Chapter 103 – Roiling Blood

Chapter 103 – Roiling Blood

“Wha— what the hell is going on?!”

“Are we under attack?!” Phoenix questioned incredulously, glancing at Major Hackett before suddenly shifting her attention back to the city beyond the campus grounds, and the domes of reddish energy that appeared in the distance. “Are— are those Chaostechnic Blasts?!”

“Just what do you know about what’s goin’ on?” Ralak pressed, her attention focused on Major Hackett. “You sure seemed to know a lot, just now.”

“This have somethin’ to do with those former Bleeders you were askin’ about?” Obra added.

“We don’t have the time to talk about that, right now,” Hackett countered, irritation and frustration both crossing her face as she glanced back at Ralak. She then looked to Mark and Danielle, who were both already preparing to follow her — but before she could say anything further, Relia appeared out of thin air next to the group.

Without missing a beat, Relia locked eyes with Mark. “I was told you and your friend can use your powers in a CENT field, is that right?”

We can, Mark replied, how can we help?

“Hey! What’s goin’ on?!”

The group paused for just a moment as Austin, Spike, Sky, and Twy ran up to them, worried confusion writ across their faces as the sounds of distant fighting began to fill the air. “Are we under attack?!” Austin reiterated, glancing between Hackett, Relia, and Ralak with panic. “By who?!”

“And can we help?” Spike questioned.

We don’t know what’s going on right now, either,” Pierce shot back, and then turned impatiently toward Relia. “Though I bet you know. Spill it!”

Relia passed Pierce an annoyed glance before looking back at Mark, Danielle, and Hackett. “When the power went out, so did the CENT fields at the jail,” Relia explained. “The Bleeders that Davídrius captured a few days ago are gettin’ loose. I can use Negation to slow ‘em down, but I could use some help.”

“If it means defending the town, then of course—!” Sky began to exclaim, only to be cut off.

“You all need to stay here,” Ralak insisted. She glanced at Relia, Mark, Danielle and Hackett before continuing, “Relia, and you three… outsiders, I’m gonna trust that y’all know what you’re doin’.”

“Thanks for saying so, but we’re burning time, here,” Hackett declared, and then impatiently gestured for Mark, Danielle, and Relia to follow as she began rushing toward the campus gates. “You three, on me! Go, go, go!”

“Hey, don’t forget us—!” Pierce shouted, beginning to run off after them — but Ralak physically interposed herself in front of him, stopping his advance.

“I still don’t know what’s goin’ on, myself, but leave this to the pros,” she insisted. As she spoke, she glanced back over the courtyard, a scowl forming on her face as several of the other students began making their way toward the campus gates as well. Quickly, she slammed the bare skin of her forearms together and began to lift into the air, all while shouting down at the group. “You students ain’t ready for combat, yet! I need everyone to stay put, and not get in the way!”

“What?! C’mon!!” Sky responded indignantly, but her cry fell on deaf ears; Ralak had already flown off toward the campus gates, where she quickly convened with a few other instructors to placate the students amidst the confused chaos that had overtaken the campus. “What’s with that?!” Sky pouted, turning back toward the group with a frustrated look on her face. “We can totally help, here…”

“I’m sure you can,” Obra drawled, drawing the Keys’ attention to him. “I bet you outsiders think you can solve all our problems, don’t you?”

“…Who’re you?” Austin questioned.

“Who we are doesn’t matter right now,” Liask insisted. “Ralak told us to stay put, so we should listen! Without knowin’ what’s goin’ on out there, who knows what could happen if we tried to help?”

“Yeah, like Ralak said. We might just get in the way,” Conrad added.

“You guys are being way too cautious,” Pierce countered. “That chick with the fluffy hair told us what’s going on — captured Bleeders are free in the city! And guess what — we’ve fought Bleeders before!”

“That ‘chick with the fluffy hair’ has a name,” Phoenix retorted. “Even with what Relia told us, though, we still don’t know everything. Like what took out the power in the first place? Who did that?”

“I’d bet two sandwiches it has somethin’ to do with those ‘Ind’ or ‘Shade’ people,” Minilas commented.

