Fraysa (The Novel has begun)

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Fraysa (The Novel has begun)

Post by Boomerang on 10/19/2015, 6:54 pm

I know, I know, this doesn't really belong in the random chat section. But, y'know, Matt didn't implement a story section (Fuck you breh), so I thought this was the best place to put it. Keep in mind that you can go ahead and add your 2 cents to the novel whenever you want, this isn't a locked thread, I wanna hear you guys' reactions (Although i'll hear a lot of it on Skype I presume). 

Now, this isn't National Novel Writing Month, so no, you won't see a chapter every day. You might see one, MAYBE two more chapters before November 1st. After that, you will see 1-2 every day until I finally get to the end. After finishing chapters 4 and 5 I've become committed to this thing, and I really wanna let you guys see it since some of you are my closest friends.

Also, keep in mind that this is a complete rough draft. Matt (my editor) and I will be going through these chapters and editing them, when in which I'll likely post a final version for you guys to read. Only Matt has made it to Chapter 4 (But I made Chapter 5, so this is even gonna be new material for HIM).

So, without further ado: LOOK GUYS, IT'S FRAYSA.


Prologue - The First War:

There was a time where life was so much simpler. It wasn't the best life, especially not for me, but it certainly was much less complicated than my life has become. 

My name is Dante Alec, and I am a veteran of the Fraysan War. One of the best veterans, if I do say so myself. I had a troubled past that I don't want to get into, and it lead to me becoming a merciless bounty hunter, a gun for hire. The suit I wore was pretty badass too, especially the skull helmet...I still have that helmet...

The Fraysans invaded in 2016. That was the day that everybody went into a frenzy, and my line of work became even more important. I was one of the few people that could kill those oily things. Those bastards kept coming around left and right. Some small, some big, some fucking gigantic. It was like that for a few years; get some necroes off the kid's yard, kill that berserker running through the school. 

That reminds me, you should probably know about the types, huh? Necroes...they're like fuckin zombies, but messier. The damn things get oil everywhere and try to infect you, but they're the weakest of the bunch. Their leader was a bitch by the name of Sholdra. The berserkers are big, like a linebacker with spikes and claws, and also three times bigger. Their leader was uh...Kor. I don't like to talk about Kor, you'll see why in a bit. 

Then you had the clergy. Those frail little bastards were there specifically for the use of boosting powers and making life easier for their forces. Their leader was Hura, who I also have a distinct problem with. The aurers were like the intellect of the Fraysan species, likely smarter than most of us humans could ever hope to be, and loved to invent lovely murder weapons. Their leader was Yoosa (Ha, what a name, right?)

Last but not least, the behemoths. In case you couldn't get it from the name, they're fucking GIGANTIC. I'm talking big as a god damn building, and mean to boot. Obviously they're the ones that kick the walls down and make you piss your pants on some Attack on Titan bullshit. Their leader....Uh...Their leader was Mrath. 

Anyhow, back to the Fraysan Wars. Humanity was reaching extinction, the prospect of us winning was extremely low (If they had statistics it'd probably be something like 12%). Basically, we were in a ton of shit. Then, there's a call from some radio tower telling any competent person to come together and fight the menace.

That was when I met Nikolai Alec. 

I remember the first time I saw him. Here's this jackass, pointing a revolver at my face, meanwhile there's a little girl hiding under his trench coat. I should have been offended or at least upset but...those eyes. Those pale red eyes pierced through me, the smug look on his face. Everything about that man had my heart racing from the beginning, I swear if I hadn't trained myself to be emotionless I would have melted. We didn't speak for a long time, he was too wary of me. But I always snuck a look at him. 

Of course, shit kind of hit the fan when I got caught by the Fraysans and infected. I'm not sure why I didn't turn into some monster, I must have just gotten lucky. If lucky is the word when you suddenly become the villain, accompanied by the mighty Kor. Kor was almost as captivating as Nikolai was, and I followed his every word at a time where I was thoroughly confused. My sister, Styx (Who I thought died when I was young) was alive, and under the guise of Anna, at Nikolai's side. I was growing tired from the invasion. Life had become so confusing. So, I decided to join the winning team. 

I don't remember much after that. I got a new suit, much more durable and able to hold in my Fraysan capabilities. I was still fighting against those alien tendencies, trying to stay human. I was so focused on saving Kor and the Fraysans that nothing else seemed to matter to me. I remembered bits and pieces, tackling a shirtless Nikolai to the ground when he got too close to Kor, carving an 'S' into sebastian's cheek...When Anna/Styx tried to stop me...everything that I did specifically to the heroes.

Next thing I know, I'm face to face with Nikolai again. With my new suit and Fraysan powers, it wasn't the toughest thing in the world to beat him into the ground. I think I might still have killed his pride a bit from that, poor baby. When he was on the ground, glaring at me, still being the asshole he was always born to be, it was like something came over me. I...wanted him to trust me. I wanted to be by his side. And I kissed him, I kissed him as his body was leaning against the wall...and then I broke his nose. 

I was a confused woman. And I made him a very confused man.

It was a while before I saw Nikolai again, but I certainly saw a lot of Iris Valentine. The woman was always too cheerful for my taste, and I needed to take her down a peg. I stole her from the others, put her in my own little torture chamber while Kor was supposed to take care of the others. The things I did to that woman have probably scarred her for life, and it's probably why her and I have never been on the best of terms. As far as I could tell, the group ran around for a while trying to find her until they came across the wondrous figure of Kor. I was able to look through Kor's eyes and see what I could only describe as Nikolai vs. The World when the rest of them went to find me and Iris within Yoosa's lair. 

I don't think I've ever seen so much carnage in one damn sitting. What Nikolai did was nothing short of graceful destruction, with only the help of a few unexpected allies. He destroyed the entire horde of Fraysans and eventually...shot Kor through the head. 

I remember seeing that moment, feeling his death. Dread washed over me, I could barely think, barely breath. Kor had been my companion, he had shown me a new life. For all intents and purposes, he was my first love, if you could even call it that. His death really fucked me up for a while...but it was hard to process everything with the heroes running at me.

That was when I met Anna again. This time, I couldn't say no to her, I couldn't keep attacking her friends. I started to suddenly desire to help them.  When Yoosa fell, I was able to breath again. Nikolai was by my side, and for the next two nights I was able to fall asleep next to him. It was a different feeling, because he was just as distant as I. He wasn't expecting anything from me, and I felt the same way, but deep down inside both of us still wanted something. So cuddling up to him...listening to his heartbeat, recording it in my helmet. I felt like my life was suddenly complete at that moment. It was the calmest nights I ever had. 

Honestly, I didn't remember much of what happened in those days. I had tried to apologize to Iris, I'd tried to make myself a member of the team, but honestly only Nikolai and Anna ever accepted me as their own. It was a shitty feeling, but having those two care was enough for me. 

The day after, I met the most psychopathic being I'd ever come across, and his name was Sirius Nightshade. 

I was told later on that he was momentarily an ally to the group, before getting into a fight with Nikolai that was so intense it drew on more Fraysans and supposedly caused his death. However, he was revived, and more powerful than ever. When I looked into his eyes it was as if I was glancing into the very definition of pain and despair. He continued to pry at the group, using his shadow manipulation to his advantage. He subjected us all to darkness, and made us watch as he lifted an entire mountain, ripping it in half just with the power of his shadows lifting it. It was...something I had never seen before.

Then those children. Those little detonating children that sang that dastardly song....He's got the whole world, in his hands....

I shudder still at that moment as it replayed in my mind. The falling debris, the monstrosity galloping off into the night on his pale steed as shadows seemed to reverberate around his presence. 

Nikolai tried to save everyone he could, and it had become clear that the cold black heart in him had started to warm. And I began to wonder...was that my doing? Making love to him that night, the way he held me and the way I felt, it wasn't just ecstacy, or some random act of lust. It was true love between my fingertips as I gripped him tightly. 

Of course, all good things must come to an end, and waking up to find him gone was probably one of the more terrifying experiences of my life. The search for him, which eventually lead to the clergy leader Hura, was treacherous and filled with rage. I watched as Sholdra came through the door, stabbing Anna through the chest before slithering away. I held her in my arms as Nikolai stood speechless, the blood pooling around us as her life went away, her body nothing but a corpse. Then Nikolai just held her in his arms, staring at her. She was my sister by blood, but her relationship with Nikolai was just as strong. I could see the broken picture behind those strong red eyes, but I was simply too clouded with my own thoughts to care.

Anna's body was taken to be buried, and we had our fight with Hura. It was a massacre almost, with Nikolai being beaten around before a familiar presence suddenly made himself known: I looked up as Sirius quite literally ripped the Fraysan bitch who even we couldn't destroy, with the simple, whispery words of: Nikolai is mine. 

There he was again, that man of shadows that I had grown to hate with every fiber of my being. Somehow he had ended up with my sister's body, wrapping it in his shadows and desecrating it until it was nothing but ashes. I sat frozen as he blew her ashes right into my face, mocking me, trying to get me to break. At that point, all it did was motivate me more to slit his throat. Sirius was much more powerful than all of us, and it took one lucky shot from some leftover weapon of mass destruction to slow him down, where Nikolai was able to get redemption against his arch-nemesis by blowing his brains to bit. I still remember the smile that remained on his face.

Three of the Fraysan leaders were dead, and it wasn't difficult to say that our confidence levels were at an all time high, even as Iris was kidnapped by the mighty behemoth leader Mrath. I never thought that whenm we fought him...I never thought he'd manage to get Nikki. I never thought he would be able to stab him through the chest.

-A harsh silence fills the room as Dante lets her head fall. Tears are clearly welling in here eyes-

What hit me the hardest was sitting next to him, burying him and taking his trench coat and guns with me. I just sat on my helmet and listened to his heartbeat, praying to whatever god I didn't believe in that he would come back to me. Meanwhile, the rest of the group just...left. They went to plan their attack on Sholdra. They didn't even bother paying their fucking respects. They just left this man here, left him to rot! After he SAVED their god damn LIVES!! I can never forgive them for that. 

Ugh...dammit, Sorry, I think there might be a whole lot of onions in here.

I don't remember much after that, the only thing I remember is seeing Sholdra's horrifyingly ugly face as she stared at us on her fucking spider legs. The only thing I remember is unleashing all of my rage on her, and being the one that slaughtered her as the others aided as much as they could. I remember watching the life leave her eyes as the Fraysans ran away scared, as they ran back to their home planet. That was one of the more satisfying moments of my life as I stood with my bloody machete in hand. 

Everybody celebrated, and meanwhile I stood there, unable to feel good about myself at all. Then, I looked up. I saw the spirits of my sister and my lover, smiling down at me, if only just for a moment. I will always be with you, they had told me. 

Then, a pain in my stomach. The Fraysans must give birth much faster than humans, because I was already going into labor within a few days of getting pregnant. They took me to the hospital as quickly as they could, and after grueling hours and bloodshed, out came a little baby boy. He cried softly as he stared up at me with eyes that I never thought I would ever see again: Sure, the black scleras were mine...but those pale reds belonged to only Nikolai, and now his son. 

It was in that very moment that I realized--I did have something to live for, now. This little boy was counting on me to take care of him, since his father was gone and nobody else would be the one to take care of a Half-Fraysan child. Other than those war veterans (I wouldn't let them take care of him anyway) I was all he had. And unlike my last two losses, I would protect him. I knew the Fraysans would never truly stay gone, and I knew that I had to train him to protect this world should it happen again. However, I would be by his side, and I would make sure he stayed alive.

I vowed at that moment to protect my child, Nikolai Alec Junior. And I still work to keep that vow, even if I have to give up my own life.  



Chapter 1 - Weak And Weary:

Nothing but a dark void surrounded the being of Dante Alec. Her very life force was continuously being suffocated by the horrific, twisted thoughts that ran through her brain. It was the same darkness that she was subjected to each and every time she rested her tired head upon the pillowcase and drifted to sleep. She jerked her head back and forth, searching for any light source that can illuminate what had to be a treacherous path in front of her. 

Then, a familiar sensation resonated in the very pit of her stomach. It was as if her emotions had grown into a tumor, slowly spreading its influence across her ice cold body. She knew this feeling all too well. It was the feeling of grief. Worthlessness. Helplessness. 

No. She thought, her pitch black eyes already welling with the tears in preparation of the moment, Not again. Please.

It was too late. She could not awaken from her constant nightmare, for she was in too deep now to leave. She was suddenly blinded by a shimmering light in the air, seemingly appearing from nowhere. Her appearance was illuminated by the sudden explosion of light. It was fairly obvious that she was an older woman, slight wrinkles and crow‘s feet beginning to pop up around her otherwise unblemished face. She was still wearing her suit, her helmet only now retracting and revealing her face: She never wanted to be without her suit anymore, and she kept her helmet so she could hear the man's heartbeat every time she went to sleep.

The light’s aura spread across the barren land, providing the world around her with a bright blue sky and a field of grass. Trees began to sprout from the ground, becoming towering representations of the sudden burst of life. The world seemed eerily serene, and Dante was already anticipating where she was. For there was only one time that she ever saw a blue sky in her nightmares. The tears that had welled up within her pupils began to roll down.

A few feet away, people appeared from thin air. It was her comrades, sixteen years ago. Mason, Sebastian, and Iris. In their primes, during the Fraysan Wars. There, standing in front of them all, was a younger version of Dante. She was clad in state-of-the-art armor, however her helmet had been retracted into the suit. Those same tears were rolling down her face. Her comrades looked on helplessly. 

It was then that the final person materialized. It was Nikolai Alec, the notorious mercenary that Dante had fallen hopelessly in love with. He seemed eternally invincible, with his exploding revolvers and impenetrable trench coat. Everyone in the group thought he would outlive the rest of them. That he would never perish. Even as Dante saw the way he was all these years later, she still drew in a gasp at the sight.

He was on his back, a large needle-like weapon filled to the very brim with dirtied black liquids had pierced his heart. The source of the needle was a form of the devious Fraysan Original Mrath, who had transformed into a ticking time bomb. Nikolai was losing life within those pale red irises, as he looked over to his beloved, the younger version of Dante. He smiled faintly at her. 

The words he spoke, so vague and caring at the time as tears rolled down those scarred cheeks. She had no idea at the time of what he was going to do. In a state of unfiltered denial, she thought he was simply expressing his feelings. As she watched Dante look down at him, she could still feel the last time he grasped her hand, tighter than he ever had before. 

Mason wrapped his arms around the torso of the younger Dante, pulling her away from Nikolai as he looked down at his revolver, pulling the hammer back. 

“No! Nikki, don’t do it!” She screamed, falling to her knees as tears flowed. Even if she saw this sight virtually every single night, Dante still could not help but hope that one day he stopped. She watched herself scream and thrash against Mason’s titanic grip. She could only watch as Nikolai Alec looked up at the bright blue skies. She continued to remember what he said. I will always be with you. 

“Please! Don’t! I love you too much to let you GO!” She ran her fingers through her hair, watching in horror as he sacrificed himself for the sake of everyone else. Her pleas had gone on deaf ears once more, however she wasn’t deaf to the ear-shattering explosion of a bullet being shot into his brain. Mrath died with him, falling limp. The younger version of Dante was frozen, staring at her beloved’s body as she sat on her knees. The present version was the same way, tears freely rolling down her cheeks.

“Nikolai…,” She managed to say, “Why do you always haunt me?” 

It continuously ringed in her head. I will always be with you. 


Then why do I feel so alone?

Dante was awakened with a start, by the shaking of a firm hand. She was practically blinded by the harsh light that shined through the windowsill. It took her only a millisecond to realize she was back in reality. 

“Mom, it’s two in the afternoon,” A deep voice said beside her, “You’ve been sleeping since early last night. You gotta get up.”

Dante looked down. She had been in the fetal position, the tears practically soaking around her suit. She blinked a few times, looking up at the source of the voice. It was a boy in his teens, his long black hair falling only slightly in front of his face. He had virtually unblemished features on his face, save for that frown that he had obtained from his mother. 

“Okay, Nikki,” She said quietly. She moved to sit up, before stopping short with a concerned frown on her features, “Wait…I don’t remember falling asleep in my bed.”

Her son sighed inwardly, shaking his head as he ran his fingers through that thick head of pitch black hair, “You fell asleep on the couch. I carried you to bed when you started screaming, didn’t want Ariana to hear you.” 

Dante seemed distant and withdrawn. However, she was routinely like that whenever she had that specific nightmare. Gradually, she forced herself to sit up, her unkempt hair propping up everywhere. It was only at that point when the teenager beside her noticed the marks of previous tears. 

“Was it him again, mom?” He asked hesitantly, and Dante darted her head toward him. She wanted to yell at him, but then she looked into his eyes. The black scleras belonged to her side, while those pale red irises were that of his father. He had almost the same build, too. Same smartass personality. He was almost an exact replica. 

“Yes,” She replied quietly, “That’s all I ever dream about lately.” 

He exhaled once more, placing a hand on her shoulder. Only this time, it wasn’t to shake her away from her horrible nightmares. “Well, everybody’s waiting on you for breakfast, mom. Try to forget about it.”

Deep down, she knew that she could never forget how vivid her nightmare was, and the image of Nikolai’s sacrifice. However, she decided she would suffice her son’s desires, forcing a faint smile as she slowly stood up. “Alright, Nikki J. Let’s go.” 

He grumbled, turning on his heels and moving out of the open door of her room. “Mom, you know I hate when you call me that,” he stated, mildly annoyed in tone.

"That’s why I do it,” She said with a slight chuckle, her first of the day, following him out to breakfast.



Chapter 2 - Old Wounds:

“I really wish they wouldn’t wake up so late all the time,” Iris said with a heavy sigh escaping her lips, her wrinkly hands slowly taking away the plates of her husband and fifteen year old daughter. Iris’ grey hair was pulled into a messy ponytail, and she was wearing casual pajama clothes. Her violet eyes sparkled against the morning sun that shined through the open window. Two plates on the other side of the table were left untouched, the scrambled eggs and toast that laid upon them now only emitting faint plumes of smoke.

“Honey, cut Dante some slack,” Sebastian replied, looking over his shoulder to her with a faint smile. Sebastian still held his ivory hair, however streaks of grey were beginning to emerge. He was young, but the wars had effected him and caused him to age beyond his years. He was wearing a rather formal suit, glancing at the full plates, “She’s been through a lot. So has Nikolai.” 

Placing the empty plates in the sink and turning on the faucet, she turned her violet eyes away from Sebastian, “I really wish that boy had a different name. I know that it’s to honor a fallen comrade, but…I don’t know, it always makes me think of him. Of that day.” 

“What day?” Ariana inquired, looking up with her light violet eyes at her two parents. Both of them looked at each other, having stumbled upon this conversation once again. The one part of the Fraysan Wars they wanted to leave out.

Suddenly, the trio heard harsh clomping of boots against the floor. Iris and Sebastian turned their heads to find Nikolai at the doorway to the large kitchen, with Dante close behind. He had been listening to the whole conversation silently. They didn’t like that the two of them had heard, but at the same time there was relief in their eyes of once more dodging the aspect of telling their child the truth. 

“I truly can’t believe you two haven’t told her that story yet. You’d think she’d be old enough for it by now,” He said with a casual scoff as he walked to the kitchen table with the same confident stride that his father used to have.

“She knows a lot of things about that time, Nikolai,” Sebastian replied as Nikolai sat down in the wooden chair across from his uncle. Dante took a seat quietly next to her son, “She doesn’t need to know about that.” 

Before she had even finished her sentence Nikolai was munching hungrily on his food, no matter how cold it may have been. He had a mouthful of egg in his mouth when he looked back up to Sebastian, “Mom told me when I was eight. She’s old enough to take in that information.” 

“Well we’re her parents and we don’t think that’s appropriate. When Dante told you is her business,” Iris said, drying her hands. 

Dante looked up from her food, frowning deeply as her pitch black orbs lashed out at Iris silently. “You make it seem like I was wrong in telling my son about his father.” 

“Dante, I’m not saying that at a-”

“Then why can’t you tell your fifteen year old daughter about what would have been her uncle?” 

“Because I don’t-”

“Feel it’s appropriate?,” Dante stood up from her seat, glaring at Iris as the woman tried to stand her ground, “Was it appropriate for you all to leave me in a heap afterwards? Was it appropriate to barely mourn for him at all?!” 

Dante leaned in close, and Iris didn’t back down, both ready to go to blows. 

“ENOUGH!,” Sebastian slammed a fist against the table, shaking the plates and interrupting Nikolai, who was already almost finished with his food. He looked around with a confused expression, and the girls stopped in their tracks. All three looked to Sebastian. It was then that his anger crumbled. 

“Can’t we all just get the hell along?!,” He said, leaning back in his chair and shaking his head, completely exhausted. Nikolai knew of the situation too well. The tension had been rising for a long time, and over the past few months Dante and Iris had been fighting over the smallest things. They never truly bonded after the Wars, considering everything that Dante had told him regarding their relationship from the beginning.

“Can’t everyone just tell me what the hell happened that day?” Ariana requested, throwing her arms out. They looked at her for a moment, unaccustomed to her cursing about anything. After no response from the three adults, she let out a heavy sigh.

Nikolai scooted over to her side of the table, having wiped his face off and finished his breakfast rather quickly. He leaned against her for a moment and whispered, “I’ll tell you whenever we’re alone.” 

Ariana turned to him, her violets colliding with his red and black eyes. Her lips curved into a faint smile and she nodded slowly. Dante slowly sat back down, her scornful expression never alleviating as she silently ate the rest of her breakfast. Nikolai continued to sit near Ariana, the tension in the room gravely apparent.

Iris turned away from the leftover dishes, shutting the faucet off and walking slowly down the hallway and back into her room with the slam of a door. Sebastian stayed seated with the other three, glancing back and forth between them. Nikolai pushed his plate to the center of the table, leaning back against the small, rickety chair that barely held his weight and glancing daggers at the man in the suit. It wasn't that he hated Sebastian, but the problems with his mother caused their relationship to be sometimes frail. He sucked his teeth, tilting his head.

“Don’t you got work or somethin’?” 

Sebastian was surprised by the smugness of Nikolai’s comment, however he was an Alec. Glancing at the watch wrapped around his wrist, he blinked and stood up from his chair, “Shit, you’re right. I gotta get to work.” 

Pushing his chair in, he leaned over and kissed Ariana on her cheek, “Bye Dad,” She said with a smile. 

“Honey, I’m going to work!,” He called to Iris, expecting her to come out and embrace him. Seconds passed, and there was no response. Glancing down at his wristwatch once more, he let out a heavy sigh and opened the door, “See you later, guys.” 

Dante didn’t speak, pushing her plate next to Nikolai’s and simply glancing Sebastian’s way. Nikolai turned over his shoulder as the aging man walked out of the door. “Don’t die,” He said, which, in his mind, was the closest thing to an actual courteous remark. 

As soon as the door shut, Ariana’s smile dropped. Nikolai glanced at her, tilting his head and frowning. Ariana pointed to the door. 

“Mom,” Nikolai said, “I’m gonna head outside with Ariana.” 

Dante was already on her way back to her room, simply nodding and turning her head to look at him, "Be back in here by noon. We have training, " She replied simply before walking down the darkened corridor. Nikolai knew that she would be in that room for likely the whole day aside from their training, never witnessing his mother outside of it for more than a few hours at best. She was the very definition of a recluse. 

As Nikolai heard the creaking and then loud shut of the mahogany door, he then turned back to Ariana, who was already at the back door. She crossed her arms. He blinked, how did she get up so fast? 

“Alright,” He said, standing upright and nabbing one last bite from one of the leftover plates, “I’m coming.”


Chapter 3 - He Was A Fighter:

Ariana held the door open for a split moment before letting it slip from her fingers, walking out into the open backyard behind the cabin-like home. Nikolai followed close behind, shutting the door softly behind him. He proceeded to look out at the world around him. The bright yellow sun shined righteously on his face, forcing him to squint. The fields went outward for a couple hundred feet, although behind him was a paved road on the hilltop they resided in, leading right into the heart of the town that they had been almost exiled from.

The grass underneath him was slowly growing and once more becoming green, although the trees had never truly recovered from the Fraysan Invasion. The brown bark had turned a sickly white, and the leaves had yet to grow on the brittle branches. This left an eerie look through the woods, now opened with light rather than stealthily covered by the leaves.

Although, to Nikolai Jr., this was nothing but normal. He just remembered what his mother had told him about the big beautiful oak trees riddled with green nature and wildlife. A sigh escaped his lips as he stuck his hands in the pockets of his trench coat. He glanced in Ariana's direction. She skipped over to the center of the backyard, plopping down underneath the one tree in the field. It was the one thing that allowed Nikolai a glance into the old world. His Aunt Iris had planted it herself when he was nothing more than a toddler, and by now it had grown to about twenty feet tall, and finally, leaves had begun to reside upon said branches. 

Nikolai slowly walked toward the tree, staring up at him. The pure beauty of it surprised him every time. As Ariana sat underneath the tree's shadow, Nikolai reached up and pulled a healthy green leaf from the branch. He turned it back and forth, staring at it with a curious glint in his unique hues. Why did the Fraysans have to ruin such wonderful nature...

His trance was broken by a hand waving in front of him, "Earth to Nikolai," She said, drawing out the end of his name. 

He blinked, looking over to her. Ariana giggled light heartedly, her ivory wings flapping up and down behind her. Nikolai Jr. slowly sat down next to her cross-legged, still staring at the leaf. A brief moment of silence ensued as the tree shielded them from the relentless sun. A light breeze coasted through them as Ariana glanced over to him. She was practically trembling with excitement, "Well?"

Nikolai looked over to her, "Well what?"

An exasperated sigh was followed by a scoff, "Well, tell me about your dad! I want to know what he was like, what happened!"

"Oh," He said, suddenly remembering why there were outside in the first place, "Oh yeah..." 

The curious expression on his face grew hard, a frown forming on his features as he leaned forward from the tree. He continued to stare at the green leaf, an entrance to the past, "Mom always said that dad...Was like an anti-hero. Never wanted to be the good guy you see in the movies...but he always hated the villains. And the people he loved, he loved with all of his heart."

Ariana seemingly hung on ever word, her violet eyes sparkling with a vast desire for knowledge as Nikolai Jr. continued to speak, "She...told me all kinds of stories about the adventures they had during the First War. How she always held a win over him in combat," He scoffed, a slight smile crossing his face from the comment he always remembered Dante telling him, "And the way he overtook the battle field with an iron grip. He never wavered...his confidence gave the others confidence." 

He stopped for a moment, his free hand gripping the newly grown grass under the tree, "My dad never thought he was a hero--but he was. He was always the one in the thick of the battle, risking his life. He never, ever, let my mom and my Aunt Styx ever be put into the danger...Aunt Styx's death was an accident that he never really forgave himself for." 

Ariana's excited expression wavered as she began to see how much of a difficult time her friend and cousin was having talking about it. She began to stay a little still as she listened. "Mom always told me these stories at night...about how he slayed the Fraysans, and how it was his--...His sacrifice," He exhaled jaggedly, closing his eyes before continuing, "That saved everyone...and that's why you and me are here."

Ariana put a hand up, opening her mouth to speak before Nikolai took over, talking faster than usual, "That Fraysan monster--stuck a needle in my dad and said 'Either you kill yourself or I kill everyone else', and my dad was noble, he had to be noble, he--" 

The grip on the grass loosened. The troubled teenager twirled the leaf around between his fingertips as he opened his eyes. Ariana scooted closer to him, a frown on her face as tears began to well in her eyes. He began to speak slowly, emphasizing every word, "He said his goodbyes to my mom...And she screamed as he took the gun to his head, these same guns that I have with me--And killed himself..."

Ariana was completely silent now, her wings stagnant as she stared at her friend. She listened now with complete empathy as Nikolai Jr. let out another jagged sigh, his voice breaking now, "He killed himself to save her. To save me." 

With that, he fell silent, taking his grip off from the grass and simply staring at the leaf, grabbing it with both hands. He looked at the rips and holes within the leaf, the scars, the signs of what it had been through. He thought of his mother, of all the Fraysan veterans. They had deepened scars, physically and mentally, that simply couldn't be fixed. Am I going to be like them?

"Oh god, Nikolai," Ariana said, "I'm so...I'm so--"

She didn't even finish her sentence, wrapping her arms tightly around the man. He dropped the leaf, allowing it to coast along the wind as he embraced her tightly. He rested his head on her shoulder, her snow white wings now wrapping around the both of them. Tears rolled down Ariana's face as she wondered why she hadn't been told such a thing sooner. A broken frown remained on Nikolai's face as he realized that he should have let Iris and Sebastian tell her themself.

They sat together, in each other's embrace, underneath the shadow of the only remaining, healthy oak tree that Nikolai Jr had ever gotten the pleasure of seeing in his young life.



Chapter 4 - Dreams of Flying:

The large yellow double doors opened slowly, and in stepped a curvaceous teenage girl. Ariana wrapped her arms tightly around the copious amounts of books she was forced to carry on a daily basis. She could never get herself a backpack; God forbid her wings got bent from them. She had brushed her hair straight, allowing the shimmering white hair to fall to her back and cover the holes needed for her wings to extend outward. Her violet eyes sparkled with curiosity and glee. 

School was like a best friend to her. It was a place where she could learn more knowledge about the real world, get as close to a normal human being as she could possibly achieve. She always strived for greatness intellectually, and her parents supported her wholeheartedly. Her training was very minimal compared to Nikolai Jr's. She had gone to school at the normal age of a child, and ever since the first year of hazing and insults, two things happened: Nikolai Jr was expelled for nearly killing other children after making fun of her, and the kids left her alone.

She walked fast through the hallways, her hair and wings both bouncing up and down in her wake as the first bell made a shrill noise beside her. The other teenagers began to shuffle away from their lockers and into the classrooms with haste. The teenager had a huge, toothy grin on her face as she stepped into the room, sitting at her seat in the back (She was paranoid somebody would grab her wings). 

By mid-October, Ariana had gotten rather used to the routine of school and the classes she had to take. Her 10th grade classes were all Honors courses and so far she was achieving A's in every subject. She sat attentively at the back, taking notice of the fact that a burly kid with a tattered snapback walked in. She had never seen him before and didn't know a thing about him, but she knew she didn't like how he looked at her from the middle of the class...she shivered. 

Later on she had been informed that he was the new kid, and that his unmoral view of the Fraysan Wars were drilled into him by his parents. By the time she walked into the cafeteria, she could already see he had a following all around him. A group of about three boys were huddled around him and near the table that Ariana sat in, alone. She could hear snickering in the background.

"Hey, wing-girl!" The new kid in the middle said, "Did you fall from heaven, 'cuz your wings are really convincing."

Ariana blinked, turning to the male, "Is that--Is that an insult, or are you flirting with me?" 

The kid's smile wavered for a moment, before he scoffed, "You're not as intelligent as they say you are, huh?"

Ariana frowned faintly, brushing a white hair from her face, "What are you--"

"Of course I was insulting you. You like to make people think your mommy and daddy helped save us from the Fraysans," He snarled, venom in his voice, "But my dad died to help save us." 

Ariana let out a sigh. Death wasn't something she liked to talk about often, especially with a stranger. There were many human veterans of the war that were killed in battle before her parents and their friends helped stop them. Death had become an arbitrary part of the Wars, and even still she felt sad hearing it. It didn't help that she still felt an unsettling mass of guilt in her stomach from making Nikolai talk about his dad. 

"I'm sorry, but..." She shook her head, running a hand through her hair, "I can't really control that, and neither could my parents."

"Please!" He shot back, "People died during the war, and all I hear is about the 'Heroes' your parents were!"

He stood upright, the boys around him standing up as well and following the teenager as he went up close to Ariana. He stood only inches from her as she continued to sit attached to the table, staring up at him. The other people at the cafeteria all shuffled nervously; They didn't want to get involved. 

"Lemme tell you something, wing-girl," He said slowly and softly, although the malice was apparent. 

"Hey man," A senior looking on in the background said, reaching a hand out, "I wouldn't-"

"Shut up!" He said sharply. The senior recoiled, stepping back as the new kid looked back to Ariana, "Your parents, they're no heroes...they're FREAKS. And you...You're a FREAK!" 

Ariana flinched at the words, triggering intrusive memories about her childhood regarding children and adults alike making fun of her, just because she was different. Her frown deepened as she started to instinctively hug herself. 

