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:Alive: The Southern Sufferring | Co-hosted by Baron Von Hollow

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The Great Hammer


The sudden unusual sounds of humans woke him from his slumber.  With a groan, it swam beneath the city, as it immediately began to 'see' the life above it.  With incredible sensory, the Majin could psychically visualize his seven foes, giving away their presence in an alarmed manner.  Who dared to step into the temple of a sleeping giant?  Circling under the city, he could see daylight, and began marching towards it.  His enormous 'legs' pounded the city above him, shaking it with violent tremors.  Bursting from the lake, Dominance stood up straight, raising its large head.  His foes were bold, brazenly stepping forward, issuing a challenge.  How foolish it was for an ant to challenge a boot.  The first was a girl, tiny as they all were.  But she possessed now some kind of dark, material weapon.  Magic?  How unusual for a human.  But nothing that couldn't be squashed.  He let his strength be known, sticking out his neck and breathing deep, letting loose a foul odored but powerful guttural roar, sweeping Destiny off of her feet.  A mistake, however.  In the first one's valiant steps, the others found morale and they too stepped forward now.  A male, with sparks at his finger tips.  He let loose a stream of lightning!?  Absurd!  His body large and slow, he had no time to avoid the incoming strike.


And to no avail, a third joined the fray, surrounding Dominance now with a powerful funnel of water.  The lightning struck the funnel, sending the blast coursing through his body.  Dominance cried out in anguish, gritting its teeth.  As the funnel collapsed, it struggled to move, in an attempt to get out of the lake.  But first, it had to swat a fly.  The lake plumed upwards again, as an almost invisible fist beneath the waves of the water erupted towards Leroy.  Even if the boy managed to avoid the strike, the sheer force of the wind around Dominance's hand would send him veering off course.  The Majin quickly snapped its eyes back to the shore, where the source of its irritation and anguish stood, mocking him.


With its attention on Jared, Dominance put its first enormous leg onto land, nearly crushing Destiny.  She was fortunate to have Riku tackle her out of the way, as Dominance shook the city with its very first step.  Climbing up, it was sure not to make the same mistake twice.  Bringing its final leg onto the shore, Dominance bellowed once more, this time challenging Jared.  And with a display of its incredible strength, it drew back its left arm, and opened its palm.  Gravity appeared to almost double, perhaps triple over the tattered record shop, as Dominance's impossibly large hand bared down around it.



500,000/1,000,000 HP

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"Outta my way!!!" Amaris yelled as he struck at the Lying Rippers that littered his path, seeing the group not too far away now. He disposed of the last one, seeing it bubble up and fade before taking his phone out and seeing Yuel. "So what the heck is it?"


"Dominance...The Great Hammer..." Yuel said, before showing up the information pulled up in the bestiary. "I was careless...I can't believe I put you all in danger."


"Yuel, calm down. It's not your fault." Amaris smiled before putting the phone away, before running back towards the group. He paused and noticed a small motorcycle on the side of almost destroyed...and he got an idea.



"Look out guys, more help has arrived!!"




Yuel was heard chiming from each one of the survivor's phones as they heard the sounds of a rumbling engine behind them. From behind them, they watched a motorcycle began to leap from their heads as the rider was finally seen...it was Amaris.


"And this is my stop!" Amaris smirked, bailing from the motorcycle as it collided with the Dominance. The Japanese boy fell and stuck the landing, as he stood up, his new crescent blades materializing once again. "Sorry I'm late guys...let me see if I can help you all out." he said, as Sotsuki began to change shape, resembling a white circular moon.


"Mangetsu..." he said to himself before surveying the team. "Yuel...which one has..."


"Lightning? Jared would be one of them!" Yuel quickly responded.


Amaris nodded and took a glance at Jared before whistling at him. "Jared, I need you to electrically charge my blades!" he said, knowing it probably sounded strange to the boy. "Just trust me!"

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"Mia! Mia, you need to wake up!"


"Mmm... just a few more minutes, Mom..."


"jabroni, get up before you die!"


"Huh... well excuse me, no need to be so drastic, Mo-" Mia's voice trailed off as she noticed the massive amount of water she was now laying. "Oh, yeah, apocalypse and all that... holy sheet, the funk is that!?"


"That is the Great Hammer... Dominance..." Yuel said from Mia's coat pocket, her voice now much softer, almost... ashamed?


"So, I take it we have to fight that thing...?" Mia sighed. She supposed it should expect it at this point, what with the apocalypse and all... "Thoth... please, help me!" The book appeared in Mia's hands, and immediately flipped open, and Mia rushed out from the record shop just in time to see one of the creature's massive fists crashing towards Leroy.


"He's not going to make it," Mia muttered chewing the bottom of her lip, "Star!" Before the fist could hit Leroy a large magic circle appeared to protect the young man intercepting the large fist. "Leroy, get out of there I can't hold it for much longer!" Mia held the barrier for just long enough for Leroy to escape the Great Hammer's crushing blow, sinking to her knees from having to deflect such a powerful attack.  


"Now, I suppose it's time for my counter attack," Mia huffed as feathers erupted from Thoth gathering around her, but rather than just fire them, "Suits of Power charge these Feathers." Electricity leapt from Mia's hand to the feathers charging them with electricity before they flew towards the massive Majin sticking into it's flesh. "Electrocute..." Mia said snapping her fingers releasing the electricity from the feathers, however the Dominance just continued its slow lumber from the lake. "Well... that's a problem..." It appeared her attacks would not be very helpful in this instance... however she did have something that could help.


"Come, Utopia Aeon!" As Mia called the spell's name multicolored light burst from Thoth before briefly surrounding each of her allies in light. As the light dispersed from around her allies they would begin to notice that they felt much more energized. "Guys, hit that jabroni with everything you've got!"

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His combo attack with Leroy had been a success, and as he watched the massive Majin shake in agony, Jared could hear the voice of Yuel. "hmmm, Wind... and Lightning?" Before the boy could reach into his pocket and question what she was contemplating, Jared's attention was returned to Dominance, as the beast unleashed a guttural roar and began stepping out of the lake.


"What? You like that?!" Sensing Dominance's personal challenge on what seemed to be a primal level, Jared roared back at his opposition. In response the Majin lunched it's next attack, in what appeared to be an attempt to crush them all with one of it's house sized hands. 


"Look out guys, more help has arrived!!"


"Jared, I need you to electrically charge my blades Just trust me!"


"Guys, hit that a****** with everything you've got!"


In an instant, Amaris had joined the battle, and Mia and sprung into action; attacking Dominance's with her own lightning attack before granting the party energy with a spell Jared hadn't seen from her before. "Jared, Dominance's weakness is Lightning." Yui's voice chimed in again. "You'll be indispensable in this fight..."


His body now coursing with a new energy from Mia's spell, Jared simply nodded in understanding before taking up a ready position. "Yo, Susanoo, we have work to do..." Heeding it's wielder's call, a black katana manifested itself in the boy's hand. The air around Jared soon became alive with electricity as he activated Swallow's Furry, and allowed himself to be cloaked in azure lightning.


And then he vanished. Using the power granted to him from Mia, Jared found that his speed had been pushed to an all new level, and was easily able to make it to Amaris's side in a manner of seconds. Though is vision was slightly blurred from the spell, Jared never took his eyes off the massive hand that was slowly falling to earth above them. Slamming his sword against the other boy's twin blades, he allowed electricity to flow from his body into Amaris's Fayth, lending Tsukuyomi a portion of Susanoo's raging thunder. "You heard the kid, hit him with everything!" He called over the cracking of electricity, before reactivating Swallow Furry and  vanishing again.


Jared became a blur, dashing up the side of the record store with nearly untraceable speed. Bringing himself to a sliding halt at the roof of the building, the boy cringed as the world around him began to painfully twist and distort. This was his body trying to deal with the fluctuating intensity of his senses when in high speed movement...


"No... not yet." He growled to himself, forcing his eyes open to meet the colossal hand that was nearly upon them. His body still charged with energy from Mia, Jared gripped the Susanoo's hilt before dashing towards the edge of the roof, and leaping up towards Dominance's grasp. "Howling-" A torrent of lightning seemed to pour from the sword's scabbard and trail behind him, as the boy slowly began to draw his blade in preparation for the spell. "Sorrow!" Now only a few feet away from the Majin's open palm, Jared drew Susanoo in a broad vertical arc, using the last of Mia's power to let loose a massive crescent of raw lightning energy to slice into the beast's exposed flesh. 

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At first Destiny was expecting to battle this thing on her own, but then all of a sudden everyone wanted a piece of the gargantuan Majin. That... wasn't something Des was expecting, in all honesty. But she shrugged it off; the more important thing was that she knew what exactly her Fayth was capable of.


"Stay still!" with a shout from Des, a vast multitude of chains erupted from the ground beneath Dominance's feet, and bound themselves around each one in a manner that would render it impossible for the Majin to break free without breaking the chains themselves. And even as Des considered her next move, the chains would slowly but surely sap a lot of strength from this big fish in a small pond. But that wasn't gonna be enough; she needed to accomplish more than that.


