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Short Stories: Among the Stars


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#1 Nightstalker

Nightstalker

    Highlord of Aurora

  • Nova Member
  • 1,401 posts

Posted 11 April 2021 - 01:12 PM

Hello folks,

 

So these aren't by me, but my brother. He's never really posted anything, but I figure folks might find these stories interesting. Again, just trying to get some initial exposure, so feel free to comment. Enough of my prattling, here's the first story! Apologies ahead of time for the formatting.

 

Episode 1: Holy War
 
A storm was approaching the Sunset Caves on the southern half of the planet, Imperiolis. Three Eagle-class gunships, bearing five paladin soldiers each, flew rapidly towards a heretic base located within the caves. Among their number was Jay Hawk, a captain in the Phoenix Legion of the Holy Emperor. He was a dark skinned man, with short top dreads, well-groomed beard, and brown eyes. He bore the power armor of the Phoenix Legion, purple armor with golden trim, and a golden phoenix above fire emblazoned on his chest and large shoulder guards. Next to him was a bald sergeant wearing much the same armor known as Ferren Wolf, a trusted friend, whose piety knew no bounds. The oddity in their group was a woman wearing pitch black armor with a red tabard bearing a flame to denoting her as an Inquisitor of the Order of Purging Flame. Her name was Anya Tauren, a member of the holy inquisition. Inquisitors had no magic, but their faith made them immune to the terrors of dark magic. Together they were to bring Jusara’s righteous flame to the divine forsaken heretics.
 
Their targets were the Disciples of Zin, people who worshipped a powerful demon lord associated with bloodlust. The Emperor, Lady Jusara’s chosen, received a vision of the heretics spreading their dark message throughout Imperiolis. As the message spread, so did the corruption, and with it the fall of the planet. It was up to them to purge this heresy from their world, and break the demon spawn before they could gain a foothold on the planet. 
The three gunships passed over a large mushroom forest above a fetid marshland below. The Eagles passed from marshland to rocky terrain as the ground raised into the mountainside containing the caves. Jay gazed below, just barely making out the heretics. He braced himself as the Eagle leaned in, opening fire with the four guns on each of its wings. Bullets riddled the ground, but the heretics were not without a fervor of their own. They retaliated with manned turrets from below, pelting the gunships with laser fire. 
 
Jay braced himself as a barrage of laser turrets hit them with full force, while Ferren grunted in anger, “Jusara curse them, let’s be on the ground and get this over with!” Jay smiled, not willing to give his sergeant the satisfaction just yet. While he wanted his blade to taste heretic flesh, the landing zone needed to be clear of hostiles. The other Eagles fired a hail of rockets which erupted around the gun turrets, sending dirt and viscera into the sky. With their turrets eradicated, the initial heretic forces were routed, causing them to flee into the caverns.
 
“This is Captain Jay to all Phoenix Units disembark and form up, today we punish those that would oppose Jusara’s Justice!” 
 
“Aye Captain!” They called back. Before they landed Anya confronted him, “Don’t forget Captain we need their leader alive or else we won’t know where else this heresy has spread to.” She said as she removed the hammer and bright red pistol from her belt. Jay simply nodded, “Worry not, sister, we remember our mission. Let’s get on the ground before my sergeant trains his blade upon us.” He gave her a smile that she did not return. 
 
Shortly after, they landed and the purple armored paladins disembarked with weapons of war drawn. Sergeant Ferren gathered a squadron of paladins, “Purge the heretics, purge their scum from our planet forever!” He said as he marched through a cave on the easternmost side with four other paladins, while another five took the westernmost cave.  Jay rallied Anya and his three other paladins to the cave in the dead center of the mountain.
 
He marched alongside his fellow paladins, with his submachine gun drawn in his left hand while his power sword was ready in his other hand. The caves were surprisingly well lit, massive, with iron catwalks that made paths throughout. As he suspected, the heretics were waiting for them behind several barricades. They began to open fire with their laser rifles, but Jay was prepared concentrating his will to produce a shield of light. Their laser blast deflected from the shield as they advanced toward the heretic’s front line. He dropped the shield after the initial barrage, allowing he and his paladins to return fire. Anya blasted a heretic through his chest which disintegrated his lungs and splattered red mist onto the ground. A paladin hurled a bolt of white fire at a heretic who ran screaming towards the other heretics. Their terror at the oncoming wrath caused their discipline to shatter, causing them to fire wildly scoring a few hits on each paladin’s overshields.
 
Jay leapt over the barricade with his sword aimed at a heretic’s throat. He skewered the heretic, splattering blood on his pristine armor. More and more fell to his assault as he transitioned from one heretic to another. Anya was not far behind, smashing a second heretic’s brains all over the cavernous walls behind him. The others screamed, but it there was one at the rear of their formation that would not go quietly. “AAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!! LORD ZIN CURSE THE INFIDEL!!!!” He roared as his brothers were blasted to pieces. He pounced at Jay, turning into a monster as he did so, but Jay stepped underneath the crab claw that jutted from the man’s neck. Anya approached with hammer raised, but he clawed her with a transformed left arm which sent her flying back against the wall, a gash opened across her armor and three cuts across her face. His right arm turned into an abomination of flesh and spikes as he aimed and shot, sending spikes through the groin of one paladin and the chest of another. Both dropped with screams of pain and their blood drained onto the floor. 
Jay stabbed the beast through the back utilizing a little of his holy magic to light his sword with holy fire. The abomination roared as the heretic’s face turned into a raging creature with mounds of teeth. It bent down to take a crunch of the captain, but he back stepped and lunged forward, stabbing its mouth. It roared in anger as another claw sprouted from its back then charged toward him. It aimed a strike at his neck only to be stopped by a railgun round through its shoulder and a hammer blow to its back. The demon fell to the ground, leaving Anya, Jay, and the remaining paladin standing amongst the carnage. “Sergeant, report!”
“Captain, we’ve lost two already. These heretics have summoned demons to fight for them. Be wary, these scum even turn into monsters themselves. We’re following the caverns down to its heart. This won’t be easy, all the better to use Jusara’s wrath against them.” He said before signing off. “Squad three where are you?” He heard multiple gunshots, “Under fire sir, we’ve got one injured, but I think they’ve been waiting for our assault.”
 
‘Proceed with caution.” He turned, cut the link, and looked at Anya, “We have our work cut out for us.”
 
