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View Full Version : Serif Winters(Crank) vs. Dex Omni(Kamiroo Wolf)



Kamiroo Wolf
05-13-2016, 08:34 PM
HELLOOOOOOOOOOOOOO LADIES AND GENTLEMEN AND WELCOME TO YOUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED BLOODBATH! IT'S YOUR HOST WITH THE MOST HIMSELF, DEX OMNI (http://forums.stickpage.com/showthread.php?97438-Dex-Omni-Your-Gracious-Host) HERE ACCOMPANIED BY THE HERO OF NEW SALEM, SERIF WINTERS (http://forums.stickpage.com/showthread.php?92943-Serif-Winters-The-Hero-of-New-Salem-Back-to-Battle)! The line between hunter and prey blurred, who will come out on top(as if we even need a poll to decide)?!

Ok, all seriousness, I got wrecked. I already know I did. I could tell the moment I started reading that I should have taken this more seriously @_@. Welp, lack of confidence and shitty introduction aside, let's get on with this:


Crank's Story(Serif vs. Omni)(Numbers removed)
A drop of red added much needed vibrancy to the blanket of pure white snow, but as Serif spat more from his busted lip, it seemed to lose it’s artistic touch. Gripping the knife at his hip, the staredown stood steadfast between his cyan set and glaring greens he gazed at. Across from him, a man his height and equally bald tightened the vice on his ice saber, conflicted scowl forcing his brow into a scrunched mess as it tried gaging his foe. Panting from the day’s adventure, an innate determination fueled Serif’s basically unblinking intensity. He was going to attack, and Ira knew it.

“Don’t.”

He did. In a swift dash, Serif closed the foot remaining between them, ripping the blade from its sheath and forcing Ira to swing his own. The thick hides he wore kept Winters from freezing as he rolled on the ground to dodge, slashing his knife and cutting deep into the muscular man’s side before knuckles bashed into his eye, sending him into another pair of somersaults towards the sharp decline. Sprinting after him, Ira rose his edge high, but as Serif rolled to his back, he tore a bola from beneath his layers, gripping one stone while sending arcing the other up to meet the glitch’s wrist, coiling around the armed arm. A vicious yank robbed him of his balance and sent the sword into the snow, but at the very least, Ira was able to aim his downfall, tackling the seated Serif and sending them both over the edge.

Although the fall was brief and the snow was soft, the sticks and stones it concealed threatened to break their bones with their bodies’ bash. Their grunts echoed in the mass nothing as both men struggled to regain their footing, only the inked was just a moment slower. On his hands and knees, a swift kick found the gap between them, bruising the gladiator and forcing him back to his back, soon feeling the full weight of his foe on his chest. Glare from the sun seeped into Serif’s eye as he looked up at Ira, Earth’s star casting him as a dark silhouette as he rose his fists, viciously bring them down at the black, blue and orange man under him.

The first strike felt like it rocked what remained of the world, Winters’ cheek burying deep into the snow as pain blasted into his brain, while the next shut down his entire sense of hearing, leaving him with nothing but a ringing in his ear. He could feel the sudden splatter of something wet and warm from his cheek, only to freeze him in the blistering cold, but as his eyes cracked back open, they fell upon his knife, a few feet away, half buried in the snow. Squirming beneath his enemy, Serif was able to force him off his body, but Ira still remained in the gap between his legs, pounding on his eye until it threatened to seal shut. His brain pulsed with anguish every time his heart beat, but as adrenaline flowed through his body like a drug, he focused on the next incoming strike.

Like a viper, his left hand seized the sleeve behind Ira’s incoming fist moments before the right buried its fangs in the elbow. A dark calm radiated from Serif as his lifted his hips and Ira’s confidence felt its first blow as he felt the man’s legs wrap around his waist, forcing him to crouch his chest and legs in, while his arm was torn to the gladiator’s chest. With petrifying swiftness, the hunter’s legs opened and slammed shut, locking in beside his neck and left armpit before squeezing his knees and flipping him to his back as well, initiating a tug of war over Ira’s limbs.

Although he was deaf in one ear, he still felt the bone break in his arms and the shrill shriek the anguish it exploded pierced through his other. With a quick release, Serif quickly rolled to his knife, and upon snapping his palm upon in, forced himself back to his feet. Crimson trickled down his cheek and traced his jaw as he staggered back to Ira, the man’s bright green eyes bouncing somewhere between between seething and pleading.

“You don’t have to do this.”

Serif’s light blue eyes were like a layer of ice as he looked down at him, blade already stained in his blood, “Either both of you can live, or both of you can die. It’s up to Ida if she wants to fight me, or save you.”

“Wait!”

Light glimmered off the knife as he slammed it down, impaling it down in Ira’s stomach, snapping his eyes open in horror. Agony rushed up his spine and into his mind, but as he went to howl, a gurgle of blood was all that came out. Tucking into a ball as Serif withdrew his blade, the gladiator barely took a second glance. “Don’t make that decision for her.”

An all encompassing hatred boiled Ira as gore welled from his open wound, but as Winters limped to scale the incline, he couldn’t force any of the curses he needed out. Crimson was dribbling between his fingers as he fought to keep the wound pressurised, but as they shook in the freezing temperatures, he had no idea how long he’d be able to keep it up. His breath shook as Serif climbed to the top, but upon reaching it, it held. As bad as his limp was, Winters stiffened suddenly at whatever he was looking at, but his swift lunge was met by a hail of gunfire. Squirts of his blood fell over Ira’s head like streaks of rain, and as Serif toppled forward out of sight, one thing kept a grin from creeping into Ira’s cheek.

The woman’s shocked scream that accompanied the man’s howl.

...And then the gunshot that silenced it.


:::18 Hours Earlier; 1:58 PM:::

“I apologize, didn’t order this.”

“Someone ordered it for you,” The answer was replied with a casual shrug as the barista behind the counter pushed the 20oz paper cup closer to the space-stained gladiator.

“In that case, I don’t enjoy being in another’s debt.” In kind, Serif pushed in back.

“I don’t think he cared about it’s cost.” Back to the gladiator’s side.

“I don’t want this.”

“My boss is going to be mad if I have to throw it out, it was almost twenty bucks.”

“What? How?”

“It’s expresso.”

Serif squinted. “Do you mean a latte?”

“It’s all expresso.”

The warrior needed a few moments to process, blinking slowly before looking between the coffee cup and barista. Finally heaving out an exhale, he grabbed the cup, noticing its full weight while shaking his head. “You have my thanks.”

Turning around as he was bid goodbye, his gaze scanned the cafe, looking for the apparently painfully rich man whose appearance was described entirely as ‘you’ll know it when you see him’. In a city with a handful of the gladiator population however, that didn’t mean much. Right off the bat, there was a seven foot tall man with an even bigger broadsword strapped to his back, who was sitting across from a maiden whose eyes were literally glowing, with her bright pink hair somehow waving weightlessly without any source of air. A little ways away from him was a man more bandaged than a mummy, and then in a far off corner, another was dressed in bright enough sparkling colors to give someone a stroke. He however, was the one who motioned to Serif.

“Dexter Omni?”

“Please, my friends call me Dex,” Arising from his seat to greet the gladiator, the superstar-looking man gestured to the chair across from him, “Have a seat, you must be Serif Winters.”

“My friends call me Feet.”

“Alright Feet-”

“-Serif.”

A scoff forced itself out of Dex as he processed the disrespect. “Well, now that that’s out of the way, I was told you wanted to be part of my little game?”

“‘Want’ is a strong, inaccurate word,” Serif leaned back in his chair as the game-show host crossed his arms, “But I will do what I must to obtain what I need.”

“So tell me, what is it that you need? The stick out of your ass, or did you just lose it trying to get rid of whatever crawled up it and died?”

“Access to the RHG database. All the files they have, and all the footage they have on everyone who works for them.”

“That isn’t standard?” Serif’s eyes narrowed; Dex chuckled. “Oh so it was, you just lost it! Sure, that’s fine, I can make that happen. Do you know how this works?”

“I’m transported to a land to survive in.”

“Or die in. Statistically, to die in,” The host’s grin broadened as Serif’s arms crossed, “But essentially yes. Just kill all the enemies in the biodome of your choosing, and you’ll be sent right back to where you were. The whole thing is in a digital reality type thing, so don’t worry about killing anything there, nothing but you is real!” Receiving nothing but deadpan, Dex’s smile started to fade. “So, I suppose the last question I have, is where do you want to die? I’ve got a city, desert, volcano, snow and ice or ju-” His eyes seemed to light up as a thought struck him like a thunderbolt. “Actually, how about we do that one? Snow and ice? Since typically I pick out who gets to be the guests in my show, I think it’s only fair that if you’re making my choice, I get to make yours. Whether you give me the cold shoulder or not, I don’t think I can cheat my viewers all my winter puns, now can I, Mr. Winters?”

“The sooner we start, the sooner we end.”

“Which I’m sure will be very soon. Now,” Clapping suddenly, Dex practically jumped from the seat to his feet, “Let’s get somewhere private so I can introduce you to my damn machine.”


:::::::::::::::2:15 PM:::::::::::::::

A groggy, lightheadedness spun Serif’s world as his eyes focused on the fresh, glaring light. The blinding bright forced him to a squint, but as the moments passed and it hardly diminished, he was forced to accept that the new world was as white as well, snow. Blinking into something closer to focus, he lifted a hand over his brow to cast some form of shadow over his eyes, he was able to confirm he was, indeed, in a barren, hilly wasteland of freezing white. Dead trees scattered his surroundings with only a few live pines between them, and only the mountain range miles away seemed to be of note. Black stone could be seen from its sharp drops, and it appeared to be the only place that nature thrived in the bright white deadlands.

“Ladies and Gentlemen!” Not even a minute in, the bone chilling cold was already shaking the inked man to his core, crossing his arms so tightly they could’ve been welded together as Dex’s voice boomed from all directions, “It is my pleasure to introduce our newest contestant: Serif, The ‘Hero’ of New Salem, Winters! Don’t change the channel on this guy, he won’t even last as long as you do!”

’I won’t last?’ A light scoff echoed as the gladiator trudged forward, ungodly amount of espresso in one hand as the other snaked under his vest, withdrawing a metal bola from within. Already so late in his mission, time hardly mattered anymore. Whatever was going to happen to Olivia already would have, it was just a matter of finding her alive, or just ...finding her… Shaking his head violently, he needed to take another swig of his steaming liquid, giving his body an invigorating burn as he neared the first hill on the way to the mountains.

“And now that you’ve seen the odds, let’s get started with our first wave, something a hunter should be familiar with! Well, almost anyway.”

Surrounded by the vast nothingness, any sound could’ve easily traveled from miles away, but as a trio of howls reverberated throughout the BMICS, Serif doubted they were anywhere but close. Stopping in his tracks as he heard snow crush beneath a charge of twelve legs, his eyes darted for the nearest tree, and upon sight of the dead oak within ten feet, broke into a sprint of his own. He didn’t need to look over his shoulder to know what was upon him. Vicious dash suddenly accompanied by the mad barks and growls of rabid wolves, growing ever louder, Serif could feel the bests gaining on him. Tucking his drink into elbow, he jerked out his knife with his then free hand and wedged the blade into a small crevice along its edge. Striking down on the hilt like his hand was a hammer, the halves of the sphere cracked open in a slight splash of gasoline, dripping down his jaw before he pivoted as fast as possible.

Feet away from him, the full image of what was on his heels violently ambushed him. Almost twice the size of a normal wolf, each with hellishly long, snapping teeth, three godless monsters were rushing him. Blood of a fresh kill stained their pure white coat, thickest nearest their fangs and claws, pack leader preparing to dive into the air as Serif’s back met the tree. As if he’d seen worse from the wild however, with nothing but a cool intensity, he gripped each ball of his bola, pressing down the functioning one’s button before whipping it at the mutated muts. Gasoline arched the first rotation the weapon took, soaking the monsters in its fluids, as well as the hunter and the tree behind him, but when Serif rolled up the trunk like a magnet scaling a fridge, the second orb’s thrusters ignited in a haunting flash.

Guttural growls and booming barks shifted instantly agonized screeches as their thick fur pelts burst into flames. Already airborne, the pack leader bashed into the bark, sending the base of the trunk into a blazing inferno, chasing behind the pyro as the dying animals thrashed helplessly on the ground. Outrunning it with ease however, shifting one hand back to his beverage, Serif raced to an outstretched branch thick enough to carry his weight while digging a longer, stone bola out from within his leather. Staring at the beast lucky enough to have been spared by the brunt of the oil, the warrior waited until it quelled the last of the flames before plummeting from his perch, arching his weapon halfway down.

Within instants of each other, rope coiled along the monster’s neck and the inked man landed on it’s burned back, yanking his bola like cruel leash. Snapping and bucking at him with an unrelenting fury, the gladiator clung for dear life as he tightened his grip, threatening to cut off its air supply. After a time that would’ve made any cowboy proud, the wolf finally slowed, but the moment it did, Serif jerked its neck to the side, forcing it to turn left, and then forward immediately afterwards. Within seconds, he claimed the wild animal as his mount, racing onwards towards the mountains like a sunset.


:::::::::::::::7:03 PM:::::::::::::::

“Are you sure Dex is here?” Speaking in a hushed query, the bald warrior’s digital green eyes met those of his sister, sharing nothing but iris color with him, “I haven’t heard a sound since we arrived a half hour ago, and that devil is anything but silent.”

“You don’t believe me, Ira?” A joking smile passed from the girl to her ‘twin’, replying with one in kind as he gently shook his head.

“I beleive anything you tell me, Ida, it’s just that this is out of character for him,” His arms crossed as they finally entered the cavern the young hispanic woman led him to, “I mean, Dex is a huge piece of shit, like, he’s the one that clogs the toilet, and he talks even more shit than he is. Going silent for this long is just… Odd.”

“He’s on the cusp of giving up and needed a breather. He’s furious, frustrated, and needed to wash his hands of this. He can’t find his contestant,” Growing consumed by the dark as they continued their stride, Ida lowered her voice, “It’s almost been five hours.”

If she could see them, she would’ve chuckled at how wide Ira’s eyes bugged. “How?” Quickly shaking his head, he followed up with an even more important question, “And you think this one can help us? By hiding? We would’ve had better luck with the robot in the city.”

“Maybe, but I think a human would be more willing to trust us, and no, not by hiding,” She cast a smile to his general direction, “By being patient.”

Barely able to see three feet in front of them, a slight paranoia began gripping the man, gaze wandering more rapidly the deeper they traveled. “Well I still don’t like this, we could be walking straight into an ambush.”

“Between your skills, mine, and the pistol I took, we should be fine.” Stopping suddenly she called up to the ceiling, “Serif?”

Flinching at her projection, Ira stole a stone from the floor, searching even harder himself.

“We’re here to help. Please come down,” Looking directly up, a gentle smile stretched her lips, “You don’t have to worry, Dex didn’t send us, he still has no idea where you are.”

A prolonged silence gripped Ira. “I can’t protect you from what I can’t see..”

“You don’t need to protect me from him.” Rubbing her brother’s shoulder, Ida’s gaze went back to the black stones above. “Deep down, you know we aren’t with him. You know if he knew where you were, he would’ve dragged you out long ago. Can we talk? Please?”

The nothingness lingered for almost another minute before a slight frown tugged at her face.

“What is it?”

“I… think he’s sleeping.”

Silence.

Ida’s look traveled to her brother.

He stood there, unmoving; eyes squinting.

Dumbfounded, his brain struggled to process the statement.

Suddenly, an explosion of sound.

“Here? Now!”

A thud echoed before them as Ida jerked to hush her brother, crimson mass stepping out from the shadows before them. The stained fur of a FrostWolf entirely encasing what would ordinarily be a silhouette, save for the chilled blue eyes in the rectangular sea of black where its head was. Looking the pair up and down, it stood ominously still as the latina cleared her throat. “We’re here to help.”

Pacing parallel the duo, the man paused at the wall of cave, slowly bending over to retrieve a paper cup. “Why is that?”

“Because we want what you do, Serif.”

The gladiator scoffed, raising the cup to his lips. Although the surface of his drink was a layer of ice, a soft squeeze shattered it, letting the fluids run to his mouth. “And what would that be?”

