(Original, Action/Tragedy) Bloody Sword: 3050 A.D. (R for pretty much everything)

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Thread: (Original, Action/Tragedy) Bloody Sword: 3050 A.D. (R for pretty much everything)

  1. #1
    Hogwash ---> iNFeCTED's Avatar
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    Default (Original, Action/Tragedy) Bloody Sword: 3050 A.D. (R for pretty much everything)

    Oh yeah.

    You TPMers knew I'd post this here eventually.

    It's everybody's favorite ultraviolent fistfull of gore and tragedy:

    BLOODY SWORD: 3050 A.D.

    EPISODE I- Life of a Prince

    ************

    The young man laid his head on his desk, sleeping. The teacher, with rule- stick in hand, strode up to his desk and whacked his knuckles with a swift blow from the wooden wake-up call. He held his sleep-heavy head up from his desk, rubbing his rule-stick induced aching hand. The teacher looked down on him, and smiled. "You may be royalty, Mr. Orriss, but in this classroom you're under my dictatorship." With that, the teacher walked back to the front of the class, and continued the day's lesson.

    His name was Prince Trav Oriss II. The apocalyptic judgement day fifty years ago sent mankind back to the medieval ages. Peoples, places, and half the technology were lost in the cataclysmic nuclear war half a century ago, leaving only thin scraps of remaining knowledge of the world before and only a meager fraction of its population. Thirteen years after the dust settled, what used to be Canada was divided, and his half was Kanadiam. His father, King Troid I, took control of Kanadiam, and soon proclaimed himself King.

    The year now is 3050 A.D.

    Trav was sixteen years old and stood five-foot-six. His dull tan accented his light build perfectly, as did his strong jaw match perfectly with his chin. His bright blue eyes and blonde hair went fashionably well with his bleached eyebrows, something which he took care of himself for once. Two locks of his thick blonde hair matted each side of his head on which it was parted, with the right side was gelled up slightly, giving his hair a bit of an uneven slope. Although bearing royal blood, Trav was a usual young lad; optimistic, energetic to boot, and still could not resist thinking of certain females in his school.

    Trav was greeted outside the school, just after the final bell had rung, by his usual ride; a black pinto, which was a very popular car at the time for those who could afford a car. Trav opened the back door and got in. Within seconds, the pinto drove off, with every bit of it's four-horsepower engine. The ride to the castle usually took about an hour, forty-five minutes if the dirt roads had been overturned, packed down and raked recently.

    The castle was not a heap of stone like old 16th century castles. Instead it was made of triple-plated titanium, a near impenetrable sanctuary. Trav entered the castle, and rounded a few winding corridors and staircases, up to his chambers. The usual servant or three greeted him, and sometimes even the army general, Tike Mallar, welcomed him as he passed.

    Finally, Trav reached the gigantic doors that enclosed his chambers. He was greeted with an unusual surprise in his chambers when he opened the titan- sized doors. There beside his gigantic bed, stood a tall servant-girl. She was fluffing up Trav's trashcan sized pillows, all six of them. The door squeaked when Trav pushed it open, a fact the servant-girl noticed as she turned her head.

    Towering well above Trav by at least five inches, Trav found it hard not to notice her in a crowd, easily picking out her dark brown hair. "Prince Trav," she said in a soft, soothing voice, "You're back already?"

    "Yeah," Trav said, hardly even glancing at her as he waked by her towards his wooden desk, where he set down his heavy backpack, full of homework. The servant-girl set down the last pillow, walked towards the doors, and turned to Trav, who was unpacking his heavy load of homework. "I assume you wan to be left alone in your studies, prince?" She asked. Trav nodded, and she quietly left the room. Trav opened his gigantic textbook, pulled out and opened his binder. Trav dipped his pigeon feather quill in the covered inkpot on his desk, and began his homework.

    *****

    Trav was in his third hour of studying, reading over modern combat techniques. Ever since that horrific war, what remained of mankind fought bitterly. Even with the war's cause lost in time, there were still uneasy goings and rivalries between countries, some of which had joined together, others had split apart. Most countries were at fierce war with each other, fighting over who should get what land, who should control who, and other petty quarrels. Even though the nuclear war had wiped out most 30th century technology, there were still a few remnants of advanced weaponry, namely the Exoskeletal Armor, or EXO's as they were commonly called.

    The EXO's were a heap of Steetanium, a Steel-Titanium alloy, which were implanted in a soldier's body. Merely by pressing a heat-sensitive panel on their key weapon, a soldier could activate his or her Implant, and their body would be covered in a mass of steetanium in the form of an incredubly durable body armor.

