to the task. Jason was nearly even with Ghost on his Super Saiyan level. Ghost took this in stride, not surprised that these kids caught up to him. They were quite rare talents after all. He could, however, see the weak links. His eyes drifted over to Paul. Jason and Derek panicked, rushing in to stop Ghost, but he had already bounded towards Paul. Paul raised his arms to defend himself, taking the brunt of Ghost’s hit, sailing towards the ground. He looked up only to flinch as Ghost feigned an ax kick on his head. In the moment he left himself open, Ghost opened his palm, a powerful ki blast erupting forth at Paul.

Berta broke from Malkors side, despite his warning her not to. Berta fire a single blast at Ghost’s back. Ghost spun, breaking the blast in two as he went to grab Berta’s throat. Paul snapped out of his daze, dodging Ghost’s blast as it disintegrated a large span of forest behind him. He drove a knee into Ghost’s chin. A clean hit. Ghost dug in his heels to prevent himself from being lifted from the ground by the blow. Paul recoiled from his own strike, grabbing Berta and pulling her back to formation. Ghost tried to follow but Derek and Jason stopped him. Parrying a punch from Jason and Derek, he saved himself a direct hit, but was thrown far back.

Jason and Derek pursued, flying in to strike Ghost in the stomach as he flew back, but he managed to kick the both of them back before they landed a hit. He threw his palms back, grabbing the ground as he flew backwards, straightening himself and landing on his feet.

Jason spun as he was thrown back, but he quickly recovered, launching off the air hard enough that a sonic boom could be heard for miles. Ghost barely had time to block his kick with a raised arm before it slammed into his forearm. Derek followed suit with a swift jab towards Ghost’s stomach. The hit would barely graze him as Ghost bent sideways to avoid the blow before popping his hips back down so Jason wouldn’t overpower him whilst he was in an awkward position.

Paul waited impatiently as he watched Jason and Derek trade blows with Ghost. Malkor kept his eyes closed, calmly preparing for his attack. He was going to try and go all out at the beginning to stop Ghost from having any time to overpower them all. Paul rolled his shoulders as he watched the conflict, ready to jump in at any moment. Berta rested a hand on his shoulder, trying to calm him, but she felt how tightly wound his nerves were.

Jason brought his arms behind him, energy crackling as a ball formed between his hands. Ghost simply stuck one hand out as his eyes darted between Jason and Derek. He let loose a large yellow ki wave with enough force to eviscerate a planet. Jason let loose his own attack in response, and as the two beams met, Ghost felt his slowly pushing through. All this while, he had been raising his one free arm to block Derek’s assaults. Derek attempted a flurry of punches and kicks, but Ghost stopped each of them with his palm, like playing with a toddler. Derek pulled back a moment, rearing back a harder hook. The moment he did, Ghost took the opportunity he needed as his eyes continued to dart back and forth, confirming his plan silently. He let the arm with the beam droop bit, giving Jason a feeling of advantage, and Derek sped up his attack to take advantage of the brief opportunity created. Ghost brought his leg up vertically, slamming his shoe into Derek’s chin, sending him flying. Seeing Derek in his peripheral vision, Jason let himself ease just a small bit as he instinctively checked to see if Derek was alive. Ghost slammed his foot into the ground, cracking it as he pushed his other hand into the attack, letting loose a full power blast in a single instant.  

Jason let out a scream as the blast completely overcame him. Derek opened an eye to see Jason be overcome by Ghosts attack, before he snapped out of it. He stopped mid air, reaching for Jason before the trail was gone, and so was Jason. Paul and Derek stared, wide eyed. Paul twitched a bit, but Derek let out a cry that jolted him. Derek’s golden aura flared, like a sun’s rays exploding outward. He slammed towards Ghost, who just barely managed to catch his fist in time to avoid a broken nose. Ghost used Derek’s momentum against him, thrusting him over his shoulder into the distance. Derek spun midair, facing Ghost as he flew backwards, firing ki blasts after him. The ki blasts were difficult to track, each one like a pitcher throwing a curveball as they came for Ghost. He lowered his stance, tightened his focus, and planned through each movement he would make.

Jason came down from the sky, dropping a knee on Ghosts back. His shirt was burned clean from his torso and he was covered in burns and bruises from the hit, blood leaking from his lip. His pants had holes in them from the force of the impact he had from wherever it was he landed. He leapt up, backing off as Ghost swung an arm back to catch him. As he did, He could only block two of Derek’s ki blasts, the third hitting him dead in the chest.

“Yes!” Berta shouted. Paul lightened up, smiling. They could win this, they all felt it! Jason regrouped with Derek, holding his shoulder. Derek grit his teeth as he saw the heavy burn on his shoulder. He knew Jason could tough it out but if they drew this out too long that burn would come back to bite them. Derek and Jason readied themselves as Ghost stood up, taking a deep breath.

“I did underestimate you all, it seems.” He noted, thinking to himself. “It astounds me how even half-saiyans have enough blood to contend with a pure blood like myself. As well as you Jason, your potential scares me. Unfortunately for you lot, I don’t have time to play catch up with a bunch of ghosts from the past.” Ghost noted, bringing both arms in towards his gut, like he was trying to hold a ball. “I have bigger threats to save my energy for.” Jason charged forward, but Derek grabbed his heel to stop him. Jason turned to look at him, before noticing why Derek stopped him. Something was definitely wrong. Derek’s eyes widened.

“Get back! Guys fly back!” Derek shouted to his friends. Malkor broke from his focus as Paul grabbed him and Berta, shielding them as he quickly grasped the situation. Jason nodded to Derek, who turned, attempting to throw Jason to safety, but it was too late. Ghost’s arms exploded outward as a hundreds of blasts fired off in every direction. Jason was thrown a smidge to late, and both he and Derek were sent flying off into the atmosphere by the attacks. Paul was far enough away from the core of the attack that he was able to keep Berta and Malkor from any serious harm. Paul took a direct hit on his back, and the other two felt it. Malkor immediately looked up at Paul, checking to see if he was alright.

“I’m fine! Go!” Paul yelled as he pushed the two of them back. Berta and Malkor tried to resist, knowing what Paul was doing. Paul spun on heel, immediately parrying Ghosts hit as he came flying after them. His arm shook viciously as his muscles failed him. Ghost stood, uncaring as he watched Paul struggle to overpower him. He was bulkier than usual, Ghost seemingly having doubled in muscle mass.

“Do you see it now, Paul? The frightening potential of Saiyans? This is what we are, and you are not. I can climb to heights that will strike fear into your heart. Remember how I gave you all the chance to walk away.” Ghost said as he raised his other fist. Paul’s eyes widened, falling back. Ghost moved faster than he could blink, and he bumped straight into his chest as he backed up. Ghost slammed a fist into his lower back. Paul spit as he cried out. The pain was beyond anything he had ever felt before. Ghost carried him on his fist, throwing him towards the ground. Paul spun, falling to the ground, but he refused to give up here. He would not die on any of them. They had already lost so much.

Paul landed hard against the ground, his heels flaring up with pain as they dug into the ground to bear the force he was thrown at. Paul stood up, facing Ghost, who looked down at him unamused. Paul knew this was a level beyond the normal Super Saiyan. He bit his lip, hiding his fear as he flew up to face Ghost again. Ghost waited for Paul to drop into stance before striking. Not at him, but turning to launch a blast at Malkor. Paul leapt forward, his eyes widening as he panicked. He tried to grab Ghost’s arm to stop him, but this is when Ghost had him. Ghost leaned forward, spinning his arm around Paul, he locked him into a chokehold. Paul gasped for air as he clawed at Ghosts arm. He felt his neck tighten as Ghost pulled tighter.

Derek tried to straighten himself as he flew back in the air. He must have gone twenty or so miles in only a minute, even with his efforts to slow his momentum. He noticed the atmosphere was growing concerningly thin. If he didn’t stop right here and now he would end up in space and fly forever. He had no clue where Jason flew off to. He turned, to see a large Sobrium cruiser drop from light speed almost perfectly in front of him. Though he hesitated, he reasoned it was them or him at this point. Derek let the ship serve as his stopping force, using as much ki as he could to shield himself. He slammed into the ship, buckling the entire vessel inward until it shaped like a toilet seat. Derek pried himself from the metal, as he finally stopped his momentum, flying off from the ship as it plummeted into a small lake.

Jason was more lucky, having been thrown far enough back that he wasn’t hit as hard as Derek. He managed to slow his momentum by grabbing the side of a small Heat ship trying to board the planet. He grasped deep into the metal, leaving a large gash on the side of the ship as he finally stopped by it’s center. He swung around the ship, shaking up its inhabitants before slinging it back towards Ghost in retaliation.

Ghost just noticed the ship in time, He spun around, hurling Paul towards it as he stood waiting. Paul managed to place a palm on it’s nose, pressing himself upward, the ship just barely grazing him as it sailed past. Ghost raised a palm towards the ship as it sailed towards him. When it connected with Ghost, the entire ship buckled inward until it exploded. Paul and Jason simply stared at the smoke, wondering if that did any damage. The smoke cleared as Derek arrived, showing them that even an explosion of that size didn’t even put a cut in his shirt.

Ghost dusted himself off as he looked around, staring up at Malkor who was simply focusing. He didn’t like how quiet Malkor was being up there. He bounded towards Malkor, but Paul slammed forward with Jason and Derek. Derek was first to arrive, aiming a kick straight towards Ghosts chest, which he managed to redirect with a quick flick of the wrist. Derek went sailing past him as he then used both arms to grab Paul and Jason’s faces, slamming them both towards the ground. Paul raised a hand, attempting to blast Ghost point blast. Ghost moved his head to the right just slightly enough to avoid Paul’s blast. As Jason tried to blast Ghost as he dodged, he threw both boys until they collided with the ground.

Derek rebounded quickly, throwing another flurry of punches and kicks towards Ghost. Ghost actually seemed to struggle to keep up. Derek noted this as he hastened his flurry. He actually managed to start landing hits on Ghost, though they were only slight grazes. Ghost snapped his arms out, pushing Derek’s arms wide out, leaving his entire torso exposed. He slammed an elbow into his ribs, then threw him to the same ground Paul and Jason had landed on earlier. Jason stood up weakly, only to have Derek slam into him, knocking him back down again.

Paul got up, a bit dazed, but otherwise alright. “What’s taking Malkor so long?” He whispered. Derek hopped up immediately, helping Jason up with a small apologetic smile. Jason grumbled but accepted his apology with a nod.

“Don’t worry about that, I noticed something.” Derek commented.

“What?” Jason asked. “You better spit it out fast, he’s plotting something up there.”

“He’s slower than before.” Derek noted.

“Noticed that too.” Paul rubbed a sore spot as he spoke. “He bulked up and hits a lot harder but I think the bulk in his muscles actually make him slower right now.”

“Would make sense. That much power can’t come without a cost.” Derek took a breath as he steadied himself to return to battle. “Wish I knew how he did it though.”

“Where’s Ryal? What could be keeping him?” Jason asked as he got into stance. Paul took a quick gaze over to Derek and Jason. The both of them endured such hardships compared to him. He couldn’t afford to slow them down. He leapt back up into formation, keeping an eye on Ghost the entire time. Ghost didn’t even look his way as he simply stared at Derek, who was starting to sweat.

“You’re new to the form, aren’t you?” Ghost smirked. Derek froze, his heart beginning to pound faster. He did his best to show no physical sign of his fear.

“You sure do talk a lot!” Jason shouted, but was ignored as Ghost kept his focus on Derek.

“Saiyans are gifted with insane amounts of untapped potential. The Super Saiyan forms especially. If you don’t take the effort to master these forms however, they become a burden as you rely solely on them instead of your own natural strength. I expected you to be smarter than to use it from the get go, Derek.” Ghost scolded.

“You act as if you are still some sort of teacher.” Jason shouted.

“Well I do still feel a bit responsible for how you turned out. In fact, if it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t even be able to stand where you are right now. You would just be some Sobrium slaves living out the rest of your lives in ignorance. Instead of thanking me, you try to kill me. I give you every chance to get out of my way but you still stand there.” Ghost spat. He seemed slightly annoyed at their constant persistence.

“You shouldn’t have used us like tools to further your Saiyans then.” Paul clenched his fist as he stared at Ghost.

“It was a wartime strategy. Saiyans achieve Super Saiyan from intense emotion. Something like an entire city being wiped out is almost a gold mine for Super Saiyans. If Sobrium didn’t leave Darwin on the planet I would have had a lot more Super Saiyans.” Ghost sighed.

“Ghost. I have one question for you.” Jason asked, strangely calm and composed. Curious, Ghost gave him a moment to speak. “Do you know about Jacob?”

“About his death?” Ghost asked. “Yes, it was rather unfortunate.” Jason almost seemed relieved, which confused Ghost, but he shrugged it off, not delving further as he kept his guard up.

“Ready!” Malkor shouted, snapping Ghost’s attention to him. Everyone cleared way, and Ghost tried to move as well, knowing something was up. Malkor fired an Alpha Wave from his finger tip. The beam swirled around, following Ghost as he attempted to flee. Ghost leapt up, blocking it but the beam dug in deep as it kept following him. Ghost thought quickly, dropping to the ground in order to hide his presence. If Malkor couldn’t see him, the beam couldn’t track him perfectly.

Malkor kept locked on as best he could, but Ghost had dropped from Super Saiyan, which did indeed make it harder to track him. While he was still relatively on track, he couldn’t quite pinpoint where Ghost exactly was. Jason and Derek moved to a defensive position around Malkor, Berta and Paul standing on the other side. They would defend him should Ghost try to hit the source to break off the attack. Ghost ran through the nearby woods, and Jason fired a few ki blasts down to make him back off from the group. Ghost grimaced as he saw this, backing off to return to running through the woods. The beam was gaining on him ever so slightly and it frustrated him more than anything else in this war: that he was being bested by a non-saiyan.

Ghost recalled on past battles to try and come up with a solution to his current problem. Meanwhile, Derek began to coordinate with Malkor, using his ki like echolocation to help Malkor find Ghost easier. Ghost blasted from the brush, going straight for Berta. Paul dropped in a heartbeat, stuffing a knee into Ghosts face. Ghost used brute force to shove Paul aside, forcing his way towards Berta and Malkor. Jason and Derek both grabbed him trying to hold him still for Malkor.

Malkor nodded his head a bit, getting more adjusted into the amount of mental focus needed. Jason and Derek both had a hard time holding Ghost back. Berta and Malkor stared nervously has ghost pushed back their friends further and further. Despite the combined efforts of both Jason and Derek, Ghost began pushing past the both of them. They were slowly losing control of the situation and Malkor began to lose focus as he only thought of impending doom. Ghost was only a few arms lengths away from Malkors face. The beam drew close, but Malkor backed up a bit. Ghost began to rip his arms free from Jason and Derek.

The beam struck Ghosts back the moment he pried himself free from the two of them. Ghost let out a cry, the beam sinking a few inches into his skin before he managed to wrench himself free from it. Ghost fell to the ground, throwing a ki disk at Malkor. The group turned to Malkor, who was too focused on redirecting the attack. Jason slammed Malkor out of the way as Derek and Berta pulled Paul aside. Malkor snapped his eyes open, his attack dissipating.

Derek afforded Ghost no moment to catch his breath. He dove in, aiming a sweeping kick at his ankles. Ghost leapt just barely, but as he did, Derek brought his other leg in, slamming it into his gut. Twisting on his palms, Derek pressed himself forward with Ghost as he kicked him to keep pressure on and prevent Ghost from getting even a moment to think. Ghost slammed backwards like he was shot out of a cannon, spinning in the air as he fell to the ground.

Standing up, Ghost held his back, the wound was sore, but it was far from his worst. He leapt high up into the air, shooting a flurry of ki blasts to press Derek and the others back. He needed some time to get his wind back from this wound. As he flew into the air, Ghost took this opportunity to check in on the rest of the battle. He took a scouter from his pocket, putting it onto his head. He was not yet used to sensing power levels, and prefered the faster way. He felt Aohi somewhere else, battling with powers. He must have been fighting for a while as he was getting close to his maximum. His own son, Double, was leading the X-Force against him, judging by the number of opponents he was facing, as well as their connection to Derek and the rest. He didn’t doubt Aohi’s ability to defeat them, after all, he had the same trump card that Ghost himself had. His scouter flared brightly as it got a bit overloaded sensing an explosion in the distance. He turned it that way, taking it off as he had to verify something. He shot a few more ki blasts to give himself this opportunity he needed. He reached his energy out over a long distance. It was Darwin Mcdarloss, just as he thought. There was another power there, much smaller, but he was sure it would be snuffed out soon. He put his scouter back in his pocket and resumed to the matter at hand.

Expecting to see Derek or Jason charging at him, Ghost instead saw three Alpha Waves pressing towards him. The number had increased, and so would the damage. Ghost dropped down to the ground, avoiding them. He looked up to track each one, before a burning sensation snapped his attention downward. A net was made from at least a hundred of the beams, and Malkor began to squeeze it around him. Ghost let out a cry of pain as he was being crushed. He grit his teeth, releasing as much power as he could in a short amount of time, a vicious cry escaping as his energy blinded everyone. Malkor tried to hold his net, but it snapped at the seams, coming apart as the energy fluttered off like straps of cloth. The entire group brought their arms down from shielding their eyes. Ghost stood there, his Super Saiyan hair far more spiked than before. Electricity crackled around him, energy that was escaping from him as he clenched his fists, facing the group with a deadly focus. Their hope won’t be the only thing they lose.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kuele and Bolt were in trouble. The two of them had been cornered by the group. As soon as Bolt blasted a hole through the group, letting the others through, the group collapsed onto them first. Their opponents were mostly Saiyans, and many of them were far stronger than the average foot soldier. Kuele went back to back with Bolt, the both of them keeping an eye on the sneering men. Bolt pressed hard against Kuele’s back as the men approached, making him nervous of a joint strike. He wasn’t as fit for fighting large groups as Kuele was with his Ki property. Luckily, Bolt had his own Ki property he could use when their numbers thinned.

“Don’t suppose you can make a Vortex for all these people?” Bolt asked in a whisper.

“Not if we don’t want to get sucked in as well.” Kuele noted quietly. “I would need to make the wind spin pretty fast and they wouldn’t let us get the distance we needed.

“Any other group fighting tricks?” Bolt asked as he put a fist towards the closest man, making him think twice about rushing him.

“Just a few wind related attacks, we need to be quick.” Kuele nodded to Bolt. Bolt sucked on his teeth as he waited for the signal. The opponents were also whispering to one another, no doubt coordinating their own plan. Kuele snapped to two who were distracted, slamming his fist towards them. They instinctively tried to guard, but there was no connection. He didn’t fire ki, instead a large gust wisped past their guard, reforming into a more solid shape at their stomachs. The two saiyans were blasted away, and the rest rushed forward towards Kuele and Bolt in unison.

Bolt raised an elbow to hit an oncoming mans throat, and used both his legs to do a splits kick at two who were closing in on him. Their heads snapped back until they were between their shoulder blades, killing both the men instantly. Kuele sweeped his arm over a large area, like one moved their hand near the surface of a pool to make a bigger wave. Kuele sent a large gust of wind at everyone in front of him. It pushed them back a bit, but did no real damage.

The crowd began to regroup and Bolt was constantly attacking in one direction, only to be attacked from another. The damage was beginning to wear on him, and he was unable to overcome the difficulty he was encountering. Kuele could do more than keep pushing back the men around him, trusting Bolt to take care of the other half of their forces. He felt Bolts head rock back as he took a blow to the skull. This also hit Kuele’s head, and Kuele clutched the back of his skull for a single moment, leaving himself open. The group he had blown back quickly recovered, rushing him. Kuele was out of options, grabbing Bolt and chucking him far up into the sky. Kuele focused ki around both of his fists, turning it to wind. He raised both fist, blasting off towards the group in front of him. He planted both fists into a single guy. The wind from his arms hit him, then funnelled out towards the other fighters. Like a chain reaction, the wind was more intently focused as it moved from person to person. Kuele pulled backwards, all the wind ripping back to his hands. The pushed several people forward, allowing Kuele to land clean hits on the four men closest to him before any of them gained their bearings again.

Bolt resorted to his ki property, needing intense focus. He was getting hit constantly. If he punched one guy, the guy behind him would punch Bolt. He fired a ki blast into the air. It was unlike any of the other ki blasts seen before. It looked much like some sort of bubble in the air, a warp of some sort. Through this ki ball, Bolt could see in a three hundred and sixty degree rotation. “Mirror View!” Bolt named it aloud. He now essentially had an extra pair of eyes, but at the cost of draining his energy faster. He slammed a fist into a man approaching him from behind as he and Kuele broke off from their back to back strategy. They needed to be more aggressive, and they both realised this.

Bolt crossed his arms as seven men attacked him from different directions with various kicks, punches, and ki boosted attacks. He avoided each and every one without even opening his eyes. The men grew increasingly frustrated, and Bolt immediately turned this against him. The man behind him sent a straight kick towards Bolt’s back. Bolt floated to the right, letting the man connect with his ally. At the same time, one of his friends had shot a ki blast at Bolt, which hit the kicking mans back. Bolt opened his eyes again, counting his remaining opponents. There were at least a few hundred Saiyans around him. Kuele was in equal trouble.

“Everyone!” A man shouted, garbed in traditional battle armor with medals adorned to it. “Forget what Ghost said, we are getting whittled down here, don’t conserve your energy!” Bolt and Kuele exchanged worried glances as the Saiyans backed off. A chorus of screams erupted that caused the sky to darken. Lightning rained down in pairs, causing consecutive, thundering booms that vibrated Bolt’s eardrums. Each Saiyan in the army ascended to Super Saiyan. Bolt and Kuele exchanged a glance. They were still not near the two of them, individually at least. The threat increased exponentially, and Bolt wasted no time, firing out several more of his sight ki blasts. A few of the Super Saiyans attempted to break these balls, but Bolt switched them back to solid ki the moment they tried to touch them. The Saiyans cried out as they essentially punched a brick wall at full force.

Bolt reached out, grabbing the nearest Saiyan, holding him as a human shield. The man struggled, squirming in Bolts arms. Everyone else hesitated as they approached Bolt. He swung around in circles, using his Mirror View orbs to watch for any sneak attacks. One of the men encircling him was charging a ki blast behind his back. Bolt held his target in that mans direction, but upon second glance, the man was only half paying attention to Bolt. Kuele was fighting fiercely. A man came towards him, throwing a punch which Kuele diverted. He quickly tried to hit Kuele with his other arm, which Kuele blocked with a palm. Using his free arm, Kuele slid his palm along the mans extended arm, slamming into his skull. He turned just in time to see a Saiyan fire a humongous ki blast towards him. Others quickly joined in, assisting the Saiyan with his blast, using their own smaller attacks to increase its power.

Kuele raised his arms to block, but there was no need. Bolt leapt in the way of the attack. Kuele’s heart sunk as he listened to Bolt’s agonized scream as the blast erupted on him. He watched Bolt’s body, steaming from heat, fall towards the ground. Kuele stared down at one of his people, his most trusted advisor and long time friend, dying. There was nothing he could do. Kuele looked at the Saiyans opposing him, his resolve strengthened behind his killer intent.

JayJay and Judes flew in quickly, landing in the middle of the warzone. The frontmen were setting up large Katchin shields as temporary trenches for the troops. JayJay and Judes fist bumped as they circled around behind the Sobrium troops. They really didn’t care if this battle poured towards the X-Force. There was a giant cruiser off in the distance, readily available for the two of them to take. They moved swiftly and quietly. They bumped into a random Sobrium patrol, but he didn’t so much as scream before JayJay had his neck snapped.

They arrived at the clearing around the ship. There were patrols everywhere, and men inside the ships mounted on very basic defensive cannons, pointed towards the sky in case someone flew in to attack them. The door to their cargo bay was wide open. JayJay and Judes whispered a plan to one another. They would take the ship from the cargo bay, working their way up to the bridge. They waited for a few things to be offloaded from the ship, JayJay keeping an eye on patrols. He tapped Judes arm and the both of them slammed into the cargo bay as quickly and quietly as they could. They checked around for any sign they had been spotted, but all was quiet outside.

The cargo bay was at least three stories tall, with men patrolling catwalks along the sides and above. Large cranes hung atop the ceiling, looking over the field of crates below. Most of the crates were about the size of shipping containers, but stood upwards. JayJay and Judes snuck through the maze, having to stop for minutes at a time to wait for a guard to stop hanging around an area. They took no chances, and got through easy enough. They found the stairs and climbed them to the second floor, where they opened the valve and popped into the tight narrow corridors. JayJay stopped to check the ships map, scanning it’s many floors for the security room.

They moved the mile down the hallway on the ship, killing anyone they encountered and stuffing their bodies in closets or empty rooms. They would have to first close the cargo bay, then all exterior doors before taking off. They also needed to get rid of anyone who could raise alarm. The next corridor they entered was long, a single flickering light being the only thing that lit it.

They exchanged nervous glances as they moved through the dark hallway. They got right under the flickering light, and JayJay began to calm his nerves as he saw the next hallways light. The only sound was their breathing. JayJay kept pressing forward, until he stopped hearing the hushed footsteps of Judes behind him. JayJay whipped around, and Judes was nowhere to be seen in the hallway. JayJay began to panic before he felt a hand grasp his shoulder. He swerved to the side instinctively, a punch missing his head by a mere inch. He kicked backwards, hearing a man cough as he spun to see a tall shadowy figure standing in front of him. Judes was behind him, the man holding him with one of his four arms. Judes gave JayJay a glance that spoke what he was thinking.

The guy wasn’t that strong, but he had a strange aura about him, and he would require actual effort to beat, which would definitely alert anyone nearby. Judes jumped, grabbing a pipe along the ceiling, kicking forward to hit the man straight in the chest. The man used his two right arms to grasp JayJays legs. He tried to yell out, but JayJay bent inward, pushing him against the ground, making a heavy thud. Judes grasped the mans mouth as JayJay pinched his esophagus inward. The man tried thrashing around, but JayJay and Judes were pinning his arms to the ground. Even so he still made small bangs that jolted JayJay and Judes.

They waited for him to stop thrashing, before getting up. They nodded to each other silently. “That was too close.” Judes whispered.

“Come on, we should be close to the security center.” JayJay smirked, moving forward. As they moved on, Judes turned, having forgotten to take care of the body, but it was gone. He slapped JayJay’s arm. JayJay gave him an undignified glare until he saw what Judes saw.