'Hmm... maybe I should see if I can put him to sleep, too...' suddenly, Des' dull grey eyes began to glow brightly, and although she couldn't see it, the sclera became pitch black. However, she needed height if she was gonna get any chance at eye contact, and the Majin's undivided attention would help as well. Although just to stop it from trying anything, Des unleashed some more chains in effort to bind its hands. And then...


"Yo, floaty! Ya mind giving me a boost?!" Des called out to Leroy, "Can't exactly try this eye thing that I wanna try out from down here!"

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The Great Mistake


Pests.  Insects.  Worms!  The audacity of the human race to stand before the might of the Majin was truly astounding and abhorring.  They bound it with chains at its feet.  They used obscure machines to strike the Lord Majin.  They gathered magic below Dominance, and struck at its enormous open palm.  It fought the force of his foes with a misunderstanding and underestimation.  Their will power pushed back against Dominance, as they banded together in an effort to shove away the Great Hammer.  Amaris' blades pierced the Majin's flesh, causing it to bleed a disgusting pink slime, as Jared's lightning found its mark.


It shrieked, drawing back its large hand in pain as lightning coursed through its gigantic body.  It took mistakes for Dominance to realize the position it was in.  For a brief moment, the creature was paralyzed, unable to react to the barrage of he was forced to endure.  They shouldn't be this strong.  They shouldn't have been this resilient to its strikes, let alone its very presence!  The Majin began to enter a state of mind it had not known since it had been given life.  Dominance began to panic.  Its eyes wandered, darting back and forth between the survivors, landing on the one who had proven to be the source of his punishment, and the one who had thought to bind him.  With his hind 'legs' restricted, Dominance relied only on his upper body strength and his frontal arms to keep him standing up right.


But that would not be the case for much longer.  Before they could react, Destiny and Jared would find themselves in a tight squeeze.  Dominance snatched them from the ground below, its enormous hands more than covering their bodies.  Upon shattering Destiny's concentration, its hind legs were freed.  And now, in the opposite hand, it held Jared, preventing him from channeling any more lightning and instantaneously cancelling the lightning 'armor' that surrounded him.  Though vulnerable now, Dominance had acquired a personal collection of survivors.  His hands began to close tighter and tighter around them, as he bellowed over their heads.  And if they were not freed soon, the only thing that would remain of Destiny and Jared, would be a bloody mess.




250,000/1,000,000 HP

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Leroy's eyes focused below him, where the crashing of waves could be heard, as a fast strike barreled towards him.  "Crikey!"  He knew he wasn't going to get out of there in time, so he held up his arms to avoid as much damage as humanly possible.  When the attack never connected, he opened his eyes and relaxed his muscles.  A barrier of sorts was put in between him and Dominance's mighty fist.  


 "Leroy, get out of there I can't hold it for much longer!"


He looked towards the group that was on land, Mia shouting at him to get out of the situation.  He saluted her and darted higher into the air.  "Oi missy, I sure owe ya one!"  Without her help after all, he might as well have been a stain on some building right about now.  However, he wasn't able to hear barely any noise from this altitude.  


Now everyone was landing blows, the big lug was most definitely a pushover.  Yuel was certainly at a loss for words.  "I...I didn't know you'd all be this strong."  Leroy snickered.  


"Well Yuel, maybe ya should've had a little...I don't know..Fayth maybe?"  He could hear the pouting from his pocket.  


"Har har...very clev-...LEROY LOOK!"  Her shouts made him break away from thinking of more witty comebacks, and he looked towards Dominance.  In his hands were two of his teammates, Jared and Destiny.  His grip seemed to tighten.    


"THAT DIRTY MAJIN!  I'll give 'em the ol' one two!"  Leroy darted towards the mighty majin, with his staff in tow.  He drug it behind him through the clouds, whirling it in a circular motion.  The air it accumulated gathered into a funnel, as a rather large tornado was built at the end.  His eyes glowed a radiant emerald, as he had finally made it towards his target.  He stopped almost instantly, and swung his staff over his head, along with the funnel cloud he had created with it.  "CYCLONE SLAM!"  Leroy slammed the tornado onto Dominance's head, seeing if it had built up enough force to make him let go of his mates.  

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Amaris felt Jared slam the blade against his crescent blades and watched as the lightning began to spark between them. "Arigatou!" he smiled before he took a deep breath, exhaling slowly. He closed his eyes, beginning to mentally prepare his strike.


Alright...just like in kendo, Amaris. he thought, inhaling and exhaling slowly again. Scoring points are at Men-bu1, Kote-bu2, Do-bu3, and Tsuki-bu4...however, he isn't wearing the pads that those I've fought have. Same general area...but I can do it.


He opened his eyes and was about to strike at the Great Hammer, but he changed his position. Suddenly he watched as the Majin gripped in his hand both Destiny and Jared. His eyes widened, his grip grew tighter around Tsukiyomi's hilts with anger. However, he didn't strike yet. He closed his eyes yet again, calming his breathing as he exhaled and inhaled slowly.


Don't let him get into your head...you've already lost if your opponent get's into your head. he thought, sighing slowly. Dad...thanks...


Clear & Serene


Amaris quickly opened his eyes and rushed forward, electrically charged blades in hand. He did his best to scale up a small building and stand upon it's roof, getting a good angle of the Majin and his ugly self. He began to assess the situation, trying to find a weak spot. Men-bu wouldn't work... Do-bu...possibly... No way in hell Tsuki-bu would be working. That only left, Kote-bu...


"Looks like that's my option." he said before moving back and taking a running leap, taking off into the air towards the Majin, before striking at his wrists.


"HA! Eat on that, ya Kaiju wannabe!!" he laughed as he landed onto the ground safely and then smirked. "But that's just one attack...have some more!! Mangetsu!" he smirked, before watching the electrically charged blades glowing as he threw one and then the other at the Majin's wrists, sending charges into his system as the blades came right back to him like a boomerang. "Oh that's nice."


[spoiler=Kendo Terms with Amaris]

These locations are the scoring points in Kendo

1. Men-bu, the top or sides of the head protector (sho-men and sayu-men).

2. Kote-bu, a padded area of the right or left wrist protector (migi-kote and hidari-kote).

3. Do-bu, an area of the right or left side of the armour that protects the torso (migi-do and hidari-do).

4. Tsuki-bu, an area of the head protector in front of the throat (tsuki-dare).



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The Great and the Broken


Dominance wailed, as it was struck once more from varying angles.  Leroy forced a cyclone around the Majin's head, but it bared with the attack as it dissipated.  Dominance bellowed, stretching out its neck and snapping at Leroy, forcing him back.  Dominance was struck again now, as Amaris leaped head first at the creature with lightning empowered blades.  He found his mark, slicing into the Majin's right wrist, at first only causing it to squeeze its victims tighter.  The second strike however, caused Dominance to let go of Destiny, as it swatted at the wrist that had been stabbed.  The girl plummeted hundreds of feet, with nothing but solid concrete below her.  Riku dove, and with the assistance of Leroy, caught Destiny in a gentle flop.  The Majin roared, its entire face covering Jared.  And then, tragedy struck.


The survivors looked on in horror to watch as Dominance held Jared up high, and opened its mouth.  Leroy valiantly attempted to blow Jared out of the creature's hands, but he was too late.  Jared now fell feet first into the gaping maw of the giant, and was swallowed whole.  Before he could react, Jared slipped down Dominance's throat, sliding through saliva and through its esophagus.  Jared wasn't properly digested, and so he would find himself now standing atop a corroding building in the stomach of the Majin, barely surviving as he looked down at the powerful stomach acid below.


Meanwhile, outside, Christina, who had been mostly quiet during the entire ordeal, finally received the shock she needed to step into action.  Each of the other survivors had managed to contribute, but she had done nothing but look on, as the reality of the situation hit her.  But upon seeing Jared plummet into certain death, she stood up out of the rubble, her fists ablaze.


"Hope you like your food spicy," she declared, tears in her face as she stepped over the record shop door seal.  "But eating what doesn't belong to you is bad karma.  And you'll always get an upset stomach."  The tears on her face turned into steam, as they boiled off at the sheer heat her gauntlets gave off.  She smashed her gauntlets together, and took a running start at the Lord Majin.  Propelling upwards from the side of the record shop, she leaped at Dominance's legs.  Leroy ran interference, buzzing annoyingly around Dominance's head and slapping him with huge gusts of wind.


Destiny, back on her feet, bound one of Dominance's arms in order to prevent it from striking any further.  Mia further empowered Destiny, assuring the strength of her chains, while simultaneously strengthening Amaris and Riku.  The Japanese duo tossed empowered projectiles at Dominance, chipping away and shattering its armor, further exposing its flesh.  They pierced its hands and arms, slowing down the Majin greatly.