    The first generation of EXOs were the ones used in the Nuclear War. They wore dull-colored steetanium and had a metal facemask. Although this provided much protection, its tiny eye slot left it limited for visibility. The second and current generation had shinier looking steetanium. Instead of a hot, sweaty facemask, this generation used a samurai-like helmet, with a black visor over the eyes. Also, unlike the first Generation, this type could fire anything from proton beams to fireballs from a mechanism on the front of their helmets, just above their visor, varying from EXO to EXO.

    Trav sighed, and stared out his window. Every day after school it was the same routine. Get picked up by the same ride, get driven back to the castle. He thought about the good times his friends would be having now. He, being royalty, wasn't allowed outside palace walls in fear of assassination. His friends would be doing the usual, Trav thought. They would be wandering around the city, getting drunk and drugged, picking up the usual whores along the way. Royalty. It was a pampered, yet damning life.

    *******************

    Outskirts of Kanadiam, 100 miles from Ranadiam borders.

    The soldiers had been walking for a few hours now. Strapped in hot, sweaty EXO's, painted black that attracted all the sunlight to them, they all knew this march was no pleasure cruise. But, if what Ryle had told them was right, by this time tomorrow it would all be worth it...
    Last edited by iNFeCTED; 28th June 2005 at 02:56 PM.

  2. #2
    Goronda Type Vice-Webmaster Evil Figment's Avatar Vice-Webmaster
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    Haven'T read yet, just wanted to blame you for forgetting the most important choice .

    Frankly Mewfour, have you no shame?
    Quote Originally Posted by Mintaka and Hurristat
    He's an evil director / He'll give out infractions / Do something wrong / And he takes direct actions
    Then what'll he do?/ He'll permaban you / You find your name slashed / With a message, 'Adieu'
    Sooooo...watch out!
    "It is said that the federal government, if it was in charge of the Sahara, would run out of sand in five years. Private enterprise, being more efficient, would do it in half the time - and they'd make money off the bridges." - me.
    "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." - Jack Layton's last letter. Rest in peace, Jack.

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    Woo, I wanted to read this on TPM, but since there's quite a few chapters up already I figured I'd never catch up. Plus, I wouldn't be able to respond until I'd caught up.

    Anyway, yeah, woo, yay! This looks like fun! Glad I'm getting to read it.

    Oh, and can gorillas purr like cats?

  4. #4
    Hogwash ---> iNFeCTED's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Damian Silverblade
    Haven'T read yet, just wanted to blame you for forgetting the most important choice .

    Frankly Mewfour, have you no shame?
    So..... you clicked just to say Death to Mewfour?

    Ladies and gentlemen, BBP. Oh the wars we had back in the day. I was all like "OMGWFT u guys SUXXORZ!11" and then he was all like "STFU st00pid n00b" then I was all like "k ur teh meeenie" and he was all like "k ur banned OMG"

    C'mon, Damian. Cheapshot me again.

    *pumps shotgun*

    I dares ya.

    Episode II- Siege of Kanadiam

    The last few drops of the red-hot coffee splashed into the carafe. A hand took the carafe by the handle, and poured what was left of it into a mug. The other hand took the mug up to it's owner's lips. "Same old, same old, eh?" the man asked the other, putting down his mug on the table.

    "Nuthin' at all new," replied the other. When the first man peered over the rail of the guard tower they stood aloft in, he spied a tiny flick of light out of the corner of his eye. After grabbing a pair of binoculars from a nearby table, the guard peered through them, only to see a blinding flash of light.

    The beam of energy hit the guard straight through his binoculars, taking his head clear off his shoulders in a few bloody seconds. "Oh sweet Jesus!" the second guard exclaimed upon seeing the decapitated body of his friend collapse with his head rolling across the floor, leaving a wide trail of blood behind it. The guard frantically fumbled with a large rifle on the table, loaded it, and aimed it out of the tower. Before he could even pull the trigger, a small spear-like object came hurdling at his face, skewering him in the center of his forehead. The spear, poking out of the back of his head as well as in front, drew gushes of hot blood from the guard, leaving him to fall down over the railing of the tower, landing on his neck when he hit the ground with a sickening snap. The soldiers pn the ground in their black EXOs trudged by the guard on their march, paying his writhing body no notice.

    Suddenly, the lead soldier stopped in his tracks and raised his hand. Instantly, the other soldiers halted as well. Beneath the shiny black EXO of the lead soldier, there lay a man with a deep harsh with a cross-like scaron his left cheek. "The binoculars," the soldier said, holding out his hand to the person behind him.

    After fumbling with the backpack he carried, the soldier gave the lead soldier what he ordered for. He too sported a criss-cross scar on his left cheek. "There you are, Lord Ryle," the soldier said after giving his binoculars to their leader. If one looked closely at the group, he would find that every soldier in the group sported the same crossed scar on their left cheeks.