“To live a life worth living,” Ida’s smile was warmer than his makeshift jacket ever could’ve been, “And to live somewhere we can have a life.”

“Is that why you came here?”

“We came here because we were born here.”

Ira’s interjection brought a stop to all of Serif’s actions, quizzical gaze meeting his own determined stare. “Is this land not a-”

“It is.” Sensing she was losing him to concepts he couldn’t understand, Ida cut him off before he could dig too deep. “We’re an accident in the program. We’re sentient and don’t obey the ‘god’ here. We know the monster he is, and know that if he dies, we all go free.”

“You say that as though there are others.”

“There are countless,” Tagging in for his sister, Ira took a step forward, dropping the rock he’d become unaware of until Serif’s eyeline passed over it, “He has prisoners he names his interns, and then there’s the doom of all the other’s he abducted for his amusement. How many has he killed now, Ida? Hundreds?”

“Over Fifteen. ...But yeah, hundred...”

A discomforting silence gripped the trio, each shifting slightly as they waited for another to speak. Finally however, Ira followed up.

“Serif, I… I don’t know if you’ve ever killed a man-” A relaxed glance from Ida seemed to answer the thought, “-but this one, this animal, needs to die.” Ira paused momentarily as the gladiator stared at the sister, having intercepted the look. Clearing his throat however, Ira brought Serif’s pupils back to him. “If you can’t do it though, I can.”

“No.”

“No?”

“I need him alive.”

Ira blinked rapidly as Serif stood his ground, “What could he possibly be offering you that could justify keeping around?”

“Information.”

“Information you don’t have to get this way…” Cautiously, Ida strode towards him, placing her palm on his shoulder as she gazed into his ghostly blues. “You could ask any other gladiator for the files you need, why would you risk your life for them?”

Breaking from the pair as he took a few steps away, a slow sip filled the void of noise. “I will not turn to those who willingly turn to murder.”

“Then what about us?” Closing the distance, Ira stole Serif’s attention. “This man is hardly human anymore. He’s more of a monster than anything out here, and for every life he’s taken, there’s a family he’s destroyed. I won’t let him claim mine.” Green eyes met before his returned to the hunter. “Do you have a sister, Serif?” Winters stood silent, but Ida nodded on his behalf. “Then you know the feeling. I’m not asking for you to take me into your home, I’m asking for your help escaping Hell.”

“And as far as information is concerned,” Ida chimed in, “I can help you find Olivia.” Watching doubt flood Serif’s features failed to diminish her spirit. “I can see everything about an individual just by looking them in the eyes. For example, I can tell you exactly where Dex is, or, if you aren’t prepared to move yet, you can ask me something only you know the answer to. Something personal, about you.”

His brow furrowed, but she smiled wider as he thought. “Speak of my tattoos.”

It covered most of her face before she finally spoke. “Do you mean how you got it less because you thought it’d be cool and more because you wanted your skin stained, or did you mean that even though they were injected by needle, your designs were crafted by your twin’s magic?”

Pride coated her like his jacket as his brain scrambled for an explanation, but before it found a logical conclusion, he felt the brother’s hand on his shoulder.

“Ida knows more than you or I could ever learn, and she’s smarter than either of us will ever be. She’s the best person you’ll ever meet, the one who will want to help the most, and the one who will be the most helpful,” Sucking in a deep breath, he forced Serif’s eyes to his, “We can help each other. We can save each other from our doomed fates. We just have to slay one beast, and then we can find your child.”

“Would you like me to lead you to Dex?”

Inhaling slowly, Serif took another sip of what was gradually turning into a frappachino. “No. We need him on our soil.”

“Our soil?” Ira furrowed his brow as Serif nodded.

“There are two kinds of hunters,” Finishing the last of his drink, the gladiator lifted the lid to examine the source of excess weight, “The ones who go out in search of their prey, and those who lay their traps and let them come to them. Tomorrow, I become the later.” Reached inside his cup, Winters gazed upon the girl as his palm met small piece of metal, gradually withdrawing an old, rusted key. “I don’t suppose this opens a weapons cache?”

“That…” Blinking, she looked to her brother, expressing her same confusion, “...Isn’t from Dex. Having said that, I think I know where we can get what you’re looking for.”

“I’m sorry sis, what are we looking for?”

“Guns and gasoline?”

Casting the hunter a smirk, the one Ida got back was the first hint of a personality behind his thick skin. “Anything that kills or combusts.”


:::::::::::::::7:23 AM:::::::::::::::

Orange hues oozed from the false sky, soaking the snow in a brilliant vibrance, but while most would wallow in its beauty, Dex clenched his knuckles at the sight caught on one of his countless cameras. Crimson snow, stained with the blood of the Corrupted, and while their bodies were buried under last night’s blizzard, three severed heads were spiked on the tips of their weapons, hilts all impaling the vast white, while two more sat beside them. Five troops. Killed in their sleep. Where -the fuck- was the entertainment in that?

“You have exactly three seconds to tell me how the hell this happened.”

Whether it from the cold or sheer fear of his ‘employer’, a violent shake gripped the intern before he could stutter out an answer. “I don’t know! It just became bright enough to even see it, they were shapes ten minutes ago!”

A piece of the host wanted to take his wrath out on the man so easily replaced, but the rest of him wanted his fury to combust with its hellish intensity on his rightful target. It had already gone on far too long, which was something he’d never allow to happen again, as long as he drew breath.

“Is anything else dead?”

“Um-”

“Is anything else dead!”

The intern flinched so hard it was like he was hit with a bat. “A couple ymir and another pack of FrostWolves!”

“Dammit!” Unable to contain himself any longer, Dex’s fist rammed into the wall, hurting himself more than it, “And why was no one watching the cameras in my absence!”

“We didn’t even k-”

“I don’t want a fucking excuse!” More than the dou populated the surveillance room, but no one else even breathed as the host roared his lungs out, “Time is money! Do you have any idea how much this is going to cost us? Do you have any idea how few people are still even watching right now? I want him! Now!”

“Bu-” Seeing movement on one of the cameras, the intern snapped his mouth shut so tight mid-sentence he could’ve sworn some teeth chipped.

“Dexter Omni.” Like a gift from a god other than the host, Serif’s voice flooded the room, his image slowly taking center frame from one of the mountain cameras. “Your game has changed. This is no longer a competition of you hiding from me, or me hiding from your horde. You and I will look each other in the eye and bring this to an end. If you want to put on a show, show up, or remain idle and watch ‘Wrath of God’ resinate all the terror of a dandelion.” Slowly, he turned his back to the camera, carelessly walking offscreen. “If I don’t see you within an hour, you won’t find me within the week. I suggest you hurry.”

“...I should destroy this entire fucking biome.” Seething unfathomable hatred, Dex soon found his interns scattered from him, as though he was resonating an abysmal black aura.

“Sir?”

His neck snapped at the lacky with enough ferocity to make the man jump a foot in the air. “What!”

“W-what do we do?”

“He threatened me in my domain! We give him his fucking wish! Then we carve the ink out of his skin, watch the cold devour his naked body, and then feed what remains to the FrostWolves. Find my fucking jacket, it doesn’t matter that he called me out, I am going to watch this happen live, in person.”


:::::::::::::::7:47 AM:::::::::::::::

“Ladies and gentlemen, if you’re just tuning in, Winter is coming...” Speaking low as precipitation from a gentle snow fluttered in the air before him, Dex took a moment to admire the masses before him. Another trio of FrostWolves, five formally human ‘corrupted’, each frost bitten looking being gripping a weapon of pure ice, two giants, each towering at a rough fifteen feet, and of course his two ice golem bodyguards, floating beside him like ghosts. “...To and end.”

Finally having reached the area where Serif had appeared on camera, the host motioned for his men to disperse. “Cold feet, Serif? I’m here, where are you?” The wind was the only thing that answered him. Crossing his arms as the air chilled his exposed features, Dex let out a grunt. “For a guy named after lettering, I expected you to keep to your word a little better.”

Lazily looking to his left, he observed the corrupted make a bit more distance from him, beginning to stride between the denser packed trees, blocking all but a small layer of snow on the ground. Pack leader holding his saber with both hands, he motioned for his men to stay close behind. Carefully surveying the pines and gaps between them for movement, his eyes were too high off the ground to see the rope he was approaching. Hardly noticing his boot rub against it, he carelessly rose it for the next step.

Crimson exploded from his body in a hail of gunfire. Both ends of the string had snaked up trees, loosely tied to the triggers of assault rifles, only to go off like a guerrilla army when it squeezed. Spraying in righteous fury, bullets pierced his entire upper torso, gore jutting from the fresh gaping holes as a scream gurgled out of his lungs, but as he toppled, it dragged the aim of the firing rifles behind him, raining hell on the rest of his men. Howling in unison as the snow was painted red with their insides, the final four collapsed on the ground, three struggling to breathe as the last had the misfortune of having the gray matter burst from his skull on the way down.

“Shit.” Snapping his eyes at the remaining packs he had, a faint haunting fear began to burrow within his gut. “He’s boobytrapped the area. Watch where you step!” Gaze falling on the giants last, the ymir inches taller than the other nodded before continuing his path beside the other. Lacking worry, the dou brushed the low branches aside like curtains, barreling through the mini forest on their own accord until the yipping of a FrostWolf captivated their attention.


::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

“Are you sure about this?”

“No.”

Ira’s greens met Serif’s blues on the far side of the pine, slicked in something other than maple and barely still standing. Only a handful of inches of what remained of its trunk kept it upright, so to keep from testing fate, Serif instead leaned against the handle of the ice-axe he’d looted the night before, as his ally did the the same with a similarly made saber. The crunch of a charge through the frozen surface of the snow captured the ink’s attention while the digital kept his gaze on him. “Would it kill you to humor me?”

“No,” Leaning the weapon over his shoulder, Serif reached into his jacket to retrieve a bola, “But I won’t.”

A giggle from behind captured Ira’s attention, but Winters’ focus didn’t falter, seeing the pack of FrostWolves break into eye-line a short distance away. “I told you he was honest.”

“Maybe a little too honest,” A hesitant smile crossed Ira’s face as he was joined by his sister, “I’d rather have morale than facts.”

“After ten trips to and from the city, morale shouldn’t be an issue.”

“H-”

“Focus.”

The side of Serif’s face caught a glare as Ida chuckled. Finally facing forward again, Ira braced himself for the oncoming onslaught, readying the sword before him as his twin dug her heels into the ground. Within ten feet, the fangs of the fiends were snapping with an unsustainable bloodlust, but when one of their eyes fell on Ida’s, it seemed to have lost its mind. Violently jerking its head to the right, it sank its long fangs into a member of its pack, blood streaming from the creature as it released an agonized howl. The two struck the ground in a burst of reddening snow as the possessed tried ripping the throat out of the wild, but before the third could intervene, its front legs were suddenly coiled, tumbling in its own right.

“Charge!” Kicking off the snow in unison, Ira and Serif raced at the monsters, weapons brandished as the animals struggled to get off the snow. Ida’s pet fell before the pair could arrive, claws of its enemy finding its chest and tearing, shredding its outsides open and spilling what lied within. Rolling over, its feet shoved off the earth to meet the men halfway, leaping at Serif with stained fangs bared, only to watch him roll under it, heaving the axe up as it soared overhead. A yip burst from its lungs as ice plunged through its stomach, red flowing like a river when Serif jerked it out before somersaulting back to his feet and rushing to the other. Still struggling to untangle itself, Serif was able to bury the weapon in its neck before stealing a glance at the other, just in time to watch Ira cleave its head clean off.

Nods were exchanged among the trio before earth rocking stomping entered their ears. Swearing to himself as he spotted the ymir between the trees, he called out to Serif, both men thinking in unison as they retreated to the slicked tree, and a ways behind it. Crouching like olympians about to race, they eyed the giants, each staring at them in kind as they dragged what could’ve easily passed for a tree behind them.

Eerily composed, Winters glanced at the one on the right before turning his eyes to Ira, who replied with a wordless ‘affirmative’. In the time of a heartbeat, the men pushed off towards the tree, matching the other’s breakneck sprint before leaping like wolves at the bark. Pulling their legs close to their bodies, they suddenly shot out like cannons directly above where they’d worked so hard with the axe the night before. Their feet met the wood with a crunch, but as the maple started to tilt as their backs met the snow, relieved chuckles spilled out. It only took a few fleeting, creaking moments for gravity to ensnare the leaning lumber, viciously ensnaring it and slamming it down on a giant while the hunter withdrew a metal bola from his jacket. Unfazed as the remaining roared at them, Serif activated it, tossing it at the fallen tree and watching it burst into flames as its fire met the twins’ stolen oil. Within moments, a winter wonderland looked more like Hell, the vast branches of the maple reaching the other trees and igniting them as well.

Smoke plumed above them as the men finally charged the remaining monster, slamming its log between them as they rolled to the side, Serif brandishing his knife and slicing the tendons behind its calf while Ira’s blade carved into its back. A godless howl rocked the mountain as the ymir’s blood flowed, but as the back of its foot rammed into the hunter’s body, the airless grunt he left behind as he flew through the air demanded a bit more of Ira’s attention. Frown tugging his expression down, Ira’s fingers danced on his blade’s handle, slowly stepping back as he became the monster’s only foe. Swinging it’s log, Ira’s entire skull almost exploded as he snapped into a crouch, feeling the breeze it left brush against his scalp. Lunging forward, the tip of his sword pierced the belly of the beast, but the back of a giant palm slapped him back before it could slide through its vital organs. Tumbling back, the searing heat warned him of the nearing flames, but when the beast charged him, it stole back the priority.

Shaking off the bruises sure to form on his face, Ira’s eyes glued to his blade, half sticking out of the charging beast. His heels dug into the melting show as he braced for what could be the end, but as adrenaline pumped through his being, an explosion of sound and burst of blood from the monster’s shoulder stole both of their attention. Wielding a smoking handgun, Ida stared down the giant before firing once more, burst of light highlighting her stunning features before the slug buried itself in its chest, hardly doing more than draw blood. A cool calm radiated her, and as her brother pushed off the snow, she lowered her weapon. Taking off in a sudden rush, he intercepted the giant from his sister, jumping into the air when he was noticed and slamming his foot into the handle of his sword. A gush of blood burst like a sputtering geyser as the edge carved deeper, but when crimson started dribbling from its’ mouth, a demonic scowl chilled Ira’s bones. Trying to kick the blade one more time like he was breaking down a door, a giant palm swooped down, snatching the limb and heaving him into the air before the blow could be delivered. Lifting the man to be eye to eye with it, it released a deafening howl as a sharp sting punctured its back, dropping Ira as it turned around.

Gripping the knife soaking in the flowing crimson like he was scaling a mountain, Serif pushed off his handle as he lept into the air, flipping to the shoulder of the creation double his side. Snapping his legs around its neck, he arced the blade into its eye, deep into its skull before ripping it back out and unleashing a volley with all the fury and ruthlessness of a crime of passion. The beast screeched as it struggled to knock the hunter off, but as the metal stabbed everything between its scalp and windpipe, the dying monster could hardly focus enough to find him. Soaked in more red then either green-eyed virus had ever seen, it finally fell to its quaking knees, toppling over entirely once the heaving Ira tore his weapon out of its gut.

Both men panting a bit too heavily to speak, they had to pass appreciated grunts to one another as they were joined by Ida. “So,” A gentle smile crossed her as the hellfire continued consuming the snow surrounding them, “Are you ready to make this the series finale?”


::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

“No no no!” Dex’s fists clenched as he released a sound of pure hatred, feeling his game being hijacked beneath him. His beautifully crafted, carefully maintained snowy arena was rapidly dying to the wrath of an inferno spreading impossibly quickly. Nothing there could’ve burned so wretchedly, and the contestant wasn’t equipped enough for a forest fire of this scale. Even if the guns were somehow his, this…

“Fuck!” His voice boomed as the realization met him, “All units, converge on the mountain! This isn’t waves for one man anymore, we’re dealing with a fucking virus!”