He scoffed, sucking his teeth, "Just go to a side show and fly around or somethin'. That's where you belong."

Ariana stared at the ground as his little crew chuckled along with him, very nervously in fact. It wasn't that they felt bad, they just knew that there would be hell to pay at some point. Tears began to well into the girl's violet eyes, one dropping to the floor. The kid laughed wholeheartedly, "Aw...I made the wee little girl cry. Maybe now you know how us humans feel."

He turned on his heels, walking back to the table with the others as Ariana was left alone, crocodile tears rolling down her face. The memories she felt panging in her head were only part of the reason she cried. It was also because he was part-right: The men and women who fought before them were never recognized. They were never praised or remembered.

Was--Was that their fault?

****

"He said what?" Nikolai Jr. asked with rage in his pale red irises. 

He stared to Ariana as dried tears remained on her unblemished face. After the incident with the new kid, she just hadn't been herself for the rest of the day. She held in all of her emotions, sitting in her classes with a blank expression, causing the teachers concern as it was a direct contrast to her bubbly self. Once she was far enough away from the school, she started to sob again, walking down the path until Nikolai Jr. had caught her walking through the door. He had prodded her for a while, and after dinner she had finally come clean.

She was still shivering slightly, arms around herself. She didn't even look at him, instead fixating on the corner of the room, "He--He said I was a....freak."

Nikolai grumbled, stepping back and breathing deeply a couple of times. There was a moment of silence as his fingers rubbed across the grips of his two revolvers that rested against his waist, "I'm coming with you to school tomorrow."

All in one instant, Ariana realized what she had done. Her head snapped forward, , "No no no! I mean--It's okay, I can figure it out! You don't have to come!"

"No, I need to teach that little shit-face a thing or too," He snarled audibly. 

"Oh god--Nikolai, please!" She begged, "I don't want another incident!"

"Well then he shouldn't have messed with you," He replied simply, turning and walking to his room. The moonlight had seeped into the room now, illuminating his unique red and black eyes, "I'll be up bright and early to go to school with you--Whether you want me to go or not."

He walked into his room and softly closed the door. Ariana let out a heavy sigh, running a hand through her hair and pacing back and forth slowly. What had she done?



Chapter 5 - Over The Horizon:

The beginning of the dream was what had become commonplace for him. Pitch black fell all around Nikolai Jr, rendering him blind as he was forced to stand in place and listen closely to the grotesque screeches of disturbed creatures that seemed to stand right beside him. His skin tingled and burned with pain as he could feel something clawing at his arm--But at this point, he knew it was all a fraud. 

At this point, the prodigal son simply looked forward in the distance. Normally, this was all he ever dreamt about. The shrill screams of his fallen Fraysan brethren as they tried to claw their way into the living. The first time he had experienced it at the age of six, he ran into his mother's arms with tears rolling down his face. She had calmly explained to him that she saw them on many nights as well, and that they were just scared and sad monsters that needed somebody to cuddle with. Their claws sometimes stung, but all they wanted was a hug. Their screams were the monsters trying to communicate.

It was from that point on that he braved the storm, simply looking away from the clawing sensation and waiting for his eyes to open for the new day. Tonight was no exception, it seemed. 

That is, until the pitch black gave way into light, cloaked by a grey and menacing fog; A set of clouds on an otherwise sunny day. The brightness caused Nikolai to stumble, black dots forming in his irises as he brought his head to the ground, accustoming himself to the change in scenery. It took him quite a few seconds before the dots fizzled away, and he was able to look forward.

That's when he saw him.

A man in dirtied black combat boots and navy blue jeans cut in various spots, splotches of brown on the knees stood about five feet away from him. His shaggy dark hair fell in the occasional bang hanging in front of his tanned face. Scars were riddled on his chest; the parts he could see anyhow, most of his torso was shielded with a brown trench coat. The thing that spooked Nikolai Jr. more than anything was the man's eyes. Pale red irises stared right back at him. 

Now, Nikolai Jr. had never seen his father before, not even in pictures. He only was able to make a general appearance based on the things his mother told him in her stories. Even so, something in the teen's head told him that this was his father. This was him, in all of his glory. 

Needless to say, Nikolai Jr. was practically in shock. He felt his heart beat like a metronome as time seemed to stop. He had no idea why, but tears were beginning to well in his eyes as emotions took him over. Its...Its him. 

He opened his mouth to speak to his father as the man stood straight, staring at the half-Fraysan. However, before he could get a word out, a sudden warmth sprayed on the boy's chest. His head darted down, and he could see the sight of splattered blood on his black T-shirt. For a moment, he thought it was own; Yet, he quickly retracted that statement at the realization that the blood was...crimson.

Staring forward, he noticed a gargantuan hole in his father's chest. A circle as big as a basketball, completely see-through as blood trickled from the man's mouth. It was at that point that he heard the voices in the background. They were distant and faded, and yet he could hear a few familiar tones. His mother, Iris and Sebastian all were speaking, along with a monotone man and...a rough, broken voice. Dad. 

Not a lot was clear, and yet Nikolai Jr. could hear his mother crying and screaming, and his father's soft voice. Then came distinct words that were seemingly whispered in his ear: I will always be with you.

Shivers ran down Nikolai Jr's spine as questions began to roam in his head. None would be answered in time as a harrowing gunshot deafened the boy's ears. He looked on as the man's head became nothing but red mist, intermingling with the darkening fog as it became a pale red all around him--Just like his father's irises. 

It felt like an eternity that he stared at his own father's headless body.

Without warning, Nikolai Jr. came back to reality, his body shooting upright into a sitting position, accompanied by a deepened yelp. Crimson and black eyes widened in terror, he stared around at his room brightened by the sun, sweat on the bedsheets and in the form of a sheen on his unblemished face. He breathed hard, running a hand through his deep black hair. "What the fuck," He whispered softly. 



Chapter 6 - Life In A Thunderstorm:

The sun had begun to fully rise above the jaded mountaintops as Nikolai Jr. walked closely through the dew-riddled ground. His T-shirt didn't do well in keeping him warm, however the rage and anxiety he felt was enough to keep his body heated. His nightmare continued to burrow into his psyche as his crimson irises stared into the ground.

Ariana walked a few feet in front of her friend, turning over her shoulder every once in a while to glance at him. She could tell as soon as he stepped out of his room that something was wrong; More than the rage he felt toward the student that made fun of her. Even with this knowledge, she didn't dare to ask, as prodding him in his current mindset would lead to him shutting down further. Her ivory wings fell flat on her back, her teeth chattering from the morning chill as she started to venture down the hill that lead to their school.

Nikolai Jr. lifted a hand, staring at the calloused palm. He curled it into a fist, frowning deeply. A low snarl came from his mouth as he suddenly darted his head to the sky. Without warning, the blue skies rapidly became clouded with a dark grey, and the air itself grew colder. He clicked his tongue, staring at the menacing clouds from above, "Looks like a storm," He said simply. 

Ariana responded with silence, staring at the school a few meters in front of them. The high school building was only one story and looked like a rather small square painted in blue and orange to represent their school colors. The school itself didn't have many students attending, and the general enthusiasm for it had drained quite a bit after its initial creation just after the Fraysan Wars. The teenage girl exhaled quietly. 

As they grew closer, Nikolai's head moved forward, his eyes staring to the students that were only now making their way inside of the building. Most of them didn't see the eccentric duo; The few that did would wave to Ariana, then see the signature eyes of Nikolai and run into the building. The terror caused him to smirk inwardly, it amazed him just how judging people could be. 

Ariana was the first one to open the door, filing past a group of kids that spread apart for Nikolai Jr. as if he was Moses. She walked down the hallways illuminated by the dim flourescent lights, the teenage Fraysan following close behind, "Where's the kid," He spoke with a new venom in his voice. 

The girl shrugged, "I don't know where he goes," She replied, "He's in my first class, but that's about all." She was only half-lying.

Ariana hoped that she would be able to walk down the corridors to her first class. She had prayed that the kid wasn't there; If he wasn't after the first few minutes, Nikolai would give up and come back another time (She's had to deal with this a few times). She hated the snotty brat that insulted her, but that didn't mean she wanted his face to be forever disfigured because of it. 

Her hopes were dashed when she heard the snarky voice behind her, "Hey, it's wing-girl!"

Both Nikolai and Ariana turned to the source. The kid had a cap on his head, his hands in his ripped up jeans as he stared to the both of them. His eyes darted back and forth and he started to laugh, "What the hell, you brought your little bodyguard?"

"Hey, listen--" 

"Shut up," The kid said, turning harshly to Ariana, "I don't want to have to grab those wings of yours and take you for a ride."

Ariana winced, her wings flapping instinctively and causing a dastardly cackle from the bully's mouth. One of the students that had been laughing with him before suddenly frowned. He turned to his leader, "Darrel, I've seen that dude, you don't wanna deal with that."

"Oh please!" He waved his hand dismissively.

"Just--" Ariana stopped, closing her eyes and pinching the bridge of her nose, "Don't say anything else. Just leave, please." 

"Or what?" He replied, staring to Nikolai Jr. He was trembling visibly, cracking his neck, "Am I gonna make the other freak cry too?"

The bully walked closer to Nikolai Jr, circling him akin to a seagull going against a tiger, "I've heard of you. Nikolai Alec Junior? Yeah--I don't care how great your parents were, you're still nothing but Half-Fraysan scum."

Nikolai Jr. felt his fists clench tightly. He stared into the bully's dulled eyes, gritting his teeth. He didn't expect the kid to be this antagonizing, "A Fraysan freak! Even worse than your winged beast over there," He pointed to Ariana, who's eyes were wide and glaring to Nikolai, "Jeez, my dad might be dead but at least he wasn't a traitor to his kind like your mom. A Fraysan is always a Fraysan--And she's still nothing but scum to me too."

The Fraysan teen responded with a dog-like snarl. It became apparent that the walls of his crimson irises were being broken, pitch black spilling into them as similarly colored veins began to pulse around his arms and neck, throbbing erratically. The bully seemed slightly deterred, stepping back a bit but keeping his devilish smirk. Ariana saw what was coming, running over and wrapping her arms around his waist, "Nikki--This isn't the time! Don't do this now!"

Nikolai stepped back, baring his teeth as his hands became a web of black veins. He heard Ariana's voice, his offensive stance becoming stationary for the moment. A crowd had begun to form, looking back and forth between the duo and the bully. Their eyes grew to the size of saucers at the sight of Nikolai Jr's change, and they tried to keep their distance. They breathed a sigh of relief as Ariana came to the rescue, seemingly calming the beast down. Then, the bully made a key error.

"Yeah, listen to her," He growled, his lips curved into an ear-to-ear grin, "Maybe if your daddy had listened he would still be here."

It took only three seconds for him to process those words, and at that point it was over. He ripped himself away from Ariana's grasp with ease, rushing forward and throwing his fist into the face of Darrel. He flew backwards a few feet and crashed into the lockers, students yelling and moving out of the bully's way. He crumpled to the ground, grasping his face as blood gushed from his nose and lips, making a puddle on the tile floor. It was everywhere.

Nikolai Jr's fangs were bared, leaned forward in an offensive stance, both hands open as if he was ready to claw the boy's eyes out. He snarled audibly, prepared to go in for the kill as Ariana had given up on stopping him. 

Then, there was a crash. Everyone that had flushed into the halls during the fight jumped, and even Nikolai Jr. stood upright in response. There was suddenly a levy of screams from the outside, followed by another harsh crash. A few seconds went by, and everyone stood still, unable to think of what to do. Then, a few students were blown back by one more crash, the wall collapsing from the outside as chunks of brick collided with a few defenseless people. The screams from the outside grew louder as Nikolai turned to the source of the crash.

The shock hit him hard enough that his black veins disappeared, his eyes slowly becoming a crimson red. 

There, standing in front of him, was a gargantuan figure about twenty feet in height. Its dark muscles were ripping through the black armor, causing blood/oil to drip from various self-made wounds. The beast had two large, oozing eyes similar in color to Nikolai's pitch black. Its mouth filled with rows upon rows of teeth opened to emit a loud roar at Nikolai Jr's face. He suddenly flashed back to his ten year old self, deep in the forest, when he had seen something similar to this left over from the First War. They were only ever supposed to stay in the woods.

Behind him he could see smoke billowing in the air as fires raged from destroyed cars. Crimson had become the new color of the parking lot ground as more of those same beasts ran across the fields, crushing terrified people. Others walked slower, however were much greater in numbers. 

Nikolai Jr. was in complete shock, ignoring the screams around him as he stared back at the berserker. Only one thought consistently ran through his mind.

They're back.



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Boomerang

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Re: Fraysa (The Novel has begun)

Post by Boomerang on 10/31/2015, 10:27 pm

Apparently this only goes up to about 10,000 words a post so I'll be making a few posts here. 

Chapter 7 - The Unwelcomed:


Screams filled his ear drums as the scent of heavy, black smoke filled his nostrils. None of it mattered--All that mattered was the rage-stricken eyes of the berserker Fraysan who stood in front of him, daring him to attack. His vulnerability had suddenly become apparent; No trench coat, no revolvers, not even a knife. 

"Al...ec..." The beast said slowly, even one word was more than enough for the berserkers. It was at that moment that the Fraysan swung its jagged arm toward Nikolai, and that was enough to snap him out of his daze.

Nikolai jumped back from the beast's attack, looking over his shoulder at Ariana, who was completely out of sorts. Her violet eyes were wide, her hands clearly trembling as she stood almost paralyzed, "Come on, Ariana!" Nikolai  Jr. said frantically, "I need a little help here!"

Another swing of the arm, and the male jumped back again, the arm colliding with the wall and a student. The sickening mixture of concrete and bones cracking were heard as a blood curdling scream was heard in the background. The Fraysans were getting closer, shambling mobs moving toward the hole in the wall. They were running out of time.

Luckily, the scream in such a close proximity caused Ariana to snap out of her daze. She gazed to the human, now nothing but a crimson mess on the floor and against the walls. Her glare snapped to the berserker, bringing its hand down against Nikolai Jr. She jumped forward, flapping her ivory wings once and grasping her friend by the shoulders before making a sharp U-turn. The beast's curled fist collided with the tile floor, causing a mini-earthquake that broke apart the flooring of the school itself.

"We have to get as many people out of here as possible," Nikolai Jr. said, looking up at her as she carried him in flight.

"But, Nikolai--"

"We'll get our parents later, I don't want all of them to die!"

Ariana exhaled softly, slowing her flight speed and looking to the panicked teenagers that were running out of their classrooms. "Everyone!" She yelled in a surprisingly loud voice, "If you want to live, follow us! We'll get you to safety!" 

It's quite amazing how distressed people tend to flock to the nearest empty promise like sheep. There was suddenly a crowd of people behind and in front of Ariana as she flew on cruise control through the school. More people were gathering in the crowd by the moment, and the school itself was relatively small, they only had about thirty seconds before they would at least get to the outside--They wouldn't be so confined then.

There was an earth-shaking set of footsteps, and suddenly the explosion of concrete and smoke as various men and women behind the duo went flying into the ceiling or wall, bones breaking and limbs becoming non existent. Heads rolled across the floor as more crimson gushed, becoming a tiny lake in the middle of the school hallway. A new wave of panic set in as many of the humans quickly started to scatter. Smaller Fraysan beasts started to shamble inside, slowly but surely. One sprinting human was cut short on his life as the necro grabbed him, raking the man with their long, pitch black claws. It pulled the man into him, ripping both arms out from the sockets and sinking its teeth into the man's neck. The berserker turned to them, huffing, "AL...EC!" 

"Dammit!" Ariana exclaimed, turning forward and flapping her wings at a faster rate. She zoomed down the hall at the very same time the berserker began to sprint, crushing anything that stood in its way. A guttural roar came from its vocal chords, indicating that the beast was right on their tails. 

"Turn, turn!" Nikolai Jr. yelled, looking at the beast dripping black blood with every thunderous footstep. 

Ariana listened obediently, making a sharp left turn that caused the barreling Fraysan to crash into the concrete wall in an attempt to turn. The entire structure formed a large crack, and the ceiling didn't sound like it was shaping much better. The berserker shook its head back and forth before rushing forward once again like a rampaging gorilla. 

"You know, I kind of thought I'd just have to deal with some sniveling brat today," Nikolai Jr. mused, "I didn't think I'd be flying away from a FRAYSAN" 

"Oh shut up, you're getting a free flight!"

"Right!" 

Ariana made another swift turn, and this time her eyes laid upon the greatest sight she'd seen all day: the exit. She flapped her ivory wings once harshly, pushing her forward at a great speed. However, this time, the berserker had learned from its previous mistake, sliding into the corner and keeping most of its momentum as it chased after them. 

"It's gonna fucking catch us!" Ariana said, looking over her shoulder frantically. Her breathing began to quicken.

"We'll make it."

The berserker ripped through the concrete and uprooted lockers on its destructive root toward the two teens, "ALEC!" It screeched, finally learning to say the full word as it grew closer. The red blinking Exit sign became a welcome friend. 

The berserker thrust its arm at them, its long nails just missing Nikolai Jr.'s torso. He jumped in Ariana's arms, "Nikki--"

"We'll make it, just don't stop flying!"

Ariana flapped her wings once more, bracing herself as they barreled toward the Exit doors at high velocities. The berserker's nail raked across Ariana's foot as her shoulder crashed into the push door, flinging it open and making an upward arc into the sky at the exact moment the berseker thrust itself from the building, concrete, metal and tile becoming a halestrom around the Fraysan that had only missed them by an inch. It roared up at them as the duo went in an upward spiral for about a hundred feet before Ariana finally stopped, panting heavily and gliding in the air with Nikolai Jr. in her arms.

It took a few moments and quite a few gulps of air before the teenage girl could speak again, "You know, you're heavy as hell."

Nikolai Jr. scoffed, "You could have always left me."

"A berserker would kill me in a better way than your mom would." 

Nikolai Jr. exhaled deeply, placing a hand to his face, "A berserker--"

He could hear the screams of men and women and the roars of Fraysans from below. Between the spaces of his fingers he could see the school nothing but a pile of fiery rubble, charred cars and ripped out soil spread around aforementioned rubble. He could see the berserkers and necros moving around, and in the distance he could see more landing in the forests. 

"Ariana," Nikolai started, "Tch--They're really back."

Ariana took in another deep breath, "We have to get home."

Nikolai Jr. nodded as Ariana began to guide the duo away, gliding through the air back to their home. Nikolai looked over his shoulder, his expression turning into a deeply engrained frown, "Looks like we have another war to fight."


Chapter 8 - Shattered:


Dante's gaze fell to the window of the small home, glancing out into the skies. What was once a clear blue sky had metamorphisized into a myriad of dark black clouds dancing with lightning in the background. She could see smoke billowing from behind the barren forests, noting that it was coming from the city down below. She may not have been in her prime, but Dante Alec could still sense that something bad was rearing its head. 

Her premonition was answered as Ariana landed from the skies with Dante's beloved son in her arms. The first thing the Fraysan veteran noticed was the soot on both of their faces, disheveled hair, and the occasional bruise. Aside from that, neither of them were significantly harmed; But that didn't matter to Dante.

Sebastian and Iris were just as confused upon seeing Ariana walk out from the door, a makeshift bandage around the middle of her foot from where the beast had raked against her, just deep enough to cause bothersome bleeding. Nikolai Jr. followed behind her, his lips curved into a deep frown, his eyes sparkling with vengeance. Dante placed both hands on her son's shoulders, staring him in the eyes, "What happened? Why do you look like that?"

Nikolai Jr. stared to his mother for a moment. What a wonderful way to address him, question why he looks 'like that'. He exhaled harshly, looking down at the ground in silence, "We need to get out of here."

"Why?" Dante sounded much more frantic now, staring down at Nikki J, "WHY?!"

The male didn't meet her gaze, simply looking to the coffee table beside them. He grasped the remote, clicking the tiny red power button to the television. The screen lit up with fires and dark, blackened beings with jagged spikes protruding from their bodies lumbering across the roads. They were crushing humans within their city, moving toward the main buildings. A reporter was in a chopper, frantically and dramatically explaining the events.

"--And they just came out from the sky and landed in craters in the ground!" He continued to say, "It's just like twenty years ago--the Fraysans! They've come back!" 

He turned away from the camera, a rough voice talking to him, "What the hell do you mean, calm down?! We're all gonna die! We're gonna--" 

Dante's machete flew into the center of the TV, sparks of electricity bursting across the room. 

Iris stumbled, wrapping an arm tightly around Sebastian's figure and leaning on him, using him as support. Her violet eyes grew wide, her throat closing up in unadulterated shock. She could feel all of her fears bubble up to the surface, everything she had fought to put the bed coming back full force. Sebastian was in shock as well, however he was forced to pull himself together and comfort his significant other. 

After throwing the machete at the television, Dante stood there. Nothing but silence spread across the room, wrapping around every living figure and suffocating them in the angst and tension in the environment. Tiny black droplets smacked against the hardwood floor as she breathed jaggedly in and out. "Nuh...No," She said softly to herself. For every minute that the Fraysans were gone, she had expected them to return. However, no matter how much she prepared, nothing could prepare her to see those beasts once again. And to think they almost hurt her baby...

"Just as I said," Nikolai Jr. broke the silence with his rough voice, "We have to get going." 

Ariana nodded, the both of them trotting to their respective rooms as the other three members of the household stood idly, staring at the broken television with tears welling in their eyes at the prospect of losing the peace they had fought for in the First War. It would take them a long time to finally get their gear together.

Ariana, however, moved quickly. She shed her clothes and opened the door of her closet, eyes darting back and forth before she leaned forward and took out a large box. She held it softly in her arms before placing it on the bed and opening it, extracting her slim-fitting training clothes. She slipped them onto her person, glancing in the mirror for a moment and marveling at how it cupped her curvaceous figure in sleek black. While it was visually appealing, she cared more about the fact that it was virtually weightless and allowed her to move faster in the air. However, being visually appealing was fine too, depending on who was looking.

The next thing she took out of her box was a dark black crossbow, one given to her by her mother when she was fourteen. The capabilities of the crossbow were endless, and that was exactly why she needed it. 

The only thing left that she required was at the very bottom; In a small cage, sleeping within the comfortable box during the day, was a middle aged bat, curled tightly against itself. She smiled faintly, taking out the cage and causing the bat to stir, "Sh, sh, Max," She cooed, "It's okay--We just have to go." 

She strolled out of her room, turning over her shoulder and giving it one last glance-around. She had lived in this place for her entire life--To think that she was forced to leave here cut through her psyche like a knife to butter. She leaned against the wall for a moment, exhaling before slowly pushing the door shut. She looked out to see the rest of the veterans. Sebastian had donned a set of light grey armor, his lance held firmly in his hand. He forced a smile at his daughter and the bat, which reminded him of the pet bat that he once had--He quickly retracted the thought as he winced at the memory. Iris had an outfit similar to her daughters, except Iris didn't have the curves that her daughter had, and the outfit was a pink and white. She slung a regular bow over her shoulder with no arrows to be seen--But that wouldn't matter once they went into battle. 

Dante leaned against the wall, arms crossed. Her visor concealed her face, her body completely covered in Fraysan armor given to her by Kor back in the First War. The armor was still intact, and therefore of great use. Her machete rested idly on a holster at her back. Ariana wondered what was taking Nikolai Jr. so long.

Meanwhile, the male laced up his black boots, stomping them on the hardwood floor for good measure. He grabbed his knife from the top of his dresser, shoving it into the holster before strapping on the belt that would become the home of his revolvers. Nikolai's hand quickly wrapped around his obsidian machete  (hand crafted by his mother) and placed it at his backside. He exhaled harshly, turning to the top drawer to his dresser. For a moment, he hesitated; Then, with a nervous hand, he unfolded his father's trench coat in his hand--laced with metal, one hundred pounds, and worked like body armor. He slung it over himself, placing it on his broad shoulders; He was used to the weight by now. He then grabbed the revolvers, riddled with cuts in the metal, however in a stasis of pristine condition. He stuck them into his holsters and walked out, clenching and unclenching his fists. 

He could feel it. Something boiling inside of him, ready to burst out--Nikolai Alec Junior had been born to fight. Even with the circumstances surrounding it, he would finally get his chance to fight. 

Sure, he wanted to defend his city. No matter what they had done to him or his family, this was where he had lived for his entire life. However, what really mattered to him, what truly made his blood boil, was that the Fraysans were back. The Fraysans that his mother and late father supposedly annihilated had landed and were ready to destroy humanity once again with its corrupt oils. 

As he stepped out into the desolate living room, he glanced to all four of them, his face practically expressionless. There was a moment of silence before the gunslinger caressed the handles of his revolvers anxiously before speaking softly, "I'm going to kill them."

Iris looked up from the ground, narrowing her violet eyes at the teenage boy she had seen grown up, "What?"

"I'm going to kill the Fraysans," He replied with a sharp tongue, "Every single one of them." 

"I won't LET THEM corrupt the world again," He snarled, "This ends now. Today is the beginning of their extinction." 

He walked over to the door as the others stared to him in mild awe. He was just--A child, and here he was, making promises that should have been empty, but sounded sincere enough to be made true.  Placing his hand on the golden knob of the door he turned his head slightly, glancing to the lot of them, "And the first strike is going to be taking my city back."

Chapter 9 - Rip-Throat:
 

The first thing they saw was the blood.

Fraysans had destroyed everything in sight; The grunt forces of the Fraysan army were destroying buildings and killing humans in the most creative ways their tiny brains could think of. Concrete and brick rubble riddled the ground amongst the torn up bodies as necros piled in mobs following the berserker's paths of destruction. A militia had made their way out to the scene, unloading their guns into the bodies of the shambling masses. Black, oily blood splattered across the ground, intermingling with the crimson and taking it over. It worked on the foot soldiers, but the berserkers would simply take every bullet and rip them to shreds. 

Ariana came down from the rooftops as Nikolai Jr. and the rest of the group practically walked in the city through the front door, "It's a massacre," She said over the blaring alarms and screams. 

Nikolai's hands fell to his revolvers, releasing them from his holsters and pulling back the hammers, "I figured as much--The screams kind of gave it away."

The woman rolled her eyes as Nikolai Jr. lead the group forward, bringing his arms out and shooting the occasional necro that was chewing on the innards of a human, explosions of black and red mist forming. He didn't even turn to the scene--He just kept on walking forward. 

Eventually, they made their way to the town square. That was where the majority of the Fraysans had gone, leaving an absolute slaughter in their wake. Few humans were left living in this area, the lot of them having run off a very long time ago. Nikolai Jr. sucked his teeth, lifting his arm up and pulling the trigger. A red-hot bullet collided with the abdomen of a berserker, its one weak point. The beast grunted, falling to its knees as black blood poured out of the wound and its mouth. Another shot to the head ended its life. 

"Hey!" He yelled at the turning Fraysans, "Pick on somebody your own species!" 

All of their beady eyes became saucers, mouths hanging open. "Al...ec," They all said collectively. 

Nikolai sighed, "Aw, hell."

Ariana soared upwards toward the rooftops, her pet bat Max flapping around beside her. Her crossbow was already planted firmly in her hand, aimed at the nearest herd of necros. A dark red arrow materialized within the chamber of the weapon and Ariana pulled the trigger, releasing the arrow in the center of the herd and causing a deafening explosion that annihilated all of them. Iris was at the other side of the town square, doing the same as her daughter. However, the fact that she had to pull back her bow completely before materializing an arrow made her slower than Ariana. 

Sebastian mostly played ground support, holding her lance forward and impaling a group of shambling Fraysans, each time tilting the lance down and allowing the oily beast to slide off of the weapon unto the ground. However, he met his match as a berserker smacked into him, knocking him off his feet and into a rickety building window. 

Dante, even with her age, was a monstrosity on the battle field. She went right into the center, taking out her machete and masterfully cutting the necros into mince meat. A berserker slid in front of her, tilting its head. It was confused; Dante was pure Fraysan. Dante used that confusion to her advantage, jumping forward and ramming her machete into the abdomen of the beast. She ran up the body of the berserker, pulling the machete along with her as she cut a slick line through the Fraysan's insides. She jumped off of the berserker's chest, landing in a frontward roll as the beast fell. 

Then there was Nikolai Jr. He whizzed back and forth between Fraysans, going between his machete and his revolvers. Loud explosions were heard at every corner of the square, dark black smoke billowing into the air as buildings fell onto berserkers and necros were cut in half by the beautifully crafted obsidian machete. The black blood around him caused a reaction within the gunslinger--He was hungry for more destruction. 

Sebastian slowly crawled out of the building, scowling deeply and throwing his lance into the head of one of the smaller Fraysan beasts before stepping out, blood trickling from his torso. Iris shot a yellow arrow into the berserker that suddenly stared to Sebastian, electrical currents jumping through the Fraysan until it was charred from the inside. Dante was going toe to toe with another berserker, only this time--She lost. A smack across the face caused her to go sliding along the ground until she smacked against the base of a building; Had it not been for her suit, it likely would have been a fatal blow. She snarled, "Tch..."

Somehow, Ariana and Nikolai Jr. ended up back to back. As she shot her arrows, he shot his revolvers. When they got too close, he would swing his machete. The duo became an absolute killing machine, eliminating all of the necros that were left in the area in an absolute shootout. Meanwhile, Dante rolled out of the way of the incoming berserker, turning around and climbing up the berserker's back. She grasped the head of the beast from behind, using all of her strength to rip it apart from the rest of its body. A fountain of oil emerged from its neck as she threw the head to the ground and jumped off. 

Nikolai Jr. was breathing heavily as he rushed up, moving close to the final Fraysan necro and shooting a bullet through its temple, causing the final explosion that resulted in virtually its entire body turning into pitch black mist. He darted his head back and forth frantically, looking for any further opposition. Upon realizing that every Fraysan beast had been put down in the city, he sighed--Both in relief and in disappointment.

Nikolai put his revolvers back in their holsters. He didn't bother to wipe the blood off of his machete, simply putting it back on his back. He closed his eyes, methodically slowing his breathing back to a normal pace. It took the man a solid minute, but the urges that were boiling within the gunslinger had been successfully detained. The entire group came back together, glancing at the carnage--Both human and Fraysan bodies scattered every which way. "We should do some damage control," Nikolai said, not looking to any of them in particular, "See if we find anybody alive and get them the hell out of here."

They didn't bother rejecting, nodding slowly. All of them could hold their own in individual battle with a couple of necros or a berserker--It wasn't a particularly big deal. Nikolai turned to leave as the others split up among the town, however his eyes caught on movement. At first, he thought that it was another Fraysan, moving to take his revolvers out again. He then squinted, and saw that it was a human. He was crying out for help, squirming underneath a large piece of concrete.

"Oh shit," Nikolai Jr. muttered, running toward the man.

Chapter 10 - The Ring Burns The Finger:
   

Nikolai Jr. jogged over to the squirming figure that rested about a hundred feet away. As he grew closer, he began to take in more of the man's features. He was older, with grey hair on his head and wrinkles among his face. His hazel eyes held a kind soul within them, that much the gunslinger could tell. The kindness, however, was marred by the puddle of blood and saliva that rested next to his face, emerging from his wet lips. The male allowed his eyes to fall further, to the blue and white striped turtleneck sweater, his chest heaving up and down. 

As Nikolai made his way to the man, he instantly grabbed the concrete chunk, using his supernatural strength to easily lift the rubble, throwing it to the side. The man's legs had been flattened to virtually nothing but muscle, bones broken and sticking out of his skin on some occasions. He wore khakis, but he couldn't tell what color they were amongst the rubble and crimson. Looking over the man, he could see that his lower abdomen had been crushed as well from the rock. 

He ran a firm hand through his pitch black bangs, pacing back and forth for a moment--There wasn't anything that he could do to help this man, and it killed him as he sought out different methods that he could possibly give him first aid. 

"Y...You," Nikolai Jr.'s head darted to the source of the voice, the brittle older man who stuttered in his speech, "I saw you--You and your friends--You destroyed them all."

The teen knelt down, looking the man in the eyes. He could hear his wheezing as he struggled with every gasp of air--He didn't have much time left, "Yeah, that's me," Nikolai replied solemnly.

The old man was silent for a moment, wetting his lips. He stared into the gunslinger's eyes, narrowing them, "Oh my--You're the Alec boy! I know you!"