The creature swatted at Christina, nearly killing her with the last of its strength.  She managed to roll to the opposite side, and jump to its hind leg.  She climbed, and she climbed, using the armor that protected the Majin against it.  She leaped, finding herself now attached to the exposed stomach of Dominance.  Perched atop the dangling armor at its abs, Christina drew back her fists.  "Jared!" she screamed.  "If you're in there, gimme a hand!"  The blaze around her hands grew, as the spikes on her gauntlets extended to great lengths.  She stabbed viciously at Dominance's stomach, and began to tear it open.  


Dominance roared in agony, and Christina and the other survivors roared back.  "Piss!  Off!" Christina screamed, as she ripped into Dominance's abdomen.  It was up to Jared now, to finish the job.

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Jared couldn’t help embrace the deathly quite that took hold of him within the depths of the Majin’s stomach.  A small billow of smoke could be seen slowly drifting away from his battered form, as the boy lay with his back against the slowly dissolving wall of structure that had long since suffered the same fate that he had. Glancing down at his painfully dislocated right shoulder, the boy closed is eyes once more and took a long hard drag from his cigarette. He had been lucky not to have been fully digested immediately, but consequently was now forced wait for his demise as the very air around him nipped at his skin with a harsh chemical burn.  Every cell in his body was aching with agony, and with each labored breath, Jared could feel his pulse begin to slow. 


Realizing that this would probably be his end, the boy found himself scoffing at his own foolishness. As he exhaled a sorrowful cloud of smoke, Jared couldn’t help but begin to wonder if him and the other survivor ever even had a chance in this world…


“You sure had number done on you, huh?”


Jared’s ears perked as an all too familiar voice sounded from a few feet ahead of him. Ripping his eyes open, the boy was met with a woman. She wore a black apron which brandished a golden Libra scale on the front, and her stoic yet motherly features where framed almost perfectly by the dark brown hair that fell obediently down her back and either side of her face. 


“A-Annabelle…” Jared mumbled in disbelief.


Meanwhile, the sky above the city grew dark with storm clouds as the remainder of the survivors struggled to comprehend exactly what had happened to their lightning wielding comrade. Rain drops began following violently from the heavens, as if the broken planet was weeping for the loss of one of it’s saviors. 


Satisfied that one of the more troublesome human’s had been bested, Dominance let loose a triumphant roar that caused the ground to tremble, before turning his attention to the pest that had latched itself onto it’s stomach. 


“Jarebear.” The woman- Jared’s elder sister, Annabelle spoke in her usual deadpan manner as she began walking towards him. Mystified by what he knew had to be an illusion, the boy let out a large sigh. “Never saw my self as the type to go crazy before they croak…” 


Annabelle’s gaze was just as sharp as he remembered, and even though he had originally believed his body lacked the energy to do so, he found himself instinctually straitening he posture upon her approach, causing him to wince in pain.  Apparently he’d be able to add shattered ribs to his lists of injuries…


Seeing this, the woman scoffed, halting her advance mere inches away from the sorry excuses for a survivor. “I swear you’ll never learn…” Hearing her speak, it would be quite apparent that she was in fact whom Jared had adopted his aloof mannerism and speech patterns from.  “You're always push yourself too damn hard; be it carrying all the crates by yourself, lifting the keg, or even killing Majin. You haven't taken a break since you unlocked your Fayth, and now look at the mess you're in...” 


Jared mustered the strength to roll his eyes, before taking another drag from his cigarette. He could handle being eaten, but defiantly didn’t sign up for being lectured to death whilst he did so.  “What can I say? This crazy broad I know is always telling me to go big or go home…” A stubborn smirk wormed its way to the surface, though it never met his eyes. 


“Damn straight,” Annabel nodded with stern approval before leaning forward and extending a hand towards he wounded brother as if offering to bring him to his feet. Though Jared knew better, and instead of even attempting to bring his hand up to meet Annabel’s, he watched as her manicured fingers slid themselves into his breast pocket, removing the cigarette that she had taught him to he keep hidden there for emergencies. Standing up straight again, Annabel produced a golden lighter that was identical to the one found in Jared’s pocket and proceeded to light the cigarette and blow smoke down onto the top of his head. 


“Those will kill ya, you know…” Jared joked, only to applauded by the sound of roaring thunder from the outside world. Though he wasn’t there to see it, the battlefield had been swallowed in a viscous storm, and rain and lightening where now hailing down on both friend and foe alike. 


Ignoring Jared’s comment, Annabel narrowed her gaze. “So how long do you plan on sitting on your ass down here?”




“I don’t know what Mom and Pops taught you, but no brother of mine is going just lay down and die…”  


The mere mention of his mother and father was enough to cause his expression to darken. But what could he possibly do in the state he was in now? “A-Anna, I can’t…”


“You can. You’re a Strider, and more importantly, one of my employees. How the hell do you think It will look for us if you threw in the towel without even giving it one last push?” Though her cold expression never shifted, Jared could sense the concern in his sister’s words. “It’s down right bad for business... You know what happened to the last asshat that pulled something like that?!”  


“You damn near shattered his skull with that bottle…” Jared chuckled despite the pain in his ribs. 



Nobody can prove it was me, but that’s not the poin-“ Annabel was interrupted by Christina’s call. Shifting his gaze to the right, Jared could see the inner lining of the Majin’s stomach shifting as if someone where trying to break through. His friends, they were still out there fighting for survival, fighting for him…


“What'd I tell you about keeping a lady waiting?” 


“99% percent of those broads will be there when I'm done anyway. Let'em wait as long they need too, unless-"


"-they're of the 1% that matters. In which case?"


"I get my ass up....." Jared nodded in understanding. Sighing, he took a final drag from his cigarette before tossing it to the side. He wasn't dead, not yet at least, and that meant he still owed it to the others to fight. Though his energy reserves had almost been depleted, he still had one trick up his sleeve, and even if he didn't make it out of this place, he'd sure as hell take Dominance with him as a final "f*** you" to the entire Majin race.  


Annabel watched intently as her younger brother mustered the strength to bring himself to his knees. He truly was in a sorry state, but now he once again surged with the will to live, to fight. Gripping his dislocated shoulder tightly with his good hand, the boy slammed eyes his shut and grit his teeth."I better not be seeing you soon, Jarebear..."




Jared's scream echoed from the entirety of the Majin's body as jammed his shoulder back into place. Drawn it a frenzy from the new pain, and fueled by a sudden rush of adrenaline, the boy turned to where his sister had been standing, only to be met with an empty space. But he didn't have time to question the existence of the phantasm, not whilst his friends where still in danger. "Strike him down..." Jared found himself calling out to the storm that raged above the battlefield, commanding it to focus it's furry upon a single target. Raising both hands high above his head, the boy sent the last of his energy to the heavens in a exchange for his final attack. All the storm clouds in the area would gather high above the massive Majin's head, twisting and riving as if they had taken on a life of their own, before opening wide. 




It was over in a flash. A single torrent of divine thunder lashed out from the heavens, engulfing Dominance in it's light and ravaging the survivor's eardrums with a deafening eruption of sound. When the dust cleared they'ed be met with the smoldering corps of the Lord Majin, it's body melted into the ground it stood upon, creating an unearthly monument to the victory the survivors had claimed for the human race. All those around would then begin to be overtaken by the stench of cooked flesh and smoldering concrete, as the monster's corps began to slowly break down into particles of light. 


He could see them now, the other survivors. Though his advance was slow, the boy began limping towards the others, his clothes torn to shreds and his wounds leaking profusely. Jared tried his best to call out to his friends, but his voice and been reduced to a guttural groan. Watching as the first of his survivors came to meet him, his vision began to slowly fade. "C-C" the lightning wilder stammered before falling forward, unable to support his own weight. "Cigarette..." Jared managed to croak before his world went dark, his emergency cigarette falling from his breast pocket as he collapsed.

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The Great Suffering


11:59 A.M.


The sky brightened, in an event that seemed to be much like a gateway opening to this world.  Dominance reared its ugly head, looking to its end as it inevitably found him.  Inside its belly Dominance felt a rumbling, much worse than an upset stomach.  It was an upset survivor.  Dominance grabbed at its abdomen in irritation, anguish, and frustration.  Christina rolled, narrowly avoiding a vicious slap that would have instantaneously crushed her.  


"Jared!  If you die in there, I'll kill you!" she screamed into the belly of the beast.  But Christina would soon be answered, as thunder rolled in, in waves of an incredible display of power.  Catching wind of a nasty storm, Christina ended her desperate surgery operation, and went parkouring off of the Lord Majin, making her way down to the pavement below.  Dominance screeched, swiping at the red head as she scattered away from it.  Dominance began to stumble backwards, its stomach glowing an odd shade of blue as it grew ill.  But before Dominance could spill its guts, it was blasted by a heavenly light that engulfed it, sending immeasurable amounts of electricity into its body in seconds.  Its head was crushed by the sheer force of the blow, as lightning went directly through its body and blasted the concrete below.  The Majin's body crumbled, its heavy armor falling quickly as its body began to melt.  The survivors scattered, trying to avoid being crushed under thousands of tons of metal.  And now in the clearing, a drunkenly weary Jared emerged from the smoldering corpse of what was once The Great Hammer, with a simple request.