“What’s the likelihood of a guy with two arms having two esophaguses?” Judes asked. JayJay wasn’t amused. “Go. Go!” Judes said, shouting, now that stealth was out the window. The two blasted through the ship at top speed. They moved fast enough that most of the ship’s crew didn’t even notice them blaze past, only feeling the wind that followed their movements. Judes landed right in front of the door with a sign that said ‘Security: Authorized Personnel only’.

The door was hanging open slightly, and Judes kicked it straight off its hinges. The man from earlier was bleeding on the floor as the entire staff of the room looked up at Judes. He ran in and began to kill each and every one of the staff. JayJay followed suit quickly. Some of them put up a tiny bit of a fight, but they managed to take out almost the entire security force with minimal effort.

The two sat there, panting, not from exhaustion, but because their adrenaline calmed, they looked at each other, laughing. A loud blaring sound came as a red light filled the room, the both of them snapped to the man with four arms, whom had pressed a button on one of the consoles before collapsing. The two ran towards the many monitors that decorated the room, it had two floors, but the second floor was a balcony that allowed one to view all the monitors form the first floor up. They stared at the monitors, seeing helmet cams and set up outposts turn bright red.

Every Sobrium soldier who came from that ship had a wristband that alerted them if their ride home was under attack. Sobrium had at least some value for his horde tactics, and knew soldiers didn’t grow on trees. JayJay and Judes watched as twenty thousand men turned, their cameras all facing the same place: The ship. They exchanged a glance as they realized just how grim the situation was.

Pyra let the army of Sobrium soldiers assault him, not really caring too much about their attack and more about his temporary allies safety. He flew into the air, dragging a few men who were trying to grapple him into the sky as he looked in every direction. He grew nervous of their safety, but he eventually caught sight of the X-Force. They were already engaging Aohi. He blasted a man who was making a loud obnoxious sound, and then looked over towards the other group. They were already battling the ORBL forces and Ghost. The last one would be the boy, Crimson, who flew for Darwin and Sobrium. He looked towards the ground and saw the Namekian who had healed everyone was struggling to fight a few of the soldiers around him. Pyra dropped down, clearing the lot of them with a few swift movements that they didn’t even register until they dropped dead. Pyra nodded towards Dayereh, letting him run into the woods, but he was running for Kuele and Bolt, not Crimson. Pyra didn’t really seem to mind, as he began to get dogpiled on by the group of opponents. He tucked his arms inward, letting out energy with a scream that cleared the lot of them off of himself. He waited until he was absolutely sure Dayereh had enough time to clear out, almost ten minutes, before he fired a tiny ki blast at the ship, the blast expanding rapidly as it closed in. It wiped out the entire ship and all the forces that were fighting him in an instant. Pyra took a breath, before he felt Darwin’s power surge in the distance. He spun on heel, firing off immediately. He felt a battle around Darwin, someone battling him further and further away from Pyra.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Pyra kept at a constant pace as he followed the battle Darwin was in. His ki sense wasn’t pinpoint, and it felt like he was following traces of the battle. He came across a humongous field of corpses. He landed, looking around as he tried to sense exactly where Darwin was. He doubled back, heading off in a single direction. He finally caught sight of Darwin as he closed in by a ruined cliffside. He saw Darwin standing over Crimson, and he slammed in to save the boy. He managed to catch the ki blast a single moment before it hit Crimson. Darwin’s eyes lit up with joy as he saw Pyra. “Buddy!” Darwin shouted as Pyra tackled him backwards.

Pyra turned to see if Crimson was alright, but his body was gone. Pyra took note of a few bruises across Darwin’s arms and wondered if that was Crimson’s doing. He let go of Darwin, thrusting him across the ground like a pebble skipping on water. Darwin quickly recovered, and stood up with a happy clap. “Didn’t expect to see you here.” Darwin tried to make small talk, but Pyra wasn’t amused. He thrust a fist into Darwin’s abdomen, but Darwin simply waved it off. Pyra stared forward, surprised. Darwin had a sinister grin on his face the likes of which Pyra had never seen before. He powered up, an overwhelming weight that nearly crushed Pyra where he stood. Pyra tried to resist the weight put on by Darwin’s power, but it nearly forced him to his knees.

“You know, if you had been just a tad bit nicer for this reunion.” Darwin chuckled. “I might not have had to do this.” Pyra kept his eyes on Darwin, his resolve showing clearly. He felt a knee plant itself into his chest before he even saw Darwin move. He was far beyond the speed of light at this point. Darwin followed up with hits that could shatter planets, but Pyra endured as he was pushed back. He slammed his feet into the ground, letting Darwin’s next hit send him flying, hoping to gain distance so he could transform. Darwin caught Pyra by the ankle as soon as he punched him. “Oh no you don’t!” Darwin laughed as he cracked Pyra against the ground.

“You’ve been hiding this insane strength all this time?” Pyra coughed, getting up. Darwin scratched his nose and yawned a bit.

“Well I’ve gotten better over the last few months, but yeah, I have never really fought you seriously. Now though, well, this warzone is ripe with new toys for me to pick up and I am not really in the mood for a drawn out battle.” Darwin shrugged. Pyra began charging up power in front of Darwin. Darwin raised an unimpressed brow as he simple shook his head. “Really naive, aren’t cha’?” Darwin slammed forward, aiming take off Pyra’s head with a single, well placed chop. Pyra let out a cry as he summoned all the power he could in that one moment. He had lured Darwin in, and he let out an explosion of power in every direction. Darwin shielded himself, and in this one moment, Pyra disappeared from sight.

“Sorry, dad, but I don’t need your orders.” Pyra scoffed, letting out a yell.

“Alright, maybe there is a bit more fun to be had here.” Darwin laughed. Darwin slammed upward, looking to Pyra, but a flash of light instantly caused him to recoil, shutting his eyes. Pyra stood at Darwin, in the base form of Arcosians. Darwin gave a sort of giddy laugh. “He’s really going all out from the start, huh?” Darwin dropped to the ground, staring at Pyra. “Say, Heat kid. What was your reason for hating me again?” Darwin questioned.

“Originally it was to get revenge on you for my brother, but now it’s more personal. I want to prove I am better than you, and in turn, my brother.” Pyra told half the truth. Heater believed he would surpass him one day. Heater couldn’t beat Darwin, so if Pyra did, he would both honor his brothers memory while pursuing his own dreams.

“Want me to help you with that?” Darwin offered. Pyra stared at him, confused. Darwin tapped his ear. Pyra could make out a little communicator at the tip of Darwin’s finger. “Hate to spoil the surprise I had, but this will still be entertaining. Bring out subject ‘C Six’.” Darwin stared at Pyra, who waited patiently. He was going to crush Darwin and all his little tricks and subjects all in one go.

Pyra kept his arms crossed as he stared forward towards Darwin. Darwin whistled a little tune as he waited, obviously impatient. “If you’re stalling for time,” Pyra warned “I’ll just end you here and now.”

“Tsk tsk.” Darwin sighed. “So impatient.” He half turned as a loud metallic screeching was heard. “There we go…” Darwin trailed off. Pyra started to grow concerned, staring at Darwin. Darwin saw Pyra’s confused expression and his smile only grew wider. “Oh this wait is killing me.” He groaned as he ran his hand down his face. Something heavy thud against the ground in front of Pyra, the sudden impact causing a heavy cloud of smoke that Pyra shielded his eyes from.

The smoke began to clear slowly, Darwin’s smile the first thing visible, before a figure stood up next to Darwin. Darwin whipped his hand forward, clearing all the smoke in an instant. Pyra stared forward, his jaw dropping as his lip quivered. In front of him stood his brother Heater, but not all of him. Heater’s left arm and leg as well as a majority of his torso had been replaced with machinery. His eyes were black, dyed that way from leftover blood in his skull. His skin was deathly pale, but green fluid ran in his veins, visible through the skin. It pulsed in a sick mockery of life. His face shown no emotion, just a blank stare, not even at Pyra, just into the distance.

“Was hoping to drop this on your doorstep one day but the project is still in its baby stages.” Darwin chuckled. “Got this idea a while back whilst I was experimenting with a few things.” Darwin leaned an arm on top of Heater’s head, being a full two feet taller than him. Heater was still in his final form. “So just to let you know how the dear old reunion is possible, I brought the idea to a few scientists in Sobruims army. We took the bodies of the galaxies strongest deceased fighters and brought them back to life with machinery and science. Their souls are gone, making them kinda boring for conversation, but they are still as powerful as the day they died, given they haven’t been rotting for too long.” Darwin laughed. Pyra began to sniffle as his throat grew tight. It really was Heater. Down to the little scar he had below his nose, and the color of the orb on his body.

“C Six.” Darwin stated aloud, crossing his arms. Heater’s body janked to life, standing up straight, his dead eyes piercing Pyra. “Offensive mode.” Heater immediately took a combat stance, staring forward at Pyra like a robot. “Give me a good show.” Darwin commanded as he sat back to relax. Heater barrelled towards Pyra, Pyra raised an arm to block instinctively. The blow was heavy, far harder than a living person would consider. He was no longer held back subconsciously by his body. If something was damaged, the scientists could just patch it back up. Pyra wiped the tears from his eyes as he returned to the matter at hand. As painful as this was, he had to put his brother back to rest.

Pyra slid into stance as he looked for any sign that his brother was inside this ‘thing’. Heater leapt forward first, raising both his elbows. Pyra caught one elbow, but Heater slid the other one under his guard, hitting Pyra dead in the gut. He twisted his elbow in, forcing Pyra to cough. He went barrelling backwards, sliding along the ground on one hand. He slowed himself to a stop, but Heater followed up almost immediately. Pyra narrowly avoided the blow to his skull, grasping onto Heater’s leg, he threw him overhead. Heater soared into the distance, landing against the ground like a doll. He janked alive, getting up with several loud pops ringing through the air.

Pyra stared forward as the mechanical bits whirled to life on his brother. Lights flashed on metal as he began taking heavy steps towards Pyra. Pyra had a brief flashback to the time he was being trained by his brother. He was thrown across the room and his brother walked towards him, not like this janky creatures movements, but very relaxed and calm, even a little bit of guilt. Heater broke from his janky movements with a sudden lunge at Pyra again. Pyra dove forward to catch Heater off guard, but he didn’t think like a living being anymore

Heater calculated the exact position in which Pyra would be. Pyra fell right into Heater’s arms, locked in a grapple, Heater crushed Pyra by squeezing him in a bear hug. Pyra let out a continuous scream as his bones crushed inwards. He took a breath, pushing his arms outward against Heater. Heater stared at him blankly, the mechanical parts calculating the best way to hold him. Pyra was easily overcoming the mechanical arm, but his brothers remaining arm kept him held in place. It had the same strength that Heater did when he was alive.

Heater was the strongest of Heat’s sons, being the first. In fact, he was as old as Pyra is now when he died. Pyra grew increasingly frustrated as he failed to pull this single arm off of him. Even after all this time, when he got as old as his brother, he still wasn’t as good as him on an even level. He pounded his fist onto Heaters head, rocking it backwards, leaving a strange dark green bruise in his head. Pyra let out a cry of frustration and hatred as he turned to face Darwin. Darwin was floating like he was on an invisible lawn chair, arms behind his head with a careless smile on his face.

No longer willing to put up with Darwin’s games, Pyra used his ki to throw Heater off of him in an outward blast. Heater slid backwards from the force, reaching forward as he tried to resist the force. Pyra followed Heater as he slid, bringing a swift uppercut to his jaw. Heater again calculated Pyra’s trajectory, leaning his body backwards to avoid the uppercut. Pyra’s tail slammed in to Heater’s gut, impaling him straight through his circuitry.

Heater janked, twisting his metallic body as his shoulder blades moved, missile launchers raising on each side. Pyra’s eyes widened as he avoided one of the tiny missiles, no bigger than a dart, as it’s fin cut Pyra’s cheek from the sheer force of launch. Pyra turned halfway, watching that tiny missile explode in the distance. A bright flash followed, a mushroom cloud blooming into the sky. Tiny nuclear missiles, and he had at least thirty more in those launchers. Nuclear bombs weren’t much of a threat to fighters of Pyra’s level, but thirty direct hits would stun Pyra enough to let a more substantial attack land. This, however, gave Pyra an idea.

Pyra ripped his tail from Heater’s abdomen, leaping backwards over Darwin. Darwin gazed upwards, watching Pyra fly back. Pyra shot a blast down at Darwin whilst he jumped. Darwin reached a hand up, crushing the blast with a coy smile. He watched the two fly off into the distance, getting up from his imaginary chair and standing on the side of the cliff, looking over the distance at the fallout zone.

Pyra landed in a large clearing, the Heater bot floating in the air. Pyra dropped his guard for just a moment, purposefully. The bot fired a single missile straight at Pyra. Pyra let the missle hit him in the chest, shielding his eyes as best he could, and closing his mouth to avoid the dust. The blast eviscerated everything within a few miles. Pyra kept his eyes closed, feeling for Heater’s power. He was going to counter attack whilst Heater attempted to sneak up on him. He sensed outwards, but there was nothing. He extended the range of his search back to the cliffside, and he sensed Darwin’s presence, but Heater was nowhere. A fist planted itself into his gut from somewhere in the cloud.

Pyra swiped his hand, clearing the mushroom cloud from the area as he stared forward at Heater. His eyes had a large bright spot on them from the blast, even though he had looked away. Heater stepped forward slowly, crushing the broken off Katchin beneath his feet. It sounded like glass crunching and Pyra took a breath, getting back into stance. This creature they made his brother into was specifically built to combat the Heat family. Even with a computer brain, however, it didn’t have anywhere near Inferno’s level of calculating power. Even though Inferno never trained like Warmer and Pyra, his powerful mind made up for this, and he could keep even with Pyra sometimes just with his prediction alone.

Pyra had to think back to those times sparring Inferno. Drawing on past experiences of what to do when your every move is being predicted. He couldn’t brute force Heater like he could sometimes do to Inferno, as he was slightly stronger, doing so would most certainly result in Pyra losing. He took another blow to the gut as Heater lunged forward, sliding back even further. Heater continued moving at him at a steady pace, his missiles at the ready. Pyra looked at the two launchers, blinking as he nodded softly to confirm his idea, running through how it could go dozens of times in his head.

He leapt forward, waiting for Heater to counter-attack as he brought a wide hook outward. The moment Heater tried to jab him in the gut, Pyra grappled onto both his arms, pinning them against his sides. He picked Heater up and hurled him into the sky. As he flew, Heater straightened himself enough to lock onto Pyra. He fired three missiles at Pyra in quick succession. Pyra opened his palm, catching one missle between two fingers each. He held a missile in between every finger on his right hand, right above the webbing of the hand. He clutched them tightly as he took one out like a dart and hurled it back at Heater to test something.

Sure enough, Heater used another missle to block the one Pyra threw. Pyra thought it was strange that the creature avoided using ki based attacks. It was able to use energy for basic things like shielding and boosting attacks, but it was just a pale mockery of life. It couldn’t fully mimic Heater’s complete capabilities. Pyra threw the last two missiles at the creature, who avoided both of them with an unamused glare. Pyra began to fire ki blasts from a distance at a steady pace. Heater swatted them way, again attempting to hit Pyra with a barrage of missiles. Pyra caught the next volley of missiles between his fingers again. He twirled around, sending them back at Heater.

Heater avoided them, making a quick calculation and concluding that ranged combat was ineffective against Pyra. He vanished from sight, Pyra’s eyes widening as he spun to block a hit coming in from behind him. He swung at thin air, as Heater swooped in as soon as Pyra turned to check behind him. Pyra felt a fist twist into his ribs, and he pushed downward in order to get better footing, bringing his fist around to strike Heater. Heater avoided the blow, countering with an uppercut right under Pyras extended arm. Pyra’s head snapped back, but he attempted to wrap his extended arm around Heaters fist. As soon as he grabbed Heaters fist, he slammed a punch into his skull as he tried to escape. Heater twisted, lifting Pyra from the ground and slamming him into the broken Katchin. Like landing on shards of glass, Pyra yelled out as he got tiny cuts in his body.

He kicked into Heater, throwing him off as quickly as he could. Heater went sprawling backwards a few meters before raising. Pyra stood up, clutching his head. Heater pointed his mechanical arm at Pyra, the hand sliding away as a gun barrel left the opening created. Pyra debated leveling the entire area with his energy, even if it left him open to Darwin in the future. He was tired of seeing his brother turned into a toy for the enemies amusement. He let Heater fire a bullet at him. Pyra flicked his tail in the way to block the bullet, but to his surprise, it pierced straight through his tail. He maneuvered to the side quickly, but the bullet went through the tip of his tail and traveled through the air to make another bullet hole around the base of Pyra’s tail.

Pyra screamed in agony as he watched the bullet slam into the Katchin. He looked at the round as it lay atop the glass. It was made of a strange purple like metal. It had pierced through several layers of the Katchin shards underfoot before coming to a rest. Pyra turned to see Heater move his hand back into place. Whatever bullet that was, being strong enough to pierce his ki like it wasn’t even there, it was probably hard to produce. Still, Pyra knew he no longer had time to sit around and procrastinate on going all out in case Darwin snuck up on him. Heater demanded all his attention right now.

Pyra took a single step forward, before he let out a cry as his tail dropped to the ground, blood pouring out. He grit his teeth, forcing it to lift itself off the ground. Pyra stared forward at Heater, who twisted about. Pyra stared at the gaping hole in the metalic abdomen. He must have hit something important in there, but obviously not important enough. Upon closer inspection he noticed the green like fluid that was flowing through his veins was leaking out through the hole.

Pyra stared at his brother, straightening himself as he got into stance again. Heater lunged forward, a wide and obvious hook thrown at Pyra. Pyra ducked the hook, preparing for the attack to be a distraction, which it was. He blocked the incoming knee, grasping onto it and thrown Heater to the side. Heater grabbed onto Pyra’s tail as Pyra was thrown. Pyra let out a cry as he ripped his tail from Heater’s grasp, turning so he couldn’t reach for it again.

Heater was going through a few calculations as he cocked his head to the side, looking at Pyra. He lunged forward again, Pyra blocking his hit this time and countering with a swift palm strike to his chest. Heater predicted this, blocking it with his free hand, before that hand slid off to reveal the gun barrel again. Pyra didn’t take his chances, slamming off to the side. As Pyra went right, Heater went left, grabbing Pyra’s tail. Pyra tried to rip it free this time, but Heater kicked his feet out from under him. Pyra fell forward, landing hard against the ground. Heater stuck a finger into the bullet hole at the base of Pyra’s tail on both sides. Pyra cried out, trying to thrash about, but heaters metallic leg was pressing him down hard. He reached back, trying to tear off his leg, but to no avail.

Heater widened the hole in Pyra’s tail, before he moved both of his hands in, and slammed them in opposite directions, cutting Pyra’s tail clean off in an incredibly agonizing way. Pyra cried out in agony, throwing a blast behind him to stun Heater. Heater simply jumped back and, instead of making a follow up attack, shut down. Pyra rolled around in agony as he clutched at where his tail used to be. He watched his tail squirm on the ground around him, and for the first time since he got on the planet, he realized this really could be the day he dies. Pyra immediately cauterized the wound so he wouldn’t bleed out on the spot. He turned to Heater weakly.

He looked at the hole in Heater’s stomach, sealing slowly as little machines patched it up using pieces of nearby Katchin. Pyra couldn’t hold back any longer. This wasn’t just a fight anymore, this was life or death. It pained him, but Darwin might have to wait for another day. He stood up weakly, clutching his leg as he thought back on his training on the moons. It was there he discovered his ki property. He never mastered it, but unlocking it allowed him to explore transformations more. The ability to manipulate fire. Unlike normal energy blasts which were more like plasma, fire based ki acted like a true fireball, and burned hotter.

Pyra got onto his feet, pushing off his feet as he coughed, his legs shaking violently from a mix of blood loss and pain of standing without his tail for balance. He stood up straight, staring at Heater as he punched his leg to stop it from shaking. He charged a ki blast, staring at it intently as he tried to find that power he had. The ki slowly changed from a bright ball into a flame. He crushed it in his hand, moving the energy of the ki property throughout his body. He took a moment as he let the heat circle through everything in his body, his blood, his organs, his heart. He let out a cry as he used this heat to transform to his newest and most unstable form. A pillar of fire erupted from him, piercing into the sky, visible from miles away.

Pyra panted as the fire dissipated, staring down at his body. His skin now had a sleek red sheen. His aura radiated like a burning fire around him. Heater snapped to life as he stared forward at Pyra. Pyra radiated enough heat to melt the katchin at his feet, something that wasn’t meltable by any normal heat. The overall power boost at first was substantial, but the pressure on Pyra’s body was immense. He felt like he was being cooked from the inside as he ran at full sprint at all times. He clenched his fist, staring at the Heater creature. It leapt forward, analyzing Pyra’s movements, but it didn’t even see him move before it felt his foot plant itself into his chest. Heater went sprawling across the ground as Pyra flew up into the air.

“I’m so sorry I let him do this to you, Heater.” Pyra took a deep breath. “Even though I lived up to your expectations, I still let you down.” Pyra straightened himself as he brought his hands together in front of him, crushing them together before bringing them out as a ball of fire began to form, growing larger. “Now! From brother to brother! Prince to prince! Student to Master! This is goodbye!” Pyra stuck his arms out, Heater looking up at him as it began to melt from the heat radiating from Pyra’s attack. “Heat!” Pyra shouted, the fire flaring outwards. “Wave!” Pyra finished, a beam of pure fire engulfing Heater, evaporating him almost instantly.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There was an intense darkness as he stumbled through blindly. He had the feeling he fell over, but he wasn’t sure if this was a dream or reality. He got up, moving through the darkness as he looked around, yelling for someone. No responses. He was alone, by himself, but in the distance, suddenly, a light shone. A sound of sorts? Like a hit. He moved towards this light harshly. It pulled away, and he sort of thought maybe if he laid here in the darkness he could get a nice sleep. He shook his head, there was something he had to do. He pressed forward, pushing towards the light until he felt a few hands on his shoulder. He turned, but no one was there.

Crimson gasped, coughing hard as he looked around. He was hazy, but Darwin’s energy was close. He put his fingers to his forehead, vanishing back towards the crater from earlier. He took a deep breath, looking at the cracks running up his body, his skin pale and sickly. Crimson immediately made a ball of ki, sealing the cracks shut with a scream of agony. He took a few breaths as he looked around, terrified and confused. He felt like he had been gone for an eternity, but at the same time, knew where he must go. He looked up from the crater towards Sobrium’s castle. He gulped, taking a step forward, he fell to his knees. He took a deep breath, getting up. He sensed out for everyone else. Aside from a few missing powers, everyone was still fighting hard somewhere else on the planet.

He limped up the hill, climbing out the side of the crater with all the strength he had in his body. He looked into the courtyard from the tree line, crouched down and weak. Guards were running all over the place, and every now and then, lasers and blasts would hit the castle from aerial strikes, before whatever threw the attack would come crashing to the ground, be it ship or person. Crimson saw a darkened corner next to the castle’s main gate. It was completely made out of Katchin, and it cast a dark black shadow. Crimson put his fingers to his forehead, vanishing into the darkness. He took a deep breath as he sat in the darkness, pressing against the corner as he panted, watching patrols move past, he would cover his breath. The castle was gnarly, and looked like a natural mountain of Katchin they had dug into the shape of a castle. The floor wasn’t smooth, and looked more like cooled magma. Crimson peaked from the shadows as soldiers patrolled the massive courtyard, looking up at one of the windows on a higher floor. He shook his head, trying to get his bearings. He could move to another hiding spot, or he could move right into the middle of a group of armed men.

Taking his chances inside the castle instead of outside, Crimson pressed his fingers to his forehead, landing in the windowsill and ducking down immediately to avoid the patrols outside. He landed in a sort of meeting room, but it was completely empty. Crimson saw a water cooler in the corner and dove for it. He drank at least seven cups of water before he relaxed back to recover a bit. There were loud explosions outside, but the castle seemed to be unaffected at the very least, even if the ground shook. Crimson took a breath, moving to the door. The doors looked odd, like they were specifically made for the strange natural shape of the Katchin.

Crimson pulled the door open, peering through to see a hallway filled with people. They were all rushing back and forth, paying no mind to Crimson. Crimson continued to use instant transmission to vanish through the crowd, not even bumping in to anyone or staying long enough for people to notice his injuries. He got into a janitor’s closet, listening in on a conversation outside the door.

“Where’s the king, the southern continent is under heavy siege?” One man asked.

“The king has redirected all the forces to defending the castle. Apparently there are a bunch of heavy hitters only a couple dozen miles off. Darwin himself is reported to be in the process of eliminating a Heat prince.” Another man responded.

“I must ask him to reconsider, where is he?” The first man asked.

“At the tallest spire, in his office. He said to leave him alone. He has a plethora of guard to block off anyone who tries to force their way to him.” The second man warned in case his friend tried anything rash. The two carried the conversation elsewhere. Crimson nodded to himself, placing a hand on his cauterized wounds. He needed medical attention, but sadly he doubted the hospital was quiet around here.

He cracked open the door, using instant transmission to return to the room he was in before through the hallway. He sat down in the meeting room, peeking out the window to see a mushroom cloud in the distance. He winced at the site of such a powerful bomb being detonated casually. Crimson climbed out the window, landing in his corner again. The soldiers in the courtyard were even more on the fritz now. He looked up, to the roof of this spire. He transmitted up there, getting a better view of the other spires.

“Identify yourself!” A megaphone cried out as Crimson held onto the spire, leaning outwards. He looked down. Someone saw him. He disappeared from view, going through the tallest spires large window, he landed smack dab in the room he wanted to be in. Behind a desk, with a swivel chair facing a wall, Sobrium sat reading a large map on the wall. Two guards in the room let out a cry as Crimson appeared in the room. Crimson was barely able to raise a proper fist, but he wasn’t going to die here. He waited for the men to turn on him, one launching a ki blast, Crimson transmitted out of the way. The blast hit his fellow guard. Crimson headbutted the man in the back of the skull as hard as he possibly could. Crimson knocked him clean out.

Sobrium was already out of his chair, a single finger planted against Crimson’s chest, facing towards his heart. Crimson raised his hands up, palms forward. He read Sobrium’s intent. Sobrium shot a beam point blank at Crimson’s heart, but Crimson was quick, putting his fingers to his forehead and appearing at Sobrium’s desk. Sobrium spun on heel, staring at Crimson.