Unable to pull his hair out from under his jacket’s hood, his raging fists just made a general punching motion before his eyes snapped to the closest camera to him, his feed going straight to his interns as he lowered his voice “I’ll accept that maybe one man could hide from you, but if I find out someone spotted Ida and Ira touring the fucking city and bringing my shit here, or if someone knows someone knew, but didn’t tell me, you will all find yourselves on the other side of those monitors… All of you will feel the wrath of God… but you’ll watch it first.”

Taking a few brief moments to calm himself, Dex cleared his throat and shook his head. Motioning to his golems, both beginning to drip as rising temperatures threatened them, Dex began leading them towards the edges of the mountain’s level as he pieced together the facts.

Himself and two golems verses Serif Winters, Ida and Ira. Three on three. ...But he couldn’t really fight. Two on three. ...But Ida could apparently control one of his underlings... One on four... Game over. “...Fuck…” Closing his eyes tight as his mind raced, words flowed together in his mind, gluing themselves together and sticking feebly as the heat continued to rise. If he wouldn’t be able to stall long enough for more help to arrive, he’d have to change the equation.

Opening his eyes slowly, he motioned for his melting guards to investigate the burning world before him. Unaccustomed to leaving his side, they hesitated a moment before complying, nearing fire continuing to make them frail as water trailed their shimmering skin, but as they were lost in the smoke, the sudden sounds of shattering made Dex flinch. Heaving out an exhale, the host began striding towards the midground between the cliff’s edge and beginning of the blazing treeline as a trio of silhouettes began emerging.

“So…” Dex’s voice filled the air as they gradually met in the center, glow of the sun on the host’s back with light of the flames on theirs, “It looks like you’ve survived Wrath of God, Mr. Winters, and it seems like you’ve made some friends along the way. That’s a shame.”

Both warriors tightened their grips on their respective blades, Ira in the center taking a step forward while Serif on his left remained in place. “What’s a shame is all the lives you’ve taken in these lands,” The middle man spat, “What’s a shame, is that it took Ida and I this long to find you.”

The solitary one chuckled, “No, the shame is that your friendship can’t last,” Gradually, his gaze fell on Serif, “If I die, how will you get access to the information you need?”

“He doesn’t need it. He has us.”

“Does he?” The snicker turned to laughter, “How do you even know you’ll make it into the real world? I’ve never died, so what’s to say you’d escape? What’s to say that if you do, nothing else would?” Grinning devilishly, his words slowed, “And I don’t mean my interns, I mean every monster you’ve fought here, and every monster you two have seen. You do realize that’s what you are, right? Do you think the world is ready for that? All of that, at once, with no warning?”

“That won’t happen.”

“You aren’t a fortune teller, bitch.” Ira flinched as Dex degraded his sister, gradually forcing the group to pace in a semi circle, “And who even knows if your magic will transfer? What if, if you get to the real world, you’re just like everyone else? Or, you’re a good girl, right?” Gradually, his eyes fell on Winters, “What if she does keep her powers? You’re afraid of opening the floodgates to your home, aren’t you Serif? Your people survive in isolation, and you’re scared any outside help will expose them. What happens when that happens? You’ve seen this, you’ve seen the RHG, and I’m sure you’ve picked up a history book by now. How long do you think Witch Island will last when the rest of the mad world discovers it? You’ve risked your life so you can research in silence. Can you really risk everything you’ve ever loved, letting this lead to something louder?” Grinning, he stopped with the flames on his left and cliff his right.

“Shut up.”

“Don’t you dare talk to me like that, I created you.”

“Your mistake.” Ira took a hard step forward, but a calloused hand suddenly fell on his shoulder. He didn’t even look over it. “You can’t be serious. You do know he needs to die, right?”

“He can die later.”

“He needs to die now!” In a detonation of fury, Ira whirled around, exchanging his position with Serif’s, his back to the edge as he faced the man, “How is this even a question for you? One thousand, five hundred people have died here, Serif! And this, here, has been the only chance we’ve had to end that! Do you want us to wait for him to hit three thousand? Is that a high enough body count for you do to do something?”

“You aren’t who I came to rescue.”

Dex’s arms proudly crossed as Ira visibly twitched. Unable to speak however, it was his sister who had to open her mouth. “You…” Stepping back, appalled, her green eyes bounced on her brother’s for only a moment before returning to Serif’s icey blues, staring deep into his soul. “...You don’t consider us alive…”

“Someone else will save you.”

Shaking his head as if it’d clear his mind, Ira’s voice began to boom as he stepped towards Serif, who in turn backed up to keep the distance. “We spent an entire day together, and you can’t find a shred of a soul to see us out of our living hell?”

“I can’t risk Olivia’s fate on yours.”

In a heartbeat, knuckles met Serif’s lip, breaking the skin as he staggered back. “You don’t even know if she’s alive. We are, Serif. I am. Ida is! And I can’t risk her fate for your fears.”

Painfully slowly, a bead of red trickled from Serif’s busted lip, rolling down his chin before finally dropping into the pure white snow. Spitting more out beside it, the hunter clutched the blade at his side while Ira did the same with his sword. Winters hardly even blinked as his haunting eyes met his, but as the intensity grew thicker than any blizzard, Ira finally commanded a single word.

“Don’t.”

He did. But as the two collided, Dex’s attention snapped to the girl, who upon seeing an entire day’s adventure dissolve before her, spurred into action. Tearing under her jacket, her palm seized the freezing handle of her gun as the host lunged at her, his hands locking hers in place.

Matching a lacking physical strength, the two fought for control over her limb as a battle of blood, blades and brawn raged mere feet away from them. Gritting his teeth, Dex tangled his foot with Ida’s before violently shoving her to the ground, causing her to grunt as the weapon slipped out from under her layers. In a hasty dive, the host went for it, but when the girl kicked it away, his impact only feeling the snow’s chill. Shivering to his core, he pushed himself upright, but upon seeing the shadow of a woman’s foot speed at his head, immediately ducked back down to avoid it before grabbing the other. Ida had just enough time to see Serif and Ira tumble over the edge of the cliff before the kidnapper robbed her of her balance, but when she felt him crawling on top of her, her fingernails practically became talons for her enemy.

Swinging unapologetically, they slashed his face, leaving a carved, beading trail of red along his eyes and cheek, causing the host to release a shrill yelp. Bringing one arm up to protect his best asset, his other hand began padding down on her, stopping upon the discovery of her neck and squeezing on cue. With frightening intensity, his eyes were wide with deadly passion as he watched her desperately wheeze for air, but when her claws snapped down on his defending wrist and yanked, he faltered just long enough for her to drag it to her mouth, which snapped on it like a shark.

Voice propelling much higher than he was proud to admit, he rolled off her as he tore it out of her maw, crimson soaking his thumb entirely as he cradled the injury while Ida caught her breath next to him. Each taking a much needed moment to gather themselves, the two slowly arose to their feet before picking their melee back up. Being just a hair faster, the girl was able to throw a quick jab at her devil, but lacking any weight behind her punch or her brother’s skill, it did little more than push him back, but the hook she followed up with knocked a stream of blood out of his mouth. Seeing the uppercut coming however, Dex was able to stumble back, leaving her to whiff before landing a blow of his own.

Knuckles clenched in a fist, his bones met her elegant nose, oozing blood the moment of impact with a disturbing crunch. Grinning wildly as she cupped it with a yelp, Dex lifted his leg, and like he’d seen in so many movies, pounded it into her sternum, knocking her back to the ground as the last of the air inside her burst out. Prouder of himself than he’d been in a long time, he casually store to retrieve the firearm stolen from another biodome and checked the clip. Smirking at what was more than enough, he cocked the gun before turning back around just in time to see Ida rush him.

Unable to squeeze the trigger in time however, she shoved it out of her path and wrestled to keep it away from her, his feet skidding back as they neared the edge of the cliff. Frustration was building up in a torrent as he struggled to align the barrel with her skull, but while he was naturally taller than her, the girl’s countless adventures gave her the strength to rival him, locking them into a stalemate. Both of them had the desire to kill laced into their eyes, Dex to stomp out an insect that had been irritating him for far too long, and Ida knowing damn well what she had to do, forced to confront the entirety of his sin as she gazed into his mind through his optical organs.

The gun shook as the limbs that held it battled for control for what felt like an eternity, the pair pacing in a small circle throughout their struggle. The snow around them was beginning to grow slick as the inferno a short distance away raged, but as they continued in their rotation, a palm reached over the edge of the cliff. Digging its gloved fingers into the snow, the arm began hoisting the rest of the body upright while the pair stood parallel to the edge, and the slow movement in their peripheral vision stole just enough of their interest to captivate their attention.

Head still bowed as it crawled from the drop to the flatland above, he lifted his head only as he began to stand, the awe inspiring galactic portrait staining all the showing skin but reducing Ida to tears when her eyes met his, which in turn stiffened him. In a heartbeat her heart broke, his head flashing fresh memories of her brother, lying flat on his back with a gaping knife wound, slowly bleeding out. Her mouth fell agape, but no sound came forth when her grip finally faltered, save for a sharp yelp when the butt of the handgun struck her jaw, causing Serif to lunge forward before Dex could execute a final victory.

Seeing the new threat coming however, the host rapidly squeezed the trigger as he arced his arm at him, missing many but burying a pair in his shoulder and collarbone. Blood sprayed behind him as shells drilled through his flesh and shattered his collarbone, but as he struck the snow, it was Ida’s shriek of dying hope the cut off any sound that he made.

Chuckling as he’d done what none of his monsters were able to do, Dex began turning back to the devastated woman, but when an unexpected snowball smashed his cheek from her direction, he squeezed the trigger reflexively, sending a shell straight into the snow. Swearing as he had to bring up his arms to block the next, he heard the snow crunch as Ida crawled between him and Serif, struggling to push himself upright several feet away, as blood poured out of his body.

Allegiances and motives began fading from Winters’ mind as his hand wrapped tightly around his knife. Who could do what no longer mattered if his duty died with him, and although he’d made enemies out of all who remained, he only had a chance for mercy with one. Gritting his teeth as he leaned back on his knees, his eyes locked on the pair, still thrashing to keep out of the reaper’s wrath. Ida hardly evaded a boot aimed at her skull, but while the whiff left Dex unprotected, Serif made his final move.

In a flash, he threw the one thing he always kept by his side, blade spinning, stained the blood of an ally before impaling the chest of an enemy with enough force to knock him off his feet. A red gurgle was all he could grunt as he struck the ground, but when Dex’s feeble hands felt the blade’s handle, a smaller set ensnared it over his. Ida’s cool, slender shadow as the last thing he felt before every nerve in his body ruptured with agony. In a vicious, vengeful, vile yank, the girl tore it down his body, slicing every piece of cloth, muscle, and organ in its gushing crimson path. Although he lacked the strength to scream, unimaginable terror ravaged the false god’s eyes as they started to fade, red flowing out of the footlong wound as if someone sliced a swimming pool. His death was quick, but it still felt like an eternity to him, the creeping cold numbing his body as his vision began failing, his tongue no longer able to taste the copper filling his mouth and sounds dulling to a mute.

Finally falling limp, Ida couldn’t pull the blade from his body. Her entire body shook as she panted, red staining everything she wore as rage and horror battled deep within in the confines of her brain, but as moments fleeted to seconds, she soon felt a gentle palm upon hers.

“Go to your brother.”

Snapping back into her reality, wrath won the fight as her green gaze locked on Serif’s. Behind them, scenery was beginning to flicker in and out of reality and black cracks were starting to form along the vast sky as the digital world moved to crumble. A piece of her wanted to take the blade and plunge it into the betrayer, but the gentle touch of his free hand on her shoulder cooled her, just enough for murder to fade from her thoughts.

“Look in my eyes, Ida,” He softly implored her, letting her grip fall from his blade, “I didn’t leave your brother to die alone, I left him behind to pull you away.”

Pausing as a tear began sliding down her cheek, Serif slowly released the blade as well to wipe it away, the slick trail of red his digit left behind almost defeating the point.

“He needs to see that you’re alive, and you need to see that he breathes. Please… go to him. Be the last thing he sees in this dying world, and the first he sees outside of this illusion.”

Nodding slowly, she rose to her feet, half considering helping Serif up as well, but ultimately deciding it’d be best to keep he and Ira apart. Turning to leave as the gladiator retrieved his blade and lied beside the corpse, she hesitated for one moment more.

“...If Dex didn’t shoot you…?”

“...Perhaps it’s best he did.”

Silence enveloped them before Ida finally departed. Slow at first, but quickly turning to a jog and then sprint to help her brother as Serif laid, eyes up and fixated on the sky. Entire chunks of the atmosphere were fading to black as the smoke began blurring and diminishing in a fade of its own right. He could see the hood hugging the top of his vision begin to pixelate, and as his senses began to weaken and leave him, a sign left him as well. Closing his eyes as the digital reality crumbled, his free hand slowly crawled up his body, tracing where he’d been shot.

An exhale barreled out of his body.

Kamiroo's Story(Omni vs. Serif)

“There is nothing in this world without price. Whether it be time, materials, or even the impossible itself.”

The galaxy swirls as Serif Winters’ cyan pupils flush in the fluorescent living room luminescence, sweat beading off his cleanly shaven scalp as recollections of his situation slowly begin to embed themselves in his shaken memory. The thin, single sheet of covering flies from his exposed torso as the hunter rises to inspect the latest edition of his very own cage.

Pristine and well-tended. Certainly not Fate’s. But if that’s the case...

A clock ticks in the background, it’s message all too blunt for the newcomer as Olivia’s innocent face once more flashes in the back of his skull, followed almost instantly by his mother, father, and sister. A groan escapes the guttural passageway that is Serif’s throat as his tattooed mug sinks into moist palms, a slight slip of panic running rampant in his spirit.

How much time have I given them? How many more of these mutations will waste what little I have left?

The hunter’s heartbeat slows to a stalking slither, the sweat adorning his person receding as a deep, steadied breath stabilizes the rising tantrum within. His face leaves his hands, the hero of New Salem attempting to focus as he further studies the environment. White and pure, the rugs his bare feet rest on. White, pure, and fluffed, the couch on which he resides. White, pure, and firm, the walls at which he stares, secretly searching for answers as a voice echoes beside him.

“Awake are we? Good to hear ‘the Hero of New Salem’ doesn’t fall as easily as one might expec-”

The specter dissipates, Serif’s own clenched fist in its place as the ghost manifests once more; this time standing atop the crystal clear coffee table before the aforementioned hero, who grimaces in the wake of his aching wounds.

“Quick on the draw, this one. You won’t be able to harm me, Serif. Nor will I yo-”

Another lunge. Less desperate but all the more taxing as Serif’s palm slams down on the freshly scrubbed glass. The voice originates once more, this time its figure propped up against the wall as if a child in the slum contemplating its next move. Serif’s eyes do not leave the stainless carpet, his words low and clear for the enemy to hear.

“If you are of no use or information to me, then leave. I don’t have to time to play mind games with a ghost child.”

The ghost winces, it’s transparent form fading one last time before reappearing next to a well-rested, yet unbelievably exhausted hero once more.

“This girl you’re looking for. Olivia Topaz. She is beyond my reach. Alive, well, and most likely with hope, but beyond my reach. I know nothing of her whereabouts, so I suppose you could call me useless, but I am here to make a deal rather than a donation.” Serif raises his bald head slowly, his light blue eyes shifting and examining the phantasm’s form as the words leave its cloth covered mouth. Two eyes of crimson, the right shielded by a golden monocle of sorts, whilst the left bears a scar deep and beyond repair. Hair unkempt and clothing ragged, Serif begins to question his sanity as he ponders the very thought of accepting terms from a homeless revenant.

“Well, spit it out. You’re part of the problem as is.”

The revenant dismisses his host’s attitude, “You cannot proceed with the wounds you have sustained in your brief, but taxing journey. However, your mission is not yet done. I propose this: A remedy to your wounds. No augmentation. No side-effects. Just a simple cure-all. All I need from you, Mr. Serif Winters, is to topple the first real domino in this twisted contraption. This would mean another fight, in case you haven’t quite come to your senses fully just yet.”

The words hang in the air as though a guilty man from his noose. Another fight? The tick seemingly tocks faster, Serif’s eyes shut as the boiling of his blood within slowly begins to re-awaken, rising to his feet as the rough words claw their way from the depths of the hero’s hatred.

