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    SOLDIER: The Gaia Wars

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    Bad John
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    Re: SOLDIER: The Gaia Wars

    Post  Bad John on March 6th 2017, 5:46 pm

    Been working on that one for a while.

    If you have any questions about the universe that don't directly relate to the plot (Questions regarding characters and the world are on limits; questions about what's going to happen in the immediate future are off-limits), just let me know, and I'll tell you what you need to know.

    For now, auf wiedersehen, homies.
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    Bad John
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    Infodump number w.at

    Post  Bad John on March 7th 2017, 8:19 pm

    I'm not entirely sure where to go in terms of post numbering. I went from 1.1-1.9 way faster than I figured.

    I guess the next chapters will be 1.91 onwards, symbolizing the finale of this arc; we're coming up on the end of the cadet saga, gents, but believe me, the last part will be pretty damn climactic. The SOLDIERs are about to meet their true enemy for the first time.

    For now, here's a modest infodump regarding Monsters, and their SOLDIER opponents.

    Monsters have existed since time immemorial, relative to humanity. They're an oppressive, all-consuming force; if you travel outside Midgar, you'll probably encounter one or two. Think of them as a mix between Pokemon and the titular Titans of Attack on Titan; for whatever reason, they exist to hurt sentient species on earth, and nothing can shake them from that goal for long.

    Monsters come in many shapes and sizes; some are completely unique, and some resemble one another in a manner that resembles regular "species." They're recognized by a similar strain of gene in them, and of course their animosity towards people.

    Some monsters, like the creeper underneath Sector Four, are completely sentient; they all serve a singular master, their Mother, and the more powerful ones can shape-shift and give birth to their own sentient minions, like an ant colony; they gotta eat in order to churn out more minions, but each one is a unique little snowflake with their own terrifying powers. As I mentioned before, sentient monsters tend to pick dramatic, complicated names that are difficult to say aloud. For example, Ereibopleixibois. Good luck parsing that one.

    Since sentient races have been dealing with monsters for years, mankind is rather scattered and militant. While some heroes and explorers could kill monsters in a fair fight, for the most part, monsters surpassed humans in strength and killing capability. That's one of the reasons SOLDIER came to be; one person who can kill a monster with their bare hands is worth fifty schmucks with rifles. SOLDIERs are encouraged to use melee weapons for that very reason; it's a gesture that screams we're better than you.

    Well, that concludes the infodump for this evening. Expect a chapter around tomorrow or Thursday.
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    Bad John
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    1.9.1: The Trip

    Post  Bad John on March 7th 2017, 10:09 pm

    Hybria had been taken aside by many SOLDIER personnel in her time; every time, the conversation was already decided. When they came to her regarding her appearance, she’d already decided not to cut her hair. When they came to her regarding her priorities, she’d already decided to put her team first. When they came to her regarding relocation, she’d already decided to stay with Cadet Group Eight, even if they were nearly depleted.
     
    This was the first time she acutely felt and recognized authority; while she liked Etechnia as a friend, she respected the woman’s opinion. When the First Class SOLDIER tapped the cadet on the shoulder and asked her to speak privately, Hybria had no idea what to expect, but had already decided to respect her elder’s opinion.
     
    “Hybria…there’s something you should know about the vision room.” Etechnia rubbed the back of her neck awkwardly; the emote instantly brought Hybria to her level. Whatever this was, it appeared to be a social problem.
     
    “Hey, if this is about you fumbling around to find your headphones, it’s fine. Not very many of us are computer savy, and this was probably your first go of training people, right?” Hybria stuffed a slice of watermelon in her mouth; for lunch, Etechnia had made them a large bowl of diced fruit; a blessing in that they got a balanced dose of nutrients, but a curse in that they’d fought over what side of the table the bowl went on.
     
    “…This isn’t about that, but thank you.” Etechnia smiled awkwardly. “Well, your conversations in the vision room are on speaker until the headphones are plugged in. And…while I was finding them, I heard something rather private.
     
    Hybria’s eyes widened with horror, then narrowed with focus. She quickly grasped Etechnia’s shoulder and led them further from the door to the rec room. “…Does the bigger boss know?”
     
    “No. I deleted the recording. When he goes back to watch, the video feed will cut forward.”
     
    “Thanks for that.” Breathing a sigh of relief, Hybria rubbed her forehead. “…Kids, right? I mean, I’m one of us and I know we’re nuts.”
     
    “Hybria, you should know that your position here is under no immediate threat.” Etechnia leaned against the wall. Her blade, colossal as it was, clanked against the metal wall’s plating. “I know how much has been taken from you over the course of your training, but this isn’t one of those times. Nothing you will do will make us oust you.”
     
    Hybria nodded her head. It appeared a weight had been lifted from her shoulders. “…I needed to hear that. Thanks. I guess I can start thinking of you more as a friend. One of us.”
     