“What in the world is that speed?” Sobrium growled. Crimson raised a hand weakly, looking at Sobrium sincerely.

“I didn’t come here to fight you.” Crimson commented. Sobrium looked over Crimson, before his eyes grew wide with recognition.

“It’s you. The boy Darwin said he killed.” Sobrium blinked.

“Which time.” Crimson chuckled, turning to a cough as he sat down in a chair opposite Sobrium’s desk.

“Couldn’t enact your revenge on Darwin so you come for me instead? You will be a fool if you think I am so easy that a half-dead kid-” Sobrium began before Crimson raised a gentle hand.

“I’m not here to fight.” Crimson admitted.

“Then what are you here for?” Sobrium asked, paranoid.

“To talk.” Crimson stared forward seriously. Sobrium couldn’t help but crack a smile.

“You break into my high security base and take out my guards because you want to talk?” Sobrium asked, appalled. “Why don’t you go ahead and read me the list of reasons you hate me so we can get this over with.”

“You want a list?” Crimson pounded his fist against the desk. Sobrium strolled over to his window, staring out the window.

“Waiting.” Sobrium said as he overlooked the battlefield.

“Let’s start with Taton. Where you wiped out billions of lives.” Crimson began. If Sobrium heard him, he didn’t seem to care. “The people of Mount Willowpeak.”

“Strange.” Sobrium commented.

“What is?” Crimson questioned.

“When most people come to me listing reasons like revenge, they don’t often say the number of people I’ve taken from the world, only the names.” Sobrium commented, rather somber.

“Got to say this isn’t as I expected either.” Crimson commented, coughing a bit as he sat up.

“How so?” Sobrium watched a humongous green explosion in the distance before he finally turned to Crimson.

“I’ve been really trying to build you up to be a worse monster than Darwin. When I was being tortured by Darwin the only thing that kept me through it some days were that Darwin was only number two.” Crimson commented. “Unlike him, you seem to actually be sane.” Sobrium actually laughed. It was a rather hoarse sound, he rubbed his throat, as he had been yelling a lot recently.

“Darwin is a means to an end if I’m truly honest.” Sobrium sat behind his desk, facing Crimson. He raised a finger, pointing it at Crimson’s heart. Crimson stared at the finger, looking back up at Sobrium. Sobrium gave him a quick shrug. “You got my attention, but this is a warzone and if you lose me I’ll move on with what I was doing.”

“So what, Darwin is just a pawn to you?” Crimson asked.

“Some days I feel like it’s the other way around.” Sobrium wrinkled his nose. “Darwin is so much smarter than he lets on, and a damn good liar. Truth is he far surpassed my power years ago when he defeated Heat’s dirty eldest son.”

“You don’t like the Heats?” Crimson questioned.

“I can’t stand their very presence in this galaxy. I despise them.” Sobrium spat. “Want a quick history lesson on the Heats?” Crimson nodded slowly, deciding to let Sobrium vent. “To start quite simply, the Heats dynasty is older than the Cold dynasty by a single year. When they intermingled families down the line it created my line, jokingly called Temperate dynasty. We are usually the lowest in Arcosian politics and far removed from the power of the direct royal bloodlines. Most of us are lucky if we get a planet to be a lord of.” Sobrium chuckled. “Though I can tell by your scowl that you think demanding an entire planet is a bit deplorable.”

“Just a bit.” Crimson stated.

“Well lucky for us Temperates, the Heats and Colds usually left us out of their conflicts. When the current King Heat conquered most of the galaxy in his young years, he brought a lot of commodities to the world. Having the galaxy united under one banner was nice for a bit, and seeing as Arcosians can live as many as a thousand years if they are smart, people were easing in to a long and prosperous rule. However, Heat, while a great conqueror and warrior, made a poor king. I believe he’s gotten to be semi-decent with age, but in the next ten years three quarters of his empire broke off and declared independence. I was among them, believing my planet would benefit more from being unconnected to someone reputed as a ruthless warrior.” Sobrium smile somberly. “For many years I lived happily. I had my own son, and raised him as proper royalty. He was so good, my son. Loved by the people, he would rarely be in the castle, often falling asleep in bars with newly made friends or in fields of flowers on a small picnic outing with some family that offered to take him.”

Crimson didn’t interrupt Sobrium as he saw Sobrium was tearing up slightly. He continued as he stopped his eyes from growing more watery with sheer will. “Heat had some sons of his own. In fact, when Heater grew to be around the age his father was when he first took over the galaxy, Heater set out to reclaim his father’s lost land. My planet was one of the first few hit. It was brutal and swift when their forces descended on us without warning. We were a garden planet, specifically to grow food and vegetables. Heater slaughtered farmers that got in his way, and when my son stood in front of him, he choked him out like an animal and left. That day we fell back under Heat rule, but mine were not the only people walked all over by Heater. Many hated Heater’s assaults, and I was so grief stricken that I rallied my people under my banner. Quickly, dozens of other planets joined under my banner. Thus the Sobrium Empire was born.” Sobrium leaned back.

“You were originally a Heat rebellion?” Crimson asked, astonished.

“Yes. Second most successful, aside from the Devil Dog underground movement that was all but wiped out. Before that brat Blaze and after all the small rebellions, there was me. Heat’s soldiers were well trained, and I didn’t have time to train people of equal quality whilst Heater brutally bombarded us.” Sobrium spilled his heart out to Crimson, grabbing a bottle and pouring himself a bit from it.

“So you came up with the swarm tactics.” Crimson concluded.

“Yes.” Sobrium confirmed. “Even still, my forces were being crushed, until one day, I happened upon one of Heater’s most recent conquests. A planet wiped almost barren of life, a handful of survivors from one race. They looked identical to humans, but were so much more. It was there I found Darwin. Not crying over the corpse of a loved one or fighting against me as he sometimes claim he was. Just sitting there, on top of a corpse, like he had been waiting for me. I knew he was what I needed the moment I laid eyes on him.”

“So you gave the psychopath second in command and let him do whatever he wanted?” Crimson growled.

“It was effective. Darwin eliminated Heater, and continually got stronger, even taking on two of the remaining Heat princes at the same time, despite losing just barely. His race are like Saiyans, getting a boost from defeat, always born with massive potential. Though I do hear they have one major defect, one I wish I knew about before I brought Darwin on board.” Sobrium sighed.

“That is?” Crimson asked to break the silence.

“As they age, they all gain increasingly more violent tendencies. Childish curiosity, in Darwin’s case, became a sick and twisted game of information prying. If he wants to know something, he will go through anything and anyone who would stand in the way of him learning what he wants to learn.” Sobrium finished, leaning back.

“Why haven’t you killed me yet?” Crimson asked.

“What’s your name?” Sobrium questioned in response.

“Crimson.” Crimson answered.

“Well, Crimson, you still haven’t told me why you’re really here.” Sobrium asked. “You better answer well, I would hate to waste a lecture on a corpse.”

“At first I wanted to fight you, but now I think back on who really taught me right from wrong. Ecanoya. The closest thing to family I’ve ever had. I am going to solve this as he would. Talking.” Crimson took a breath. “Instead of beating my way of thinking into you or just simply trying to kill you, I want to talk you into disbanding your empire.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ryal screamed in absolute agony as Olve threw his arm into the air. He squirmed on the ground as Bryce slammed a boot on his head, rubbing his heel into Ryal’s face. “That’s what I wanted to hear!”

“You stupid, muscle bound nutcase!” Ryal shouted, gritting his teeth as he slammed his head back, clasping onto his bleeding stump. “You were trying to kill us and you blame me for fighting back?”

“I blame you because I have nothing else to do in life! Killing you has been my sole obsession for the past five years! Just so I can stop waking up and calling out for my sister only to remember she’s gone!” Olve pressed his boot into Ryal’s head. Ryal was done with this. He slammed his fist into the ground, punching right through the Katchin with little regard for personal safety. Ryal let loose a humongous blast of energy that forced Olve to leap back as it decimated the general area around Ryal. Ryal leapt into the forest as he charged ki to the palm of his hand, cauterizing the wound to stop the bleeding immediately. Blood still trickled from the wound, and it hurt even more now, but he knew he could keep going for a bit.

The white hot burning sensation in his arm was nothing compared to his fear. If he passed out right now, that was it. He would die. Game over. Ryal took a moment to straighten himself. Olve waved a hand, blowing away the brush that hid Ryal. Ryal stared at Olve with hate in his eyes. He really wished there was a way to get through his thick skull, to make him act as Bryce again instead of this ‘Olve’ persona he made for himself. He chuckled to himself slightly at how silly he was being, wanting to help the man who wanted nothing more than to mount his head on a pike.

“What’s so funny?” Olve shouted, lunging for Ryal. Even without an arm, Ryal was not going down easily. He switched to clashing Olve with a series of kicks. Olve hooked hard, and Ryal stomped into his fist, pressing off the momentum to throw himself backwards. Olve threw a ki blast as Ryal flew back. Ryal raised his arm into the air, letting more of his energy flow into the sky. Olve still hadn’t caught on. He charged his own ki attack in his hand, energy leaking from the attack into the air as Ryal threw it at Olve’s. Bryce lunged over his attack, aiming to hit Ryal as he clashed the ki blasts. Ryal simply sidestepped, and as his own attack evaporated into air, Olve hit himself with his own ki blast.

Olve screamed out in frustration as he swung at Ryal. Ryal swerved to the side, but Olve’s knuckle grazed the side of his missing arm, and even the slightest touch brought back that same searing agony he had felt before. He nearly buckled over from it, and in this moment he was frozen from pain, Bryce kicked him hard in the stomach, sending Ryal sprawling into the ground he had destroyed. Ryal was half buried under rubble as he stared up at Olve, slipping in and out a bit as he pushed himself off the ground, rubble tumbling pass him as he got back on his feet. He clenched his fist tightly, charging energy into it as he let it go, watching the trinklings of energy float into the air. He took a deep breath, letting Olve plant his fist into Ryal’s abdomen, sending him sprawling back again.

Before Ryal had a chance to come to a stop, Olve followed up with another hit, sending Ryal tumbling again. Ryal got pushed further and further, before he completed feeling the pattern. The next time Olve slammed a fist into his stomach, he felt something crack, but he was able to grab Olve’s arm. Slamming his hips against Olve, he lifted Olve over his shoulder and slammed him into the ground. As Olve tried to recover, he slammed his foot down, pressing him into the ground.

Olve overpowered Ryal, standing up as Ryal fell back. He wiped his mouth as he again straightened himself. Ryal’s refusal to go down didn’t bother Olve in the slightest, in fact he seemed to be getting exactly what he wanted, a long, drawn out death for Ryal. Ryal was going to use this weakness to defeat him. Ryal just had to create distance and an opening to secure victory at this point. Enough energy trinkled into the air that his final attack could be used, but he only had one shot. He would need to use his trump card to guarantee a hit.

The pain in his arm flared again, causing Ryal to kneel for a moment. It was coming in more frequent waves as his adrenaline began to fail in its job to mask his pain. He stood up, readying himself for Olve to hit him. He saw Olve charge a ki wave at his side, thrusting his hands forward and firing it at Ryal. Ryal leapt up, putting his feet against the wave and using it to propel himself away from Olve. It burned immensely but it was the fastest option. Olve didn’t even notice until it was too late. Ryal slid into a cliffside, planting his back against it as he was cornered by Olve. Olve took Ryal’s arm from the ground, throwing it at Ryal like a spear. Ryal caught his own arm, staring at it gritting his teeth. He threw his removed arm into the air as he stuck his remaining arm forth, a palm outstretched to Olve.

Ryal thought back to the forest at home, his body was trembling as he really just wanted to lay down, but he knew he couldn’t. He was drawing upon something different from ki, and he wasn’t sure how to truly explain it to other people. Drawing ki is like bringing energy and power into your body, but magic is something different. Magic is like drawing upon the mysterious forces of the universe. It was an entirely different sensation, more calm and relaxed. Ryal watched Olve approach him slowly as he drew in this power.

He had a memory that blocked his path only slightly. A long table at Willowpeak. Crimson and himself had just returned from hunting with Mur and Saguaro. Bryce and his sister sitting with a bunch of other Saiyan kids, laughing. The lot of them jumping up to wave as they came back. No animosity, none of that ‘Saiyan superiority’ bullcrap. It was just a large group of kids who were friends.

Ryal sighed, knowing those good times were gone. He took his outstretched arm, feeling his stub. It throbbed, but at this particular moment, Ryal had dulled the sensation of pain mentally. He let out a breath, watching the sky as he saw twinkling energy up below the clouds, doing their work. His own arm was spinning in the sky. He snapped forward, staring at Olve again.

Ryal stuck his palm forward again firstly. Olve recognized what Ryal was doing from the last time, but it was too late, Ryal had already locked in on Olve. Using the magic, branches of varying lengths shot out after Olve. Olve ripped through a few, throwing them from his body as he panicked, screaming out like a sort of ape. He ripped one of the branches off of himself, but a few more shot from the woods next to him, grasping him and holding him in place. A large branch wrapped itself around Olve’s left foot, pulling him in, whilst another got his right ankle. OIve tried to blast the branches off, but every time he did, more grew to assault him.

Ryal stuck his stump towards the sky. He had been gathering energy all this time, preparing for this exact moment. Olve was panicking, living that same moment of powerlessness all over again. Ryal did feel a bit guilty for torturing him like this, but that guilt soon evaporated as he remembered what Olve promised to do once he was dead. He was going to get what’s coming to him.

The energy that Ryal had been sending into the sky was gathering energy from across the nearby planets and solar systems, acting like tiny satellites. Ryal left the magic to keep Olve trapped as he raised his remaining arm to catch his removed one as it fell from the sky. He had been using his stump to sort of direct the energy, though he wasn’t yet used to using the remainders of his arm. Ryal took a deep breath as he used his remaining arm to hold his missing arm in the air.

Energy from living things all over began to swirl in around Ryals removed arm. Olve didn’t even notice energy swooping past him. The energy took form on Ryal’s missing arm. Ryal grit his teeth, pulling more energy towards him. Green spirals parted the clouds, letting beams of sunlight to pour onto the war torn landscape. Ryal let out a cry to deafen out Olve’s own. Olve quieted, looking towards Ryal as the branches strung him up between the trees.

The energy that was swirling around Ryal’s arm began to take the form of a drill. A giant green drill that only grew in size energy twinkled down from the sky around Ryal, and the amount of energy pouring into Ryal’s attack terrified Olve. “Not yet.” Ryal thought. He needed an assured victory, not a doubt in mind that this was the final attack.

He drew from the forest back at home. Brianna stepped outside to stare in awe as light danced from the forest around her, floating into the sky. She grit her teeth. “Dumbass…”

He drew energy from his father’s home planet, though he still didn’t understand it. Exo was chopping wood outside when he felt his son’s pull on the planet. Exo scratched his nose proudly, setting the axe down and leaning on it as he watched the energy float off.

The drill grew in density as Ryal stared forward at Olve. The branches pulled Olve far enough away that the attack wouldn’t hit Ryal with it’s concussive force. “This is it Olve! For your crimes! For your hubris! For my pals you would have killed! The epitome of my manliness! Spiral Drill Cannon!” Ryal shouted with all the passion in his body. He hurled his missing arm towards Olve. The drill spiraled rapidly as it drove its way towards Olve as he sat stringed up. Olve screamed as the dismembered arm pierced through him and carried him off. Ryal panted, falling to his knees as a green explosion detonated in the distance, eviscerating anything in the radius of several dozens of miles. The sheer force was enough that it opened up the sky for Ryal to see the sun again. He wanted to sleep, but he was still needed elsewhere.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“What-What is that energy?” Berta asked, her entire body shaking. Malkor wasn’t much different. Everyone had frozen in place, terrified. Ghost took a single step forward, the katchin beneath his feet turning to sand as he move towards Derek.

“This is a level beyond Super Saiyan unlike the two I just showed you children. Without a loss in speed, but with more drain in energy. This is Super Saiyan Two.” Ghost educated them. “And it’s twice as powerful as a Super Saiyan.” No one doubted him. Ghost lunged forward, so fast no one could see him, he planted a foot into Derek’s chest. Derek felt his ribs crack as he flew back. Everyone snapped to look for Ghost, noticing Derek flying back. Ghost vanished again, a fist planted into Malkors gut. Malkor puked on spot, the force of the hit shattering his ki shield like nothing. Ghost’s gaze turned to Berta. Berta instinctively shrieked, like a cornered animal, throwing a ki blast at Ghost. Ghost tried to swat it away, but the ki blast sort of melted around his arm. Berta blinked, and everyone, including Ghost himself seemed surprised.

Ghost tried to pull the energy from his arm, but it became solid again, burning Ghost slightly. Ghost threw it off his body, staring forward at Berta. He slammed a kick towards her gut. Paul stepped in the way, shielding her with his own body as he took the kick for her, the both of them flying back. Malkor, in this same timeframe, flopped onto the ground below them. Ghost turned to Jason. Jason let out a cry of anger, all his energy pouring out to set him at maximum power. Ghost lunged forward, and Jason was just barely able to make out a blur. He blocked the hit from Ghost by predicting where he would strike. Ghost’s eyes widened.

“A human child that can keep up with Super Saiyan Two?” Ghost asked, astonished. Jason smirked, even though he wasn’t keeping up, if Ghost thought he could, that was enough of an advantage for him. He let loose a blast towards Ghost, who moved behind him. Jason trailed the blur to his back, spinning around to block Ghosts next hit. Ghost grit his teeth, growing more frustrated. His pride was stung to see one of the weakest races in the galaxy opposing him on a near even level.

Jason kept up this pattern, using, for once, his brain instead of his brawn. He readied to watch the blur at any time. He blocked every single one of Ghost’s hits just by analyzing the blurred movement. Paul helped Berta up as Jason combated Ghost by himself. “Didn’t know he was that strong.” Berta commented, holding her bleeding head.

“Neither did I.” Paul sighed, readying to fly off. Berta grabbed his hand. Paul stopped, feeling her pull as she stopped him. She seemed to be looking for the words to say before she simply nodded to him.

“I’ll be here.” She sighed. “Don’t die, dumbass.”

“Gotcha.” Paul gave a thumbs up to her and smiled. Flying off to grab Malkor and check on him. Malkor was face down in his own puke, Paul grimaced, rolling him over. Malkor wasn’t breathing. His eyes widened as he began to pump his chest, but on the first push, Malkor spat up puke, wiping his mouth as he spit, getting up.

“Gah, thanks Paul.” He coughed, looking around disgusted. He unbuttoned the hood from his cloak, using it to wipe his face.

“Can you do that Imagination Overdrive thing?” Jason shouted to Malkor. Ghost snapped, looking to Malkor, but Paul was already running off with him.

“Not for a while, Ghost broke my momentum.” Malkor coughed a bit, holding his gut. Paul nodded, arriving by Derek. He set Malkor down, kneeling by Derek. Derek was blinking, one eye closed as he winced.

“Anything broken?” Paul asked.

“Not that I know of.” Derek responded with a pained chuckle.

“Then come on, Jason can’t hold Ghost by himself for long.” Paul helped Derek up. Derek nodded, clutching his stomach as he caught his breath.

“The gap between us and him keeps widening.” Derek noted.

“Then we close it.” A voice called out from the brush. Derek, Malkor and Paul jumped in surprise, readying for a fight before Ryal came stumbling out of the brush. Ryal caught himself, standing straight as he felt his stump. Everyone stared at him in horror. Ryal simply responded with a cocky smile. “Stop gawking, start fighting.” The four of them nodded to each other.

“Ryal, cover Malkor since your wounded, Derek and I will back up Jason!” Paul shouted, flying off with Derek. Derek powered up, charging off. Ghost noticed the two of them coming in from the distance. He threw a punch directed at both Derek and Paul. Derek was able to narrowly avoid the blow simply because he was already dipping to the side to maneuver to Jason’s side. Paul got hit right in the gut, but slammed his arms around Ghost’s extended fist, locking onto them. Ghost shrugged, swinging Paul around and using him like a boxing glove against the others.

Jason ducked back as Ghost grazed Derek. “Paul you idiot, let go!” Derek shouted. Paul was holding on adamantly, causing Jason and Derek to groan. Ghost continued to swing the arm with Paul around it at Derek. Jason readied himself as Derek dodged, not wanting to get in Derek’s way. The only thing either of them could follow was the afterimage of Ghost’s movements, but they began to notice that since Paul was clutching to Ghost, his movements slowed, only slightly. Paul wasn’t just holding on, he was subtly pushing against Ghost’s every movement to slow him down for the others to track him better. Jason and Derek exchanged a happy glance as Jason leapt in to strike Ghost at the back. Ghost swung his free fist back, slamming it into Jason’s nose, breaking it immediately. Jason fell back, holding his nose as Derek followed up with a swift kick. Ghost fell back only slightly as the kick hit his stomach. He ripped Paul off his arm, chucking him into the air, and throwing a blast at his stomach. Paul let out a cry as he was blown into the atmosphere.

Berta was practicing what she did earlier. She made a ball of ki, bouncing it, as it warbled like some sort of water balloon. She threw it against a tree, and it splat. She stuck her finger in the ki, and it was firm again. Like a cement mix, her ki was liquid for a short while before becoming solid. She practiced a few more times before sliding over to open view of Ghost just in time to see him send Paul flying. She pinched the bridge of her nose as she focused, looking for an opening.

Malkor fired an alpha beam from Ryal’s side towards Ghost. Ryal charged in with the beam, but Malkor couldn’t drop his focus to shout at him. The beam went straight for Ghost’s back as he was turned, and Ryal spun around atop Ghost, spinning in a circle before delivering a powerful kick towards the top of Ghost’s head, screaming: “Spiral Roundhouse!”

Ghost caught Ryal’s foot, and Ryal smirked, watching the Alpha beam punch straight into Ghost’s back. Ghost didn’t even flinch, simply staring at Ryal. The beam was burning through him incredibly slowly, but without extended contact it wouldn’t even scratch him. Ghost swatted the beam off his back, sending it into the distance. Malkor tried to bring it back in towards Ghost, but he simply swung again, swatting it away. He threw Ryal towards Jason, who caught him with a surprised gasp.

Derek charged a bright ki blast in his hands, hurling it towards Ghost, shouting. “Luminescent Bomb!” He bellowed. A blinding light erupted right in Ghosts face. Ghost fell back, clutching his eyes. Derek landed a hard kick to his stomach, sending Ghost back. Derek came in for another kick, but this time Ghost countered with a quick jab. Jason watched in astonishment.

“Stop gawking!” Ryal screamed as he ripped out of Jason’s grip, staring towards Ghost, though his vision was blurry and his body was weak, Ryal was pushing past the limits of his body. He would not- could not, fall here. Ghost stared around his surroundings as he took a breath, powering up even furthur.

“How can he still go further?” Derek screamed in surprise. Paul, Jason, Derek and Ryal all got into defensive stances. Ghost vanished from site, appearing behind Jason. Everyone but Paul spun immediately. Paul spun last, and Ghost aimed for the weak link. Jason extended a kick towards Ghost, whilst Ryal went for an overhead punch. Derek shot a ki blast at Ghost’s side in the meantime.

Ghost caught both the physical attacks, spinning Jason in the way of the ki blast as he chucked him into the distance. He flicked Paul’s forehead, causing him to snap back, holding his forehead as it bruised heavily. He kicked into Derek, slamming a full force kick into his stomach. Derek coughed hard, feeling his cracked ribs snap completely. As this happened, Ghost pounded his fists into Derek’s back, sending him downward, but not before he brought another foot upward to kick him again as he went down. The force at which Derek was dropping and Ghost’s foot was raising was so great that Ghost’s foot tore right through Derek’s side. Derek went crashing into the ground.

Jason gazed at Derek’s mutilated corpse, his eye twitching. Ryal coughed, falling to the ground as he ran on fumes. Malkor was unable to focus, and Paul fell to the ground in defeat. Jason felt a bubbling rage inside him as he let out a shrill roar of pure anger. He never felt worse agony in his life, not when his mother committed suicide, or his father left him. Not even when the orphanage was burned down. Energy left him rapidly as he powered up to heights he never considered possible. Ghost shielded himself from the windforce as he stared in awe at Jason.

Paul crawled over to Derek, tears in his eyes, he held Derek’s hand. Derek was breathing heavily, turning to wheezing as blood left his body. “Paul?” He called out. Looking around desperately, unable to see again.

“I’m here Derek, it’s me!” Paul shouted, clutching Derek’s hand to comfort him.

“Paul I… I can’t see anymore.” Derek panicked, beginning to cry.

“Shh, we’ll get you help, just rest quickly, alright?” Paul nodded, crying harder.

“Paul, I’ve been thinking. What if that cave. What if that’s it? That’s the real afterlife. Wandering around, lost in darkness. What do I…” Derek cut out. Paul stopped crying, looking up and wiping his tears and sniffling.

“Derek?” He asked, but there was no reply. Derek’s breathing had stopped suddenly. His body was still warm, and blood still ran in his veins, but Derek was gone.

Jason kept crying out in rage until he was utterly cut off by a shriek of agony, followed by a blinding beam of light that thundered into the sky, parting the clouds, sending any ship in atmosphere flying off course. The eruption of power was so vast that even Heat, on the far end of the galaxy, felt the faint edge of it. Paul stood up, letting go of Derek’s hand. Everyone stopped what they were doing as Paul floated up, true hatred in his eyes for the first time.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Pyra stared at Darwin as he strolled into the clearing. “So you wiped out your own blood? How Cold.” Darwin snickered. Pyra was not having any of his games. He got into a fighting stance immediately. Darwin raised a brow as he noticed Pyra’s transformation. “That’s new. Not familiar with any Arcosians who can do that. Guess I’ll have to extract the information from your head!” Darwin shoutes, lunging forward.

Pyra was able to keep even with Darwin now, but in his single counterpunch he felt how much more taxing it was to use this form. This was not a fight he could draw out. He let Darwin get closer and throw another faint jab, catching his real attack before he uppercut Darwin with a follow up. Darwin stumbled back a bit, holding his jaw, a visible bruise on it. “First time someone’s clocked me that good in a while.” Darwin laughed maniacally, swishing around the blood in his mouth, swallowing it. “Let’s see if you got more.”