“A girl- A little girl… is missing. You know just as well as I do that she could be dead in a matter of moments- as we speak even. You want me to keep playing this little fucking game of yours? You expect me to take your poison out of desperation?! If you have some way to fix me, then you will do it now! Then I’ll decide if I want to fight your man or not! Do you understand me?!”

The spirit, unphased, checks the dirt in its nails before asking if the wounded man has finished his little outburst. Winters’ eyes shut momentarily, his palms opening and closing as a vein on his forehead begins to bulge. Teeth grit, Serif swallows his own ferocity as the ghost chimes in once more, the sound of slippers sliding down the spiral staircase at the corner of the room drowning it out ever so slightly.

I will throttle this little bastard the first chance I get. I will take the heads of every fucking monster involved in this if so much as a hair is harmed on Olivia’s head. I make this promise to myself; this fuckery will not go unpunished.

“Serif Winters. I understand your anger and frustration, I really do. But quite frankly, I feel as though you’re overreacting, especially since we’re already near your little time limit and you yourself have yet to make any headway. Allow me to revise my offer. You’ll fight Dex Omni. He is a sly and slippery opponent, but absolutely human nonetheless. His hobbies include the kidnapping of those he finds ‘threatening’, slaughtering the innocent, and making a game out of people’s sorrow prior to their untimely death. In turn, I offer you not only a remedy to your wounds, but information regarding your missing-person case as well as guaranteed protection for those you love back home. No harm will come to them, even in the event that you fail to rescue Olivia. I will be back for your answer.” Just as it came, the spirit fades into nothing as a young redhead’s voice shatters the dreamlike atmosphere.

“Who in the good Lord’s name are you talking to?! Jesus, you scared me half to death shouting like a crazy person!” Her eyes wide and petite body covered only by bathrobe, Serif makes no show of interest as his bare back refuses her question. The galactal tattoo on his face shifts, his own mouth warping the very stars as he speaks slow and calm.

“Where are we and where are my weapons?”

The redhead crosses her arms and stares directly through the bald head of her guest. Though she didn’t expect a thank you, it wouldn’t have hurt to be recognized for at least giving a damn. Annabelle’s eyes narrow as she relays to the gladiator knowledge of their whereabouts. Her parent’s house, located on the outskirts of Stickpage city and miles from the RHG building, seemed the best place for the hunter to unwind. Serif stands broad and tall, acting as though the pain in his body is not excruciating in the least as he trudges toward his host. She is unmoved, looking up and staring him in his glacial eyes as he pierces her own emeralds. For a brief moment, she almost feels safe being threatened by the gladiator, only for that security to be shattered as he pushes past her.

“Hey! Just where do you think you’re going?!” Annabelle gives chase, following Serif as he ignores his wounds to race up the spiral staircase from whence she came. Her eyes analyze his movements as he proceeds through the upstairs lobby and down a hallway with all doors closed save for one. Pink with stuffed animals littering the walls, the teenage girl’s wet dream that is Annabelle’s room almost signals Serif to vomit on sight as the bright colors stab his pupils.

“What are you, twelve?” He can’t help himself as a snide comment slips through his lips, his body moving on its own as he rushes the drawers. One by one he yanks them out of their slots, clothes and belongings from years ago that still fit Annabelle to this day scattering about as the wooden boxes hit the floor.

“Are you fucking serious?! Get out of my room, Serif!” The words fall on deaf ears as Serif finishes yanking the last drawer, undergarments and socks flying through the air as an even more embarrassed Annabelle rushes to attempt a grab at the gladiator. Serif recoils, his body aching and screaming as he drops to his stomach and scans underneath the redhead’s fluffy bed. Annabelle redirects her lunge and grabs Serif’s feet, her own strength inferior to his as he rises and yanks her down to the ground.

“Don’t hurt yourself.” He snickers, still shifting his neck as his eyes fall upon the girl’s closet. Proceeding to step over a fallen, defeated Annabelle, Serif cracks open the female’s door to find his bolas and knife strewn lazily across the center of the hot pink rug. A cooling wave of relief refreshes his body as he gathers the weapons, his clothes hung neatly on the rack above them for added convenience.

“Seriously though, why so much hot pink? There are so many other shades-” Serif turns only to see Annabelle blocking his exit with her own body, his eyes not so much as darting to the side as the bathrobe she had been wearing reveals slightly more than she surely desires. Annabelle picks up on his attention and annoyedly adjusts her wardrobe, Serif taking his chance to actually lift her over his shoulder before plopping her down on the princess style bed.

“Asshole! You’re not fighting again! You have to wait for your wounds to heal!” Serif dismisses Annabelle’s rage and thanks her for her hospitality, the redhead silenced only for a brief moment as she leaps from her bed. She rushes out of her room with haste, only to find Serif locking himself in the bathroom.

“You have to be fucking kidding me, Winters! If you go into another fight now you WILL die! No ifs, ands, or buts about it! Who’s going to save Olivia if you’re just going to throw both of your lives away fighting some stranger who doesn’t give two shits about your situation?!” The words sting, but they’re the truth and Serif knows it. Dawning his typical cloth shirt, fur pants, and leather vest, Serif proceeds to rest on the closed toilet seat as Annabelle pounds away on the door. His white gloves are missing. After a minute or two of silence, the youthful redhead gives up, leaning her forehead on the door as Serif once more goes over his wounds.

His last fight with Strikebound did its number, the pain still fresh as his fingers dance over the battle scars. Winters rattles out a stunted breath, his body aching as a transparent phenomenon originates beside him. Serif’s attention not drawn, the phantasm echoes through the door.
“Madam. If it eases your heart at all, I’m inclined to inform you that Serif will be going into combat free of injury.”

“Wh-Wait, what? Serif is that you? Whose voice is that?” A confused Annabelle raps on the door once more, her voice finally met with a more familiar, sarcastic tone.

“You’re the one hearing ghosts now, I presume? Just talk to it; damn thing won’t go away until you do.” Serif jabs, a slight chuckle under his voice as the specter drowns him out.

“Unfortunately, my dear Annabelle, I can only speak to a single person at once. However, I should inform you that I will be the person organizing Winters’ next fight, not the RHG. He will be fighting a man far more fragile than himself, and I will have his wounds tended prior to the match so there is virtually nothing for you to fear. If you would please ask Serif once more, for me, if he will fight, I would very much appreciate it.”

The words hang still in Annabelle’s head. A fight, no matter the circumstances, is always a gamble for one’s life; especially if the fight involves Rock Hard Gladiators. Would it be selfish of her to keep him from harm? The pounding in her skull tells Annabelle all she needs to know, her mouth beginning to open as her lips tremble to form the words.

“Serif…”

There is a pause. Annabelle’s eyebrow twitches, not in the mood for attitude.

“Serif? Will you fight?”

Another pause.

The ghost chimes in, sure of himself.

“I think Mr. Winters has finally realized the weight he carries around here, madam. He is perfectly fine, thou-”

“I’m fine, Annabelle… just had a thought occur to me. I’ll come back, rest assured. I’m just out of options, is all.” The tattooed man lies, Annabelle clenching her right fist as the words fall from his mouth.

A hand finds itself stationed on Serif’s shoulder, the hunter averting his attention from his wounds only to look up and see the phantasm’s solid face and staring him dead in the eyes. A smile cracks from the younger man, his unkempt hair and golden monocle radiating as his refined voice lifts the somber atmosphere.

“Pleasure to meet the both of you. My name is Sencarn and it is an absolute honor to welcome you to Sanctuary.”
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Hey, Einstein. I get that you’re trying to take this slow, but you could at least move a bit to try and avoid freezing to death? Don’t tell me I need to provoke you.”

The biting winter winds ricochet off Winters’ skin, his veins pulsating with the caustic, neon green serum riding his blood cells. His body like a fortress, the hunter can only grin abnormally wide in disbelief as the harsh elements of his opponent’s biome present no effect. Sencarn had promised a simple cure to his maladies, but whatever it was that Serif had been given was far beyond the very concept of a cure-all. All previous pain now non-existent, Serif Winters’ feet drag through the rising mounds of snow as his host’s voice echoes once more.

“Fine,” A sigh emits from overhead speakers adorned with high-resolution cameras, “You’ve called my bluff. I’m simply not in the mood to give you everything I’ve got. Do me a favor? I’m gonna head to the kitchen and grab a soda or something… try not to die before I get back, will you?”

Tight in his radiating grip lies the hero of New Salem’s trusted blade, folded into its frostbitten grip as though a child in its dying mother’s womb. A howl, high pitched and spacious, reverberates across the field of slush and ice. A newborn butterfly, Winters’ blade emerges from its wooden cocoon, his dull yet anxious smile almost enough to keep the beasts at bay as they emerge from beyond his field of vision. Strafing and keeping their distance, a disappointed hunter frowns and tucks away his edge.

“Minimal casualties… minimal mistakes, huh? You know, it’s funny to think I’m more at home here than I have been in what seems like days.” The first wolf of five rushes, its teeth barred and eyes bloodshot as the juiced up combatant charges back to meet it head on.

Or so the beast thinks.

A lethal smile cracks Winters’ face as his body contorts, the wind whipping around him as he avoids the beast’s lunge, narrowly managing to remain on his feet as bola now spun to full momentum lie whirring in his grip. Serif beckons the beast once more, his own bloodshot, cyan blue eyes startling the creature when it dares try for a second blitz. Instead, the second of the pack charges, its own voracious bark a splendid attempt at asserting dominance.

Sprint. Determined and heavy with seemingly no intention of leap and/or strafing.

As predicted the beast stays its course, Winters allowing himself a satisfied chuckle as he pivots on the ball of his left foot, a single motion all required for the wolf to realize its fatal error. Before the mutt can so much as lock a bite onto the calf of the hunter, it’s spine finds itself crushed underneath the unrelenting momentum of Serif’s bola. Eating the snow and collapsing with a whimper, the frost wolf’s allies waste no time making up for his failure. The tight circle shrinks even more, Winters’ brow twitching in calculation.

“Well, shit, that escalated quickly. How much did I miss?” Dex Omni chimes from relative safety, the lazy tone and insufferable slurping that follows hardly enough to throw off the hero’s train of thought. With a whisper, Serif’s fingers dance to his side.

Two wolves charge, their bristling coats sparkling in the frozen sunlight as the spinning bolas in the hunter’s grip fly loose. The stone barely managing to graze the first beast, the creature darts to the side in attempts to avoid another potential hit. Its comrade, however, meets a much less fortunate fate as it leaps into the air, fangs wide and body like a bullet as the now stained hunting knife shreds its airborne gullet. Blood decorates the snow, a beautiful compliment of colors as the brother of an artist stares down the remaining three. One beast mutilated and the other limp, Serif’s eyes pulsate alongside his radioactive skin as his odds lighten.

“The blood on your skin feels great doesn’t it? Almost like rebirth as you break free of your fragile mother’s womb? How I long for my next bathing.” Uncalled for, Omni’s voice resonates once again, noticeably more intrigued as the hunt continues below his surveillance.

The tatted man takes his turn to rush his fallen bola, only narrowly retrieving the weapon as another frost wolf rears its ugly head.

“Perhaps it will be in Olivia’s blood that I bathe…”

Serif falters, instantly reduced to a position on his back as a sudden frost wolf on top of him snaps for his jugular. Silently praising Sencarn’s potion, a curse falls from the man’s colorful mouth as sheer strength holds the beast at bay. The other frost wolves, eager to assist, close in, Winters’ heartbeat racing as his elbow continues to repel the dominant assailant. Attached to his occupied arm lie his hand, hunting knife tight in neon green fingers.

Fuck! Off!

Muscles tense and eyes wild, a desperate swipe from the hunter’s free hand causes the mutt to recoil, it’s reflexes damning the beast as Serif’s blade jams itself deep in the wolf’s temple. No time to recoup, Winters forces the dead dog aside and wrenches his edge free, the spurting of crimson in its wake painting the ink on his skin. Alarm spiking in his spine, the man successfully digs one of his boots into an approaching monstrosity’s head with relative ease as he fiddles around his person. Securing his special bolas, the hunter hastily hops to his feet, only to once again be tackled into the merciless bed of frost.

“What makes you fight despite being pitted against insurmountable odds? Is it the ‘human’ in you and I? Is it that insatiable desire to, above all else, survive? The desire to save a life? All I see here is weakness… nothing more. Do you honestly think this makes you a good person?” Omni questions himself, not necessarily anticipating a response from his busied guest.

The tattooed victim squirms underneath the immense weight, his body a mere snack in relations to the two remaining beasts now slobbering with whetted appetites.

This is not where! Not this far! This will not be the end of all I have worked for!

Serf Winters’ heart rattles in his chest behind the primal scream that rocks the world, his cyan eyes darting back and forth as images of his baseball days flash before his eyes. He imagines the fear Olivia must have felt, covered in Niel’s blood. He imagines the look on Annabelle’s face when he doesn’t return.

Heartbroken or relieved…

On cue, a pair of canines sink themselves root deep in the hunters’ ankle, blood and green fluid alike squirting from the wound as a result. A few moments later and another pair of teeth puncture the hero’s shoulder, a sudden jerk in position the only salvation from a quick and messy death as he is forced deeper into the field of cold. His struggling only worsening the situation, a desperate wail blares into silence.
--------------------------

Giselle Gladwyn had never been the “hired gun” type, nor did her father ever expect her to be. Lately, however, the young girl can’t help but feel as though it is all she had been scouted to do. She is, unfortunately, improving, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she enjoys being a glorified meatshield. First the incident in Peru, then the failed recruitment in Syria, and now she had been tasked with the rescue of a potential ally to she and her employer’s cause. Well, perhaps “employer” is the wrong word to use, seeing as she is not being paid. Then again, “boss” hardly feels right either, seeing as she is of her own free will in the workplace.

“You may simply call me your peerless leader, Miss Gladwyn. Now, if you’re all set, I’d like to get you into action before our friendly is torn to pieces.” Reading her mind, Sencarn’s blatantly sarcastic and refined voice holds a hint of nonchalance as the leader speaks. On his right, refilling a fist-sized syringe with crimson plasma, tinkers away the genius known only to the trio as Gus. His gas mask and patchwork survival gear a proud statement of his undefined line of work to those present. On Sencarn’s left lie a portal, torn through dimensions by the Sin himself as the monocle attached his right eye reflects the vortex’s cosmic brilliance.

She herself a new face among the two, the slim brunette still has much to learn about the promises of the blossoming organization, though it doesn’t hurt to take solace in the idea of a “home away from home” for all. Less than a month ago, the girl had been grieving the loss of her overzealous father, whose obsessions drove him into the hands of an enemy he knew he could not defeat. Now Giselle resides, a founding member, in the spacious, reinforced underground bunker known only to the residents as Sanctuary. Outfitted to the classical tastes of her peerless leader, Sencarn, the girl forces back a fit of gags at the sound of his suggested title. Much too “dictator”. What she needed was something a bit more laid back and timeless.

Speaking of which, “If the geezer asks where I’m at,” Giselle starts, her heart flaring up with slight excitement as she begins a rush toward the rift. “Tell him I’m off burning his money somewhere, and that he really shouldn’t be cheating kids out of their money.”

With a quick examination of her person and a stunted leap, Giselle enters the BMICS, her body an instant mismatch for the harsh environment as her light coat and slim-fit leggings land rough in the calf-high snow. Swearing like a sailor, the girl wastes no time as the cold metal in her veins collects ice. Like a superhero’s cape in the fierce wind, a pair wings of steel billow forth, lifting the girl off the ground and into the air with relative ease and thus initiating her scavenge.

“Come on, damnit... If I were an ill-equipped homeless man caught in a blizzard, where would I be?” The question quite literally hangs brief in the air, the angel of steel’s gaze drawn to splotches of red decorating the otherwise purely white battleground. The air slashing her face as she heads into a nosedive, the brunette only able shut her eyes and hope for the best as she approaches.