    Etechnia nodded. “I should probably know more about you, then. Starting with your teammates. Are your teammates prone to…pairing off?”
     
    “Well, Apatet liked a guy once, but he died in a test. That’s about it.” Hybria shrugged her shoulders noncommittally. “This is the first I’ve seen it happen, but it makes sense that it’s those two.”
     
    “You mentioned that they have history?”
     
    “I’m not sure I want to get down to the bottom of this right now. I’m sorta…not comfortable with talking about other people in depth.” Hybria shrugged away from the subject, licking watermelon off her gloved finger. “Sorry. This is all you’re getting from me.”
     
    “Well, could we get to the bottom of you, then?” Etechnia hitched her thumbs on her pockets. “What’s your story? You look northern. How’d you end up in Midgar?”
     
    “…Luck, mostly. I grew up with my grandmother. I hunted and gathered things when she was too weak, and one day, I came home, and she’d died.” Hybria torqued her jaw. “I couldn’t stay there, so I went to Midgar. The Turks saw I was a survivor, so they started hunting me down like a dog. So, I got ready for ‘em. They cornered me, and I managed to kill one with a trash-can lid that I’d sharpened up and rigged to a wire trap.”
     
    “Goodness….” Etechnia cupped a hand to her mouth.
     
    “Yeah, the other Turk whooped me pretty good for killing his partner. But, they took me in, told me about SOLDIER, so I agreed. I wanted to be the toughest person I could. I still do.” Hybria grinned.
     
    “And when I am, I’ll do what I want to do, feel how I want to feel. The world will be my oyster.” Etechnia gave Hybria a curious, somewhat baffled stare. “It’ll be their oyster too. And yours, I guess. If you play your cards right.”
     
    Etechnia nodded. “You’re more like a pirate than a SOLDIER. It’s endearing in a way, but also…frightening.”
     
    “Yeah, well I figure pirates had life figured out.” Hybria glanced at the door, making sure no-one was looking through it. “Alright. Here’s what you need to know about Lioke and Alken.”
     
    “I thought you weren’t going to tell me?” Etechnia leaned in close to listen.
     
    “Well, you have me in a sharing mood right now. Once I start talking, it’s hard to stop.” Hybria rolled her eyes. “Alken’s a farm boy who lived outside Midgar. His town was sacked by monsters. Farm burned down. He got on a train for Sector Seven, and was shell-shocked. Lost his home, his dad, everything.”
     
    Etechnia nodded, her hand still cupped to her mouth, fighting back tears. Her childhood wasn’t perfect, but this was a pitiable tale.
     
    “Near as I can tell, Lioke never had family, or she ran away from ‘em. She found Alken starving at the train yard. She’d pretty much mastered living as a street kid, so she whipped him into shape. He would entertain people and put his hat out for gil, she’d pick pockets. She says her favorite food is some gross pigeon stew that he makes; thank god he’s not allowed to cook it here.”
     
    “Pigeon stew is actually a well-received dish in Sector Four.” Etechnia nodded. “It makes sense that he would eat it; grass and wheat fed pigeons are pests, so farmers hunt and eat them often.”
     
    “Congrats. You win at…soup knowing.”
     
    “Don’t be glib. And don’t mock local cuisine.” Etechnia rolled her eyes. “I suppose this all makes sense, but how did you not know before?”
     
    “Honestly, that’s why I’m telling you; I can’t believe I didn’t see it until now.” Hybria pulled off her gloves, stuffing them into her pockets as she dragged her hair across her shoulder, tying it back at the base of her noggin. “She constantly torments him, but I thought it was just because he’s an easy target. She’s always fussing over him, but I always assumed it was because he’s always sticking his neck out.” I guess it was always a love thing.” Hybria snickered. “Alken will never realize it, so the ball’s in her court.”
     
    “…It seems irresponsible to just leave it, doesn’t it?”
     
    Hybria shrugged. “I’m an irresponsible person.”
     
    Etechnia rolled her eyes, stamping her foot. “SOLDIER, I hereby order you to assist me in the capacity of-“
     
    “Denied. Absolutely not. Just let it sort itself out. We’ll know if we have to intervene.” Hybria folded her arms. “
     
    Etechnia furrowed her brow, thinking of a way to object. Her thoughts yielded something she considered more valuable; a plan. “I understand completely.”
     
    “…I mean it, Etechnia. Do not meddle. I don’t need you stirring the pot.” Hybria pointed a finger at Etechnia’s nose, prodding her. “Mind your business.”
     
    “I understand completely.” Etechnia batted Hybria’s hand away. “Don’t touch me. Your fingers are sticky.”
     
    Hybria smeared a watermelon soaked glove against Etechnia’s face.
     