Darwin flew into the air. Pyra panicked, not wanting to let Darwin draw out this fight, he followed immediately. Darwin turned on heel, sending a kick towards Pyra’s chest as he flew up in a rush. Pyra coughed as the blow hit him dead in the chest, flying backwards. “Gotta say, Pyra, you are one of the strongest fighters in the galaxy! Probably could even take on that X-Force guy Aohi. Ahoi? Whatever!” Darwin laughed again. Pyra went in for another blow before the both of them jolted, feeling a massive power up in the distance. Pyra and Darwin exchanged a glance, because it felt like the power up came from Darwin.

“What tricks are you pulling Darwin?” Pyra shouted.

“Not sure, but I do love a good plot twist!” Darwin shouted back, putting a hand against his head. “That’s not me. That’s one of my race! I thought I wiped us all out. Guess I missed a few who left the planet.”

“One of your race?” Pyra questioned, keeping a careful eye on Darwin.

“Yeah. I can tell. We kinda got that thing that Saiyan’s do. When they get hurt they get stronger? Except ours is four times better. Gotta say, whoever that is has a lot of potential. Gonna have to-” Darwin was cut off as a massive beam of light poured into the sky. Both he and Pyra shielded their faces as the concussive force of the energy blew past them.

“Damn! Are there two of me over there?” Darwin laughed nervously. Pyra watched as the beam disappeared. Darwin put his hands on his hips. “Someone of my race, and someone who has my ki property in the same place?”

“You’re smart enough to find out your ki property?” Pyra taunted. Darwin laughed, before his voice turned cynical.

“Want to find out?” Darwin snickered. “Yeah, ki properties aren’t always something you have to activate. Sometimes it’s passive, like compatibility with transformations, or heightened stamina. For me, it’s called passion ki. Gives its holder massive hidden potential, but requires intense emotion to unlock. Was easy enough for me as a youngster since my race gets more violent as we grow up. Got it from the excitement from my first kill. Kind of a one time boost so I wish I knew so I could have saved it up. “ Darwin commented. “Whoever that is probably just caught all the eyes of every faction around. Might have to go greet them.”

Darwin tried to sucker punch Pyra while he gave his explanation, but Pyra simply caught the punch, squeezing down on his fist. Darwin shook his head. Pyra threw Darwin back, getting into a fighting stance as he prepared to continue the battle.

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Ghost stared back to Jason, then to Paul, getting ready to combat the two. Jason slammed forward, throwing a punch that required Ghost to use maximum effort to avoid. Ghost weaved around Jason’s flurry of punches until he adjusted to the increased difficulty. Ghost threw a straight forward punch, testing Jason’s reflexes. Jason was an instinctive fighter most of the time, and was easily able to adjust to this boost in strength he unlocked from his rage. He blocked the single punch with minimal effort, something Ghost took into account. From what he knew about Jason, this rage couldn’t sustain him for long. He will wear himself out of this tantrum or simply be knocked out of it.

Ghost dropped to the ground, kicking upwards to launch Jason into the air as he followed. Jason tried to power his way through Ghost’s hit, but he wasn’t strong enough to entirely overpower Ghost. Ghost propelled him into the air, followed by a quick use of an afterimage to trick Jason into looking back down at the ground. Ghost slammed his elbow into Jason’s back, sending him spiralling towards the ground. Jason pressed his arms against the ground to brace his impact as he quickly boosted himself up to his feet. Ghost came in with a follow up dropkick that almost hit. Jason slid back, immediately lunging back in with a animalistic cry of rage.

He grasped Ghost’s leg, swinging him into a nearby tree. Ghost smashed through the tree, though it did no damage at his level of power, he was still temporarily dazed by the splinters in his face. Jason flung him off into the distance, but Ghost had quickly recovered, staring down at Paul. Jason was scary, but Paul radiated with an aura that was intensely calm, but far more powerful than any mere human should have. Seeing Jason’s power increase, Ghost was sure of what he had suspected long ago. Jason was one of the remaining members of Darwin’s race. However, what was Paul then?

Jason landed next to Paul, turning to him with hate and anger in his eyes. “Don’t interfere. He’s mine.” Jason shouted at Paul. Paul didn’t even look at him as a white aura flowed from him.

“Go, before I change my mind.” Paul stated simply. Jason blinked, not used to Paul’s calm and confident demeanor. He nodded, turning back to look at Derek’s corpse, anger filling his heart once more as he thought of his promise to Jacob. If Jacob found out Derek died he may delve back into madness, and Jason and Paul would never get him back this time. Jason let his rage fuel him as he dove for Ghost again. Ghost raised his arm to block Jason’s incoming hit, getting pushed back several hundred meters. Jason’s follow up came with a scream of rage. Ghost snapped his leg upward, his heel slamming into Jason’s chin from his straight forward attack. Ghost calmed his nerves, this was the same old Jason. He would just try to brute force his way through the fight, something Ghost could deal with.

Jason dropped to the ground, ripping a tree from the ground and hurling it at Ghost. Ghost let it shatter on his body, waiting for Jason to charge through the gap. Sure enough, Jason went for a head on assault, aiming to headbutt Ghost straight in the gut. Ghost caught Jason’s head quickly, stopping his momentum dead in its tracks. Ghost twisted Jason’s neck, forcing him to follow the momentum or die. As Jason followed the momentum, Ghost snapped his knee upwards, forcing a hit straight into Jason’s gut. Jason coughed, flying back, but Ghost didn’t let go of his neck as he tried to snap it with the power of Jason’s launch. Jason managed to grasp Ghost’s hands, prying them from his skull the moment he flew back, but he started to tumble as he flew into the sky. Ghost flew upwards, a streak of light across the sky as he punched Jason’s gut again.

Jason continued up into the outer atmosphere as Ghost came towards him quickly. Jason straightened himself, letting out a yell as his power flared. He checked his surroundings, a debris field in orbit. Any ship that hadn’t landed on the planet was practically torn to pieces already. This battle had been quick in retrospect, and was already nearing the end. Jason had taken a bit of the atmosphere in his ki shield, allowing him to last out in space for a while. Ghost came shooting out of the atmosphere like some sort of reverse meteorite. Jason dove away from his hit as he crashed into a destroyed cruiser, splitting it in two. Jason tracked Ghost by his bright yellow aura as he circled around, coming back in towards Jason. Jason watched Ghost twist in and around the carcasses of ships before he flew straight inward with a flying side kick.

Jason was tracking him the entire time, but the kick came fast, sending him sprawling back, using a cruiser ship in the debris field to stop himself from drifting endlessly into space. Jason rolled over on the ship as Ghost landed hard on it, sending it catapulting out into the deadness of space. Jason stood up on the ships side, looking up to watch the planet drift further away. Ghost took advantage of Jason’s momentary break from combat to sucker punch him in the gut. Jason coughed, grabbing Ghost’s wrist and wrenching it from his stomach. Ghost fell back, following up with a roundhouse kick. He slammed Jason through a nearby window of the ship, buckling all the metal inward around the entry point. Whatever oxygen remained in the sealed room of the ship rushed out immediately.

Jason rolled, trying to balance himself as the ship was tilting slightly as it flew through space. Jason slid downward, crashing through one of the airtight doors. Air rushed past him as he buckled the four feet steel door like a napkin. He pushed through the rush of air and moved deeper into the ship. Ghost followed through the gap, widening it to fit his larger body just by simply crumpling the metal and pushing it out of the way. Ghost rushed towards Jason, aiming to finish him as quickly as possible so he may return to the battlefield. Jason was acting on rage, and simply wanted to delay this as much as possible to piss Ghost off. As well as to draw the battle out and drain Ghost’s stamina.

Ghost caught up to Jason, throwing a haymaker that Jason narrowly ducked. Ghost ripped through the side of the ship, tearing open another hole to space. Jason threw an uppercut towards Ghosts chin. Ghost turned his head and brought his arm inward to wrap around Jason’s extended fist. He pulled the arm straight and brought his leg around it, attempting to break it. Jason flexed, attempting to wrench his arm from Ghost’s grasp, but Ghost was slowly overpowering him. Jason pounded his free fist into the ground, trying to use leverage to pull his arm free from Ghost as he pressed his feet against the ground. He ripped his arm from Ghost’s grasp, tumbling down the narrow corridor.  He stood up, staring at Ghost, who was rearing back for a punch several meters away. Jason rolled to the side as Ghost came lunging in, plunging his arm through the several meters of steel behind where Jason was standing. Jason got to his feet, staring at Ghost as he began running his arm through the ship, almost as if all that steel wasn’t even there.

Jason turned, looking behind the hallway. There was only enough room for a single person in the hallway. Ghost tore his hand from the wall as Jason got into a wide stance. Ghost drew his foot forward, getting close to Jason. Jason was close enough to see the sweat on Ghost’s forehead. Ghost snapped a kick forward, Jason took a step back, parrying the kick with a swift block. Jason leapt, slamming a heel forward. Ghost sidestepped it, before Jason Pivoted and snapped his leg into Ghost. Ghost barely blocked the kick as Jason pressed him into the wall of the ship. They both felt the entire ship tilt a bit. Ghost pushed Jason’s leg upward, before trying to pull his other leg out from under him. Jason leapt up, placing a leg on the wall and kicking off to hit Ghost in the head before dropping back down.

Ghost immediately retaliated with a raised knee. Jason stumbled back as it grazed him, and Ghost jabbed him in the sternum with a quick lunge punch. Jason tumbled a few feet, grabbing the walls to catch himself and prop himself upright. Ghost followed in quickly, grabbing Jason’s legs and slamming him against the ceiling, throwing him through the floor to the next one up. Jason crashed into the ceiling, bouncing off the steel and denting it before rebounding on the floor and lunging out the door. Jason slammed the door behind him, finding himself in a part of the ship that still had its oxygen and most of its power. He slammed the door to prevent all the air from rushing out.  Jason took a moment to refill his reserves within his shield and take a moment to think. Ghost came barrelling through the door, air sucking past him. Jason continued through the ship, but Ghost was done playing games. He looked out the window behind Jason and the planet was barely a speck now.

He leapt at Jason, slamming through the wall. Jason leapt up through two floors, plowing through the steel as Ghost followed. He ripped off a lead pipe as he flew up, coating it with his ki and slamming towards Ghost’s skull. Ghost caught the pipe just in time, pulling it back and throwing Jason threw another part of the ship. Jason came rocketting out the side of the ship into open space again. He panicked, twirling and spinning as he left the ship and floated into the nothingness of space. He used his energy to catch himself, staring at the ship coming towards him. He charged a wave attack behind his back, firing it forward to obliterate the entire ship. The moment the ki connected with the metal the ship erupted into explosions in all the parts that still had oxygen. Rubble flew past Jason as he scanned cautiously for any sign of Ghost.

He quickly scanned his surroundings, noticing he was near some sort of asteroid belt. With a cautious sigh, Jason flew towards the asteroid belt, his aura flaring. A red streak of light pierced the darkness as he flew, something Ghost saw from a distance. He arrived in the asteroid belt, looking at the giant rocks as they floated ever so gently in an ever present motion. Jason flew through a few of them, getting deeper into the belt. A bus sized asteroid floated past him, and his eyes drifted to it just in time to see a golden aura leap out from behind it.

Jason slid backwards, bumping into a smaller asteroid. Ghost leapt onto the asteroid, throwing a hard right. Jason ducked down, grasping the asteroid and tearing it open to remove Ghost’s footing, forcing him to miss. Ghost quickly charged a ki blast, firing a barrage of ki blasts at Jason. Jason leapt between asteroids as he avoided each blast, only moments ahead of each asteroids total destruction. Jason hopped far down the belt as Ghost pursued him. He landed on an incredibly large Asteroid and came up with a plan, his rage waning and his power up with it. His body was exhausted, so he had to finish this in the next few hits.

Jason grabbed an asteroid around the size of a city park, twirling it in a circle before sending it flying towards Ghost. Ghost split the meteor in two, and as he did, he caught a glimpse of a red streak as Jason flew around the mess, getting behind Ghost and delivering a hard kick into his back. Ghost coughed as Jason pushed him into the incoming asteroids. He bounced back and forth between the rocks, before steading himself, staring back at Jason. He was tired of these games, he needed to return to the battle at hand. Jason slunk back into the shadow of the asteroids, hiding yet again.

Ghost hated the prospect of wasting energy, but he had to end this game now. He brought his arms in towards his stomach, charging energy throughout his body. Jason peaked out from his hiding place, trying to see what Ghost was doing as he felt a massive increase in his power. Ghost erupted outward, a wave of energy travelling from him in two directions. The energy was invisible to the naked eye, but Jason could sense it. He raised his arms to block, but the hit was so powerful that Jason went hurtling back towards the planet. He watched in the distance as the entire asteroid belt erupted into a chain of explosions.

As Jason flew, he tried to slow himself as best he could, but the force of the hit had broken his ki shield for just a moment, and all of his oxygen had poured out. He was holding his breath, watching a planet zoom by like a tree out the window of a moving car. He turned, seeing he was rapidly approaching a moon. He braced his legs, hitting the moon with such an impact that it knocked it off orbit with whatever planet it was orbiting. Jason felt his legs creak as he stopped all that momentum in an instance, and for a second he was afraid his shins would snap in two. He kicked off the moon, sending it crashing into the planet it orbited as he flew towards the planet he was just on, desperate for air. He saw, in the very distance, a yellow streak of light, like a comet, closing in to cut him off.

Jason wanted to scream in frustration as his lungs began to burn, but he knew better. He kept flying forward, the debris field in sight. Most of the space battles left a large debris field, and if he could just get to one of the ships that still had power he would be fine. He made it into the outer edges of the field, where some of the ships were simply floating off slowly with the last momentum since they exploded. Jason ripped through several ships as he sensed Ghost mere miles away. He punched into the cockpit of a smaller ship, and all the air rushed out. He took a quick gasp of it, but it was barely enough to suit his needs. He dove for the planets surface as fear and adrenaline began to take over.

Ghost cut Jason off immediately, aiming a tight blow to his gut as he fell to the planet. Jason spat, coughing as Ghost carried him on his fist, slamming down towards the planet. Jason couldn’t even breathe with Ghost’s fist in his gut. He threw Jason to the ground, forcing him to tumble all the way. Jason’s vision blurred as he fell, the lack of oxygen finally having gotten to him. He passed out midway. Ghost was following, aiming to do a finishing move to Jason’s windpipe as he twirled. In a single blink, Paul caught Jason in one arm, and caught Ghost’s wide punch with but a single palm. Ghost tried to overpower Paul, but he couldn’t even budge him. Paul stared at Jason, listening to his breathing, he sighed calmly.

“You’re all going to die here.” Ghost said calmly, staring towards Paul. “You’ve delayed me for long enough. First Derek, then Jason-” Ghost began before he felt his nose break. He fell back, screaming as he clutched his nose, the lightning that crackled in his Super Saiyan Aura sparked out almost like a defensive reaction. Ghost looked out from under his hands, seeing Paul’s hate filled eyes. Paul gently tossed Jason into some nearby brush as he turned to Ghost.

“You die here, alone. I will spend the rest of my life undoing your work. I will make sure you are buried as some forgotten failure, and Derek is buried as the hero he was!” Paul yelled, sniffling as he wiped frustrated tears from his eyes.

“I gave you all several chances to back off, I was patient, and I warned what would happen if you stayed. You have noone to blame but yourself for what happened.” Ghost answered, unwavering. Paul was fuming with rage, his mind flashing back on the past. All the pain and loss they all went through was just because Ghost wanted Saiyans exclusively and didn’t bother protecting the rest. He thought about Jacob losing his arm and mind in the blast. He thought about Crimson losing Ecanoya. He felt his anger boil over, clenching his fist as Ghost went in for another attack. Paul raised a single hand to catch Ghost’s incoming fist. Ghost tried to wrench his fist free from Paul. The lightning in his aura sparked across Paul’s arm but it didn’t so much as singe the hairs on his arm.

Paul twisted Ghost’s wrist, He struggled ever so slightly as Ghost pulled against him. Paul let out a savage cry, punching Ghost in the gut, his fist digging far enough in that it began to create a visible shape through the other side of Ghost’s body. Ghost felt something break as Paul launched him into the ground. The katchin broke away as Ghost fell into it. He went a mile below the surface. Paul dropped to the ground, staring into the hole he made from Ghost. He saw a light erupting from the hole, and he side stepped as Ghost flew out of the hole with a swift uppercut. Ghost looked in surprise as Paul dodged him at full speed with a single casual movement. Paul grasped onto Ghost’s wrist, throwing him into the ground on his back. Ghost bounced, trying to recover, but Paul slammed a foot onto his chest, grinding his heel in.

Ghost looked up, ready to try and say something to anger Paul, just because he was too frustrated that he couldn’t hurt him physically, he resorted to mental abuse. Paul had a calm rage that spoke more than a book. Ghost knew nothing he could do would hurt Paul now, he was mentally snapped, his power was beyond anything he had ever seen in any human before. Even Heat and the princes of his empire would have trouble defeating Paul if he was allowed to grow for a few years.

Aside from all that, Paul was destroying Ghost’s ability to interfere in the war. The ORBL was sure to lose this fight with Ghost unable to take out or even distract any of the big players. Aohi is held up as well by the X-Force, and with Exo gone and Orion off on other business, this battle was a doomed failure. To top it all of, he would have to reveal his trump card against Paul, but it would remove his ability to interfere in the war due to how tiring it was. He tried just a bit to overpower Paul more with Super Saiyan Two.

He grasped Paul’s foot, pushing him off with maximum effort. Paul’s foot cracked the ground as it slammed down before Ghost escaped. Ghost charged a ki wave behind his back. Paul simply straightened, waiting for Ghost to attack. Ghost scoffed, knowing the idiocy of boasting. He charged the attack behind his back, firing forth a bright golden ki attack. Paul grabbed the front of the attack, crushing it in his hand and dispersing the wave entirely. Ghost felt his arms move aside as Paul tore apart his attack, unable to counter the sheer force Paul created. He grit his teeth, trying once again. He charged energy behind his back, facing Paul as he took a single step back. Ghost launched the attack forward, obliterating half a forest in the process, digging up Katchin, dirt and stone, disintegrating most of it as the attack spiralled off into space.

Ghost panted, taking time to stand straight, looking back at Ryal and Malkor. The both of them were frozen, their eyes wide open with surprise. Not at Ghost’s attack, but at the fact Paul was already standing aside Ghost. Ghost snapped his attention to Paul, but Paul slammed a hard right into his head. Ghost slammed into the ground so hard his feet flew out from under him. He coughed, hopping up as he no longer could afford to fight without risks. Paul could, and would kill him. Ghost let out a scream of anger, energy erupting form him. Everyone but Paul shielded themselves as the energy kicked up dust everywhere. The clouds Paul had parted with the sheer magnitude of his power up were all blown away as Ghost’s transformation began to make the entire planet tremble.

Everyone grew nervous, even Paul as he felt the magnitude of the power up. “What are you doing?” Ryal shouted. “Stop him Paul!” Ryal began to grow faint as all the fumes he had been running on were running short. His body was beyond the point of fatigue and he began to feel just the amount of damage it was doing to keep pushing himself. Malkor noticed Ryal’s sweating and he immediately dove forward, grabbing Derek’s corpse and flying back to Ryal.

“We need to get you back to a ship. Get Jason. Grab Berta, have Paul hold him off!” Malkor shouted as he looked around. There wasn’t likely to be an operable ship within a hundred miles because of how intense this battle was. He turned to Ghost to behold his newest form.

Ghost stood gleaming in a bright golden aura. Electricity crackled through it far more violently than the previous form. His hair had grown to an absurd length, reaching halfway down his back, all of it carrying the signature Super Saiyan spikes. His eyebrows were gone, leaving thick bridges in their place that cast a dark shadow over his eyes. He stared at Paul, ignoring the others. He wasted no time, lunging for Paul immediately, plunging a fist straight for Paul to test his reaction time. Paul raised his arm, blocking the hit, but unlike before, Ghost pushed him back with ease. Paul felt his bone crack, and knew it wasn’t an even contest anymore. This new form has doubled his previous power, and it was far stronger than anything any of them had ever felt.

Even on another part of the planet, where Pyra began trading blows with Darwin, he sensed Ghost and froze in place from fear. A power just as great, if not greater than his father’s. Paul took a deep breath as he let his rage guide his fist, but not his mind. He struck Ghost with a powerful counter, flowing into the move completely as he had practiced with his punches. To his surprise, Ghost actually grunted from the hit. Paul followed up with a swift chop kick, but Ghost vanished from sight, appearing behind him. Paul blocked his next hit, just barely, feeling his arm bruise, but nothing broken, yet. He began to think through ways he could complete this plan, but Ghost just kept getting faster in this form.

Ghost vanished again, sliding behind Paul. Paul reacted from the corner of his eye, twisting and striking Ghost in the chin. Ghost’s head jerked back, but he followed up with a hard right. Paul coughed as he felt the hit strike his stomach cleanly, but he countered with a powerful launching knee strike. Ghost slid back, holding his chin as he stroked his jaw. Paul noticed Ghost was sweating slightly, dropping into a defensive position. Whatever this form was, it was taxing on his body. All Paul needed to do was hold out. He took a deep breath, waiting for Ghost’s next attack.

Ghost leapt forward towards Paul, with Paul just barely reacting to the lunge in time to raise his guard. In this one moment, Ghost pressed his foot on the ground and bounded in another direction, straight towards Ryal and Malkor. Paul’s eyes widened as he watched Ghost race towards them, charging a ki wave behind his back again. Paul bounded after him. Ghost stopped briefly, just so Malkor and Ryal could look up and see him. Neither of them were fast enough to move before he unleashed his blast. Ryal flinched as he felt a massive wave of power rush around him, expecting instant death, but opening his eyes to find himself very much alive.

Malkor looked forward with eyes full of terror and grief, dropping Derek’s body. Paul stood, a smile on his face as he was turned to the both of them, his arms outstretched. His body was badly bruised. He withstood the entire blast just for the two of them. Ryal blinked, dragging Jason off immediately, not letting this moment go to waste. He set Jason down a mile off, in a small patch of forest that still remained untouched. He flew back as quick as he could, to see Paul stumbling around, turning to swing at Ghost. Ghost side stepped his punch, pushing Paul’s shoulder and causing him to stumble forward even more, nearly tumbling down. Paul stopped, getting his bearings as he turned, shouting as he powered up. Ghost broke his nose, sending him falling back before catching him. Ghost grabbed Paul by the hair, lifting him up.

“You die here, alone. I will spend the rest of my life undoing your work. I will make sure you are buried as some forgotten failure.” Ghost repeated to Paul. He flew up into the air with Paul. Malkor shot a barrage of Alpha beams at Ghost, but Ghost simply caught them, throwing them off into the distance with one hand. He created a shield around himself that Malkor couldn’t get through with his Alpha Waves. Ryal leapt forward, punching the barrier to no avail. Ghost hoisted Paul above his head with both arms, holding his back tight in his grip. Paul struggled weakly, clawing at Ghost’s face, firing tiny ki blasts that did absolutely nothing, anything to escape his grip, but it was all to no avail.

Ghost slammed Paul’s back down over his knee, a loud and sickening crunch filling the air as Paul gasped, his breath cut short. Ghost threw Paul away like trash, dropping his ki shield and in an instant, slamming behind Malkor and delivering a full force kick to his back. Malkor, unable to even see before it was too late, was completely split in two by the kick. Ryal tried to cry out for Malkor, but Ghost flew behind him, grabbing him by the back of the skull and slamming him down into the ground. All three of them hit the ground at the same time. Ghost took a breath, dropping from his form back to his base state. He wiped sweat from his brow, taking deep, heavy breaths.

A vicious explosion erupted in the distance and Ghost lifted his head to peer in its direction. The brief moment that Ghost looked in that direction, he sensed a ki attack from the brush. “The girl!” Ghost shouted before the viscous ki covered his entire body. Ghost tried to struggle free, but the ki hardened around his body, trapping him. He grit his teeth as he watched Berta leap from the brush. In one fell swoop she grabbed Malkor, Paul, Derek and Ryal and flew off in Jason’s direction with every one of them on her back. Ghost struggled, letting out an angry cry as he tried to break free. Berta panted, moving towards where she saw Ryal drop off Jason. She could hear the rattled breathing of a few of them on her back and she took a sigh of relief as she grabbed Jason, throwing him onto her back. It was hard to keep a grip on all of them, but she was applying her new ki property to keep them all from sliding out of place.

She ran a few dozen miles until she was sure Ghost wasn’t going to be able to follow, then collapsed to her knees, setting everyone down as she took a breath. She laid each of them out individually, grimacing as she saw Malkor bleeding out. Ryal coughed hard, sitting up with a panicked frenzy as he looked around. Once realizing he was safe, he groaned in agony as he felt his arm. His body ached all over, he wanted to puke and cough and just roll over and die to make the pain go away, but he shook such unmanly thoughts from his head.

Malkor coughed hoarsely as he tugged on Ryal’s shirt. Ryal barely felt it but he turned just out of instinct to see Malkor’s arm drop. He immediately lifted Malkor up, preparing to burn shut the gaping wound where his lower half once was. Malkor placed a hand upon Ryal’s, shaking his head as he began to feel incredibly cold. “Ryal. Mur. She’s alive. The Heat’s have her. Inferno.” Malkor managed to get out in incredibly long pauses. A sense of relief filled Malkor before he shuddered, and fell limp. Ryal blinked, no words in his mind, but a new wound had opened up. Something in his heart that ached worse than even a missing arm.

Jason woke up soon after, exhausted but otherwise in the best condition aside from Berta. He helped rush Ryal and Paul to somewhere they could have their wounds properly treated, as well as carrying Derek and Malkor’s bodies to be properly buried. The wound that stung the deepest was after all this loss, they still weren’t able to beat Ghost.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kuele screamed as he felt a fist plant itself in his back. He spun around, hitting his Super Saiyan assailant with a full power wind punch that drove straight through his abdomen. With his hand still through the man’s abdomen, Kuele fired a blast into the gut of the fighter behind them. As he did this, he felt a fist connect with his shoulder blade, rocking him forward. Kuele, kicked back in retaliation, taking the head off of the man who hit him. He was in a blind rage, and even if every bone in his body was broken, he would wipe out these Saiyans for taking a son from him.