    Ryle raised the lenses to his eyes behind his black visor. "Good," Ryle muttered to himself, "They're unaware," he said in his harsh voice. Raising his hand once again, Ryle and his troops continued their march.

    ************

    Trav was now in his third hour of studying. Every once in awhile, Trav would zone in and out of his work, and be subjected to listless daydreams. His most frequent daydream was that someday, no matter how slow or sudden, something completely out of the ordinary would happen, ridding him of the confines of the castle.

    Suddenly, Trav heard a loud, ear-shattering boom outside his window. He hopped off his chair and peered out of the window when a small flash of silver and wood flew by his face. The arrow had just missed his nose by a few centimeters, and was stuck on the wall behind him.

    The door to his room burst open and in scrambled the servant girl he had seen before. She hastily slammed the doors behind her, rested her head on the doors and breathed heavily. "Hey you, what's going on here?" Trav asked the girl.

    The girl shrieked and spun around to Trav. "Oh- oh- oh it's you, your highness," The girl breathed a sigh of relief. Another blast from outside shook the floor, causing the girl to shreik again.

    "What's happening down there?" Trav demanded to know.

    "Th-th-h-h-t-" the girl stammered, her tongue tripping over her words.

    "What is it?" Trav walked towards the girl, looking her in the eyes.

    "The castle...it's under attack!" she finally blurted out.

    Trav's eyes instantly darted towards his sheathed sword which hung upon the wall above his desk. It was his battle sword, the same sword that would activate his EXO, the one he had never used. "What are you doing here?" Trav asked the girl.

    "I-I- the King ordered me to see- see if you were safe," The girl breathed, trying to regain her breath.

    Another boom, this time from the inside, led Trav to think, "I won't be so safe for much longer." Trav again looked at his sword. The wide-bladed silver sword, the one he was given when he was able to fight.

    The time was now. Trav reached for his sword.

    Sliding it out of its sheath, Trav held his blade in his hand. He had never used his EXO before, nor did he have to. Trav bit his lip, wished for his best health, and pressed the heat panel on his sword.

    With a sharp cry, Trav's right shoulder suddenly exploded in pain as he felt the EXO implant begin to expand and come alive as felt the warm liquid steetanium leak out of his shoulder and cover his body. The pain was near unbearable, sending Trav collapsing to his knees. Trav squeezed his eyes shut and gritted his teeth, waiting for the agony to pass.

    When the pain subsided, Trav opened his eyes. His vision was now considerably darker, and then he realized he was seeing through his EXO's visor. Trav slid his visor up and looked at his newly-armored hands. They were considerably more bulky with all that armor on them. The armor shone a shiny white, with sparking red jewel-like formations on his stomach, kneecaps and elbows. Trav got back to his feet, and started looking at his new armored body. Attached to his large shoulder armor stood a large, similar jewel on either side, each anchoring down the neck of a long, flowing red cape. Trav was ready for war.

    The servant girl still stood frozen stiff against the door, even when they were sharply pushed open by a large figure. "Lord Trav!" The dull-steel EXO'd figure exclaimed, rushing over to Trav.

    "It's alright, Tike. I'm fine," Trav said, pulling his visor over his eyes again. "What's happening down there?" Trav asked the general.

    "Not too good," Tike shook his head, manually opening his old EXO's face mask with his hand. "They- whoever they are, caught us completely off guard," Tike breathed. "They've already managed to push our defensive lines back into the castle."

    "What about my dad?" Trav grabbed Tike by the shoulders, "Is he okay?"

    "Yeah, he's fine," Tike said with a sigh of relief, retracting the large fore-arm mounted switchblades on his EXO back to the rest position. "He's locked himself into the courtroom for safety," Tike explained.

    Trav moved towards the door. "I'm going down there," Trav said boldly.

    Within an instant, Tike had Trav held from behind. "I'm sorry Trav, but I was ordered by King Troid not to let you fight," Tike said, holding Trav's arms.

    "But- but- but-!" Trav stammered, "but I've got to help them!" Trav pleaded with Tike to let him go.

    Tike only held Trav tighter and said "The King ordered you to stay out of trouble," Tike said firmly.

    "Alright then," Trav said, "as your prince, I order you to let me fight," Trav said.

    Tike shook his head. "Your father has more authority over you, your highness," Tike said regretfully.

    "Ouch! Loosen up a bit, Tike! You're hurting my arm!" Trav groaned.

    "Many apologies, Prince Tra-" Tike began to loosen his grip on Trav, when Trav writhed himself free of Tike's grip and dashed off down the hallway. "Prince Trav!" Tike called after him, receiving no answer. Tike turned to the servant girl. "You stay here," Tike ordered. The girl nodded as Tike dashed off after Trav.