“Indeed, let’s be about this hunt before we lose anymore.” She said as she walked further into the caverns. The trio progressed down the halls, under stalactites only to encounter more of the same men and women dressed in a mixture of dark robes and armor. Each fight was more difficult than the last, but the well-lit tunnels worked against them. The three were able to aim with clarity, cutting the heretics down with ease. The fighting came to a head when they proceeded down a small flight of steps leading into the unconstructed caverns. Pillars and natural platforms hid heretics with heavy, assault weapons. The lights were dimmed here with the exception of a raised mound of earth where a heretic stood in front of a green portal. He spoke in an ancient language that sent tremors throughout the room. Squad three had four paladins who laid down suppressing fire on the heretics, but these were better trained than the heretics at the entrance to the caves. Jay opened fire and caught a sorcerer on the shoulder, only for Anya to place a finishing blow into his chest. 
 
His paladins lit the cave with holy, lightning bolts for brief seconds. Heretic sorcerers cast green fire amongst the paladins in retaliation. Lightning bolts struck a few of the heretics and sent them falling from the heightened mounds. They fell with a sickening crunch, as the paladins of third squadron advanced. The sorcerer closest to them sent a torrent of green fire, which cooked them alive and their screams filled the caverns. Jay could smell his brothers’ flesh burning and roared his fury as he opened fire with his submachine gun. He took down three heretics while heretic summoner in the back continued to chant. He roared his fury as his eyes lit with white fire and so did his comrades as they rallied to his side. Shots bounced off of his armor as he approached and slashed through his foes. A sorcerer aimed his green fire at Jay, but he was quickly intercepted by Anya. He cast the flame at her instead, but the flames sizzled at her feet. “Your dark magic means nothing to me heretic, now die!” She slammed hammer into his skull with a sickening crunch that left the broken man limp before he could even scream.
 
With the paladins rallied, Jay’s magic kept them protected from the dark magic of the sorcerers as well as the bullets from the heretics above. Paladins fired with clarity to take the enemy down one by one. They approached the final handful of stalagmites as Jay roared, “Bring them down brothers and sisters, may Jusara’s wrath take them and their filth!” 
 
Before they could mop up the rest, the heretic summoner roared, “ZIN’S WRATH BE UPON YOU ALL!” As he finished, a large sword pierced him through the chest and pulled him through the portal. A beast as large as the room they were in walked through the gate. It was a giant black creature with scales, red eyes, and four arms, each ending in swords. It had the head of a goat with giant black horns and a mouth on its stomach full of teeth. A savage roar emitted from its mouth as it knocked down stalagmites and skewered two of the heretics while the last one was gunned down by a paladin with an assault rifle. 
 
“Bring the beast down!” Jay yelled as his paladins threw lightning bolts and holy, white fire at the creature, who bore down on them. He charged alongside Anya to open fire, but the bullets bounced off the creature’s hide as if they were nothing. The beast slashed one of the remaining two paladins of squad three in two, leaving his entrails splattered over the floor. Jay was there before the monster could claim any other lives. He parried a blow from one arm and ducked under the strike of another to cut a large gash into the creature’s leg. Anya bashed away another of the beast’s arm, only to follow up by leaping atop the beast’s knee and bounding to its shoulder. She landed a blow with her hammer which sent the beast staggering back. The other two paladins launched white fire at the beast who cried out in fury as it died a slow death. Its howls would have thrown any normal man into fear, but they were paladins, scions of Jusara’s might. 
 
Jay looked up to where the portal was, and behind the green glyph was a large steel door. Just before he could move ahead, he heard the shuffling of boots from behind him. He turned to find Ferren and two other paladins with him. The sergeant looked up at Jay, “Jusara forsaken maggots had the place trapped! We’ve lost far more than I’d expected. Behind this door is the evil we seek, I can feel its vile nature from here.” Ferren said as he headed toward the door, but Anya stopped him before he could go further, “Let me handle this. That curse may very well take your life.” 
 
Anya led the way and placed her hand against the green glyph as its cursed magic enveloped her in a pool of green flames. Her faith kept her through the worst of its magic, her immunity as an inquisitor kept the magic from killing her. With the curse gone, Jay marched alongside the remaining paladins as they walked into a hall of sterile looking halls with green fire torches that cast dim light on their path. From there they could hear the chanting of heretics down the halls and to a large circular amphitheater covered in glowing bright green runes. The priest at the center looked up at Jay and the party of paladins, “I am Hyman Aldrich, leader of this sect of the Disciples of Zin. My work here is done and Lord Zin has his sacrifice. Our deaths, power the bloodlust that will feed the disciples across the galaxy and usher in a new age of blood and death!” He cackled wildly. 
 
Jay did not let him finish, opening fire across the heretics in the amphitheater. Two of their number fell, as they were riddled with bullets. Ferren was amongst the heretics before long, using his axe to cut through foes as though they were butter. His two paladins followed suit switching to melee to rush the enemy before they could truly organize. “Squad three stay here and cover us.” Jay said as he and Anya sped their way down the theater while Hyman opened a green portal. Demons of all shapes and sizes began to pour through the portal, seizing the opportunity to gain their freedom. “For Jusara!” Jay roared as white fire emblazoned around him and his comrades. He and his comrades fought with their lives, quickly becoming overwhelmed by the demon horde. The remaining two of Ferren’s paladins were pulled into the horde, ripped to pieces and eaten by several disfigured, Cerberus demons and a few goblinoid creatures. Ferren crushed the dogs with his axe and moved on, summoning a lightning bolt to his left hand to throw at one of the heretics, which sent his corpse flying back. 
Blood and guts covered them, as they cut through. The two paladins at the top continued to pepper the heretics with fire while Jay and Anya fought through wave after wave of demons. Soon enough Ferren was with them, but the other paladin fell back and drew her assault rifle to aid the others in keeping suppressing fire on the heretic forces. Anya bashed in skulls left and right, transitioning from one strike to another to keep the trio from being crushed outright.
 
Beside her, Jay let his sword rip through his enemies and tried to focus on Hyman. He charged the priest, but a demon in the form of a knight, stepped in front of him. He fired with his submachine gun first and riddled the knight with holes. The demon was undaunted as it clashed blades with Jay. He parried the first blow and struck at the knight’s neck. His blade lodged into its neck only for it to launch a thrust unfazed by his strike. Jay dodged but not in time enough to avoid the blow entirely. The knight’s blade stabbed him though the shoulder which caused him to let out a howl of pain. Both pulled away from one another as they reset their fighting stance. Jay just barely made out Anya and Ferren, keeping the horde at bay, but they would not last long. Both were slowing down, as was he. Hyman had to be captured immediately, or they would all die here and this insurgency would spread over Imperiolis. 
 