He didn’t think, he simply acted. He lunged at the next Super Saiyan in sight, using wind to propel himself as he planted a knee into his abdomen, tearing through him in a single movement. As he went through with the attack, the man standing next to him blasted Kuele in the back. Kuele coughed, swinging backwards as he threw a cluster of tiny ki blasts, little sparkles that would become Vortex Blasts. Kuele grit his teeth as someone kicked him from behind, he turned and bashed in their head before he felt a blast dig into his ribs. He swatted it away, using it to hit a nearby woman. As he did he felt a fist collide with the back of his skull.

Kuele’s eyes swiftly drifted to a nearby Saiyan who was charging a ki wave at his side. There were a few more Saiyans assisting him in gathering the energy he needed. Kuele quickly backed up a few meters as the circle followed up. A few from the back pushed him towards the center by firing ki blasts towards him.  Kuele was forced to swat these attacks away rather than dodge, as he knew it would leave him open. As he swatted, however, a single man leapt out to grab Kuele. Kuele easily avoided him, but in his dodge he had a split second that the Saiyans acted upon. Six of them jumped atop of Kuele, holding him in place as the man fired his beam. Kuele threw two of them off of him and into the beam, whilst he dove away with the rest still hanging off of him. He managed to wrench himself free and hurled the rest of them in the way.

Another Saiyan dove at Kuele’s back, Kuele raised an elbow to break his nose, but as he did, a second man slipped past him, kneeing Kuele in the gut. Kuele coughed, falling back. Two Saiyans grappled him from behind, but Kuele quickly threw them over his shoulder. He let loose a savage green blast to eviscerate the two that had grabbed him and then turned, only to get smacked in the face by someone else. There seemed to be no end to them, and Kuele took a breath, knowing he only need to delay a few more moments. Kuele used a wide haymaker, aiming for a Saiyan man approaching from the front, but another man jumped on his back, grabbing his arm before it connected. The approaching man began to beat Kueles head, bouncing it back over and over again. Kuele managed to loosen one of his arms, firing a blast at the man in front of him, and throwing the man behind him at another Saiyan that was coming in towards him.

Kuele lifted his arms up as the Saiyans began to dogpile onto him, punching and kicking and blasting him from every angle. He coughed as he felt a rib break, but grit his teeth, ignoring the pain as he summoned his Vortex Blast’s, shouting at the top of his lungs. “Vortex Valley!” The Saiyans all began trying to scatter, but were all sucked in towards one of the several tornadoes of energy. Kuele dropped, exhausted, landing next to Bolt. Bolt was breathing very softly, but he was breathing. Kuele knew he would pass soon, but wanted him to do so in peace. He drowned out the sound of the screaming Saiyans mentally, gently placing a hand upon Bolt’s chest. He hacked as he felt his abdomen. Something was very wrong. All the beatings he had taken were taking their toll upon his body.

He released the Vortex’s after a few moments, and all of the Saiyans dropped to the ground, dead. Kuele had defeated around six-hundred Super Saiyans by himself, but he knew that his time was now finite. One of his major organs had been punctured by a rib, and he knew couldn’t remove it without tearing up his insides. Either way, he was exhausted from healing everyone, and this fight was most likely going to be his last. He took a breath, ready to relax until he heard a rustle in the bushes.

Dayereh came tumbling out of the brush, taking deep breaths as he looked up at Kuele, letting out a surprised cry. He dove for Kuele, immediately readying to heal both him and Bolt. Kuele placed a hand on Dayereh’s shoulder, stopping him in his tracks. Dayereh looked at Kuele, confused, before Kuele opened his mouth, his voice far more horse than he thought it would be.

“Bolt is too far gone for your skill to save, and even if you were to heal me, one of my ribs is still inside. To remove it would put me in the same state as Bolt.” Kuele informed Dayereh. Dayereh shook his head, looking around the general area.

“There has to be something I can do, something to staunch the bleeding while I heal you two!” Dayereh shouted, panicking. Kuele gently placed a weak hand on Dayereh’s shoulder as he calmed him.

“There isn’t anything to be done, and you are not to blame for that. There is only one thing you can do. For both of us, it will save us, but you will not like it.” Kuele noted, staring at Dayereh as he tried to ignore the pain in his abdomen.

“Grand Elder, you can’t mean- you forbade that!” Dayereh shouted.

“I forbid it because it is wrong and can be forced upon others, but in this context, it is the right thing to do.” Kuele nodded, looking to Bolt, whose breathing was very shallow, almost inaudible.

“There isn’t much time, save Bolt first. I would like a few words first. Place your hand upon his chest.” Kuele commanded Dayereh. Dayereh reluctantly did as he was asked, placing a hand on Bolts chest. It was barely rising and Dayereh felt a lump form in his throat as he held back tears. He had always respected Bolt, always looked up to him as an older brother, to lose him now, and so far from home, it hurt in ways he didn’t understand. Dayereh closed his eyes as Kuele began to explain the process. One moment, Bolt was there, the next, a bright light enveloped the area, and after that Bolt was gone.

Kuele relaxed back, looking up at Dayereh as he stood. Dayereh inspected his hands, clenching his fist as his entire body felt both tense, yet strangle relaxed. Like flexing an arm but for some reason it doesn’t feel tight. Kuele waved Dayereh to crouch down by him. Kuele leaned back comfortably as he looked Dayereh in the eyes. “Bolt is a part of you know. As I will be soon as well. All his power is yours, including his ki property.” Kuele noted.

“Wait does that mean I will have two?” Dayereh asked, his eyes wide.

“Three.” Kuele corrected him. “Once I am gone.” Dayereh dipped his head down, saddened by the reminder. “Now, Dayereh.” Kuele placed his hands upon Dayereh’s shoulder. “I hereby transfer to you, the title of Grand Elder, as well as the power over the artifacts that come with it so they do not grow inert.”

“Wait, wait!” Dayereh tried to interrupt, but Kuele continued.

“Therefore, after this moment you will be Grand Elder Dayereh, protector of the Namekian people.” Kuele took a deep breath, an exasperated sigh escaping his lip.. “I’m ready.”

“I’m not.” Dayereh said, blinking as he tried to make sense of all of this, but everything was moving too quickly.

“I know. I hate to push this onto you, but it is your duty as the last Namekian here.” Kuele nodded. “Live well.” Kuele smiled, placing a hand on Dayereh’s head and chuckling softly, before slowly slumping to the side. Dayereh placed a hand on Kuele’s chest, tears streaming from his eyes before the bright flash followed. Dayereh sat alone, curling into a ball as he mourned the loss.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Elsewhere, JayJay and Judes sat silent as they watched hundreds of helmet cameras sprinting towards their position. JayJay turned to Judes, shouting. “Can we really take on that many people?”

“Not a chance, we would have to fuse again!” Judes responded.
“The timer!” JayJay shouted, panicking.
“What time-” Judes began before he stopped himself, a bead of sweat rolling down his forehead. “You don’t mean?”

“Yeah. That’s what he meant. We can’t do it for an hour since we defuse.” JayJay reminded Judes as panic began to fill his voice.

“Are you sure? It could have just been a warning, like it could be dangerous to do it that quick! We have to try or we are going to get swarmed!” Judes responded. JayJay panicked, the both of them assuming the fusion dance position. They extended their arms to the sides, gently moving inward as they brought their arms above their heads, twisted their arms outwards with a raised knee, then fell inwards to make the fingertips of each index finger meet. Nothing happened.

“Maybe we did it wrong?” Judes asked.

“Let’s not waste time and try again, we have to find a way out!” JayJay shouted.

“We can try to fly it out of of the atmosphere!” Judes responded. He slammed over to a small map of the ship that hung bolted to a wall. He ran his fingers along it in a frenzy as he tried to trace the lines to find out where they were compared to the bridge. There was a ruckus a few doors down from them, as the rhythmic sound of footsteps pounded down the halls. Judes turned to JayJay, shoving him forward as they both rushed out one of the side doors. The hallway was full of soldiers who were sprinting from every direction. Judes raised a hand, firing a blast that eviscerated every soldier on the right side hallway. The pair ran through immediately after, making their way up the closest stairs.
They could hear the soldiers marching up behind them the moment they turned the corner. Judes turned a corner to see another patrol, on the radio. JayJay grabbed him, pulling him into one of the side rooms. It was some sort of maintenance room, with big heavy machinery with dials and display screens on them. They hummed very softly, but it was barely audible over the sound of heavy footsteps and shouting. The two sat there, lamenting on the fact that they will eventually be discovered. There was a long and tense silence between them.

JayJay stood up, feeling an immense power in the distance. Judes shot up, the sound of scouters exploding all across the ship incredibly audible. The both of them exchanged a glance as they took this moment to burst out the door. There were several men in the hallway, some clutching their faces where the scouters exploded right next to their eyes. Judes threw a single kick that tore straight through the first guy he saw. Shouting erupted in the hallway as JayJay flew out, going back to back with Judes as he let loose a barrage of blasts to hit everyone in the hallway.

Judes turned to JayJay, checking on him as he fought off a few soldiers who leapt at him with ease. As the smoke cleared, the two of them spotted on of the soldiers, who had blocked the blast without so much as a scratch. They exchanged a glance as they began to fight through the hallway to get away. An elite soldier could deal serious damage if they were too busy dealing with a hoard of regular soldiers to keep track of them. JayJay powered through a hallway filled with troops, a firing line opening up on him but doing little more than singe the hairs off his arm as he shielded his eyes. He barreled through the group like a freight train through balsa wood. The soldiers tumbled to the side, pressing against the walls or simply crumpling to the ground as he forced his way through.
Judes was close behind as he turned, seeing more soldiers rounding the corner to pursue them, pressing their communicators to convey the location of the intruders to everyone else. JayJay barged through the door at the end of the hallway, gazing around a small cafeteria area. There weren’t any soldiers, and the room was far more silent than the rest of the ship. The two exchanged a nervous glance as Judes immediately slammed the door behind them. There was a heavy thud behind them on the door they just slammed. The pair exchanged a glance as they immediately bolted to the other side of the room. The door was blown off its hinges by some sort of explosive device.

The metal buckled, flying across the room. Judes kicked it out of the way as soldiers began to pour through the newly created opening. JayJay lifted a single hand, ready to blast them, before he noticed the Elite was waiting in their backlines. Judes kicked through the nearest wall, grabbing JayJay as they continued to flee from an all out combat. They stopped dead when they arrived at a catwalk overlooking the deployment area. There must have been a few thousand men in there, all running about, before stopping and looking up at the catwalk. They pointed their blasters and hands towards the catwalk, firing at it in a flurry.

A great wall of blasts came towards the pair. JayJay raised his hands, firing a barrage of blasts to counter the soldiers. Judes immediately joined in to assist him. They moved their arms as fast as they could, increasing their flurry of the blasts. As they did, soldiers began to pour out onto the catwalks above and below them, as well as beside them. Judes slammed a kick upwards to hit an incoming soldier in the head, but the elite immediately tackled him, throwing him off his balance. Judes stopped firing, and was swept up in the storm of attacks.
JayJay shouted out, trying to find Judes in the chaos as people swarmed him. At this point he no longer cared about stealing the ship, they had to get out of here. As men began to surround JayJay and hit him, he ignored the pain as best he could. He caught a glimpse of Judes out of the corner of his eye, diving from the group to grab Judes. The moment he stopped clashing the storm of blasts, they began to pepper the catwalk. JayJay grabbed Judes, kicking down a wall and pulling him through. JayJay kicked a hole to a lower floor, then took Judes to hide behind storage crates in the room. Hundreds of men poured after where they thought they went.

After JayJay was sure they had time to get out, he lifted Judes up, helping him move. He was bleeding heavily. JayJay had felt it as well. Being hit by that many blasts from that many people was like thousands of bees stinging into your skin. An individual one wouldn’t even hurt, but that many definitely can kill a person. Judes was bleeding pretty badly. JayJay limped with him. All he needed to do was get them to an outer wall so they can blast a hole in the ship and escape. The moment JayJay returned to the catwalk, another hailstorm of blasts came towards them. JayJay threw Judes back, causing Judes to let out a pained cry. JayJay ran up the wall, punching through the ceiling, tearing open a hole wide enough for the both of them to get through. He helped Judes up through it, before swiftly following himself.

Judes kicked through as many walls as he could, dragging Judes with him. Judes was growing more and more limp. “Come on!” JayJay shouted. JayJay continued pulling his best friend with him, using one arm to blast away anyone who was stupid enough to try and stop him. JayJay kicked down a wall into a kitchen, a large window showing the outside. He laughed in relief as he dove for the window. The moment he blasted the window open, several Soldiers flew up and began to fire at JayJay. He immediately dove to cover Judes, dragging him into a previous room. “Damn it!” JayJay shouted, pounding on a wall several times over in frustration. Judes was fading in and out out, he couldn’t drag him around anymore.

“Go.” Judes said as he tried to force himself awake.

“Not a god damned chance.” JayJay fist bumped Judes. Judes nodded, knowing what this meant, getting up weakly as he forced his tired body to work for him.

“You scared?” Judes asked.

“Always have been.” JayJay tried to catch his breath, but the shouts coming from all directions let him know this respite would be short lived. “As friends then.”

“No.” Judes corrected him. “As brothers.” The two best friends clasped their hands together, giving each other a cocky grin.

“Who said the end can’t be sexy?” JayJay chuckled. Judes smiled with his friend before dropping the facade to show the slightest hint of fear. The two focused together, keeping their hands locked as small lights began to float off the both of them. Everyone in the ship began to stare at each other as lights began to float off of their bodies. Some of the experienced soldiers knew what was happening, and tried to flee, but the pair were already finished preparing. The moment soldiers burst into the room to open fire on the two, a blinding explosion erupted. The entire ship disappeared in the light, as did the two best friends, and everyone on board, leaving behind only the smooth Katchin ground where a ship once stood.

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“Aohi!” Double bellowed as his super saiyan aura flared. He dove forward carelessly, aiming to knock Aohi’s head from his shoulders. He was so consumed with rage that he didn’t hear the X-Force screaming for him to stop. He clocked Aohi dead on as he charged, but Aohi immediately countered with a quick uppercut, slamming it into Double’s gut and sending him veering off into the sky. Gabr looked to Ichirou and Syn, the three of them trying to form a plan together. Aohi slammed his foot onto the ground as he clenched his fist. He took a scouter out, putting it on as he quickly checked on Ghost. He was going to use his ki sense to keep track of the others while he looked for Ghost. Reading Ghost, the scouter began to glitch, and Aohi smiled.

“Guess that’s the go ahead on an all out attack.” Aohi took the scouter off, crushing it. He turned to the X-Force. Double floated down, landing next to the X-Force, as Quad stood up, clutching the burned half of his face as he stared forward at Aohi. He had prepared for a little bit, summoning his three clones aside him. Aohi looked over the entire X-Force with an amused chuckle. Syn and Ichirou exchanged a glance as they got into a fighting stance. Aohi let out a yell, his gi tearing off as his aura flared. Electricity began to run through it as Aohi’s hair seemed to spike more.

“W-What is that?” Ichiro’s asked, shocked. Gabr stared forward in fear at this new power, noting how Aohi nearly doubled his previous power. Immediately, Gabr responded with a transformation of his own. He let out an angered cry as he transformed to his final state, pushing all the power out of his final form, his body bulked up, but Gabr had mastered this form. After his muscles bulked, they immediately shrunk back down as Gabr stared forward, showing off his maximum. The others looked at Gabr, shocked.

“No time for explanation! I mastered my one-hundred percent form, but it still drains stamina fast, go!” Gabr yelled as he lunged forward. Aohi side stepped Gabr as he lunged. His eyes trailed to the follow up by Ichirou and Syn. He tapped his foot, sending out his energy like echolocation. He smiled, grabbing both Ichirou and Syn by the heads. He used all his strength to slam the both of them into the ground. He pushed them through the Katchin The two of them clawed at Aohi’s hands as they felt the hard metal press into their bodies, but being forced aside. They eventually stopped struggling, and just focused their efforts on protecting their backs with their ki. After a while, they broke into some sort of underground cave area, with a large lake. Aohi slammed both of them into the water.

Ichirou surfaced first, floating above the water. The cave must have been several miles wide, in complete darkness, with the light from the surface only dimly illuminating a small area. Their auras provided most of their light. Syn followed Ichirou, surfacing. “We need to regroup.” Syn said as he flew up. Ichirou dropped down, aiming a kick towards Syns head. Syn blocked, just barely, reacting purely from the speed blur. He was slammed into the water, far away. Ichirou barely heard the splash as Syn plummeted into the water.

Ichirou fired a barrage of ki blasts at Aohi. Aohi slapped each of them away easily, sighing as he waited for the right moment to strike. Hitting Aohi wasn’t Ichirou’s goal, however, as he used the blasts Aohi knocked away to get a general layout of this cave. He noticed Syn in the water, and immediately he dropped into the cold waves and powered towards Syn. Swimming with ki was nearly undetectable if you knew how to do it right. Aohi scanned the water, looking around.

As Ichirou swam, he felt like something was following him. He looked behind him, using the shallow light of his aura to spot what it was. Some sort of eel creature, the size of several school bus, was chasing him with it’s jaws unhinged. Ichirou nearly let out a surprised cry. He looked in front of him, seeing another one. He dodged it, weaving to the side, realizing Syn didn’t see these things. He surfaced, flying quickly, grabbing Syn from the water just as one breached, attempting to swallow him whole. It wouldn’t have hurt, but being trapped in a creature, even for a second, could give Aohi all he needed to finish the two. Syn and Ichirou landed on a small jutt of Katchin that went into the lake.

“I saw something weird down there.” Syn noted quietly.

“Was it the giant freaking eel?” Ichirou remarked with snark.

“No, the Katchin at the bottom of the lake is purple.” Syn blinked, ignoring the snark. “Think it’s a new kind?”

“We are in a life or death fight and you care about a rock?” Ichirou slapped his hand on his forehead. “I am going to die here.” He spoke quietly.

Several of the giant eels began to surface around Aohi, their black bodies fully visible under the sunlight. The surrounded him, hissing at him in unison. Aohi simply looked behind him, letting out an aura of malice and hatred. “I’ll kill you.” With those few words, all of the eels dove back into the waters, screaming. Aohi looked around the room. He began to send a barrage of ki blasts in every direction. Ichirou and Syn noticed just in time to dodge the blasts as they left visible imprints on the wall.

“Saiyans…” Syn trailed off.

“He’s guarding our way out.” Ichirou noted as the two kept a steady pace, flying around the darkness so Aohi couldn’t find them with his blasts.

“We could make a new one.” Syn smiled.

“If you can punch through half a mile of Katchin, then be my guest.” Ichirou spoke, speeding up as the blasts begun to increase in velocity.

“You know, I think we can distract him, I’ll go up and get the rest of the force and bring them down here to help you.” Syn explained his plan.

“I don’t have a better plan, but if you don’t come back, I will haunt you.” Ichirou stared at Syn angrily.

“Don’t worry, I don’t abandon friends.” Syn smirked, the two exchanged a fist bump as Ichirou cut to the left, flying straight towards Aohi, charging a ki wave. He slammed towards Aohi at full force. Aohi caught the wave, struggling just for a second. He watched Syn dip through the hole he had made, fleeing to the surface. Aohi let out a frustrated cry as he broke from the blast, charging at his son.

Syn surfaced, looking around. Gabr and Double were fighting off some of the elite that had returned to backup Aohi. “We have a problem!” Syn shouted. Quad immediately rushed to Syns side, nodding.

“Let’s go get him!” Quad yelled as the two began to return to the hole. A large pillar of energy exited the hole, rocketing into the sky. Syn and Quad shielded their eyes as it shoved them back ever so slightly.

“That was Ichirou!” Syn shouted happily. He looked down into the hole, only to see Aohi floating upwards, clutching Ichirou by the throat. Syn and Quad leapt forward, Quad using all his clones to try and help. Aohi formed a blade of ki on his arm, swiping sideways to cut through each of the clones, leaving a gash on Syn’s chest and shoving him into Quad as the two were sent flying back to the ground.

“Did you think because you were my son, I would show you mercy?” Aohi asked. “You know, maybe you are right. If you beg for some mercy, maybe, just maybe, I’ll spare you.” Ichirou choked, raising a hand up to clutch Aohi’s arm as he struggled, tilting his head downwards as he stared his father in the eyes.

“Saiyans. Don’t. Beg.” Ichirou spat at his father. Aohi smiled proudly.

“Well said.” Aohi praised his son, promptly before crushing his throat. He threw Ichirou into the hole. Syn shouted in grief, diving forward to try to catch Ichirou’s hand. He fell into the abyss, landing on single patch of land in the cave. Aohi dropped down, aiming to press his foot into Syn’s back. Quad blocked him with one of his newly generated clones. Quad stared forward, as he felt something deep within him snap. This was happening because he was weak. This was happening, because he couldn’t get over his grief, he was letting his friends die for him. How could he just stand there and take it?

Quad let out a vicious cry as a golden aura enveloped him. Aohi and Syn turned in surprise. Even Double and Gabr, who were busy holding back the elites, paused for a moment to watch Quad. Quad’s own rage and power were mirrored as somewhere in the distance, a bright pillar broke through the clouds, a shockwave of power that sent chills down all of their spines. Quad didn’t care, as he felt a gentle hand on his shoulder. It felt like his brothers, something that told him to move on, but he turned to look anyway. Instead he saw Double. Double had left his clone to help Gabr as he simply sat there for Quad.

“Take it slow, don’t let the rage consume you, but make it your power.” Double tried to council Quad through the transformation. Quad simply nodded, staring forward at Aohi. Even though his rage, he knew that he was no match for Aohi. He spent a moment gathering his thoughts as Aohi spit into the hole. Obviously to provoke them, but Quad wasn’t falling for it. He kept his distance, staring forward as he waited for Gabr or Double to form a plan. Syn was the first to speak up, looking between the three of them.

“Gabr, whatever it takes! Get out of there to help us!” Syn shouted, taking a step back as he tried to catch even the slightest movement from Aohi. Sweat dripped from him, as he nervously prepared for what could be his last day in this life. Gabr’s eyes darted behind him as Double’s clone dove into the center of the small group of elites. They barraged the clone, allowing Gabr to jump back and regroup with the others. Double’s clone self destructed, taking with it one of the elites. The others fell back as they had just barely reacted in time to save themselves from a fatal injury.

Double spun on heel as he felt Aohi snap forward. Aohi pressed his fist into Doubles sternum, sending him sprawling backwards. Quad began preparing to create his three clones to take on the elites, but Aohi was already rushing to stop him. Syn cut him off with a swift chop kick, that Aohi swatted away. Syn spun as he was pushed away, bringing his leg full circle to try and sweep Aohi’s legs out from under him. Aohi stopped the force simply by pressing his legs into the ground. Syn hit him, his leg bouncing off like a kid who kicked a metal pole full force. Aohi countered by stomping on Syns chest, forcing him into the ground hard enough to form a crater. He twisted his ankle, a crunch filling the air as Syn cried out.

Gabr dove forward, drop kicking Aohi in the chest with all his might. Aohi stumbled several steps, but quickly recovered, countering with a headbutt. Gabr’s head snapped back form the impact, causing him to go sprawling out on the ground. Aohi quickly followed up with a full force kick to Gabr’s side, sending him rolling across the ground for a mile. Quad sent all his clones to hold off the elites, joining the fray himself. With the four clones and himself, he was easily able to hold the group at bay for the others.

Double reformed his own clone, nodding to it as he dove towards Aohi. Aohi brought his arms behind him, charging a ki wave. The power that emanated from the golden orb was so great that it drew in energy from the surrounding area, creating an incredibly strong wind. Double drew his own arms backwards, charging an attack with his clone. Even with the two of him, he couldn’t match the power Aohi was outputting. He tried to force every ounce of strength into the attack before he could fire it. He felt Gabr’s hand on his shoulder.

He looked behind him, exchanging a worried glance with Gabr. Gabr put his hands around the ki blast, lending his energy to it, assisting Double. Even with Gabr’s maximum power, their output wasn’t going to catch up with Aohi. They both pressed as hard as they could, before Syn crawled over, sitting under the attack weakly, he raised his hand to it, lending his energy to it. They were just inching towards equalling Aohi’s single attack, when Quad landed behind them, leaving his clones to battle as he stood aside Gabr, putting his energy into the attack. Both attacks summoned an incredible wind from the area, beginning to rip the leaves from the trees around them as they swirled around the gathering energy. Aohi launched his attack, and in this moment, the entire X-Force responded with a combined shout, parrying Aohi’s own attack. The two waves connected with so much energy that they began to  spill out, creating a sort of dome in a small area.

The X-Force struggled to overcome Aohi’s massive strength, and immediately, Gabr leapt over the attack, aiming a ki blast downward at Aohi as he held the clash. Everyone else had to pick up for the gap in strength that Gabr left, which caused Aohi’s side of the blast to begin to push into their own. The group worked together as best they could to compensate for the loss. Gabr began to barrage Aohi with ki blasts from above, peppering him at his joints to try and make him buckle and lose focus on the clash. Aohi was no amateur, and knew that by bearing the pain he could save his own life. Regardless, Gabr didn’t let up.

Double immediately leapt from the group, and Syn and Quad were almost immediately swallowed up, holding on just barely as the dome was about to swallow their attempts to push it back entirely. Double and his clone came around each side of the dome, leaping towards Aohi from each side. Aohi grit his teeth, trying to rise a leg to kick one of them, but the moment he did, he felt the blast push back on him just a bit, forcing him to remain in place.

In this split second, Double and his clone leapt upon Aohi. Aohi shouted as he tried to shake the two super saiyans off of him, but Double used all his might to press Aohi’s arms downward, pushing him towards the blast, unable to put more power into it whilst Double held on to him, and to let go to deal with them would mean almost certain death. “Now! Quad! Syn!” Double shouted.

There was no response, as Double immediately grew scared of his friends fates. Gabr continued to barrage Aohi vigorously, trying to keep him pinned. “Syn! Quad, what are you waiting for?” Double shouted.

“I can’t!” Quad responded. “I’m not strong enough!”

“Yes you are! You’re a Super Saiyan now, so act like it! Unleash that rage! Make it your power! Remember Trips! Remember Ichirou, and avenge them!” Double counseled as Aohi started to try and throw him off in panic, not caring that the others were inching ever closer to him. Double held on with all his might, locking his legs around Aohi’s. Aohi managed to wrestle one of Double’s arms free. Just as he did, Gabr hit him in the face with a blast that made him recoil.