“So more Bleeders, whatever,” Pierce remarked dismissively. He then shifted his attention to look at Phoenix, and then at Spike and Sky. “We can totally help out, here. We were able to help back in Relédiaka, weren’t we? And we have a lot more skill now than way back then!”

“’Help’…” Kestrel echoed flatly.

“Yeah, we didn’t exactly do much to ‘help’ back then,” Phoenix pointed out.

“What did y’all even do?” Sky questioned, “if I remember right, you guys just ran off in the middle of the outbreak. The four of us were stuck in the middle of the campus, fighting off weird animals!”

“Ugh, don’t remind me…” Twy muttered.

“Look, the details don’t matter right now,” Pierce insisted, his gaze turning on Phoenix, Kestrel, and Twy. “Didn’t the three of you go toe-to-toe with a Chaos State Chaotic just a week or two ago? You can totally handle this! And all of our past experience aside, we’re currently living in this city. And it’s under attack! Are you really going to just stand around while that happens?” He paused for a moment as the thundering rumble of another distant explosion filled the air. “…The sooner we help end this, the less damage the city will take, and the sooner things get back to normal. And that means the sooner we get to dinner, Conrad.”

“Aw, man, you’re really trying to drag me into this…” Conrad responded in exasperation.

“Shortsighted as it might seem… Pierce has got a point,” Spike said. “If we’re able to help defend the city, then we should help defend the city. It’s only right.”

“What about the part where Ralak told us to stay put?” Twy questioned.

“Look, as much as we argue, once this idiot here gets an idea into his head, nothing will stop him from going through with it,” Phoenix said. “Damn it, Pierce, you can be so fucking careless. Someone will have to make sure you don’t get yourself killed, and it might as well be me — I still have to win our little competition, after all.”

“Hmph, if getting one up on Pierce is the game, then I’m in,” Austin quickly added as the threw Pierce an annoyed glare. “Besides, if we’re ever gonna beat EA, then we have to be able to handle at least somethin’ like this, right?”

“Heh, that’s the attitude, dweeb,” Pierce replied with a taunting smirk. “Though I guess you might also be looking for an excuse to use those hella stupid-looking new muscles you have, huh?”

“What?! C’mon, they aren’t—“

“I can’t believe how quickly people have figured out how to pull your strings, Austin,” Twy commented with a sigh. “This is still a terrible idea, though…”

“Tch… you ignorant outsiders are gonna learn for yourselves why the Bleeders are such a threat,” Obra countered. “There’s a reason those bastards have been around for so long.”

“They are dangerous… be careful, Pierce, everyone,” Liask warned. “We’ll stay here… you know, help protect the place, if it gets attacked…”

“Yes. Protect the place,” Minilas deadpanned.

“Well I won’t force you to come along, or anything. Do as you like,” Pierce replied, then turned toward the campus gates and crouched down, prepared to launch himself through the air. “But for the rest of us — let’s go kick some Bleeder ass!!”


“Ahahahahaha!!! Chaos Blast! Chaos Blast!! CHAOS BLAST!!!

Three massive domes of reddish energy exploded in quick succession, carving out three 50-meter craters into the streets of Compound Tresnon as Ind blasted her way across the town, cackling maniacally the whole way. In the evening darkness, reinforced by Tresnon’s newfound lack of power, it was nigh impossible for Ind to see exactly where she was, or where she was going — but she didn’t care.

Chaos Explosion!” she shouted, detonating the ground beneath her feet to launch herself forward and through the air, toward the center of Compound Tresnon. Once airborne, she declared into the wind once more: “Chaos BLAST!!” The 50-meter explosion of energy that followed obliterated half the block to her side, sending a cacophony of collapsing stone and distressed screams echoing down the street, compounding with the confused shouting that already filled the air. As Ind caught herself on the ground, she paused to look back at the devastation, lit by flames… and break into a bloodthirsty grin and maniacal giggling.