Instinctively, he winced, expecting a hail of insults. However, as he stared into the man's kind eyes, he could tell that they had brightened up a bit. Hope had shown in the dying light of his irises, "You know, I wasn't always like this--" he said with a faint smile on his lips dotted with crimson, "I used to be one of the strongest for my age. You don't normally see a fifty year old man running around the country." 

Nikolai raised an eyebrow, relaxing a little as he sat on his knees, "Why were you going around the country?"

The man opened his mouth to speak, however was met with a coughing attack. Copious droplets of blood spattered on his turtleneck sweater, his body revolting against the pain. Even with his health, no body was meant for this type of stress. There was silence among the roaring flames and smog that covered the town square--And for a moment, Nikolai thought the man had passed away. 

"I was sent here," He spoke softly, his voice jagged, "I was sent to find the veterans of the war--But it seems like I found the next best thing."

Before Nikolai could reply, the man slowly lifted up his hand. With a trembling grip, he slid a shimmering ring of silver from his index finger, placing it in his hand riddled with callouses. He grabbed Nikolai's hand, dropping it into his palm. The man's arms fell back to the ground, and he was silent once more as Nikolai wondered what the ring was for.

"You know, I didn't think I'd go out like this," The man said, "I always thought I'd die of old age; In a hospital bed, with my wife and my sons around me." 

He chuckled, staring to Nikolai Jr, "Not that having the son of Nikolai Alec here as I pass isn't a wonderful concilation." 

Nikolai forced a faint smile, although on the inside he was enraged that he couldn't help this man. He would be forced to die in the middle of a town square, with a half-Fraysan teenager being his only company, "Wuh..What's the ring for?"

The man grinned again, grasping Nikolai's hand and holding it firmly, "Go to Oaklyn, South Carolina, Nikolai Alec Junior--" His words were interrupted by another dismaying series of coughs, "You'll--Find your answers there." 

There was a moment that the two looked at each other and smiled as Nikolai gripped the man's dried hands. However, he felt the man's grip loosen, until his arm eventually fell limp on the broken pavement. Nikolai looked into the man's hazel eyes, glossed over, and he realized that a smile was still on his face. 

Time was lost in the levy of emotions he felt, until eventually Nikolai Jr. stood upright. He looked down at the man who had died in a more peaceful way than he would have without Nikolai Jr's company--That aspect gave him a slight, genuine smile. He looked the ring over, turning it around until he found words engraved into the ring; An address. 

He slid the ring onto his index finger and leaned over, closing the man's eyelids, "Thank you," He whispered softly before turning and walking out of the flaming square, in search for his team. 

Chapter 11 - There's Darkness:
  

Nikolai Jr. sat in the back of a beaten up, turquoise blue van. The leather seats were ripped in some places, but were otherwise comfortable. He shifted back and forth, pressing himself against the back seat. The sun had gone down a few hours before, the dark clouds dissipating and unveiling a crescent moon that shined through the window. Even in the dark, he could see the orange hues of flame and black smog billowing up from various spots. 

It was upsetting--He had never seen healthy wildlife other than the one oak tree in his backyard, and the one time he can lay his eyes upon its beauty, its simply going up in flames in the distance. He sucked his teeth, turning his glance away from the horizon and down to his hand. He stared at the silver ring, twisting it back and forth on his finger anxiously. Next to him sat both Ariana and Iris, however he barely took any notice of them.

Nikolai hadn't spoken much since they regrouped at the road that led to the city. When they found the beat up van that was still filled with gas, he had told them about the old man stuck under the rock. He showed them the ring and told them they were heading toward South Carolina. They were skeptical, however it was the only lead they had other than going from town to town and killing them--A very dangerous ordeal. .

Sebastian clenched his hands on the steering wheel, relying on the faulty headlights to keep him going straight on the lonely road peppered with charred vehicles and corpses. There weren't any Fraysans in sight, and it seemed that they had all either went into the forests or the larger cities to corrupt the world with their oil. Dante sat in the passenger seat, legs and arms crossed as she stared out from the passenger side window. 

Eventually, as Nikolai Jr. continued to stare at his ring, the violet eyed teen placed her delicate hand onto his shoulder, "Are you okay?" 

A useless question; Of course he wasn't okay. Watching a man die while being helpless to stop it messes with anyone, unless their some kind of psychopath. That wasn't the only thing that bothered him. He kept looking back on that feeling in the pit of his chest, the burning sensation to kill as he fought those Fraysans. It was as if something was overtaking him--He hated to feel so much blood lust. 

"Yeah," Nikolai Jr. replied monotonously, "Just worried about what the hell we're walking into."

Ariana was silent for a few moments as her soft gaze fell to the ring that was attached to his finger, "Are you sure about that guy you saw?" She asked, "I mean, maybe he was just delusional or something."

"He wasn't," Nikolai replied, not looking from the ring on his finger as he continued to turn it, "He was perfectly coherent."

"I don't know, I just--"

A rough voice cut through, sending a chill down Ariana's spine, "If my son says we should go there, then we go there. End of story." 

Ariana meekly slumped back in the seat, silencing herself in front of Dante. More tension emerged as Iris seemed to stare at Dante with a new intensity. She couldn't talk to her daughter that way. 

Nikolai, very clearly seeing the growing problem, spoke up, "We already went over this--There aren't any other leads. This is the best we can get right now," He looked up and at Ariana and Iris, "If it ends up being some sort of trap, then we'll deal with it. Together, we're strong enough to take anything down." 

Eventually, the two women nodded. Sebastian finally broke his silence, still staring at the road, "You guys should go to bed," He said dryly, "In a few hours I'll switch off with somebody so I can sleep, too. At this rate, we should be at the border by dawn." 

Nikolai Jr. nodded, knowing that he needed to sleep. He slumped down in the chair, pressing his knees against the back seat. He knew that his mother wouldn't mind, seeing as the likelihood of her falling asleep was slim to none. He closed his eyes, crossing his arms as he awaited the moment that sleep would overtake him. It took no time at all, as he felt sleep wrap its warm arms around him and guide him to his dreams.

****

Darkness enveloped him.

Nikolai Jr. was used to the dreams of standing in the darkness, however there was something very different about this one. He wasn't standing--It was like he was weightless, floating around to who knows where. Almost all of his senses were stripped away from him, which only served to enhance the one sense he had left--His hearing.

"Well, what do you suggest we do, master?" The sultry voice of a female asked. There was a smoothness to her tone, as if she knew exactly what she was doing. 

There was a loud grunt that nearly deafened Nikolai. The voice itself was distorted and filled with venom, "We wait. If Eta doesn't stop him at the base, I have another plan of action." 

"What's that?" The woman inquired. 

He let out one , hearty chuckle, "My dear, a magician never gives away his secrets." 

The dream ended abruptly, and all that Nikolai could hear was a cracking sound as he felt himself being yanked away. 

****

He woke up abruptly, eyes shooting open as he nearly fell backwards. Luckily for him, the leather seat stopped him--And that was when he remembered that he was in a car. The second thing he realized just after was that the car was going at a turtle's pace.

He sat up slowly, turning and cracking his back. Beside him were Ariana and Sebastian as Iris had taken the wheel. The paleness in Sebastian's face told him that Iris and Dante had been arguing while he was asleep. The gunslinger looked outside his window and stared to the orange-red sky clashing with light blue. The dark orange sun was emerging from the bottom of the horizon; Did they make it to the border on time?

He turned forward to ask the group what the hell was happening, but before he did, he leaned over to his left to get a good look in front of him. He saw the highway that was filled to the absolute brim with trucks and cars trying to make their way into the next state, hoping to get away from the Fraysans. They had almost made it to the front, close enough that he could see the sign 'Welcome To North Carolina'. 

But why was it taking so long in the open highways? 

It was then that he saw the man-made border of idle police and FBI vehicles. In front of the cars stood a variety of men clad in Kevlar and the biggest weapons they could find on short notice. They shifted uncomfortably, as if they were awaiting something to go wrong. 

Sebastian turned, "Oh good, you're up," He said with a soft smile before it faded into a frown as he slumped back int othe seat, "We've been in traffic for at least forty five minutes."

"We're next, though!" Ariana replied reassuringly. Iris pulled up the car next to the man that stood by the one opening the cars had left, rolling the front window down. The visor on his SWAT helmet was up, revealing a head of dirty blonde hair. A similarly colored mustache rested just above his upper lip; His daunting eyes looked as though he hadn't slept in days. 

He talked with Iris for a little while, and eventually stuck his head through the open window. He seemed to just be scanning back and forth; This was becoming a routine for him. He probably would have let just about anybody through the borders as long as they didn't have a Fraysan chasing after them. 

He seemed like he was about to finish and let them go before his eyes rested on Nikolai Jr. He narrowed his eyes and then they suddenly lit up as a grin formed on his face, "Nikolai Alec Junior," He said in awe. 

Christ, Nikolai thought to himself. He knew that a government man talking to him was never a good thing. 

"I've been waiting for your group to come through," He said. He stood and turned to one of the other men for about thirty seconds. He nodded, and the man came back through the open window, "We're allowing you to go through--But stop at the hill over there, We're going to have a little talk."

Chapter 12 - Deal With The Devil:
 

Nikolai Jr was still groggy, however he managed to step out of the van and stand by the hill corrupted with specks of black oils that had left spots of dead wildlife. He rubbed his eyes and looked away from the light--An odd time it was for there to be blue and sunny skies. 

The group all stood side by side, with Dante at one end, standing next to his son--away from the rest of them. Ariana was in the center, shifting uneasily as her violet eyes darted in every direction. The man had since taken his helmet off, cradling it under his arms as he stared to the group with a faint smile still imprinted on his expression. 

The man opened his mouth to speak, however he was interrupted by the shrill voice of Ariana, "We didn't do anything, I swear!" She blurted, throwing her hands in the air, "We just wanna get out of the state, we're not criminals!"

Her sudden statement was met with glares from the rest of the group as Ariana pursed her lips, placing her hands back at her sides and looking down to the ground. Nikolai Jr. was deathly afraid that would make the man more suspicious than they already looked, however he simply responded with a chuckle, "That isn't why I stopped you."

Nikolai raised an eyebrow, his red and black eyes drifting to the border a few hundred feet away--The cars that raced past the armored men. It was certainly an odd place to put a border--considering it was dead in the middle of the highway, "So then why did you stop us?" He asked. 

The man reached his hand down, grabbing at his calf until he pulled out a square piece of fabric. He held it outward so the group could see; Alan Mccarthy, Special Agent. He quickly placed it back into the pocket, closing it up for safe keeping. He was at a higher level than the men and women that guarded this border--Which meant he was here for a reason. 

"I'll just make it clear for you," Mccarthy continued, his expression growing serious, "I have connections. Lots of them. I was able to witness what you and your group did to those Fraysans in the town square--Quite impressive, by the way." 

Nikolai Jr. was suddenly beginning to feel uncomfortable. His sleepiness had dissolved as his eyes darted back and forth, very alert of his surroundings. The man didn't seem all that trustworthy. He continued on, crossing his arms, "And then I happened to snoop into your file."

He blinked, "I have a file?" His curiosity had overcome him as he spoke. 

The man nodded, "Yes, and I was granted some important information. You see, the government has been watching you since birth. Nikolai Alec Junior, half Fraysan, son of Dante Q--"

"Alec," She spoke through her visor, although her glare could practically be seen through the darkness, "My last name is now Alec."

He seemed to swallow, nodding quickly, his nervousness around the woman caused Nikolai Jr. to smirk, "Son of Dante Alec and Nicholas 'Nikolai' Alec," He corrected himself before continuing on, "After discovering your...capabilities, I instructed these fine men and women to construct this border in order to find you."

"And why is that?" Iris spoke, a frown on her features as Nikolai's smirk quickly faded at the man's words. 

"Well, The rest of the group is...downright phenomenal. But you--" Mccarthy pointed his finger in Nikolai's direction. He sucked his teeth--He hated when people pointed, "You have so much untapped potential that can be put to good use." 

"Just what are you getting at, 'Special Agent' Mccarthy?" Nikolai asked with an exasperated sigh. 

Mccarthy gave a sly smile in response, "Always right to the point," He said, this time with a bit of venom, "One of our bases deep in the woods, The Devil's Door, has been overrun by the Fraysans. There are a plethora of soldiers within that facility, and our goal is to take back the base with minimal casualties."

Before Nikolai could respond, the man put a hand up, "I know, I know--You're skeptical, but I also know that you would be a gracious help to our cause. You'll be an important asset to ridding the Fraysans from the world."

There was a slight thought in the teen's mind--I mean, would it hurt if he just did this one thing for them? He could deny doing any more and go straight to their destination afterward. In the same vein, however, they would be wasting precious time here that could be used in getting where they needed to be. 

"I have more important things to do," Nikolai said sharply after a few moments. 

Mccarthy let out a sigh in response, trying to keep his smile, "I never said that it was an option." 

The man's face grew serious as Nikolai's expression hardened. The rest of the group glared to the government official, prepared to attack. "You see, if you deny our request to aid us in this tactical mission--I will not allow you into the state of North Carolina by any means, and I will instruct my squadron open fire on your little group."

"Tch.." Dante raised her voice again among the group, "You won't even be able to touch us before we kill you where you stand." 

"Maybe not," Mccarthy replied, an edge in his tone, "But I can tell you now that if you kill me--" He pointed to the men and women who were holding assault rifles, "They, will at least manage to injure one of you. Plus--If you kill me, you have a problem with the entire government of the United States"

"There won't BE a United States if you don't let us go do our jobs," Ariana retorted. Her fear of the man's authority hadn't gone away, however the mention of Nikolai Jr. being used as a simple weapon pissed her off.

"Do you want those crazy guys upstairs to just nuke the entire world?" Mccarthy exclaimed, "Because that's what they'll do!"

"Alright, ALRIGHT!" Nikolai said through clenched teeth, turning over his shoulder at the group of four people ready to bear arms at his expense, "Listen--I know that we're strapped for time, but it couldn't hurt to just...do this one job."

"Don't let him persuade you," Iris growled.

"I'm not letting him persuade me," Nikolai replied, "I'm thinking logically. Do you really want the government on our asses, along with the Fraysans?"

There was a rare silence among the four of them as they looked at Nikolai, unable to respond. "I didn't think so," He said, turning his head back to Mccarthy, "I'll do the job for you--So long as they come with me."

The wild fear in the man's eyes had suddenly calmed as he relaxed a bit, clapping his hands together, "Excellent, I'd be happy to let your...friends, accompany you on your way," He cleared his throat, "Just, uh, get in the van and wait for one of our vehicles to pull up--We'll lead you to The Devil's Door."

The group did as they were told, however Nikolai Jr. took the passenger seat as Dante reluctantly sat in the back with Iris and Ariana. He looked forward at the long stretch of road and waited--Eventually, he saw a pitch black SUV pull up to the front. "Well," Sebastian said through clenched teeth, "Off we go"

Chapter 13 - If You Worship Me:
 

As the rickety blue van hopped up and down on the rocky dirt road, Nikolai Jr sat idly in the passenger seat. The rest of the group was silent as they followed the black SUV at a steady pace. Nikolai had his legs spread out as he slumped in the seat and stared to the outside, glaring intently at the withered trees splotched with oil. His thoughts had swooped up from behind and taken him away into the recesses of his mind--He was barely paying any attention to his immediate surroundings.

Nearly every single person that he had come in contact with knew his name. Ever since he was little, the world knew of his existence. He was both a celebrity and a travesty since the moment he was born--The son of the great gunslinger Nikolai, but also the son of the Fraysan scum Dante. Eventually as he grew in age, the negatives outweighed the positives of his family lineage. 

Now, with the world suddenly falling to pieces again and the Fraysans destroying everything around him, Nikolai Jr. found himself needed for something other than to be insulted. It amazed him how humanity functioned--A judgemental, hate-breeding society that only stops judging a person when they need something from them. 

He sucked his teeth. Humanity sickened him at times. 

Nikolai returned his attention to the scenery--If scenery included barbed wire and puddles of black. The SUV turned a corner and drove through a smoking gate that had been torn off of its frame; The actual doors were now in the middle of the withering forests, covered in oil. As they drove through the gate, Nikolai saw a large facility. There were three towers, however one of them had been torn down and thrown to the side. The base of the facility was tall and wide (With dents now firmly imprinted in them), with no windows and only one small door in the front to ensure optimum privacy in a setting of research and military training; The door had also been torn apart. 

The SUV pulled to a stop next to the van and Nikolai Jr. slowly stepped out. He looked around at the oil dripping from the trees and buildings, narrowing his eyes. Dante seemed perplexed as well. "What kind of Fraysans took this place over?"

Mccarthy was standing with two other men standing beside him, both weaponized to the very brim. He scratched his head, "Just the really strong ones and the shambling kinds."

Nikolai Jr. took another quick look around at the oil that dripped from the very tops of the trees. Iris took the words right from his mouth, "Those types shouldn't have been able to ascend to those heights on such withered branches."

Mccarthy frowned, looking to the five of them, throwing his hands in the air with an exasperated sigh, "Well, I don't know! You're the experts!"

Nikolai Jr. opened his mouth to tell Mccarthy to shove his assault rifle in a place it should never go, however he was interrupted by a sudden, drawn out hiss. He turned back and forth quickly, looking for the source of the noise--Then, the hiss turned into a levy of distorted voices in unison. Alec....

A berserker crashed through the front door of the facility from the inside, oil dripping from a few lacerations made on its body. Behind the berserker were a group of shambling beasts, all groaning and shifting back and forth. Some of them had Kevlar armor attached to their chests, black liquid spurting from it. Nikolai grabbed at his waist, pulling out the two dented revolvers and bringing them forward, pointing them in the direction of the Fraysan monstrosities. 

The rest of the group prepared themselves, taking out crossbows, machetes and lances. However, as they did so, Mccarthy lifted a hand up, "No," He said simply, "My superiors--They told me the boy must do it alone. We have to...asses his competence."

Dante growled, grasping the man's shoulder and spinning him around. The other two men lifted their guns up, pointing them at the woman's head--They tried to maintain a hard expression, but couldn't keep their terror out from their eyes. 

"Listen here," Dante growled, "You're going to stop telling him what to do. That's my job. I don't give a damn what your superiors told you, I--" 

She heard a loud explosion from about a hundred feet away. Looking over, she saw a veil of black mist where multiple necros used to be. Her expression underneath her helmet softened as she drew back, "Tch, It doesn't matter anyway. My son can handle himself." 

Mccarthy looked as though he was about ready to swallow a brick before letting out a sigh of relief as she distanced herself from him. He wiped a bead of sweat from his wrinkled forehead and turned to the half-Fraysan. Nikolai Jr. sprinted toward the front door, matching the berserker's ferocity as it rushed shoulder first toward him. At the last possible second, Nikolai slid down and in between the Fraysan's legs. He aimed his revolver up, pulling the trigger as the back of the beast's head was blown to pieces. It continued to charge on for a few more feet before falling face-first. 

Nikolai Jr. stood upright quickly, spinning around and pistol whipping a necro across the face. It stumbled, only for Nikolai to shoot the beast through the chest. The ensuing explosion blew it back into the other shambling monsters, stunning them momentarily. Nikolai pocketed one revolver, opting for his obsidian machete. With the flick of the wrist, he beheaded the front row of shamblers. 

The group watched in awe at Nikolai's pure fighting skills. For a sixteen year old, there just wasn't any possible way he could have been able to deal so much damage to the Fraysan ranks without breaking a sweat. The only one who wasn't surprised was Dante, who allowed a faint smile to cross her face.

A berserker crashed through a mob of necros, rushing toward the jagged hole where the door used to be. It barely had a chance--Nikolai shot it through the abdomen twice, both explosions causing it to fall and crush a set of necros, blood splattering on the every crevice of the wall on the inside. 

The fighting ability had come from a variety of things. His Half-Fraysan blood gave him the DNA to adapt quickly, considering his body was able to adapt to such a hybrid change. Fraysans were also typically competent in combat. Not only that, but his mother had been training him since he was seven years old--Something he hated at the time, but now realized was paying off in full. 

An armored necro walked slowly toward Nikolai; His response was grabbing the Fraysan, sticking a revolver in its mouth, and pulling the trigger. He then threw his elbow back, crashing it into the torso of another necro. He spun around, jabbing the machete through its eye--He threw his arm out and shot a struggling wall beside the door hole. The foundation of the wall fell apart on another mob of beasts. All the while, Nikolai Jr. was getting that feeling once again. A sudden adrenaline rush that he wanted more of--A boiling rage intermingled with great excitement. He had a certain hatred for this feeling.

It didn't take long before the constant outpour of necros and berserkers became nothing more than the occasional trickle of Fraysan that were aptly dealt with. Eventually, they stopped coming--Nikolai Jr. breathed in and out heavily, clenching his fists riddled with blood. His trench coat had various specks of oil, along with his face; He definitely needed a bath. 

Mccarthy waited a moment before running up to the teen, a bright grin on his features, "Excellent work, Nikolai Junior!" He exclaimed with a fiery enthusiasm, "You've taken back The Devil's Door! We may have a very heavy load of casualties but having this supply point back in our possession is what mattered."

Nikolai replied with a growl, turning to him, "We're going to have to go through the facility and be sure there aren't anymore stragglers. After that, I'll be right on my way." 

Mccarthy laughed nervously, scratching his head and looking to the ground, "Well, I mean...You could always work with us some more."

He scoffed in response, however Mccarthy immediately interjected, "Just for a little while! We've been...overrun in so many places! We need you!"

The rest of the group came over, patting Nikolai on the back as the male stared down the government official with fire in his red irises. The grins on their faces warmed his heart ever so slightly, however the adrenaline rush hadn't yet gone away. He was beginning to wonder if he could take one more life away--The life of Mccarthy. 

Suddenly, the earth shook from under his feet. He blinked, rearing his head back and forth. There was a three second delay, and then the earth shook once more. Eventually, he realized that he was feeling earth shattering footsteps moving toward them. "What the hell is that?" Mccarthy cried.

"Something we should get away from right now!" Sebastian replied. 

There was one more stomp, and this one hit close to home. The wind gusted against Nikolai, blowing his pitch black hair in every direction. He looked over and saw a gargantuan, gnarled foot where The Devil's Door used to be. 

He looked up to the source. The only problem was, he had to look way up. The beast was twice the size of the thirty foot trees, its body riddled with jagged claws going down its arms and legs. Its armor was twisted and pressed into its body, causing the overflow of its blood. Its hands were open, revealing claws the size of broadsword blades. Its face was twisted into a bright white smile, eyes nothing but narrow slits near the center of its face. Its heavy breathing sounded akin to the hissing Nikolai had heard earlier, causing a chill to run down his spine.

"Nikolai Alec Junior..." The beast said slowly, tilting its head, "So good for me to finally meet you." 

Nikolai knew the beast well from his mother's stories. It was a behemoth, however its face looked much different than anything he had been told. His heard began to slow to the beat of a metronome, his body and his mind beginning to separate. He could see the black veins on his arms inadvertently start to show, pulsating, "Who...Who are you?" He said in a distorted voice.

The grin on the behemoth's features seemed to grow from Nikolai's perspective, "I am Eta," He replied, his delicate voice somehow angering Nikolai Jr. further, "And you certainly will not live to hear that name be spoken again."  

Chapter 14 - Primal Desires:
 

His heart continued to beat at a slow pace as he stared into the white slits that were Eta's eyes. He could feel himself begin to lose control--The veins had ascended up from his hands and arms, emerging at his neck. A low growl emerged from his half-open lips as he stared to the behemoth beast.

Dante felt it too. The sudden desire to go up there and slice the beast into minuscule chunks of blackened flesh. She exhaled harshly, shaking her head back and forth to get the thoughts out of her head. She had grown nearly immune to the tricks of the Fraysans, it had been delegated to nothing but a small thorn in her side. Then, she looked forward at her Half-Fraysan son and noticed him visibly trembling. 

"What are you going to do, little one?" Eta teased, swaying his head back and forth. Obscenely loud cracks could be heard as he stretched, "I mean--I doubt you could even touch me." 

Dante's eyes widened to the shape of golf balls as she stared at Nikki from the back. The others didn't notice it, but she did. Ariana, Iris and Sebastian were too busy staring up at Eta with a scowl on their expressions. They all had their weapons out and were ready to fight him--Even though fighting him now would likely lead to one or two casualties on their part. They weren't paying attention to Nikolai Junior--They thought he was just fine. 

"You look a little shaky, Mr. Alec," the Fraysan cooed, "You gonna just stand there--Or are 'ya gonna pounce?"

She saw him take his stance, his hands falling to his revolvers. Millions of thoughts raced through the Fraysan mother's head as she raced in his direction, "Nikki, stop!" She yelled, her armored hand extended outward. When Nikolai was but a toddler he grew into these rages on multiple occasions. She would always calm her son by rocking him back and forth in her arms, or simply holding him; She was always able to do so before he went into a full frenzy.

Now, she realized, it was simply too late.

An inhumane screech exerted from Nikolai Jr's vocal chords as he took both revolvers out. He jumped to the side with a sudden burst of speed and began to shoot at Eta consistently, explosions emerging around his torso like fireworks. The rest of the group was shocked and perplexed, staring to Nikolai and his erratic movements. "Dammit," Dante mumbled under her breath. 

Eta's response was nothing more than a snicker as he glanced down at the soot on his armored torso, "You can't be serious--That's the best you have for me?"

Nikolai Jr. lunged forward, latching onto Eta's leg and ascending his body at great speeds until he made his way to the beast's shoulders. He shot at Eta's face, however the behemoth was too fast, catching the bullet and allowing it to explode in his hand. He grunted, snarling and punching Nikolai with a fist twice his size. Nikolai flew into one of the rickety trees, causing the entire tree to sway back and forth--Luckily, it didn't fall on the gunslinger as he simply slid down into the ground, "That actually hurt," Eta yelled.

Dante looked to his son, then Eta. She looked over her shoulder, "Well come on! We have to get Eta!" 

A loud scoff that made a wind gust through the trees was heard from Eta, "Please--I didn't even have to corner you. All I had to do was allow the impure Fraysan to get angry," He watched as Nikolai slowly started to stand again. His smile seemed to grow,  "Now, I can kill him easily--No strategy needed, and you all will be easy pickings." 

"Bullshit," A yellow arrow dug into Eta's forearm as Iris spoke with a sharp tongue. Eta yelped and threw out the arrow as currents ran up and down his arm. The beast snarled, turning to the group. 

They all dispersed, with Sebastian throwing his lance with prime accuracy toward Eta's face. Yet, Eta's speed proved great than the accuracy as he caught the lance. He flicked it with his index finger, flinging the lance like a rocket toward Sebastian. He just barely managed to dodge to the side as the lance dug itself six feet under. A red arrow clung to the beast's shoulder, causing an explosion that did nothing but irritate the behemoth. He turned to see Ariana, flapping her wings. Eta swung, but she flew to the side, shooting a normal arrow into his cheek. He grunted, tearing it out as new black blood gushed from the wound. He crushed the arrow into minuscule pieces.

Ariana took a swing to the leg, causing her immense pain as she fell back, cradling her wound. Meanwhile, in all of the chaos, Dante ran toward Nikolai. He was standing, black blood seeping from his lips--Not from a wound, but because of the instability of his body. The only wound he sustained was a long gash running down his shoulder, also dotted with black blood. He reached for his revolvers, barely paying attention to his mother.

"Nikolai," Dante said, narrowing her eyes, "Hey--NIKOLAI!" 

Nikolai's pitch black eyes glared to his mother for nothing more than a moment. He looked back at Eta, growling, "He needs to die," Nikolai said in a horribly distorted voice, nothing like his smooth, rough voice she was accustomed to hearing. It caused her to wince instinctively. 

"Nikki, you need to stop this," Dante pleaded, "You need to calm down--You can't defeat Eta this way!"

Nikolai Jr. didn't respond, only staring at Eta, clenching his revolvers tightly in his calloused grasp. Eta had his hand wrapped around Iris, squeezing her body. She yelped as Eta began to laugh, "Aren't you a pretty little thing?"

"Iris!" Sebastian yelled as he tried to take out his lance. 

"MOM!" Ariana screamed, flapping upward as a red arrow materialized within the chamber of her crossbow. Simultaneously, Nikolai Jr's growl grew in volume as he lifted the revolver outward. He pulled the trigger. 

Two explosions occurred at the same time; Both were aimed at Eta's face.

The sound of the ensuing explosion was only matched in volume by the cries of agony from Eta as he dropped Iris to the ground. She managed to drop gracefully on her feet, only sustaining a few bruises. Smoke levitated around Eta's face as both hands grabbed at it feverishly. 

Ariana turned to Dante, breathing heavily in and out, "Dante--He's distracted. We have to go NOW!" 

Dante turned back to his son, who was struggling with himself. He shifted back and forth rapidly, snarling as blood dribbled down his body. The woman knew that the only reason he wasn't attacking her was because of their parental connection--Even Fraysans were taught not to harm their mothers and fathers. That was why only she had come to his aid--Nikolai would have mauled anybody else. 

Which was why she couldn't try and force him in the van with the others. The rest of them would be massacred. Mccarthy ran up to the remainder of the group, looking up at the beast, "No--You can't leave! My superiors will kill me, don't you understand?! You have to kill that thing, you have to--"

A bullet lodged into the man's skull. He was barely able to process it before his head completely exploded, the rest of his body falling idly to the ground. Dante turned to Nikolai as he held the smoking revolvers, "ETA!!!!" He screeched, and Dante could tell he was ready to charge at the beast.

The smoke was beginning to subside and Eta was still clawing at his eyes. One of the white slits had become nothing but a hole where skin should be. He was panting heavily, causing the trees to sway. Iris and Sebastian ran to the van to start is as Ariana looked on, checking to see what Dante would do--She knew that she could not interfere.

"Dammit!" Dante yelled. She knew what she had to do, and it pained her to do so. However, she needed to get away from the Fraysan beast, "I'm sorry Nikki J, but you'll thank me later!"

Nikolai Jr. didn't even see it coming. By the time the armored fist collided with his face, his vision and mind had already gone black.  
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Boomerang

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Re: Fraysa (The Novel has begun)

Post by Boomerang on 11/7/2015, 2:07 pm

Section 3!

Chapter 15 - Boiling Blood:


The next time he regained consciousness, the first thing he processed was the throbbing pain on the left side of his face. Without his eyes opened, all he could hear was the roar of the wind against a fast moving car. Confusion had settled over him as he began to wonder what had happened. The last he remembered, they were at The Devil's Door. 

Nikolai shivered at the bitter cold that was pressed against his face. His eyes shot open and he looked over, only for his eyes to meet with Ariana's violets. She had been watching his face for a while, and we opened his eyes she seemed a bit surprised. Her expression was inviting, a smile crossed her face. The coldness on his face was her delicately pressing an ice pack against his pained cheek, "Well good morning, sleepy head," She said softly. 

"Wuh..." Nikolai slowly sat up straight, looking back and forth. They were back in the van and driving down the empty highway, the sun rays of late afternoon beating onto his face through the closed window. He stared to Ariana and Dante who were sitting beside him, his eyes wide with both shock and genuine curiosity, "What happened? What happened to The Devil's Door?" 

A strained silence fell around the van as Ariana shifted uneasily, "Nikolai...What do you remember from The Devil's Door?" She prodded. 

The gunslinger sighed, racking his brain; It seemed like it was an eternity ago, even though it was probably only a few hours, "I remember I killed all of the Fraysans in The Devil's Door, then I started to get mad at Mccarthy--really mad. I remember seeing that behemoth Eta and..."

He didn't remember the entire scenario fully, however fractured pieces of a whole memory flooded his brain. He recalled himself going into a frenzy and shooting at Eta frantically. He could see Ariana being swiped at and Iris nearly squished, and his mother punching him across the face to stop him from doing any more damage. The one thing he remembered more than anything was blowing the head off of Mccarthy. 

His expression went from confused to distressed, "Oh, no," He muttered, "Dammit--What did I do?" 

Ariana placed a free hand on his shoulder, squeezing kindly as the other hand continued to tend to what he figured was a rather large bruise by now. Ariana sighed, "It's not your fault, Nikolai. It was your Fraysan roots." 