“The serum will only hold our acquaintance after death for approximately fifteen minutes. After that, the concentrated plasma will, in layman’s terms, loosen and spread out evenly in his bloodstream before all traces of the drug are lost. All you have to do is jam this into any part of his body before that happens, and the dead man’s body will undergo an absolute revival. We’re talking a full mental and physical resurgence! As miraculous as it seems, this is not the blood of Christ we are working with. Returning from death will leave the subject disoriented and crippled both physically and mentally for quite some time, as the concept of the afterlife is beyond living comprehension, and must be purged from the memory. They should be ok after some time, though I would suggest, if in dire need of assistance, working those delicious thighs of yours if you’re REALLY lookin-”

Gus’ degrading explanation could have carried on for hours, though it was thankfully cut short by a rather impatient Sencarn, whose ominous and murderous glare did quite the job of which it was expected. Despite the wasted time, a glimmer of hope finds itself in the seventeen-year old’s as a mangled body appears wedged into the thick blanket of slush.

“Reinforcements? Amazing that you alone managed to breach my servers… Would you, by any chance, happen to be in association with a good friend of mine?” Dexter Leanne Omni’s face contorts behind his guarded screen, midnight blue pupils wrought with curiosity as the young girl’s image spells fortune.

“Wow, were you seriously just watching his body the whole time?!” Giselle barks skyward, her focus intent on the cadaver before her. Its arm, drenched with blood, cold as the very frozen precipitation beneath her as she scans the frostbitten skin for a vein. Beside him lie two beasts, one almost completely, sloppily decapitated and the other with skull bashed in deep. “Whatever you freaks have got going on here has nothing to do with us!” Unable to imagine herself using the phrase “peerless leader”, the girl frowns and takes care injecting Gus’ crimson serum into the fallen Serif Winters.

“I’ll take that, my dear mademoiselle, as a yes! Show me something rich, would you?!” Omni cheers, his voice suddenly vibrant with emotion.

The declaration of war fine by her, the young Gladwyn rises to her feet and cracks her joints, the body beside her beginning to stir with the sound of each snap.

The earth beneath the girl’s feet stirs, signaling her metallic wings to sprout once more, their heavy frame and shining texture expanding with spectacular speed just as an alarm sets off in her head. Sencarn had warned her not to engage the enemy, though the girl could see very little other option with a vegetable for a VIP. A chunk of her wing is shed to encase Serif in a steel coffin, the sanctuary not to be disturbed whilst flying obediently behind her as the two of them set course for the mountains.

“Oh, come now! Not going to take the long way? That’s fine, I suppose. I’m not opposed to shooting a bird out the sky!” In an instant Omni’s will is brought to fruition, a gust of wind sending Giselle aback the very moment he finishes his sentence.

Another gust, this time much more firm, threatens to knock the angel of steel out of the sky as promised. Attempting to maintain motion, the girl can only flinch as the sound of slamming bodes poorly for her client in the steel box.

Ignoring the man as best she can, Giselle divides her pair of wings, the excess metal receding to her skin as a board of silver forms beneath her plummeting figure.

“Abandoning the sky, are we? My mother always did say flying is for the birds!” The terrible pun irreversible, Omni can only chuckle to himself in the speakers as Giselle allows herself to drop just inches above the snow and fly low. Serif, now most definitely awake, kicks and hollers unintelligible gibberish from within his premature grave.

“Try to calm down! We’ve got a long way to go and you have a lot of healing to do, so I would suggest keeping it down and letting me focus on th-” The girl’s commands are cut short, the breath stolen from her lungs as a massive club of ice sends her spiraling back into a few dead trees. The remainders of their trunks being taken with her, Giselle curses internally as she hits her final tree and slams into the snow beneath. Serif’s coffin slams the ground with a satisfying “pompf” in the sleet, a few moments passing before a blade punctures the thin lining of his sanctuary from within.

“Talk about a n-ICE hit! I’m surprised to see the both of you still breathing.” The speakers silent, Dexter Leanne Omni’s own voice cuts the crisp atmosphere like a dull, rusty knife. Gloved hands tucked into a thick, yellow winter coat’s pockets with bright white and purple pants to accent it, the superstar god himself stares down the two incapacitated foes with two equally confident midnight blue pupils. Towering behind him stands a giant, more than double his height, the massive club in its grip crackling in the stinging winds as Giselle rises to her feet.

“I don’t know how or why I’m not dead, but I swear on my second chance that you’re not walking away from here with breath in your lungs.” Serif’s throat shakes the frostbite from his body, his fingers red and muscles exerted as he forces back the coffin door. His eyes, bloodshot and truly pissed, narrow on the giant before the man below it, then to the girl trying her leg as he steps out of the metallic prison.

Almost instantly, the coffin is recycled, bits and pieces of its metal used to form an internal steel casing on the young girl’s femur whilst the remainder of the hoverboard flies back into her pores, awaiting further use. “Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Winters. The name is Giselle Gladwyn. We can talk more about the little details later, just know that I’m a friend.”

Not the time to be making enemies, Serif accepts the girl’s words as truth with a huff and a chuckle. The tattoos on his face depict a super-heated solar system, the cold on his cheeks reddening the stars themselves with each passing moment. Unamused, the megalomaniac across from the two spits into the ground, his cool expression and calculating eyes more than ready to begin as he mutters to the enslaved beast behind him.

The giant rushes, club in hand slamming down on the earth where Serif once was as the hero rolls to the side. Following his lead, the stationary Gladwyn chucks a steel spear, it’s edge puncturing the skinned hide of the colossus as Serif backpedals from the creature and reaches for one of his special bolas. Flashbacks of the fight with the frost wolves surface, the image of Serif’s bola wrapped in the throat of his attacker forcing a grimace on the hunters face as he settles for his hunting knife. The giant, now dripping a slight stream of blood from Giselle’s recently recalled metal spear, turns and ignores the girl, its commands dead set on the puny man beneath it.

“Don’t you turn your back on me!” An airborne Giselle, equipped with hoverboard and spear, roars as she drives the tip of her weapon deep into the mammoth’s back. It recoils, shifting in direction as it attempts to swat away the she-pest. Serif takes his turn to rush, his boots leaving dents in the snow as he scales the bent legs of the giant and grasps the beasts shoulder, allowing himself a triumphant cry as he jams the blade into the beast’s exposed jugular.

Raw desire for survival sparked, the enormous foe cries out into the frigid sky, its hand dropping its club before grabbing its killer by the head and slamming him down into the ground with full force. The hunter howls, definitely sensing broken bones the instant his ribs make contact. The giant flails despite his spurting blood, only to be toppled over by a vigorous strike to the chest by Giselle, armed with steel tonfas strapped to each arm. The girl orders the creature stay down, leaping from her board and into the ice, attempts to get the incapacitated Winters’ to his feet.

“You’re fine, quit squirming; don’t act like this is your first rodeo.” Giselle offers the hero her shoulder, only for the painted man to rise to his feet solo and spit out the blood gathering at the corners of his mouth. Tired and bruised beyond belief, Winters trudges through the frost, yanking his blade out of the giant’s throat before facing Omni.

“Come quietly, or so help me I will gut you like a fish for wasting my time.”

Checking his nails, the well-quaffed male emits a dastardly, short-lived chuckle. He mutters something to himself underneath his breath, the white mist from beneath his mouth as proof. Serif takes a step closer, stunted breathing and chest heaving as Giselle follows suit, hoverboard gone.

“Oh no, good sir. I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” Omni warns.

Another step forward and the gracious host lifts his head, eyes sturdy and gaze firm as his frail frame shudders.

“Mmmm, this is your last chance.” The unprotected god of the realm graciously offers, his fingers dropping down to his pockets once more as Serif boldly continues his steps.

“This is the end, Omni. We may be hurt but I am more than capable of snapping you like a twig my damn self.” Giselle hisses, a newfound sword and shield locked close to her body as she slinks ever closer.

“Now that’s just plain foolish…” Dex cracks a satisfied half-smile. The air before him distorts, making way for a line of large phantoms. They stand, side by side, armed with densely packed shield of ice as they form a phalanx before their god.

“I don’t suppose your leader is willing to lend us a hand?” Serif growls, raising a gentle palm to the center of his chest. The pain, if it had not been for the fleeting traces of the original injection, surely would have caused him to collapse the instant it came. Feeling for soft spots in his flesh, the hero of New Salem feels a familiarity brush over his bones as a result of discovering something else.

“Well, I haven’t known him for long, so I’d rather not take my chances. My best option would be to just fly off and ditch you here, but if you’ve got a plan then I’d like to hear it before it comes to that.” Gladwyn responds, the sword and shield even closer to her body as she and Serif halt their advance.

“Now that you mention it…”
---------------------------------------

Dexter Leanne Omni, the proud creator and destroyer of many worlds as well as the ruler of many, cannot help but feel like a fool behind his wall of Ice Golems. Not only was he caught off guard by Sencarn’s ominous warning, but it also had left the self-proclaimed god with sweat on his brow and paranoid eyes. Now he stands tall, almost completely in control, over one of the RHGs most promising gladiators as well as Sencarn’s own subordinate.

What in my name is wrong with me? Are these the people I have convinced myself to be afraid of?

The genius chuckles once more, running his fingers through his fine hair as the once brisk breeze finally subsides. Dead trees abundant in every direction, the gameshow host can feel the atmosphere of the biome sapping his natural beauty. The added stress of constantly being targeted doesn’t help, either. Looking to spoil himself later, the god contemplates a relaxing trip to the desert biome; nothing like the blazing year-round heat and a cup of unsweetened tea to really soften up the creases in one’s appearance.

“Kill the man but take the girl. I’d like to make an example out of her for Sencarn’s sake.” Omni directs, scoffing at the thought of the golems requiring explanation to follow his whims. The threat had been meant more specifically for the girl herself, who would hopefully put up a much better fight with a little motivation.

The slaves rush, their shields a wall of impending doom as Cicles form in their wake, tips aimed directly toward anything that manages to get through the bastion. Dex, always with a bad habit of micro-managing, sticks around to ensure the job is done despite being unable to view the slaughter first-hand.

Whatever the RHG corporation’s reasons are for sending Winters into my custody I will never know, nor will I pry. Perhaps I’ll just take solace in torturing the girl until Sencarn sends me anoth-

“No no no! Don’t let them get away!”
-------------------


“Now!” Serif’s voice booms, his own person breaking into a sprint as the encroaching wall of frozen protection springs into action. On cue, the angelic Giselle expels all the steel at her disposal, forming a massive sheet-like wall to halt the advancing shades as her weakened body collapses. Shattered bones pricking his lungs, Winters allows all pain to flow through his feeble form as the talisman strapped to his neck activates. Like a spider the hunter ascends, scaling Giselle’s wall with ease before leaping from the platform and allowing himself to drop with blade grasped tight in his fists.

On the ground, Dex Omni breaks into a panic, barking orders as though he were a well-pampered mutt gone rabid. Out of the corner of his eye, the host catches the sight of icicles soaring upward, the grim reality of his situation and his opponent’s tactic finally clear as dread weighs on him.

Wasting no time to look up, the host pivots and takes off, sweat drenching his skin and soaking his attire as the sound of approaching wind zeroes in.

NO, DAMNIT! NO! THIS IS NOT IT!

Serif’s landing erupts with an awful sound, the inconclusive bloodcurdling scream that follows prompting the angel to recall and reshape her steel wall into her trademark wings as she falls back from the now distracted golems.

“I don’t know if you’re watching this, Sins, but you’re help would be greatly appreciated right about now!” Addressing Sencarn, the young girl swoops overhead the confusion to find a limp Serif on top of an equally unconscious Omni, a pool of blood both staining and melting the snow as the frozen guards confusedly surround the mess.

Fucking hell!

She dives down straight, landing in the crimson snow beside the two before using her wings as cover, the pain in her leg returning as the thin casing on her bone is recycled.

Moments pass, the cool air sticking to her wings.

They aren’t attacking?

Hesitant, the angel raises her guard, only to be sent kicking back as she lands on her rear in the burgundy snow. Omni, with eyes wild and mouth agape, buried in snow, lie still underneath Serif Winters, the hero of New Salem’s blade jammed handle-deep in the disgraceful host’s throat. As for the hero, he too lie limp with eyes shut, run through by a number of icicles and leaking from every corner. However, a breath suggests the best case scenario; not wasting any precious time, a vortex rends the space behind Giselle, her heartbeat and breathing winding down as the ice golems take their leave.

“Gus is all prepped and ready for our new recruit. I’ll be joining you shortly but I’d like a moment. Alone.”
------------------------------------------------------------

“Dexter Leanne Omni’s sins were collected that evening, his remains cremated and BMICS locked away deep in the Sanctuary Vault. Following his death, several anomalies from his realm seemingly spilled into ours, though they seem to be of very little significance and not worth investigating.”

“What about that young man you brought into all of this?”

“Run through by kamikaze icicles with more than a couple broken bones, bruises, scrapes, and flesh wounds? Child’s play for someone of my caliber. He’s on his way home now, but won’t retain consciousness for approximately 48 hours.”

“The hilarity in that is palpable. Good work, all of you. With Omni out of the way we can finally begin our campaign against the real enemy. Your work is not done, though I do commend you on your accomplishments thus far. You’re all dismissed for now, though I encourage you three to spread the word.”

“May all who seek it find Sanctuary.”

Kamiroo Wolf
05-13-2016, 08:43 PM
Too much in some places, too little in others(my story), hopefully I can read and review Crank's this weekend ;o

If there's anything wrong with the formatting in either of them please tell me ;-; I'm not used to being the one posting the stories so I prolly missed or fucked something up.

Crank
05-13-2016, 10:52 PM
Heh, how'd you copy the numbers?

A drop of red added much needed vibrancy to the blanket of pure white snow, but as Serif spat more from his busted lip, it seemed to lose it’s artistic touch. Gripping the knife at his hip, the staredown stood steadfast between his cyan set and glaring greens he gazed at. Across from him, a man his height and equally bald tightened the vice on his ice saber, conflicted scowl forcing his brow into a scrunched mess as it tried gaging his foe. Panting from the day’s adventure, an innate determination fueled Serif’s basically unblinking intensity. He was going to attack, and Ira knew it.

“Don’t.”

He did. In a swift dash, Serif closed the foot remaining between them, ripping the blade from its sheath and forcing Ira to swing his own. The thick hides he wore kept Winters from freezing as he rolled on the ground to dodge, slashing his knife and cutting deep into the muscular man’s side before knuckles bashed into his eye, sending him into another pair of somersaults towards the sharp decline. Sprinting after him, Ira rose his edge high, but as Serif rolled to his back, he tore a bola from beneath his layers, gripping one stone while sending arcing the other up to meet the glitch’s wrist, coiling around the armed arm. A vicious yank robbed him of his balance and sent the sword into the snow, but at the very least, Ira was able to aim his downfall, tackling the seated Serif and sending them both over the edge.

Although the fall was brief and the snow was soft, the sticks and stones it concealed threatened to break their bones with their bodies’ bash. Their grunts echoed in the mass nothing as both men struggled to regain their footing, only the inked was just a moment slower. On his hands and knees, a swift kick found the gap between them, bruising the gladiator and forcing him back to his back, soon feeling the full weight of his foe on his chest. Glare from the sun seeped into Serif’s eye as he looked up at Ira, Earth’s star casting him as a dark silhouette as he rose his fists, viciously bring them down at the black, blue and orange man under him.

The first strike felt like it rocked what remained of the world, Winters’ cheek burying deep into the snow as pain blasted into his brain, while the next shut down his entire sense of hearing, leaving him with nothing but a ringing in his ear. He could feel the sudden splatter of something wet and warm from his cheek, only to freeze him in the blistering cold, but as his eyes cracked back open, they fell upon his knife, a few feet away, half buried in the snow. Squirming beneath his enemy, Serif was able to force him off his body, but Ira still remained in the gap between his legs, pounding on his eye until it threatened to seal shut. His brain pulsed with anguish every time his heart beat, but as adrenaline flowed through his body like a drug, he focused on the next incoming strike.

Like a viper, his left hand seized the sleeve behind Ira’s incoming fist moments before the right buried its fangs in the elbow. A dark calm radiated from Serif as his lifted his hips and Ira’s confidence felt its first blow as he felt the man’s legs wrap around his waist, forcing him to crouch his chest and legs in, while his arm was torn to the gladiator’s chest. With petrifying swiftness, the hunter’s legs opened and slammed shut, locking in beside his neck and left armpit before squeezing his knees and flipping him to his back as well, initiating a tug of war over Ira’s limbs.