Her laughter was cut short, however, as a sudden blow to her crotch launched her skyward. A sheet of golden energy flashed over her lower body, giving away the existence of the energy shield that protected her from direct harm — and then the shield flared up again, this time around her head as a hammer flew in from no where and knocked her across the skies over Tresnon. Unable to right herself, she tumbled through the air before slamming into the dusty grounds outside of the Compound walls, where she quickly jumped back to her feet… just in time to see Davídrius land on the ground a mere dozen meters away.

“…Tch.” The Dean scowled as he glared at Ind, and her obviously intact body, despite the two heavy blows she had just taken — as well as the lack of any visible armor on her body. “…Fuckin’ energy shields? Where the hell did you get those?”

“Oooooh? Wouldn’t you like to know~,” Ind replied, her tone filled with airy levity — which clashed heavily with her crouched stance and curled fingers, reminiscent of a feral beast prepared to lash out at its surroundings. “You’re pretty good, though, to catch up to me so fast!”

“Cut the shit…” Davídrius growled, momentarily glancing to the side as Christeané landed just a couple meters away. The Forcetechnic immediately readjusted his grip on the elastic tether in his hands, connected to a weighty hammer on one end, and a body harness on the other.

“So, this is her, huh?” Christeané questioned as he began to rapidly whirl the tethered hammer around in a vertical circle, as if preparing to launch it at any second. “Energy shields, too, huh? That’s sure something.”

“Well if it isn’t one of the Sentry’s old friends!” Ind exclaimed, her grin growing only wider as Rebehka alighted on the ground near Davídrius and Christeané. “And another! Wow! You really know how to roll out the welcome~!”

“Davídrius, Christeané,” Rebehka commented, drawing the two’s attention before tossing each of them a small broach.

“…Huh. Emergency shields, eh? You sure came prepared,” Christeané remarked as he attached the broach to the collar of his shirt and activated the energy shield in a flash of golden light.

“You’re really still bringin’ these with you every time you visit?” Davídrius questioned, though nonetheless attached his own broach to his collar as well. “Treséd ain’t that dangerous. Usually…”

“Well I was clearly right to do so this time, wasn’t I?” Rebehka shot back, at which point she turned her attention toward Ind — only to stumble slightly and grimace. “Ugh…”

“Oh? Looks like someone was enjoyin’ themselves tonight~,” Ind taunted. “I can really smell the alcohol! You sure you wanna try fightin’ while drunk? Though I guess it can be fun~!”

“The fact that you aren’t laid out on the ground, passed out, is surprising on its own,” Christeané remarked as he passed Rebehka an amused smirk. “Just how frequently do you drink if your tolerance is this high?”

“Shut up, I… don’t need this from you,” Rebehka shot back, a hand held up to her head in pain.

“Why the hell are we even talkin’ about this?!” Davídrius exclaimed incredulously. He then gestured toward Ind, his finger outstretched toward her as he demanded, “I don’t know what the hell you’re plannin’, but if you know what’s good for you, then stand down now.”

“Aw, how cute~!” Ind remarked. “You really do think you can take me on!”

“…You can’t be serious. I’m a Velocitechnic, the type of Chaotic best suited for takin’ on Chaostechnics like you.”

“That’s what you think~.”

Davídrius paused uneasily, his head cocked in confusion. “…Have I met you before this week? Somethin’ about you seems familiar…”

“Ehehehehe, who knows~?” Ind cracked a malicious grin as she eyed each of the three Deans. “The fact that you haven’t attacked yet sure says a lot, though~! I can really smell the fear in the air! The uncertainty~! You weren’t expectin’ this kinda thing from us stupid ol’ Bleeders, were ya?! Bet you thought you were safe in your li’l Compound there, didn’t ya?!”

“…Davídrius?” Christeané questioned, glancing toward his friend as if prompting for some kind of declaration.

“I was hopin’ it wouldn’t come to this…” Davídrius muttered. “Ah, damn it. Must’ve gotten softer than I thought…”

“If we can get her farther away from the city… then I can use my Overdrive without crippling the defenses,” Rebehka commented.

“I’d like to see you try!” Ind exclaimed. “But how ‘bout we stop with the words and get to the fun part, huh?!” With little warning, she spread her arms wide, glaring at Davídrius with a maniacal grin as she shouted at the top of her lungs, “Overdrive: CHAOS!!