"When you meet a powerful Fraysan," Dante cut in, "You start to lose control of yourself unless you get some sort of mental training first--It comes with having Fraysan blood in a human body." 

He didn't respond, running a shaky hand through his hair. The thought of killing someone was something that was already beginning to haunt him. Fraysans were one thing, but another human being was a completely different ball park, especially since he was just doing his job. 

"Nikki..." Dante continued, looking over at him. Her visor was up, revealing her scarred face and eyes that always stayed pitch black. Nikolai Jr loved to look at her face; To him, she was the most beautiful mother he could have, "You used to do it a lot when you were younger, I should have taught you then. Really, I should have taught you about controlling those urges a long time ago, but the truth is--I can barely control the urges. If it was just me and Eta...I probably would have lost it too."

Oddly enough, Nikolai Jr. happened to remember one of those nights. He had to have only been six or seven years old and still used his mildly damaged race car bed. It was past Midnight and everyone was fast asleep--But Nikolai had woken up. The pitch black had been cut by the moonlight that shined from the window beside his bed. In that line of bright white, he could see a lithe, shadowed figure in the corner. 

As he continued to watch, it simply stood there and stared at him. At first, he had a headache and nausea, but soon it escalated to the point that he was filled with seething rage. He screeched at the figure, and as soon as his mother crashed through the door, the woman-like figure disappeared. It took Dante holding him, rocking him back and forth for a while before he was able to fall back asleep that night.

To think that it had happened to him multiple times, he began to wonder if that shadowed figure really was just a figment of his imagination.

"We're going to need to teach him," Iris said monotonously from the passenger seat. 

Dante scowled, "Don't you think I know that? Obviously Eta isn't going to just go away." 

Iris scoffed, crossing her arms as Sebastian exhaled, "We'll worry about that later, okay? Right now, Eta's gone. Maybe when we get to South Carolina we can do something about it."

There was a tense silence, then a sigh of relief from Sebastian, Nikolai and Ariana as Dante and Iris seemingly agreed. Dante sat back in her seat, closing her visor back up with a short sigh. Ariana looked back to Nikolai Jr. and brought the ice pack up from his face. The teen smiled faintly, "How bad is it?" 

She tilted her head to get a better look, "Not too bad--I mean, I dig guys with half purple faces."

Chapter 16 - Cold Hands:


They continued driving for as long as they could go. Hours had passed by quickly in the van, and while Nikolai Jr's face still held a throbbing sensation to it, he was otherwise okay and itching to do something other than sit here. One of his largest pet peeves was sitting around and doing nothing with his time. He began to anxiously caress his revolvers at his sides as he stared outside the window. 

Ariana had given up on putting ice on his face and decided to let the large bruise heal on its own. She looked to Dante from the corner of her eye and sighed mentally. There had to have been another way than punching him; Blemishing his face was something she had a problem with, but she'd never cross Dante about it. 

The silence was broken by Sebastian cursing himself, "The van is running on empty, we have to find a place to stop," He said. 

Sebastian seemed to have been planning for the gas to run empty, pulling off from the highway and eventually making his way into a small town with a variety of darkened alleyways and shady stores. In the midst of it all happened to be a desolate gas station. "It works out anyway, Sebastian," Nikolai Jr. said with a grunt, "I need to stretch anyway, I hate being in the car." 

"Yes, you've made that clear to us for the majority of the ride," Sebastian replied, turning over his shoulder to glance at him quickly before turning back to the road. 

"Hey man, lighten the hell up," Nikolai Jr. replied, narrowing his eyes with a frown, "We're just goin' to get some damn gas." 

Sebastian didn't respond, pulling up to the gas station. Nikolai grumbled under his breath; Him and Sebastian never really got along. There was something about an older man trying to be cheerful but miserably failing that really rubbed him the wrong way. As they pulled up in front of one of the pumps that even looked like they were working, Nikolai was the first to get out of the car and stand upright. He stretched both of his arms and legs wide, yawning loudly, "Finally," He said with glee. 

Night had fallen about an hour previously and the ever growing moon had shimmered down onto them. He turned to Ariana and glanced into her violet eyes that glittered in the moonlight, "Man, a skin tight suit, shiny eyes, who are you trying to impress?" 

Ariana giggled in response as Max flew onto her forearm, fluttering his black wings a few times before resting on her, "Nobody in particular," She replied. She was a good liar. 

The group looked to the gas station. Based on the fact that the glass door was broken open and there was blood splattered on the floors and walls, it was a good enough assumption that nobody was there. Sebastian dug into his pouch that carried all of his important belongings, "Ah-hah!" he said, taking out a credit card, "We'll just pay for it this way."

As Sebastian stuck the gas pump in the vehicle, he was assaulted by perplexed expressions. He blinked, then looked down to his credit card, "Oh, this?" He looked back at them with an exasperated expression of his own, "Come on, guys. Just because we're in war again doesn't mean we should stop acting human." 

"Funny, considering I'm not even human," Dante replied slyly. 

Sebastian sucked his teeth and turned back to the gas pump. Meanwhile, Nikolai Jr. turned over his shoulder to an idle sound within the general silence. Deep in the night, he could see the shambling figures of five or six necros emerging from the alleyway, inadvertently kicking around a can as they stared in the group's direction. 

"Looks like we got a couple of stragglers," Nikolai Jr. said, unsheathing his obsidian machete, "Just get the van ready, I'll take care of this one." 

He briskly walked from the gas station and a hundred yards down the street where he had seen the beasts. They now saw only Nikolai, shambling toward him with life in their blackened eyes. He brandished his machete before slicing it across the neck of the first necro he met. Black blood intermingled with the general pitch black night, spurting upward before the Fraysan fell. He stabbed another one through the chest, shoving it into the remainder of the group. As they moved toward him, he spun, taking off three more heads. 

"This is almost becoming too easy," Nikolai scoffed, watching the final necro retreat back into the alleyway it had come from. The Fraysan was cornered, and needed to find another pack before approaching the gunslinger again. Nikolai humored the necro, following it a few feet into the dark alleyway before shoving his blade through its back and out of its chest. He harshly pulled the blade out, allowing the beast to fall before the male sheathed his sword. 

Nikolai turned on his heels; He stretched a bit more before beginning to walk back out of the alleyway and toward the group. He figured by now that the van would be filled up and started so that they could get driving again. He knew that they were almost out of North Carolina based on the highway signs. He was holding out hope that they'd make it to South Carolina by morning. 

His thoughts were immediately cut short as he felt something grab him from behind. Before he could react, his back crashed against the wall. His trench coat had saved him any damage, however he became suddenly aware of a pair of ice cold hands around his throat. He wasn't able to get a good look at the man responsible, but he was most definitely strong. Nikolai tried to grab for his revolvers, but another man held his arms firm to the wall. 

Dammit...Dammit, I gotta get out of this, He thought. If Nikolai hadn't been so surprised, he might have been able to; Going Fraysan mode or powering out was a possibility, however by the time he thought of those options he was already becoming lightheaded. He could see the black dots forming on his eyes as he struggled against the man's strangling hands. 

At some point, Nikolai Jr. realized that it was simply no use. His mind went blank and his vision went black for the second time in one day--Only this time, it was by an enemy.

Chapter 17 - Welcome To The Freakshow!:


"Wake up, sleepy head!" 

The same words he had heard a few hours ago, only now they weren't by Ariana--This was the voice of a deranged man. Before he could react to the statement, ice cold water splashed onto his face, stunning him; He stumbled a few inches backwards to attempt and get a hold of himself. He took in a gasp of breath, opening his eyes wide. Looking down at himself, the first thing he realized was the missing pieces of himself: Namely his trench coat and revolvers. His hands and feet were wrapped in copious amounts of chains that clung to the wall, keeping his movement very minimal. 

Growling, Nikolai Jr. looked forward. Surrounding him were metal bars, a gargantuan cage positioned in the dirt. He felt like a damn animal. Two large and burly guards were positioned outside of the cage, staring the gunslinger down--Probably the men that had brought him here. Standing within the cage, mere feet in front of him, was...an eccentric man, to say the least. 

His tall, lithe figure was the first thing he took notice of. The bright, long and red colored coat that hung over him was laced with gold coloring and open, although his clothes seemed rather casual. Black button on gloves were wrapped around his hands, and his similarly colored hair ran all the way down to his shoulders, covered slightly by his hat. What unnerved Nikolai more than anything was his face--His eyes were surrounded with black star paint; His bright blue eyes staring at Nikolai with a maniacal glint resting within them. A painted smile extended across his face and he was giggling uncontrollably at the sight of his new prey.

"Hope you enjoyed your little cat nap," He said, tilting his head, "You won't get much of those anymore!"

Cold water dripped from Nikolai's hair and dribbled down his chin--Irritation was his primary emotion, with shock and worry coming as secondary. The clown turned on his heels, throwing the empty bucket to one of the guards, "Toss this somewhere, please," He said. 

The guard nodded and walked off as the man turned back to him. He stared at the man with his black and red eyes, "Who the hell are you?" He snarled. 

“Who am I?” The man stroked his chin, “Who… am… I…? Well… I’m a raging work-aholic, a working rage-aholic. A certified, qualified, diversified, undignified, performer with an unjustified infatuation with excitement. 

I’m cocked, locked, and ready to rock; rough, tough, and hard to bluff. I’m toll-free, bite-sized, ready-to-wear and I come in all sizes! Super-sized, long-lasting, fast-acting, oven-ready and built-to-last. Can’t shut me up, can’t run me down! 

I’m a fun-loving, fanciful, fashionable, fellow frolicing in a fairly fascinating forest of foolery. A clever, cheerful, chivalrous, convivial, clown capable of comprehending the crucial components of comedy. I walk the walk, talk the talk. I take it slow, go with the flow. I don’t snooze, I don’t lose. I’m a focused fool, a pensive prankster. I'm in-the-moment, on-the-edge, over-the-top, but under-the-radar. 

A merry, manic, magician whose musings lead to inducing mirth. I go by many titles, labels, and names. I have many sobriquets, anonyms, and epithets, but you may call me... " He leaned forward, flicking Nikolai's wet nose, teeth bared, "Kehl.”

The condescending attitude was something Nikolai hated more than anything. He tried to bite at the man's hand, but Kehl quickly pulled away, chuckling, "Ah, Ah, Ah, I'm also your employer!"

"Employer?"

"Why yes! You have a hell of a show to put on, half-breed!" Kehl grabbed his cane from the corner of the cage, spinning it around in his hand. 

Nikolai Jr. winced at the name 'half breed', but maintained his scowl, "I work for nobody," He replied. Kehl's wide grin turned into a pursed smirk at the sound of it as he snapped his fingers. The two burly guards had returned, opening the cage door. Nikolai looked to the both of them, "Tch--Look at these guys, seems like they hit the indoor psycho gym." 

Both guards unchained Nikolai from the wall before lifting him up. They dragged him out of his cage and thrust him at Kehl's feet. The male tried to stand, but simply fell to his knees, his long slumber rendering him dizzy and incapable of great amounts of movement. Nikolai glared up at him, "How long have I been out, clown?" 

Kehl blinked, looking to his pocket and taking out a golden pocket watch. He glared at it for a few moments before putting it back into his pocket, "Long enough," He replied, however glancing at his pocket watch reminded him of the time. He grinned, shifting back and forth in excitement. He suddenly punt kicked Nikolai Jr in the stomach, causing pain to run through him as he groaned in response, "It's showtime!" Kehl said gleefully. 

The two men lifted Nikolai back to his feet, nauseous from the terrible kick to his stomach that had sent him a few inches in the air. They led him slowly from backstage to the stage--shiny hardwood floors against bright lights from the ceiling. A railing went across the front of the stage to prevent anybody from jumping on stage without permission. The men guided him to a wooden platform in the center of it all, chaining his wrists to metal poles that were attached to the platform itself, shackling his feet to the same pole and forcing him to his knees. Nikolai tried to bite at the guards, but to no avail; He hated to be chained, constrained to one specific place. It made him sick to his stomach. He glared to the seats in front of him; There wasn't an audience, not yet. Nikolai feigned surprise, "Wow...Full house." The guards didn't reply, finishing the chains and standing obediently near the gunslinger.

The clown returned to Nikolai Jr's view, twirling his cane around as he stared at the time on his pocket watch. His gleeful grin widened on his face as he nodded to the men, who went to open the doors up front. He walked over to Nikolai, patting the man's face, "Aw--I know you're getting butterflies there, kid. But don't worry, You'll do great." 

Nikolai was silent for a few moments before glaring at Kehl. His blue and white eyes collided with Nikolai's black and red, meshing together in harmony, "What do you even want?" 

Kehl didn't miss a beat with his response, standing upright, "Tickets, mostly. Although...This is just a bit more personal." 

Before Nikolai could respond, Kehl turned away, looking at the audience as they began to pour in. Some took seats while some simply stood in front, but all of them stared at Nikolai Jr. Nikolai stared back, his scowl faltering a bit. 

Kehl's bold voice took over the stage, "Ladies and gentleman....Boys and girls! We have a NEW addition to our freakshow!" The spotlight shone onto the male bound to the platform. Nikolai  squinted against the flood of bright lights that blinded him, trying to get a good look at the audience, "The Horrid Half-Breed of Virginia!"

The entire audience gasped in disgust, their faces contorting into frowns as they stared Nikolai Jr. up and down. Kehl leaned down, staring at Nikolai Jr. for a moment ,and then back to the audience, "Notice his ugly features...the hatred within those sinister--Fraysan--Eyes," The crowd boo'd loudly, and it wasn't long before food and drink products began to rain down on the stage, most of them hitting their target: AKA Nikolai Jr. 

Nikolai Jr. winced with the smack of every bottle of cold drinks and plate of warm food, splattering him in various different things. He gritted his teeth, staring to the clown as he simply turned back and giggled, giving Nikolai a wink. He felt absolutely humiliated, under the spotlight of the people that despised and criticized him his entire life. 

"C'mon folks, you can do better than that!" Kehl said to the group, giggling wildly, "Give him a warm welcome!!"

Projectile saliva mixed in with the food and drinks, acting like a rain to go along with the hail. A glob of saliva smacked against Nikolai's cheek, causing him to wince in absolute disgust. He wasn't able to take much time to think of it, however, as an errant boot smacked him across the face. He could feel every single bit and piece of torment, but most of all he could feel the pure hatred that radiated from the sinister eyes of these people. He was fighting the Fraysans fervently, fighting for all of humanity to keep this ghastly planet alive--And here he was, being treated like scum by people he had tried his damndest to save. He tried to be disgusted, but all he could muster was disappointment. 

The grinning clown walked around to the back of Nikki J, grabbing his head of pitch black hair and forcefully lifting his face upward to the lights. He muttered softly into the gunslinger's ear, "See? They love you."

Nikolai snarled audibly, turning his sight to look at Kehl from the corner of these eyes, "You fucking clown, When I get out of these chains..."

Kehl laughed maniacally and shoved the man's head forward before grabbing the rags that Kehl and his guards had put him in prior to his awakening. He ripped them off, spinning the shirt around over his head before throwing it to the crowd. They roared in response. Kehl stepped off of the wooden platform Nikolai Jr. was placed on and stepped out to the crowd, bringing his hands outward, "Who wants a show?!" He exclaimed.

The crowd's roaring applause wasn't enough for him. He leaned forward, cupping his ear, "I said....WHO WANTS A SHOW?!" The crowd managed to cheer even louder, going into an absolute frenzy that further proved how easy it is to get mankind to fall to a deranged man's level. Nikolai Jr. snarled as one of the men handed Kehl a whip. 

Kehl walked toward Nikolai Jr, stopping abruptly to give the whip a loud crack. The crowd once more cheered, and Nikolai looked to the audience. Did they want him to be tortured that badly...? What was wrong with him? 

He skipped back and forth around Nikolai before stopping in front of him, holding the whip up. Nikolai was astonished as the crowd practically begged him to use it, "LADIES AND GENTLEMAN!" Kehl screeched, "WELCOME...TO THE FREAKSHOW!"

The first crack of the whip left a severe gash along his back, trickling with black oily blood. The crowd went into a levy of applause, and it inspired Kehl to go further. Several gashes were made around his torso. The gunslinger leaned forward, staring at the ground as an errant bang of pitch black fell in front of his eyes. The pale red irises originating from his father began to fade, the pitch black scleras flooding into his irises. 

The crowd had resorted to throwing dirt at his bare flesh, his body convulsing as black veins popped up all around his torso. While the crowd stopped their cheers and murmured to each other in fear, Kehl became curious. His grin expanded as he held the whip that dripped in Nikolai's blood.  

The man turned around, snarling at Kehl and lunging as far as he could within his restraints, "I'll kill you," He yelled. The audience fell silent, however Kehl burst into terrible laughter. 

"Look at the ferocious thing! Another quality of such a...pathetic abomination! Watch out folks, it bites!" 

Nikolai Jr. growled, "I will rip you limb from bloody lim-"

The man was interrupted by a whip across the face. His head lulled as he looked back down to the ground amidst the laughter of the audience. Kehl went to do so again, however Nikolai gripped the whip with his mouth. The world went blank as he tried to take the whip away. Kehl pulled back, still grinning, "Silly Fraysan scum! Whips aren't for eating!" 

He jerked the whip with force and eventually it dislodged from his mouth. Black blood trickled from all over his body, his newest wound being his torn apart lips. Kehl cackled malevolently, curling the whip up and twirling his cane back and forth. He watched the black Fraysan blood coalesce on the hard wood floor as he panted, completely defeated. He just didn't want to be humiliated by these people anymore. 

Kehl lifted the cane up, acting as though he were a batter prepared to hit a homerun. He looked back at the crowd, "Say buh-bye!" Amidst the crowd's boos, he cracked the cane across Nikolai Jr's head. He repeated the same measure, slamming it against his head until he was unconscious and bleeding from that area of his body as well. The teen fell limp, his body torn to absolute shreds at the hands of the clown. The burly men unchained him and carried him away as Kehl continued to speak. 

The men forcefully threw him into his cage as Nikolai Jr. leaned against the cage's bars, limp. His glossy unconscious eyes stared to Kehl, who he could still see from center stage. 

Kehl took a bow as the crowd showered him in loving cheers. An hour passed as freaks from all across the backstage area were set to perform. The crowd cheered for every single one as they were tortured and abused, but nothing like how Nikolai Jr. had been treated out there. As the hour passed by, Nikolai eventually garnered semi-consciousness. His head (and entire body) was throbbing in absolute pain, but he managed to stay conscious enough to watch the last of Kehl's show. He let out a shaky exhale--These people were disgusting him, but...Was there a reason that they were this way to him. Did he deserve this treatment? 

"Now, ladies and gentleman," Kehl stated with his smooth, booming voice, "It is time--For the finale!" 

The crowd cheered, and the spotlight turned on a woman, standing upright against the metal pole. Nikolai couldn't get a good look at her, with the exception of short, pitch black hair. She had rags on her body just like Nikolai Jr. 

Kehl grinned, "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, this--" He pointed to the woman, "Is my FINEST specimen." 

Some people cheered, while others were rather confused. Nikolai could clearly tell the people that came often versus the newbies. Kehl glanced back and forth, "I present to you--The bastard daughter of the devil--"

He winked, his face holding a knowing smile, "Sidnee NIGHTSHADE!"

Chapter 18 - A Dead Man's Legacy:


Nikolai's eyes widened at the mention of the woman's name--He looked as though he had seen a ghost. Kehl giggled lowly among the crowd's boos that filled Nikolai's ear drums as they yelled obscenities aimed directly at her. Kehl tapped his cane on the hard wood floor, his grin almost as wide as the one that was painted on him. He walked over to Sidnee, putting an arm around her shoulder. She clearly shriveled up in his presence, "Come now, don't treat her that way!" Kehl cooed, his glance turning to the woman, "Sidnee--Why don't you show them what you can do, hm?" 

Kehl slinked away from the wooden platform and stood beside it. Sidnee stared at the ground for a few moments, sunken and frail underneath the bright lights. However, Nikolai was shocked to see those bright lights gradually go dimmer until they were barely visible in all of the darkness. Pitch black particles began to surround the woman as the shadows swirled around her frame like a mini-tornado. The crowd was absolutely enthralled, watching the fantastic display with huge smiles on their faces. Some of the audience actually screamed in horror. 

A whip cracked against the woman's side, causing her to stumble amidst Kehl's cackles, "A little more moxy, Sid!" 

The shadow material that surrounded Sidnee eventually moved outward, overtaking the stage in pitch black. The crowd began to roar with applause, whistling as the entire stage turned a pitch black. Then, the shadows jumped outward into the audience. At first, the people screamed and threw up their arms to shield themselves. It took them a few moments to realize the shadows were just swirling around or above them. 

They laughed to themselves and pretended like they weren't scared before clapping once again for the woman. The shadows danced around them for a little while before going high, near the ceiling of the circus tent. Once it went high enough, the shadows caused loud explosions that showered the skies with black colored fireworks. The audience went into a frenzy, looking to the woman attached to the metal poles who hadn't even moved. The lights slowly returned and the spotlight was back on her as Kehl skipped to the front of the audience, hopping onto the metal railings and stretching his arms in the midst of the shadowy fireworks. 

"Ladies and gentleman," Kehl boomed, "GOODNIGHT!"

As the crowd reluctantly emptied from the front doors, Kehl's guards grabbed Sidnee and dragged her off the stage. They threw her into one of the metal cages to Nikolai Jr's right--She crumpled to the ground in response, leaning against the metal bars. Nikolai shuddered; He was sitting next to a Nightshade. Sirius Nightshade, the man Dante had always told him about, came to mind. The devilish bastard who caused his parents all sorts of torture and pain--desecrating his Aunt Anna's body in front of his mother. He scowled. 

She was the daughter of a criminal mastermind, murderer of Fraysans and humans alike. The man his father had shot dead. How could he have been put with the luck of having a cage next to her's?

"You did pretty good tonight," A hoarse, female voice cut through his thoughts. He turned to the woman next to him, her pitch black eyes staring at him. A couple strands of similarly colored hair fell to her forehead as her pale hands grasped the cage bars for dear life, "He never treats his first timers that badly--I'm surprised you survived."

Nikolai Jr. scoffed in response, looking down at himself. His body was covered in dried Fraysan oil, gashes and bruises surrounding his whole body. Kehl hadn't given him his rag-for-a-shirt back, which left him uncomfortably exposed, "Heh, I'll be sure not to look at a mirror."

Sidnee smiled faintly with thin lips before turning and rubbing a gash on her side. Crimson blood was dribbling on the ground. It was at that moment that Nikolai realized just how thin she was. She looked almost thin to the bone and uncharacteristically frail with a sunken in face. He immediately regretted his judgement of her purely based on her father--Because that's what everybody did to him for his entire life. 

The gunslinger let out an exasperated sigh, leaning against the bars of the cage to get a closer look at her, "How long have you been here?" Nikolai Jr. asked. 

Sidnee didn't look up as she continued to tend to her wound with a makeshift bandage made from her rag clothes, "Hard to tell time around this place--Kehl makes it hard to know anything regarding dates," She shrugged and thought for a moment, "I dunno, two, maybe three years?" 

Nikolai raised an eyebrow, "And you've never thought about escaping?"

Her glance shot back to Nikolai, her eyes suddenly becoming very terrified, "Are you crazy?! He'll kill us just for saying that!" She exclaimed, glancing back and forth. Kehl was in his back room now, counting his profits, "Jesus, he'd kill us just for kicks!"

"I don't care, Sidnee," He retorted with a slight growl.

"You say that now--Wait two or three years."

"I'm not going to wait that long before I strangle him!"

Sidnee shook her head vehemently and looked back down to the ground. She began to play with a tiny stick that had been dug into the dirt below her, staring intently at it. A faint, broken smile crossed her features, "Heh...I'm scared of Kehl."

She looked up at him, nodding slowly, "And I never thought I'd say that about anybody."

The door to Kehl's room opened and Sidnee jumped, scooting away from Nikolai Jr's cage and staying huddled up in the corner, feigning sleep. The deranged clown moved to Nikolai's cage, tapping the cane against the bars. The teen glared up at Kehl, scowling deeply. 

"You did a great job, kiddo," Kehl said, snickering, "And you look great too."

He snarled in response to the man's snickering, trying to move but once more realizing he was chained to the wall. He sighed in defeat, "I'll find a way out of here..."

Kehl giggled lowly, but Nikolai continued, "Whether I escape on my own...or they find me."

His giggles grew in volume as he pressed his face against the cage bars, "Listen Kiddo, I've got some news for ya...Nobody's coming for you. You're MINE now!" 

Now it was Nikolai's turn to smile. Even if it meant opening up the large gash a little further, he still grinned widely. He shook his head back and forth, "Heh...I'll never be yours, clown."

Kehl feigned a sigh, wrapping his hands around the bars, "If you're so miserable, kid...Just kill yourself, It's the emergency exit," He stood up and his grin expanded, "Like father, like son, right?"

He cackled maniacally, walking off and spinning his cane as Nikolai Jr. growled in the background. Kehl would get what was coming to him soon enough. 

****

The next day Nikolai Jr. was emphatically awoken by a cane slamming harshly against his face. Bits of black blood escaped his lips as he took a moment to process the fresh, throbbing pain. He panted heavily, turning to the culprit; The clown, who was now spinning his skull cane back and forth, "Wakey, Wakey..." he teased. 

Nikolai grumbled in his chains. Not only was his body throbbing with dull and new pain, but his throat was burning from a lack of water. His stomach was whining from a lack of food--The last thing he had was some food given to him by Ariana when he woke up from the car ride. 

Jesus, Ariana, Nikolai thought to himself. For the first time, he truly thought about the group. He had been gone for at least a few days--They must have been worried sick. His primary worry was for his mother, considering she probably tore apart entire cities looking for him. 

He looked up at Kehl, who was swishing around a glass of half-full water in his grasp, "You look a little parched," The clown said, tilting his head. 

"Yeah," Nikolai replied, "Lemme out of these chains and I'll take that glass from you."

Kehl responded with a nod, turning the glass of water over as it turned the dirt into a tiny mud puddle. He then glanced at the empty cup, "This?" He snickered, tossing the empty cup at his bare chest, "Sure." 

The cup bounced off of him and rolled over into the mud puddle, "Hungry too? I can hear your stomach growling."

He sighed, pacing around inside the cage, just out of Nikolai's reach, "Tell you what, Nikki--" He stopped, glancing to the man in chains, "Can I call you Nikki?"

"No."

"Well, Nikki...if you want food and water...you'll just have to earn it."

He then snapped his fingers as if a light bulb went off in his head. He maintained his grin, which was highlighted further by his painted smile, "Tell you what!" Kehl walked over, unchaining Nikolai from the wall and clasping his cold hand on the gunslinger's hair. He dragged him out of the cage and allowed him to fall into the dirt, much to Nikolai's dismay. He crawled around a bit, surprised he could even move after the damage he had been subjected to the day before. 

"We need to work on your act, my dear Fraysan," He snickered, clamping a metal collar around his throat along with the chains around his hands. He hooked a chain to the collar, "If you really commit, you'll have a feast fit for a KING"

He undid the shackles on the man's feet so he could walk, however Nikolai only stumbled as Kehl tugged him along to the center stage. There was no audience, so it was a bit less humiliating for him--He could see through the ceiling of the tent that it was late afternoon. Kehl grabbed his whip on the way there, eventually returning to the wooden platform and placing the chain around the metal pole. He was now only shacked at his hands and throat. 

"Now..." Kehl cracked the whip with intimidation in mind, pointing to the ground, "Sit."

Nikolai looked at him for a few moments with a scowl--He had no desire to take orders from this man. For a split second he thought about refusing, however his stomach then started to growl feverishly. He shook his head in dismay and eventually sat on the ground.

Kehl clapped in response, then tossed a stool to the ground. He motioned for him to sit on it. Just as he was doing so, Kehl cracked the whip again and pointed to the dirt, "Down." Nikolai was forced to obey for now. Sidnee was watching from her cage, a concerned frown on her face. 

"Hm.." Kehl paced back and forth for a few moments then snapped his fingers. He went out of sight for a moment, but came back around with a hoop in hand. He held it out in front of Nikolai, "Jump."

Nikolai looked up at Kehl, narrowing his eyes, "You can't be serious." 

Kehl smirked. He went into his pocket, pulling out two small pieces of bread. He held it out to him, "If you want food, Nikki..." He cracked the whip against the man's back, opening an old wound as he raised his voice, "You have to JUMP!" 

Reluctantly and filled with further humiliation, he jumped through the small hoop, and jumped back through it when Kehl instructed him to do so. Kehl giggled, giddy that he had persuaded the great Nikolai Jr. to fall to nothing more than a tamed animal. He threw the teen his two pieces of bread, landing on the ground in front of him. 

Nikolai walked over to the pieces, only for Kehl to step on them with his boot. 

Kehl looked at him, as if waiting to see what he'd do as he took his foot off from the now crumpled pieces of bread. Nikolai snarled audibly, staring at him, "You son of a bitch...," He suddenly lashed out, grabbing Kehl by the coat even with shackled hands and pulling him close. However, before he could do anything else, two guards grabbed him, punching him in the gut. Nikolai Jr. groaned, falling to his knees as Kehl cracked the whip once more like a warning shot. 

"That's a bad Nikki!" He cracked the whip against his back and Nikolai arched his body in pain as black blood trickled down his torso once again. Sidnee watched in horror, placing her hand over her mouth as Kehl repeated the same process several times across the back, laughing hysterically in delight with pure evil in his bright blue eyes, "Bad!"

After the clown had his fill, he instructed the guards to drag him back to his cage, tossing him in the dirt as Kehl slid him a half empty bowl of water, "We'll try again another time, Nikki," Kehl said before walking away. 

Nikolai Jr. looked at the water placed within what looked like a dog dish. He cursed himself, grasping it and downing the rest of the dirty water that was in it. He felt like he was in heaven as the liquid made its way into his body, his throat suddenly given the luxury of being moist again. He put it down on the ground, and once again sighed as he realized he couldn't wipe the remaining water from his chin. 

"Kehl never treats us that bad..." Sidnee mused out loud, then turned to Nikolai Jr, "What does he have against you?" 

Nikolai shrugged, staring at the ground and making a line in the dirt with his finger, "I don't have a clue--seems like he knew my father based on how he talks about him."

There was a few moments of silence between them as Nikolai got lost in his own thoughts. What the hell was he going to do if Kehl was starving him? Then, Sidnee scooted over to the side of her cage closest to Nikolai Jr's. She took out a moderately sized piece of bread, sliding it out of her cage and into his own. The gunslinger looked at it for a little while, half-expecting it to be crushed once again. 

"Kehl gives us food, at least," She said meekly, rubbing her hands together, "You need to eat--You're starving." 

"Sidnee, you don't have to do this," Nikolai Jr. replied, looking at her. 

She smiled at him, only this time it wasn't broken--It was a warm smile. She nodded slowly, "Yes, I do. You need your strength if we're going to escape, right?" 

Nikolai slowly smiled back at her. He looked down at the bread, grabbing it and practically jamming it down his throat. The feeling of food and water combined in his stomach was something of a luxury for him to this point. He swallowed hard, shaking some crumbs off of him as Sidnee giggled. It wasn't strained and malevolent like Kehl's; It was soft, something that was different, in a good way. 

"Thank you," He said hoarsely. 

"You're welcome," She replied, looking at the blood dripping from his body, the small black puddle around him, "Get some rest. It won't be long before he's at it again."

Chapter 19 - When The Lights Go Out:


Three days passed by, three days of torture. Nikolai Jr. sat at the far end of the cage with his head down. Ever since Sidnee had spared the big piece of bread, he had only been getting table scraps from her (She had to eat too). The only thing Kehl gave him was water so he wouldn't die from dehydration. His hair had become unkempt, bangs falling in front of his eyes as he stared to the ground.  He had gotten a bit thinner, though it wasn't noticeable yet. He still maintained his figure, however it was marred by the gashes (old and new) surrounding his body and the dried dirt practically caked to him.

Sidnee was glancing at him from afar with her curious black eyes. A frown was on her face looking at him--He seemed to be breaking. His body was riddled with sores and cuts, it was admirable that he had gone even these first few days without showing some cracks in his armor. She exhaled slowly and gave him a quick glance-over. Even with the dirt and cuts, he still looked handsome. 