Christina sprinted towards him, catching the worn out Jared as he fell into unconsciousness in her arms.  She fell onto her backside, with a sigh of relief.  "Of all the damn problems to have," she said struggling to her feet with Jared now being slumped against her shoulder.  "You wanna smoke?  Those will kill you, dumbass," she said laughing to herself.  She heaved Jared over her shoulder properly, before propping him up against the side of the record shop which, amazingly, still stood.  Wiping the sweat from her brow, Christina leaned backwards against the wall as well, when Yuel chirped on the phones of the survivors.


"You did it," she said, utterly shocked.  "I don't know how--well I do, obviously, I recorded the whole thing--but you did it.  I'm in disbelief!  You guys did it!" she said cheering for the survivors.  "Well, Destiny, Leroy, Amaris, Mia, and Jared did most of the work.  I just kinda gave a hand or two," Christina said slumping down.  "So what now Yuel?  How are we supposed to know which way to go?  I wanna avoid running into big bastards like this one if we can at all help it."


Yuel nodded to Christina, intent on giving them direction.  "Well, I imagine you're all pretty beat after such an eventful morning.  It's barely noon," she said  confirming the time.  "I think you guys should take a breather, while I look over Dominance's corpse for cl--oh.  Well, this is going to be easier than I thought," Yuel said as she felt a powerful magical presence.  "Everyone, take a look at Dominance's remains."


The burning flesh sparked into particles of bright light, blurring the vision of the survivors just slightly.  Behind the sparks, a strangely shaped discus sat in the Majin's remains.


"What the heck?" said a curious Riku.  He wandered over and took the discus in his hand.  It was a dark, purple hexagon shaped discus,  with strange alien markings written over it.  The disc vibrated harshly in Riku's hands, as he tried to maintain control over it.  "Kuso ̄!" he said as the disc fought him.  "What's with this thing!?" he asked to no one in particular.  Yuel giggled at Riku's struggle.  "Riku, let it go."


"What?  But won't it like--fly off or something!?"


"Yes," Yuel confirmed.  The survivors gave each other a stare, then turned to Yuel, then to Riku.  "It will be fine Riku," Yuel assured them.  "Let it go."  Riku, who was holding onto the discus for dear life, sighed at last, before throwing the discus towards the lake before them.  "Oy!  You're gonna lose it, mate!" Leroy said suddenly.  "Discus never bothered me anyway," Riku retorted.  But before the discus could hit the water, it stopped, mid flight, and hovered high into the air.  The survivors craned their necks, keeping a close eye on the discus as it spun round and round, like a record.  "Yuel what's--"


"Just watch," she said excitedly.  The discus began to slow its rotation, stopping completely as its corners began to separate.  "What the sheet?"  The discus broke off into six pieces, before piercing through the air at intense speeds, in six different directions.  Immediately, the survivors could see coordinates being uploaded to their phones, as Yuel began to run some calculations.  "Yuel?  Care to explain?" Destiny asked, folding her arms.  Yuel smiled, but immediately withdrew it, as she thought carefully about her answer.


"That was a Location Discus.  It is linked to other Location Discs within a certain radius," she said slowly.  "But it went in six directions.  Why did it separate?" asked Amaris.  Yuel continued, patiently.  "Well, Amaris.  The Location Discus will always seek out other discs.  And so, judging by the way the discus separated--"


"There are six more.  Is that about right?" Mia said summing up Yuel's explanation.  


"Yes.  And you're going to need them."


Christina sighed, looking down to Yuel.  "Well, what for?  What's on the disc?"  Yuel's eyes wandered, as if she were trying to find someway to bide her time.  "Come on Yuel, talk to us.  What's up?"  Yuel sighed, as she finally gave in.  "The Location Discus is used to carry information.  A millennium's worth of information."




"Say what?"


"That's a long time."


"Er, yes.  But, with what little information I found just reading the projected path of the Discus Shards. . . we--er you--well, that is to say. . . oh dear," she said struggling to find the words.  Christina raised an eyebrow, before drawing a conclusion.  Her eyes widened, before she was sent into a sudden depression.  She looked to the others, who had also now understood exactly what the problem was with this discus.  "We're going to have to go after them right?" Christina confirmed.


Yuel nodded.


"And the bloody Majin have 'em.  Don't they?"


Again, Yuel nodded.


"Are you telling me what I think you're telling me?"


Once more, Yuel nodded.


"The Location Discus sought out six others.  All of them belonging to Lord Majin.  You're going to have to venture into their nests and kill them, if you want to set things right."  Riku scratched his head, hanging low as he thought about the situation.  "So, there are six more of these guys?  Hammer dudes?"  Yuel shook her head.  "There is no telling which of the Majin Lords are here on your planet.  There are. . . many.  Depending on which you run into, will determine how difficult your fight will be.  But I can assure you of this," Yuel said as she created a 3-D digital image of a scale.  "The Majin Lords will always know the location of one another.  They separate to cover ground, and to prevent territorial wars.  But because Dominance has fallen, they are now aware of your presence," Yuel said as the scale tipped in favor of the Majin Lords.  "And in addition, killing a Majin Lord will not only alert them to your current location, but will also strengthen them.  For each Majin Lord that falls, the others will grow progressively stronger.  Things will not get easier."


The survivors gave one another an affirmative glance.  "Then, we'd better find another ride.  We've got a lot of friggin' work to do," Christina said stretching.  


"There are two nearby nests, just West and Northwest of our current location.  Roughly sixty miles.  The others are much further north, past the city.  It would take some time to get there.  You should decide where you want to go.  To our west, from what I have gathered, the Lord's Nests are actually rather close to each other.  You should expect a bit of chaos if you choose to take them on.  Majin Lord's are very territorial.  However, going north would take us several hours out of the way.  In fact, you could follow the river to the next Lord's Nest almost directly.  It would be harder to get lost, but it would be much more time consuming.  And of course, there's no telling what other Majin lie ahead.  You've not seen many of them, and so you must remain cautious."



[spoiler=OOC.  Please Read]

At this time, you should probably take a breather.  There is a nearby vehicle in the autoshop, which you will secure soon.  Voice your survivor's thoughts on which direction you should go.  You are near a body of water that presents a LOT of direction, and heads directly north into the state.  However, there are other nearby nests which could be cleared at your discretion.  Gather your thoughts, as your survivors take a break.  We'll be moving forward soon.


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Amaris watched as the Majin finally fell and with it, Jared being released from it. No one really said much after Jared said what he said, so Amaris took it upon himself to say what everyone was thinking: "W-We...WON!!!"


Victory Fanfare


However, their celebration was short lived. A discus in the Majin's hand flew up into the sky above their heads. "Yuel what's-"


"Just watch!" Yuel chimed happily.


And like clockwork, the discus began to slow its rotation, stopping completely as its corners began to separate. The discus broke off into six pieces, before piercing through the air at intense speeds, in six different directions.  Immediately, the survivors could see coordinates being uploaded to their phones, as Yuel began to run some calculations.


"That was a Location Discus.  It is linked to other Location Discs within a certain radius" Yuel said, answering the obvious question everyone had.


"But it went in six directions.  Why did it separate?"


"Well, Ishida-kun. The Location Discus will always seek out other discs.  And so, judging by the way the discus separated--"


The conversations between the survivors and Yuel continued on and it was revealed that these six discus had a millenniums worth of information in them. That definitely made them top priority, along with surviving. However, now Yuel began to say that the Majin had these discuses...in short, Majin's just as strong as the one they just defeated.


Amaris simply sat on the ground, watching his Fayth fade from his hands before exhaling slightly. The options given by Yuel on directions, were quite a bit. Each one had their own merits and qualities to them. However, the idea of following the river would make more sense.


"Just throwing this out there..." Amaris said, chuckling. "My bet would be on following the river to the next nest. If we follow it, we'll get to our destination without aimlessly wandering around getting lost."

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The battle was over.  Dominance lay there in a smoldering pile of flesh.  Jared emerged from the beast relatively unscathed.  "Jumpin' Jehoshaphat's!  How'd we pull this one off...." Leroy said, winded as a wallaby on a hot summer day.


True Victory



Leroy returned to the group that had gathered outside and around both Jared and Christina.  As a discus emerged and scattered from Dominance, Yuel relayed to them what the discus was, what it contained, and where they could now be found.


"So those uh...tiny pieces could give us clues to stop all this mess here...I don't like it.  I don't like it one tiny bit."  Their one mission provided to them had been turned into a gathering quest.  It took Leroy long and hard to try and think of any suggestion that wouldn't sound as if he were chickening out of the whole thing.  Let's be honest, Leroy was having too much of a blast with his flight to give up at the thought of fighting six more Majin lords.  