“Do it now Quad! Do it!” Double shouted. Quad let out a cry as he poured all the power he had into this blast. His clones just finished dealing with the elites, restoring all his power to him just in time for him to put almost everything he had into this attack. Aohi felt the wave press towards him, but he was unable to push back because of both Double’s clutching his forearms.

“Syn! Come on! Do it!” Double yelled.

“I can’t captain, if Aohi can’t survive this-” Syn began.

“Never mind me! This is about the force. If he gets out of this, that’s it, you, Gabr, Quad, you’re all dead! I’ve let enough of the X-Force die today! This ends with me! My last order as Captain of the X-Force: Take Aohi out, and lead the X-Force to the future!” Double yelled, before propping a smile.

“As if I’ll let you!” Aohi shouted, putting every last ounce of power into escape Doubles grasp. Even with Gabr at his maximum and two Double’s, Aohi was still starting to pull through.  Double leapt behind Aohi, releasing him for a brief moment to jerk him backwards. As soon as Syn felt this reduction in force, he forgot everything about the orders, or even survival. This was a farewell to his friend. He gently closed his eyes, taking a deep breath.

“Goodbye, Double. Thank you, for everything.” Syn spoke sincerely as he let loose every last bit of his power. The wave completely overcame Aohi. Aohi struggled to escape, but both the Doubles held him inside. Aohi let out a pain cry as he swung  around wildly, punching into the air, only for his hand to slowly disintegrate in front of him. He spun around, going to smack Double, letting out a yell as he watched the last bits of Double vaporize, before he himself followed suit. Syn fell to the ground, clenching it softly as Gabr fell to the ground, flopping gently.

Quad fell to his knees, looking around, catching his breath as his Super Saiyan state slowly dissipated. The last three survivors exchanged a quick glance before getting up to wander over to one another.

“We did it.” Quad panted heavily.

“I can’t believe, even with how he was, that really just happened. We really just killed Aohi.” Gabr dipped his head, reverting to his first form.

“With him gone, the ORBL is down a major player. If he was in the same league as Ghost, then-” Syn began before they all felt an overwhelming surge of power from Ghost’s direction. The three fell over from the surge, sensing the overwhelming odds.

“We have to get a ship. Now.” Gabr turned to the two. They looked at him, incredibly exhausted. They had drained almost all their stamina, and the adrenaline that let Quad forget about his horrendous burn had faded, and he could barely think through the pain now. He was so utterly and physically exhausted that he was afraid he would fall over dead if he tried another fight, no matter how weak the opponent.

“Okay, let’s regroup with JayJay and Judes, then head off.” Syn tried to form a plan, but Quad raised a hand to try and cut him off, holding a finger up to let them know he needed a second to catch his breath.

“On of the elites my clones were fighting backed off to go assess the total damage of a self-destruct styled attack earlier. It took out about sixty-thousand troops around a Sobrium cruiser, ORBL and Sobrium’s alike, even a few Heat troops. That was probably them.” Quad reasoned.

“Could have been anyone.” Syn responded, getting up weakly, before falling over. Gabr caught him, feeling him go limp.

“He’s out.” Gabr sighed, lifting him up over his shoulders, wincing as he struggled with the added weight. They turned to leave, before a chorus of yells turned their attention back towards Aohi’s ship. His reinforcements had officially arrived. Hundreds of his hand-picked elites were flying to take care of whatever threatened him, having abandoned their previous duties. Gabr looked at the hole, stepping forward. Quad placed a hand on his shoulder, stopping him from diving in.

“Go. I’ll stop them.” Quad pushed him in a direction before he could protest. Gabr hesitated, but upon seeing the amount of soldiers, and knowing Syn was completely at their mercy, he reluctantly left. Quad used what little energy he had left to fly into the air, ascending to his Super Saiyan state for one final outing. He watched the soldiers approach from all angles as he took a deep breath. “I’m sorry… mom, pops. I’m sorry little bro and I won’t be home. Please find the strength forgive them.” Quad took a shaky breath as he prepared for the inevitable. The Saiyan warriors rushed towards him, some of them Super Saiyans themselves. The first one into the fray formed a blade from his ki, piercing Quad straight through the heart. Quad’s eyes widened, before he slumped onto the blade. The man took a breath, waiting for the others to catch up whilst he held Quad on the end of his ki blade. As the others caught up, the man felt something grasp his ki blade, looking back to see Quad, blood trickling from his mouth as he ripped the blade from his chest.

“That’s impossible!” The man screamed in terror as Quad simply gave him and all of his stunned friends a menacing smile as he looked to the sky. He summoned all the energy he could muster, and let it loose all at once, eviscerating the surrounding area, and taking his own life, so Gabr and Syn may escape the ORBL’s clutches. Gabr left with tears in his eyes as he clutch the unconscious Syn tightly, the only person he had left from the group now.

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Pyra landed slowly as Darwin followed, upside down as he simply landed on his head, staring at Pyra with a cocky smile. Pyra bit his lip as Darwin’s carefree attitude made him so frustrated a vein bulged from his forehead. Pyra let his aura flare outwards, a great bonfire around his body that melted the surroundings, reducing them to ash. Darwin’s smile dropped as he stood still, wiping a single bead of sweat from his forehead. Darwin created a small blast of energy in his hands, tossing it forward casually. Pyra’s aura lit the ki blast on fire, causing it to smolder out before it hit Pyra. Darwin raised a curious brow. His lip quivered, not from fear, but from excitement.

“Hell, man! You are making me all tingly inside, hiding a juicy mystery like this from me. You were saving it, weren’t you? Just for little old me?” Darwin laughed maniacally.

“You can damn well bet I did.” Pyra responded, tensing a bit. His insides were churning, eh didn’t know how much longer he could stand using this form before it began to cause internal damage. As well, constantly outputting this much heat was chewing through a lot of his energy, but the power boost was worth it. Pyra leapt forward, pushing off a single foot to slam a fist straight into Darwin’s abdomen. Darwin smiled sinisterly, waiting excitedly for Pyra. As Darwin spread his arms out waiting, he felt the edges of Pyra’s aura lash at him. The fire singed his aura slight, and Darwin immediately withdrew. Pyra slid to a stop as Darwin retreated. Pyra followed up with a fireball, forcing Darwin to roll to the side. As Darwin rolled, Pyra cut him off with a swift chop kick. Darwin could feel the heat long before Pyra arrived next to him, giving him plenty of time to leap into the air. Pyra missed, slamming his foot back down as he stared up at Darwin.

“Stop running, coward!” Pyra shouted.

“Everyone these days, confusing intelligence for cowardice.” Darwin cleaned out his ear as he yawned slightly. “I can tell your ki property is made to burn through weaker ki shields rather easily, but I already nailed your weakness.” Darwin snapped a finger forward, smirking at Pyra. “Your getting tired.” Darwin noted. Pyra didn’t entertain Darwin as he felt something on the inside singe just a bit. He leapt into the air, thrusting a punch directly upwards. Darwin let out a yell, releasing his own aura. As he did, Pyra noticed Darwin’s raw power output was pushing away the flames of his aura. Uncaring, Pyra pressed forward, heating up the palms of both hands. Darwin spun in the air, bringing a leg to the side to kick away both palms, but Pyra used one to block Darwin, attempting to grab his oncoming leg. Darwin bent his knee to bring his leg back in just before Pyra grasped it.

Pyra expected Darwin to avoid the second hand by falling backwards, like any sane person, but Darwin was definitely not sane. He dove headfirst into Pyra’s grasp. Pyra’s eyes widened as Darwin slammed a hit straight into his gut, twisting his fist inward. Pyra belched up blood, coughing hard as he floated backwards. Darwin kept his aura pouring out to push away the flames, but he stared at his hands. Hitting Pyra directly felt like sticking his fist onto a hot iron. He kissed his wounds, smiling to Pyra.

“Too hot for you?” Pyra asked coyly.

“By all means, turn it up.” Darwin taunted, getting into an unusual fighting style. Pyra dropped his arms, his veins bulging as every fiber of his being tried to force him to shut off the transformation. Darwin leapt forward, snapping his jaws down towards Pyra. Pyra avoided the bite, raising a palm to hit Darwin in the stomach. Darwin raised a ki blast from beneath him, throwing it point blank at Pyra as he sailed right over him. Pyra stopped his attack to block the hit with both arms. As soon as he stopped the hit, he spun around to keep an eye on Darwin. Darwin had disappeared from sight, and Pyra spun around, looking in every direction. Darwin didn’t try to sneak up behind him, nor did he fly above. Pyra spun his gaze to the ground, beginning to barrage the forest below with fireballs in order to force Darwin out of hiding.

Pyra let out a yell as he fired a continuous stream of fireballs towards the ground, all of which decimated a small area with their explosion. After taking a deep breath, Pyra relaxed, panting slightly as he waited for the steam to clear. As soon as he let his guard down, he felt someone put him in a full nelson from behind. Pyra immediately snapped his elbows downward and pushed out before the hold was locked, but as he did this, Darwin grabbed both his elbows, pushing them above his head, and taking a free shot at Pyra’s spine.

Pyra coughed hard, trying to spin but Darwin unleashed a flurry of punches on his back that shoved him further and further towards the ground. Darwin leapt up, doing a spin and kicking off of Pyra, sending him slamming to the ground. Pyra immediately recovered, standing up to watch Darwin land with a bow. Darwin chuckled to himself, but Pyra could tell that he was far more serious in demeanor than he normally was. His insanity in attack choices only served to confuse Pyra. Through the psychotic smile and gleeful gaze, Pyra could see the gears working on Darwin’s head. His knuckles were burnt, the flesh heavily blistered and burnt from the repeated punches to Pyra, despite Darwin properly shielding himself. Pyra knew that without his tail, Darwin was more confident in attacking him from behind.

Pyra mulled over a few plans in his head to gain the ground he needed. His time in this form was wavering. This had to be it. His last attack in this form. He raised to the sky, and Darwin watched curiously. Pyra put his hands together in front of him, as if holding a basketball. A small ball began to form as Pyra condensed it down, gritting his teeth. Sweat poured down his forehead as he used all the heat the form had stored up to boost his power, pouring it all into this tiny ball. The ball grew in size, Pyra struggling to keep it in check as he constantly had to shrink it back down. As long as he remained in this form, the heat from his own attacks couldn’t burn him, though they could eventually wear through the protective shielding of the form. The attack burned so fiercely that even a mile into the sky it still melted the ground, Katchin and all, into a thick magma. Darwin simply stood atop the magma, his arms crossed with his usual smile as he poured every ounce of power into protecting himself from the heat.

Pyra condensed the attack one last time, forming a sun, around the size of a beach ball. He took it in his arms, hurling it over his shoulders towards Darwin. Darwin watched it carefully, knowing he should dodge it, but refusing to. He wanted to watch the fear on Pyra’s face. Darwin’s aura began to glow a dark red as it flowed off him in strings, as he was unable to contain the excitement. He raised his aura up to meet Pyra’s attack head on.

“Animus Pyre!” Pyra shouted as the attack went for Darwin. Darwin tried to hold the ball, thinking of it as a simple attack, but the moment he tried to touch it, it simply dipped down towards the ground. Darwin’s eyes widened as he immediately assessed the danger. He tried to dive out of the way, but it was too late. A pillar of flame, unlike anything seen before, burst from the ground. With such intensity it began to melt into the ground further, several miles down. It burned a hole in the atmosphere of the planet. Sobrium’s planet, thought to be an invincible fortress, was going to become uninhabitable by the average person in only a few hours. Pyra spat blood, thinking to himself as he sensed a strange power from the direction of the castle.

Sobrium’s fingertip charged with some sort of black energy. Well, that wasn’t the best way to describe it. It was more like the absence of light, or air, or anything of the sort. Like Sobrium just removed them all on that particular spot. Just before Crimson got to his room, he fired it towards Pyra from his castle window, returning to his seat to overlook a map. Pyra was too worn out to avoid the laser, as it pierced straight into him, but to his surprise, it didn’t damage him.

The laser opened up, like a black hole, tearing something from Pyra in a flash, then slamming shut again, like it was never there. Pyra blinked, looking down at himself. He was no longer in his transformation. He didn’t descend from the form, however, more like it was forcefully closed on him. He panicked, trying to ascend to the form again, but it was gone. He couldn’t summon an ounce of its power. He created a fireball in his hand, sighing in relief. He still had his ki property, though he couldn’t make it too hot or he would injure himself as well as his enemy.

Pyra lowered himself to the ground, overlooking the magma. Darwin was nowhere in sight, but Pyra knew better than to count an opponent dead. He saw what Darwin was doing, and knew that, at very least, there would be a body left over. His mind was still sour about the loss of his form, and in this moment of distraction, Darwin’s hand shot up from the magma. Pyra’s eyes widened as Darwin burst from the molten rock, smiling widely, blisters and burns covering random parts of his body, but no major injury. The first thought that went through pyra’s mind, aside from escaping Darwin, was a question: How?

Darwin threw Pyra towards the magma, but Pyra used his hands to prop himself up, pushing off of it as his palms singed. Darwin followed up with a swift spin kick. Pyra took the kick full force, bending over Darwin’s knee as Darwin held him there. Darwin tilted Pyra’s chin up to make sure he was still awake for what was to come. He dropped his foot, letting Pyra fall into the magma. Pyra caught himself again, this time spinning around to try and trip Darwin. Darwin weaved away from the attack, scooping up some of the magma to throw at Pyra. Pyra scoffed, frustrated that Darwin was still able to resist the heat after surviving Pyra’s own blast.

Pyra charged a single fireball, not as hot as when he was in his transformed state, but he didn’t intend to burn Darwin. He threw the fireball at Darwin, letting him swat it away so he could gain distance. Darwin followed up quickly, dragging his arm through the magma. Pyra noticed his ki shield was more focused onto his arm to protect it from the Heat, though if he took the opportunity to counter attack now, Darwin would most likely launch his attack early. Pyra instead stepped inward, towards Darwin’s arm, but away from Darwin’s main body. This forced Darwin to turn his course to keep Pyra in range, but with this, Pyra made a quick step, pivoting around Darwin as he flew past. He hit Darwin dead in the side. Darwin went skidding off to the right, flinging the magma in retaliation. Pyra used his right arm to block the magma, his skin bubbling in response to the heat before he could flick it off.

He took a deep breath, readying himself as he felt himself drawing towards his limit. Darwin was also sweating. Pyra noted this, wondering what could have possibly worn him out so much. His mind snapped to the kid from earlier. The one he stopped Darwin from executing. Pyra realized that this kid must have wore out some of Darwin’s immense stamina, enough that he was now on equal footing with Pyra. Pyra smiled to himself. This meant Darwin was just as tired, if not more so, than Pyra.

Both of their wounds weren’t too serious, but burns were notorious for the agony they caused. Darwin didn’t even seem to mind, but this was something Pyra was having trouble tolerating. This was the first time he had gotten burned this badly. Even living with his father on volcanic planets hadn’t often given him this much trouble. Katchin obviously burns incredibly hot when in magma form.

Pyra stopped his mind from wandering as he and Darwin stared at each other. Pyra made the first move, launching towards Darwin, slamming an elbow into him that sent him flying back from the magma. Pyra followed quickly, happy to enter a normal, forested area once more. Most of the leaves on the trees were dead, probably from the heat of Pyra’s attack. As Pyra followed in, Darwin leapt off a nearby tree, splitting it in two. Pyra barely registered Darwin’s counter before he slammed both hands onto Pyra’s back

Pyra coughed hard, swinging his hand behind him to push Darwin off. Darwin flew back as Pyra stuck his hand behind his back. He used his ki property to form a broadsword made from flames, staring at Darwin who simply watched Pyra curiously. Pyra leapt forward aiming for a series of quick slashes towards Darwin. Darwin weaved around the blade, letting himself come close to it a few times just to analyze its total cutting power. He deduced that it worked much like an acetylene torch, simply burning away things instead of actually cutting through them.

“I’m impressed by all the tricks up your sleeve!” Darwin laughed, clapping his hands together as he formed a large ki blast. He shot it outwards in an explosive pattern towards Pyra. Pyra used his new blade to clash the ki blast. As he tried to hold it back, Darwin maneuvered behind Pyra, a sinister smile on his face. Pyra’s eyes slowly trailed behind him as Darwin charged a wave attack behind his back. Pyra grit his teeth,taking a page from Darwin’s book, he spun around recklessly as he wielded the blade in one hand. Darwin let the wave loose point blank at Pyra, pinning him between Darwin’s earlier attack and this new one.

Darwin watched as the smoke cleared, Pyra’s free arm completely blown to smithereens. Pyra clutched the sword tightly as Darwin spat blood. Darwin laughed slightly as he looked down, seeing the flaming blade in his chest. His laughter grew louder and louder, until he went to grab the sword and pull it out. Pyra ran on pure adrenaline, letting out a cry as he hoisted Darwin up on the blade, slamming towards the ground and pinning him into the Katchin below. Darwin, despite having a flaming sword rammed through his abdomen, continued to fight back, throwing wild punches, gnawing and biting at Pyra. He even dug his fingers into Pyra’s open wound, but Pyra wouldn’t relent. The moment Darwin was pinned, Pyra backed off, pouring every ounce of power he had into a ki wave, firing it at Darwin. When the smoke cleared, there was nothing but a crater left, the flaming sword still burning in place, before smothering out in the wind. Pyra stared at the crater with a relieved smile, a plethora of emotions overcoming him at the sight. Pyra passed out, falling to the ground as he was caught by someone familiar.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sobrium nearly broke down laughing as he pointed his finger forward, readying to fire at Crimson. However, upon seeing Crimson’s resolve, he stopped, looking him dead in the eyes and asking “You’re serious?”

“I’ve never been more serious in my life. I am here to talk you into ending things peacefully.” Crimson leaned forward, placing his forearms on the desk. Sobrium shot him a glance, but stood up and walked over to the window.

“Haven’t you sensed the battles across the planet? Your forces are being destroyed, the Heat’s, the ORBL, they are pouring their efforts into hitting you here.” Crimson noted.

“Sensing battles isn’t my fortay, however, I have still felt a couple of them.” Sobrium responded, staring blankly out the window and not facing Crimson. “That let’s me know just how bad it is out there. All my generals are busy running things in the battle or off on campaigns somewhere else, unaware of what’s happening. Still, even if my forces fall here, backup is on the way. I have trillions of soldiers. Can’t say the same for the ORBL or the Heat Empire.”

“They know that.” Crimson responded.

“So in what world am I in any position where I must surrender?” Sobrium asked.

“Because, most likely, before backup gets here, you will die.” Crimson answered bluntly. “The big players are being held up by my allies, and I could sense them wipe out the Ten Titans.”

“You are some sort of freak.” Sobrium chuckled. “Just how good is your ki sensing?”

“I was taught by one of the best.” Crimson responded, not divulging much information.

“So explain to me how I will die.” Sobrium continued, grabbing a glass of orange juice from a nearby counter and sipping on it as he continued to stare out his window.

“Not sure. Maybe it will be slow. Your castle will come under siege by thousands of troops as the rest of your men battle elsewhere on the planet. After awhile, they will break through the gates, storm the castle, kill every man and woman here, then it will all come down to you.” Crimson theorized.

“And if it’s fast?” Sobrium turned his head slightly.

“If it’s fast, they will most likely just do a concentrated attack on this castle and hope to wipe it off the face of the planet.” Crimson looked out the window with him.

“Then you better get going.” Sobrium straightened himself, staring back out the window. Crimson raised a brow, confused, he had been thinking Sobrium was a selfish man, and would leave if it meant keeping his life. “I will not ask again.”

“You will die.” Crimson reminded him.

“I died with my son. Every day since has just been the same hell.” Sobrium turned to Crimson raising a finger. A purple electricity crackled at the tip of his nail.

“You could save a million more sons from the same fate.” Crimson said after pondering his words very carefully.

“You’re using my son to try to garner some sympathy from me?” Sobrium grew visibly angry, to the point he seemed to be trembling.

“There are so many people who will go through exactly what you are going through if you don’t listen to me.” Crimson nodded quietly. Sobrium mulled this over in his head for a bit before dropping his finger, setting his glass on a counter, then sitting back at his desk.

“Before I can trust your plan, I want to hear what it was like, that day I attacked Taton.” Sobrium asked.

“You were there, why-” Crimson began before he was cut off.

“I want to hear your side.” Sobrium lowered his gaze. Crimson paused, nodding slightly before he thought back on the day.

“Um… well, it was one of my routine days at the orphanage, though a bit special.” Crimson smiled slightly at the memory of Ecanoya’s visits. “I waited in the lobby and-”

“That was our first meeting.” Sobrium relaxed back in his chair.

“Yes. You tried to provoke me but I knew better.” Crimson continued. He recapped the entire story for Sobrium, laying out the details of the restaurant they visited, the strange food, the architecture, the people. Crimson remembered everything from that day as if it happened only an hour before. Sobrium listened carefully as Crimson smiled recapping a bit more past that.

“There. That’s what I was looking for.” Sobrium noted.

“What?” Crimson responded.

“That smile. The chief difference between the two of us. You look back on the good before the bad and smile. I look back on good memories and they only amplify my pain. That is why I cannot disband my empire. I get lost in this world, the fighting, the chaos, it’s all that fuels me as I get older. If I were to let this all go, I would have nothing again, only a missing son, a destroyed home, nothing.”

“Then don’t let it go. Not all at once, that would be catastrophic.” Crimson responded. For the first time since Crimson got there, he could tell Sobrium was genuinely listening instead of just passing the time until his death. His expression has a certain nuance to it, something that told Crimson how he had already knew he would probably die here, but he wanted to hear it from someone else. That may be the entire reason Crimson was allowed to live, because obviously his soldiers would be too afraid to tell him to his face.

“Go on.” Sobrium broke Crimson’s train of thought.

“Well if you just up and left the empire, it would collapse in on itself, there would be infighting as your generals tried to pick up the pieces. All the planets you own and the people in your empire would suffer.” Crimson began. Sobrium nodded in response, as he had already figured this all out. “So my proposition is, escape the planet right now. I can use my Instant Transmission to find a clear airspace for you to get out. After this, find out the planets who wish for their independence back and grant it to them peacefully, discharge your army over the course of the next six months. Then simply announce the disbandment of the empire. Give your most loyal planets a forewarning, set something up to allow them to maintain trade so things stay on a sense of normalcy for them.” Crimson finished.

“You’ve really thought this through.” Sobrium noted. “What’s to say I leave here and just continue my campaign?”

“You know it’s already over. You could probably hold out for another decade but the people who follow you out of fear, not respect, they will ditch as soon as they see you lost a fight at the center of your own empire.” Crimson noted. Sobrium took this into account as he simply sat down, placing his fist on his chin as he thought. Crimson coughed a bit as he leaned back.

“You don’t have much time yourself, do you?” Sobrium asked.

“Probably not. Then again I’ve come through worse, so can you.” Crimson spoke sincerely. Sobrium seemed almost touched by how genuine the words were.

“Well I have no time to think about it here. How fast can you find an escape for my personal shuttle?” Sobrium asked.

“Maybe a minute, maybe ten. It may be best to take all your civilians with you however. Your planners, treasurer, etc. They will definitely make a process this big easier.” Crimson sighed as he rolled his shoulder to get over the pain.

“I will give this more thought when I leave, do not expect a definite answer.” Sobrium stared at Crimson. Crimson nodded in understanding. Sobrium pressed a button on his desk, calling some guards to the room. Two young men came barging into the room, pointing their blasters at Crimson. Sobrium gave them a glare, telling them off. He stood up and began to order them to prepare a shuttle for everyone in the castle. They saluted, running out of the room.

“Do your part. If you lead me into a trap, I can most certainly survive a ships destruction. In your state, I do not think so. Which is why you are coming with me.” Sobrium grabbed Crimson, lifting him up before he could protest.

“You can teleport, should be no problem returning back here.” Sobrium noted. Crimson took a deep breath, following Sobrium as he let go of his wrist. Soldiers were rushing people to the shuttle as Sobrium stepped into a small armory, handing Crimson a scouter.

“You know how to use these things?” Sobrium asked.

“I can sense ki-” Crimson began.

“Not for that, I need you to communicate to me when it’s all clear.” Sobrium sighed. Crimson nodded, remembering small tidbits from when Yakow was teaching the group about it before hunting trips on Willowpeak. He fastened it to his head, putting his fingers to his head as he vanished from sight. Sobrium put on on his own head, opening up a communications line.

Crimson floated in the air, staring around as he tried to tell the debris from the ships that were still intact. Crimson took a deep breath as he raised both his palms upwards. He let out a shout as he sent what little energy he had to clear the debris away within half a kilometer. Enough of an opening. “It’s clear!” He shouted, pressing the button on the scouter.

He appeared inside the shuttle, staring at a crowd of frightened and confused people. Sobrium sat on a small chair at the back of the shuttle, sitting tight as it took off. Crimson kept his balance despite the shuttle being completely vertical. Sobrium and him exchanged an intense staredown as Sobrium awaited a betrayal.

They exited the atmosphere, and Sobrium relaxed a bit. He was genuinely surprised that he got out of there. The ship began to get peppered by blasts from small fighters that were following. Sobrium took a deep breath, raising the palms of both hands and forming black ki blasts, that crackled with a purple electricity the likes of which Crimson had never seen before. It was shot into the ships walls, but passed through as if they weren’t there. They hit the two fighters outside, expanding to create a small hole, sucking in the glass on the ships, then slamming together into nothingness. The pilots choked as they floated off into space. Crimson stared at Sobrium, who was physically exhausted.

After they were in the clear, he walked over to Sobrium. “What was that?” Crimson pondered aloud.

“My Ki property. The only reason Heat himself didn’t come to fight me. It’s called Black Hole by most, but that’s inaccurate. Black holes destroy everything, I get to pick and choose. Like a Vacuum, it sucks one of anything into it. The larger or more difficult the object is to completely disintegrate, the longer the cooldown on my power. I used it on Pyra to seal one of his forms, just like I have on many of the Saiyans within the ORBL. It’s not permanent, but it helps. If I seal a Super Saiyan then they have to reawaken it from square one.” Sobrium explained. “Remember this if I land in the clutches of the enemy.” Crimson swallowed a lump in his throat. He stood in silence for a little bit, until Sobrium nodded, and he took a deep breath, putting his fingers to his forehead.