    ****

    Episode III- Battle Royal

    Tike rushed down the winding corridors of the castle. He still could not believe that Trav had tricked him into letting him go. Tike froze in his tracks when he saw what remained of an enemy soldier in the hall, slumped up against a wall with a large ugly gash in his neck gushing hot blood all over the corridor. Tike knelt down to the corpse and examined the wound. "It's a sword wound," Tike muttered to himself, "Trav must have been here."

    After decapitating and dismembering all the invading soldiers he came across, Trav finally found himself in front of the large courtroom doors. To his surprise the doors were unlocked, creaking as Trav pushed them open. Trav entered the room and gasped when he saw what was inside. Troid lay propped up against a wall, blood gushing from a nasty wound oh his chest dribbling down his shiny white EXO. "Dad!" Trav exclaimed, rushing to his father's side, "Dad, are you okay?" Trav asked worreidly. Troid tried to speak to his son but could not muster the energy needed to do so. Trav hastily ripped off the corner of his cape and plugged it into Troid's wound. "Don't speak then, Dad," Trav said, trying to calm his father, "it won't help your wound with you tensed up like this," Trav siad, racking his brain trying to remember his training in medical classes. Yet again Troid tried to speak, but Trav put a finger to his mouth and hushed him. It wasn't until Troid pointed over Trav's shoulder that Trav realized what his father had been trying to tell him.

    Trav barely had time to turn around and swing his sword in front of him to block another sword aimed for the middle of his head. A black EXO'd figure, almost a foot taller than Trav, struck his sword upon Trav's again as Trav found time to jump back to his feet and counter the strike once again. Again the soldier struck, his sword flowing through the air as swiftly as his waist-length blonde hair. Trav soon found himself in a defensive position very quickly as the enemy continued his relentless assault with lightning quickness. Their steel blades flashed and clashed against each other many times before the soldier took a powerful, wild swipe at Trav. Trav madaged to dodge the assailant's sword, letting the blade shwoosh by him and embedding it into a nearby coloumn. The soldier doggedly tried to wrench his sword free while Trav stepped back to catch his breath.

    "Who are you?" Trav demaned the soildier tell him. The soldier looked up at him and let go of his sword. Placing his hands on either side of his head, the soldier removed his helmet. Trav could have died when he saw who his attacker was. "R-R-Ryle?" Trav gasped.

    The soldier's face was an expressionless sight. "You do remember your cousin after all, Trav," Ryle said, his face still holding a passionless look.

    "Your face!" Trav gasped when he saw Ryle's cross-like scar on his left cheek.

    "This?" Ryle asked calmly, his eyes moving to the criss-cross scar on his cheek, "All Ranadiam soldiers cut this scar on their faces," Ryle replied placidly, "It's a sign of their bravery and self-sacrifice," Ryle said without any emotion.

    "Why?" Trav asked his cousin, "Why are you doing this?"

    Ryle only said, "Last month my father, King of Ranadiam, named me his Cheif General while he left on an overseas expedition party," Ryle explained coolly. "In order to raise sufficient supplies without his presence, we needed more land."

    "You know that Ranadaim borders Kanadiam, Ryle. We would have been glad to help you," Trav snarled.

    "Yeah, right." Ryle snorted. "The northwest coast of this continent, Kanadiam, has the best crops and weather since that nuclear war, you know that," Ryle said. "All we were left with was a wastelad of nothing. That is, until, unlike your father, we wasted no time in rebuilding. Besides, we've got an Empire on the go in Ranadiam."

    "A what?" Trav could not beleive his ears.

    "An Empire," Ryle repeated himself without emotion, "And I won't hesitate to crush or kill anyone who gets in my way Trav. And that included my uncle," Ryle said, looking at Troid with his cold blue eyes. It was only then that Trav noticed that Ryle had blonde eyebrows just like himself.

    Just then, Tike burst into the room. "Trav! You-" Tike began until he saw King Troid lying againsthte wall. "My Lord!" Tike gasped, rushing towards Troid's side. Tike then looked up at Ryle. "Ryle? You-you did this?" Tike snarled. Ryle nodded, maintaining his expressionless look.

    "Come on, Tike," Trav said, "Ryle may be tough one on one, but together we can take him," Trav snarled. Tike nodded and rubbed the scar over his left eye, adjacent to the scar over what remained of his left ear.

    Before Tike could flip up his large switchblades again and attack Ryle, the back doors of the courtroom burst open, and in poured a horde of Ranadiam soldiers, each brandishing their own meanacing weapon. Trav looked a the sea of enemies that stood in front of him. "Two-to-twenty, Tike," Trav breathed, "Bad odds."