They could not fail, nor would they, Jay thought to himself as he rushed the knight once more with his white fire slicing low then high, parrying a strike towards his midsection. He spun into a strike that knocked the sword of the demon aside. He followed with a slash that severed the demon’s head from its body. Once it fell, there was nothing keeping Hyman from him and suddenly the opportunity was before him. Jay charged through the creatures as his paladins struggled to stay alive. He cut Hyman’s arm off which broke his concentration and shut the gate to the underworld for good. With the gate closed his paladins began to turn the tide, but not before they suffered greater wounds. It was only a matter of time before Hyman’s heretics were killed and left to litter the amphitheater as corpses.
 
There were few survivors, but each paladin knew the risk they faced. Jay knew that the life of a paladin was not easy, but he hoped that more would have made it out alive. “Anya we have your prize, I hope the loss of my paladins was worth it.”
“Fear not paladin, my order will have all of this scum’s secrets before long.” She said, “For now, thank Jusara that we have our lives, and let us report back to the church at Haven.”
 
“My lady, I am more than willing to tell you about the will of our lord. To spread death and destruction across the galaxy. This is only the beginning, before long our kind will be on every planet throughout the system.” He laughed till Ferren struck him with the butt of his axe and knocked him out, “Be silent heretic. Let his speech be for the Inquisition, we paladins have no use for his filthy mouth.” 
“Captain Jay to Eagle team, we are ready for extraction.” He said as he had the three paladins clot Hyman’s wounds with healing magic so as to keep him alive throughout the journey. 
 
Five survivors of fifteen was a hefty price to pay, but for now Imperiolis was spared of heresy and the destruction of Zin. Together they headed back to the Eagles where they were ferried back to Haven. They were all worse for wear, armor chipped, blood lost, and new scars gained. For now he and his paladins would rest for there were more battles to be fought, this war was not over by a longshot.
 
----
 
Jay stood in a very different environment from the dank caves that he fought the heretics in. He stood in a luxurious room with a square red carpet, beautiful couches of red velvet and gold supports. The large window in the far corner of the room had an open view of the rest of Haven. A large bed was behind them atop a polished wooden floor.  The man standing in front of the window wore purple samurai like power armor with a chain katana blade at his hip. His helm was robotic like, machine parts mixed with his flesh, and his pack would generate extra shielding. He had phoenix’s emblazoned on his chest and shoulders. This man was Gabriel Hashirama, Commander of the Phoenix Legion. Jay bowed before him, “We captured the heretic Hyman Aldrich and eliminated the heretics within the Sunset Caves. He told the Inquisition that his disciples were across the entire galaxy.”
 
“I expected as much, seems the Emperor was right to entrust this task to the Phoenix Legion, and my trust in you was well placed. There will be little rest for you and the sergeant, we will deploy as soon as we know where this heresy has spread. Now go and prepare yourself as I intend for the Phoenix Legion to be at the front of this war. We will spread Jusara’s light to the farthest corners of the galaxy and remind them why our lady’s justice reigns supreme. Go get what rest you can and may Jusara’s light guide you.”
 
“Yes, my lord.” Jay said and left Hashirama to his thoughts. He looked over the entire city of Haven, the most holy city on Imperiolis and home of the Holy Emperor. To think such filth existed amongst them all along. How many other planets left the light of Lady Jusara and the Emperor? He knew one thing for sure, he would find and hunt them all down, “Hide while you can, but the light will always find you.” He said. He turned to head to a console on his desk of gold, their war had begun anew. The time of peace was at its end.    
 

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#2 Nightstalker

Nightstalker

    Highlord of Aurora

  • Nova Member
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Posted 18 April 2021 - 04:28 PM

Well, here's the next short story for Among the Stars, courtesy of my bro!
----
 
Episode 2: Higher Learning
 
“We came this far, this close, only to have our prize taken from us!” Kalina Shul complained in front of her apprentice. “After all we went through, we tried to prove we were not heretics to the Church of Jusara. Instead, the Holy Empire formed a blockade around us, all because some lousy cultists started a fight on their home world. You can bet the United Colonies Alliance will hear about this.” She was a master mage and she was looking for a book known as the Histories of Magnus. She was a Draden, a native to the world of Vystera, and her order, the Vystera Collegiate Society, wanted the book for study. Her kind hoped to recover long lost magical arts, such as the ability to walk from planet to planet, but Magnus had passed, taking all of his secrets with him. The only record left was his journal, now named the Histories of Magnus. 
 
The VCS finally located it; the book was aboard the UCA station known as Orion Station. The task had been entrusted to her, but after coming all this way, the librarian of Star Library, told her that a gang known as the Primals took it to the southern sector of the station. This sector of the station was known as the Honey Den, a hive of miscreants and criminals the likes of which existed in the worst slums of the galaxy. 
 
She paced back and forth; her lizard like feet hit the ground, as she stood under the light, which illuminated her glowing, orange scales and black, armored robes; a dark cowl and mask covered her face. She turned her three eyes on her apprentice, a red scaled Draden with purple eyes, wearing a brown robe. His name was Ayden Vadar, a young Draden, who showed much promise in mastering the defensive arts of magic. For her part, she liked the more destructive aspect of magic, hence the armored, black robes she wore. “Master, there must be a way to recover the ancient book? Surely someone within the Honey Den knows.”
 
“I’m certain they know where it is, my dear, it’s simply a matter of how much it will cost us. If a gang took the book, then they’ll probably sell it to the highest bidder.” She looked around at Orion Station, looked no different from any other human city. Humans had a weird sense of style; their polymer shaped buildings were quite different from Draden architecture. They liked for everything to look sterile, while somehow appearing colorful with bright lights. There was no thought to functionality, no thought to usefulness, or how the colors blended together; the bright lights were an eyesore to look at. 
 
“Worst of all those Primals are a Mutep gang.” The Mutep were a group of hairy, four armed bipeds with long bushy tails. They and the Draden fought a war known as the Dominus War, which was ended by the UCA not but a mere ten years ago. She hated them with a passion since she fought in those wars, but her apprentice did not share her hatred, “Master, you know not all of them are the same. Look, let’s go get the book and return to Vystera as soon as possible.” She gave him a look, causing him to laugh, “I swear you grow more intolerant each day, let’s go before you tell me we got destroy the whole station.”
 
“You were too young to remember how bloody that war was, so many lost, so much destroyed and so much of our magic lost. Why do you think we are seeking the book in the first place? Our race used to be one of the most magically attuned species in the galaxy. The Mutep destroyed our colleges, our technology, our…” Ayden held up a hand, “I get it, but we have to move past our prejudice or other wars will start and plague the galaxy.” She found herself angry at the rebuke of her apprentice, but perhaps he had a point. For now, she needed to get the book back. “Come Ayden.” She led the way through the city streets.
They walked through large crowds during simulated daytime on the sidewalks. Roads of pure electro-steel passed between metal sidewalks as hovercars passed by them. The station was well kept with guards equipped with heavy, gray armor and armed with laser carbines every couple of blocks. The two wound their way through the city streets, passing through a series of clean alleys and blocks until the city started to change in form.
 