"Just throwing this out there..." Amaris laughed as he gave his suggestion.  "My bet would be on following the river to the next nest. If we follow it, we'll get to our destination without aimlessly wandering around getting lost."


"Sensible...but let me toss my hat into the ring 'ere."  Leroy took a deep breath.  "I don't know about the rest of ya...but I'm not sure we should be looking for our own demises out here.  Our mission is to survive right?  I know we're going to have to fight all of the Majin Lords soonah or later...I just don't want anybody to die..."  Leroy gripped onto his shirt.  "Why don't we just...try and do that...survive.  Let the danger come to us...We'll deal with it accordingly, like we always have up til now!"


"Leroy..." Yuel interjected, "...This isn't just a survival mission.  You all have to find a way from stopping this where it all started...you can't just hide.  Others have failed at that...you have to find a solution."


"What if humanity was the problem...and the majin were the solution."  Leroy's expression had become blank, and he looked at the ground.  He looked back up to the group, regaining his smile as he saw their faces.  "Oy!  Geez...what am I blabberin' about?  I'll just go with the flow...and fellow my mate's decisions!"  

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The battle had been hard fought, but in the end they had all pulled through... even Jared, though at the moment he was a little under the weather. Currently Mia was kneeling at his side a white aura shimmering from the white haired teen's hands slowly, yet thoroughly repairing Jared's injuries. Focused on the task at hand Mia only half payed attention to the flying disk, more concerned with healing Jared's wounds (of which there where numerous).


"You really did a number on yourself..." Mia muttered at the still unconscious Jared.


At the moment Yuel seemed to be explaining the purpose of the disks, and their locations. From what Mia gathered each of these other disks seemed to all be in the possession of Majin Lords just like the Dominance they had just fought. Allowing the other survivors to state their opinions Mia listened quietly, and patiently before offering his own opinion. 


"Hey, Yuel. You mentioned that these Majin Lord are really territorial right, that's why the have to stay away from each other," Mia spoke up not leaving Jared's side. "So, I've got a little idea. What would happen if one of these Majin Lords, say oh I don't know just happened to find itself in another Lord's nest? I mean two of those Lords are very close together, and I have a little plan cooking in my head that could bring them even closer.


However before that I think we need to find somewhere to camp out for the night. Before we do anything I think we need to rest and recover, and that means all of you need to report in for a check-up by Dr. Mia." 

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Christina lay Jared gently in Mia's care.  She stood up, stretching as she listened to the others.



"Just throwing this out there.  My bet would be on following the river to the next nest. If we follow it, we'll get to our destination without aimlessly wandering around getting lost."


Christina wasn't against it.  Following the river meant securing what could likely be the most difficult of nests sooner than later.  They would have to travel back, but maybe the number of nests in a further location outweighed the few.  However, what happened next caused Christina to fume.


"What if humanity was the problem...and the majin were the solution." 


Christina stomped towards Leroy, and snatched him by his collar.  "Exactly what is the point you're trying to make, Leroy?  Because if you're suggesting that all of those people needed to die, and everything we're doing is worthless, we can leave your ass here," she barked as her temper flared.  "We all just risked our lives to make sure humanity presses on.  So if you're not willing to tag along, then you can stay grounded, fly-boy."


"Christina!" Yuel squeaked.  "Please, no in fighting!  Leroy was just expressing himself!"


"Oy!  Geez...what am I blabberin' about?  I'll just go with the flow...and fellow my mate's decisions!"


But Christina only got angrier.  "No.  That's a load of crap.  We're not playing follow the leader Leroy.  Now obviously, you have something on your mind.  So speak up!" she yelled.  


"Christina, stop it!" Yuel urged her.  Christina was chest to chest with Leroy, with her knuckles at his throat as she pressed him against the side of the record shop now.  She barely bumped his head on the notches of bricks behind him, as she made her point.  "Don't wuss out on us Leroy," she said letting him go.  She took a deep breath, still looking him in the face.  "Be a shame to waste that handsome face of yours on some God damn Majin," she said storming off.  Apparently, she was really heated.  


"Christina!" Yuel said nagging at the girl to turn around.  But Christina trudged on, turning around the western corner, nearest the autoshop.


Meanwhile, Yuel popped up onto Mia's phone, as she was intrigued at her question.


"Hey, Yuel. You mentioned that these Majin Lord are really territorial right, that's why the have to stay away from each other."


"That's correct, Mia."


"So, I've got a little idea. What would happen if one of these Majin Lords, say oh I don't know just happened to find itself in another Lord's nest? I mean two of those Lords are very close together, and I have a little plan cooking in my head that could bring them even closer."


Yuel's figurative hair stood on edge at Mia's words.  "You. . .want to bring two Majin Lords into one location?  Well--I--you guys are strong, but--"


"However before that I think we need to find somewhere to camp out for the night. Before we do anything I think we need to rest and recover, and that means all of you need to report in for a check-up by Dr. Mia." 


Yuel sighed, thinking over Mia's idea.  "It's feasible Mia.  But you're talking about putting yourselves in a very dangerous situation.  If I'm correct, am I to understand you intend for the Majin Lords to fight one another?"


Meanwhile, Christina had lit up her Fayth, and was pounding away at the heavy steel gate and barrier that shielded the autoshop.  "Christina, you owe Leroy an apology," Yuel said to her, muffled through the girl's pocket.


"No.  I don't.  He said something I didn't like, so I expressed myself.  I'm not gonna apologize to make him feel better," she said emphasizing the word as she finally managed to tear a small hole in the barrier.  Christina put both of her gauntlets to the insides of the tear, and began to rip outwards, venting all of her frustration on the barrier.  She struggled initially, but the angrier she got, the better she felt as she began to tear the barrier in two.  Christina pulled and pulled, exerting all of her strength into venting against this thing that dared hold her back.  She heard a violent creaking, as the barrier finally gave way.  She nearly stumbled over as the barrier crumpled at her strength, folding over and crashing as she tossed its pieces aside.  Panting, she stepped over the broken barrier, and burned a whole through the gate behind it.  Finally past the autoshops defenses, she could see a dusty glass that read "Pepboys" in bold red lettering.  She tugged at the glass door, only to find it locked.  Lowering her Fayth, she used a more simple technique, wrapping her elbow in her father's bandanna, and smashing the front door in.  She flipped the lock from the inside, and eased into it.


"Christina," Yuel pouted.  Sighing, Christina took her phone from her pocket, to find the lip-poking Yuel scowling at her with digital eyes.  "What, Yuel?  I already told you, I'm not gonna apologize."


"That's not fair.  You practically assaulted him for speaking.  That's unfair to him, and to your teammates."


"Then maybe he shouldn't be belittling the people who have died tragic deaths, just because he has a little philosophy on his mind.  That's not fair," she retorted.  The lights were out inside, and so Christina was working with only her cellphone as a light source.  She decided against using her Fayth anymore, not wanting to drain any more of her energy.  She slid past the dust covered counter top, ringing the service bell for obvious reasons.  "Came to pick up a Black '67 Chevy Impala," she called to no one in particular.  She smiled to herself, feeling just a tad bit better as she entered into the workshop of the "Pepboys".  It was even darker in this area, as Christina found herself nearly tripping over tools.  "Who the hell left out a jack?  Idiots," she mumbled.  She ended up feeling around in the dark, until she bumped into a large box-shaped, grate like object that seemed familiar.  "Is this a gen--" she fell forwards a bit, and ran her hands accidentally over a large nob.  She turned it slowly, as the box vibrated, and lights cracked above her head.  "sheet!" she said ducking around the generator.  One standing light managed to illuminate the workshop, causing Christina's mouth to drop in shock.


"Holy sheet," she said examining one of the most unique things she'd seen in her short life time.  "This thing is badass!" she cheered.

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Destiny tried her damnedest to keep her breathing in check, as her ribs had been cracked by her being crushed by Dominance's grip. Thankfully, she seemed to manage OK, after taking off the corset that she wore around her waist since it wasn't helping and tossed it to one side. However, as the others spoke around her, Des opted to remain silent, the only sounds she made coming from the breaths she drew. Leroy mentioned something about humanity being the potential problem and the Majin being the solution, which Des seemed to actually take into serious consideration, but Christina was having none of it.


"Exactly what is the point you're trying to make, Leroy?! Because if you're suggesting that all of those people needed to die, and everything that we're doing is worthless, we can leave your ass here! We all just...!"


"Whooooooooaaaaaa, whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa, hold the funk up," Des intervened, trying her best to stand on her own two feet despite her injuries. By the time she did though, Christina, after berating Leroy further than she already had, stormed out of the record shop before anyone could successfully stop her. That... was a bad move, walking out into a danger zone in after just having a fallout with another survivor. And that was putting it lightly! Feeling as though her hand was forced, Des kicked the door that signified the record shop's entrance open in frustration, but before she actually left...