He was back in the castles front area, where Darwin had wiped out the Heat soldiers. He fell to his knees, panting heavily as he coughed blood. He felt a hand on his shoulder as he spun around. Dayereh stood there, somberly, holding Pyra in his arms. Crimson smiled widely as he saw Dayereh, relaxing himself. “Where’s Sobrium?” Dayereh asked.

“He wasn’t there.” Crimson responded, coughing. Dayereh was visibly angry, but he calmed himself, helping Crimson up as he put Pyra over his shoulder.

“He’s bleeding a lot.” Crimson noted. Dayereh looked over Crimson, noticing how bloody his gi was.

“How are you still-” Dayereh began, in awe.

“Oh! Sorry I flew through a battlefield, Darwin… did some pretty bad things there.” Crimson lied. Dayereh nodded, unable to see how pale Crimson was in the glowing light of the evening. The two set off together, sprinting back towards where they started. Crimson dove into the X-Force ship, grabbing the signal flare. He dove outside into the riverbed, firing it into the sky. The others saw this, their faces lighting up with hope.

“Dayereh, wait for them, I’m going to go find us a ship!” Crimson shouted. He had work to do, the darkness couldn’t’ take him now, not yet. He vanished, appearing at the closest energy signature he felt. A dying man. He sealed his wounds and moved on quickly. He found a downed ship, going inside to check if it worked. He wasn’t an engineer, but it looked like it could still fly. He blinked, waking up in the chair as he shook his head.

Dayereh was loading the others into the ship. He stared horrified as Gabr dove in with Syn, setting him to the side. Gabr slammed into the pilot’s cockpit, letting out a cry as he felt just how horrible his wounds were. Crimson’s eyes darted to Syn, who had woken up, but was moaning in pain. Berta dove onto the ship, carrying Paul. Crimson felt tears immediately pour down his face as she gently set him to the side. Jason carried Derek inside, and Crimson nearly broke. He felt something deep inside him begin to burn horribly. Jason stepped outside after setting Derek down, reaching inside to help Ryal inside, who was holding what remained of Malkor. The ships back hangar closed, and it began to lift into the air.

Syn looked at the bodies frantically, turning to Gabr. “We have to go back!”

“We can’t!” Gabr responded as he weaved around a tree, lifting the ship into the air.

“Their bodies are back there, we can’t leave them like that!” Syn screamed as Dayereh and Jason tried to hold him down.

“They are gone Syn!” Gabr shouted, tearing up a bit. “The ORBL has their bodies now. All we can do is survive for them.” The entire group listened to Gabr, settling back. Dayereh began to rush between the living members of the team, healing them to the best of his ability. Berta held Syn down as Dayereh set some of his bones back in place. The pain and fatigue got to him, causing Syn to pass out. After which, Crimson jumped to his feet, helping Dayereh. He used some of the ships on board medical supplies to staunch the bleeding from Pyra and Ryal’s missing arms, but they were both insanely pale, and didn’t look like they would get through this.

“Crimson!” Jason shouted as the ship began to shake upon getting out of the first layer of atmosphere. Crimson rushed over, seeing Paul. He was coughing, just barely. Crimson felt his heart skip happily as he began to treat Paul’s bruises. Dayereh ran between the survivors, using his healing on them, but it was too many people with serious injuries to manage at once, even with his power boost. He let Syn sit, bringing Pyra and Ryal over to Paul as he healed the two of them. Berta felt the socket where her eye used to be gently, her lip quivering. Crimson heard shouting from the front as he dove towards Gabr. The entire ship shook, and Crimson fell into the cockpit.

“We have a problem! Ships were hiding in the debris to ambush others trying to escape! They are firing at us!” Gabr yelled. Crimson mustered all the energy he could, using it to guard the ships exterior. He held the barrier up as Gabr slammed down the lever to boost them out of the solar system.

“What’s the problem?” Crimson screamed as the blasts of numerous ships outside began to tear into his ki shield outside the ship.

“It’s the Light Drive! It must be loose!” Gabr yelled, flipping a few leveers as he returned to the lever. “I can try to maneuver around but we can’t leave the system until it’s fixed!” Gabr turned, but Crimson was gone.

Crimson sat outside the ship, staring at something that was banging up and down on the roof. He slid, using his arm to catch himself on one of the ships fins. He grabbed the giant metallic handle as his ki shield was broken by the attacking ships. He held his breath as best he could, using nothing but raw strength to shove the metal bit back into place. He let out a grunt as he pushed it, the bit slowly sliding into place. Crimson felt it click, and immediately raised his fingers to his forehead, returning to the ship. The entire ship shook as it blasted off into FTL speeds. Crimson sat back on one of the benches as Gabr began to laugh. Dayereh joined in on the laughter, relaxing back as he stabilized everyone.

Berta thought to herself about what she just did, holding Paul’s hand gently as she kissed him lightly on the forehead. She sighed, looking to Pyra and Ryal. They were breathing, just barely. The two had pretty wide grins on their faces, as if they were proud of themselves. She rolled her eyes, but couldn’t help but join in on the smile. They made it. They were safe. She relaxed back on one of the benches, leaving Paul some space on his own bench. She lifted Pyra, Syn, and Gabr to their own benches. Jason gave her some help before laying down and passing out himself. Dayereh took a seat as he prepared for the long journey back.

Dayereh stared at his hand, unsure of his new power. Everything happened so fast, he wondered if only he had done something differently. He shook his head, trying to clear it of those thoughts. He knew in his heart that he saved them, but he could never truly get them back. He looked at Crimson, who was panting heavily, sitting next to him. He smiled, staring back down at his hand as he place one hand on Crimson’s shoulder.

“You did it Crimson! You saved us!” Dayereh shouted happily as he shook Crimson. As soon as Dayereh stopped shaking Crimson, Crimson slumped forward, a smile on his face.

 

Epilogue

 

“Twenty-four hours was all it took to end over three billion lives. Ten of those lives, were those of the brave resistance, who stood for something more than themselves.” Gabr spoke, wearing a tuxedo. He sat on a hill, the one he had bought, in order to give them all a proper burial. They were all back in Taton, where it had all began. The cities graveyard spanned for several miles nowadays.

“Does anyone have any words for the individuals?” Gabr asked the crowd. The crowd consisted of Jason, Ryal, Berta, and Jacob, there for exclusively Derek. Oozak had shown up a few seconds before, with a X-Force member they had never met before, an Arcosian named Harpor, his features were a bright tan. The entire funeral paused as Syn arrived, helping Quad and Quin’s parents up the steep steps to the hill. Syn and Harpor nodded to each other. Both of the parents cried quietly, holding one another as Syn took a step over to Harpor.

“Thanks for the help.” Syn stuck his hand out. Harpor nodded solemnly, shaking it.

“When I heard Ghost ordered their execution, I ditched the ORBL immediately.” Harpor clenched his fist. “IF only I was quicker maybe they wouldn’t have lost their house.”

“Don’t beat yourself up about it.” Oozak smiled sadly. Syn and Harpor shot him a gaze, but after a bit they let the past go, and ushered Oozak over.

“Firstly, there are the five brave members of the X-Force to speak of.” Gabr walked over to a cloak sitting under an oak tree, taking it off to reveal a small monument with an X sitting on top of it. On the monuments side, the names, birthdates and pictures of Quin, Quad, Double, Ichirou and Trips were there. Ryal blinked, surprised by their real names. He had forgotten that all active X-Force members were going by code names, save for Syn and Ichirou.

“Quin was the first to die for this cause. Though it wasn’t in the battle, he deserves proper rest alongside his older brother, who he aspired so much to be like.” Gabr began. Jason looked over at the grieving parents and his heart ached a bit. He wiped a few tears from his eyes. Today was the day for grieving, and it was alright to cry.

“Quad, went out a hero, like he always promised he would, if it came to it. With his death he saved the lives of countless others who Aohi’s enforcers would have no doubt raided in the name of the ORBL.” Gabr continued. He looked to the next person on the list, the name in the center, and he took a deep breath.

“The man whose shoes many are simply unable to fill. Double. He led us into this fight, gave us courage when we wavered, shielded us when we fell, he was the heart of the X-Force, and he was ripped out.” Gabr sighed as he moved down, already emotionally exhausted, but there were so many names to get through.

“Trips. Not many people knew him as the goofball he was. I remember he would secretly steal from the rest of the group, taking things like Harpor’s training weights, or Ichirou’s secret snack stash. He would replace them quickly, before anyone noticed. When I caught him with Oozak’s stash of drinks, we simply shared it and I promised to keep his secret.” Gabr laughed a bit to himself. Oozak wasn’t happy about that revelation, but he couldn’t help but smile.

“Ichirou. He was faced with a decision no child should have: ‘Your father, or your friends?’ He chose us, despite everything, and fought with us to the bitter end. A selfless sacrifice to give Syn just an ounce of time to deliver of message, he chose his death over losing his pride. Just like any true Saiyan would.” Gabr finished with the X-Force members, turning to the next gravestone. He took the cover off of it, and it was far smaller, resting at the base of the oak tree.

“JayJay and Judes. I cannot say much for either of them individually, as I was just starting to get to know them. I thought they were simply greedy pirates, being coerced into helping us. I was wrong. That is all I can say on this matter.” Gabr took a breath, having skipped over his speech for the two as he moved over, lifting a sheet off of the grave of Malkor.

“Malkor was unusual for a Zenkon. He was incredibly outgoing, very social for a usually shut in race. He was insanely bright, and his loss is not only a personal pain, but a huge blow to society as a whole. He will be missed.” Gabr finished. Ryal thought about stepping up to give Malkor a few more words than that, but he couldn’t even begin to think about what to say. His mind felt too muddled.

“Derek.” Gabr lifted the sheet off of the final grave. The only picture they could get was when Derek was young. He was in the middle of a small group, one of which as Jason. There was a creaking sound as everyone turned. Paul was in a wheelchair, being pushed up the hill by Crimson. As they got over the crux of the hill, Paul waved Crimson off, grabbing the wheels and rolling himself up. Everyone gave some space to Crimson, Paul and Jason as they stood together, looking over the grave. Jacob walked over, putting his one remaining hand on Jason’s shoulder.

“Derek was quiet, a kid who had seen too much horror that the world had to offer at every turn in his life. Even still, he was brought through it all by those closest to him. His friends. He didn’t have a Saiyans fighting spirit, but he had their pride. While most would laugh at him for being a half-breed, Derek is anything but.” Gabr finished, taking a step back as he allowed everyone to say their goodbyes in peace. The entire group mingled for a bit. Pyra’s ship arrived, floating above the funeral with a deafening hum as Pyra leapt out of the ship, landing on the hill with a heavy thud.

Everyone quickly returned to their grieving. Pyra eyed around, noticing Ryal. The two walked up to one another, knuckle bumping with their one remaining arm. “You got your tail back, why not your arm?” Ryal asked.

“I don’t know. I’ve gotten used to the whole one arm thing, but I need the tail for walking straight.” Pyra shrugged. “I think I’ll keep it, what about you?”

“Working up the money for a replacement.” Ryal yawned. “Going to go for one of the cheap cybernetic ones. Thought it would look awesome.”

Crimson walked over to Dayereh. Dayereh was standing over JayJay and Judes grave. He looked up, waiting for Crimson to say something. “How did the funeral go for Kuele and Bolt?” Crimson asked in a low tone.

“Well they aren’t really dead, but they aren’t here anymore, so it was very awkward. People said their goodbyes to me instead of their graves, asking me to care for them. I have to return later for a ceremony.” Dayereh put his hands in his pockets as he sighed.

“Take care, alright?” Crimson and Dayereh exchanged a friendly hug.

“You too.” Dayereh smirked, looking at the grave one last time. He wondered how many of the others really knew about Kuele and Bolt. Or was their death much like JayJay and Judes in their minds, just some strangers? He shook his head, walking off as he left such thoughts out of his head.

Paul leaned his head on Derek’s grave, crying rather heavily. Berta and Jacob stood either of his sides, comforting him with just their presence. Jason walked over, raising a hand as he tried to find the words. “It’s not your-” Jason began before Jacob shot a glance his way.

“Let him grieve.” Jacob whispered to Jason.

“So what now?” Syn asked the survivors of the X-Force.

“Well Double left us, so let’s go to the one guy everyone in the X-Force trusts.” Gabr nodded softly, turning to Oozak. Harpor and Syn looked to him as well. Oozak took a breath as he shrugged.

“Let’s just continue the work the rest put forward for us, huh?” Oozak asked. “Let’s get stronger and finish off the ORBL for good. We are rebuilding the X-Force.”

“That way of thinking I like.” Harpor smiled. “Almost as much as I like Taijutsu.”

“The heck is Taijutsu?” Syn laughed.

“Martial Arts, bro.” Harpor sounded almost offended. Gabr rolled his eyes, laughing a bit as the group said their farewells to their old comrades, walking off. Pyra looked about the funeral a bit, and realized he didn’t really belong. He took a breath, remembering what had happened to him a few months ago before taking off into the city to find a bite to eat. Quad and Quinn’s parents were the next to leave. Berta got up soon after.

“You aren’t staying?” Paul asked.

“My people are probably already fighting against one another with me gone. I gotta go keep the peace.” Berta smirked.

“You sure you can’t stay?” Paul asked. She slapped him on the head a bit.

“You know I got a duty to my people, stop asking.” She kept slapping him on the head.

“Alright, alright!” Paul laughed, waving her off. “You won’t mind if I visit every now and then?”

“Course’ not.” Berta smiled, walking off. Jacob blinked, giving Paul a wink and a thumbs up. Paul blushed, looking away. The group laughed.

“Well I best get back to work.” Jacob sighed. “See you later boss.” Jacob waved to Paul, flying off.

“Boss?” Crimson turned to Paul, blinking. Paul seemed to ignore him, wheeling himself towards the hill.

“Want to go out for a bite to eat guys?” Paul smiled back to them. Jason and Crimson exchanged a glance before Jason shrugged.

“It would be good to catch up, it’s been three months after all.” Jason walked down the hill, grabbing Paul’s wheelchair, helping him wheel to the bottom of the hill.

“I’ll grab Ryal!” Crimson yelled, flying off.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The entire restaurant was staring blankly at the four teenagers who had eaten more than the rest of the tables combined. Crimson relaxed back, winning the eating contest and smiling happily. Ryal pounded his fist on the table in defeat as the losers lay on the battlefield, stuffed.

“How did you do it?” Jason asked, gritting his teeth.

“Sheer willpower.” Crimson smiled. Everyone stopped faking the drama before returning to laughing and casual mingling. Crimson turned to the TV. Taton News was on.

“Good evening.” The reporter began before reading from a small stack of papers. “Taton has slowly recovered in the last few years since Sobrium’s invasion. People flocked here after the Battle of Empires, and Taton is now seeing a return to its former glory. As well, several ‘ki’ based martial arts schools have popped up all over the city. As you know, after the Battle of Empires, each side was so badly wounded that they didn’t have time to stop scavengers from scrounging about in the rubble. Security footage from several ships revealed the mystery of Ki to the galaxy, something later confirmed by Sobrium himself as he demonstrated live on television shortly before he disbanded his empire. Sobrium lost his right hand: Darwin McDarloss, and half of his Ten Titans, something that may have contributed to the decision. The Heat Empire and Orion’s Republic for Better Lives have both begun their dispute over the now free territories, but trillions of soldiers from Sobrium’s empire get to return home in time for the holidays. In other news, have you heard about the latest Super Saiyan celebrity? Turns out that not just the chosen get the fabled form as someone is bound to prove later this evening.”

Crimson tuned out as the celebrity talk came on. He had seen the tapes. None of them saw anything that they had sacrificed. The story of the battle was known only to a privileged few. He returned to some casual talk as Paul finally simply spoke out what he wanted to say.

“I rebuilt the orphanage.” Paul sighed. Crimson stared his way, blinking. “Jacob is helping me out.”

“So am I.” Jason sounded annoyed at the lack of recognition.

“All you helped with was knocking down walls!” Paul laughed. Jason’s face grew red as he pretended to be furious, before the entire group laughed together.

“I went to one of those ki dojos.” Ryal noted, sipping on a shake. “Some are even teaching people to unlock their ki properties.”

“Don’t you guys think this is a bad thing? If everyone in the world knows how to level an entire city…” Crimson began before stopping himself. He thought about how much he sounded like Ecanoya.

“Wait a minute.” The Reporter began, a concerned look on her face that snapped everyone in the restaurants attention to the TV. “We have a report in from a source that confirms the rumors that have been flying around for months now. Yes. Confirmed reports. An Expedition crew has finally returned! They have discovered a whole new galaxy! The New World is real!” She shouted excitedly. Everyone in the restaurant began cheering excitedly as Crimson looked to Ryal, both of their eyes lighting up at the prospect of adventure.

“Alright, alright. As I understand from this, it appears that…” The Reporter trailed off as she continued reading down a few things on a sheet of paper she was handed. “The company in charge of the expedition has set up guidelines for those who wish to embark out to the New World. You must have a crew of at least seven people, with a maximum of thirty. From there you can buy one of their expedition ships and set off. In one months time they will have more luxury fit cruisers ready for the journey. Thank you for tuning in.” The reporter smiled, turning around as she looked to her crew. “This changes everything.”

“Wow.” Paul laughed.

“Awesome.” Ryal smirked.

“It’s alright.” Jason shrugged.

“You’re not interested in going?” Ryal asked Jason. Jason simply got up, leaving some coins on the table to help them pay for their meal, before walking out. The others looked between one another.

“Well I gotta go tell my sister about this.” Ryal hopped up, throwing a very miniscule amount of money on the table.

“I thought she hated you?” Paul questioned.

“Oh, well it turns out my mom survived our fight, so she was never that mad with me to begin with. Well she’s still mad I up and ditched her, but you know, I can run faster than her.” Ryal smirked. “I’ll be back soon Crimson, start looking for people!” Ryal rushed out the doors and flew off.

“So.” Paul crossed his fingers, staring at Crimson.

“So.” Crimson responded with a smirk.

“Want to come meet the kids?” Paul asked.

“Why not?” Crimson smiled, getting up as he grabbed Ecanoya’s sword and jacket. Paul wheeled out the entire way. Crimson walked with him, watching people eye his sword and he cautiously looked at each of them.

“Even if your spines broken you can still use ki to fly, can’t you?” Crimson asked.

“I could,” Paul noted. “But if I want my spine to heal correctly, I shouldn’t. If I fly up my body could sway from side to side, and with a snapped spine that’s not comfortable.”

“Fair enough.” Crimson shrugged as they stopped outside the front of the orphanage. It looked exactly the same.

“You did this by yourself?” Crimson asked in awe.

“I had help from Jacob and Jason, but yeah, a lot of the elbow grease was mine. Used money from my new job to buy the materials and get the papers. Ended up taking one of the bunk rooms as my own for now.” Paul chuckled, rolling forward as he took out his keychain. Crimson looked up, seeing a few heads poking out, before they quickly shot back inside. Paul rolled in through the front door, followed by Crimson.

Six kids sat at the entrance. Paul held a hand out to introduce each of them.

“This one is Sishew.” Paul pointed to the first one standing in the row. “He’s the strongest.”

“This guy didn’t have a name, bounced from place to place, so we call him Traveler.” Paul ruffled the hair of the next kid.

“This is Fan.” Paul smirked. “He’s the most energetic one.”

“This is Mystic, He’s the fastest.” Paul moved down the line as the kids stood proudly as they were each given a special trait. Traveler seemed a tiny bit confused on why Paul didn’t point out that he was obviously the smartest of the group.

“This is Kyoto.” Paul turned to Crimson. “He’s the oldest, and the funniest.” Kyoto was about thirteen, so he technically wasn’t a kid, but he had a very cocky smile on his face.

“And lastly, we have-” Paul began before being cut off.

“Hi I’m Plagearon!” The kid yelled out excitedly as he smiled.

“Well, yeah that’s Plagearon. He’s basically got infinite energy.” Paul spoke with a hint of trauma. Crimson laughed, wondering how much trouble six kids could be.

“Well, I think all of them are awesome.” Crimson smiled, giving a thumbs up to the kids. “Are you going to teach them Ki?”

“Of course I am.” Paul scratched his nose. “It’s just that most of them have more natural talent than me so I don’t want them surpassing me while I am in a wheelchair.” Paul laughed. The kids stood proudly as they went off to go do things in different corners of the orphanage before Crimson sat down on the same chair he waited for Ecanoya in.

“So what job did you get that lets you pay for all of this?” Crimson asked.

“City Guard.” Paul laughed. Crimson blinked.

“They let a crippled man onto the city guard.” Crimson asked.

“Yeah, I have to go in and meet my team today, before it was desk work, but now I actually get called to the field.” Paul scratched the back of his head. “Going to meet up with Jason first. What are you doing?”

“Well I’ve trained with a couple people to help them improve their ki for some cash, and I taught someone Instant Transmission for the big bucks. Used all that money to get Natania, Takara, Tedee and Tedum settled down somewhere nice.”

“Always looking out for people, aren’t you?” Paul asked sincerely. “Alright I better head out. Jacob is already upstairs watching the kids, so I’m going to head out.”

“Alright Paul, nice catching up with you.” Crimson said as Paul wheeled out. “Wait!” Crimson called out.

“What is it?” Paul asked.

“I promise, I will get the money you need from the New World. Then you won’t have to work just to keep this place fed.” Crimson nodded. Paul took a deep breath, nodding in return as they parted ways.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jason found Paul sitting next to his mother’s grave, and the newly made one for his sisters. He had a bottle of some terribly pungent liquid in his hands. Paul wheeled over to him, pushing himself out of the wheelchair and plopping down next to Jason.

“Did you know about it?” Jason asked.

“Not until Pyra told me. Just after I recovered and woke up he just comes up and lays the news on the both of us then walks off.” Paul took a breath.

“I’m no different from Darwin. I’m just like him.” Jason sighed. “And I’ll only get worse as I get older.”

“That’s not true, and you know it.” Paul looked at him. “Having his ki property hasn’t made me any more violent of a person.”

“In that one moment though, I wasn’t scared of Ghost, or Darwin. I was scared of you. I have never seen anyone so full of hate in my entire life.” Jason looked back at Paul.

“You can’t reason that. We had just lost Derek, it’s natural to snap.” Paul reasoned with him.

“Is it though? My race. What I am. We just get more violent as we grow up. I think that’s exactly why my dad left.” Jason spoke.

“What?” Paul spun around.

“I’ve been mulling it over. Some days the only thing that gave me the strength to stand was the thought that one day, some place, I will find my dad and strangle the life out of him.” Jason made a gesture of choking with his hands as he took a breath, calming himself.

“And now?” Paul asked.

“Now I think he realized what was happening to him before he did something terrible to us all. I think my mother found out about it too. It’s what drove her to suicide. She must have thought the two of them could overcome that violence with their love or something. Him leaving must have put her mind in a place where she thought she didn’t mean enough to him.” Jason reasoned.

“Then she, you know?” Paul asked softly.

“Yeah. She did. Now the one person I’ve hated my entire life may be the only one who can give me answers to this hate I feel inside of me before it consumes me!” Jason threw the bottle, but Paul caught it just as it left his hands.

“Then find him, get your answers.” Paul spoke softly.

“Alright. For my sisters, Harmony and Melody. For you, mom.” Jason began. Paul traced his gaze to the grave that said ‘Symphony’. “I will find my father, Dissonant.” Jason clenched his fist, flying off as Paul took a breath, wondering if he would ever see him again. He climbed into his chair and continued off to work.

Paul arrived a bit early, but the entire squad was there. The squad didn’t have to wear the traditional City Guard gear, so most of them looked very casual. The first person to greet him was a dark green Namekian.

“Hey there!” He stepped forward, stretching out a hand. Paul shook his hand, as the man looked at his wheelchair, then back to Paul. “My name is Kuma Soul.”

“Paul.” Paul introduced himself. Another member of the team stepped forward, a strange, white haired man who was incredibly large. He was even taller than Paul, and Paul was six foot nine. Paul thought it might be because he was sitting down, but he only came up to the man’s pelvis. He was huge. He stuck a hand out.

“Stine is what they call me.” He smiled wide.

“Nice to meet you.” Paul noted.

“Screw you.” Someone yelled from the corner as two guys split off. They both sat away from one another. One in the corner had black hair, and a small stature. Stine nudged Paul and pointed to the same man he was looking at.

“That is Faith.” Stine noted, before his finger trailed over to the guy who was just arguing with Faith. “And that’s Vincent Noww. Neither of the two ever get along, just let them argue, I learned that the hard way.”

Two guys kicked the door open immediately after, one of them carrying a boombox that was blasting music as they strolled on in.

“You guys are always late.” Vincent noted. “With your terrible music.”

“Can you chill out?” Faith asked. Vincent shot him a glare and Faith got ready to go in for round two, until Stine stepped in between them.

“Shikoto! Saisuke! Welcome!” Stine pointed to Paul in the wheelchair. “This is Paul, the last member of our team.”

“Eyyy” Saisuke smiled. He set his boombox down, shaking Paul’s hand. Saisuke had a very tight grip, and Paul realized that everyone on this team were trained martial artists.

“Welcome to the Taton Force!” Shikoto yelled out as he popped a bottle of soda open. Everyone began cheering, and Paul felt right at home.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Hey Pyra-” Crimson began.

“Yes.” Pyra stated simply as he relaxed back on the bench.

“You didn’t even know-” Crimson started before Pyra cut him off yet again.

“Yes. I’ll go to the New World with you.” Pyra shrugged.

“I was going to ask where the X-Force went.” Crimson scratched his head.

“Oh.” Pyra sighed.

“Do you want to round out the team though? Don’t you have prince duties or something?” Crimson asked.

“Not anymore.” Pyra looked at the ground. He began to explain what happened. After everyone got checked into a hospital, Pyra returned home to get his limbs replaced. The first month went by as his new tail was grown and attached, all was good. This was when he denied the attachment of a new arm.

One night, as the princes dined with some cousins, there was a loud bell toll as all the princes looked between one another. There was a sound of loud and heavy footsteps coming down the hall as the princes suddenly realized who was coming. Each of them got out of their seats and bowed prematurely.

King Heat entered the room, yawning as he looked about. “I hate political missions. Taking me from my nice warm castle to some cold place off in the sticks where I have to decide between letting two planets about to go to war, or blowing both of them up for being a nuisance.” Heat commented as he sighed. He looked through the hall, making sure everyone was giving him proper respect before he noticed Pyra. He stomped over to his son, ascending to his final form in an instant, the overwhelming rush of power forcing everyone onto their knees in an instant as each prince and their extended family began to sweat profusely from fear. Heat threw Pyra against the wall, backhanding him very lightly, something that sent him flying across the room. Pyra crumpled up on the floor, but quickly stood up.