     
    Giving his first creation a wide berth, Keuthreuthuony watched as a new creature blossomed from the corpses of his monster kin; bending them to his will was rather elementary, especially when they lacked sentience of their own.
     
    The Maw of Jenova, he was rather prone to delegation, even when at full strength. Now freed from his bonds, he was still rather weak in every department. He needed food; best to leave it to the help. “Rise.”
     
    Writhing up from the gutted remains of a monstrous worm, Keuthreuthuony’s young son opened his purple eyes. By a human’s standard, he was a work of art; a perfect, slender face framed by sleek blonde hair. That appearance would lure in his prey. His back writhed as he unfurled his wings; they would aid with a speedy ascent, and would serve as brutal weapons. “I’m pleased with my form. Thank you for giving me life, father.”
     
    “Our allegiance is to Mother alone. For us to retrieve her, and return to her, I require my full power. Seek out the Special Humans. The ones who bear her cells, and the Lifestream beneath their inferior skin. Find one, and bring it to me alive.”
     
    “A name.” The young creation craned its neck up at its father. “What is my name? I must have a name. For my foes to fear. For my lovers to call in the-“
     
    Grinding his teeth and tilting up his horned head, Keuthreuthuony gave his answer. “Your name is Ereiboplixibois. A fitting name for a preening fool.” The unpronounceable series of sounds echoed on the cavern’s walls. Newly christened, the creature rose from the cradle of bile he’d been born in, beating his wings and taking flight. “Now go up, and serve Mother. Do not return empty-handed.”
     


     
    Hybria used her Healing Materia to restore what felt like a dent in her jaw. She knew Etechnia was strong, but the slap that struck her felt like it was fit to tear a man’s head off.
     
    “I should have slapped you twice.” Etechnia scowled as Hybria restored her eye; Hybria had given her a fresh bruise that was already starting to blacken. The other cadets had crowded around them; it appeared that Etechnia and Hybria had briefly traded blows. This was a fascinating development for the cadets. Gaeira and Apatet whispered inaudibly back and forth, comparing notes as Alken tried to cut to the heart of the matter.
     
    “…So, you two fight now?” Alken rubbed the back of his neck, then tugged on the bill of his hat. “Is that allowed? Not that I would want to, of course. I just mean…is this normal?”
     
    “I kinda would.” Anai smiled at the thought of taking a shot at Alalonn to see how well she’d do. “No offense, ma’am.”
     
    “None taken.” Etechnia rubbed her repaired eye. “I certainly hope it was a one-time thing. That was very unpleasant for all involved.”
     
    “Eh. It was good for me.” Hybria rubbed her knuckles fondly; she’d gotten a shot into a First Class SOLDIER, and she’d officially made a friend. All her true friends had managed to hit her back at least once. “So, what do you guys want to get into?”
     
    Etechnia glanced towards Alken, smiling widely. “Actually, I intended to do some shopping in Sector Four. The food on base is mostly canned, so I tend to stock up on fresh foods.”
     
    Alken gawked at the statement. “What does that mean for me, ma’am? And respectfully, how the hell are there fresh foods in this city? We’re meters underground.”
     
    “There are still underground meat, fish, and vegetable farms. And as this pertains to you, I’d like you to come with me. It would give us time to get acquainted; some one-on-one time.”
     
    "Oh. That makes more sense than importing it." Alken still seemed a bit iffy on accepting the offer. “…Ma’am, respectfully, when you had one-on-one time with Hybria, you slapped her.”
     
    “Relax, Alken. I provoked her.” Hybria patted Alken on the back. “Go with her. But stay on her right; she’s a leftie.”
     
    Etechnia smiled entreatingly at Alken, who remained generally hesitant to go along. “I won’t hit you, Alken; you seem reasonable. And, as a bonus, you’ll get to try on armor-weave fatigues for the first time in real life. I can’t allow you to leave base without proper protection, so you’ll be kitted with Third Class gear.”
     
    Alken’s hesitance shrank away and a wide grin spread across his face. “Yes! That sounds awesome, ma’am. See you suckers later.” Alken waved off the jealous crowd. He turned back for a moment, adding; “See ya, Lioke.”
     
    “See ya.” Lioke shrugged off his farewell as the crowd dispersed, walking back into the rec room. Hybria fell heavily upon an armchair that she’d claimed, kicking her legs up. Kydomis went back to shooting pool with Gaeira, as Apatet sat watching on the corner of the table. Lioke fell onto the couch, laying upside down and staring at the TV. “Amechanio’s giving a speech.” She leered at the man. Her fist tightened, the leather squeaking. “I want to make that gap in his front teeth wider.”
     
    “I hear that.” Hybria hissed. “I wonder if we could…y’know…disappear him. After we make rank.” Hybria grinned at the idea. “Drag him out past Sector Seven.”
     