Kehl's boots clanked upon the hardwood floor and Sidnee immediately looked away as he tapped the skull cane on Nikolai Jr's cage. His malevolent voice penetrated his eardrums as he stared through the bars, "We've got a show to put on tonight, kiddo!" He said gleefully, "Make it a good one and maybe I'll spare some bread."

Nikolai Jr's stomach grumbled on cue as he looked up to Kehl. The look in his red and black eyes had a raucous fire within them, ready to burst out against anybody that got too close. Nikolai was not broken by a long shot--He was only biding his time, "I'll make it a good one by killing you with my bare hands."

Kehl drew back, narrowing his eyes as his smile widened, "Ohhhh...you still have a bit of SPUNK left in you, hm?"

Kehl's smile contorted into a sly grin as Nikolai scoffed, "You think you're so tough, behind those bars when I'm locked in cuffs and chains," He snarled, smirking, "But let's see how you fair when the chains come off and I wring your chicken throat."

Kehl's laugh echoed, "You don't get it, do you?" He leaned forward, pressing against the bars, "Down here in the underground, I'm the king."

There was a moment of silence as the both of them stared the other down. Nikolai's smirk widened, "I won't let you extinguish my fire like you did to the others--I'm Nikolai fucking Alec." 

"Junior," Kehl added. 

Nikolai ignored him, "We are a proud people, the Alecs--And I'm not gonna let you take me down and oppress me like you did with everyone else here. I refuse!"

Sidnee looked on, glancing between the two of them as if it was a tennis match. Her face broke out into a smile; He was most certainly okay. Nikolai Jr cocked his head, leaning back against the wall, "I'm not entirely unsympathetic for you, clown," He said with venom in his tone, "You seem to have been beaten and broken down by the cruel hands of fate much too many times...So much that you've turned to beating and torturing people until they become as disfigured and unhinged as you."

"But now," He leaned forward, grinning against the gash on his face, "You've met your match--I'm going to break you before you break me"

Kehl stopped short. The clown looked back and forth for a moment, then slowly turned back to Nikolai Junior. Although his painted smile kept the facade, he was no longer smiling. For a moment--Only a split second, there was a flash of sorrow and pain in those bright blue eyes filled with cheer and malevolence. He looked to the ground.

"I'm going to walk out of here," Nikolai claimed, "And I'm taking the rest of these people with me."

The moment of sorrow was immediately replaced with a crazed rage. His head jerked back up, his frown turning into a deepened scowl. He shoved his hand against the bars, like he was ready to rip the cage door open, "You won't be walking anywhere with broken feet," He growled.

He turned to the grinning Sidnee, looking her up and down, "What the hell are you grinning at?"

She immediately curled back into her ball of fear as a bell rung somewhere in the background. Kehl's grin returned to him as he tried his best to contain his laughter, "Showtime," He said. The guards unlocked the cage doors and unshackled his feet. They spread his hands out a bit before rechaining them and began to walk him to the center of the stage.

Unlike the last time, Nikolai Jr. stood high and mighty. He turned back to Sidnee for a moment, who nodded quickly at him. There was a full house tonight once again, all of the people muttering and looking at each other, then back to Nikolai. He was significantly more cut and bruised than the last time, and that seemed to cause some chuckles from them. 

Kehl was following the whole time, ready to address the crowd. Nikolai was halfway to the wooden platform before he turned over his shoulders abruptly, "So you said you were going to break my feet?"

Kehl blinked, tilting his head, "Hm?"

Nikolai took one last look to the crowd of crazed people, looking at him for entertainment. They all hated him and gave him judging glares. They only wanted to see him get hurt--Only this time, he wouldn't. He chuckled at Kehl, "You should have done it sooner."

Out of nowhere, a shadow smacked into the body of one of the guards, tossing him over the railing. Nikolai jumped upward as high as he could, slamming his knee across the other man's face. He stumbled and eventually fell backward, completely dazed. Nikolai turned on his heels as the crowd gasped in despair. He rushed forward, and for a moment it seemed as though he was going to smack against the pole. Kehl giggled wildly, "Oh, you!"

Nikolai brought his arms out, using his Fraysan strength to slam the middle of the chains that held his hands against the metal pole. After two tries, the chains completely snapped under his strength and fell from his wrists. He turned on his heels, flexing his wrist. The sly smirk he had gotten from his father was plastered on his face, "Feels good to be back." 

Kehl waved his finger back and forth, cracking the whip in the air, "Ah! Ah! Ah!"

Nikolai looked Kehl up and down, sucking his teeth as he glanced at the whip in the man's hand, "Fair ground this time, buddy," He said with a laugh.

Kehl giggled, enjoying the sudden, spontaneous fun, "Down, boy!" He yelled, lashing the whip out toward his torso. Nikolai rolled forward and under the whip, ending up near the guard on the ground. He went to his belt, grabbing a set of keys--The keys to the whole freakshow. 

As he looked forward, the door to the cage next to him blew open. Sidnee Nightshade stepped out, shrugging off the rest of her chains, a wide grin on her expression. Nikolai stood upright, thrusting the keys in her direction. She wobbled a bit, but eventually caught them. They had been going over the plan for the last day, and so far it was going along smoothly. The crowd was starting to scream out, "The Fraysan is out! THE FRAYSAN IS OUT!"

Kehl's whip went across Nikolai's back, causing him to snarl and arch his body. He fell to one knee as Kehl stomped in front of him. "Sidnee, give me the keys!" He demanded. Sidnee stopped cold, staring into the menacing eyes of the clown that had imprisoned her for the last three years. She stumbled, extremely conflicted between the triumphant hero and the tortorous villain.

"Please, Sidnee..." He said softly, extending a hand. For the first time, he was actually speaking nicely to her. She backed away instinctively, shaking her head back and forth. She was trembling, almost unable to hold the ring of keys. 

Nikolai Jr. sighed, rushing to a lantern that had been placed near the wooden platform. The fire looked ready to burst out. Meanwhile, the clown kept trying to convince the shadow manipulator, "Just--Give me the keys, Sidnee, and I won't torture you after this. I'll even let you go," He cooed to her as if she were a rampant animal. 

Adrenaline had begun to run rampant in Nikolai's body as he ignored the pain and fatigue he had been feeling. He rushed forward with a new speed, gripping the lantern and slamming it against Kehl's face. The entire left side of him broke out into flames, further helped by the oily makeup that had created his painted smile. Kehl let out a blood curdling scream, staggering as he could feel the searing pain. 

Nikolai quickly turned to Sidnee, "Get the others out!" He exclaimed, pump kicking Kehl over the railing and back into the crowd, "Go! NOW!"

Sidnee nodded and turned around, quickly rushing into the backstage area. The crowd of people were all screaming now, however they didn't leave their seats. To them, this was still a form of entertainment. The clown stood up, crying out and patting the orange flame that ran across the whole left side of his face. He reached over, grabbing an audience member's cold beverage and pouring it on himself to eventually put out the roaring flames. He fell to one knee, looking at the ground and panting heavily. 

"You look like you've seen better days," Nikolai Jr. said with a loud, hysterical laugh, "Who's the freak now?!"

He glared up at Nikolai, standing upright. The smell of burnt flesh was rampant through the air as his entire face was red. His makeup was smeared, running off of his face. His gasps for breath eventually turned into chuckles as he walked toward Nikolai, "Heh...Heh heh.."

He jumped back over the railing and onto the stage, a sinister grin forming on his burnt face, "Heh...Ha ha ha!" He tossed his top hat off of the stage as he cackled like an absolute madman, "Now that...That was pretty funny." 

Nikolai frowned, looking over and tossing a guard over his shoulder and back onto the ground. Nothing would be surprising him today. It wasn't long afterward that the freaks emerged from their cages, rushing forward and taking out any guards they saw. Some guards were left alive, while some were left as simple corpses. They would eventually rush out into the crowd, and it was only then that the people finally screamed out and scattered out of the tent. They wanted to be away from the 'monstrosities'. 

Sidnee ran back to find Kehl and Nikolai Jr. standing off. Kehl turned to her, causing the woman to freeze up once again, "You're both in a whole lot of trouble!" He teased. Nikolai responded by punching Kehl in the nose when he wasn't looking, "Ugh--Haha!" 

Kehl responded by kneeing Nikolai in the gut. He grunted, stumbling before throwing his face at Kehl. At the same time, Kehl flicked his wrist, a small knife falling out of his sleeve. He side stepped, shoving the blade into Nikolai's wrist. He growled, falling back for a moment and ripping it out. Black blood trickled outward. 

Kehl attempted to follow up with a punch to the face, but Nikolai ducked, shoulder tackling the clown into the wall. "Oof!" Kehl drove an elbow into the small of his back, where the open wound of the whip had been. Nikolai grunted, falling back as Kehl uppercut the gunslinger. He tried to tackle Nikolai but he gripped the man, throwing him across the stage. Kehl rolled backward, landing near the wooden platform he would put his freaks on. 

He turned, flicking his wrist again as Nikolai charged forward. He thrust a vial of green liquid at Nikolai's face, however he luckily craned his neck. The vial fell onto the hardwood floor, becoming a puddle before it ate away at a few inches of hardwood floor. He tackled Kehl into the bloody metal pole, drawing back and punching him in the face. He took a moment to look to his right and Sidnee was jumping around, using her shadows to knock out the guards in the area. A lot of the freaks had made their way out into the real world, which was enough for Nikolai to feel good. 

His moment of philosophy was interrupted by chains smacking across his face. Kehl finished uncoiling the chain from the pole, jumping to Nikolai's back and wrapping it around his neck. The clown pulled back, and Nikolai began to suffocate. He threw his hands out instinctively as Kehl took him down to his knees, cackling wildly. 

As Nikolai began to lose his breath, he looked up to the ceiling. He narrowed his eyes at the figure of a bat flapping back and forth at the very top of the tent, circling the area like a vulture. He grunted, driving an elbow into Kehl's gut. Kehl felt the breath leave his lungs as he chuckled. Nikolai stood taking the chains off of his neck and beginning to move to the darkened area of the stage. 

Kehl was quick to follow, jumping onto Nikolai's back with two more knives in each of his hands. He grinned, looking to stab Nikolai through the heart, however the gunslinger was much too fast. He threw Kehl over his head and into the concrete wall that surrounded the backstage area that the tent would lean on. Kehl crumpled to the ground, completely dazed. 

Nikolai stumbled into the back room, filled with various different cabinets and drawers. Nikolai looked through every one, grumbling when each one remained empty. Eventually, he grabbed a hold of one that was very tight. With a bit of effort, he pulled the drawer out, and his grin became of genuine happiness; There, stuffed into the small drawer, was his trench coat and set of revolvers. He wiped a sheen of sweat from his forehead and grabbed the coat. 

He looked to the right and saw the figure of Kehl, standing up and chuckling, "Here, Nikki, Nikki, Nikki...." He cooed. Nikolai threw on the trench coat, growing surprisingly uncomfortable by the weight of it on his shoulders, hindering his speed. Yet, at the same time, it felt like a home to him. He smiled,reaching over and gripping both guns in his hands before closing the drawer with his leg.

He saw Kehl's figure getting closer, and suddenly a small knife went into his wrist, just missing the vein. The pain caused him to drop one of his guns as it cluttered on the floor. Kehl jumped forward in the shadows, only for Nikolai to take out his knife and thrust it into Kehl's shoulder blade. He grunted, stopping short. Nikolai pistol whipped him harshly in the face, causing Kehl to stumble. Nikolai Jr. rushed out of the back room, glancing around for Sidnee. He detected her standing upright amongst a group of knocked out guards. 

He smiled to her, turning back around just in time to be punched in the nose he stumbled, and Kehl grabbed his left arm, twisting it back until he dropped his revolver in pain. He threw Nikolai into the wall before two strong men rushed in from the back entrance of the carnival tent, holding the gunslinger down by his arms and legs. Kehl stood above him, running a hand through his damp hair that was dripping with sweat. His burnt flesh shimmered from the bright lights of the stage a few feet away. 

"Looks like I underestimated you, kiddo," Kehl taunted, twirling one of Nikolai's revolvers in his hand, "Don't worry, I won't have to make that mistake again."

Kehl cackled, his painted smile now smeared into red and white blotches along his actual grin. He pulled the hammer back on the revolver, aiming it at Nikolai's head. Sidnee rushed forward before Kehl jerked his head up, glaring at her with a cold gaze that caused her to stop short, "Just wait your turn like a good little girl." 

The woman growled, continuing to rush forward. Kehl let out an exasperated sigh, "Guess not," He slowly walked forward, grabbing her mid-stride and shoving her into the concrete wall head first, leaving her in a daze. Not out cold, but unable to move. She whimpered, looking on a few feet in front of Nikolai Jr. Her pitch black eyes told the story of how truly sorry she was. 

Kehl slowly turned his burnt gaze back to the gunslinger, "Now that that's taken care of..."

"You sick bastard," Nikolai growled, "You're gonna get what's coming to you!"

"But I'm holding the gun," Kehl chuckled, circling around him until he was just behind the concrete wall. He pointed it at Nikolai's temple and lifted his free hand, waving, "Say hi to your daddy for me," He taunted, his chuckle turning into a delirious cackle. 

There was a low rumble from behind him. Kehl blinked, but was unphased by it. Then, came a stomping sound. The clown raised an eyebrow, but before he could turn his head a hole was blown through the concrete wall behind him. A machete went right through his back and emerged from his abdomen, filled with crimson red blood. A woman a few inches taller than him with a helmet hiding her face stood behind him. 

"Stay away from my son," Dante growled.
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Boomerang

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Re: Fraysa (The Novel has begun)

Post by Boomerang on 11/9/2015, 7:15 pm

Section 4 (Dear god there will be so many posts here)

Chapter 20 - Blinded By The Light:


The snarling woman pulled the machete out from the clown's body, the shimmering blade dripping with crimson. Kehl stumbled, leaning against the concrete wall and dropping Nikolai Jr's revolver in the process. It cluttered at Dante's feet; She reached over and grabbed it, pointing it to the guards. They all took their hands from her son, terrified of the Fraysan mama bear. 

She simply put her hand out and Nikolai clasped onto it. She pulled with enough force to stand him up--He stumbled a bit before finding balance. He grabbed his other revolver that had been laying idly on the ground, putting it in its holster along with the revolver Dante had in her hand. "Are you okay?" She said simply. 

"Well--" He looked down at himself, and then back at her, "Breaking through the wall a few minutes earlier couldn't have hurt." 

She scowled, looking at his beautiful frame torn apart by gashes, "Ariana can heal those when we get back." 

"Heh...Heh heh"

The duo turned to Kehl, blood gushing underneath him as he struggled to stand against the wall. Gasps for breath escaped him as his bright blue eyes stared to Dante and Nikolai Jr. He maintained his grin, "Mommy saves the day," He said through gasps, slowly sliding down the wall until he was in a sitting position. Final jagged breaths escaped him before he closed his eyes, a smile remaining on his still face. 

Nikolai sucked his teeth, turning to the hole within the concrete wall. Light flooded through, the first natural light that he had seen in at least a week. It was warm and inviting, contrary to what the freakshow had been. He turned to Sidnee, who was only now starting to move again. She rolled on her stomach, coughing for a while as the gunslinger walked to her. He helped her to her feet, wrapping an arm over her shoulders. 

"Who the hell is that?" Dante asked, a frown on her face upon glancing at the woman's pitch black eyes.

Nikolai blinked, looking back and forth for a moment. Sidnee went to say something, but Nikolai cleared his throat, "Not important--Let's just find the others. I'm not quite sure how long my adrenaline is going to keep me standing."

****

"So we're in South Carolina already?" Nikolai Jr. asked, his mouth full of steak. There wasn't any sauce or flavor, but it wasn't spoiled, so that was good enough for him. The group was stationed in an abandoned corner store; Most of the snacks and canned foods had been raided, but luckily Sebastian knew how to cook on the grill, which had left them to the spoils of any raw meat. 

Nikolai sat in a swivel chair behind the cash register, his feet up on the counter. After returning to the hideout in shambles, Nikolai had practically fallen to the ground in exhaustion--The adrenaline had worn off quickly after they left the carnival. Ariana and Iris had both brought out a green arrow of their own, stabbing it into his most afflicted areas. It sounded barbaric, but arrows of that colored happens to heal a person they shot it at. Almost instantly, his pain had sizzled away; Sadly, he couldn't help the nasty scars on his torso, and the one across his cheek. 

After taking a nap and eating an entire steak, the gunslinger himself felt refreshed once again. The rest of the group were sitting upon overturned shelves, attempting to avoid the rats that scampered around in the dim lights of the store. Sidnee was the odd one out, sitting in the shadows--Yet she ate even more than he did, devouring a steak and all of the snacks she could stumble upon. 

"Yeah," Sebastian replied, "It wasn't long after you got kidnapped that we found out--We wouldn't have had a single lead if it wasn't for the fact that Dante had a scent of your blood. It took us a good fifty miles, and she ended up losing the scent."

Dante kept staring at Sidnee, a frown underneath her visor. Her arms were crossed as she looked from her to his son--A feeling of concern ran across her eyes. She didn't believe that Nikolai had come out of the freakshow unscathed; She knew something was going on mentally, but she could only hope it wasn't anything severe. 

"We ended up searching for a few days," Sebastian continued, "Drove into a small town on the outskirts of South Carolina and we saw the flyers--They were all over the damn place, the ads for his freakshow."

Nikolai swallowed the rest of his food hard, tilting his head, "The clown had me advertised for his show?"

"Yeah," Dante nodded, "His one mistake." 

"We would have gotten to the address sooner, but our van broke down about halfway through," Ariana added, staring into Nikolai Jr's eyes. She had been distant ever since healing him, constantly looking over her shoulder at Sidnee. She was concerned about Nikolai's health, but also about how he had met this woman, "We ended up walking the rest of the way. A few miles out, Dante picked up your scent and went rushing ahead. I sent Max ahead to scout, and he saw you in the thick of it with that Kehl guy." 

He scoffed, turning his ring back and forth on his finger, "You guys definitely came just in time, I was almost done for."

There was an uncomfortable silence at that harsh truth. Nikolai's ability to hold his own against the clown was commendable given his condition at the time, however he had just missed his chance at getting the job done. Kehl's last words still rang in Nikolai's head: Mommy saves the day...

There would come a time where she wouldn't be able to save the day. What would he do then? 

He shifted uncomfortably, glancing at the address. He turned his head to the broken window beside him, looking outside to the street name, "This says 82 Thompson Street," Nikolai Jr stated, "I could swear I saw Thompson on our way back here. It's within walking distance." 

"We'd have to get going soon," Iris replied, "We lost a whole week of progress--The newscasts that I've been able to see have shown that the world is getting more and more corrupted by the Fraysans. Things are starting to fall to pieces."

The tension in the room became palpable as Ariana looked Nikolai up and down, "I'd like to know who your friend is," she said slowly, looking over her shoulder, "Been eating a lot of our food--Should at least tell us her name, right?"

Sidnee shriveled up into her ball of fear once again, slumping in her chair as the rest of the group suddenly stared at her. Nikolai Jr. cleared his throat, standing upright and walking around to the front of the cash register, "Well, that's--That's uh...Sidnee." 

He waited a moment, looking to the both of them, "Sidnee Nightshade..."

The group all seemed to stop what they were doing, Dante dropping the apple she had been cradling onto the ground. She lifted her visor up, staring from Sidnee to Nikolai Jr. with her pitch blacks. Iris and Sebastian looked appaled, staring at her as memories flashed back to them. Ariana blinked--She wasn't expecting that answer. 

Dante grunted, scoffing, "No, no," She shook her head slowly, "No--This has to be a joke."

Nikolai gulped, "Mom...I was just in a freakshow for a week. I wouldn't make jokes right now."

Dante stood upright, "Well you can't be serious, bringing that--" She threw her hand out in exasperation, "That man's daughter in here! The one who did all of that wrong to us!" 

Nikolai was silent, looking at Sidnee as terror began to appear in her eyes. At that silent moment, Dante became consumed with rage at the very notion that her son would bring a child of the enemy into her presence. Everything went in slow motion as she lunged forward, reaching up and taking her machete out from her back holster, brandishing it. She ran at Sidnee, intending to decapitate her.

Luckily, Nikolai Jr. was faster. He rushed forward, sliding in front of the woman who cowered away, holding her hands up in defense. Dante swung downward, however she stopped mid-stride as the gunslinger stood in front of her target. He frowned deeply, "Mom...No."

"Move, Nikki!" She screamed, veins beginning to pulsate around her facial area. 

"NO!" He screamed, and everyone in the room gasped, even Ariana. It was the first time he had ever been defiant against his mother. She stumbled in shock, staring at him. He exhaled slowly, closing his eyes and collecting his thoughts, "You can't kill her mom...If you kill her for her parents--Then those people are right in humiliating me for mine." 

She snarled, looking deep into her child's eyes...Those red irises. Her lip quivered and she backed off, resting her machete at her side. His father's rebellious behavior rested within those eyes, and at that moment she was proven wrong by her own son. Even so, she maintained her scowl as she sheathed her machete, pointing over Nikolai's shoulder and at the bastard daughter, "She makes...One wrong move--Her head will be separated from the rest of her body." 

Nobody said a word for a moment as Dante scoffed, turning on her heels, "Let's just figure out where the hell we're going next," She walked off. Nikolai tried to put a hand on her shoulder, but she shrugged it off, stomping out through the glass doors and awaiting the others. Sidnee had relaxed, standing upright behind the gunslinger. She wasn't so scared of Dante anymore now that she had insurance. 

Nikolai ran a hand through his thick black hair, "Let's just--Let's just get going."

Chapter 21 - Ready...Aim....:


The sun bore down onto the group like a plague, sweat beading from Nikolai's forehead as they walked along the lonely road of the abandoned town. The only publicity that had been garnered from it was the freakshow a few miles out--In the horizon, they all could see the red and white tent slowly crumbling to the ground. Looking to the pavement, he could see new corpses scattered across the streets. Some were from the audience, while others were from freaks. 

The reasons for their casualties greatly varied; Some stabbed, others ripped apart by Fraysans, and still others seemed to have killed themselves in some fashion. The stench of decaying flesh, both new and old, within the air was enough to make Nikolai Jr. nauseous. His curious glance fell to the buildings. Some remained intact--Mostly the smaller buildings had only retained broken windows and a shaky foundation. The larger-than-life buildings had suffered substantially, however, most of them reduced to rubble. He stepped over a large chunk of concrete wall that had made its way to the streets. 

Darkened grey clouds circled around the blue sky, threatening to cover the bright ball of sun. Nikolai didn't mind the idea of some shade and rainfall--being in this wasteland was uncomfortable enough for him without being forced to walk under intense heat. The street that led to Thompson was a long one, they were still two city blocks away. Nikolai exhaled slowly. 

Nikolai usually enjoyed being in the front, however now he simply stood at the sidelines and allowed Dante to lead the way to Thompson. She had maintained her distance from everybody, walking far in front of them as Nikolai, Sidnee and Iris stood in the back. She was silent, barely turning over her shoulder to give her son a single glance. Nikolai Jr. winced at this thought. She'll get over it, he thought to himself reassuringly.

Ariana made it a point not too look at Nikolai as she walked down the heated pavement street. She simply stared to Max, who had rested on her arm in exhaustion. The group had grown a tendency to simply stay silent in certain situations. 

As they made their way closer to the rickety green sign reading 'Thompson St', Nikolai Jr's thoughts turned in a different direction. The whole time they had been running to Oaklyn, never once did it cross his mind that this could be another trap, or simply a pipe dream. There was no way for them to tell for sure, and the aspect of putting his group in danger for the umpteenth time was something he despised with a passion.

He bit the bottom of his lip anxiously, caressing the back of his revolvers. Iris had gotten close to him, her old violet eyes looking to him with concern. She placed a delicate hand on his shoulder, "I know what you're feeling," She said slowly, "That anxious, gut feeling that it could be a trap." 

Nikolai looked to the older woman from the corner of his eye. He had always been amazed at just how well she aged--She looked like she could pass for her early 20s rather than mid 30s. To her inquiry, he nodded. 

Her lips curled into a small smile, "I've felt that way all my life, dear. Ever since the First War, I get the gut feeling on a daily basis," She was showing small fractures of her old self, before the PTSD had set in, before she had gone quiet and angered, "What you gotta learn--Sometimes that gut feeling? It's just your mind playing tricks on you."

Nikolai turned to her fully, his eyes locking onto a moderately sized scar on her cheek. He had heard the story about a hundred times; She had been kidnapped by his mother and tortured nearly to death back in the First War, back when she was confused about her alliances. On the flip side, Iris had shown a lack of empathy for their fallen brethren--His father. All of it had come together in a sort of tension that rested between the two older woman, something he couldn't even begin to understand no matter how many times Dante explained.

"And what if it is a trap?" Nikolai asked, "What if my gut feeling is right?" 

She thought for a moment, and then shrugged, her smile expanding, "Then we'll deal with it like we always do--Kill the opposition." 

Nikolai scoffed, a grin forming on his features, "Good pep talk."

"I'm not really good at this stuff, you know."

The group turned a corner and Nikolai Jr. looked up to the street sign above: Thompson St. They turned the corner and looked around. Behind them, the street led to nothing but a dead end that lead into desert wasteland. On the other side, the street made a small slope upward that eventually led to a series of homes that had been torn to pieces. At the top of the hill was a rather large, white trailer in the middle of the road. That was when he saw the Fraysans surrounding it. Necros and berserkers alike threatened to tip the trailer over, pushing harshly against it. He had never seen so many berserkers along with the absolute mobs of necros--It was the largest herd he had seen.Their screeches filled his ear drums as they made their greatest attempts to push against the trailer.

Then, the Fraysans simultaneously ceased movement.

They turned on their heels, sniffing the air. The majority of them turned their attention down at the base of the hill, where the group had been positioned like sitting ducks. The hissing all coagulated into one definitive word that the Fraysans had apparently learned well in school--Alec....

"Holy shit..." Nikolai Jr. mouthed, backing away and pulling out his revolvers, fear and excitement both creeping up his neck. The berserkers came first, rushing down the hill on all fours toward the group, screeching, "Get your weapons ready, they're coming!!"

Chapter 22 - Fire!!:


The smooth pavement quickly became riddled with smoking sinkholes among the screeches of gunfire and Fraysan alike.

A berserker tripped, falling into the hole made by Nikolai Jr's gun as another one's abdomen was ripped to shreds by an explosive arrow that lodged itself between the chinks of the beast's armor. It fell into the same blemish in the road, the holes acting like coffins for them. Ariana flew into the air with Max, resting on a one story building and picking off any necros that were still by the trailer. 

Dante was silent but deadly, almost graceful as she hopped above the holes only to behead a shambling Fraysan on her way down. She didn't care about the blood that spattered on her armor--The only concern for her was wringing the necks of every Fraysan she laid eyes on. Her anger against Sidnee and her son became channeled into her combat as she threw the Fraysan beasts around like they were nothing. She threw one to the ground and stomped its head in with ease, however as she looked, she was surrounded by five more of the beasts. 

The revolvers constantly going off with booming explosions seemed to form a smoke screen around Nikolai, bullets flying through the grey and colliding with berserkers and necros alike. Sebastian was even in the front lines, slicing up Fraysan necros with the blade of his lance and quickly becoming the efficient killing machine he was in the First War. It amazed Nikolai how even considering the underlying issues within the group, they all still managed to become a collective unit when faced with any type of adversity. 

As the smoke of the holes cleared, it was clear that the deceased Fraysans had piled up into every hole, filling them to the very brim as black blood leeched into the road, trickling down the low hill. Many were dead, but there were still much more of them coming. Very soon the Fraysans had overran the group, surrounding their vicinity among the pools of blood. Dante was only barely keeping up, beheading Necros and berserkers alike, however as more began to descend through the hill and the alleyways of the buildings, she could feel herself losing her breath. 

A berserker grabbed Dante, thrusting her into the wall of a building while the necros pushed Sebastian into a corner, threatening to eat him alive. Nikolai Jr. continuously made the attempt to mow them down, but it seemed as though him killing one only brought three more in their place. A bead of anxious sweat rolled down his forehead as he took out his obsidian machete, holstering one revolver and rushing forward toward the front lines. 

Then, the light of the sun suddenly grew much dimmer. Shadows began to erratically move on their own, fighting against their restraints. All at once, the shadows emerged from corners and alleyways like blades, latching onto the Fraysan menace and simultaneously annihilating a significant group of them as they became enveloped in the pitch black. Their screeches were mutilated by decapitation.

Nikolai Junior blinked at the swirling tornado of shadows, following its movement until they returned to their rightful owner--Sidnee Nightshade. She stood in the light, her pitch black eyes staring into Nikolai's reds; She smiled faintly. He turned forward once again, smacking a necro in the face with the base of his revolver and stabbing it through its temple. A hail storm of bullets, arrows and shadows fell onto the remainder of the Fraysan beasts all at once, and suddenly the cards returned back into their favor. 

By the time the last of the horde had met their demise, it was as though they had released a smoke grenade, smog surrounding their persons. Sidnee stood behind Nikolai Jr, who was panting heavily. He wasn't usually this tired--Not from these types of fights, especially since he had the group with him. However, the combination of the sheer amount of Fraysans accompanied by the fatigue still resonating from the freakshow, it made sense for him to be so out of it so soon. He grumbled, running his nails up and down his arm as a sort of tool against the anxiety. 

The group stood together, waiting for the smoke to clear, however none of them spoke. The power of the Fraysans together had been something they hadn't expected at all--They underestimated the sheer amount of them, something they could no longer do. Nikolai and Sidnee exchanged glances once again, and the gunslinger nodded to her with a slight smile. He was thankful that he had saved her from that dastardly freakshow. 

Then, he heard a crashing noise of a screech. The combination of smoke and fatigue resulted in nobody realizing it any sooner. A berserker jumped off from the roof, its arms pushed outward, palms wide open as it barreled downward in the direction of Nikolai Jr. By the time he looked over his shoulder and saw the beast through the veil of smoke, it was already too late. He was about to be a Fraysan kebab. 

The rest of the group realized as well, but it was too little, too late, the most they could do is thrust their weapons in the direction of the beast, and even with their rush to do so, it seemed as though everything went into slow motion. Nikolai's eyes widened as he ran forward in an attempt to run away from the clutches of the Fraysan monstrosity. 

There was a rumble in the earth, and suddenly a gargantuan piece of concrete flew into the berserker's body, sending it flying into the ground and crushing it against the road. Blood burst from it like a broken faucet, its screeches filling the air before it eventually gave up and admitted to death. 

Nikolai looked to Sidnee and raised an eyebrow. He was about to ask her just how she managed to get that concrete block out of the ground and into that berserker so fast, but she just shrugged her shoulders, "That--That wasn't me."

Nikolai turned to where the block of concrete came from, and saw a figure a few yards away. A man, tall and graceful, with greying hair that would have gone all the way to his mid-riff had he not put them into pony tails. His eyes were completely blank white, however he was far from blind. His clothes were eccentric, a tank top and pair of pants that looked to be woven with pure black. In his hand was a pole that shimmered against the late afternoon sunlight, and to Nikolai it looked to be made from some sort of metal. 

The man's wrinkled face contorted into a frown, and then a perplexed expression as he walked closer to the group. Dante scowled under her visor, holding her machete tight within her grasp. Iris and Sebastian looked as though they had seen a ghost. However, the man looked just as surprised, staring right at Nikolai Jr. 

"Mason," Sebastian breathed out.

"My god..." The man said wistfully, "You look so much more like your father than I ever could have imagined."

Chapter 23 - Reunion:


Mason lead the group up the hill riddled with large pot holes, avoiding the Fraysan corpses that had been spread throughout the once lonely street. The man lead the group to the large white trailer that had been positioned in the middle of the road. He slowly took out a key from his pocket, playing around with the lock for a moment before opening the door wide, "Well, usually it's attached to my truck, but--Welcome to my humble abode!" He said cheerfully. 

Nikolai Jr. was the first one to walk through the door, stepping from harsh concrete to carpet. There were three rooms; The living room he was standing in held two leather couches who had seen more than their share of wear and tear, a reclining chair, and a couple of nightstands with lamps on top of each of them. There was a television that wasn't as modern, but still functional as it played the national news. Nikolai winced at the sight of the Fraysans stomping around Times Square. 