    Trav gripped his sword and prepared to strike when Tike grabbed him by the arm. "It's time to go, your highness!" Tike siad as he ran off to the front doors, taking Trav along with him. Trav was about to protest Tike's actions as they raced down the halls to the castle exit, stepping over the mutilated and bleeding bodies of fallen soldiers, when he saw the same servant girl, struggling to hold onto a small hatchet with a larger Ranadiam soldier. The soldier was chuckling cruelly as the girl tried to wrench and tug the axe from his large hand. Tike flipped up his switchblades and dug it into the soldier's side as they ran past, spilling blood and intestines all over the floor. Instinctively, Trav reached out to the girl and grabbed her by the hand saying, "Follow us!"

    The three did not stop running until they were well out into the countryside, far from harm's reach. Tike leaned back to a nearby tree and breathed heavily, trying to regain his breath. The girl and Trav both collapsed to the ground, winded. Tike then took a deep breath, and deactivated his EXO. Trav did the same as he lay down on his back. "Are you, okay?" Trav asked between steady breaths, getting up and trudging over towards the girl.

    "Get lost," she sneered.

    Trav could not believe he heard this from the servant who was incredibly pleasant to him before. "Are you, " Trav began, "the same servant-girl from-"

    "Yeah, I am," she grumbled. "Now that Kanadaim has been overthrown," the girl said, standing up, "I don't have to take orders from you anyomre," she said.

    "I never gave you any-"

    "Well you could have at least given me some respect, your highness," she glared at him. "Honestly, I clean up your damned room every day. Every time you leave something lying about in the same place, and I have to pick it up every day, and what do I get?" she snarled.

    "Alright alright alright." Trav groaned. Tike sighed and rolled his eyes.

    "I have a name too, you know." She growled. "You know how degrading it is to be called servant-girl all day every day? 'Servant-girl do this, servant-girl do that, come here servant-girl...'" she rambled on, venting long pent-up anger.

    "You never told me your name though," Trav blurted out.

    "You never bothered to ask, did you?" she shot back.

    Now Tike was in between them seperating them. "Stop fighting, both of you," Tike said sternly. The girl turned around and crossed her arms, pouting.

    "Alright then, what's your name?" Trav asked as nicely as he could.

    "Rixie."

    [EDIT: And yes they can, Misty. Yes they can.]
    Last edited by iNFeCTED; 19th April 2005 at 10:06 PM.

  5. #5
    Hogwash ---> iNFeCTED's Avatar
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    Name change!

    More BS!

    EPISODE IV- New Twist

    "Sucessful or not?"

    "Sucessful."

    "And Troid? Did he see things my way?"

    "No, he didn't."

    "Then I trust you took care of him?"

    Ryle held up his bloodied blade to the miniature, staticy holographic image of his father, projected in front of him by a writswatch-like apparatus, the only distiguishing feature of his cloaked and heavily shaded face was the cross-like scar on his left cheek, characteristic of those in the Ranadiam army. "No survivors," Ryle muttered, resheathing his sword into its cover on his waist, pressing a panel on it's hilt. Instantly, the mass of black Steetanium withdrew from Ryle's body, dissapearing through Ryle's shirt. "There's my boy," the father smiled, "you never got the luxuries that my foolish brother threw at his children- no- you had to earn them. Now you're a true warrior- a worthy General-"

    Just then, a knock came from the chamber doors which Ryle stood. "What is it?" Ryle barked.

    The doors slowy squeaked open ajar, and in squeezed a black-clad soldier. "Sir, Gills wishes to see you," the soldier said placidly. "It can wait," Ryle said in a low tone, "This conversation is a private one."

    "But Sir-" the soldier stammered, "Gills says he must see you immediately- urgently-"

    "It can wait!" Ryle roared at the soldier, silencing him instantly.

    "No, hang on," the hologram of Ryle's father cut in, "Let him in. Let's see what's so important."

    "Right away, Master Oriss," The soldier quickly responded, slipping back through the door.

    In an instant, a squirrly little bald fellow made his way through the doors and stood in front of Ryle. "This had better be worth my time, Gills." Ryle growled at the man.

    "Sir, we searched the bodies as you asked," Gills weakly spoke with his voice trembling.

    "Yes? And?" Ryle asked, prompting a response from Gills.

    "We- we seem to have... missed- missed a few-"

    "-A few what?"

    "We did search the bodies like you asked, and- well, there are three other bodies that we- we couldn't find-"

    As soon as Gills said this, Ryle stepped even closer to him, stopping until his toes were touching Gills'. "What? Which ones?" Ryle asked, keeping that ever-constant grave tone in his voice. "Th-the General Mallar- some servant- and th-" Gills cut his words short.