    Kydomis nodded. “Line his teeth up with the curb and stomp.”
     
    “…No…That’s too good for him.” Anai, youngest and most vengeful of the lot, ground her teeth. “He tried to kill us with monsters. I say we cut off his fingers and toes and leave him with the cruelest monster we can find.”
     
    “I say we make him chug Mako. Put his face over a valve of the stuff and unscrew it.” Gaeira leaned against the pool table, smiling. “We really hate that guy, don’t we? I love it.”
     
    Apatet nodded. “Hatred tends to be our uniting factor. Now, it’s simply directed outside the group.”
     
    “Well, we’re SOLDIERs. No shortage of things to hate in our line of work, so I guess we’ll be friends forever.” Hybria leaned back, looking at the TV. “Is there a fight on? Change the channel to Sports Center.”
     

    “Mmk.”



    Author's Note.

    The Turks are a Covert Ops group. 

    Not Turkish people in general. 

    Why they're called the Turks, I don't know; the origin might or might not be racist, but that's not what the story is about. Take it up with Square.
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    Bad John
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    1.9.2: Initial Engagement

    Post  Bad John on March 9th 2017, 11:17 am

    Alken watched the lights pass, shooting downwards as he and Etechnia rode the Sector Four SOLDIER outpost’s elevator. It led directly to the city’s main thoroughfare; a boon for hasty travel. However, there were still several minutes before they reached the top, so Alken simply looked through the glass door as they passed the city’s grids, overlooking stalagmites that stretched still upwards for miles.

    It’s like living in the jaws of a dragon. Alken mused, wondering if it was an odd thought; he decided not to say it aloud. Etechnia looked over at him, and he met her gaze expectantly.

    “You wear the fatigues well,” Etechnia noted. “I must admit, of all the cadets, you seem easiest to work with. You’re punctual, opinionated, and quick as a whip when it comes to following orders. After you make rank, I hope to continue working with you in the future.”

    The cadet, dumbstruck, broke out into a wide, honest grin. “Thank you, ma’am.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “…When we were working with Amechanio, he always remarked that I was an idiot. He said I’d be dead a hundred times over if it weren’t for my teammates.”

    Etechnia torqued her jaw. “Amechanio is unqualified to judge combat ability. Pay him no mind.” The First-Class SOLDIER patted Alken on the shoulder. “You’re selfless. Plain and simple. It exists in all your teammates, but it’s particularly strong in you. If there’s a fight that can buy your teammates some breathing room against a Malboro, or time to think against an android, you throw yourself at it. Your teammates will always be there to bail you out, because they know you’d do the same for them. Amechanio is a lonely, demented boor who picks the wings off flies. That’s why he thinks it’s weakness.”

    “…Thank you, ma’am.” Alken nodded to Etechnia, glowing eyes wet with gratitude. “…It seems people have been piling on the compliments lately. I’m pretty lucky to be here.”

    Luckier than you know. Etechnia bit her lip; it would be the easiest thing in the world to simply tell Alken about Lioke’s feelings, but she restrained herself, sticking to her task at hand; she intended to be the puppet master of this scenario, and selflessly manipulate events from the shadows. The rush of such high level social trickery was intense. For now, she had to dance around the subject before making her move.

    “You favored a sweep blade in battle. Would you be interested in wielding one as your weapon of choice, once you make rank?”


    “Oh. Yeah, actually. I really liked how balanced it felt, and how I could defend with the handle.” Alken held up the longsword Etechnia had given him. “Longswords have too much weight facing forward. It makes it tricky to really…I donno…dig in.

    “…Quite a brutal way of putting it.” Etechnia shrugged her shoulders. “Though, I suppose I understand where you’re coming from. I prefer my sword for the opposite reason; I prefer to settle enemies at a distance, and maintain a solid defense.”

    “May I hold it for a moment?” Alken reached out, and Etechnia immediately obliged. Alken gripped it in one hand for a moment before he grasped it with both, holding it upright. “Whoa. I gotta admit, that’s pretty solid.” Etechnia took her weapon back, flourished it with a quick circular swing, and slid it back onto the magnetic holster. “Pfft. Showoff.”




    Sophron sat with his legs crossed, placing the backs of his gauntleted knuckles together. “Sit.” Apatet approached; they were in a small room initially designated for meetings and briefings; Sophron had simply shoved all the desks and chairs into the hall. “So, I’ve been told that your visions come during sleep, or times of boredom.”

    Apatet sat down in front of her superior. Sophron seemed amiable, but he had that same air as his brother; that silent superiority that came from near limitless physical power. Sophron the Black was well known as a talented combat mage; one of the greatest in SOLDER’s history.

    “Yes. They usually happen when I’m sleeping, but I had one while I had insomnia.” Apatet clasped her fingers.