What was once clean looking polymer buildings became mountains of iron, and streets of concrete. Not a single guard could be seen for miles around, and the average citizen looked as though they wanted to rob the duo. Ayden looked somewhat scared, not used to the dangers of the undercity of any planet. He was privileged enough to avoid such places in his young life, and his fear was palpable enough that she could feel his psych through her magic sense. “Don’t worry Ayden, I’ll keep us safe. In order to find the book, we’ll need to head to one of these fine drinking establishments.”
 
“You mean a bar?”
 
“Of course, wet lips are loose lips.” She said, but her apprentice was not quite amused, “More like a death trap waiting to happen. How can anyone be forced to live like this?” He was still naïve, still needed time to grow, “Humans are greedy, as is everything else in the galaxy. Enough talk, let’s be about our mission so we can leave.” She led them down several blocks, till they came to a building that was made of wood, fashioned after an Old Earth pirate ship. The building had neon lights that said “Sunken” atop it. Kalina walked towards the Sunken Bar, with two Mutep guards standing outside. “Well, well, pretty young Draden came to play in our bar huh? What the hell do you scaly scum want?” He crossed two of his arms while the other one of the other two latched onto the pistol in his holster.
 
“Nothing that an ape like yourself could understand.” She said as he growled only for his partner to get between them. Ayden did the same for Kalina. “Master, let’s try not to get into a fight, please.” He pleaded, but she was looking to start a fight. She hoped the brute would reach for her so that she could put him down, before he knew what hit him. Ayden, however, was still green behind the gills and he needed some time before he was combat ready. Instead, she passed by them into the saloon like tavern. The floors were made of wood and the tables of iron while dusty lamps barely illuminated the bar. Waitresses and waiters served their patrons at a pace that seemed lackadaisical. Lucky enough, two barstools were open at the bar. 
 
The two sat next to three burly humans, taking a moment to survey their surroundings. The bar was filled with humans, Mutep, and Vinitor, a bug like species with large compound eyes and wings that covered most of their body. She took notice that most of the patrons were Mutep, many of which eyed her and Ayden now. The bartender, a middle aged human with a scruffy gray beard looked them up and down as he filled a mug with some putrid ale and passed it to the chubby human to her right.
 
“What might a pretty, young thing like you be doing in a place like this?” He said which caused a feeling of disgust to run down her spine. Humans would mate with anything that had legs and she found the concept disturbing. “I’m looking for a book, a very important book to the magical society, but I hear the Primals took it. Any idea where it might have gone?”
 
“That depends,” He looked past her at the Mutep behind them, not so subtly. She did not turn around, though Ayden did. “Master,” He said worried, while Kalina looked the bartender in the eyes, “You could at least get a lady a drink, before you try to jump her.”
 
“Don’t worry lass, it’ll be over soon. The Primals pay quite well to keep their secrets, even more so to catch any Draden that come snooping in their business. I might even get to have a little fun once you’re subdued.” He put on a gross smile, but Kalina knew that these fools had no idea what they were dealing with. She closed her eyes for a second as the Mutep behind her approached. She waited as Ayden began to summon some defensive spells. Some of the humans and Vinitor took the hint and left, but the Mutep began pulling weapons. Ayden summoned a shield just in time to catch several laser bolts. Kalina opened her eyes, summoning a horde of eldritch tentacles which ensnared her opponents. She pulled her pistol from her waist and shot the bartender through the shoulder, turned and fired three rounds through the nearest Mutep. One shot through the head and two through the chest to drop him immediately.  
 
Before they knew it, she had pulled her wooden staff with a purple, moon crystal on the end and extended her hand, releasing a torrent of lightning which caused the second to drop his gun and burn. She was amongst them, using her staff to bludgeon another, while the others were freeing themselves little by little. They blasted the tentacles and retreated towards the back of the bar, where they would form their last stand. She waved her staff in a circle till three magic circles appeared and shot out three ice spikes at the four remaining Mutep thugs. The spike went through the throat of one while the other two went into a second. Both fell to the floor dead, while the remaining two began to cower. One foolishly tried to run only to be blasted through the head. “My apprentice seems to think that I need to be less hateful to your filthy kind, now get over to the bartender.” Both cowered before her. “Lady, listen, we were paid to keep the secret of the book, please don’t hurt us.” The Mutep said nothing only muttering to himself now and again. Ayden looked on the two with concern, hoping his master wouldn’t have to kill anymore.
 
“I’m only going to ask once, if you fail to answer then I will let my friends here,” She summoned a few tentacles, “Take you to the Weird and have their way with you, after all I wouldn’t want a naughty boy like you to be disappointed. Especially when you had such great plans for me once I was tied down.”
 
“Wait, please don’t hurt me it’s at the Underground just east of the bar.” The Mutep next to him tried bash his skull in, but Kalina shot him in the chest and the tentacle took him through a purple portal. The monsters within would torture him until his dying breath. “You really gotta watch who you pick on dear, I’ll leave you alive, but your bar belongs to my pets.” She snapped her fingers and the tentacles warped into the bar and pulled the tables, chairs, and lights into the Weird. They tore down his bar and threw the bottles of ale across the room. “Come Ayden, we’re done here.” She said as she walked out of the bar.
 
Ayden tailed just behind her as she walked confidently in the street, “How, how,” He seemed to choke on his words. Kalina looked back, her confident smile disappearing, “War is hell my dear, I was much younger then, about your age, innocent just like you. My family fought as agents of Vystera and so did I. What no one told me was that war made us monsters, desensitized us to violence and caused us to hate those that we share our galaxy with. You think I am intolerant for no reason, but when you watch these brutes rip your friend’s limb from limb, it leaves a lasting impression. Hope that you never have to see the same horrors that the rest of us have.” She said as Ayden followed, unable to say anything more.
 
The two walked through the streets, taking in every detail. The simulated sunlight was blocked out by the heavy smoke of the sector. A few men and women stood around fires within barrels to stay warm. Others sat on stoops and yet others hung out in alleys. The two headed towards a large alley in between a convenience store and an abandoned building. Mutep stood in a small, unadorned square, three of which were fist fighting and the remaining seven were cheering. “Doing a bit of canonizing?” Kalina said as the thugs all turned toward them. The seven drew pistols without hesitation and fired, but Ayden was faster. Acting out of fear rather than bravery, he summoned a magic shield blocked the bullets while Kalina summoned green fire to her left hand and a purple light in her right. She hurled the green fire at the three in the center, causing a large fire to erupt as they howled in agony. The other seven continued to fire until Ayden released the shield, sending it forward, which knocked the four Mutep against the walls. The other three rushed them, but the purple light in Kalina’s hand, spawned a bladed tentacle. The tentacle ripped through the first Mutep’s head then sawed the second in half. The third charged her and knocked her to the ground, following his assault with a barrage of punches.
 