"I'm going after her," Des stated so that the others knew, but she kept it short and to the point, "If one of you wants to come with me, you may, but the more important thing is that I get to Chris before she actually manages to throw her bloody life away!"


With that, she was gone. Whoever would insist on accompanying Des would have to sprint for a good distance in order to catch up to her.




"She should be just around this corner, Destiny," Yuel directed, pausing before saying anything further"Y'know, you didn't have to do this,"


"Oh, pfft," Des scoffed without any obvious sense of care, "She didn't have to make that big ass scene just then either, but she got too..."


"Could you not? Please?" Yuel asked timidly.


"Whatever," Des replied after a brief sigh, before finding herself at an autoshop with a busted barrier. The sign said "Pepboys"... whatever kind of name that was supposed to be. In any case, Christina had clearly entered the autoshop at some point; if she hadn't, then the barrier that was supposed to stop people from entering would've still been in intact. Via that judgment alone, Destiny ventured inside to have a look around.


"Holy sheet. This thing is badass!" that was certainly Christina's voice alright. It was a good thing Yuel was all but happy to help, or Des would've likely had to battle through a whole boatload of Majins just to get to Chris' location... and in her current condition, any hope of those battles going OK would be non-existent. But anyway, Destiny clapped slowly and very sarcastically at what she gathered had been Christina's sudden discovery.


"Let's just hope it was worth the risk of dying over!" Des called out, hoping to all that was holy that she got a reply.

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"It's dark..."


"Did I die?"


"This isn't too bad...kinda peaceful."


"Sorry, Red... I guess you'll just have to kill me when you get the chance."


"hm, I wonder if the others made it out ok..."



Jared's thoughts drifted through the darkness of his subconscious as his body was being tended to by Mia. Upon finally being rejuvenated to a point where he could reopen his eyes, the boy was met with the site of Christina pressing Leroy against the wall in what seemed to be some kind of dispute between the two.


Even in this broken state, Jared still felt the need to intervene. "C-Christina!" The boy croaked rather pathetically as he placed his hand heavily on Mia's shoulder. Summoning his Fayth, Jared tried his best to bring himself to his feet using Mia and his sword as support. "Stop.." He activated Swallow's Furry in an attempt to put himself in between the two survivors, but instead of the glorious shroud of lightning that usual cloaked his body, Jared produced a series of sorrowful sparks that danced in the air around him before dissipating hungrily.


Though the display was vastly unimpressive, the strain it put on his body was enormous, and seconds later Jared found himself collapsing back in the same exact position he started in as he watched Christina storm off with Des close behind. Scoffing at his own weakness, Jared shook his head before looking up towards Mia in defeat. "You should see the other guy..." He joked dryly whilst weakly nodding towards where Dominance's corps had been before it dissipated into light.


"Leroy," He suddenly addressed his wind manipulating survivor. "don't take any of what Christina did or said personally, man. It's just the kind of women sh-" Jared's words of wisdom were cut short as he abruptly blacked out from the new stress he had just put on his already weakened body. Though this time the boy's slumber seemed just a little less terminal, and after a while the others would be pleased to hear the same obnoxious snore that had filled their sleeping quarters the night before.

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She was examining the vehicle when she heard a rather sarcastic, pitiful clap behind her.  Christina raised her head from the door panel, looking towards the entrance of the workshop.


"Let's just hope it was worth the risk of dying over!"


Destiny.  "What're you doing up, princess?" Christina said jokingly.  "You and Jared should both be lying down.  Let Mia heal you," she said turning her attention back to the monstrosity of a truck before her.  It was solid black, and the truck stood above average height, an additional ten inches off the ground compared to other vehicles of its size.  Christina first took a look at the tires, noticing the steel treading on the inside of its tracks.  There were four additional tires sprawled across the workshop floor just before her.  They were in great condition, suggesting that they could be taken along with the vehicle itself in the event of an emergency tire change.  The tires lugs were concealed by a solid steel plate, with a working retractable cylinder in its center.  The cylinder when examined, was revealed to house six spikes in varying areas over the cylinder.  "So when it rotates--sheet!" Christina said stumbling backwards.  The spikes projected themselves outwards, nearly taking her hand from her.  She tapped the cylinder carefully, noticing its spring loaded rear.  "It comes off?"  When fired, the cylinder could be turned into a spike riddled, hard lined bullet.  It could be replaced, but only manually.  Christina managed to get the spikes to retract inside of the cylinder, before sliding it back inside the tire and sealing it.  These cylinders could be found in all four of the large tires around the truck.  In addition, they were pre-loaded into the spare tires as well.  The truck was also equipped with powerful flood lights, as well as two large wench racks in its front and back.


Standing up straight, Christina knocked on the paneling of the doors of the truck, a loud clang meeting her ear drums.  Curiously, she tugged at one of the door handles, revealing the truck to be unlocked.  She pulled open the passenger door, examining the lining.  "HSSS?" she questioned aloud, reading the letters one at a time.  This was no steel she had seen before.  Moving the door back and forth, she could feel how light it was, as opposed to being heavier with metal behind its paneling.  If the idea was to use this truck as a means of getting around without getting jumped by Majin, whoever made it had the right idea.  Upon closer inspection, the steel behind the paneling on the door was not only super light, but it was much stronger than standard steel.  Looking to the side lining of the door, it read, "High Specific Strength Steel."  "Reinforced with manganese and nickel?   Huh," she said to herself as she closed the door.  Tapping on other parts of the truck, it was obvious that the entirety of it had been reinforced with this metal, making this a monster a walking tank.  And further increasing its toughness, were sheets of depleted Uranium, barely noticed by the well made engineering and welding on the truck itself.


Upon opening the driver side door now, Christina examined the inside.  The upholstery was fine, albeit a bit plain.  But serving as essentially a military vehicle, it didn't need to be leather seating.  There was a large roll cage around the whole of the inside of the truck, with linings behind the glass of each window.  And with a tap on the windows themselves, it was obvious that they too were reinforced.  With the roll cage behind them, getting through those windows would require a hell of a lot of force.  There was a series of three switches on the driver's side of the dashboard.  Each of them was labeled, reading "Spikes", "Wench", and "Windows".  There was an instruction manual in the door compartment of the driver's side as well, just in case.  


Christina crawled further inside to get a better look.  The seats were heavy, and from the looks of things, they were also removable.  While they weren't spring loaded, these seats had large latches on their outsides for quick and fast removing options.  This could also be a safety mechanism.  Above the second row of seats was a large hatch in the roof, allowing one to get a peek outside while still within the confines of the vehicle.  


In the rear of the vehicle were two elongated steel containers.  This could be used for food storage, among other things.  And in the very center of the "trunk" compartment was a hatch on the bottom side of the vehicle, likely for more stealthy escapes.  There was a folding rope ladder attached to this second hatch.  It could be removed and used at will in other places.  In addition, there was a heavy toolbox wedged between the large storage containers.  Inside of it were two heavy duty car jacks, a lug wrench, two rolls of plasma synthetic rope, and two removable wenches.  Finally, two large metal gas cans were hidden inside one of the storage containers, prompting Christina to check the fuel levels.  The containers were enormous, holding twenty gallons of gas each.  She managed to lug the containers outside to the gas tank, noticing the tank to be half full.  She topped it off, before placing the gas container back where she retrieved it from.  She carefully rolled the four spare tires and loaded them into the rear of the truck, wiping the sweat from her brow.


Christina was excited.  She couldn't wait to here this thing roar.  But where were the keys?  She hopped into the driver's seat, when a slight gleam caught her eye.  She looked up, flicking down the sun visor.  "Of course," she said sarcastically.  "Get in here shorty," Christina called to Destiny as she put the key in the ignition.  The truck roared to life, its bright flood lights piercing ahead.  There was a garage door down in front of her, but Christina wasn't about to get out to lift it.  "Time to put this thing to the test."

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Christina's sudden outburst had caught him off guard, and he was suddenly pinned up against the wall.  "No.  That's a load of crap.  We're not playing follow the leader Leroy.  Now obviously, you have something on your mind.  So speak up!"


"Kinda hard when I've got knuckles on my throat love..."  His smile reflected his inner turmoil.  What he had just said might've just caused him to become the odd man out...the only one who felt a slight sense of being afraid that no one else showed signs of.  


"Don't wuss out on us Leroy be a shame to waste that handsome face of yours on some God damn Majin."


Leroy laughed as Christina put him down.  She ran off towards the auto shop in a heat.  Leroy could literally see the fumes rise from her crimson hair.  As she strode off, Jared regained consciousness to speak words of encouragement towards him.


"Leroy, don't take any of what Christina did or said personally, man. It's just the kind of women sh-"


"Oy...enough of that sparky.  Damage is already done...can't take back what I said.  I shouldn't have said it in the first place..."  


"Leroy," Yuel buzzed in, "...it was just a thought...neither of you should be reacting this way towards one another.  You're all friends...you're all survivors."  Leroy took his phone out of his pocket and placed it on Jared's chest.  "Leroy?!  What are you doing!"  