    “Then, it stands to reason that guided meditation may be the key to having controlled visions. I want you to keep your eyes open, but unfocused. Don’t fixate on any one point or movement in this room. Inhale and exhale slowly, at your leisure.” Sophron stood up, walking towards the other side of the room. “Shut your eyes, clear your mind, and let whatever thoughts that come be dismissed. Focus on nothing.”

    Apatet did as Sophron bid, slowly closing her eyes in sync with her exhale.




    “Pigeon stew, huh?” Alken considered the idea. “Yeah. Lioke used to love the stuff. It wasn’t easy getting the ingredients together, but it should be a cinch now.” Alken grinned widely. “I say we do it. Here. Let me make a list.” Alken fished out a notebook he kept in his back pocket.

    Etechnia wrung her hands together; her trap was sprung. She and Alken would make Lioke’s favorite dish, and seeing how thoughtful a gesture it was, their bond would be cemented. It was the perfect victimless crime.

    As Alken scribbled away and Etechnia laughed quietly to herself, the elevator suddenly stopped as it reached its destination. Alken felt his boots hop a centimeter off the ground at the sudden breakage. “Whoa. That’s a weird rush.” He followed Etechnia as the two stepped past the elevator’s security boundary and into the main way. The street stretched miles in either direction, nearly two hundred meters wide and packed with buildings. Illuminated against the dark cave walls, it was hazy with vapor and mist. “Whoa. Underground City.” He hadn’t gotten to see much of it on the way; Charron’s express train had led directly to headquarters.

    Etechnia led the way as he wrote down the ingredients they needed. Suddenly, there was a mighty cheer from down the way; Etechnia looked ahead, concerned. “Alken, look at that.” The SOLDIER and her cadet peered ahead, eyeing what appeared to be a man on a glider.

    “That’s…unusual. Highly illegal as well, I’d assume.” Alken folded his arms. “I say we snatch him out of the air before he hur-“

    The air was split with a chilling cackle; the stranger picked up speed, flying through the crowd as people desperately dispersed, cheers of amusement turning to shouts of horror. “MOVE!” Etechnia grabbed Alken and shoved him down as the stranger passed them.

    To his horror, Alken felt something warm on his arm; the smell hit him before he even opened his eyes; blood. The man across the street from them writhed in agony, his arm having been slashed off by the passerby.

    Swooping over the audience, the stranger stalled in the air, his brilliant wings extended; orange and glassy, and lined with a black, shining substance, they stretched out like the wings of a gossamer insect. The stranger’s left wing was smeared with blood; anyone who failed to get out of his way had been hewn by the edges of his wings.

    Etechnia grasped her sword, but Alken stopped her. “You have more skill with Restorative Materia, and some of these people can still be saved.” Turning and lifting his weapon, Alken prepared for battle. “I’ll contain the threat for as long as I can; give these people the help they need.”

    “Alken, that thing could kill you!” Etechnia grasped a fistful of Alken’s collar, yanking him down. “Now isn’t the time to posture!”

    “There are already dozens of lives on the line. It’s my job as a SOLDIER to do this.” Alken grabbed Etechnia’s wrist, trying to pry it off. “You said you believe in me, right? I’ll fight carefully and stall him, then you can slam him from behind and finish him off. Just trust in me.” Etechnia tightened her grip, then released it. Without a word, she rushed to help the injured and dying.

    “Point me to the most severely injured!” Etechnia was led on by family members and good Samaritans as she set herself to the task.

    All citizens, evacuate the area! I’ll dispose of the monster!” Alken shouted as loudly as he could, pedestrians fleeing and shops locking their doors. “This isn’t a joke! Run for your lives!

    The strange creature swooped down to meet Alken, who lifted his blade defensively. The cadet blocked the creature’s wings, getting in close and grasping his neck. He lifted his blade to stab the beast, but upon seeing the creature’s face, Alken halted.

    This thing had the visage of a human; a boy not much older than the cadet. Despite his hexagonal pupils and twitching antennae, the wings were attached to what appeared to be a human being.

    Turning, the creature punted Alken off and rolled to his feet. “Fool. How dare you put your filthy hands on my new robe?” The monster wore a white, silk toga splashed with blood. “I intended to dye it red until I found one of you humans alone…but now I suppose I’ll have to settle for carrying out my assignment. I suppose I’ve killed enough humans for one outing.”

    “Whatever your objective is, it directly involves me, right?” Alken pointed to himself calmly, standing up straight. “So…if I run, you’ll chase me?”

    “A presumptuous question. That presumes you can run from me at all.”

    Alken turned and sprinted away from the crowds of people. Etechnia was already far behind, healing the people she could; it was on Alken to slay this stranger.