Further back and through a narrow hallway looked to be a bedroom, where Nikolai could see the edge of Mason's queen-sized bed. At either side of the hall were bathrooms, or so he could tell. At the front was the kitchen, a few pots and pans resting in the sink as the fridge hummed with power. 

"Not bad," Nikolai said with a scoff, taking another quick glance-around. It was one of the nicest homes he had ever walked into. The rest of the group swiftly followed, Sidnee sticking beside Nikolai as the veterans uneasily stepped to the side. Sebastian was grinning from ear to ear, however Iris was clearly uncomfortable and Dante upset.

"So this is the trailer the Fraysans were trying to tip over," Ariana said to herself.

Mason chuckled lowly, nodding, "Yes, I was out on a run for some more food--Was about to catch a deer, too, but then I heard all the commotion. I guess it's a good thing you made all that noise, I might have lost my home."

Dante snarled in response. Sebastian ignored it, walking over and wrapping arm over his shoulders, "I can't believe it's you!" He said, and Nikolai saw him genuinely grin for the first time in a very long time, "I thought I'd never see you again after you walked out."

Mason granted himself a faint smile, turning to his old friend, "Well I guess there had to be a veteran reunion some time, right?" He said jovially, "I thought we had that set for 20 years." 

"If only it was in better circumstances," Iris replied, looking up at the man. 

Mason cleared his throat, turning away from Iris for a moment.Ariana stood close to her mother, looking at the older man who now locked eyes with her, "Oh--Sebastian, is this your little one?" 

Sebastian nodded, Ariana lifted her hand and waved awkwardly, shifting back and forth, "Erm--Hi."

"The last time I saw you," Mason mused, "You had to be...only about a week old." 

"And you--" He turned to Nikolai Jr, "You had to have been no more than a year old. I still remember your crying. You were louder than the Fraysan screeches, I'll tell you what." 

Dante grunted, and Mason's smile immediately faded, returning to his blank expression. Before anybody could speak, Nikolai lifted up his hand. The ring on his index finger glittered against the orange-red sunset that shined through the window, "A man gave me this," Nikolai said simply, "He told me to come to South Carolina and follow the address."

Mason stared at the ring for a moment, and eventually let out a heavy sigh. He reached over, grabbing the ring from Nikolai's finger and glancing over it, "I sent him to your city to warn you of the coming danger," Mason said, "I couldn't leave my post--Otherwise I could have missed crucial information from the Fraysan intelligence...I was hoping he would make it." 

"What do you mean by that?" Dante asked, a suspicious edge in her voice.

"My telekinetic abilities combined with my Fraysan roots allows me to intercept their communications," Mason replied, looking over at her for a moment before turning back to Nikolai Jr, "I've known of the Fraysan planned assault for the last six months, but I knew that if I simply announced it to the world they would think that I've gone insane. I needed to get the information to the group."

Nikolai opened his mouth, however all he could muster was a yelp as he grasped his head. His heartbeat began to slow as he leaned against the wall, breathing through clenched teeth. He could feel sudden, carnivorous urges forming in his bones. Mason turned sharply to him, analyzing him for a few moments before eventually letting out a sigh, "He hasn't learned."

"I know that," Dante said sharply, snarling audibly, "I just haven't found the time to."

"Bad things are going to start occurring if he isn't taught soon," Mason said calmly.

"I'll teach him once the war ends," She said, crossing her arms, letting out her stubborn side.

Mason sighed, "It--It isn't that simple. After a few hours, he'll get used to me, the headaches will go away. However, we have many other problems to worry about."

"Like what?" Sebastian said from behind Mason's shoulder. 

Mason stepped away from Nikolai and Sebastian so that he could address the group as a whole, "The communications...They talked of a new Fraysan leader," He said boldly, "His name is Carnifex, and according to what I've heard, he's stronger than the originals we faced combined." 

Iris and Sebastian drew in a gasp, however Dante simply stewed further in her mixed emotions. The kids knew of the originals, but the significance of Carnifex's power could never hit them like it would the rest of the group. Mason sighed, continuing, "he's also being accompanied....By Liu." 

Dante suddenly jerked her head upward. Even through her visor Mason could feel her infuriated stare, "Liu is on this planet? She's HELPING him?" 

Mason nodded, "She is acting as a caretaker of the new Fraysan leader during his invasion," The others looked dumbfounded, and Nikolai, through his miserable attempts at containing himself, remembered what Dante had said about Liu. She was the Fraysan Mrath's wife, who had agreed to help them and accompany any Fraysans off the planet once the final original was dealt with. 

Apparently she had broken her promise.

Dante let out a heavy, jagged exhale, "That woman...That whore," She muttered to herself, although the others could hear her voice. Mason winced, turning to the others in hopes that Dante would calm down.

"Based on communications, they're stowing away in a certain town down in Georgia," He said, "I'll grab the remainder of my vehicle and attach the trailer to it, and we can be right on our way in the morning."

"Why in the morning?" Iris asked, "Let's go find those assholes now."

"Well, because Nikolai needs to get used to me before we can go anywhere," Mason said simply, "In addition, it's not very smart to go driving around at night--We won't be able to see the Fraysans nearly as well."

The group was silent as Nikolai exhaled through gritted teeth, staring at the ground as his body seemed to throb. He didn't feel as bad as he did a few minutes ago, but that didn't make things any better. Mason sensed his concern and turned to him, "You'll be ready for Carnifex," Mason reassured, "I hold the firm belief that you are the only person who can stop him. A Half-Fraysan Alec is someone I'd bet my last dollar on."

There was another uncomfortable silence before Mason clapped his hands together, "Alright, well! You all can make yourselves at home, sleep wherever you want as long as it isn't in my bed," He said, "We'll be leaving here at the break of dawn."

He turned, his eyes resting on the figure of Sidnee. Mason tilted his head, "And who are you? I've never met you before," Mason said slowly.

"Uhm..." She gave a faint smile, "I'm Sidnee!"

"Sidnee nightshade," Dante emphatically stated the last name with a snarl to her tone. 

Mason blinked in response, clearing his throat as he tried to find the right words, "Right...Well..." He turned to Sebastian, "Let's say you and me play some catch up, huh?"

Sebastian grinned, and followed Mason. The both of them spoke to each other like it was old times again all those years ago, chuckling. The rest of the group stood idly in the living room, and upon Mason's exit from the room, Nikolai slowly began to feel better. He let out another jagged sigh, "Don't...worry about Mason, he's just surprised."

"Yeah," Sidnee said quietly, sitting down on the reclining chair. 

Nikolai went to the couch next to the chair, lying down and looking up at Dante, "You gonna get some sleep?"

Dante slowly shook her head, letting Ariana take the other couch, "I'll just keep watch--Make sure nobody tries to kill anybody during the night," She said, her tone sharper than a blade. 

Nikolai sighed and shrugged, lying his head down on the pillow that was on the arm of the couch. Even with the lights on and even though night had only just fallen, he passed out rather quickly.

Chapter 24 - Premonitions:


The first thing that surprised him was the bright lights. 

They hung from the light fixtures imprinted in the ceiling, brightening the room in a dull glow. Rotting wood made up the walls, although they were coated in a paint of turquoise blue. The floor was rickety, although there was a red carpet laid out on the floor that originated from the entrance--Which was a door in absolute shambles. On the walls were splattered remnants of various different colors--Namely crimson. The room was mostly barren with the exception of a large throne toward the far end of the room, facing the back-most wall. The carpet ended at the foot of the throne and encircled it. 

The throne itself was shimmering against the throbbing flourescent glow, and along the top was a row of skulls--Both human and Fraysan. At the sides of the expensive piece of furniture rested two arms. They were both a thick grey, encased with armor that curved into a row of jagged pieces at the top of the forearm. The beast's hands curled around the throne, and that was when Nikolai noticed the elongated claws extruding from its fingertips. The being practically excuded death from its very being. 

Nikolai stumbled against the wall closest to him, surprised and dizzy. He had mostly been in pitch black areas where his only sense became hearing, but now all of his senses were used at once and his dream self was having a lot of trouble handling it. He gripped the top of his head and sighed. 

The silence of the room fizzled away as the loud squeak of the doors opening was heard from the other side of the room. In stepped a woman, tall with long legs and wide hips. Her curves and long blonde hair was enough to make a person think she was an attractive human if one happened to look at her from behind--But then he looked at her face. Her eyes were a pure black with a thin circle of white on the outline of her iris, and she blinked from a hidden set of eyelids at the sides of her eyes. The demonic smirk on her face was unmoving, jagged, broken teeth baring out to anyone that opposed her. 

She shut the door behind her, walking across the wide room that had likely once been a cafeteria, swaying her hips purposefully as she moved down the carpet, adjusting the Fraysan armor that surrounded her torso and legs--The armor actually looked like a better version of his mother's. The Fraysan goliath didn't move, listening to the sharp squeaks of the wood, "Ah, Liu--You're back early," His distorted voice echoed across the room.

She came from behind the throne, wrapping soft arms around the beast's jagged one, "Ah, My lord--I see your enjoying the new throne," She grinned, speaking in a silk smooth voice. 

"Yes," He flexed his hands on the arms of the throne, "Your crafting abilities are unmatched, dear."

"Anything to please you," She said softly, reaching over. Although he couldn't see it, Nikolai let intuition tell him that she had laid a big one on his lips. He shuddered at the thought of the Fraysan beast and this nearly human woman together.

"What about the boy?" The Fraysan Nikolai now assumed was Carnifex spoke up to her. 

"Well..." She nervously rubbed her arm, "The clown is dead." 

There was a significantly long silence in the room before Carnifex spoke ahain, his voice further distorted and sharp, "You said, the clown is dead? That fool got himself KILLED?"

Liu nodded, biting her bottom lip anxiously. It was odd to Nikolai Jr, considering she had just looked so confident only a minute before. A heavy exhale escaped from the monstrosity's mouth as his clawed hands clenched into fists, "Where is he now." 

Liu trembled visibly as she stared away from her husband, "He's--He's in South Carolina, my lord," She stuttered, "He found the other veteran." 

"And why..." He growled, raising his voice, "DIDN'T YOU STOP THEM?!"

"Buh-Because you told me to wait, de--"

"This was a SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCE!" His armored hand wrapped tightly around her throat, nearly crushing her trachea as he pushed her into the nearby wall, not even requiring to stand to keep her pinned as he fumed in rage, "You INSOLENT FOOL! Now they all KNOW of our presence and OUR LOCATION!"

"I--I..." She could barely speak under the pressure of the beast's hand clamping down on her throat. She gasped for breath but to no avail. 

"You're lucky that I'm merciful," He snarled, releasing his hand. She crumpled to the floor, coughing amidst her gasps for air as she shuddered, sitting on her hands and knees, fighting the urge to curl up into a ball and stay there, "We're going to have to move up the plans to take the coast." 

She sat against the wall, her confident expression devolving into a broken one as she stared at her husband as he continued, "Tell Eta we must take the capital now. That way, we can stop them on their way down. He's going to have to make it quick, we're suddenly very strapped for time," He reached down, patting her head and sneering, "And do try not to mess up this time, my dear."

Nikolai shot up, sitting up on the couch. His breathing was heavy as his eyes glanced around the living room. Sidnee was fast asleep on the reclining chair, curled up on the cushions--It was how she typically slept in her cage in the freakshow. Ariana was passed out on the couch across from him, while his mother had surprisingly fallen asleep on the floor near the corner of the room. Sebastian and Iris were nowhere to be found, presumably sleeping as well. 

As he turned to the kitchen, he noticed Mason, sitting at the counter and sipping from a worn-down mug. The older man turned to Nikolai Jr, raising an eyebrow, "I never thought you would be up this early," He said softly. 

Nikolai stood up on shaky legs, wiping some sweat from his forehead. It wasn't from his closeness to Mason, moreso from the toll the dream had taken on him, "I saw Carnifex and Liu in my dream," He said simply.

Mason did nothing for a few seconds before nodding slowly, turning back to his mug and taking a sip, "I'm not surprised you can intercept Carnifex's conversations," He stated, "You both have an unfortunately unbreakable bond."

Nikolai sat down next to him, placing his hands on the marble counter top, clenching them into fists and then opening them, "What do you mean?"

"Well," Mason shifted in his chair so he could completely face Nikolai while being close to his drink, "From what I can gather, you and Carnifex were born at the exact same time, which means that you both share a peculiar bond. Seeing his conversations in your nightmares, and even feeling his pain at times, might be a common function."

Nikolai stared at him, "Do you think it goes both ways?"

Mason shrugged, "I haven't studied enough--16 years is not nearly enough time to fully understand the Fraysan race." 

Nikolai Jr. only let the silence fall for a few moments, "They said they were going to try and take the capital city--That it would cement their hold on the coast."

Mason let out a sigh, tapping his fingers on his mug, "That's...Troubling," He replied, "If they take the coast, they could easily mow us down before we get to Georgia." 

He leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms, "But at the same time, it could easily be a trap." 

Nikolai glanced out the window. Night was still prevalent, with the light of dawn only now beginning to make its mark on the skies. He had woken up much earlier than he expected to. He turned his head at Mason's statement and scoffed, "We've been walking into traps since this thing started, why stop now?" 

Mason let out one chuckle, clapping a hand on his shoulder, "You're certainly your mother's child--Stubborn," He said with a hint of sarcasm. He stood upright, "I'll get everything ready--This trailer will be moving by sunrise."

Chapter 25 - The Laughing Shadow:


The world outside became a whir as the trailer finally started to move. The roar of an engine resonated within his ear drums, a low hum that comforted Nikolai Jr as he sat down on the couch in the 'living room'. The sun had finally made its way into the skies, only to be fizzled away by the presence of thick grey clouds. Iris and Ariana sat on the couch opposite of him, the teenage girl shrugging her mother away as she tried to wipe the bangs from her face. 

"Well you can't fight the Fraysans if you can't even see, silly!" Iris said with a smile as she adjusted the teenage girl's hair. Nikolai smiled; She was always like this with Ariana, the typical, overprotective mother. It seemed as though Iris' violet eyes brightened upon seeing her daughter's similarly colored hues. 

Dante stood in the corner, staring at the ground. Nikolai sighed, leaning back on the couch, wondering when she would finally talk to him. Sebastian and Mason had taken to driving the truck, likely so they could catch up on old times some more. Iris had been telling Nikolai about their relationship in the First War--Sebastian's first friend and companion. The gunslinger gave Ariana a quick glance; He knew exactly how hard it was to break that kind of bond. 

Looking back and forth, he suddenly realized that he hadn't seen Sidnee since the rest of the group woke up to the loud noise of Mason placing the front end of the trailer onto the semi's front. He leaned forward, glancing into the hallway to Mason's room. The door was only opened a crack, but he could see the short, black hair of Sidnee in the room. 

Standing up, he walked toward the hallway. Ariana blinked, "Where are you going?" She asked. 

"Just going to go see what Sidnee's up to," Nikolai Jr. replied, not looking back at her. 

She quietly sucked her teeth, glancing to the ground, "Oh--Alright, go ahead then."

Nikolai did that, walking down the narrow corridor and softly opening the door into Mason's room. Sidnee jumped, turning to him. "Can I come in?" Nikolai asked with a faint smile. 

Sidnee was hesitant, but eventually nodded. Nikolai walked into the room, pushing the door closed behind him. He had never been in Mason's room before--It was rather desolate compared to everything else. There was the queen sized bed and a nightstand beside it, the drawer closed and apparently locked. The only other notable feature was the open window, allowing light inside. Yet, Sidnee's very presence dimmed the room significantly; Nikolai Jr. shivered from the sudden drop in temperature. 

He sat down next to her at the end of the bed, glancing at her with his beautifully crafted eyes, "What are you doing in here, anyway?" He asked, with intention to only slightly prod, "Everybody's out in the other room."

"I know," Sidnee said quietly, rubbing her shoulders, "I dunno, I just feel like they don't want me there--I wanted to get away from the tension."

Nikolai nodded in understanding, "I mean, I feel that way too sometimes, so I get it," He said, clasping his hands together and looking at the carpet floor under his feet--He never bothered to take his boots off the whole time he had been here, "Listen, I know we haven't talked much since...Since the freakshow. Things have been kind of hectic, but I don't want you to fall in the background." 

A faint smile crossed her face, her pale face brightening only slightly, "That's sweet," She replied simply. 

"With that being said, I thought it would be easier for everybody to get used to you if you open up a bit. I mean--What happened?" He cringed to himself, not expecting his words to come out the way they did, "What I mean is...How did you end up with Kehl?"

She exhaled, rubbing her hands together. Another hesitant look crossed her face as she stared at the wall in front of her for a while. Nikolai was about to say that she didn't have to tell him, but then she started to speak, "Well...Obviously you know that my father was Sirius Nightshade," She began.

Nikolai nodded. She glanced to him before continuing, "My mother's name was Mei Wong--Yes, totally Asian, but that's besides the point. According to what she always told me, your father had given her the body of a little girl by the name of Anna and told her to bury the girl somewhere. She went to leave, but was caught by Sirius. He wanted Anna's body, but instead of fighting Mei for it, he--" 

She paused for a moment, "--He raped her," Sidnee said with disgust. She always hated to talk about rape, specifically when it came to her father. She scoffed, "And nine months later, I was born." 

Nikolai remained silent, relaxing on the end of the bed as he listened to her words intently, giving the occasional nod, "My mother tried to be good to me--at first, anyhow. She tried to find the bright side of life, tried to make me into a normal girl, but it just never worked. My shadows were out of control," She chuckled a bit, "I remember when I was in first grade--I got so pissed at the teacher that the whole room just went dark. Everybody started screaming, like they thought I was gonna kill em or something. I mean, I guess I might have, I didn't know my own strength--

I guess mom finally got sick of the constant phone calls home and the psychiatric help they suggested for me. She got tired of being the outcast of our community--And if it wasn't bad enough, I had the Nightshade eyes. She said everytime she looked at me..." She let out a jagged sigh, wiping a welling tear from her eye, "Everytime she looked at me, it just reminded her of that monster." 

Nikolai frowned deeply, watching her attempt to control herself. Her walls had been taken away, and her broken self was beginning to show, "One day, I came home from school and she told me I was going away for a while," Sidnee said, "I was thirteen at the time--I knew what she really meant. Within the night, I was thrown into a cage by that fucking clown while he handed my mother a nice wad of cash." She began to emphasize the word mother sarcastically, with a sharp edge to her voice he hadn't seen before. 

It was only after looking at her face could he see the streams of tears running down her pale face, even with the venom in her voice, "Nobody loved me, Nikolai--Not even my damn mother." 

Nikolai could feel the pain--the wounds that she had received, because they were similar to the wounds he had received. Complete rejection by society, constant criticism, and either being looked at as a super weapon or a monstrosity. The silent hurt he had felt all of those years had only been emphasized by Kehl and his freakshow. He winced at the thought of that place, the place that he couldn't get out of his head. 

"Sidnee..." Nikolai said, placing a hand on her shoulder, "I may not know exactly how you feel--But I know how it feels to be humiliated, how it feels to be looked at like a monster."

She said nothing, sniffling quietly and electing to only listen to his soft words, "But you gotta listen to me when I say this...Your legacy isn't going to be judged by your parents, it's going to be judged by you only. You are nothing short of a warrior, just like the rest of us."

He looked into her pitch black eyes, tilting his head and expanding his smile, "And to me--You're a pretty nice person, too."

She couldn't help but break out into a smile, giggling lowly, "You really think so?" 

"Aw come on," He replied, "If I didn't, I wouldn't have risked my life making sure my mom didn't kill you." 

Both of them chuckled for a moment, however silence filled the room as they continued to look at each other, specifically staring into their eyes. Nikolai hadn't realized just how beautiful she looked, even as she adorned dried tears on her cheeks. 

It took him a while before he came back to reality, clearing his throat and sitting upright. Sidnee shifted in her seat, staring at anything other than his face as a blush formed on her pale cheeks, "Well--Thank you, Nikolai," She said slowly, "You made me feel a lot better."

"You're welcome!" He replied quickly.

Sidnee stood upright, patting his shoulder and smiling back at him, "I'll go see what the others are doing," She walked out, almost intentionally swaying her hips as she left, although Nikolai didn't bother to look. As she opened the door and walked out, Nikolai Jr. sat at the edge of the bed, cursing himself.

Chapter 26 - Teacher:


As Sidnee walked out of the room, Mason soon pushed the door open again, looking to the troubled Nikolai Jr. and raising an eyebrow. He turned over his shoulder to the woman walking away, then back to Nikolai, "Girl troubles?" He asked.

"You could say that," He replied, looking up, "Did you need me for something?"

Mason sighed, ignoring the fact that this was his room, "Yes, actually," He replied, "Your mother took the wheel, so I decided this would be the perfect time to talk to you again without her cutting in."

"You could have talked to me this morning."

"I was planning to," Mason closed the door, walking over to him before sitting down where Sidnee had been sitting only moments before--Nikolai sighed internally, getting the woman out of her head, "But then you came to me with your dream."

Mason sighed, placing both hands on his knees, "I didn't want to say anything in front of everyone," He started, "But if you're going to have any chance of defeating Carnifex, you're going to have to control yourself." 

Nikolai nodded, looking down at his hands, his fingernails still holding dried black blood even after showering this morning, "And how am I supposed to do that?"

"Well," Mason sighed heavily, "Right now, there isn't much that I can do--Your mother probably doesn't want me even speaking to you, she thinks she'll teach you herself in due time, but we don't have much time at all to be meddling around."

He stood upright, walking over to his nightstand and pulling out a key. He stuck it into the drawer, jingled it around a bit, and eventually the drawer came open. He pulled out an object wrapped in thick blue cloth, and he held it delicately in his hands, "Ideally, you'd be trained to hone your Fraysan instincts and be able to control the frenzy mode to enhance your strength at any given moment," He said, walking over to the teen and sitting back down, holding the cloth out, "But unfortunately, that won't come yet."

Mason unraveled the cloth, and in it rested a jagged piece of black about the size of a golf ball. It seemed to glimmer against the light that shined through the window (Nikolai suddenly noticed that after Sidnee's absence, light could get into the room again), and it gave Nikolai an odd feeling of calm within the storm, "What is it?" He asked quietly.

"Well, sadly instead of teaching you to hone your powers, right now I just have to allow you to suppress them," He pointed to the piece of pure black metal, "This--is a chink off of my armor. When you rub it between your fingertips, you garner a feeling of calm, and your rage will mostly fizzle away. It isn't perfect, but it should suffice in finishing off Carnifex, as long as you have our help," It seemed to pain him to say the last few words, as he would rather have Nikolai Jr. be independent when facing the beast. 

"You have armor?" Nikolai asked after a few moments of thought. 

Mason blinked, surprised that his only question was of his armor. He pointed his free hand to his chest, the black colored clothing on him, "This?"

"I thought that was just some weird fashion trend."

Mason let out a chuckle, then put the black fragment into Nikolai Jr's palm, "Here--Keep it in your pocket, or somewhere close to you. Something you could use when you get anxious," He closed Nikolai's palm and patted his fist. 

"So...That's it?" Nikolai glanced to him.

Mason shrugged, "Well for now--I'll try to teach you more if I can, once everything blows over."

Nikolai didn't seem at all convinced that such a small trinket would help him, but upon placing it in his pocket and rubbing it back and forth between his fingertips, he could certainly feel something calm falling over him. He looked over at Mason, "Hey, can I ask you something?"

Mason shifted in his seat, "Sure, go ahead."

"Why did you leave all those years ago?"

He cleared his throat, running a hand through his greying hair and looking outside at the whirling blurs in the background of trees and grasses, "It was hard, after the Fraysan War," He started, "Tensions were high--Dante hated everyone, save for you. Sebastian and Iris were able to stick around because of Ariana but I..."

He took a deep, elongated breath, "I couldn't stay there. I couldn't stay where I wasn't wanted, where I had to stay on my toes each and every day. Sebastian was a wonderful friend, and you children were just the cutest little things--But it wasn't enough to make me stay."

Nikolai nodded, staring into his blank white eyes. Those were probably some of the creepiest eyes he had ever seen, and yet he didn't at all feel compelled to look away. He was much more friendly than his face let on, "Plus, I needed to leave and be on my own--I needed to control my Fraysan tendencies. So, I became a nomad, went around the world and explored everything there was to explore after the first invasion."

He smiled, "I even learned how to fight close quarters from a man deep in the South," He mused, still staring out the window, "But at the end of it all, I knew I'd end up back with the family eventually...Once I had more control of myself."

Nikolai spoke hoarsely, "Well I guess fate made it sooner, huh?"

Mason scoffed, "That's true, but I'm glad it did. Having the pleasure of being around another Alec man is an honorable achievement."

"You flatter me."

"Heh," He turned to Nikolai, a grin baring bright canines, "Go on with the others--I have to get ready for when we get to the capital. Should be there in less than two hours."

Nikolai nodded, standing upright. He walked out the door and into the living room to wait for the coming battle
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Boomerang

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Re: Fraysa (The Novel has begun)

Post by Boomerang on 11/14/2015, 12:41 am

Section 5!!!

Chapter 27 - On The Way:


Nikolai Jr. hadn't realized just how destroyed the south had become until the eighteen wheeler pulled into the city of Columbia, South Carolina. 

The blurred images had become crystal clear as the truck went on a slow pace, avoiding the pot holes and corpses that littered the streets. Large, orange-yellow flames burst upward from toppled buildings as the rears of airplanes jutted out from copious amounts of rubble a few hundred yards away. Even the moderately intact buildings were filled with holes in the concrete like swiss cheese. It was a wonder that the truck didn't suffer a flat tire from the glass and jagged pieces of rock. 

Nikolai frowned deeply, looking from the window to the group, "Do you think the Fraysans made it here already?" He asked with concern in his tone.

Mason shook his head, "Most likely they only came through like a drive-by--Instilling enough fear and destruction into the city to let the inevitable rioters do the rest." 

Upon glancing at the scene again, Nikolai Jr. took notice of the fact that all of the corpses were human--and most, if not all of the blood was a distinct shade of crimson. He cringed at the sight of toppled buildings and streets with roaring flames; What mankind does under pressure was absolutely astonishing, and not in a good way.

In the sight of the whirlwind of insane man-made destruction, Nikolai nearly forgot their reasoning for even coming here. He turned sharply to Mason, who sat across from him in the living room, "Where are we going, anyhow?"

"Somewhere in the backroads," He replied, "Dante'll get us to the far side of the city and we can prepare for the threat. Who knows, maybe we could set up an ambush."

"It seems like we're going off of a lot of 'what ifs'," He retorted. 

Mason shrugged his shoulders, "Comes at the price of dealing with the Fraysans--They're unpredictable most times." 

Ariana scooted over next to Nikolai, getting rather close to him, "Are you nervous at all, Nikki?" She asked softly. She loved to call him Nikki, but he began to notice that she never did so when Dante was around--With good reason. 

"A little, but I know that we can take them down," Nikolai said, looking over to her and smiling. He placed a hand on her shoulder, "We'll get through this--Quick and painless."

Suddenly, the truck came to an abrupt stop. Nikolai turned at the speed of a bullet, staring outside to find a group of armed men standing at the side of the bus, calling out to the group, specifically the drivers. He couldn't see much of them with the exception of rounded helmets and kevlar armor, and the copious amounts of guns that they carried--Some had simple pistols, while others had rocket launchers at their backs. 

"Or...Y'know, not so quick and painless," Nikolai muttered under his breath.

Dante stepped through the door of the trailer. Her visor was on, but he could tell she was fuming just by the look of her, "These lovely gentleman would like us to step outside of the vehicle," She said through clenched teeth. 

The group followed in a single file line out of the trailer through the door, stepping onto the dirt of the backroads that gave them a very clear view to city's entrance. There were only two ways in and out of Columbia; Considering one of them were blocked off, they could generally tell where the Fraysans were going to show up. 

A burly man stepped out of the mob of thirty or forty soldiers. His dark brown beard looked young, although encompassing the entirety of his cheeks and jawline. His eyes looked tired, yet alert, as his face seemed devoid of any remaining sense of hope. Glancing to the number of soldiers, Nikolai Jr. was silently counting to himself how many he could take down within a couple of seconds. He calculated just how long it would take to deal with them and how many damages might come with it. 

However, to his surprise, he put his hand out and Mason shook it out of common courtesy, "I am Captain Peter Richards of Team Echo," He said rapidly, "I have been stationed here since the beginning of the Second Fraysan Wars approximately two weeks ago, and I'll just cut to the chase--I have an understanding that there are a large group of Fraysans approaching this sector."

He eyed the seven of them, "I assume that's why you're all here?"

All of them nodded at different intervals, Mason speaking up, "Yes, Captain, and we are looking to make sure they do not take the capital city and assert their dominance over the coastline states." 

Richards nodded once, a smile forming on his grim face, "Excellent--I lost communications with my commanding officer and my scout approximately six hours ago, which means we're in the dark as to when the Fraysans are coming and exactly how many are present," He continued, "You will come in great handy to our cause in saving this city--Up until that eighteen wheeler pulled in through the entrance, we thought we were goners." 

Nikolai Jr. blinked, "Wait a minute, wait a minute, So you wanna help us take down the Fraysan mob?"

Richards nodded, "Yes, sir."

"Do you understand just how powerful they are?"

Another nod from Richards, "Yes I do, sir, we all do. We all watched Team Delta get slaughtered by one berserker class Fraysan. We understand the circumstances and the unfortunate likelihood that we won't see another day," He stomped a foot to the ground, his face brightening up, "But I'll be damned if I let our great country of the United States go down to these alien bastards without a helluva fight." 

Nikolai's expression faltered--He was quite surprised to see so much bravery in the face of danger, especially from a human. This man was willing to die for his country and was proud of it, something that amazed him. Maybe all of mankind wasn't completely atrocious--But didn't he know that all along? Wasn't that the reason he was trying to save this world, for the very rare group of people who still remain good and pure? The answer was an emphatic yes.

"So, this is your base?" Sebastian asked, rubbing his eyes. He clearly hadn't slept much since he saw Mason again--But at least it was for a good reason.

"Yes, sir," He replied sarcastically, "A whole lotta nothing. We haven't had supplies since we were first stationed here after the riots." 

"Doesn't really matter, anyhow," Iris said softly, taking out her bow and messing around with it a bit, "From here we have clear sight of the front and back entrance." 

"Well I wouldn't say so--The buildings block most of the entrance off."

"Trust me--You haven't seen how gigantic their commanding officer is," Iris retorted, turning away from the man.

Nikolai  Jr. took a look at the dirt road surrounded by what he thought to be nothing but dreary, rotting grass. The trees were mostly withered, however some of them still retained leaves. This surprised the gunslinger; He always thought the only living, functional tree remaining was in his backyard, "Hey, look--Trees with actual leaves."

"Yep, just started growing before the Fraysans invaded," Richards said, cradling an assault rifle in his two burly hands, "Another reason why we gotta fight to stay alive--Otherwise Mother Nature might take another hit and won't get back up."

The rest of the group looked to the trees, their faces brightening at the pleasant shock of it as well. However, their loving thoughts were corrupted by an earth shattering stomp. Immediately, the group went into alert mode, unveiling their weapons and pointing it in every which way. Every few seconds brought another shattered step, until they discovered the source of it--Indeed, it was toward the front gate, where the eighteen wheeler had just gone through. 

"Their coming," Nikolai Jr exclaimed, "Should be here within a minute, maybe even less!"

Richards jumped into action as well, turning to his men, "Alright--You know your positions! Go go go!" He screamed into their ear. They all saluted him and ran off into different directions. 

"What are they doing?" Ariana asked over the stomps that destroyed her eardrums, "Shouldn't they be sticking together."

Richards shook his head, "Guerilla warfare! If we attack them all at once from different places, they'll be more damage done to their mob!" 

Nikolai sighed, and suddenly a voice called to him, the same distorted voice he had heard in The Devil's Door, "Alec....Come out, come out, wherever you are," He cooed softly. 

The voice sent a chill down his spine, and suddenly his body began to revert back to his Fraysan primal urges. He quickly brought his hand into his pocket, lifting one revolver forward as he rubbed the piece of black armor between his fingertips. The rage slowly but surely began to wash away as he continued to rub it back and forth. Richards turned to the group, who was already turning to the streets, "Okay, okay--You go on to the front lines, I'll stay by my men for now." 