Although he was deaf in one ear, he still felt the bone break in his arms and the shrill shriek the anguish it exploded pierced through his other. With a quick release, Serif quickly rolled to his knife, and upon snapping his palm upon in, forced himself back to his feet. Crimson trickled down his cheek and traced his jaw as he staggered back to Ira, the man’s bright green eyes bouncing somewhere between between seething and pleading.

“You don’t have to do this.”

Serif’s light blue eyes were like a layer of ice as he looked down at him, blade already stained in his blood, “Either both of you can live, or both of you can die. It’s up to Ida if she wants to fight me, or save you.”

“Wait!”

Light glimmered off the knife as he slammed it down, impaling it down in Ira’s stomach, snapping his eyes open in horror. Agony rushed up his spine and into his mind, but as he went to howl, a gurgle of blood was all that came out. Tucking into a ball as Serif withdrew his blade, the gladiator barely took a second glance. “Don’t make that decision for her.”

An all encompassing hatred boiled Ira as gore welled from his open wound, but as Winters limped to scale the incline, he couldn’t force any of the curses he needed out. Crimson was dribbling between his fingers as he fought to keep the wound pressurised, but as they shook in the freezing temperatures, he had no idea how long he’d be able to keep it up. His breath shook as Serif climbed to the top, but upon reaching it, it held. As bad as his limp was, Winters stiffened suddenly at whatever he was looking at, but his swift lunge was met by a hail of gunfire. Squirts of his blood fell over Ira’s head like streaks of rain, and as Serif toppled forward out of sight, one thing kept a grin from creeping into Ira’s cheek.

The woman’s shocked scream that accompanied the man’s howl.

...And then the gunshot that silenced it.


:::18 Hours Earlier; 1:58 PM:::

“I apologize, didn’t order this.”

“Someone ordered it for you,” The answer was replied with a casual shrug as the barista behind the counter pushed the 20oz paper cup closer to the space-stained gladiator.

“In that case, I don’t enjoy being in another’s debt.” In kind, Serif pushed in back.

“I don’t think he cared about it’s cost.” Back to the gladiator’s side.

“I don’t want this.”

“My boss is going to be mad if I have to throw it out, it was almost twenty bucks.”

“What? How?”

“It’s expresso.”

Serif squinted. “Do you mean a latte?”

“It’s all expresso.”

The warrior needed a few moments to process, blinking slowly before looking between the coffee cup and barista. Finally heaving out an exhale, he grabbed the cup, noticing its full weight while shaking his head. “You have my thanks.”

Turning around as he was bid goodbye, his gaze scanned the cafe, looking for the apparently painfully rich man whose appearance was described entirely as ‘you’ll know it when you see him’. In a city with a handful of the gladiator population however, that didn’t mean much. Right off the bat, there was a seven foot tall man with an even bigger broadsword strapped to his back, who was sitting across from a maiden whose eyes were literally glowing, with her bright pink hair somehow waving weightlessly without any source of air. A little ways away from him was a man more bandaged than a mummy, and then in a far off corner, another was dressed in bright enough sparkling colors to give someone a stroke. He however, was the one who motioned to Serif.

“Dexter Omni?”

“Please, my friends call me Dex,” Arising from his seat to greet the gladiator, the superstar-looking man gestured to the chair across from him, “Have a seat, you must be Serif Winters.”

“My friends call me Feet.”

“Alright Feet-”

“-Serif.”

A scoff forced itself out of Dex as he processed the disrespect. “Well, now that that’s out of the way, I was told you wanted to be part of my little game?”

“‘Want’ is a strong, inaccurate word,” Serif leaned back in his chair as the game-show host crossed his arms, “But I will do what I must to obtain what I need.”

“So tell me, what is it that you need? The stick out of your ass, or did you just lose it trying to get rid of whatever crawled up it and died?”

“Access to the RHG database. All the files they have, and all the footage they have on everyone who works for them.”

“That isn’t standard?” Serif’s eyes narrowed; Dex chuckled. “Oh so it was, you just lost it! Sure, that’s fine, I can make that happen. Do you know how this works?”

“I’m transported to a land to survive in.”

“Or die in. Statistically, to die in,” The host’s grin broadened as Serif’s arms crossed, “But essentially yes. Just kill all the enemies in the biodome of your choosing, and you’ll be sent right back to where you were. The whole thing is in a digital reality type thing, so don’t worry about killing anything there, nothing but you is real!” Receiving nothing but deadpan, Dex’s smile started to fade. “So, I suppose the last question I have, is where do you want to die? I’ve got a city, desert, volcano, snow and ice or ju-” His eyes seemed to light up as a thought struck him like a thunderbolt. “Actually, how about we do that one? Snow and ice? Since typically I pick out who gets to be the guests in my show, I think it’s only fair that if you’re making my choice, I get to make yours. Whether you give me the cold shoulder or not, I don’t think I can cheat my viewers all my winter puns, now can I, Mr. Winters?”

“The sooner we start, the sooner we end.”

“Which I’m sure will be very soon. Now,” Clapping suddenly, Dex practically jumped from the seat to his feet, “Let’s get somewhere private so I can introduce you to my damn machine.”


:::::::::::::::2:15 PM:::::::::::::::

A groggy, lightheadedness spun Serif’s world as his eyes focused on the fresh, glaring light. The blinding bright forced him to a squint, but as the moments passed and it hardly diminished, he was forced to accept that the new world was as white as well, snow. Blinking into something closer to focus, he lifted a hand over his brow to cast some form of shadow over his eyes, he was able to confirm he was, indeed, in a barren, hilly wasteland of freezing white. Dead trees scattered his surroundings with only a few live pines between them, and only the mountain range miles away seemed to be of note. Black stone could be seen from its sharp drops, and it appeared to be the only place that nature thrived in the bright white deadlands.

“Ladies and Gentlemen!” Not even a minute in, the bone chilling cold was already shaking the inked man to his core, crossing his arms so tightly they could’ve been welded together as Dex’s voice boomed from all directions, “It is my pleasure to introduce our newest contestant: Serif, The ‘Hero’ of New Salem, Winters! Don’t change the channel on this guy, he won’t even last as long as you do!”

’I won’t last?’ A light scoff echoed as the gladiator trudged forward, ungodly amount of espresso in one hand as the other snaked under his vest, withdrawing a metal bola from within. Already so late in his mission, time hardly mattered anymore. Whatever was going to happen to Olivia already would have, it was just a matter of finding her alive, or just ...finding her… Shaking his head violently, he needed to take another swig of his steaming liquid, giving his body an invigorating burn as he neared the first hill on the way to the mountains.

“And now that you’ve seen the odds, let’s get started with our first wave, something a hunter should be familiar with! Well, almost anyway.”

Surrounded by the vast nothingness, any sound could’ve easily traveled from miles away, but as a trio of howls reverberated throughout the BMICS, Serif doubted they were anywhere but close. Stopping in his tracks as he heard snow crush beneath a charge of twelve legs, his eyes darted for the nearest tree, and upon sight of the dead oak within ten feet, broke into a sprint of his own. He didn’t need to look over his shoulder to know what was upon him. Vicious dash suddenly accompanied by the mad barks and growls of rabid wolves, growing ever louder, Serif could feel the bests gaining on him. Tucking his drink into elbow, he jerked out his knife with his then free hand and wedged the blade into a small crevice along its edge. Striking down on the hilt like his hand was a hammer, the halves of the sphere cracked open in a slight splash of gasoline, dripping down his jaw before he pivoted as fast as possible.

Feet away from him, the full image of what was on his heels violently ambushed him. Almost twice the size of a normal wolf, each with hellishly long, snapping teeth, three godless monsters were rushing him. Blood of a fresh kill stained their pure white coat, thickest nearest their fangs and claws, pack leader preparing to dive into the air as Serif’s back met the tree. As if he’d seen worse from the wild however, with nothing but a cool intensity, he gripped each ball of his bola, pressing down the functioning one’s button before whipping it at the mutated muts. Gasoline arched the first rotation the weapon took, soaking the monsters in its fluids, as well as the hunter and the tree behind him, but when Serif rolled up the trunk like a magnet scaling a fridge, the second orb’s thrusters ignited in a haunting flash.

Guttural growls and booming barks shifted instantly agonized screeches as their thick fur pelts burst into flames. Already airborne, the pack leader bashed into the bark, sending the base of the trunk into a blazing inferno, chasing behind the pyro as the dying animals thrashed helplessly on the ground. Outrunning it with ease however, shifting one hand back to his beverage, Serif raced to an outstretched branch thick enough to carry his weight while digging a longer, stone bola out from within his leather. Staring at the beast lucky enough to have been spared by the brunt of the oil, the warrior waited until it quelled the last of the flames before plummeting from his perch, arching his weapon halfway down.

Within instants of each other, rope coiled along the monster’s neck and the inked man landed on it’s burned back, yanking his bola like cruel leash. Snapping and bucking at him with an unrelenting fury, the gladiator clung for dear life as he tightened his grip, threatening to cut off its air supply. After a time that would’ve made any cowboy proud, the wolf finally slowed, but the moment it did, Serif jerked its neck to the side, forcing it to turn left, and then forward immediately afterwards. Within seconds, he claimed the wild animal as his mount, racing onwards towards the mountains like a sunset.


:::::::::::::::7:03 PM:::::::::::::::

“Are you sure Dex is here?” Speaking in a hushed query, the bald warrior’s digital green eyes met those of his sister, sharing nothing but iris color with him, “I haven’t heard a sound since we arrived a half hour ago, and that devil is anything but silent.”

“You don’t believe me, Ira?” A joking smile passed from the girl to her ‘twin’, replying with one in kind as he gently shook his head.

“I beleive anything you tell me, Ida, it’s just that this is out of character for him,” His arms crossed as they finally entered the cavern the young hispanic woman led him to, “I mean, Dex is a huge piece of shit, like, he’s the one that clogs the toilet, and he talks even more shit than he is. Going silent for this long is just… Odd.”

“He’s on the cusp of giving up and needed a breather. He’s furious, frustrated, and needed to wash his hands of this. He can’t find his contestant,” Growing consumed by the dark as they continued their stride, Ida lowered her voice, “It’s almost been five hours.”

If she could see them, she would’ve chuckled at how wide Ira’s eyes bugged. “How?” Quickly shaking his head, he followed up with an even more important question, “And you think this one can help us? By hiding? We would’ve had better luck with the robot in the city.”

“Maybe, but I think a human would be more willing to trust us, and no, not by hiding,” She cast a smile to his general direction, “By being patient.”

Barely able to see three feet in front of them, a slight paranoia began gripping the man, gaze wandering more rapidly the deeper they traveled. “Well I still don’t like this, we could be walking straight into an ambush.”

“Between your skills, mine, and the pistol I took, we should be fine.” Stopping suddenly she called up to the ceiling, “Serif?”

Flinching at her projection, Ira stole a stone from the floor, searching even harder himself.

“We’re here to help. Please come down,” Looking directly up, a gentle smile stretched her lips, “You don’t have to worry, Dex didn’t send us, he still has no idea where you are.”

A prolonged silence gripped Ira. “I can’t protect you from what I can’t see..”

“You don’t need to protect me from him.” Rubbing her brother’s shoulder, Ida’s gaze went back to the black stones above. “Deep down, you know we aren’t with him. You know if he knew where you were, he would’ve dragged you out long ago. Can we talk? Please?”

The nothingness lingered for almost another minute before a slight frown tugged at her face.

“What is it?”

“I… think he’s sleeping.”

Silence.

Ida’s look traveled to her brother.

He stood there, unmoving; eyes squinting.

Dumbfounded, his brain struggled to process the statement.

Suddenly, an explosion of sound.

“Here? Now!”

A thud echoed before them as Ida jerked to hush her brother, crimson mass stepping out from the shadows before them. The stained fur of a FrostWolf entirely encasing what would ordinarily be a silhouette, save for the chilled blue eyes in the rectangular sea of black where its head was. Looking the pair up and down, it stood ominously still as the latina cleared her throat. “We’re here to help.”

Pacing parallel the duo, the man paused at the wall of cave, slowly bending over to retrieve a paper cup. “Why is that?”

“Because we want what you do, Serif.”

The gladiator scoffed, raising the cup to his lips. Although the surface of his drink was a layer of ice, a soft squeeze shattered it, letting the fluids run to his mouth. “And what would that be?”

“To live a life worth living,” Ida’s smile was warmer than his makeshift jacket ever could’ve been, “And to live somewhere we can have a life.”

“Is that why you came here?”

“We came here because we were born here.”

Ira’s interjection brought a stop to all of Serif’s actions, quizzical gaze meeting his own determined stare. “Is this land not a-”

“It is.” Sensing she was losing him to concepts he couldn’t understand, Ida cut him off before he could dig too deep. “We’re an accident in the program. We’re sentient and don’t obey the ‘god’ here. We know the monster he is, and know that if he dies, we all go free.”

“You say that as though there are others.”

“There are countless,” Tagging in for his sister, Ira took a step forward, dropping the rock he’d become unaware of until Serif’s eyeline passed over it, “He has prisoners he names his interns, and then there’s the doom of all the other’s he abducted for his amusement. How many has he killed now, Ida? Hundreds?”

“Over Fifteen. ...But yeah, hundred...”

A discomforting silence gripped the trio, each shifting slightly as they waited for another to speak. Finally however, Ira followed up.

“Serif, I… I don’t know if you’ve ever killed a man-” A relaxed glance from Ida seemed to answer the thought, “-but this one, this animal, needs to die.” Ira paused momentarily as the gladiator stared at the sister, having intercepted the look. Clearing his throat however, Ira brought Serif’s pupils back to him. “If you can’t do it though, I can.”

“No.”

“No?”

“I need him alive.”

Ira blinked rapidly as Serif stood his ground, “What could he possibly be offering you that could justify keeping around?”

“Information.”

“Information you don’t have to get this way…” Cautiously, Ida strode towards him, placing her palm on his shoulder as she gazed into his ghostly blues. “You could ask any other gladiator for the files you need, why would you risk your life for them?”

Breaking from the pair as he took a few steps away, a slow sip filled the void of noise. “I will not turn to those who willingly turn to murder.”

“Then what about us?” Closing the distance, Ira stole Serif’s attention. “This man is hardly human anymore. He’s more of a monster than anything out here, and for every life he’s taken, there’s a family he’s destroyed. I won’t let him claim mine.” Green eyes met before his returned to the hunter. “Do you have a sister, Serif?” Winters stood silent, but Ida nodded on his behalf. “Then you know the feeling. I’m not asking for you to take me into your home, I’m asking for your help escaping Hell.”

“And as far as information is concerned,” Ida chimed in, “I can help you find Olivia.” Watching doubt flood Serif’s features failed to diminish her spirit. “I can see everything about an individual just by looking them in the eyes. For example, I can tell you exactly where Dex is, or, if you aren’t prepared to move yet, you can ask me something only you know the answer to. Something personal, about you.”

His brow furrowed, but she smiled wider as he thought. “Speak of my tattoos.”

It covered most of her face before she finally spoke. “Do you mean how you got it less because you thought it’d be cool and more because you wanted your skin stained, or did you mean that even though they were injected by needle, your designs were crafted by your twin’s magic?”

Pride coated her like his jacket as his brain scrambled for an explanation, but before it found a logical conclusion, he felt the brother’s hand on his shoulder.

“Ida knows more than you or I could ever learn, and she’s smarter than either of us will ever be. She’s the best person you’ll ever meet, the one who will want to help the most, and the one who will be the most helpful,” Sucking in a deep breath, he forced Serif’s eyes to his, “We can help each other. We can save each other from our doomed fates. We just have to slay one beast, and then we can find your child.”

“Would you like me to lead you to Dex?”

Inhaling slowly, Serif took another sip of what was gradually turning into a frappachino. “No. We need him on our soil.”

“Our soil?” Ira furrowed his brow as Serif nodded.

“There are two kinds of hunters,” Finishing the last of his drink, the gladiator lifted the lid to examine the source of excess weight, “The ones who go out in search of their prey, and those who lay their traps and let them come to them. Tomorrow, I become the later.” Reached inside his cup, Winters gazed upon the girl as his palm met small piece of metal, gradually withdrawing an old, rusted key. “I don’t suppose this opens a weapons cache?”