She tried to defend herself, but with four arms and a brute’s strength she would be overpowered before long. The frontal assault kept her from concentrating her magic. Black blood filled her mouth. At this rate, she would be knocked unconscious. Fortunately, a kinetic force rammed into the Mutep, knocking him off of the Draden. He attempted to recover, only to be interrupted by a shot through the throat from Kalina’s pistol. She looked up to see Ayden panting at the exertion of the fight.
 
The remaining four, managed to pry themselves off of the wall, just in time for the mages to recover. They shot at the two, catching Ayden by surprise as three bullets landed in his shoulder which caused him to spin to the ground with a cry. Kalina opened fire, emptying the clip, which put two of the four Mutep to the ground. Instead of reloading, she focused her will, sending out a wave of purple light that engulfed the last two. Both howled in pain as muscle and bone popped out from underneath their fur. Their muscles constricted, crushing internal organs, and their eyes bulged, until they exploded. Kalina turned to find her apprentice, nearly passed out. “Master…” She stopped him, “Heal your wounds and stay out here. I will go get the book and be out in a matter of minutes.” She betrayed no emotion, if she was worried about Ayden, she did not show it. Ayden frowned at the thought, was his master really so cold?
 
She turned to face the chapterhouse, where a portion of the Primals gang stayed. Kalina moved past the square, towards a small wooden house behind a tattered iron fence. Not surprisingly there were no Primals outside. She assumed that they would be on the first floor, waiting to ambush her. Kalina ducked behind the iron fence, just in time to dodge a hail of submachine gun fire from the windows of the chapter house. She grimaced as she began to channel her magic; with her magic channeled, she opened her mouth, releasing a magic smoke. With the last of her magic she opened her eyes to the magic currents of the world. Instead of seeing smoke, she saw the energies of life, magic, and even the Weird. Most importantly she could see her targets, two of which lacked the sense to stay under cover. She put three rounds into one then another, leaving the other two to retreat. Kalina rushed the door and used a force blast to shove the door in. Her enemies were actively retreating; rather than let them escape, she summoned her tentacle whip and caught the first of the thugs by the ankle.
 
She sensed his panic as she pulled the whip back, entangled him, then enhanced the whip with spikes allowing it to rip the Mutep’s head off. The other panicked and fired, his submachine gun. She caught a few bullets to the chest, but her armor protected her at the cost of getting the wind knocked out of her. 
He charged her, but before he could pin her, she knocked him aside with her staff. Kalina stood slowly, and shot the last two shots into the Mutep as she stood and took a breath. “Worthless apes.” She said as she looked upstairs. The magic of two figures shown; one exuded confidence even with the terrifying screams from the room below. Kalina reloaded her weapon, but right before she could get to the door she heard, “Come on in, you already killed all ma’ boys.” She paused for a moment, knowing better than to give her enemy time to think, or monologue for that matter. She had no time for his worthless chatter anyway. 
Kalina stepped through the door and fired two rounds into the unsuspecting Mutep guard, killing it instantly. Before she could shoot, the Mutep lieutenant held up the book as well as a device. “I know this book is what you want. Damn shame that we could not just work out a price. Now tell me why I should not release this switch and let this book burn?”
 
“The minute you do, you die. Hand me the book, before I add one more body to the count of your worthless kind.”
 
“A survivor of the war huh? My pops told me about the Dominus War, told me you people were almost decimated by our kind.” She almost shot him on impulse, but the device he carried would have activated on his death. “Your kind set us back several hundred years. Our academies, our technology, and hundreds of years of magic lost because you filthy monkeys set foot on Vystera.” Her rage seemed to satisfy him, “How about this, swear to me upon your magic that you won’t harm me, and I’ll give you the book.” She sat thinking for a moment. Revenge was not worth losing the book, but perhaps she could have both. She chanted a few words in the ancient language of her people, summoning forth runes and glyphs upon her robes. They were harmless to her of course, but the ignorant brute would never know the difference, “There, if I bring harm to you this magic that surrounds my body will kill me.” He laughed as he took the book and removed the device. “Must have hurt your pride, huh honey.” He said with a smirk. He threw her the book, and she looked at it with awe. At last, some of their long lost magic would be recovered. “Now get out of my sight little witch.” He smiled too pleased with himself.
 
“Just one more thing,” She said as he gave her an annoyed look, “What are you gonna,” She raised her pistol and shot, splattering his brains all over the window behind him. Finally she let out a smile and returned to Ayden. The sooner she was off this station the better. She took Ayden and together they left the station and headed back to her ship.
 
“Lady Shul, did you manage to recover the book?” The librarian asked after hearing about the carnage left in the Honey Den. 
 
“I did, but the Mutep burned it before I could get it.” 
 
“A shame, such great wisdom lost, well my lady I wish you luck in your journeys. Should you ever need any wisdom from literature, stop by our library again.” 
She cut off the feed and lifted the book onto the table. An idiot human had no place keeping a treasure such as this, she smiled, knowing it would be in the right hands. She stood within the cramped ship quarters and turned to the left room. Her lizard-like feet padded on the soft carpet as she opened the sliding door to find Ayden laying on a small bed. “We got the book, was it worth all the corpses we left behind.”
 
“Ayden, you may not believe me, but yes it was. Our civilization will gain back a piece of what we lost.”
 
“And what if we did more than that?”
 
“We’ll worry about that when the time comes, for now, rest easy.”
 
“Master, we only breed hate when we kill them. Worse could happen, wars, bloodshed, and,”
 
“And that is enough, Ayden, you know little of what you speak. You aren’t aware of the horrors of war, you lost nothing from the evils that those creatures caused. We fought so long, so hard, just so that we could be a shell of our former selves. The UCA stopped the war, but we still lost, all of the sacrifices were for nothing.”
 
“We gained peace.”
 
“We gained nothing but loss and hate, now take your rest Ayden.” She said frustrated. She left his room and entered the room on the right for some much needed rest. She sat cross legged and meditated letting herself get lost in the currents of the magic of the universe. She felt the chaos of the galaxy, an ever present tension on the verge of eternal wars. What awaited her in her future journeys, only time would tell?
 

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#3 Nightstalker

Nightstalker

    Highlord of Aurora

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Posted 03 May 2021 - 11:57 AM

Here's the third one! Enjoy!
 