    "And the, what?" Ryle asked, towering over the shaky figure of Gills.

    Gills trembled some more before he weakly uttered, "The Prince..."

    For a moment, a savage gleam in Ryle's eyes seemed to burn holes into Gills. Gills panicked and inched backwards away from Ryle. Ryle muttered to himself, stroking his chin. Ryle then looked at Gills, noticing his panic. "You needn't fear, Gills. I won't kill you," Ryle said placidly.

    "Oh, thanks to you sir!" Gills wept with joy, scurrying out of the room as quickly as his feet could carry him.

    "And dispatch unit seventeen-three to find the prince too, Gills," Ryle called after him.

    ****

    "Why does that guy suck up to Ryle so much?" One soldier asked another beside him after seeing Gills run like a mad fool out of the wing of the Kanadiam castle.

    "Tuh. Beats me," The other grumbled. "I heard that Ryle saved that guy's life once."

    "Really? Why?"

    "How should I know? But I think that-I heard somewhere- that that Gills guy, he was a hemit living in the forest at one time. Just the same time that Ryle, when he was, God- maybe seventeen or so- went in there too, honing his swords skills."

    "Yeah, so?"

    "So Gills, he's attacked by a hungry bear. Ryle happens to be in the same area too. Of course, Ryle thinks that the bear is after him, so he kills it. Slit it's fat throat ear from ear."

    "So?"

    "So Gills- he's so overjoyed that Ryle saved his life, unintentionally, that he pledges to be his life-long servant. Weird, huh?"

    "Dude, if getting a suck-up servant was that easy, I'd have saved me a few broads before, huh? Real 'suck-ups'? Get it?"

    "Sick, man. Really sick."

    **********

    Trav pulled on his vest. Oddly enough, the spot on the back of his vest was in perfect condition, even though he had sworn he had felt it tear when he had activated his EXO. Even his shoulder, where he felt his flesh cutting away when he had used his EXO, felt to be in perfect repair. Trav's eyes then darted to Rixie. She was still carrying that small axe she had from Kanadiam. "Where are we going again, Tike?" Rixie groaned as the three traversed an empty sandy plain, bearing sparce trees littered here and there.

    "To Western Namerik. King What's-his-name there was a freind of the King's. We may be able to seek asylum there." Tike replied.

    "Asylum!?" Rixie gasped.

    "No no no, he means 'shelter', 'sanctuary,'" Trav explained to Rixie.

    "Who asked you?" Rixie growled at Trav.

    Tike stopped abruptly, halting Trav and Rixie. "You speak nicely to the Prince, now girl, otherwise you'll find yourself regretting it later- cold and alone in the Namerikian dungeon," Tike said calmly without turning around to look at Rixie. Rixie was about to shoot back at Tike when she saw Tike's large switchblades, folded back to their rest position on the mounts on his arms. Rixie decided it probably was not a good idea to anger or argue with Tike. Tike was probably a good six inches taller than she, and probably one hundred pounds heavier too. The three continued their march after a quick silince.

    Then, something caught Trav's eyes. It was a long, ugly scar running down Rixie's left shoulder, showing through her noodle-strap tank-top. "Hey Rixie, where'd you get that scar?" Trav asked innocently.

    Rixie froze. "I um," Rixie stammered, her eyes darting to and fro. "You- um- y'know those fancy dinner parties the King used to hold?"

    "Yeah?" Trav ventured.

    "Well, I was assigned to clean up after one. While I was- um- cleaning the floor, I bumped into a- er- table leg, and- errm- a dinner knife fell off the table and..." Rixie stopped there.

    "Oh," Trav whispered in a pitful tone.

    Suddenly, Tike stopped and his hand flew up, halting Trav and Rixie again. "Shhhh. You hear that?" Tike whispered quietly.

    "Hear what?" Trav whispered back, his ears trying to pick up whatever Tike had heard. Rixie turned her head and looked around. They stood between two trees, maybe seven meters apart from eachother. A quiet rustling in the leaves from one tree made all three freeze. It was no ordinary rustle- there was no wind.

    With a flash of metal blades, Tike's switchblades flipped onto his hands. With a small flick of his fingers on his wrist, Tike's body was slowly engulfed in his dullish gray EXO. Trav followed Tike's suit and drew his sword. Pressing the panel on the hilt, Trav once again found himself brought to his knees with his shoulder again screaming in agony as the Steetanium embedded in his shoulder quickly spread itself across his body. "You get used to it, eventually," Tike whispered to Trav, not taking his eyes off the tree.