    In a blur of orange and white, the creature caught up to him. Turning, Alken raised his guard, lifting his sword in front of him; the monster’s blade-tipped wings came together over his shoulders, stabbing forward like a pair of guillotines; Alken managed to hold his ground. With a grunt of effort and a swing of his arm, he pushed the monster back.

    “What are you, anyway? How many of you are there?” Alken furrowed his brow as the creature extended his wings, hovering inches off the ground. The monster snickered, a pair of curled antennae stretching up from his blonde, moppish hair.

    “I am Ereiboplixibois. There is only one of me; I am a unique being, unlike you filthy creatures. Soon, I shall triumph over you, and Mother will triumph over all.

    Hovering there, silently, the Ereiboplixibois watched as the SOLDIER cadet scribbled down everything he’d said. “…My friends will not be able to pronounce that. Honestly, I doubt Alalonn will bother with it. Would you mind shortening it to Ereis?”

    “…No, I will not be shortening my name for your convenience, you ass. It is my mandate to bring you, alive, to my master.” One of Ereis’s wings snapped sharply to the side, flattening into a broad, lethal blade. “I will grant you no quarter, boy.”

    Alken slipped his notebook into his back pocket, and channeled the Fire Materia that Etechnia had kitted him with. “This is my first actual fight, y’know. Hell, it might be the first occurrence of a humanoid monster, as far as I know.” Alken grasped his blade in his left hand, clenching his right fist and calming his nerves. After seeing this creature hew through nearly twenty unaware citizens, Alken was beyond furious. However, he remained patient and formed a strategy as his enemy postured.

    “But rest assured, I’m going to pull out one of your teeth for every person in that crowd you butchered. I failed to protect ‘em, so now I’ll just settle for revenge. You won't hurt anyone else on my watch, you skinny little butterfly punk.

    “How delightful! It’s a day of firsts, pismire. I care not for human posterity, but I’ll make your suffering historic. Your capture shall begin the legacy of my might on the battlefield. Come, and learn the meaning of suffering!"


    Last edited by Bad John on March 11th 2017, 9:54 pm; edited 1 time in total
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    Bad John
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    1.9.3: Troop Movement

    Post  Bad John on March 10th 2017, 3:38 pm

    Apatet’s eyes opened with shock when her vision ended. Sophron, who had been silently taking notes on her expression, noticed the urgency in Apatet’s movements as she pushed herself to her feet. “A vision? A worrisome one?”
     
    “It was brief, but I think Alken and Etechnia are in danger!” Apatet wiped her brow, her face pale and her bangs matted down with sweat; Sophron had watched her face slowly grow more and more stressed. “Master, we need to inform Alalonn and get to the main thoroughfare to back them up! We might be there in time!”
     
    “I’ll handle this personally. Go to your fellow cadets and sequester yourselves. I’ll reach Etechnia and Alken, and contact Alalonn on my way. What kind of threat are we dealing with?”
     
    “I don’t know. I only saw Alken’s helmet, and Etechnia fighting some sort of monster. Alken wasn’t there.”
     
    Sophron nodded. “Then I shouldn’t waste any time, and you should remain here.” Sophron opened the door and slammed it shut behind him. Quickly scanning his key-card, Sophron locked Apatet inside; whatever this vision was, perhaps precluding Apatet’s arrival on the surface would yield a better result. Either way, there was no way Sophron intended to let more than one of his brother’s cadets fall into harm’s way.
     
    The door rattled as Sophron rushed off, the metal tips of his boots clicking with each stride. Sophron snatched a golden Materia from his belt, channeling its power by hand. As he rushed for the elevator, he used the golden orb’s magic; a Command Materia, he would have far better luck reaching out with his mind than waiting for a cell-phone signal.
     
    ’Alalonn. Convene on my location. Cadet Alken is in danger.’ While Alalonn didn’t have the magical skill to reply from such a distance, Sophron could tell the hulking SOLDIER had gotten the message. Already too far down the hall to hear Apatet slamming on the metal door. Trusting that it would hold, and prevent her from rallying her siblings, Sophron set about his work.
     


     
    Ereis had only existed for an hour, and had already run into frustration. His opponent refused to fall; if anything, the cadet was growing more difficult to manage as the fight went on. Leaning forward, the slender monster lashed at Alken with his blade-tipped wings. The two exchanged blows at a rate that dizzied onlookers; however, it was apparent in any lull of motion that the cadet held the advantage.
     
    Using his sword to block and redirect each powerful wing, Alken once again pushed Ereis back, stepping in and swinging his boot. Ereis took the round kick to his side, yelping with agony and flying backwards to stay out of Alken’s range. The SOLDIER stepped in, landing a crisp series of punches; his gloved fists drummed against Ereis’s arms and wings as he guarded, before finally managing to pull away and escape the barrage in the nick of time; Alken had just brought his sword around, the blade narrowly missing the monster’s throat.
     