----
 
Episode 3: Wolf Pack
 
The howl of a Mutep filled the air a white, power fist slammed into its gut. Before the beast stood a stern looking man, named Orion Simmons. He was an intimidating figure, clad in white armor adorned with gold wolf emblems on his shoulders and chest. His dark skin made him hard to see within this prison, which brought an extra layer of fear to his prisoner. His prisoner was a member of the Primals; usually, he would not pay attention to lowlifes like this, but he was after a bigger target. He sighed heavily before slamming his fist into the Mutep once more. 
“What do you want from me? Why am I here?” The Mutep cried out, desperately. 
 
Orion punched him again, causing the brute to yelp, “You’re going to tell me why there has been a surge of criminal activity on this station.”
 
“The Primals have not been doing well,” he cried, “We’ve lost soldiers, one of our lieutenants on Orion Station was found killed, and we’ve been at war with the other major syndicates of the galaxy. We were supposed to meet here on Jotun, to see if an accord could be reached. Boss Bo-Ren was supposed to take the boys to the city of Helheim, at the Grand Plaza Facility, to meet with the other crime lords in three days.”
 
“What else?”
 
“That’s all I know I…” he did not finish before Orion continued to beat him, charging his fist with magic. Electricity coursed through his fists as he struck the Mutep, who continued to scream, “Wait! Hold on, boss said something about coming ready for a trap. He said that those boys from the Lost might have something up their sleeves. Word around the street was that Isabela Ferrera was mixed up in some demon worship. Her gang does these rituals, it’s real freaky, like the kind of stuff you find in horror movies. Of all the gangs, we try to stay away from them.” This was what he was looking for. He began to leave as the Mutep begged for his freedom. Orion stepped out of the dingy cell and into a brightly lit corridor where a soldier waited for him on the bench outside, “Cracked did he?”
 
“Of course he did, and he may have confirmed my worst fears.”
 
“You still haven’t quite revealed what those fears are.”
 
“Ever since the Holy Empire started their crusade against the occult, the galaxy had a spike in demon rituals. Jotun is no exception in this spike of demonic activity. I aim to crush this scourge before it gets out of hand, and hopefully before the Holy Empire sends a fleet our way. Last thing the UCA needs is a fight with the Holy Empire. Now, have my guests arrived?”
“Of course, my lord, they are waiting in your office, and here,” he handed Orion his great helm with a black fur plume sticking out of the top, “can’t have you charging into a demon scourge without it.” Orion donned his helm, “Well done wolf, let’s see these hunters. If what the Primal said is true then we’ll have more than just a few criminals to worry about.” The two headed back toward the door at the end of the hall. 
 
The two entered a lavish penthouse with a large glass window to their right that overlooked the City of Aurora. The office was filled with furs, expensive couches, and four chairs ahead of an elegantly carved wooden desk that served as his work station. Orion seated himself on a large black, leather chair before three, interesting characters. The first stood with a chain sword on his left hip, and a machine pistol on his right. The man wore dark green and brown power armor with gold trim. On his back, rested a jetpack. He was dark skinned with an eyepatch over his left eye and a brilliant, gold right eye. Dreadlocks fell to his shoulder, complimented by a neatly trimmed beard. This man was Amos and his yellow eyes counted him as an Amerda, a citizen of the Planet Monarch. To add to this, his armor color identified him as a Green Knight. Amerdas were a warrior race of humans mutated by the planets harsh environment which made them the fiercest warriors in the galaxy.
 
The other two wore samurai-like mechanized suits. The second person was a woman in red and gold, while the third was a man, who wore a black and gold mechanized suit. The woman was a beauty with narrow eyes and a streak of purple in her long, black hair along with genetically altered purple eyes. She had a giant kanabo of steel and gold on her back as well as a plasma cannon. She held her helm, fashioned after an Oni, in her left hand. The man next to her had similar armor though he wielded only a power odachi on his back. His armor had golden dragons adorned on his chest and shoulders. He had short cropped hair and a well-groomed goatee and moustache. He had narrow eyes, characteristic of the eastern peoples of Old Earth. 
The duo was known as Ichika and Kaito Fukuda, two demon hunters who were from the galactic famous Eastwood Company. Their kind were known for their demon hunting skill, and it was noted that they were rivals to the Amerdas of Monarch. Considering he was about to face demons he would need all three of their help.
 
“Let’s cut to the chase, all three of you fought in the Dark Wars, fighting against demons and the enemies of the UCA. As you know, the Holy Empire has declared war against a host of cultists, invading planets, and nearly breaking boundaries instituted by the peace accords to rout out heretics from the galaxy at large. This has caused a spike in cultist activity as of late. I believe a sect has arisen in Skyfall, using the criminal syndicates as a means to hide their activity. I’ve captured several criminals and most say the same thing, but today I got a few extra details. In three days, several criminal lords will meet at Grand Plaza Facility in Helheim. You’ll meet me across the street in front of Ardent Gardens.”
Ichika smiled, “And our pay?”
 
“Two-hundred fifty thousand upon completion of the job. Since this job may involve a demon, I’ll renegotiate a greater price if the demon we face is worth it.” Orion responded. 
 
Kaito smiled, “That sounds like my kind of deal, now let’s hope there’s actually a demon or this will be somewhat of a letdown. I suppose we’ll see you then.” Orion simply nodded then looked at Amos. The Amerda said nothing while Ichika teased, “Don’t worry Mr. Simmons, Amos will get a lot more vocal once the fighting starts, for now we need to prepare ourselves.” She stood and touched her husband on the shoulder, “Come Kaito, let’s go. I’m anticipating this job and the pay we’ll get from it.”  She winked at him, leading the other two out of Orion’s office. 
Orion stood and looked out over the snow covered City of Aurora. It was pleasantly beautiful, free of the scourge of the Under Realm and he fully intended to keep it that way.
 
Three days later Amos stood looking at the Grand Plaza Facility, a large tower, filled with people of many races. Apart from the tower, a snow-covered garden of purple wildflowers which thrived in cold weather, decorated the city, adding splashes of color to the environment. Plenty of large, pale men and women, covered in furs passed them and occasionally a Synthoid did as well. Synthoids were a race of gray skinned humanoids, who were integrated with all manner of cybernetics and were more machine than organic. They seemed to need no protection from the cold, making them an oddity on this planet. 
 
Amos watched, as he was sure Ichika and Kaito were enjoying the gardens with all of the wild flowers of red and yellow. “Where is our host, the action will start soon enough.” Ichika complained from behind him as she lifted a purple wildflower to her nose. He continued to focus, watching a load of armed men and women enter the facility. Some dressed in suits, others dressed like common thugs, and yet others came whooping and hollering on their bikes. The average pedestrian looked at the ruffians with surprise.
“What do you think this demon will be like, my dear? Perhaps we’ll have a challenge this time.” Said Kaito.
 