“That…” Blinking, she looked to her brother, expressing her same confusion, “...Isn’t from Dex. Having said that, I think I know where we can get what you’re looking for.”

“I’m sorry sis, what are we looking for?”

“Guns and gasoline?”

Casting the hunter a smirk, the one Ida got back was the first hint of a personality behind his thick skin. “Anything that kills or combusts.”


:::::::::::::::7:23 AM:::::::::::::::

Orange hues oozed from the false sky, soaking the snow in a brilliant vibrance, but while most would wallow in its beauty, Dex clenched his knuckles at the sight caught on one of his countless cameras. Crimson snow, stained with the blood of the Corrupted, and while their bodies were buried under last night’s blizzard, three severed heads were spiked on the tips of their weapons, hilts all impaling the vast white, while two more sat beside them. Five troops. Killed in their sleep. Where -the fuck- was the entertainment in that?

“You have exactly three seconds to tell me how the hell this happened.”

Whether it from the cold or sheer fear of his ‘employer’, a violent shake gripped the intern before he could stutter out an answer. “I don’t know! It just became bright enough to even see it, they were shapes ten minutes ago!”

A piece of the host wanted to take his wrath out on the man so easily replaced, but the rest of him wanted his fury to combust with its hellish intensity on his rightful target. It had already gone on far too long, which was something he’d never allow to happen again, as long as he drew breath.

“Is anything else dead?”

“Um-”

“Is anything else dead!”

The intern flinched so hard it was like he was hit with a bat. “A couple ymir and another pack of FrostWolves!”

“Dammit!” Unable to contain himself any longer, Dex’s fist rammed into the wall, hurting himself more than it, “And why was no one watching the cameras in my absence!”

“We didn’t even k-”

“I don’t want a fucking excuse!” More than the dou populated the surveillance room, but no one else even breathed as the host roared his lungs out, “Time is money! Do you have any idea how much this is going to cost us? Do you have any idea how few people are still even watching right now? I want him! Now!”

“Bu-” Seeing movement on one of the cameras, the intern snapped his mouth shut so tight mid-sentence he could’ve sworn some teeth chipped.

“Dexter Omni.” Like a gift from a god other than the host, Serif’s voice flooded the room, his image slowly taking center frame from one of the mountain cameras. “Your game has changed. This is no longer a competition of you hiding from me, or me hiding from your horde. You and I will look each other in the eye and bring this to an end. If you want to put on a show, show up, or remain idle and watch ‘Wrath of God’ resinate all the terror of a dandelion.” Slowly, he turned his back to the camera, carelessly walking offscreen. “If I don’t see you within an hour, you won’t find me within the week. I suggest you hurry.”

“...I should destroy this entire fucking biome.” Seething unfathomable hatred, Dex soon found his interns scattered from him, as though he was resonating an abysmal black aura.

“Sir?”

His neck snapped at the lacky with enough ferocity to make the man jump a foot in the air. “What!”

“W-what do we do?”

“He threatened me in my domain! We give him his fucking wish! Then we carve the ink out of his skin, watch the cold devour his naked body, and then feed what remains to the FrostWolves. Find my fucking jacket, it doesn’t matter that he called me out, I am going to watch this happen live, in person.”


:::::::::::::::7:47 AM:::::::::::::::

“Ladies and gentlemen, if you’re just tuning in, Winter is coming...” Speaking low as precipitation from a gentle snow fluttered in the air before him, Dex took a moment to admire the masses before him. Another trio of FrostWolves, five formally human ‘corrupted’, each frost bitten looking being gripping a weapon of pure ice, two giants, each towering at a rough fifteen feet, and of course his two ice golem bodyguards, floating beside him like ghosts. “...To and end.”

Finally having reached the area where Serif had appeared on camera, the host motioned for his men to disperse. “Cold feet, Serif? I’m here, where are you?” The wind was the only thing that answered him. Crossing his arms as the air chilled his exposed features, Dex let out a grunt. “For a guy named after lettering, I expected you to keep to your word a little better.”

Lazily looking to his left, he observed the corrupted make a bit more distance from him, beginning to stride between the denser packed trees, blocking all but a small layer of snow on the ground. Pack leader holding his saber with both hands, he motioned for his men to stay close behind. Carefully surveying the pines and gaps between them for movement, his eyes were too high off the ground to see the rope he was approaching. Hardly noticing his boot rub against it, he carelessly rose it for the next step.

Crimson exploded from his body in a hail of gunfire. Both ends of the string had snaked up trees, loosely tied to the triggers of assault rifles, only to go off like a guerrilla army when it squeezed. Spraying in righteous fury, bullets pierced his entire upper torso, gore jutting from the fresh gaping holes as a scream gurgled out of his lungs, but as he toppled, it dragged the aim of the firing rifles behind him, raining hell on the rest of his men. Howling in unison as the snow was painted red with their insides, the final four collapsed on the ground, three struggling to breathe as the last had the misfortune of having the gray matter burst from his skull on the way down.

“Shit.” Snapping his eyes at the remaining packs he had, a faint haunting fear began to burrow within his gut. “He’s boobytrapped the area. Watch where you step!” Gaze falling on the giants last, the ymir inches taller than the other nodded before continuing his path beside the other. Lacking worry, the dou brushed the low branches aside like curtains, barreling through the mini forest on their own accord until the yipping of a FrostWolf captivated their attention.


::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

“Are you sure about this?”

“No.”

Ira’s greens met Serif’s blues on the far side of the pine, slicked in something other than maple and barely still standing. Only a handful of inches of what remained of its trunk kept it upright, so to keep from testing fate, Serif instead leaned against the handle of the ice-axe he’d looted the night before, as his ally did the the same with a similarly made saber. The crunch of a charge through the frozen surface of the snow captured the ink’s attention while the digital kept his gaze on him. “Would it kill you to humor me?”

“No,” Leaning the weapon over his shoulder, Serif reached into his jacket to retrieve a bola, “But I won’t.”

A giggle from behind captured Ira’s attention, but Winters’ focus didn’t falter, seeing the pack of FrostWolves break into eye-line a short distance away. “I told you he was honest.”

“Maybe a little too honest,” A hesitant smile crossed Ira’s face as he was joined by his sister, “I’d rather have morale than facts.”

“After ten trips to and from the city, morale shouldn’t be an issue.”

“H-”

“Focus.”

The side of Serif’s face caught a glare as Ida chuckled. Finally facing forward again, Ira braced himself for the oncoming onslaught, readying the sword before him as his twin dug her heels into the ground. Within ten feet, the fangs of the fiends were snapping with an unsustainable bloodlust, but when one of their eyes fell on Ida’s, it seemed to have lost its mind. Violently jerking its head to the right, it sank its long fangs into a member of its pack, blood streaming from the creature as it released an agonized howl. The two struck the ground in a burst of reddening snow as the possessed tried ripping the throat out of the wild, but before the third could intervene, its front legs were suddenly coiled, tumbling in its own right.

“Charge!” Kicking off the snow in unison, Ira and Serif raced at the monsters, weapons brandished as the animals struggled to get off the snow. Ida’s pet fell before the pair could arrive, claws of its enemy finding its chest and tearing, shredding its outsides open and spilling what lied within. Rolling over, its feet shoved off the earth to meet the men halfway, leaping at Serif with stained fangs bared, only to watch him roll under it, heaving the axe up as it soared overhead. A yip burst from its lungs as ice plunged through its stomach, red flowing like a river when Serif jerked it out before somersaulting back to his feet and rushing to the other. Still struggling to untangle itself, Serif was able to bury the weapon in its neck before stealing a glance at the other, just in time to watch Ira cleave its head clean off.

Nods were exchanged among the trio before earth rocking stomping entered their ears. Swearing to himself as he spotted the ymir between the trees, he called out to Serif, both men thinking in unison as they retreated to the slicked tree, and a ways behind it. Crouching like olympians about to race, they eyed the giants, each staring at them in kind as they dragged what could’ve easily passed for a tree behind them.

Eerily composed, Winters glanced at the one on the right before turning his eyes to Ira, who replied with a wordless ‘affirmative’. In the time of a heartbeat, the men pushed off towards the tree, matching the other’s breakneck sprint before leaping like wolves at the bark. Pulling their legs close to their bodies, they suddenly shot out like cannons directly above where they’d worked so hard with the axe the night before. Their feet met the wood with a crunch, but as the maple started to tilt as their backs met the snow, relieved chuckles spilled out. It only took a few fleeting, creaking moments for gravity to ensnare the leaning lumber, viciously ensnaring it and slamming it down on a giant while the hunter withdrew a metal bola from his jacket. Unfazed as the remaining roared at them, Serif activated it, tossing it at the fallen tree and watching it burst into flames as its fire met the twins’ stolen oil. Within moments, a winter wonderland looked more like Hell, the vast branches of the maple reaching the other trees and igniting them as well.

Smoke plumed above them as the men finally charged the remaining monster, slamming its log between them as they rolled to the side, Serif brandishing his knife and slicing the tendons behind its calf while Ira’s blade carved into its back. A godless howl rocked the mountain as the ymir’s blood flowed, but as the back of its foot rammed into the hunter’s body, the airless grunt he left behind as he flew through the air demanded a bit more of Ira’s attention. Frown tugging his expression down, Ira’s fingers danced on his blade’s handle, slowly stepping back as he became the monster’s only foe. Swinging it’s log, Ira’s entire skull almost exploded as he snapped into a crouch, feeling the breeze it left brush against his scalp. Lunging forward, the tip of his sword pierced the belly of the beast, but the back of a giant palm slapped him back before it could slide through its vital organs. Tumbling back, the searing heat warned him of the nearing flames, but when the beast charged him, it stole back the priority.

Shaking off the bruises sure to form on his face, Ira’s eyes glued to his blade, half sticking out of the charging beast. His heels dug into the melting show as he braced for what could be the end, but as adrenaline pumped through his being, an explosion of sound and burst of blood from the monster’s shoulder stole both of their attention. Wielding a smoking handgun, Ida stared down the giant before firing once more, burst of light highlighting her stunning features before the slug buried itself in its chest, hardly doing more than draw blood. A cool calm radiated her, and as her brother pushed off the snow, she lowered her weapon. Taking off in a sudden rush, he intercepted the giant from his sister, jumping into the air when he was noticed and slamming his foot into the handle of his sword. A gush of blood burst like a sputtering geyser as the edge carved deeper, but when crimson started dribbling from its’ mouth, a demonic scowl chilled Ira’s bones. Trying to kick the blade one more time like he was breaking down a door, a giant palm swooped down, snatching the limb and heaving him into the air before the blow could be delivered. Lifting the man to be eye to eye with it, it released a deafening howl as a sharp sting punctured its back, dropping Ira as it turned around.

Gripping the knife soaking in the flowing crimson like he was scaling a mountain, Serif pushed off his handle as he lept into the air, flipping to the shoulder of the creation double his side. Snapping his legs around its neck, he arced the blade into its eye, deep into its skull before ripping it back out and unleashing a volley with all the fury and ruthlessness of a crime of passion. The beast screeched as it struggled to knock the hunter off, but as the metal stabbed everything between its scalp and windpipe, the dying monster could hardly focus enough to find him. Soaked in more red then either green-eyed virus had ever seen, it finally fell to its quaking knees, toppling over entirely once the heaving Ira tore his weapon out of its gut.

Both men panting a bit too heavily to speak, they had to pass appreciated grunts to one another as they were joined by Ida. “So,” A gentle smile crossed her as the hellfire continued consuming the snow surrounding them, “Are you ready to make this the series finale?”


::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

“No no no!” Dex’s fists clenched as he released a sound of pure hatred, feeling his game being hijacked beneath him. His beautifully crafted, carefully maintained snowy arena was rapidly dying to the wrath of an inferno spreading impossibly quickly. Nothing there could’ve burned so wretchedly, and the contestant wasn’t equipped enough for a forest fire of this scale. Even if the guns were somehow his, this…

“Fuck!” His voice boomed as the realization met him, “All units, converge on the mountain! This isn’t waves for one man anymore, we’re dealing with a fucking virus!”

Unable to pull his hair out from under his jacket’s hood, his raging fists just made a general punching motion before his eyes snapped to the closest camera to him, his feed going straight to his interns as he lowered his voice “I’ll accept that maybe one man could hide from you, but if I find out someone spotted Ida and Ira touring the fucking city and bringing my shit here, or if someone knows someone knew, but didn’t tell me, you will all find yourselves on the other side of those monitors… All of you will feel the wrath of God… but you’ll watch it first.”

Taking a few brief moments to calm himself, Dex cleared his throat and shook his head. Motioning to his golems, both beginning to drip as rising temperatures threatened them, Dex began leading them towards the edges of the mountain’s level as he pieced together the facts.

Himself and two golems verses Serif Winters, Ida and Ira. Three on three. ...But he couldn’t really fight. Two on three. ...But Ida could apparently control one of his underlings... One on four... Game over. “...Fuck…” Closing his eyes tight as his mind raced, words flowed together in his mind, gluing themselves together and sticking feebly as the heat continued to rise. If he wouldn’t be able to stall long enough for more help to arrive, he’d have to change the equation.

Opening his eyes slowly, he motioned for his melting guards to investigate the burning world before him. Unaccustomed to leaving his side, they hesitated a moment before complying, nearing fire continuing to make them frail as water trailed their shimmering skin, but as they were lost in the smoke, the sudden sounds of shattering made Dex flinch. Heaving out an exhale, the host began striding towards the midground between the cliff’s edge and beginning of the blazing treeline as a trio of silhouettes began emerging.

“So…” Dex’s voice filled the air as they gradually met in the center, glow of the sun on the host’s back with light of the flames on theirs, “It looks like you’ve survived Wrath of God, Mr. Winters, and it seems like you’ve made some friends along the way. That’s a shame.”

Both warriors tightened their grips on their respective blades, Ira in the center taking a step forward while Serif on his left remained in place. “What’s a shame is all the lives you’ve taken in these lands,” The middle man spat, “What’s a shame, is that it took Ida and I this long to find you.”

The solitary one chuckled, “No, the shame is that your friendship can’t last,” Gradually, his gaze fell on Serif, “If I die, how will you get access to the information you need?”

“He doesn’t need it. He has us.”

“Does he?” The snicker turned to laughter, “How do you even know you’ll make it into the real world? I’ve never died, so what’s to say you’d escape? What’s to say that if you do, nothing else would?” Grinning devilishly, his words slowed, “And I don’t mean my interns, I mean every monster you’ve fought here, and every monster you two have seen. You do realize that’s what you are, right? Do you think the world is ready for that? All of that, at once, with no warning?”

“That won’t happen.”

“You aren’t a fortune teller, bitch.” Ira flinched as Dex degraded his sister, gradually forcing the group to pace in a semi circle, “And who even knows if your magic will transfer? What if, if you get to the real world, you’re just like everyone else? Or, you’re a good girl, right?” Gradually, his eyes fell on Winters, “What if she does keep her powers? You’re afraid of opening the floodgates to your home, aren’t you Serif? Your people survive in isolation, and you’re scared any outside help will expose them. What happens when that happens? You’ve seen this, you’ve seen the RHG, and I’m sure you’ve picked up a history book by now. How long do you think Witch Island will last when the rest of the mad world discovers it? You’ve risked your life so you can research in silence. Can you really risk everything you’ve ever loved, letting this lead to something louder?” Grinning, he stopped with the flames on his left and cliff his right.

“Shut up.”

“Don’t you dare talk to me like that, I created you.”

“Your mistake.” Ira took a hard step forward, but a calloused hand suddenly fell on his shoulder. He didn’t even look over it. “You can’t be serious. You do know he needs to die, right?”

“He can die later.”

“He needs to die now!” In a detonation of fury, Ira whirled around, exchanging his position with Serif’s, his back to the edge as he faced the man, “How is this even a question for you? One thousand, five hundred people have died here, Serif! And this, here, has been the only chance we’ve had to end that! Do you want us to wait for him to hit three thousand? Is that a high enough body count for you do to do something?”

“You aren’t who I came to rescue.”