King Heat was already in front of him. Pyra readied for more punishment, but instead, his father hugged him. Pyra blinked, as everyone stared in absolute amazement. Pyra wasn’t sure whether or not to return the hug.

“Seems you can’t even hug your old man right, let alone listen to him.” Heat returned to his first form, letting go of Pyra as he brushed himself off.

“Father-” Pyra began.

“Don’t father me. I ordered you. Never use transformations. Our race relies on them too much, it’s why the rest are weak. You think I got as strong as I am now by flaunting transformations?” King Heat asked.

“I would have died.” Pyra noted. “Darwin had Heater! Turned him into some sort of living weapon!” Pyra shouted. Heat sighed, listening to the whisperings of the family members who didn’t know about Heater’s fate.

“I am not truly mad about that. What I am mad about is, you having the audacity to plot with your brother.” Heat’s eyes shot to Inferno, who immediately sunk into his chair, going rigid. “Taking half of our army to some far off battle to have your grudge match with Darwin.”

“We took-” Pyra began before Heat let off an intense aura that made Pyra shudder, reminding him exactly of the power he felt from Ghost.

“You lost the lives of soldiers. My soldiers! Our army is reduced down to sixty percent of its original size because of you! I know if you didn’t ask Inferno for help we would have probably lost every single soldier!”

“Father-” Pyra tried to argue as his eyes darted about nervously.

“Pyra Heat.” King Heat began. “From this moment on you are disowned.” Heat began before Pyra tried to interject, receiving a swift smack to make him shut up. “Any and all property that belongs to you will be returned to the Royal Court. Your funds will be striped, your title as prince, revoked.” King Heat continued. “From here on you are simply Pyra. If you continue to use the surname Heat, you will be treated as a Class A felon and will be punished via execution.” King Heat finished, turning to the table. “Cinder Heat!” He called out, and the cousin stood in response. “You will replace him!”

“The snake?” Pyra shouted in disgust. “Replace me?”

“You will only regain your status once you accomplish twelve feats I deem worthy of a Heat.” Heat spoke, simply walking off. “If you are not out of the castle by sundown, I will kill you.” He spoke as he walked off.

Inferno began laughing at Pyra, as did the rest of his family, aside from Warmer. They all began to throw things at him, whilst Warmer simply sat with his head down, disappointed. Pyra left in shame.

Crimson listened to the whole story in awe. “How far have you gotten on the feats?” Crimson asked.

“I’ve done only two. I get a letter from the Heat’s every time my father acknowledges one to let me know of my progress. I stopped two planets from colliding, and I rescued and restored a once thought extinct species of dinosaur in the far corners of the galaxy simply because they taste good.

“So you’re down to go explore the New World?” Crimson asked.

“Will it be good training?” Pyra asked.

“Probably.” Crimson shrugged.

“Then I’m down.” Pyra got up. “I’ll get ready to head out.” Crimson sighed in relief, that made three members. However, he needed a little break, and there was someone he had a few words for.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dayereh sat in the center, on Kuele’s lookout, or rather, Dayereh’s lookout now. The elders of the Namekian people sat around him. “You are not ready to take the place of Grand Elder.” One of them spoke to Dayereh. He answered as professionally as he could.

“This roll was entrusted to me by the last Grand Elder.” Dayereh told them.

“This may be true, but the last Grand Elder simply wanted to pass the power of our artifacts to someone, so they do not wither out and die. I ask you do the same now.” One of the Elders spoke.

“What artifacts?” Dayereh asked.

“Silence!” An Elder yelled out. Dayereh shot him a glare, making all of them quiet in respect for the calm intensity Dayereh had. This was not the same Dayereh from before the war, the clumsy Namekian they knew. This was the battle hardened warrior Namekian that has lived in Dayereh since Willowpeak.

“I heard of a story. Tales of a New World, a whole galaxy ripe for exploration.” Dayereh began. “I am not yet strong enough to lead the Namekian people, so I will follow through with your wise counsel, Elders. I will pass off whatever power it is that you ask for, only asking in return that you tell me about it when I return.”

“This is an acceptable bargain.” The Elders agreed.

“Then, I suppose that’s it then?” Dayereh asked.

“That’s it, get your things, we have a ceremony prepared, then you can head out right away.” The Elders sighed, getting up from the circle. Dayereh took a deep breath, hoping what he did was the right thing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Crimson walked into Wyrmhame’s library. He looked around at the shelves, scanning them as he made his way to the center. Wyrmhame sat there with Lady Violet, the both of them waiting for Crimson. “You owe me an answer.”

“I owe you nothing.” Wyrmhame shrugged. “I am the one who taught you the Angel Form, so if anything, you owe me.”

“Wyrmhame.” Crimson took a deep breath. “You tried to implant a false moral code into my head so I didn’t abuse the form didn’t you? Even though this would risk my life?” Lady Violet floated away as Wyrmhame shot her a gaze, trying to get her to come back.

“Don’t look at me I am not helping you.” She floated away lazily. Wyrmhame took a deep breath.

“Look, I’m tired, maybe we could do this tomorrow-” Wyrmhame began, before Crimson sat right down and stared at him.

“Now” Crimson demanded.

“You won’t believe it.” Wyrmhame warned.

“Try me.” Crimson challenged.

“Where to even begin with this. Well you know what a God is, right?” Wyrmhame asked. “I am one. Or well, more specifically, a race of beings known as Kais. I am the most human looking one because they often sent me to deal with mortals.” Wyrmhame stopped, waiting for some sort of scoff or laugh, but he received none, instead Crimson listened intently.

“In truth, the history of universe, several millennia ago, was wiped clean from the mortal memory. I had a part in this. My ki property was the only one among the Kai’s that didn’t involve creation. My ki property known as ‘Thief’. I can steal anything to use at a later time. I can steal a Super Saiyan transformation, and it will become available to me, but never the person who originally had it. It’s incredibly powerful, and because of it, I was able to steal the memories of the war all those years ago.” Wyrmhame lamented.

“So what happened?” Crimson asked.

“In the universe there are more gods than just Kai’s. Think of us Kai’s as the overseers and creators. Our counterparts were simply known as the Gods of Destruction. We actually bore no animosity to one another, and because of this, there was a thing, we worked in tandem. They would destroy things to make room for new creations. Sometimes this included mortal races. Now, the whole of existence is split into sixteen different universes, and innumerable dimensions. Dimensions are outside our reach, some of them are similar, some of them aren’t, but it is impossible to visit another. We are the third dimension. We are also the third universe.” Wyrmhame continued, taking a minute to organize his thoughts. “So every universe had a single God of Destruction.”

“Had?” Crimson asked.

“Yes, I’m getting to that.” Wyrmhame continued. Above the Gods of Destruction and the Kai’s were the Angels. Despite them being stronger than both, they served as guides to us gods. Above them, was the king of everything, the Omniking. In our very own third universe, one that was considered underdeveloped and rather weak, lived myself, and the God of Destruction known as Hexus. Hexus was weak, initially. When I first met him, I was unimpressed. My first thoughts were ‘This is who is supposed to destroy things?’ However, he carried himself with a confidence that sort of rubs off on people. He didn’t lord himself as a God of Destruction, and in fact, he barely ever destroyed anything. He spent most of his time helping mortals, and would never destroy them as that meant they could not go to the afterlife.”

“I am unusual for a Kai, I am not that professional, really. That’s why Hexus and I got along so well. He and I would go about messing around, shirking our duties, simple stuff like that. Hexus then found his ki property, and that’s when things started going downhill. Out of all the Gods of Destruction he was the weakest, but he also hid a dark secret. He hated every single god. He hated the whole system. Everything. He saw how other Gods of Destruction would wipe out entire planets of people without so much as blinking, and how us Kais rebuilt it without caring about those who died. So he went to the second strongest God of Destruction, and unbeknownst to us, consumed his soul with his Ki property, giving him all of his powers, abilities, and worst of all, tidbits of his personality. Then he went to the next person, and the next. By the time I next saw Hexus, he had consumed so many people that I could tell something was wrong right away. He was distant, lost between several personalities as they molded together, and unfortunately, Hexus only at Gods of Destruction, meaning he became more volatile.” Wyrmhame took a breath.

“Then what happened?” Crimson cut in.

“Shut up kid, let me tell a story.” Wyrmhame sighed. “Where was I, oh yeah. Hexus’s motives became known as he announced them to all the gods. The Omniking tried to consume him, but Hexus even ate his soul, gaining power over the universes themselves, no, even beyond that. He was beyond the Omniking, nearing complete omnipotence. The remaining gods banded together, including myself. We fought him as best we could, but Hexus was still in there somewhere. He loved mortals. He wanted to save them from this system that constantly abused them. He was going to destroy this universe, dragging the mortals over to a new one he created so they may live there. In a last ditch effort to beat him, us Kais worked together to make a universe to trap him in. Hexus wiped out all of the Angels, leaving us without our advisors. Without our Advisors, we did all we could to combat him. We made a form that allowed mortals to become powerful enough to take the role of Angels. We limited it so only those Mortals who were selfless could gain its power, but we made a mistake.”

“The loophole. If someone was doing something awful, but still believed it was right, they could use the power.” Crimson noted.

“Yes. We were heartbroken. We spent so much time and effort creating this. Half of the people who used it died outright from abusing it. About ten percent simply took it and walked away, and the next forty percent, our last bastion of forty people, were split on how to use it. That’s when Hexus stepped in, creating his own counter to the form. The Demon form. Just a simple mockery of our Angel form. He gave it to the worst of the worst and set them to work distracting us. We were losing the support of the mortals, more and more saw Hexus as the true god.” Wyrmhame sighed. “The remnants of the lost race of the kais can be found throughout the old galaxy and the new. In fact, I know you plan to set out for the new galaxy Crimson. I must again ask a favor of you. Kais, like myself, are born from fruit. When Hexus was winning over the support of some mortal races with his ideals, people began to see him as a messiah that would usher in a new era of peace for all races. The Kais intermingled with races, making half-kai hybrids, the Hankamis, just to get support from mortals. Trying to make it look like Kai’s were people too. Only three remain in the universes, and one lives right here on Soluris. Please, check in on him for me after this. His name is Seirth, and one of his brothers, Bach, lives on the other side of the galaxy. No clue where the third one is. Take Seirth with you. Promise me this before I tell you how this story ends.”

“I promise.” Crimson nodded.

“Good. Now, moving on, the finale of this epic. Our final battle with Hexus happened at the edge of the twelfth universe, leading into the thirteenth we had made. He and his Demons butchered his way through our Angel form users, as Demon form is easier to use, and was given to already powerful people. Then they got to the kais. We lost innumerable people, Hexus raised his hand to kill me on the battlefield, but he stopped, hesitating. That’s when the remaining Kai’s made the final push, shoving him into the thirteenth universe. I didn’t help, I just watched. He ripped their souls out as he was pulled inside, and I shut the door, locking him away from the twelve universes permanently, but now I was one of, if not the only Kai left. Hexus destroyed our tree, and I was only able to save three fruits, the budding Hankamis.” Wyrmhame finished his tale as Crimson sat, flabbergasted.

“That’s the truth?” Crimson asked.

“The whole truth and nothing but.” Wyrmhame smiled.

“Thank you, for trusting me with this.” Crimson nodded.

“Anytime. Not like I’m going anywhere. Have fun in the New World.” Wyrmhame waved. Crimson nodded, dashing outside to go find the rest of his crew.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Pyra? You added Pyra to our group?” Ryal asked.

“Yes?” Crimson responded, scared he would be angry.

“Yes! Yes this is a good thing Crimson!” Ryal jumped around fist pumping as he yelled out happily before returning to Crimson. “We can use him.” Ryal smiled. “We get close to Pyra, we get closer to rescuing Mur.” After realizing what Ryal was talking about, Crimson’s face lit up.

“Then we free her from right under their grasps!” Crimson high fived Ryal. “We would probably go to war with the Heats if we stole her back, you know.”

“Bring it on, I say. I’m itching for more fights, but not until I get used to this whole one arm thing in battle.” Ryal nodded.

“Pyra and his family won’t even know what hit them.” Crimson smiled.

“Hopefully they don’t pursue us, but if they do, we would have to get help.” Ryal scratched his chin.

“Oh well, one step at a time, how about that?” Crimson shrugged.

“For now, yeah, let’s take this slow.” Ryal came over the crux of a hill, overlooking the never-ending city in the skyline that was Taton. “Never gets old.”

“It really doesn’t.” Crimson smiled, looking down at a little note piece he got. He stepped forward, leading the way as he started checking the street signs and addresses. He found a store that simply said ‘Seirth’s Books and Nooks’. He turned to Ryal, opening the door. It was a two story shop, the second floor was obviously the bedspace. The shop was very blackened on the inside, as Crimson looked around, seeing obvious patch jobs done on the ceiling and floorboards. There was a man sitting at the front of the store, by the counter. Crimson checked the picture, squinting, it wasn’t them. His store tag said ‘Inago’.

“Hey!” Ryal called out, looking at one of the shelves with books on it. “This looks burnt.”

“It is.” Inago shrugged. “Store got burned down a while ago, Seirths dad with it. He wasn’t rich enough to pay for both fixing the store and his dad’s medical bills, so Seirth picked his dad. Store is in poor condition, but I promise, we have literally anything you want.”

“How about a Katchin machete?” Ryal asked smugly.

“Katchin Machete!” Inago called out to the back room.

“Coming up!” A mysterious voice called out. Ryal and Crimson exchanged a quick glance. In a few minutes, a tall man with long ginger hair walked out of the back, holding a black machete with purple engravings. “One Katchin Machete with a purple Katchin center, which is ten times harder than normal Katchin.” Ryal stared in awe at the beautiful weapon, immediately slapping all of his money on the counter.

“Seirth!” A man came out the back with a small cube of Katchin, struggling. His tag said ‘Lao the Legend’. “Katchin is really expensive, why didn’t you confirm they had the cash first!” The ginger man furrowed his brow and turned to Lao.

“I’m sorry, I was focused on turning a cube of insanely dense metal into a beautiful weapon, maybe the quantity slipped my mind a bit.” Seirth spat sarcastically. “Anyway, where is my coffee?”

“We are out.” Inago yawned.

“W-What.” Seirth stuttered.

“Out of money, no money, no coffee.” Lao reminded Seirth.

“Blasphemy!” Seirth yelled out.

“I didn’t come in here today to ask you, Seirth, if you would be interested in joining our New World expedition.” Crimson asked.

“No go away.” Seirth grumbled, still stuck on the coffee thing.

“We could find more materials for your store, and umm, new types of coffee?” Crimson tried to reason with the Hankami. Seirth looked at them, then to Inago and Lao.

“It’s a good deal, not often people come in with an offer to the New World so quick.” Lao shrugged.

“We head out in a month, so you don’t have to pack everything and go right now.” Crimson reminded him. “We just need two more people.”

“Can you show us what you can do?” Ryal asked curiously.

“Oh, you mean this?” Seirth asked, grabbing a rock off the counter, crushing it in his hand, then releasing his hand to show the rock had been reformed into the shape of a frog. Crimson and Ryal stared in amazement.

“Yeah, found out that this was my ki property. My dad said there are none like it out there, but I think he is just being nice.” Seirth scratched his nose. Ryal pulled Crimson to the side.

“I thought this would be babysitting, but that guy looks capable. Who else do you have in mind?” Ryal asked.

“Honestly, I didn’t think that far ahead.” Crimson noted.

“Hey, you two.” Seirth shouted.

“Yeah?” Crimson responded.

“If you need more people, go across the street and talk to the store worker in there.”  Seirth shrugged.

“What kind of person are they?” Crimson asked.

“Oh you’ll see.” Seirth walked away with the vague statement, leaving Ryal and Crimson to look at one another, confused. The store across the street was far nicer than Seirth’s. The walls weren’t burnt, the lights all functioned, everything was nice and neat. Ryal stepped in a bit, before snapping his finger and tapping Crimson on the shoulder.

“Forgot my machete, I have to go soon anyway, so I’ll grab it and you can try to find out who Seirth was talking about.” Ryal yawned. Crimson knew that Ryal was really just too bored from searching, but he didn’t blame him. Crimson stepped inside, taking a deep breath. A man behind the counter yelled out.

“Stop standing in the doorway your letting the heat in!” It spoke.

“Sorry.” Crimson quickly shut the door behind him.

“We have a two for one special on Drapples today.” The voice advertised. “Otherwise we have a good price on Tetradon meat. If you want to look through our selection of clothing it’s a bit lackluster at the moment.” Crimson stepped forward, weaving between a few shelves as he got to the back.

“I was told by the guy across the street to come here and look for a new recruit for my New World Expedition team. A friend of yours, I assume?” Crimson asked. A man stood up from behind the counter. He was a dark skinned Saiyan, just like Quad and Quin, but he was far skinnier than either, not overly bulky like they were.

“Did you just say, you thought, he was my friend?” The man asked, taking a deep breath.

“Well, yeah, I’m sorry I just didn’t think he would-” Crimson began before the man cut him off.

“That dirty Half-Saiyan, half whatever will never be anything close to a friend for me!” He shouted out. Crimson noticed his power was dramatically higher than a normal Saiyans.

“What’s your name?” Crimson asked.

“Jeirin.” He spat, looking out the front window as he grinded his teeth together in frustration.

“Are you interested, in coming along that is?” Crimson tried to prod him. “Even if the, umm, ‘dirty Half-Saiyan’ is coming.”

“Will the New World provide challenges?” Jeirin asked. “Enough for the expedition members to get stronger?”

“Yeah, why?” Crimson asked.

“I’m in. Can’t have Seirth beating me. He’ll see, we will travel together and I will rub my progress in his face.” Jeirin laughed.

“You really hate him, huh?” Crimson asked, nervous about whether or not this was a good idea.

“No, I don’t actually hate him.” Jeirin sighed. “I just can’t let a Half-Saiyan surpass me. Otherwise Seirth will never let me live it down. I have to keep my reason to trash talk him.” Crimson nodded, confused, but he sort of understood where Jeirin was going with this.

“We head out in a months time, will that be enough time to arrange things?” Crimson asked.

“Yeah, this isn’t my shop, so I just have to ask for a long leave. You better be back in a month, I’ll be watching Seirth’s shop, if you pick him up but not me I will destroy you.” Jeirin threatened.

“Yeah, gotcha!” Crimson nodded, running outside after a little bit of conversation with Jeirin. He couldn’t contain his smile. One more member to go, and just as he thought that, he sensed Dayereh’s energy. He used Instant Transmission to get to Dayereh faster, vanishing from the streets.

Dayereh blinked, noticing Crimson. “Stop using that, you scare the crap out of me when you just pop in and out!”

“Sorry!” Crimson smirked. “So, you want to come?” Dayereh immediately knew what he was talking about, and he grinned softly, chuckling.

“I thought you’d never ask.” Dayereh sighed in relief. “One month then.”

“Yeah, just one.” Crimson stretched, vanishing. “I can pick everyone up.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“You’re a failure.” Orion turned in his chair, looking at Ghost. “You let a couple of kids get away, you let one of our best squads, the X-Force, not only go rogue, but get strong enough to kill off Aohi.”

“You’re a fool if you think the X-Force was among our strongest squads, Orion.” Ghost eyed his commander. Orion sighed, looking around the room as he thought to himself.

“Your operation on Soluris has created some of our strongest enemies to date. Enemies that could have been allies.” Orion noted.

“Only one of those kids even had any Saiyan blood, and I disposed of him. Crippled the others, they are no longer a threat.” Ghost stood, sounding almost proud of the achievement.

“Still, they could always come back. One that had the Ki property of Darwin, another who is the same race. One whose potential power just keeps growing, to the point where he beat one of your best soldiers with literally one arm!” Orion slammed a fist on the table, getting up.

“I am well aware of their power, Orion, but they aren’t Saiyans, they can never truly surpass us.” Ghost commented calmly.

“True. The other races are too weak to lead themselves. They are born inadequate, without the innate power that we Saiyans have. That is why it is up to us Saiyans to lead them.” Orion stared at Ghost, revealing his true intentions to him once more.

“A Saiyan ruled galaxy isn’t that far away, we just have a single roadblock.” Orion sighed.

“Heat…” Ghost trailed off. “When I last fought him, even with my Super Saiyan Three I could only match his full power. I will return to training.”

“No, I need you for one mission before you do.” Orion looked to Ghost.

“And what is that?” Ghost asked.

“Ryal’s father, Exo, deserted the army, when we were weak at our most vulnerable. I knew it was a mistake to let a non-Saiyan into our highest ranks. Kill his son, then kill him.” Orion ordered.

“As you wish, Orion. I’ll end Ryal, then Exo.” Ghost spoke with determination, walking off.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was early morning on this planet. Crimson got up first, yawning as he walked on over to a nearby tree. He punched the tree, waiting for a fruit to fall from it. He caught it, rubbing his eyes. It had the consistency and juiciness of an orange, but tastes sugary and sweet, like an apple. Crimson walked on over to a nearby river, sticking his hand inside as he began to fish.

The others still slept quietly, and Crimson didn’t want to disturb them. He took some time catching the fist. They were large, and snapped down on anything that was stuck in the water. Even Ryal got a bit hurt from how hard they could shut their jaws. As soon as one bit down towards Crimson, he ripped his hand out of the water, throwing it upwards. He caught it, taking a breath as he stared at it. It was a fish they discovered on this planet, and decided to call it the ‘Ham Snapper’. It tasted like pork, but had the consistency of fish. Seirth discovered you could make bacon out of its meat, and he and Jeirin fought to see who could catch more.

Crimson took a few more, putting them into a sack as he went to a nearby mountain. He hiked up the side, keeping an eye on the tree line for bird nests. The thought of killing baby birds scared Crimson, but luckily this species of bird was very weird. They looked like giant vultures, and laid two colors of egg. If the egg was purple, it was an actual baby. If it was blue, it was what Ryal called a ‘Firecracker egg’. They would chuck these explosive eggs at predators who strayed too close to the nest. Crimson found a nest and took six of the eggs, knowing Dayereh was fine with just drinking water, as he was a Namekian. Crimson returned to camp, hanging the fish up to cook, making his own bacon out of them. As he cooked the eggs, they crackled, letting out little explosions that looked just like fireworks, lighting up Crimson’s eyes in the darkness. He took a few fruits, squeezing himself a glass of Dapple juice. He flew up on top of the trees with his breakfast and relaxed back, gazing up at the stars. There were more stars than ever before, and they all shined brilliantly through the early morning light.

 

The End

 

 

So this is it. The finale. I don’t even know how I feel. Just like a giant weight is gone. I have worked on this book for Four years. Since high school, and now, this is it. Maybe I will add another chapter or a whole new book one day. Maybe this is it. All I know is that, this is it. The day I dreamed of four years ago whilst I spent my nights typing away is upon me.

I beg you, on my hands and knees here, please leave me a comment. Let me know what you think. I want to hear from the people who have been here this entire time about their thoughts on this end to the journey that started years ago.

 

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5 Responses to Dragon Ball – The Third Dimension – Chapter 6 & Epilouge

  1. Harpor(Hp) says:

    Crimson’s fan-fiction, the book that felt like an animation.

  2. pyranimus says:

    I cant even begin to say how much this chapter means to me, and maybe other people from DBK from a while ago when reading it. It brings back old memories, and just as the book evolved, so have we. This book has been in our lives since four years ago, and as the book as grown and gotten larger; so have we. The nostalgia and good emotions I got from this book are overwhelming, and it makes me both sad and happy at the time to see it end; something you’d call a bittersweet ending. Despite you, me, and the others changing over time, this book has been here all the while; I started reading it as a freshman in highschool, and am now a freshman in college when it ends. This book has been with me for a while, and I will not forget the impact that it made on me, and the good memories it holds for me as long as I live. Now! From friend to friend! Reader to Author! This is goodbye!

  3. King Heat says:

    Leaving my son Pyra’s corny ass final line aside, I’d have to agree Crim. I’m not necessarily a writer myself, but its one of the many things im well versed in and I could just tell how hard you’ve worked on this piece of art, or rather, this reliving and recreation of our fond experiences from the past together.
    It was truly a roundabout path but at the end of the day we’re still here, and still rekking.

    To you and the rest of my onions, Stay Smexy.

  4. Ryal says:

    This a decent start. You’re certainly well equipped in the ideas department, and your sense of flow is finely tuned. Of course, grammar/spelling is of utmost importance. I’ll be ragging you on for that one. My suggestion is that you should always go back and read what you wrote every time you update your stories and visualize what’s going on. Sometimes you miss previous well-established details and it can make your book look bad. So maybe spend some time planning and thinking about what you’re going to add, and perhaps even write it down. It really helps.

    I offer this advice as not only a person given the honor to edit your book (though I must say I did a poor job as I skimmed through a fair portion of it xD) but as a friend, seeing as you aspire to be a writer and you simply can’t just insert your readers into it to keep them intrigued. Your writing has grown over the years, but that doesn’t mean you should stop growing. We’re all still in a very early point in our lives and so I stress that if you want to be the author you want to be, heed this advice and find better ways to grab people’s attention. The next step from inserted characters are characters that are relatable. I’m sure you know the details of what I’m writing here in and out. I’m sure you’re aware of all this. I just want to emphasize on this.

    Good luck with your writing endeavors. It was a pleasure helping you out with this one. Good job on the book.

    P.S. Your chapter length is ridiculous. Perhaps you should consider replacing your current idea of a “chapter’ with an act, and slide in a bunch of chapters. c;

  5. CryoTheMayo says:

    So this was finished huh? Guess It’s time for myself to finally read your story. Maybe I will leave my own review in the near future?

    I have to agree with Ryal that your ‘chapter’ length is ridiculous, you would have gained far more readers and fans if you had release, say, one ten thousand word chapter per month instead of releasing huge chapters. From what I put together, your story amounts to 267 thousand words which could have easily been shortened to 26 or 27 chapters release over the course of 2+ years. Perhaps my own criticisms are short-sighted or fail to see your own vision that others may see, however I felt the urge to concur Ryal’s own thoughts with that of my own.

    Regardless, congratulations on finishing your book Crim! I hope to see you write more in the near future! Hopefully I can leave a proper review of your entire story within the coming months.

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