    “Are you going easy on me or something?” Alken danced on his feet, confident. “I know this is my first fight, but you don’t have to be so accommodating.”
     
    Defend, counterattack, keep him frustrated. Alken grinned as the emotionally off-balance monster cried out in rage and swung in close to attack. He’s used to flying, so his footwork is lousy. Apart from his wings, he’s unarmed. I can handle this.
     
    You’ll pay for your mockery, you mealworm!” Ereis’s eyes grew more bloodshot by the moment, his features sharp with hysterical fury.
     
    Sticking to his plan, Alken simply blocked his opponent’s wings and stayed on his guard, biding his time for Etechnia to return and assist him. Ereis didn’t seem to have much of a mind for battle. Sharp instincts, but he’s just swinging wildly like a monster would. As Alken considered his adversary, he kept his guard up. Each strike from Ereis’s wings was blocked and pushed back. As far as he could tell, he was evenly matched with this abomination, with a huge edge in experience
     
    As Ereis stepped in and overcommitted to a strike, Alken sidestepped, his boots scraping the concrete as he moved forward to counterattack. Swinging his blade powerfully, he battered Ereis backwards; the monster simply guarded with his wings, stumbling back each step.
     
    Realizing this was his chance, Alken sped his pace; so long as Ereis used his wings to defend, he couldn’t take off and fly away. Slashing forward, he put a small crack the ironlike substance. Ereis dove back, as Alken did the same. The SOLDIER needed distance just as much as Ereis wanted it.
     
    The moment there was a safe gap between them, Alken brought back both hands and channeled as much fire as he could. Thrusting his arms forward, Alken sent forth a column of steady flame that engulfed his opponent.
     
    Finally, he’d gotten the spell just right.
     


     
    Apatet rammed her shoulder against the door. “SOPHRON! Come back!!!” She howled after her teacher, slowly slumping against the door, fists clenched. “I have to be there! I have to help him!” Apatet beat against the metal, sliding door with both hands one more time.
     
    “He’s my friend…” Her screams died down to a plaintive whimper. Suddenly, the door opened, Apatet’s hands slipping down and touching the floor outside. Wiping her tears, the redheaded girl looked up to see who had let her out.
     
    Lioke stood over Apatet, confused. “Did Hybria toss you in here?” Lioke laughed to herself, before noticing that Apatet seemed utterly haunted. Apatet crawled forward and latched onto Lioke’s pants in desperation, trying to collect herself and speak. “What’s the matter?”
     
    Taking a long breath, Apatet spat the words out as clearly as she could. “Alken’s in trouble on the surface. I think something bad happens; I had a vision about it.”
     
    Lioke’s hand visibly twitched, her expression going from worry to anger. She grabbed hold of Apatet forcefully, tugging the redhead to her feet. “Calm down and talk. Where is he? Still with Etechnia, right?”
     
    “I…don’t know. I didn’t see him in the vision.” Apatet shuddered. “All I saw was his helmet. Someone might have taken him, or the monster may have knocked him somewhere by now.”
     
    Lioke took a moment to think. “Then we’ll go to where he will be and rescue him there. We should be able to get ahold of his exact location through the theft prevention computer. Standard issue weapons and armor have chips baked in. Even if it just leads us to where your vision took place, we’ll have his exact coordinates.”
     
    “…That’s genius.”
     
    “No, it’s obvious. Next time you have a vision, come to me first.” Lioke considered something for a moment, before deciding. “Let’s get the others; strength in numbers. We’ll raid the armory, access the computer, and go find Alken. Gaeira should have a lockpick.” Lioke grasped Apatet’s wrist and led her along. “We can’t afford to waste time gawking. Alky’s in trouble.” Apatet nodded, matching her pace and following quickly.
     


     
    Alken gazed down the scorched road at what was once Ereis. There was a flaming lump the size of a sleeping bag. Presuming that the burning mass was his opponent, Alken approached. He hoped there was enough for Shinra’s scientists to dissect; a sentient monster seemed like a rare commodity.
     
    As the SOLDIER approached, Ereis sprang his trap. The ashen lump extended his wings, having endured the spell by the skin of his teeth. Bursting forward, Ereis extended his hands, intent on throttling Alken. The moment the monster fixed his hands around the cadet’s neck, Alken stabbed his sword through Ereis’s stomach.
     
    The monster winced in agony, but kept a firm grip. “An inconsequential wound. Shifting my internal organs is a simple matter; while you contented yourself with inelegantly p-“ Before Ereis could continue his taunt, Alken leaned forward and headbutted the monster, bending his nose. Ereis’s wings flattened and snapped down on Alken; one smashed off his helmet, the other slicing deeply into his shoulder. The cadet thrashed, pushing his sword down and tearing into Ereis’s body.
     