“I’m eager to find out. The last couple were just some minor cultists summoning a lesser demon, which, as it turns out, was no fun at all.” Amos could not see them but he was sure they were smiling. He had somewhat learned to tune out their flirting, especially right before an assignment, but he did not begrudge them their fun. It seemed to be how they decompressed before a large battle.
 
Just as Ichika was about to continue, Amos heard Orion behind him, “Are we ready to,” He was cut off by an explosion from the very top of the facility. He did not wait for the others, for a plan, or for backup, he just launched himself at the facility where all manner of thugs and gangsters roamed. The townspeople screamed, panicked, and ran, but the thugs pulled weapons. They began to fight each other, until they noticed the bounty hunter sprinting toward them. Now, thinking that he was the cause of the explosion, they turned their guns on him. By the time they did, he already pulled his machine pistol and shot two Mutep through the chest, then revved his chain blade. His sword sliced through a man in a suit and fedora then cut off the head of a nearby woman in a business suit. Another man in an expensive suit pulled off a shot which bounced harmlessly off of his power armor. Amos cut the man down the center, splattering blood all over his green armor. 
 
He turned toward the door where several civilians burst out, only for them to meet their end to bullets and laser rounds. Before Amos could continue, Ichika charged past him in her mechanized suit. Inside she found a corridor of fountains on the side walls and beautiful plants lined the center. Her plasma cannon lit up and fired, melting a few Eastwood thugs of the Tiger Clan syndicate. Ashes fell as two, armored thugs opened fire to no affect. She smashed the first in the head with a sickening crunch causing him to fall limp to the floor. The second, armored thug retreated, but continued to pepper her with fire. The thug fell back towards a section where her fellow criminals laid down plasma shields. Both Amos and Ichika pressed on as her plasma cannon rang across the halls, causing the plasma shields to overload. The blast sent the thugs to the ground, allowing Amos to leap into the air and finish off the first with a stab through one thug’s chest, while another died by a burst of fire from his pistol. 
 
The two stopped for just a second, waiting before a large series of steel doors. Once Orion and Kaito arrived, they readied themselves. Orion headed to the front of their party, “Certainly a spirited bunch, let’s try not to kill any civilians please.” Magic surged through his heavy armor, “Our target is ahead.” The magic dispersed around him as a pair of lightning wolves formed from the ground. As soon as the doors opened, they entered a grand plaza where thugs fought with each other. Bullets flew left and right across the plaza. They ascended a set of giant stairs leading to a floor with a large statue of a once legendary warrior. Thugs hid behind railings, giant pots of flowers and exotic plants, or behind the marble pillars that lined the sides of the plaza. Orion sent his lightning wolves toward the first armored thugs which shocked them and caused them to drop their weapons. Kaito pulled his odachi from off of his back and let the superheated light surround his sword. He charged the first and cut through his neck to his waist which left two smoking halves. The second was smashed by Ichika’s kanabo which sent the armored thug into the pool. Orion dashed towards a knocked over table, opening fire on the pair of Mutep, hiding behind a snack kiosk. Hand cannon rounds roared as they flew through the plaza. The Mutep did not get the chance to scream as his head exploded. He continued firing as he noticed a mother and her child hiding behind some potted plants. 
 
Before he could give the command to protect the two, Amos was already moving with no fear of enemy fire. His armor took most of the hits, but he blasted four holes through the Mutep at the snack shop which sent blood splattering across the back wall where all of the snacks were kept. “Cursed lawmen.” A nearby woman dressed in gothic clothes with a skull tattooed on her face lifted her hand and chanted. Her eyes turned bright green as she intended to incinerate Amos and the family he was standing just in front of. He charged with his chain sword revved, dodged a panicked attempt to set him ablaze and ripped through the woman’s arm as she let out a terrifying scream. 
 
While he and Orion charged down the left side of the plaza, Ichika and Kaito, were making short work of the thugs on the other side. A few men with hand axes attempted to bludgeon both Eastwood Company Mercenaries but their weapons were too inferior to even scratch their armor. Kaito swept his odachi through a series of four men in suits, leaving severed arms, legs and hands to flop on the floor. Ichika left a bloody mess wherever she moved as her kanabo crushed or smashed her opponents without much effort. “This is too easy darling, where are the demons I was promised?”
 
“Worry not love, they will come soon enough, for now let’s clear this rabble so we can have some real fun.” Shortly after, the thugs began to focus their fire on both mechanized suits, but to no effect as whatever the overshields did not catch, the plating on their armor would. Massacre became slaughter, but much to their surprise Orion and Amos were ahead of them, “My dear, I think we play with our food too much.” Kaito said as he engaged the thrusters on his armor. Orion chopped down another thug with his sword, emanating Weird magic, causing the others to hallucinate. They began to scream or laugh hysterically as Amos chopped them to bits.
 
Amos was covered in blood that was not his own, as he looked up, he saw Kaito thrust past him into the next lobby, which was filled with corpses, both criminals and citizens alike. Standing triumphantly above those corpses were the monsters who killed them. Elevator tubes filled the halls, taking them to higher floors. “We need to make for the highest floor which is where the meeting will have taken place. My wolves are on their way to secure the area, but for now we need to make the cultist that summoned these beasts.” Orion said as the four engaged the lesser demons who began to swarm them.
 
They were attacked by ugly little beast with four eyes and blades on their arms, their lower halves were serpent like. Orion jumped forward with his fist charged of lightning and slammed the ground, disintegrating four of the beasts. Two lion-like demons surrounded by green flames were engaged by Ichika and Kaito, leaving room for the horde to assault Orion and Amos. Orion began to cut down demon after demon, his Weird magic seemed ineffective. Fortunately, his weaponry proved sufficient enough for dealing with the threats. He shot through two others spreading its intestines across the floor. On his left, Amos ripped through the guts of one and cut off the head of the second. Four beasts of human size tried to surround them with claws extended, but Amos ripped the arms off of two and stabbed through the head of a second as the chain blade’s revving sent blood into the air.
 
Ichika dodged a strike from the lion then brought down her kanabo upon its back to crush its spine. She looked up as Kaito took a clawed attack to the chest which ripped a gash in his chest plate. He sliced the beast in two after receiving the gash as his wife teased, “You’re rusty, Kaito.” He grunted as he activated his thrusters again to support Amos and Orion. He fought with a sudden fury that made Orion fall back slightly, but Amos continued to fight with savagery that matched the mechanized suit. Together they became a vortex of destruction, leaving trails of bodies and viscera on the floor.
 