Dex’s arms proudly crossed as Ira visibly twitched. Unable to speak however, it was his sister who had to open her mouth. “You…” Stepping back, appalled, her green eyes bounced on her brother’s for only a moment before returning to Serif’s icey blues, staring deep into his soul. “...You don’t consider us alive…”

“Someone else will save you.”

Shaking his head as if it’d clear his mind, Ira’s voice began to boom as he stepped towards Serif, who in turn backed up to keep the distance. “We spent an entire day together, and you can’t find a shred of a soul to see us out of our living hell?”

“I can’t risk Olivia’s fate on yours.”

In a heartbeat, knuckles met Serif’s lip, breaking the skin as he staggered back. “You don’t even know if she’s alive. We are, Serif. I am. Ida is! And I can’t risk her fate for your fears.”

Painfully slowly, a bead of red trickled from Serif’s busted lip, rolling down his chin before finally dropping into the pure white snow. Spitting more out beside it, the hunter clutched the blade at his side while Ira did the same with his sword. Winters hardly even blinked as his haunting eyes met his, but as the intensity grew thicker than any blizzard, Ira finally commanded a single word.

“Don’t.”

He did. But as the two collided, Dex’s attention snapped to the girl, who upon seeing an entire day’s adventure dissolve before her, spurred into action. Tearing under her jacket, her palm seized the freezing handle of her gun as the host lunged at her, his hands locking hers in place.

Matching a lacking physical strength, the two fought for control over her limb as a battle of blood, blades and brawn raged mere feet away from them. Gritting his teeth, Dex tangled his foot with Ida’s before violently shoving her to the ground, causing her to grunt as the weapon slipped out from under her layers. In a hasty dive, the host went for it, but when the girl kicked it away, his impact only feeling the snow’s chill. Shivering to his core, he pushed himself upright, but upon seeing the shadow of a woman’s foot speed at his head, immediately ducked back down to avoid it before grabbing the other. Ida had just enough time to see Serif and Ira tumble over the edge of the cliff before the kidnapper robbed her of her balance, but when she felt him crawling on top of her, her fingernails practically became talons for her enemy.

Swinging unapologetically, they slashed his face, leaving a carved, beading trail of red along his eyes and cheek, causing the host to release a shrill yelp. Bringing one arm up to protect his best asset, his other hand began padding down on her, stopping upon the discovery of her neck and squeezing on cue. With frightening intensity, his eyes were wide with deadly passion as he watched her desperately wheeze for air, but when her claws snapped down on his defending wrist and yanked, he faltered just long enough for her to drag it to her mouth, which snapped on it like a shark.

Voice propelling much higher than he was proud to admit, he rolled off her as he tore it out of her maw, crimson soaking his thumb entirely as he cradled the injury while Ida caught her breath next to him. Each taking a much needed moment to gather themselves, the two slowly arose to their feet before picking their melee back up. Being just a hair faster, the girl was able to throw a quick jab at her devil, but lacking any weight behind her punch or her brother’s skill, it did little more than push him back, but the hook she followed up with knocked a stream of blood out of his mouth. Seeing the uppercut coming however, Dex was able to stumble back, leaving her to whiff before landing a blow of his own.

Knuckles clenched in a fist, his bones met her elegant nose, oozing blood the moment of impact with a disturbing crunch. Grinning wildly as she cupped it with a yelp, Dex lifted his leg, and like he’d seen in so many movies, pounded it into her sternum, knocking her back to the ground as the last of the air inside her burst out. Prouder of himself than he’d been in a long time, he casually store to retrieve the firearm stolen from another biodome and checked the clip. Smirking at what was more than enough, he cocked the gun before turning back around just in time to see Ida rush him.

Unable to squeeze the trigger in time however, she shoved it out of her path and wrestled to keep it away from her, his feet skidding back as they neared the edge of the cliff. Frustration was building up in a torrent as he struggled to align the barrel with her skull, but while he was naturally taller than her, the girl’s countless adventures gave her the strength to rival him, locking them into a stalemate. Both of them had the desire to kill laced into their eyes, Dex to stomp out an insect that had been irritating him for far too long, and Ida knowing damn well what she had to do, forced to confront the entirety of his sin as she gazed into his mind through his optical organs.

The gun shook as the limbs that held it battled for control for what felt like an eternity, the pair pacing in a small circle throughout their struggle. The snow around them was beginning to grow slick as the inferno a short distance away raged, but as they continued in their rotation, a palm reached over the edge of the cliff. Digging its gloved fingers into the snow, the arm began hoisting the rest of the body upright while the pair stood parallel to the edge, and the slow movement in their peripheral vision stole just enough of their interest to captivate their attention.

Head still bowed as it crawled from the drop to the flatland above, he lifted his head only as he began to stand, the awe inspiring galactic portrait staining all the showing skin but reducing Ida to tears when her eyes met his, which in turn stiffened him. In a heartbeat her heart broke, his head flashing fresh memories of her brother, lying flat on his back with a gaping knife wound, slowly bleeding out. Her mouth fell agape, but no sound came forth when her grip finally faltered, save for a sharp yelp when the butt of the handgun struck her jaw, causing Serif to lunge forward before Dex could execute a final victory.

Seeing the new threat coming however, the host rapidly squeezed the trigger as he arced his arm at him, missing many but burying a pair in his shoulder and collarbone. Blood sprayed behind him as shells drilled through his flesh and shattered his collarbone, but as he struck the snow, it was Ida’s shriek of dying hope the cut off any sound that he made.

Chuckling as he’d done what none of his monsters were able to do, Dex began turning back to the devastated woman, but when an unexpected snowball smashed his cheek from her direction, he squeezed the trigger reflexively, sending a shell straight into the snow. Swearing as he had to bring up his arms to block the next, he heard the snow crunch as Ida crawled between him and Serif, struggling to push himself upright several feet away, as blood poured out of his body.

Allegiances and motives began fading from Winters’ mind as his hand wrapped tightly around his knife. Who could do what no longer mattered if his duty died with him, and although he’d made enemies out of all who remained, he only had a chance for mercy with one. Gritting his teeth as he leaned back on his knees, his eyes locked on the pair, still thrashing to keep out of the reaper’s wrath. Ida hardly evaded a boot aimed at her skull, but while the whiff left Dex unprotected, Serif made his final move.

In a flash, he threw the one thing he always kept by his side, blade spinning, stained the blood of an ally before impaling the chest of an enemy with enough force to knock him off his feet. A red gurgle was all he could grunt as he struck the ground, but when Dex’s feeble hands felt the blade’s handle, a smaller set ensnared it over his. Ida’s cool, slender shadow as the last thing he felt before every nerve in his body ruptured with agony. In a vicious, vengeful, vile yank, the girl tore it down his body, slicing every piece of cloth, muscle, and organ in its gushing crimson path. Although he lacked the strength to scream, unimaginable terror ravaged the false god’s eyes as they started to fade, red flowing out of the footlong wound as if someone sliced a swimming pool. His death was quick, but it still felt like an eternity to him, the creeping cold numbing his body as his vision began failing, his tongue no longer able to taste the copper filling his mouth and sounds dulling to a mute.

Finally falling limp, Ida couldn’t pull the blade from his body. Her entire body shook as she panted, red staining everything she wore as rage and horror battled deep within in the confines of her brain, but as moments fleeted to seconds, she soon felt a gentle palm upon hers.

“Go to your brother.”

Snapping back into her reality, wrath won the fight as her green gaze locked on Serif’s. Behind them, scenery was beginning to flicker in and out of reality and black cracks were starting to form along the vast sky as the digital world moved to crumble. A piece of her wanted to take the blade and plunge it into the betrayer, but the gentle touch of his free hand on her shoulder cooled her, just enough for murder to fade from her thoughts.

“Look in my eyes, Ida,” He softly implored her, letting her grip fall from his blade, “I didn’t leave your brother to die alone, I left him behind to pull you away.”

Pausing as a tear began sliding down her cheek, Serif slowly released the blade as well to wipe it away, the slick trail of red his digit left behind almost defeating the point.

“He needs to see that you’re alive, and you need to see that he breathes. Please… go to him. Be the last thing he sees in this dying world, and the first he sees outside of this illusion.”

Nodding slowly, she rose to her feet, half considering helping Serif up as well, but ultimately deciding it’d be best to keep he and Ira apart. Turning to leave as the gladiator retrieved his blade and lied beside the corpse, she hesitated for one moment more.

“...If Dex didn’t shoot you…?”

“...Perhaps it’s best he did.”

Silence enveloped them before Ida finally departed. Slow at first, but quickly turning to a jog and then sprint to help her brother as Serif laid, eyes up and fixated on the sky. Entire chunks of the atmosphere were fading to black as the smoke began blurring and diminishing in a fade of its own right. He could see the hood hugging the top of his vision begin to pixelate, and as his senses began to weaken and leave him, a sign left him as well. Closing his eyes as the digital reality crumbled, his free hand slowly crawled up his body, tracing where he’d been shot.

An exhale barreled out of his body.

Anyway! I look forward to discussing exactly why you're wrong about getting wrecked first chance I get!

EDIT: Yeah, you're way too hard on yourself, and it looks like we both leaned more towards adventure than strictly action! You had a really enjoyable piece, and some of the freedoms you took with Annabelle I'd like to look work with myself! Solid job with especially with her side of the relationship as well! I'd been planning on having her rip him a new one for a bit!

Serif himself was a little off, but within reason, so that's fine.

I'll leave ya something more in depth when it isn't 1am

Vern
05-16-2016, 05:55 PM
Judging from the number of votes I'm assuming to have been the first to fully read both pieces.

Since giving a full CnC review for both pieces would be too costly time-wise, I'll try to be brief ;

I've always liked Crank's writing quite a bit. This time's no exception, though I darn myself for reading through the wrongly formatted version for half the way until I scrolled down and noticed Crank had put in a revised version.

Now, I enjoyed reading both pieces, but Crank's was definitely the one that really pulled me in. Reading through his didn't take me much effort (although there certainly were some parts where the writing got a bit too cluttered and vague). The writing felt in place and the articulation of his characters was pretty spot on, I'd say. He even did a mighty fine job portraying Dex. Ira and Ida sorta came "out of nowhere" but it didn't feel particularly intrusive, and I think that without them the story would've felt a bit too empty, so definitely a good job there.

Kamiroo, you certainly shouldn't be too harsh on yourself when it comes to this. Realize that Crank's been doing this kinda thing for way longer, and your progress and skill are solid. Remember, the number one most crucial thing for writing is confidence and motivation, so don't let it all get you down too much ^^.

That being said, your piece was definitely well-written, and in general your sentences were easier on the eye and the mind which is certainly something positive. I'd argue that sometimes Crank lets himself be carried away just a bit too much. That, or I'm just stupid (probably both). Still, there were a few parts written in such a way that it'd take me a few times to wrap my head around it, on the top of my head I recall that mostly being in the beginning with the whole ghost business, and then near the end when you're killing off Dex (that whole part was really confusing).

Story and character wise, however, it felt more lacking when put next to Crank's. It seems as if you used this battle more as an introduction for what I'm guessing are your future new wRHGs. The action as a whole felt lacking, and so did the whole "adventure" aspect of it. Right off the bat we're served some introductory sequence with Annabella and Seriff, though it felt a bit lackluster and the whole ghost-business felt a bit off. Right after we see Serif practically die immediately without putting up much of a fight. Seriff felt more like a side-character in this, like some red-shirt nameless goon used to set it all in motion. It left me empty and sad :'c. Other than that even Dex himself doesn't really feel all that important in this all, and he feels just a tad bit too erratic. The portrayal of the characters as a whole felt a bit lackluster, but well that's something I struggle with too and you'll only ever learn it all from experience :p.

My only/biggest regret with your story, Kamiroo, is that you basically used it as a setup for your new wRHGs. Dex Omni was something fresh and unique in a sea of characters that feel quite indistinguishable from one another, and it stings to see him go. Don't take this the wrong way but I can't say I'm as impressed by what's up next since I fear for what it will likely become. But who knows, maybe you'll surprise me.

One last thing I'd like to point out to both of you is length. While the pieces were both certainly not bad they're quite hefty and long. I myself have come to realize that length does not entail quality. Quite the contrary, really. I'm figuring this battle doesn't have any votes yet because all the others are yet to pull themselves through both of these pieces, so perhaps that's something to watch out for in the future for the both of ya? :P

Well don't let my words get too much on either of you. I still enjoyed reading them (if I didn't I wouldn't have read em) and am certainly eager to read more from the both of you. So good luck and be sure to keep writing :D.

I guess this is a good moment to stop typing... Yeah...

Kamiroo Wolf
05-16-2016, 07:35 PM
Judging from the number of votes I'm assuming to have been the first to fully read both pieces.

Since giving a full CnC review for both pieces would be too costly time-wise, I'll try to be brief ;

I've always liked Crank's writing quite a bit. This time's no exception, though I darn myself for reading through the wrongly formatted version for half the way until I scrolled down and noticed Crank had put in a revised version.

Now, I enjoyed reading both pieces, but Crank's was definitely the one that really pulled me in. Reading through his didn't take me much effort (although there certainly were some parts where the writing got a bit too cluttered and vague). The writing felt in place and the articulation of his characters was pretty spot on, I'd say. He even did a mighty fine job portraying Dex. Ira and Ida sorta came "out of nowhere" but it didn't feel particularly intrusive, and I think that without them the story would've felt a bit too empty, so definitely a good job there.

Kamiroo, you certainly shouldn't be too harsh on yourself when it comes to this. Realize that Crank's been doing this kinda thing for way longer, and your progress and skill are solid. Remember, the number one most crucial thing for writing is confidence and motivation, so don't let it all get you down too much ^^.

That being said, your piece was definitely well-written, and in general your sentences were easier on the eye and the mind which is certainly something positive. I'd argue that sometimes Crank lets himself be carried away just a bit too much. That, or I'm just stupid (probably both). Still, there were a few parts written in such a way that it'd take me a few times to wrap my head around it, on the top of my head I recall that mostly being in the beginning with the whole ghost business, and then near the end when you're killing off Dex (that whole part was really confusing).

Story and character wise, however, it felt more lacking when put next to Crank's. It seems as if you used this battle more as an introduction for what I'm guessing are your future new wRHGs. The action as a whole felt lacking, and so did the whole "adventure" aspect of it. Right off the bat we're served some introductory sequence with Annabella and Seriff, though it felt a bit lackluster and the whole ghost-business felt a bit off. Right after we see Serif practically die immediately without putting up much of a fight. Seriff felt more like a side-character in this, like some red-shirt nameless goon used to set it all in motion. It left me empty and sad :'c. Other than that even Dex himself doesn't really feel all that important in this all, and he feels just a tad bit too erratic. The portrayal of the characters as a whole felt a bit lackluster, but well that's something I struggle with too and you'll only ever learn it all from experience :p.

My only/biggest regret with your story, Kamiroo, is that you basically used it as a setup for your new wRHGs. Dex Omni was something fresh and unique in a sea of characters that feel quite indistinguishable from one another, and it stings to see him go. Don't take this the wrong way but I can't say I'm as impressed by what's up next since I fear for what it will likely become. But who knows, maybe you'll surprise me.

One last thing I'd like to point out to both of you is length. While the pieces were both certainly not bad they're quite hefty and long. I myself have come to realize that length does not entail quality. Quite the contrary, really. I'm figuring this battle doesn't have any votes yet because all the others are yet to pull themselves through both of these pieces, so perhaps that's something to watch out for in the future for the both of ya? :P

Well don't let my words get too much on either of you. I still enjoyed reading them (if I didn't I wouldn't have read em) and am certainly eager to read more from the both of you. So good luck and be sure to keep writing :D.

I guess this is a good moment to stop typing... Yeah...

Quite frankly I'm just grateful you took the time to read both of them.

As for my next wRHG, they won't be coming for quite some time, but I doubt it'll be whatever you're imagining. Once again, though, thanks for reading our stories! ^_^ Ima edit the OP to fix Crank's story now.

Kamiroo Wolf
05-22-2016, 09:31 AM
Oh geez, where are my manners? Congrats Crank on your win ;o
Thanks again for the battle.

Vern
05-22-2016, 10:23 AM
Only two votes? Wow I'm disappointed, it's worth the read really.