    “I’ll find an organ eventually,” Alken growled. His glowing eyes flaring, Alken clenched his hand, his pores bleeding Mako. “Better yet, I’ll look higher.” Alken stared at Ereis’s brain. The cadet raised his right arm, and Ereis’s blood went cold. “Let’s see how far you can move your brain.
     
    For the first time, the young monster felt mortal fear. All his attention focused on Alken’s right hand, and the SOLDIER’s intention.
     
    If I don’t move, this thing is going to blow my head off. Ereis desperately yanked himself back, releasing Alken’s neck. The cadet charged forward, following. When Alken threw his punch, Ereis guarded with his wing. The metallic, orange gemstone laiden wing warped on impact; the sound rang low and loud, like a hammer striking a gong.
     
    Ereis’s wing saved him from a lethal strike, but the rigid limb snapped in half. The sharp end flew away, landing hard in the street. Curled and broken, it slid across the concrete, coming to a stop in a gutter. No longer capable of flight, Ereis stumbled back, dropping to a knee.
     
    “I know I said last time was your final warning, but honestly, this seems like a good chance for you to stand down.” Alken propped his blade onto his shoulder, tilting his head. “I’m not exactly a saint, but I’m no ghoul. Monster or not, if you ask for mercy, then the fight can be over from here.”
     
    The humanoid monster staggered to his feet, his remaining wing extended. The hole in his stomach seemed to be little deterrent; no blood flowed from the opening. However, he appeared to be badly injured, his skin scorched and bruised, and his left wing a jagged stump.
     
    “Alken!”
     
    Etechnia rushed towards him, her sword in hand. She was incredibly relieved to see him alive. His enemy was missing a wing to boot, despite Alken’s own injuries, he appeared victorious. “Stay at a safe distance. I’ll handle the rest of this.”
     
    Nodding, Alken stepped back to catch his breath and recover. He kept his sword high and directed at Ereis; the young monster kept his blood shot, pink tinted eyes locked on the young SOLDIER. Furious, the monster hardly noticed Etechnia. “You…will not escape.” Ereis ground his teeth, his neck twitching; there were audible snaps and pops. “Ereibopleixibois does not fail.” The monster glared at Alken. Though the offer to surrender still hung to be grasped, the monster failed to even consider it. His worth, and his worldview depended on his success.
     
    Leaning forward, Ereis released a wild, undulating, piercing call. Alken, nearest to the monster, cupped his ears and backed away, tripping over the gutter behind his heel. Ereis’s wild scream grew only louder.
     
    “ALKEN! Back away! He’s calling for help!” Etechnia screamed loudly as she could, but she was unable to speak over the din of Ereis’s wail.
     
    The cavern shook, Sector Four’s main scaffold quaking back and forth. Etechnia turned her attention towards the source of the tremor; one of the upward stretching stalagmites was trembling back and forth as a colossal, grey skinned worm slithered up. Ereis’s reinforcements. The creature was overtaken by yet another. Stretching forward and slamming down onto the thoroughfare, the second worm’s tremendous weight bent the street towards it. Food carts began to roll towards the beast as it warped the wide, durable bridge on which most of Sector Four’s population made a living. Etechnia gawked at the unprecedented threat to Midgar’s population, before throwing herself towards Alken to rescue him.
     
    She was just about to call out to him when Ereis sprinted towards him. She drew her sword, stepping into range to kill him with her swing. Moments before she could land the strike, Ereis noticed her, twisting and using the stump of his left wing to defend. Etechnia’s blade flicked up a degree, missing his stump and hewing off his arm. The young monster, his left arm severed, was hurled off the bridge completely.
     
    Etechnia moved towards Alken, who was standing up to move away from the colossal worms. Each dozens of meters long and dense, they were clearly more of a threat than Ereis was. Etechnia reached out to grasp her cadet, escape, and regroup.
     
    The first worm stretched out its face. A fleshy maw opened, blooming in eight directions like a fanged flower. Before Etechnia could reach Alken, the worm monster closed its mouth and swallowed him whole.
     
    NO. Etechnia, believing there was still hope, charged to catch the creature. However, rather than trying to crawl away, it released its hold on the stalagmite it scaled, allowing itself to fall. Within seconds, it was already beyond reach.
     
    Etechnia felt the main thoroughfare buckling under the weight of the second worm. In mere minutes, the creature’s weight would collapse it and kill everyone still on it. Etechnia could only allow herself a moment of grief. “…Alken, I’m…I’m sorry.” The feeling of abject failure sank in for a moment, until she tempered it into a fury. Her cadet would have wanted her to protect the people.
     

    Grasping her blade, Etechnia prepared to save Sector Four from catastrophic collapse.

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      Current date/time is November 18th 2017, 7:53 pm