    Trav, his EXO now fully operational, stood up beside Tike. "Rixie, stay behind us," Trav said, looking over his shoulder to Rixie. Rixie nooded and slipped behind him.

    A sudden whirr of machinery from behind them spun Tike, Trav and Rixie around, just in time for a speeding projectile coming from the other tree hit Tike in the gut. Tike was sent reeling backwards, sending his helmet flying off his head, and crashing into the first tree. The small black orb lying on his stomach let out a puff of white smoke and then it was still. Instantly, a mass of steel cables spat out from the ball, wrapping themselves around Tike, pinning his firmly to the tree. "Rixie, run! Get out of here!" Trav shouted at Rixie. Rixie hesitated, and began to slowly walk backwards. As soon as Trav turned his head towards the tree again, another strange orb shot towards him from the foliage of the tree. The orb knocked him squrely in the chest, bowling him over onto his back. And with another puff of white smoke from the orb, it quicky wove its steel cables around Trav, quickly anchoring him in web-like net to the ground. Trav struggled all he could to break free of his prision, but the cables pinned him firmly to the ground.

    Just then, a quiet yet harsh voice from inside the branches of the tree said "No wait, there's a chick down there!" Instantly, two black-clad figures dropped down from the tree, one holding a large tube-like weapon over his shoulder.

    "Let's nail her down anyway," The one holding the weapon said as he aimed the barrel at Rixie, using his shoulder as a rest.

    "Come on," said the second, pushing the barrel to the ground, "We won't get another chance like this, man," he said, taking the weapon from the soldier and tossing it to the ground with a havy thunk. The soldier then took off his helmet, revealing that familliar long criss-cross scar on his left cheek, and short blonde hair. "Hey baby, what's your name?" the soldier asked Rixie, a mean grin playing on his face. Rixie shakily stepped backwards, away from the advancing soldier.

    "Don't do this, man," the other said, taking off his helmet. He too sported that same scar on his left cheek, also revealing his wild, uncombed dark brown hair.

    "Rixie!" Tike yelled from his imprisionment, "Run!"

    Rixie took off immediatley, but before she could even finish two strides, the blonde-haired soldier caught up to her and held her by her wrists. "C'mon, don't run away. We're going top have some fun together first," the soldier cruelly snickered.

    "I have a bad feeling, man," The other soldier groaned.

    "Aw, shut the fuck up," The blonde moaned. "When was the last time Ryle ever gave us a break, huh? And a paycheque? This is our reward for putting up with Ryle's shit. And doing Master Oriss' dirty work for him for that too," The blonde snarled.

    "Okay man, whatever," the other soldier wearily replied, gingerly walking over to Rixie.

    "You take her," the blonde said, letting go of Rixie for just as long as it took for the other soldier to restrain her again.

    "Let me go!" Rixie protested. Her answer was a sharp swat to the cheek by the blonde.

    Soon, the blonde's hand found itself feeling over Rixie's cheek. Struggle as she might, Rixie still could not muster the strength needed to break free of her captors. And within moments, the blonde's hands were clutching Rixie by her chest. "My God, they are real!" the Blonde chuckled sinisterly.

    "You leave her alone!" Trav roared, struggling more furiously and violently than before.

    The blonde gave a disgutsed sigh and calmly walked over to Trav. And with a swift movement, he buried the toe of his armored foot into Trav's ribs. Trav yelped in pain, holding his side and writhing. "You shut up as well, oh high and mighty Prince." the blonde snapped at Trav sarcastically. Trav instantly grabbed his sword and doggedly rubbed the blade against the cables which held him. "And those are re-inforced tempered steel cables, Prince," The solder said, "You're wasting your energy." he said, kneeling down to Trav to mock him some more.

    "It's now or never," Rixie muttered to herself.

    "What?" her holder asked her. And with that, Rixie's thumb found itself onto the axe she held and pressed a small panel on it's handle.

    Within instants, Rixie's body found itself being wrapped up in a red-colored Steetanium. Soon, she was in a full-blown EXO. Helmet, visor, long-range attack weapon and all. The brown-haired soldier relaxed his grip on Rixie in surprise, letting her wrench free of his hands and bury her axe deep into his face. The soldier fell face down onto the ground motionless. "What the-?" The other soldier stammered, leaping to his feet and turning his head. The blonde soon saw a blazing red fireball headed straight for his face. With no time to react, the soldier soon felt his flesh melting off his bones as the blazing inferal ball slammed into him. He too fell to the ground, nothing than a burnt skull and an EXO.