“We need to get moving or we’ll miss the main event.” She looked up briefly, before entering the elevator and heading up. Kaito cleared out a few of the demons clearing the route for Orion, Amos, and Ichika. Kaito fell back as another portal opened, “Sorry gents, but I have a real baddy to kill.” He shot out six grenades with equal spacing into the approaching horde causing the horde to howl in fury as shrapnel ripped them to pieces.
 
When he reached the top floor, he found a host of demon limbs scattered about as his allies drenched themselves in bright green demon blood. His wife’s kanabo was at work, crushing bodies and shattering bones. Orion split the head of one then put a bullet through an ogre-like demon. They were in a room of obsidian floors and black marble columns, standing before a black steel door with a pattern of a gold wolf on the front. Kaito led this time and opened the door, revealing a large platform that stood above a series of golden trimmed stairs. A woman stood at the center wearing a white business suit with black hair and a skull tattooed on her face. Five ogres held each of the crime lords in their hands, “Well, well, it seems the champion of Jotun has hired a few bounty hunters to come and kill me.” She said as the demons around the raised dais began to howl at them. “I figured a few of my friends could remove a few nuisances from my little empire and allow my Lost to take out all of these useless gangs.” She snapped her fingers and opened a portal into the Under Realm. “Finish them off! Let’s see if you hunters can take on the mighty Flesh Eater!” She said as she walked through the portal. 
 
Her thugs howled in victory, but it was short lived as Kaito roared and sliced through the first unfortunate thug removing his head. The thug, however, grew tentacles from his head. She tried to wrap around Kaito, but he countered with a rising slash that sliced it in two. Ichika was close on her husband’s heels. The two began tearing into thugs and demons alike. Orion chose to focus on the ogres that held the crime lords. He fired, two accurate rounds at the two ogres on the left side, causing them to release Beowulf and James Grim, both of which reached for weapons to attack the other demons and defend themselves. Amos fired his machine pistol at the remaining two which freed Akiko and Bo-Ren, and now the crime lords were a part of the fight. The ogres howled in anger, but Amos silenced the first by plunging his blade into the creature’s stomach then shot a chain of five rounds into a nearby snake like creature. 
 
As they fought, the Flesh Eater advanced towards them. It was a massive beast of obese flesh, bursting with gangly white puss, two mouths and with a fork tongue. It charged at both mechanized suits, knocking the half demon gang members aside, picking both Ichika and Kaito up by the throat then slamming them onto the ground. It roared right before vomiting acid blood onto both suits causing warning signals to pop up in their visors. From its hands it extended talons and aimed for both suits chest. Both rolled out of the way, in time for Amos to latch onto the creature’s back and to stab its neck with his chain blade. Puss and gore splattered everywhere as it grabbed Amos and tossed him across the room, shattering a nearby column. The other demons took the opportunity to crowd in around him and lash out. 
 
While Amos recovered, Kaito cut at the Flesh Eater but it blocked its attacker and countered with a series of strikes that quickly overwhelmed him. He felt palpable fear mount as the demons magic started to overtake him. His guard was weakened, his confidence fleeting, and he knew it was an effect of the demon’s presence. It did not matter, however, he had to take it down quickly or it would kill him outright. Just as he thought this, the demon stabbed at his gut, piercing his armor and glancing across his abdomen. He screamed in pain, and just before the Flesh Eater could finish him off, Ichika slammed it on the head with her kanabo. It roared as she transitioned into a blow meant for its chest, but the demon grabbed her kanabo. “Let go of the weapon and duck!” Orion said and much to his surprise she actually let go, and ducked. Orion jumped over her with his fist charged with electricity. He slammed his fists into the beast which burned it eliciting a groan of anger from the demon. Kaito activated his thruster as he jumped, descended, and stabbed his sword through the distracted arch demon. His blade burned its heart as he raised the searing blade and left two flopping pieces. 
 
Both Ichika and Kaito looked back to see the crime lords safe as Amos stabbed his chain sword through the last of the taller demons. A woman of the Eastwood Company, a crime lord of the Tiger Clan stepped forward, Orion identified her as Akiko Asuma, “Well, I didn’t expect that Isabela would quite summon a demon to aid her in this war, things have just gotten interesting. Though I don’t think you were here to rescue us, thank you, I don’t forget a favor even if it’s unintentional.”
 
“I need help chasing her down, if she has the power to summon demons then I would know her every move.” From behind her the man known as Beowulf spoke, “Believe me, we’ll have her head for this if it’s the last thing we do. My boys will be on a manhunt for all that we lost today. Now we just gotta fight through the horde back to the…” He got cut off by an explosion and the sounds of booted feet hitting the floor. They could hear gunfire and angry roars from the floors below. Orion looked at each of them, “My wolves will take care of this mess.” He opened a communicator on his wrist, “I know ya’ll don’t snitch, but I think you’ll make an exception, to catch a double-crossing witch.” They all gave an approving nod as they left, leaving the four to go to the window and watch the snow fall on the city. 
 
Kaito put an armored arm around his wife, “And you thought we weren’t going to have a challenge.”
 
“Never had a doubt, this was fun darling.” She turned to Orion, “That witch is still out there I hope you’ll consider us for your next hunt. It would be a shame to miss another arch demon.”
 
“I didn’t intend for this to be so hazardous, but you’ve certainly earned your keep. I’ll have my secretary wire you an additional fifty thousand units for a total of three hundred, hope that covers it.”
 
“If I weren’t married you could be my sugar daddy.” Ichika laughed and so did Orion, “Mrs. Simmons would kill me besides,” He looked at Kaito, “I get the feeling you’ve got expensive tastes.”
 
“Like you wouldn’t believe.” They started laughing as Kaito turned to face Amos, “Come on, my friend, job well done, time to get paid and celebrate.” He gained a worried look as Amos flipped a glowing green object within his hands, “Something up Amos?”
 
“She wasn’t alone, this is an amulet of a Weird witch.” They all looked with concern and Orion finally broke the silence, “So there’s more of them?” For the first time since they started this mission, the green knight smiled, “Our hunts have only just begun.”
 
“Is there a way to track them?”
 
“I know a sorceress of Weird magic, Penelope Fay. She’ll be more than happy to help us track down the witch and company. Isabela will not get away, and her cohorts will be found, but for now, I think we’ve earned a break. Let’s go get hammered.” They all laughed as they left the carnage of the burning building behind. 
 
Orion would return to his solemn duty, while the other three spent their night in drunken stupor till the break of dawn. Neither Ichika nor Kaito held their liquor well, and Amos had a small laugh at their expense. He relaxed knowing their next hunt would be far more interesting than the last.                                 
 

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