He was already half way up to the sky by then.  "I just...gotta fly you know?"  Leroy stuck out his arms as he soared towards the clouds, loopty looping and barrel rolling amongst them.  He breathed in deeply as the air up here was intoxicating.  Flying always got his mind off the hard stuff.  Now he was thinking of a way to approach Christina again in a manner that wouldn't lead to a fiery fist in his face.  

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"What're you doing up, princess? You and Jared should both be resting. Let Mia heal you," ...while what, Des was angrily thinking? Christina go out, get herself killed and doom everyone else in the process? Des shook her head in disgust, but on second thought, she should've just been glad that Christina was still alive. And had obviously forgotten about the incident with Leroy... or put it behind her, one or the other. In any case, Des received a notification from Yuel.


"Leroy may come to the two of you in a moment's notice. What do you want do?" Yuel stated quietly, not wanting Christina to overhear her. Des didn't respond to Yuel's question just yet, but she just merely looked at her with a sorrowful look on her face. She put her phone away when Christina invited her inside the vehicle that she'd discovered, taking her offer and climbing in the passenger side. It was only as she shut the door and put her seat belt on that Des realized what Christina was up to, and... Considering neither of them had any crash gear on and the seat belts weren't exactly five-point harness, Des didn't know what Christina was thinking by trying to drive through the garage door. But she guessed she had to make some sort of move before her ribs got damaged any more than they already were.


"Hey, Chris?" Des said with the same sorrowful look on her face, "We need to talk... about you and Leroy."

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Christina rubbed her hands together excitedly, as she went over the console of the vehicle.  A satellite radio--not like they would get any signals--wood grain dash, and brand new upholstery.  She couldn't keep her excitement in as the engine purred.  But before she could really test out the truck, Destiny hopped in.  She shut the door behind her, as Christina revved the engine.  But as Christina prepared to slam the truck through the thin garage door, she was floored by Destiny's statement.


"Hey, Chris?" 


She raised an eyebrow.  The only person who had ever called her Chris was her mother.  It was admittedly awkward.  She eased her foot off of the gas, turning to Destiny.


"What's up?"


The expression on Destiny's face turned sour, as she became overcome with a worried look.  This couldn't be good.


"We need to talk... about you and Leroy."


And it wasn't.  Christina sighed, turning off the engine as she slumped back in her seat.  Christina took a deep breath, she went to clear up her points.  "Look.  I'm gonna tell you like I told Yuel.  I'm not sorry for what I did or what I said.  I was furious about Leroy wanting to just up and make us the bad guys.  Maybe I jumped the gun.  I just. . . we've got enough to deal with and that kinda pessimism set me off.  I get that it's not all roses and fairy tales, but I'm already down to nothing.  I don't need you guys to be so negative too.  It would make this whole thing pointless."


"That doesn't make you right, Christina.  Leroy's gone and flown away, and your words really hurt him."


Christina groaned, putting her head against the steering wheel.  "That wasn't my intention.  God damn it," she said leaning on the horn of the truck.  Christina sat up, massaging her scalp.  "You need to apologize.  And make yourself clear with out all of the aggression."


"Hey!  I can't help it!  Okay!?  I'm aggressive!  That's who I am!  I'm blunt, I'm straight-funking-forward!"


"You can't treat your friends like that Christina!  That's--"


"Who said they were my friends!?" Christina retorted.  Yuel was taken aback.  Her eyes turned to daggers as she tore into Christina.  Christina clasped her mouth, regretting her words immediately.  "No, I--"


"You've said your part Christina.  And now we--no--they know.  And an apology won't do.  Destiny.  If you walk away now, I won't blame you.  This mission may just be compromised."  Christina turned her head, placing her forehead against the glass of the driver side window.  Silently, she kept her face away from Destiny, as she began to weep.  "In fact, I insist.  Let's return to the others.  We'll have to make due without Christina.  The fate of this world is now in your hands."


Destiny sighed, sliding out of the vehicle, holding the door open for just a moment, as her eyes narrowed on Christina.  "You're a sad case, Chris.  Why were you picked for this?"  She slammed the door, rattling Christina as she walked away.


". . . they're more than friends to me.  They're all I have."





She had returned to the others not shortly after departing from the autoshop.  Jared was still being cradled by Mia, and Riku was pacing back and forth.  "We have a problem," she said right away.  "There's so much tension.  More problems?  Don't we have enough of those?" he groaned.  Destiny sighed, just as a flying Leroy returned, straightening his hair after the landing.  He had heard Destiny's words, a solemn look on his face.  "What is it love?" he asked quickly.  Destiny bit her lip softly, as she mentally mused over her choice of words.  But there was no way around it.  "Christina will be . . .carrying on without us."


Mia raised an eyebrow, looking to Destiny.  "What exactly does that mean?" Mia asked quickly.  


Amaris interjected, coming forwards.  "Where is she?  What's going on?"


At this point, Yuel came forth from the survivor's phones, minus Jared's.  "Christina has denounced you all.  Her actions have spoken loudly enough, and with a resounding statement of 'they aren't my friends', I urged Destiny to return."


The survivors broke into separate conversations all at once, stirring Jared from his slumber.  A light green aura still weighed over him, as Mia tried to keep him from moving.  "Wuz goin' on," he mumbled, drowsily.  


"Yuel just said--"


"Look, those weren't her exact words.  She--"


"Don't defend her, Destiny.  She attacked Leroy, and she denounced you all as her allies.  I believe that is sufficient information for moving forward without her."


"But why would she say something like that!?" Amaris said suddenly.  Riku threw his hands in the air in frustration, as Leroy prepared to buzz off again.  "Hang-hang-hang on--EVERYBODY SHUT UP for a minute, will ya!?" Jared barked trying to stand up.


"Jared--" Mia interrupted, trying to keep him still.


"I'm fine, kid.  Thanks for fixing me up.  Christ, I have the worst headache," he said with a groan as he got steady on his feet.  "Now, I didn't quite catch what set Red off, but she looked pretty pissed.  Destiny, you chased her.  What the hell happened?"


Destiny sighed, folding her arms.  "I went to talk to Chris, regarding Leroy.  She had found some sick truck in the stupidly named autoshop a few blocks over, and she was ducked inside of it.  Before I could get to the root of the problem, she and Yuel were going at.  Chris got mad and said something stupid.  So, Yuel and I left."


The survivors were silent for a moment, with strained, heavy breathing among them.  Suddenly, a screech, and a loud bang caused them to turn, as Christina came barreling around the nearest corner in the monstrosity of a vehicle that she had found earlier.  She slammed on the brakes, parking the truck in front of the others, missing Amaris by a hair.  She didn't say anything, but walked slowly around the vehicle in awkward silence.  She tossed the keys towards them, with Jared happily catching them.  There was an unsure look on her face, and her eyes were steaming red.


Leroy approached, but was stopped by the hand of Amaris.  "Look, Christina--"


"You don't need to say anything, Leroy," Christina said turning her back to the others.  "I messed up.  And Yuel made it clear that I don't deserve to be here."




"Maybe you were right Leroy.  Maybe I'm one of those problem people.  Maybe I should've been among the dead."


She pulled out her cellphone, where the Survival Application was blinking.  Reading the application, it read, 'Uninstalling.'  "What are you doing, Red?  Stop acting like a brat, and let's get this over with," Jared said slowly stepping forwards.  Christina turned off her phone screen, and tossed it behind her.  Again, Jared caught it, this time in his chest.  "See you around.  If I see you around," she said ducking down.


"Christina?  Christina!" But before he could lay a hand on her, Christina bolted away, a trail of flames behind her.  "God damn it!  Christina!!" Jared roared at her, slipping and bracing himself against the rear of the truck.  Leroy and Amaris caught him, while the others looked on in disbelief.  Mia tossed a brick in frustration, accidentally collapsing the remaining structure of the record shop.  Destiny said nothing, a frustrated look on her face.  Riku had his face in his hands, unsure of what was to come next.  Jared, pained and in dismay, sat on the trunk of the truck as he took a cigarette from his pocket.  Leroy leaned against the rear end on one side, as Amaris followed suit on the other.


"So what now?" Amaris spoke up.  Destiny wasted no time, opening her palm to Jared as she crossed his path.  "We move on," she said as Jared handed her the keys.


"So, you wanna just . . .go?" Riku questioned, standing up straight.  "Without Christina?"


"Do we have much choice?  We can't just sit here waiting for the world to end. . . again.  We've got a lot to do."


"But, what if she dies!?  This will all be for nothing!" Riku argued.


Jared shook his head, taking a long drag of his cigarette, as he exhaled smoke.  "She won't die.  Not Red.  She's too God damn stubborn to die."  Mia stretched, crossing Jared's path and snatching a loose cigarette from his pocket.  "Let's hope you're right.  Where to?"