Nikolai nodded and gave him a salute. The man returned the salute with a tired grin, and the gunslinger rushed forward with one revolver in his hand, the other placed gently into his pocket. Running between back roads and through buildings gave them enough speed to break through to the main street as necros began to approach, brushing across the 'Welcome To Columbia' Sign. Behind them were berserkers, very far off. However, looming above them all was a tall and wide figure--A behemoth, to be exact. Even as he was likely a few hundred yards away still, Nikolai Jr. still caught sight of his wide, white smile. 

"Alright," Nikolai growled, holding the black rock tight in his palm as he wrapped the hand around his other revolver, pointing them both at the shambling necros that grew bigger with each step, "You guys ready?"

Sidnee was standing in an alleyway, shadows swirling around her. Ariana was in the air, crossbow drawn and fitted with an explosive arrow. Sebastian and Iris stood side by side, lance and bow pointed to the direction of the beasts. Dante stood beside him, brandishing her machete and turning to her son. For the first time since returning from the freakshow, he could see a smile through her visor. 

"More than ready, kid," Dante said softly, so only he could hear. Nikolai smiled wide in response.

"Alright--" Ariana called, "Let's take these bastards down!"

Chapter 28 - No Escape:


Once the first shot hit the necro in the shoulder, a levy of bullets soon followed, hailing against the first wave of shambling Fraysans. Black blood splattered across the buildings as they fell by rows, crumbling into nothing but lumps of rotten flesh. The soldiers had spread themselves thin, sitting atop of roofs and in alleyways, shooting whatever wasn't human. Smoke from the barrels of guns softly billowed to the skies as the noise of gunfire filled Nikolai Jr's ear drums. He smirked--Exactly the setting he wanted to be in. 

The noises of the outside world became numb to the gunslinger as his revolvers went off over and over, destroying necro bodies before they even got into the city. He turned, shooting at a rickety building that toppled over unto twenty of the shamblers, resulting in their deaths and rubble to block the Fraysans' path. Explosive arrows came raining down at different intervals from both Iris and Ariana. Shadows sliced through the air, beheading many of the beasts as Sidnee continued to stand in a nearby alleyway. Dante stood beside her son, holding her machete and watching the carnage of the Fraysan species. She scoffed. 

"I never thought systematic slaughter would be so much fun," She commented as a berserker crashed through the ranks. As if on cue, she rushed forward, machete in hand. She jumped a good fifteen feet in the air after garnering a running start, reaching forward and digging her machete into its abdomen, all the way to the hilt. She hung off of the blade, allowing it to slice down its stomach until there was a clean line through it, when in which she would jump off and allow its insides to flood onto the floor. 

Mason was in the front lines along with Dante, his pole crafted from Fraysan metal in his two hands firmly. He waited for the appearance of a shambler, slashing it across the beast's skull, knocking it over before stabbing the pole into its eye. He slid the pole out, turning and smacking it across the face of a berserker. He reached forward, stabbing the pole through its neck. That was when Nikolai realized Mason's pole could pierce low level armor of Fraysans. 

There were of course losses to the amount of soldiers they had with them. Once the berserkers pushed through, they would occasionally grab a soldier along the way from an ally and thrust them into a building with enough pure force to crack the building--And their skull. One even rushed up the building and grabbed a soldier from the roof top, throwing him to the ground and waiting patiently for the splat. This, however, served as a distraction for the rest of the group to take those Fraysans down. 

Even with the constant stream of bloodshed--Both crimson and black--Nikolai Jr. still kept his senses out for the footsteps that shook the very foundations of the buildings. He noticed that they were growing closer, and as he finally was able t ospare a glance, he could see all of Eta's facial features--He was right there, and surrounding him were more groups of Fraysans.

His distraction granted a berserker the oppurtunity to punch him across the face, sending him flying into a nearby office building. He grunted, spitting a glob of blood onto the wall before turning to the berserker who had already been dealt with via a telekinetic piece of concrete to the face. He allowed a smirk to cross his face as he stood from the rubble and broken glass, stepping back out onto the streets.

And that was when he saw Eta make his first step into their territory.

He stared down at the commotion, specifically setting his sights on Nikolai Jr. The beast towered over nearly every building, his footsteps making craters in the pavement, and crushing shamblers and berserkers under his heel. He brought his fist down onto one of the buildings, crushing three soldiers and cracking the building into two. Gargantuan blocks of brick and concrete nearly crushed Dante, however she jumped away and stared at the towering behemoth. 

Nikolai stared up at the behemoth, revolvers in his hands as he still tightly held his Fraysan artifact. Eta's smile seemed to waver only slightly as he looked down, and it was then that he saw the behemoth's new features. One of his bright white eyes had fizzled out, leaving a crater like hole in the solid black mass of his face. A good portion of his face was cracked, but that's not why his smile wavered. It was because Nikolai was fighting against his urges--And he didn't like it, "You seem calm for a Fraysan scum about to be crushed," Eta spoke in his distorted voice. 

"You seem pretty happy for a behemoth about to lose his other eye," Nikolai Jr. retorted with a scowl. 

Eta feigned surprised, stumbling, "Well--Aren't you just a good host," He said, "I only wanted to see this...wonderful city for myself."

Nikolai frowned, however it faltered once he realized he was going back and forth with a giant Fraysan behemoth. Eta leaned in closer to the gunslinger, tilting his head, "Interesting...You don't seem to be losing control." 

"I have my ways," Nikolai replied, lifting his revolver above him and pulling the trigger. An explosive bullet only just missed his face, exploding on a sheet of armor that was placed on his shoulder. Eta chuckled, standing upright. Nikolai Jr. noticed the rest of the group fighting the surrounding Fraysans, and he knew that for now, the fight would be on his own. 

Eta said nothing to retort, swinging his arm around with surprising speed. Nikolai jumped up and onto his fist, unsheathing his machete and stabbing the blade into his thumb.  Eta growled and stared down at the gunslinger just as he flipped off of the beast's hand and back to the ground. Another shot from his revolver went toward the beast's chin before he swatted it with the back of his hand--The only part of his hands that were armored. 

Nikolai jumped away from a fist into the pavement, which was powerful enough to shake down a couple of soldiers from their rooftops and down to the ground, prime meat for the shamblers. He continued to make attempts at shots to the beast's face, however they were all either swatted away or missing the target. He growled audibly, running with his machete and jumping forward onto Eta's arm. He climbed up onto the beast's shoulder, jumping above Eta's grabbing hand and slicing the obsidian blade across the beast's cheek--A deep gash of pitch black formed. 

"You Alec bastard!" He growled, and suddenly Nikolai was caught in the Fraysan's grasp. His hand squeezed against Nikolai Jr, causing him to yelp out in pain as he felt his body become constricted.

He looked around--The group was beginning to lose control of the Fraysan mob, specifically Ariana. He watched as a berserker smacked her crossbow away, breaking it into tiny pieces against the ground. Sidnee stared up at Nikolai, eyes widening. She redirected her shadows, slicing it across the beast's face. Eta didn't feel a thing, snarling and kicking her into the dark alleyway with his foot. 

Eta turned to Nikolai, their eyes locking, "Not even wanted--By our kind or yours," He snarled, cocking his arm back and throwing Nikolai Jr. away, he was going to make sure that gunslinger and his friends would die slow. Nikolai went flying into a nearby apartment building, through the downstairs window and rolling onto the tile floor with a loud thud. 

Ariana turned, watching the teen go flying. Her eyes widened, and with broken bow and all, she flapped her wings, flying straight toward the broken window, "Nikolai!" She yelled. 

Eta cackled loudly, beginning to walk toward the building in hopes of killing both of them in one sitting. However, a nagging voice from the side penetrated his ear drums, "Hey, asshole!"

Eta turned, prepared to humor the source of the voice with an untimely death. The man held a rocket launcher above his shoulder--And he had a dark brown beard. "Go back to your damn planet and leave mine alone," Captain Richards snarled, and before Eta could react, the rocket went off, crashing against the center of his face in a fiery explosion. Eta stumbled, releasing a blood curdling scream and grasping his face amongst the smoke. 

Richards was ready for what came next. Even as Eta still was holding his face, the monster's arm swung to the side, crashing against his body and knocking the breath out of him. The rocket launcher cluttered to the ground as Richards went flying into the ground at high velocities. As his body became crushed against the pavement, Captain Peter Richards had no regrets.

Ariana came flying through the window, sliding across the tile floor. The downstairs apartment building only had one room left standing--The rest had been reduced to nothing. The duo was in a kitchen, the walls and ceilings holding scratches and blood. Pots and pans were scattered around the floor, and the sink was filled with dirty liquid. The cabinets had been ripped out, as well as some of the tiles on the bloodied floor. It was then that she realized some of that blood was black.

"Nikki!" She ran over to the teen, sprawled on the ground. Blood dribbled from his lips as he struggled to his feet.

"Yeah, don't worry, I'm alright," He replied with a grunt, "Just a couple of bruises and a bloody lip." 

Nikolai Jr. looked around--The door out of the kitchen and into the other rooms was blocked off by a sheet of steel drilled onto the wall. By the look of the area, the other side was likely rubble anyway. The front door to the outside was likely the best way to leave--Unless they wanted to cut themselves on broken glass.

Then, Nikolai turned to the sound of Fraysans. His mouth dropped as he watched the copious amounts of necros make their way toward the window. Suddenly very worried, he shot the bottom of a patio just in front of them. The concrete fell, covering the entrance, however he could hear the growing moans of the Fraysans, Alec.....

They turned to the front door, only to hear the same groans. It was the same scenario for the steel door--They had surrounded the duo. Nikolai and Ariana stumbled back, leaning against the wall, "Shit," Nikolai breathed, "If I shoot them this close, it'll hurt us too, and I dropped my machete when he grabbed me."

"And my crossbow is done for..." Ariana said softly. She turned to Nikolai Jr, her violet eyes welling with sorrow and fear, "Nikki--What do we do?!"

His thoughts became clouded as he stared at the floor, listening to the copious noises of the Fraysans on every different side of him. He exhaled, clenching his revolvers tightly in his hands, "We fight," He replied. 

Suddenly, the wind blew across Nikolai's face as an explosion rocked the unstable apartment building. Standing in front of them were Iris and Sebastian. Sebastian held nothing, but Iris was standing firm, bow in her grasp. The both of them grinned wide upon seeing them. Iris ran to Ariana, hugging her, "I'm so glad we found you!"

Ariana embraced Iris for a moment, then pushed her away, "We need to go--Now," She said sternly, "The Fraysans are surrounding us." 

"Where's your bow?"

"It--" She paused only for a moment, "It broke Mom, but I--"

"Here," She gave the bow to Ariana, and before the teen could object, there was the sounds of moans and groans in the background. Sharply, she turned to her teenage daughter, "Both of you get out of here, now! We'll be right behind you on foot!"

Ariana went to retort but stopped herself, swallowing hard. She nodded quickly to her parents, grabbing Nikolai by the shoulders and soaring out from the hole in the wall and into the skies. They needed to find the others, and quickly--Things were getting too out of hand.

Sebastian and Iris sprinted toward the hole in the wall, however it was suddenly cluttered up by rubble, chunks both big and small, "You didn't think you'd get away that easily, did you?" Eta cooed, his distorted voice sending a chill down their spine. The groans of the necros grew larger, "No, no, I'm going to make sure you suffer"

Chapter 29 - Last Lullaby:


Ariana and Nikolai Jr. both landed softly on a rooftop building, both scanning for the rest of the group. The large Fraysan mob had split two different ways, Mason and Dante were dealing with the left half while the other half surrounded the worn down apartment building, scratching at the walls and pushing harshly against the complex. Ariana panted heavily, staring at the carnage of both soldiers and Fraysans on the ground. She ran a hand through her ivory white hair. 

Nikolai looked over at Eta. His face was broken further, distorting his wide grin into a cracked set of lips. He stared down at the apartment complex that was surrounded by Fraysans, and as he heard Eta's words, a chill ran down the gunslinger's spine. He turned to Ariana, who was frozen in absolute terror. The screeches and gunfire were pushed out from her hearing, her body trembling as she only stared to that apartment complex. She couldn't see them--And that killed her.

"We have to go back," She said simply, beginning to hover up above the roof. As she spoke those words, Eta turned sharply. Berserkers began to rush from the mob and up the building, snarling.

"I'm afraid I can't let you do that," Eta snarled, "It's quite obvious these veterans need to go before I can get to the new generation."

Inside of the building, Iris paced back and forth in the darkened room, there only light being granted by the few slivers of light that cut through the rubble where Nikolai Jr. had shot the patio. Sebastian stood, turning his head at all possible exits and scenarios, "No weapons," He began monotonously, "No water, and no feasable method of escape." 

Iris hugged herself, trembling as she moved closer to the wall. A necro hand shot out from the rubble, grabbing at her. She yelped, stumbling back and nearly tripping over herself before Sebastian caught her, grabbing her shoulders softly. She let out a shaky breath, staring to the ground, "Suh...Sebastian?" She asked quietly.

"Yes?" He ventured. 

"Are you sure...that you don't have something up your sleeve?"

"Iris--"

"How do you know that they aren't getting us out right now, Sebastian?!"

"Iris..." He spoke softly now, almost a mutter. 

"How about we just open the door and let them in?!" She inquired, hugging herself tightly now, eyes erratically looking back and forth.

"Iris!!"

"WHERE'S THE HELP, SEBASTIAN?!" She cried, turning on her heels and staring to her husband. Tears were freely rolling down her otherwise unblemished face. Her screams became quiet whispers again, "Where are they..."

Sebastian sighed, clenching his fists, "Iris--" He brought his enraged yell down to a sweet dialogue, "They aren't coming, sweet heart...Eta has us on lock down." 

"Of course--" She said, throwing her hands outward in exasperation, "Of course he does! Of course now that your lance is gone, and my bow is with Ariana--Now the Fraysans decide to end our lives."

She scoffed, placing her head in her hand, "We...We were so untouchable, back in the First War. Whenever I got lost--You found a way to save me, or vice versa. Sebastian, we always found a way; Why do we have to lose it all now?"

Sebastian bit his lower lip, now staring to the ground. Maybe if they had their weapons, or maybe if they were still in their prime, this would have been easy. They could have broken down the steel barricade and ran off. But now, with their strength depleted, fatigue hitting them, and their weapons confiscated--There was nothing they could do, and Sebastian hated it. 

He wished he could save his wife like he used to, but he was once again useless in the grand scheme of things.

"We saved Ariana," Sebastian said, "And Nikolai. We saved the only people that could stop this invasion."

He sighed, looking up at her, "If that means we have to sacrifice ourselves for the cause--Then so be it."

Iris lifted her hand, wiping away the tears in her eyes, but that didn't stop more from rolling down her cheeks, "I wanted to grow old with you Sebastian," She said, her voice slowly raising to a yell again, "I wanted to travel the world like we always said we would...I DON'T WANT TO GO OUT LIKE THIS!" 

Sebastian grabbed her, tugging her into his embrace as he wrapped his arms tightly around her skinny frame. She rested her head on his shoulder, sniffling as her violet eyes collided with his reds.

"I wanted..." She drew in a breath, her voice distorted by sobs, "I wanted to watch our little Ariana grow." 

Sebastian stared at the wall, silent tears welling in his eyes--He still needed to stay strong for his wife. The sounds of her sobs drowned out the sounds of the Fraysan species. His hands caressed her back, rubbing up and down. There was a strong silence as Sebastian tried to think of something he could possibly say. 

"My love...My heart..." Sebastian cut through the silence as his hoarse voice broke into song--Their song, the one they made together, "I will never stray too far...."

Iris stopped for a moment, looking up at him. Through her sheen of tears, she began to sing as well, although she had forgotten some of the lyrics, "I need you more...than a bird needs to fly," She drew out the last word, her singing voice actually quite beautiful. 

Sebastian looked at her, a smile creeping on his lips, "When I looked into your eyes..." 

They both started to sing together, Iris nuzzling into his neck as she talked through sobs, "I knew...That you were the love of my life." 

The crash of a necro throwing itself against the wall caused Iris to yelp and jump, staring to the source. She could see pitch black eyes staring through the slivers of light from the rubble. Sebastian turned her head back to him, holding her close, "Shh, baby...It's okay," He cooed. 

Iris was silent, her sobs growing louder in volume. Sebastian sung quietly into her ear, "And I....wanna tell you."

He clutched her tightly, a lone tear rolling down his cheek, "How much...." He stopped, swallowing hard, thinking about Ariana and the rest of the group. He hated to leave them--But he knew that they would be okay--He knew that Ariana would make him proud. With a faint smile among his silent tears, he sung once again, his words aimed to both his wife and his daughter, "I love you..."

As they held each other close, there was a loud scoff from the outside. There was a crash against the wall as Eta's large finger jabbed a hole into the center-front of the building, causing Iris and Sebastian to jump back against the wall, leaving each other's embrace, "Your sweet talk makes me sick," He said. 

The necros began to pour in through the hole, shambling toward them, growling menacingly. Iris turned to Sebastian sharply, "Sebastian--!" 

She turned, throwing the first shambling beast to the side. Sebastian grabbed a pot, smacking it across their face, however he was met with five more surrounding him. Iris got hauled into a corner, their sharpened canines going into her shoulder. She screeched in absolute agony as more came to the smell of blood, mobbing her. Sebastian smacked another necro in the face back of the head before one bit his wrist, making him drop it. He stumbled into a group of them, biting his back, "Agh!"

Another crowd began to surround him as he stared at Iris. Bite marks and blood gushed out of her, and yet she still moved forward slowly. The life in her violet eyes were fading fast. Sebastian rushed forward, past all of them, yanking his hand outward, "I--Iris..."

The necros latched onto him via their teeth, holding him back only slightly. Their hands very nearly made it to each other, so close that their fingertips touched. Then, Iris fell to her knees, the necros pushing her to the ground. Her screams faded into whimpers, which then became nothing. 

Sebastian looked at the mob with wide eyes as the necros took him down as well. Finally he gave up and closed his eyes, allowing one last tear to fall from his eyelid as he toppled to the ground. 

Ariana stood on the rooftop, watching Eta break open the wall. She screamed, attempting to fly forward toward them as the necros flooded the home, moving toward their parents, "Mom! DAD!" She exclaimed. She flapped her wings, ready to jump forward. However, Nikolai wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her back to the ground, "Nikki! What are you doing?! They're gonna--"

Her eyes widened as she watched the mob surround her parents, biting into them. She fell to one knee, then both, putting both hands to her mouth as tears rolled down her face. Nikolai Jr. kneeled down, embracing her tightly as he looked on as well. He could feel a crocodile tear roll down his cheek as he watched them topple to the ground.

"No..." She said, "God, no....MOMMY!" She screamed, placing her hands to the floor as her ivory bangs covered her face, "DADDY! NO!" 

Eta laughed as the necros snacked on their latest meal in the apartment complex, standing upright and looking to the rest of the group. Dante and Mason had heard Ariana's screams and now looked up to the rooftop, watching Ariana in tears. Mason's stomach suddenly dropped. 

Ariana shivered as she sobbed loudly, tears dropping on the concrete, "No...Please..." 

Looking up at Eta as he laughed, she sat there for a few moments, unable to process her emotions. She felt as though she wanted to stay put where she was, however she also wanted to kill all of the Fraysans who aided in her parent's demise.

Slowly, her sad eyes slowly became filled with rage. Her breathing became heavy as she thought of this behemoth who killed her parents just so she could suffer. She slowly stood upright, drawing her bow as tears continued to flow. Nikolai was surprised, standing up alongside her, "YOU BASTARD!" She called, a red arrow appearing in the bow, "I'LL KILL YOU!"

Chapter 30 - Dropping Like Bullet Shells:


Eta didn't have much time to react once Ariana stated those words. The teenage girl uttered a gutteral battle cry before flapping her wings harshly, jumping toward him and shooting a crimson arrow toward the beast. Eta took the explosion with the armored back of his hand, however through the mirage of smoke Ariana lunged forward, smacking shoulder first against the weakened portion of Eta's face. The G-force and speed behind the hit was large enough to make an audible CRACK as Eta snarled, "Agh! Flying monkey!"

Ariana fell back, watching Eta's hand come toward her. A yellow arrow spawned into existence and she shot it into the Fraysan's knuckle, causing blue arcs of electricity to run down his arm. He shuddered, stumbling as the current went through him. She felt a tug at her leg and looked down at the behemoth's fist wrapped around her body. She snarled, "Get the fuck off me!" A set of normal arrows stuck into his fingers, causing him to drop her. 

Eta threw a fist in her direction, however she simply flapped her wings and rose above it, causing Eta to hit the building behind her instead--The same building Nikolai Jr. happened to be standing on. The gunslinger was ripped out of his sudden awe at the scene and cursed as the building began to fall to pieces. He jumped above the crumbling debris and onto the beast's hand, lifting a revolver up and shooting toward his face. The unexpected shot resulted in him having to catch it rather than swat it, which caused an explosion of black blood in his fist. He howled in agony. 

Dante watched the head of a necro roll off of its neck as she took another quick look at Eta and Ariana. The fire within the girl's violets were...different. She was fierce and ready for the kill, very contrary to her bubbly and sometimes flimsy personality. Mason didn't want to look, his mind suddenly clouded with wonder about Iris and Sebastian--No, it couldn't be them. It must be someone else. Sidnee threw a shadow at the beast, however he simply swatted it away with the hand that was holding Nikolai, causing the male to go flying onto another rickety rooftop. 

Upon looking at Eta, the cracks on his face were beginning to look like cracks within the earth, only within the small openings was a bright white light. His smile was now flickering on and off, and his body was clearly beginning to feel the effects of the abuse he was taking. Black blood gushed from his face and right hand like waterfalls, filling the potholes made in the pavement. 

Ariana wasted no time, flying into the air a few more feet before shooting a light grey arrow into Eta's shoulder. He looked at it for a moment, scoffing before the arrow suddenly imploded, creating another large veil of smoke that surrounded his sight. Nikolai Jr. went to shoot at Eta again, however Ariana already had it covered. Red arrows came crashing down against Eta's face, explosion after explosion rocking him as the city became a sudden burst of light. With each notch of an arrow, Ariana let out a battle cry, the tears on her cheeks still prevalent as she shot at the beast...over and over again. 

Ariana hovered in the sky, watching the smoke as it began to clear from the beast's upper body. He was resting against a building, panting heavily, no longer bothering to grapple his face that gushed with pure black liquid. The white cracks surrounded the entirety of his face, both eyes nothing but darkened craters, "You..." He paused, his jagged knees buckling, "You think a couple of oldies, a Fraysan scum and a set of wings can beat the great Fraysan species..."

He turned his head suddenly to Nikolai Jr, who was forced to stare at his face--cracked and ready to burst, with no eyes present, "But there are three more like me--Good luck, gunslinger," He teased, chuckling lowly, even as it pained him to do so. 

"SHUT UP!" Ariana shot another arrow, lodging it into one of the wide open cracks on the beast's face. As it exploded, so did the rest of him. His face exploded into chunks of pitch black, crushing the ground as if they were the weight of buildings. Eta's head came next, exploding, chunks flying into buildings--Specifically one that Nikolai Jr. was standing on. Finally, the rest of his body began to crumble akin to the buildings he destroyed, becoming nothing but a mess of armor and black blood in the ground. 

At the same time of Eta's demise, Nikolai suddenly grasped his chest tightly, an immense pain rolling through him. An image flashed in his head; One of Carnifex gripping the arms of his throne until they were crushed into fine dust. He stood, revealing a set of elongated horns as he roared. For some reason, both Nikolai and Carnifex were experiencing pain from Eta's death. 

This revelation wasn't very helpful to his current situation, though. His pain resulted in him not bothering to jump away from the crumbling building, and so it began to fall underneath him. Ariana was still sensible enough in her rage to watch the man tumble to the ground and flap her wings, cradling him under her arms just before he fell and calmly guiding him to the pavement. Nikolai breathed heavily, still gripping his chest as he stared at the ground. 

"Nikki!" Dante walked over looking him over, "Are you alright?"

It wasn't long before the pain faded away, however there was still a throbbing in his chest, "Yeah, I--I don't know what happened," Nikolai admitted, "When Eta died, I saw Carnifex in pain and I suddenly was subjected to a lot of it." 

He looked over to see the remainder of the Fraysan mob retreating at the fall of their leader, running off into the semi-withered forests or out from the way they came. Eta's oily black blood seeped into the ground and wildlife, corrupting it even in death. Mason would have said something regarding Nikolai's sudden pain-stricken body, however he was too distraught. He stared at Ariana, his eyes brimming with crocodile tears. 

It was at that moment that Ariana's violet eyes locked in with Mason's blank whites that everything in the last fifteen minutes hit her like a freight train. She slid down to her knees, once again trembling as tears rolled freely down her face. Mason exhaled sharply, a lone tear rolling down his face. The thought that he finally was able to see Sebastian again, only to lose him the next day, killed him. 

Nikolai held everything in, simply standing upright and placing a supporting hand onto Ariana's shivering shoulder. The grief was hard for him--Any fallen teammate, no matter the affiliation, was a heavy loss nonetheless. Given his closeness to Iris specifically, this was no exception. 

Sidnee stood beside Nikolai, looking at him--Watching him hold his emotions in. She had been through enough torment to know when a person was hiding their true feelings. She sighed. 

Dante, however, was completely not phased. She simply sheathed her dripping machete and stretched a bit, watching the others deal with their grief in their own ways. The truth of the matter was, Dante disliked everyone on this team with the exception of her own son. Iris had been permanently scarred by the woman's torture, and Sebastian would always have an 'S' on his cheek as a reminder to just how terrible Dante was. Yet, the things they had done to her regarding her husband was unforgivable--Leaving her alone to grieve was the catalyst for her hatred for this team. She didn't feel like showing any emotion regarding these two people. 

"So," Dante said casually, "The capital city is saved, and Eta is dead. Are we gonna find this Carnifex guy in Georgia or what?"

Ariana looked up with tear-filled eyes, jaw dropped at her absolute insensitivity to the situation. She remained on her knees, her expression hardening as she watched the Fraysan bitch walk around like she didn't have any feelings, "Listen here--"

Nikolai stepped between the two quickly, putting his arms out, "Wait, WAIT!" He yelled, suddenly looking to the rest of the group, "While my mother can be very...harsh, she is right. Iris and Sebastian--They wouldn't want us to sit here and give up."

He sighed, "We all knew that loss was a part of war. It's always hard to deal with it, but right now--We have to push past it. We have to get to Georgia, and we have to stop Carnifex," He turned to Ariana, who was now literally looking up to him, "That's what they would want, and you know it." 

There was a moment of silence before Ariana shakily stood upright, wiping the wetness from her cheeks and clearing her throat, "Nikolai's right--" She swallowed hard, "We have to get to Georgia--We're running out of time before Carnifex catches word of this and possibly retreats." 

Nikolai nodded, looking to Mason, Dante and Sidnee, "Are we ready?"

Dante said nothing, and Sidnee still had no idea how to process the death of two people. Mason stared at the ground, his pole resting softly in his usually firm grip. He nodded, "I'll take the wheel."

Chapter 31 - Dry My Eyes:


The desolate wasteland of the city slowly transformed once again into highways barren of life, but littered with the dead. The world blurred by the group, rapidly but softly as they made their way to the place Mason had pointed out in Georgia. The soft hum of the eighteen wheeler against the pavement overtook Nikolai Jr's eardrums as he sat on the couch in the living room--He hadn't moved ever since they left the city. 

Mason and Dante were absent, only because Mason was driving and Dante was supposed to be there in case the poor wise man accidentally fell asleep--Or something along those lines. This left Nikolai, Ariana and Sidnee in the living room. Sidnee leaned against the wall, arms crossed and staring at the ground. The only time she looked up was to give Nikolai Jr. an occasional glance-over. It surprised her how he always wore his trench coat, even when they were in the safety of their car. Some of it could be attributed to him being without it for the freakshow, she supposed.

Ariana sat on the couch across from the gunslinger, tapping her foot impatiently. After a few hours alone with her own thoughts, she had found that the tears rolling down her face soon stopped. The wetness on her face began to dry, although the streaks of tears on her dirty face was still noticable. 

Nikolai Jr. looked over at Ariana, lending her a faint smile. It was only then that he could detect the hardness in those violet eyes--A certain malevolence he'd never seen before. Ariana's expression wavered only slightly before she turned away from the male, standing upright. Max flew to her shoulder, hesitantly staring at her with beady eyes. Even the sight of the bat hit her with a twinge of sadness, reminiscent of the stories her father had told her regarding his own pet. 

She exhaled slowly, turning to the narrow hallway, "I need some time alone," She stated with venom, walking slowly to Mason's room before slamming the door behind her. He wouldn't need it for a while anyhow. 

Nikolai stood upright, his boots clomping harshly against the floor as he went to talk to her. Sidnee's sultry voice stopped him cold, however, "Don't." 

He turned on his heels, looking over at her. His black and red eyes showed a moment of rage as he stared to her, "Why not...?"

She stood upright, away from the wall, looking at him with pitch black eyes, "She...Needs her time. You would only fuck her up more if you went in there," She replied, her tone sincere.

Nikolai stared at her for a few moments, then looked back to the shut and probably locked down. He sucked his teeth, sitting back down on the couch, clasping his hands together, "Tch."

Sidnee stood awkwardly for a moment, biting her lower lip anxiously. She decidedly sat down next to him, staring into the eyes that she had grown to like, "You don't have to lie."

"What?"

"About how you're feeling," She shifted atop the couch cushion, "I know that you're affected by it, too. You don't have to bottle it up." 

Nikolai turned his attention to the ground, staring at the miniscule dust particles that glided across the floor, "It's just..." He began hoarsely, "Iris, regardless of how my mother feels, was like an aunt to me. She cared about me, and she went into that building to save me and Ariana, not just Ariana." 

He shrugged, "Sebastian and I didn't have the best relationship; But he didn't deserve to die either. It just really makes you realize just how close we are to death--Doing all of this. "

Sidnee ran a hand up and down his armored back in an attempt to give him the slightest bit of comfort. She frowned for a moment, "You know as well as I do that if we don't fight...We die anyway."

"I just don't want to lose anyone else, Sidnee."

"Well weren't you the one that said 'Loss is a part of war'?" She inquired, tilting her head as he looked up at her, "Nikolai, you're the only person I've ever met that can be so criticized by humanity...Yet still fight for them every day."

He stared at her for a little while, and she granted him an encouraging smile, wrapping an arm around him, "You can't stop fighting. You have to keep going, giving up isn't an option." 

"And why are you telling me this?"

Sidnee's smile widened, "Because you mean a lot more to me than you think." 

With that statement, Nikolai's lips curved into a faint smile as well. Once again, he was transfixed by the beauty of her. It hit him like a freight train, and he could found himself forgetting the world around him. They locked eyes, and the attraction was clearly made mutual. 

Whether it was their bond originating from the freakshow or the relatable qualities they both shared, there was something that eventually made Sidnee Nightshade lean in for a kiss. Nikolai didn't even realize what he was doing as he leaned in as well, only to stop when their lips were mere centimeters apart. He pulled back suddenly, his eyes going wild as if he was faced with a real threat, "No, This is wrong." 

Sidnee was flustered, her cheeks flushing red as she scooted to the other side of the couch, bringing her knees to her chest, "Nikolai, I--" 

He stood upright, placing his head in his right hand, "None of this--None of it is right!" 

She sighed, reaching out to him with her pale hand, "It's okay." 

He jerked himself out of the way, stepping to the other side of the room, "No, it isn't! You--" He turned away from her, "You and I would never work--You deserve someone better." 

"Nikolai, what are you talking about?" She stood, her eyes brimming with tears as her cheeks remained a bright red, "Y-You're wrong!"

He ignored her statement completely, waving a hand dismissively as the truck suddenly came to a screeching halt. Looking out the window, Nikolai Jr. could see an outstretch of sandy desert surrounding a small village practically dripping in Fraysan oil, so much so that there was a pool of it surrounding the area. This was definitely the place. 

"We have to go--" Nikolai said, "I don't want to have this conversation right now...We'll talk after this is over." 

Before Sidnee could say a word, he stepped out of the truck and onto a dune of sand. She wiped away the tears brimming in her eyes, taking in a deep breath.

Chapter 32 - Death Has A Shadow:


Looking at the village, there didn't seem to be too much to behold. 

The sand dune that Nikolai Jr. stood on slowly sunk, wrapping around his ankles as the wind blasted particles of sand back and forth in the air like tiny tornadoes. The lonely road was narrow and corroded, barely visible in the harsh afternoon sun. Nikolai and the group squinted against the bright lights, with the exception of Dante, who stood idly beside her son, visor down and over her face. 

"It wasn't like this before..." Mason said, astonished. His white eyes were widened, his hands gripping his weapon firmly. 

Nikolai grumbled, walking forward, ignoring the sweat beginning to form on the back of his neck, "I'm sure you can guess who made it this way then," He replied coldly, walking toward the fallen village distorted into a Fraysan playground. The gunslinger held onto his set of glinting revolvers, grasping them tightly in his hands. The chill that ran up his back told him that there was a powerful presence in the area; A presence much stronger than anything he had felt before.

The man's boots pressed into the thick, oily blood that surrounded the entire premises. After kicking up sand for a few yards, the sudden sloshy liquid surprised him, specifically given that it was still warm to the touch. He led the way, walking through the swamp-like environment while the others followed behind closely--Ariana hovering over the Fraysan blood in disgust. Nikolai looked around at the carnage, staring at the buildings that had been ripped in half. Some had been buried by the sand, foundations now becoming nothing more than sand dunes. 

It was a typical set of ruins--One road that led through the whole village, cutting through buildings destroyed by time. At the end of it all, however, was the only building that seemed to be standing. It wasn't in good shape, however the lack of sand made it clear that someone had been there. The road led out and back out into a broken forest on the horizon.Whether there was any life beyond that point was something Nikolai Jr. didn't quite know, nor did he quite care about--He could sense Carnifex was here. 

The oily blood eventually grew more and more shallow until it was mere puddles under his feet upon hardened road. It was at that moment that a large gust of wind took him nearly to his knees. Quickly gathering his bearings, Nikolai glared upward. Looking in the skies he saw that the bright yellow sun had suddenly become eclipsed by a gargantuan being. His black armor shimmered against the light, his leathery wings spread outward. And it was at that moment that Nikolai knew exactly who it was. 

"CARNIFEX!" He screeched, his crimson irises filling with a seething rage. In the glare of the sun he brought his revolvers up, gritting his teeth. 

"Nikolai, STOP!" Mason yelled, however it was in vain. He pulled the trigger multiple times in the beast's direction, gunshots echoing across the lonely streets as most missed their mark. The Fraysan King flapped his wings once more just as an explosion went into his armored back with enough force to cause him to stumble. Even so, his wings flew him forward like a catapult, and as the gunslinger screamed for him, shooting his revolvers off like chain guns, it wasn't long before the beast completely left his sight, becoming a fading dot in the skies.

The man stood there in shock, smoke billowing from the barrels of his gun as he watched the spot where he had seen Carnifex leave. He said nothing, nor made any change from his blank expression. Mason cleared his throat, "Nikolai...We can catch up to him--He couldn't have gone far." 

"I'm afraid I can't let you do that."

The familiar voice gave Nikolai chills. He turned on his heels and looked past the rest of the group. Standing at the end of the road with reptilian Fraysan eyes, was Liu herself. Her sleek armor that cupped her body tightly gave off an intimidating vibe as she ran her tongue across her lips. Seeing her in person was a very different experience than in his dreams--He could feel the power radiating from her. 

"I'm glad that my husband made his getaway," Liu said slyly, "Now I get to meet the...stunning Alec boy in the flesh."

"Don't flatter me," Nikolai Jr. snarled. 

Her smirk grew as she chuckled, her voice nagging at him, "Hasn't your mother taught you a smidget of manners?"

"A Fraysan whore doesn't deserve to be treated with respect," Dante snarled, cracking the joints of her fingers simply by how harshly she clenched her hands into fists. 

The grin distorted into a faint frown, her black eyes darkening, "I see even after sixteen years you haven't learned to close your mouth." 

"And you haven't learned to close your legs."

"Enough of this--" Liu growled, a flush of embarassment appearing on her cheeks, "I came here to deal with Fraysan half-breed, not you. I have to finish what I started years ago."

"What are you-"

"Ah," Liu grinned, moving closer to him. She reached her clawed hand outward, running it down his forearm, "You were but a child..But even then, you had unprecedented strength." 

Nikolai backed away defensively, pointing his revolvers at her as painful memories rushed through his head. The lithe figure in the shadows that watched him at night, that influenced him and caused him his rage as a toddler. Those childish fears that resonated with him deep in the pitch black of the night, "You," He stated, nearly speechless, "You tried to kill me."

"A certain spawn of me, yes," Liu replied, "Of course, I couldn't make a full appearance; I was still on Fraysa, raising our grand leader." 

Nikolai felt the urge to vomit at the sudden realization that Liu had raised Carnifex, and had now become his lover. "I thought a simple fourth of my power could finish you off, but each and every time you fought me off," She continued, sucking her teeth. 

Nikolai gripped his revolvers with sweaty hands, holding them in front of him defensively. Ariana held her crossbow at her side while Sidnee and Mason sat at the back, prepared to play support with their significantly supernatural powers. Dante stood beside her son, growling from underneath her visor. This was the woman that was associated with Mrath--The Fraysan who took her husband away. Whether or not she was with Carnifex now, this was personal.

Liu grinned, putting her hand out. A long, black blade akin to a broadsword appeared in her grip, seemingly darkening the skies just from its presence, "But now, I can finish both you and your little friends off in one fell swoop." 

"I don't know who you think you are," Ariana chimed in, "But we're not gonna stop until your lying in a pool of your own blood."

Liu feigned surprise, placing a hand over her chest, "My--Such a fruitful vocabulary for a youngling," She looked back and forth in the crowd, a knowing grin forming on her face as she bared her jagged teeth, "Say--Where's your parents?" 

That was enough of a spark to send a fresh current of rage through the teenage girl's body. She lunged forward, bow in hand, arrow against it and ready to shoot the moment she got close enough. However, her momentum was stopped cold as a back hand from Liu sent her flying into a nearly shattered building, through the walls and a few hundred feet into the sandy dunes. Her absolute power was significant--She only swatted her like a fly, "How cute," She said dismissively. 

Nikolai Jr. growled, shooting a bullet in her direction. Liu side stepped it and Nikolai simultaneously charged at her with the intention to kill. A dark black helmet shot up from the neck of her armor, wrapping around her and leaving a visor as her only method of sight. She held the broadsword outward, prepared to face the gunslinger.

Chapter 33 - Stop The Clock:


There was a moment of silence as the side of Nikolai's revolver made contact with the blade of Liu's sword. A blistering silence, the procrastination as to who would strike first after contact. That silence lasted nothing more than a second as Nikolai Jr. pistol whipped the woman across the head. 

She stumbled and Nikolai jumped back, sliding across the sandy road. He couldn't tell where Ariana had landed, but Mason was already running in that direction to figure it out. Sidnee brought the few shadows she could see to life, throwing them at Liu like blunt weapons. The Fraysan woman stumbled once again, and Dante capitalized by crashing into her shoulder first. Liu went flying backward, only barely gaining her balance a few yards away. 

Nikolai shot at her again, a cacophany of holes forming in the road as she rapidly outran every bullet that came at her, inching closer and closer to him until they were finally a mere foot away. He tried to smack her with his revolver again, however she caught his arm, twisting it and punching him across the face. He stumbled, pressing the revolver against the broken skin on his cheek while she followed up with a knee to his abdomen. He coughed, falling to his knees. She moved to slice at him with her broadsword, however this time Dante was there, her machete colliding with her broadsword in a spark of light.

The two of them pushed against each other, a battle of two unfathomable strengths. Nikolai took the chance to stand upright, watching the both of them stare at each other, the rage seething through their visors, "Don't touch my son," Dante growled.

"Then you shouldn't have touched my husband," She retorted. Whether she was referring to first husband Mrath or second husband Carnifex was unknown. She snarled in return, pushing Dante back. She then rushed her, tackling her into a rickety building with enough force to shake sand off of the structure. Dante took a breath, craning her neck to dodge the incoming fist of Liu. She ducked under the arm, wrapping her arms around Liu and throwing her to the ground with a hard CRACK! 

Liu rolled out of the way, only to be faced with the barrel of Nikolai Jr's revolver. She quickly swatted the gun away, causing him to shoot it point blank into the ground--Great, another smoking pot hole. As if there weren't enough of those lying around. 

A sudden burst of shadows slammed against Liu's stomach, knocking the breath out of her as she was thrust a foot into the air, Dante's knee breaking her fall. She fell back first, growling. Liu rolled backward from a heavy fist of the Fraysan woman, punching her across the face with enough pure force to break her visor and crack her helmet. Dante stumbled, her dark Fraysan eyes being shown to the world as Liu threw her into the sand dune that was once a towering building. 

"Stay away from my mother, you Fraysan whore!" A hard fist smacked against her cheek from the side. There was enough G-force behind the punch to send her to one knee, only to be kicked across the side of the head. She was reeling, watching Nikolai Jr. point a gun in her face. It became clear to Liu that a 3 on 1 match was simply impossible. 

And that was when Liu became a blur, zipping past Nikolai and smacking Sidnee clean across the face with the blunt edge of her sword. A window broke in a building a few yards away, followed by a massive thud. She turned to a charging Nikolai, using his momentum against him as she pushed him into the air, causing him to fall face-first onto the pavement. Just behind her was the charging figure of Fraysan mama bear herself, bringing her machete down in a diagonal position. Liu swung her broadsword, the two blades once again colliding as Dante's bare eyes stared at her with a specific hatred. Black veins were seen pulsating around her very being. 

The two pulled back, Liu sweep-kicking Dante across her ankles. She fell back, only to catch herself and practically shatter Liu's jaw with a kick in the chin. Dante rolled back, brandishing her machete. As Nikolai slowly stood from the pavement, he wondered why they were fighting with swords when they both had armor. The question was answered as the blade of the machete slashed across Liu's armor, cutting through the metal and drawing trickles of Fraysan blood. The strength they put behind their strikes was strong enough to break the Fraysan armor. 

Blood, both crimson and black, stained the pavement alongside the sand; Liu looked down at herself and snarled, enraged. Her sword strike was blocked by Dante's machete, however that rendered the woman defenseless to a swift and rage-fueled fist to the jaw. The force that came from it completely knocked Dante's helmet from her body, allowing it to clatter on the ground below them. Dante grunted, spitting a glob of Fraysan oil onto the floor and returning the favor--Only her punch was a little stronger. Liu slid backwards, suddenly dizzy as a few errant bangs fell in front of Dante's face. She punched Liu again, "You."

And again, "Fucking." 

And one more time for good measure, this time sending her high into the air, only to crumple back down to the ground, "Whore." 

Liu was breathing rapidly and jaggedly, curled up in a ball as blood splattered on the unbroken visor of her helmet. Dante stared down at her for a few moments, breathing heavily, her machete still gripped heavily in her hand. She spun it a few times, prepared to finish the job in the name of her husband and her son. 

"Mom!" 

Dante turned quickly to her son, who stood shakily. His normally unblemished face had been scraped, trickles of black blood descending down his cheeks. A couple of bruises here and there, and he was otherwise okay. Sidnee slowly got up from the rubble, dusting herself off. She let out a deep breath, and put her thumb up to signify that she was okay. Dante scoffed, pretending not to care. 

Ariana was walking under her own power, albeit the black eye and bloody face didn't help matters. Mason stood beside her, arm wrapped around her shoulder. He looked over to the crumpled figure of Liu, nodding slowly. He knew what had happened, and he was glad for it. 

The group was scattered, checking on one another, however Nikolai Jr. walked in front of Dante, a huge grin on his face, "You did it again..." He frowned suddenly, looking down and remembering the freakshow, "You did it again." 

Dante scoffed, clapping his shoulder, "And you helped," She retorted, "You have a lot to learn yet, my handsome son. You have a lot of time to train--We still need to find Carnifex after I finish her off." 

Nikolai Jr. nodded slowly, however he heard a different noise. A noise akin to the slicing of flesh, followed by a cough and the clattering of metal on the pavement--His mother's machete. He felt a wetness on his forehead--Blood. 

Looking forward, he saw Dante, her eyes now wide in shock, blood trickling from her mouth as a blade was jutting from the center of her chest. The possum Liu was looking over her shoulder at Nikolai Jr, a demonic smirk on her features, "Never turn your back on the enemy--Isn't that what you taught your son?"
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Boomerang

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Re: Fraysa (The Novel has begun)

Post by Boomerang on 11/17/2015, 8:47 pm

And I present to you--The final three chapters!


Chapter 34 - Never Coming Home:


"Mom!" Was the sole thing that Nikolai Jr. could croak out as he watched his mother look down at her chest, at the blade dripping with her Fraysan blood. Another, light cough emitted from her raw throat as Liu pulled the sword out harshly. Dante stood upright for a moment, shifting back and forth before crumpling to the ground onto her side. Nikolai Jr. fell to his knees, turning the woman on her back as adrenaline ran up and down his body. 

Dante wheezed, her hands gripping onto the pavement hard enough for her to grab chunks from them. She closed her eyes tightly, black blood slipping from her lips as Liu stood in the background, chuckling. Nikolai placed his hands on her strong shoulders, staring down at her, "Mom...?"

No response. He shook her a bit, tears brimming in his red and black eyes, "Mom, talk to me," He said, "Talk to me!" 

Dante's lips curled into a faint smile--A genuine one. She opened her pitch black eyes, staring up at her only son, "I'm still here--For now, anyway," She said softly. Nikolai brushed the bangs away from her face, a deep frown on his face as he stared at his mother.

"We're gonna get you out of here, okay?" He said slowly and softly, almost like a whisper, "You aren't gonna die--No, no you're not." He turned to the rest of the group, who had come up to Nikolai Jr. and Dante. Ariana had a hand over her mouth, staring at the woman as Sidnee and Mason all garnered solemn looks on them. 

He turned to Ariana after staring at Dante's wound, looking at her with tears welling in his eyes, "Get me--Get me a healing arrow," Noting the woman's hesitation, he suddenly lashed out, yelling, "PLEASE!"

Ariana stepped back, taking her hand from her mouth and letting out a shaky breath, "I--I don't know where my bow is. I left it somewhere when I fell." 

Nikolai was silent for a few moments, pondering that statement. He then stood upright and snarled, "You what?!" He screamed, "What do you mean you left it?! Where the hell IS IT?! GET THE AR-"

"Nikolai."

Dante's soft voice cut into Nikolai's screams. He turned to her, falling back to his knees and staring at her. He couldn't help but look at the wound--A gaping hole in her chest, right next to her heart, sputtering occasionally with pitch black blood while most of it pooled around her body. 

He let out a shaky breath as Dante licked her bloodied lips, "Don't...Don't yell at her. It isn't her fault, it's mine," She lifted a shaky hand, running it through her hair, "I should have been more efficient." 

"Mom..."

"I shouldn't have turned my back, I should have stuck to the mission."

"Mom! Stop!" His voice was choked with sobs as a tear rolled down his face, "It isn't your fault, okay? We're gonna get you out of here, even without the healing arrow." 

He looked at his shaky hands coated with dried blood, racking an idea around in his brain, "We'll--We'll just deal with Liu and then we'll get you out of here...Or...Or we can..." He looked down to the ground, defeated and sniffling. He closed his eyes and shook his head back and forth, "God damn it...Damn it!"

"Nikki.." Dante looked him in the eye, smiling softly, "If I can't blame myself...Then you can't, okay? Don't blame yourself for this." 

She opened her mouth to say something more, however she coughed once again. Only this time, her cough was more like a vomit of pitch black blood, running down her cheek and into the ground beside her face. Tears were running freely through the cuts and bruises on his face, sparkling against the late afternoon sun that rested on the both of them. Ariana hugged herself, guilt in her head over the fact that she wasn't able to help. 

"I don't..." He exhaled, "I don't wanna lose you mom...I don't wanna lose you!" Tears freely ran down his face, dripping onto her armor as he began to sob--These tears weren't silent. 

"Hey--Hey now, I didn't raise a cry baby," Her tone got serious as she stared at him with hard eyes as she took a few laboured breaths, "I raised a young man who was taught that revenge is a dish best served warm with blood." 

Nikolai Jr. looked to her through the veil of tears, his body shivering as she continued to speak, "You don't have to worry about me..." She said, her expression softening again, "Your father is waiting for me...I'll finally get to see him again, and kick his ass for leaving me." 

He raised her hand, grasping his cheek softly and caressing it, "Nikki--I don't have to be in pain anymore. I want this--don't mourn for me..." 

"Mom..." Nikolai couldn't speak anymore, the sobs were simply too great to overcome. The others watched in sadness, knowing they could possibly fight Liu but too paralyzed to do a thing about it. 

Dante scoffed, "Now I know how Nikolai felt when I gave him that same look all those years ago...You look just like him, y'know. Just as handsome."

"Mom, I..." He swallowed hard, "I love you." 

Dante's smile expanded. She reached over, kissing his forehead even with her blood ridden face. She laid back down, grabbing his hand tightly, "I love you too...And I'm so proud of you." 

Silence was the only thing between them for a good thirty seconds. Not suffocating, not with baited breath. It was a blissful silence, one that Nikolai Jr. could have sat in forevermore. Watching his mother's beautiful eyes, glancing at her soft smile, was all he ever wanted. To hear that she was proud of him put a warmth into his heart that no other person could ever replicate. He could have held her hand forever. 

Unfortunately, forever is never enough. She closed her eyes softly, and Nikolai panicked inwardly. It was increased tenfold as her hand went limp, falling to the pool of her own blood. He glared from her hand back to her, whispering, "Mom..."

This silence wasn't as blissful, "Mom?" He said, grasping at straws as he began to sob again. 

"MOM!" He screamed into her ear, almost feeling her life force sift away from him, "MOM!!!" 

He began to breath heavily, his body convulsing as he reared his head up to the air. He screamed, although it was completely abnormal, like the screech of a Fraysan berserker. Black veins appeared all over his body, and his pitch black scleras flooded into his beautiful crimson red irises once again. The tears that rolled down his face became black as his screams nearly deafened the entire group. They all covered their ears, bodies cringing. Buildings broke apart further, glass breaking. Even Liu seemed mildly uncomfortable, although she was smirking devilishly. 

Nikolai Jr. stood upright slowly over the body of her mother. His teeth had become sharpened canines, bared outward. His minor cuts and bruises began to heal as he stared at Liu. He suddenly had the desire to destroy everything in his sight. Grasping his head he growled, looking at the ground as his vision became blurred. The Fraysan urges were beginning to get in the way of his thinking, which was exactly what Liu wanted all along. This slow death was a way to enrage the gunslinger and easily slaughter him.

The rest of the group was now crossing their fingers that Nikolai wouldn't go completely out of control. Mason hoped for the life of him that he would be able to control himself--Prove to Mason that he would be okay. If not, the whole group was likely finished. 

"That's right," Her sultry voice penetrated his mind among her bouts of maniacal laughter, "Get angry with me, Nikolai--I just killed your mother. Let your rage fuel you!"

He growled, staring at the ground, his breathing growing heavier as he tried to control himself. He closed his eyes, remembering what his mother had told him: Don't blame yourself. He closed his eyes and envisioned her face. 

Suddenly, a voice invaded his mind: Don't let that bitch tell you what to do.

He suddenly turned around for the source of the voice, and yet found nothing. The voice returned, it was the deep voice of a male--It sounded like he had a smile on his face. Remember, you're an Alec. Kick her ass.  

Nikolai Jr. grinned, his canines bared as he looked forward at Liu, "I won't fall for your tricks," He said, his voice distorted beyond possible belief, however he was completely coherent. 

Liu was genuinely shocked, stumbling a bit, "Wuh-What?"

Nikolai scoffed, "I said I won't fall for your tricks. I'm going to kill you, but in my own way...You're going to die, Liu. And Carnifex is next."

Liu's shocked expression contorted into a twisted frown as she sneered, "You have a long way to go, kid. Even if you do happen to kill me, you can't even touch Carnifex yet. I'm only the second of four overlords--People he hand picked to be sure that he would be protected from any harm. I am a part of him, as are the others." 

Liu's broadsword rematerialized in her hand, her visor returning around her head, "This is pointless--You'll never get to Carnifex." 

Nikolai Jr. grabbed his trench coat, slipping it off and revealing the pulsating veins spreading across his arms. He took out his revolvers, wrapping them in his clawed fingers and pointing them at the woman. Mason watched him, and all he could envision was Nikolai Alec, holding his revolvers up to all of his foes with no fear in his eyes. A grin formed on his face--A proud warmth spread through him.

Nikolai snarled, "Then killing you is enough."

Chapter 35 - Like Father, Like Son:


The physical mutations wasn't the only thing that had changed about Nikolai Jr. Liu was forced to learn the hard way when she tried to rush at him with her broadsword, only to be stopped cold by a sharp back hand that had the Fraysan woman reeling. He rushed forward, his boots stomping mini craters into the pavement as he threw a punch in her direction. Liu caught it in her palm, however the G-force between the two of them sent a wave of wicked winds against the group, making them stumble. 

Nikolai jumped back, pulling the trigger thrice at different places in Liu's body. She side stepped the bullets and the explosions that came with them, only for burly hands to grab her by the head and shove her face into the pavement. The entire road cracked audibly, pushing her face all the way into the hard material as Nikolai stood over her, growling as black blood dribbled from his lips. 

The gunslinger pulled out his revolver, pressing it against the back of her head only for her elbow to smack agaisnt his wrist, knocking the gun away. She yanked her head out of the hole in the ground, throwing an upper cut into Nikolai's mouth with the force of a freight train. Liu stood in front of him, her helmet now bursting with electricity as her visor was broken to glass shards. She stared at him intently, "You aren't going to win th--"

A hard fist to the abdomen took the breath out of her. She fell to her knees, grabbing her stomach, "Stop talking." Nikolai grabbed her head, driving a knee into her face. Electricity sparked as her helmet completely shattered, sending a shock through his nerves that caused him to shake and shudder for a few moments. 

Mason stood solemnly, looking at all of the carnage. The jagged pot holes and corpse of Dante in the background. Her machete rested next to her son's lone revolver. He desired desperately to help Nikolai Jr. with his fight, however he went against his better judgement, turning to Ariana, "I need you to go get your bow," He said to her simply. Ariana frowned, but eventually nodded. 

Sidnee was bewildered, staring at the wiseman, "What about Nikolai?!"

"Sidnee--"

"No, listen!" A rage fueled within her as she threw her hands toward Nikolai Jr. and Liu, "He's going to die! We have to help him!"

Mason slowly shook his head, "No--We can't help him. Liu killed his mother, her first husband killed his father. This is personal, Sidnee. If we interfere, we will enrage him more and he may lose control," He exhaled, his next statement very uncertain, "He can defeat Liu. I'm confident enough in him." 

Sidnee stared at him for a long time. Eventually, she conceded, crossing her arms and watching Liu and Nikolai Jr. battle for supremacy. As the gunslinger recovered from the sudden shock, he was met with a huge uppercut that sent him high into the air. He couldn't get his bearings in time, simply falling into one of the sand dunes off road. He groaned in pain. 

Before he could even recover, Liu screeched loudly, broadsword in both hands as she jumped into the air, aiming the tip of the blade at his chest as she came down upon him. Her long blonde hair flowed against the gusting wind and her face was filled now with her own blood, "You're FINISHED!"

As she landed on the ground, the entire area surrounding them went up in a veil of thick sand, swirling around them for a while as Sidnee gasped. The sound that the sword made was clear that the blade had went through something. The woman had been too fast for her to see what she was doing in time, and the last she saw, Nikki was on his back. She bit her lip anxiously, waiting for the smoke to clear with baited breath. Her adrenaline had taken away the common sense that she could simply swat away the sand with shadows. 

As the sand settled back onto the ground, Liu sat on one knee, her sword stuck in the mixture of sand and earth. There was a scowl imprinted on her face as she attempted to pull the blade out. Nikolai was nowhere to be seen for a few moments before he suddenly rushed out at a speed Sidnee could barely comprehend; He grasped the woman's throat with one clawed hand before she could speak, shoving her into the wall with enough force to crack the concrete. She snarled at him as he lifted her up into the air and tightly squeezed her throat. 

She lifted up both hands, the armor surrounding them retracting and revealing the elongated claws he had seen before, accompanied by a dirty and calloused hand. She sunk a set of claws into Nikolai Jr's shoulder, causing him to screech in pain. His grip fumbled and she was allowed to fall back onto her feet, thrusting her other hand at the Fraysan's chest. He grabbed her hand, twisting it enough for a loud crack to be heard. She yelped in pain as he pulled the claws out of his arm, blood trickling down and coating his forearm. 

He jumped back as she swung her fist, causing her to right hook a gulp of air as he took his revolver back out, shooting it toward her chest. She jumped to the left, and Nikolai shot at the ground below where she would land. As Liu side stepped the explosion, she was met with another that blew up underneath her, sending shrapnel and debris into her armor and face. She stumbled, grabbing her face with both of her hands, "Agh--Fucking scum!" 

He walked toward her slowly, twirling his revolver around. She attempted to trick him again, smacking him across the face, only for her hand to be caught just as quickly. He squeezed it in his palm, staring at her. Pitch black met pitch black as he breathed heavily, his nose running with Fraysan oil. Liu blinked, staring at him, "What kind of thing are you?" She asked quietly.

Nikolai Jr. granted himself a smirk, humoring himself with her question, "Oh, me?" He replied, scoffing, "I'm an Alec--Which pretty much means your worst nightmare." 

He let go of her hand, only to throw her over his head and toward the sand. Surprisingly, she used the momentum to her advantage, rolling to her sword and yanking it out of the sand. As the gunslinger turned, he was suddenly met with a broadsword near his face. He craned his neck, only for the sword to dig deep into his shoulder, pinning him to the concrete wall. 

Liu's terrified expression transformed into a grin as she chuckled, watching the blood trickle from his shoulder, his arm hanging to the ground. Even though she grinned, he could tell that she was simply compensating--She was still just as terrified as before. Liu tilted her head, "My worst nightmare, huh? Well what are you gonna do with one arm?"

The both of them stared at each other for a moment, and when she realized her mistake, it was already too late. His uninjured arm raised forward, his revolver tight in his grasp. He shoved it into her mouth, pulling back the hammer, "I'm gonna make sure I avenge my mother." 

Liu began to shake her head back and forth, pleading for life. For the moment, Nikolai savored the power. He loved the knowledge that he was in control of his life. However, his grin turned into a scowl, "This load in your mouth will make Carnifex jealous." 

He pulled the trigger, and what followed was a series of explosions that rocked her insides, annihilating her organs and eventually causing her to burst like an oil-filled balloon. Blood poured from her stomach and chest, intestines falling to the floor around her as her entire body exploded, drenching Nikolai Jr. in a variety of disgusting liquids. 

The broadsword dematerialized, leaving a gaping hole in his shoulder as he was suddenly subjected to that pain in his chest again. He could hear a roar of pain--Whether that was his or a distant Carnifex's was unknown to him. The rest of the group looked on, concerned as he suddenly panted heavily and screamed into the skies, the pain fueling his rage. He suddenly didn't want to lose this form--He loved the feeling it gave him. It took the pain of his mother's death away.

Chapter 36 - Don't Look Back:


"Shit, shit!" Mason growled underneath his breath, gripping his weapon tightly as he looked to Sidnee. Nikolai dropped his revolver to the ground next to the other that had been dropped during battle, turning and roaring at the sky. She was flabbergasted, staring at Nikolai as he grabbed his chest in physical pain. He threw himself against a building, breaking the sandy structure into pieces around him. 

Ariana flew through the air, bow now in her hand. She stopped cold, staring at Nikolai Jr, eyes widened. She was frozen in fear and shock, watching him scream into the skies and destroy anything he saw that he didn't like. The aspect that he may rush at them was certainly a possibility. 

"Nikki!" Ariana yelled, "S-Stop!"

Her voice went on deaf ears, his body beginning to take control as he suddenly turned to Mason, smelling his partial Fraysan scent. The both of them locked eyes, Nikolai scowling and opening his mouth for an audible snarl. Mason stood his ground, intent on stopping him before he could cause more collateral damage than this day already had.

Before the wise man could react, Nikolai charged without civility, practically on all fours. Mason side stepped him, swinging his pole at the male only for Nikolai Jr. to catch it in his bloodied hands. He pulled it harshly, getting closer to Mason before punching him across the face. Mason slid back a few feet, exhaling sharply, "Nikolai...Nikolai, I need you to stop."

He threw a fist at Mason, and the old man side stepped again, this time back stepping a very generous amount, "This isn't you! Snap the hell out of it!" Mason screamed. He spun his pole around, prepared to battle the man if he was forced to. Knocking him unconscious was the best option. Nikolai shook his head, screeching once again as blood ran freely from his nose and mouth. Drips of blood originated from his eyes, Fraysan tears rolling down his cheeks. 

He looked ready to charge at the man, however a set of feeble arms wrapped around his waist, stopping the rageful gunslinger cold. He let out a breath of fresh air, blood gushing down his torso. He turned over his shoulder sharply, staring to the culprit.

Sidnee had her head buried into the man's back, tears rolling down her face as she held him as tightly as she possibly could, "Nikolai...Stop," She stared up at the man. She didn't care about the veins pulsing around his face, or those pitch black eyes; She only wanted the brave man she saw in the freakshow back, "P...Please."

Nikolai stared at her, the physical pain in his chest suddenly beginning to deteriorate, replacing itself with only mental ache. He felt a calmness, looking into her eyes--His mind was beginning to take hold again, however that wasn't what he wanted in the first place. They stood there in silence for what seemed like an eternity, her body pressed against his own as she stared at him. A faint smile crossed her wet face, "Come back to me...You can do it." 

He turned forward slowly, looking at the bright blue skies as the sun shined down on the both of them. With Sidnee clasping him tightly, Nikolai slowly shuffled to Dante's body, still as beautiful as he had left it. His mother's machete and her helmet rested next to her--Two things he was certain he would take. He looked down at the ground, his stomach dropping as he vomited onto the ground. Sidnee Nightshade waited patiently, looking back at him, never looking to Mason or Ariana during the process. 

And then, Nikolai Jr. screeched. It wasn't strong, nor was it intimidating. It was a forced screech, one that would be used in desperation by a broken man. The man fell to his knees, his pitch black tears eventually becoming clear. His screeches gradually transformed into loud sobs of agony for his fallen brethren, especially his mother. Sidnee fell to her knees as well, clamping her arms around him and resting her head atop his shoulder as he sat on his knees. 

Eventually, he fell forward, softly resting his head on the pavement as he continued to sob, tears darkening the grey and brown road. Ariana and Mason stood there, watching Nikolai Jr. calm down from Sidnee's touch, however watching him finally break under all of the pressure given to him. Sidnee hugged him tightly, cooing him with soft whispers into his ear as he cried uncontrollably. 

As Nikolai's mental capacity returned to him, he was able to stick his head up and look at all the carnage around him. All of the blood, sweat and tears that were given--And Carnifex hadn't even been killed yet. Their journey was only just beginning, and it was suddenly becoming more daunting than ever before. 

However, even with the horizon filled with more tears and further bloodshed, he knew that he had to keep going. Carnifex had made one mistake in his nearly brilliant plan; He made things personal. Now, Nikolai Alec Junior had to avenge the rest of the Alec family by destroying the rest of the Fraysans and making certain that Earth was once again saved. He also needed a significant amount of medical attention--But that would come later.

Seeing Mason and Ariana stand uncomfortably as they watched him, waiting for him to be okay, and seeing Sidnee reach out to him in his time of need, told him just how much they valued him. He needed to be a leader, because the bottom line was--Only he could kill Carnifex. 

He exhaled, resting his head next to his mother's helmet and pressing a few buttons. He listened intently, and sure enough the sounds of two different heartbeats penetrated his ear drums. They were nearly in sync, only off by a millisecond. The heartbeats of his mother and father. 

Vengeance would come to those who wronged him--But for now, all he could do was sob.
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