Jared looked to Mia, then to Destiny, Amaris, Leroy, and Riku.  "North?  There's a whole bunch of nests up there right?  The travel will let us get to know each other better.  Maybe do some work on our uh, combat stuff.  Figure some of this Fayth sheet out," Jared said with a deep breath.


Amaris nodded in agreement.


"I'm unopposed," Riku said raising a hand.  Leroy nodded towards Jared.  "I'm with ya mate," he said trying to cheer the others up.  Destiny folded her arms.  "I'm fine with that.  On one condition," she said said as the others raised their heads to her.


"What's that?" Jared said standing up straight.


"I'm driving."




"No.  Way."


"I mean, I could just fly."


"Just don't get us killed."


"Whatever boobie lady.  Let's get this show on the road.  Yuel, point us North.  Where's our best bet?"  Yuel began running a GPS system on the Survivor's phones, as a 3-D map illuminated itself and spread out in front of them.  "Baton Rouge," she said as a red blip blinked on their GPS systems.  "There's one nest there, and the other three are about two hours past it."


"Any idea which nests are which?"


"I'm afraid not Jared.  We'll be walking in blind."


"Any stops along the way?"


"There's a small town called LaPlace roughly twenty minutes north of here.  You could swing by there for supplies if you need them.  After that, it's nearly bare on the road to the next nest."  The survivors stretched, looking to each other for comfort as they prepared for the next battle.  "Guess we should get going then," Leroy confirmed.  Loading into the truck, the survivors buckled in, as Destiny took the wheel.

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Amaris couldn't believe on what he had just heard. Christina...was leaving? Why would she...why? And what was more, was that Destiny tried to defend her, but was stopped by Yuel. Why did Yuel stop someone from defending her? Things weren't going so well now.


"But why would she say something like that!?" Amaris asked, only to get the story from Destiny after Jared asked.


"I went to talk to Chris, regarding Leroy.  She had found some sick truck in the stupidly named autoshop a few blocks over, and she was ducked inside of it.  Before I could get to the root of the problem, she and Yuel were going at.  Chris got mad and said something stupid.  So, Yuel and I left."


Something stupid? Then this was a small situation that could easily be taken care of by some talking. At least, Amaris thought this. But nevertheless, the survivors stood there in complete silence, not sure what to make of this situation. What would happen now? What would Christina do? These thoughts were put to a halt as the sounds of screeching tires were heard, as they saw the "sick truck" that Destiny mentioned. Then he saw Christina walking out.


Amaris watched as Leroy began to approach the red headed woman, walking towards her. Amaris knew this wouldn't be a great idea, so he stopped his ally by putting his hand up in front of him.


"You don't need to say anything, Leroy. I messed up.  And Yuel made it clear that I don't deserve to be here. Maybe you were right Leroy.  Maybe I'm one of those problem people.  Maybe I should've been among the dead."


He wanted to say something, but watched as Christina just simply uninstalled the app from her phone and tossed it behind her. This floored Amaris as he sighed, before moving up some. He needed to talk...he needed to. But she was already blazing down this path. So he called out to her nevertheless after he and Leroy caught Jared from his slipping spell.


"Christina." Amaris called out to her, before sighing. "I won't tell you that what your doing is the right thing...nor will I tell you it's the wrong thing." he said, putting his hands in his pocket, already hearing Yuel speak.


"Ishida-kun, please let her g-"


"Yuel..." Amaris said sternly, apparently getting Yuel to stop. "All I'll say, Christina, is that whatever your heart will take you is your path. No one can chose your path but yourself, and something tells me...somewhere, down this path you go...we'll meet again." he stopped and turned on his heel, before sighing. "When we meet again, I'm sure we'll welcome you back with open arms."


His peace was said, Amaris walked back towards the others, sighing. "So what now?"


Everyone had spoken and Destiny started, saying that she wanted them to move on without Christina. Amaris didn't want to let this happen, but they were all in agreement of sorts: Christina wouldn't die...not that easily. Nevertheless, they had their location: they would head North. But the driver was left to be determined.


"Ishida-kun..." Yuel said, as Amaris pulled his phone out of his pocket. "Why did you call out to her?"


"Because, regardless of truly knowing her...she's a fighter." Amaris sighed. "And as a fighter in sorts myself, I needed my heart to connect to hers. To tell her that whatever she decides, that at least someone will be waiting for her. Let's be honest...most of everyone here wants to see her return." He sighed and put his phone away, not waiting to hear a response from Yuel this time.

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Mia watched the exchange between the others a scowl on her face. This whole thing did not bode well for the group. Mia's first instinct was to go after Christina, however the blazing trail the red-head had just made on the pavement was a clear sign that she did not want to be followed. With a dejected sigh Mia climbed into the backseat of the car. 


"I'm driving." Destiny said. A statement, not a question, Mia noticed as the goth girl took her place in the driver's seat of the car.


"Just don't get us killed," Mia muttered. Once the others had climbed into the car Destiny took off down the road. Mia looked wistfully out the window. Baton Rouge, huh? Mia thought, well I suppose I've always wanted to see what Mardi Gras...


Mia's mind wandered back to the exchange they'd had before Christina had run off, and she wondered. Something had seemed off before during the argument. Yeah. Yuel had seemed a bit too eager to let Christina go off on her own.


"Hey, Yuel. You said all of us have to survive to restore the world, or whatever, right?" Mia asked the little phone sprite, however she did not give her anytime to answer. "You know, given that information then, why would you allow Christina to go off on her own so easily then... Isn't easier for us to get killed off if we're separated from the group?" Mia glared suspiciously at the sprite awaiting its response.

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Riku watched on as Christina bolted off, unsure if there was anything he could have done or said that would have helped. A part of him admired her decision to leave and face this world on her own, but he knew that it might not be possible to do. So he stayed quiet as the others piled into the car and began to drive north towards Baton Rouge. Riku sat in the backseat, staring out at the window towards the sky as he thought about everything that happened. Though he wasn't there to hear it firsthand, Riku could vividly imagine Christina shouting her words a Des.


We're not friends... We're not...


After a long while of thought, and with some good distance down the road they were travelling, Riku finally spoke.


"Hey guys... I don't wanna be that guy, but... I think what Christina said... well I think that she's right."

Yuel immediately jumped in, speaking up from his phone in a harsh but worried tone.

"Riku what're you saying!? Of course we're-


"Let me finish Yuel..." Riku breathed in and looked at each of the other survivors. He was nervous to speak, and most of them were now acutely focused on him, but if he didn't say this, who would? Christina had tried, but maybe went about it the wrong way.

"It's not like I hate any of you, but I don't know you either. We only just met yesterday, and I've only really spoken to one of you. I can't say the same for everyone, but let's be honest. We're all still strangers to each other... I trust you guys, but I don't have any choice but to. If this were a normal situation, I don't think we'd feel the same way. I don't doubt that we can survive like that, but I also don't think that that's how we're meant to survive here... So..."

Now Riku gulped slightly. This was the part he was dreading, but he knew he'd have to do it eventually. Hell, they'd likely figure out soon anyways.

"You already know my name and where I was born, but I doubt you guys know that I used to spend a year in America every third year, or that my father recently died of cancer. Oh, and my girlfriend left me for what used to be my best friend, but I guess they're dead now so... that doesn't really matter much in that sense... I also have a younger sister named Mako. She's in Junior High now, going into High School pretty soon. We'd play fighting games together all the time too. It was nice, but she'd always get mad when I won. Which... happened a lot."

Riku was prepared to continue, but a part of him was still nervous about doing so. What if none of the others cared? What if he was just annoying them? He was still just the awkward Asian kid in the group anyways. He hadn't contributed much yet and he was still getting used to everything around him. That being said though, he believed everything that he said before too. He did trust the others, but he doubted he would under a normal circumstance and he did feel as if he were a stranger to everyone. Except maybe Mia who he'd had something of a conversation with, but even her he felt detached from. It was only natural. But that was what he was hoping to get rid of by doing this. If anything, it was better than moving forward with a bunch of strangers.

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Sure enough, everyone was in agreement that Christina was to be left to her devices, and as Destiny announced that she was driving, no-one was entirely opposed. But...

"Just don't get us killed," Des heard that. She looked up at the rear view mirror to see where Mia was seated.


"Oh yeah sure; would you rather I drive us off a normal cliff, then? Rather than the biggest one I can find?" she asked sarcastically. Shaking her head as she scoffed, Des turned the ignition and fired the truck up. All she'd have to do from there is to squeeze the gas pedal, and there it'd be; lumbering its way through a road to justice. Just as the survivors were driven along, Yuel mentioned the party's next destination.


"Baton Rouge. There's one nest there, and the other three are about two hours past it. There's a small town called LaPlace roughly twenty minutes from here. You..."


"LaPlace? The hell kind of name is that?" Des intervened


"Let me finish, please," said Yuel, "Anyway, you could swing by there for supplies if you need them. After that, it's nearly bare on the road to the next nest."


"...alright, we might as well make the stop then," Des decided, imagining that Jared would want the same to be done, "Any Majins there that we need to know about?"

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