    Both Trav and Tike let their jaws drop in astonishment. Rixie calmly walked over to Trav and knelt beside him. "Hold still." She told him, letting her EXO's helmet module release a thin stream of flames that melted through cables which held Trav captive. As soon as Trav was free and on his feet, Rixie moved over to Tike, and knelt down behind the tree to which he was pinned. With another burts of fire from Rixie's helmet, Tike was soon freed of his entrapment. "Rixie-" Trav stammered, "How-?" was the only thing he could manage to say as he watched Rixie's EXO de-activate and slide under her shoulder again.

    Suddenly, Tike was back on his feet and he grabbed Rixie by her wrists pinning her against the tree. "I recognize that axe!" Tike growled, "It was one of the axes stolen from the armory chamber last month!" Tike snatched the axe from Rixie and examined it. "It is! and it's also belongs to an Implant that was stolen last month as well!" Tike held his blade up to Rixie's throat. "You have some talking to do, girl. Royal theft is a crime punishable by death!"

    "Okay! Okay!" Rixie squealed. "Some servants, myself included, we were planning an uprising," Rixie said cautiosly. "So we raided the weapons chamber for EXO's and their units," she squeaked.

    "And that scar?" Trav said, "You didn't get that from an accident, did you?"

    "And how did yuo get that Implant in you, anyway? Those things are directly attached to your spine. Who did it for you?" Tike asked, still holding his blade to Rixie's neck.

    "You- you know that surgeon that removed the King's cancerous growth on his appendix?" Rixie asked.

    "Yeah," Trav said, "He was fired and sent to servantry because he left an ugly scar on dad's stomach," Trav said, recalling later years of his life.

    "He was the one." Rixie said. "He fitted us all, every servant, with an EXO. We were going to revolt. Looks like that other guy-"

    "-Ryle, my cousin," Trav said gravely and grimacing,

    "-Whatever," Rixie said, "-he beat us to it."

    "Not good enough," Tike said, pressing his blade to Rixie's neck. Rixiew closed her eyes tightly and whimpered.

    Just as Tive was about to punish Rixie for her crime, Trav said "Tike, stop," Tike turned his head to Trav, Rixie lookeds at Trav as well. "A life for a life, huh?" Trav suggested. Tike looked like he was about to argue, but then he gave a short silent sigh and released Rixie and folded away his switchblades, de-acticvating his EXO.

    "But how did they find us out here?" Tike asked himself.

    "Oh, I dunno," Rixie sarcasitcally hummed to herself, "I'm not the one wearing a vest with the full-blown Kanadiam Coat of Arms on the back.." she trailed off, looking sideways at Trav.

    Instantly, Trav's hands flew to his vest and they tore it off. Sure enough, Rixie was right. "Son of a- that would explain it," Trav muttered under his breath. Rixie walked over to her former captor and removed the blood drenched axe from his face. Trav walked over to the corpse as well and tossed his vest over the corpse's face, covering the gash which gushed blood out in torrents, leaving a spreading pool of blood beneath him in the sand. Trav fidgeted with the sky-blue sleeveless shirt which was beneath the tell-tale vest. "Tike, you said we were headed to West Namerik?" Trav called out to Tike.

    "Yeah? Why?" Tike answered with another question.

    "Then let's go."

  6. #6
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    I'm likin the story, it's pretty cool. Nice amount of gore in it. Rixie's pretty cool too.

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    Thought you'd say that. Rixie was quite the Mary Sue back then. I've shaped her up into a much more believeable character since then, I swear.

    EPISODE V- Enter Sanctuary

    Trav looked over his shoulder again. Rixie was still behind him, still carrying that small axe over her shoulder. Trav wanted to say something, but he could find no words to speak. "Lord Trav," Tike spoke suddenly halting in his tracks, "we're here."

    Trav and Rixie stopped too. "You mean this is West Namerik?" Rixie asked.

    Tike nodded. "This is it." Trav looked at the border gates of the neighboring country. "Yeah, they still have that huge wall running around it," Tike grumbled.

    "Hey Tike, over there," Trav said, pointing out a small gateway leading inside the wall as he calmly walked towards the gate, totally oblivious to the EXO'd guards stationed at the post.

    Suddenly, Tike grabbed both Trav and Rixie by the collar of their shirts and pulled both of them behind a large boulder. "Not so fast, your Highness," Tike breathed, "look at their faces."

    Rixie and Trav both peered over the boulder from which they hid behind. Sure enough, underneath those shaded visors, both soldiers sported that same criss-cross scar on their left cheeks. "Ranadiam soldiers-?" Trav gasped, "how the hell did they get here?"

    "No idea," Tike replied, "and I thought West Namerik had nothing to do with Ranadiam."

    There was a brief moment of silence before Tike spoke again. "We can't run anywhere else- Kanadiam's gone and East Namerik is just hostile to everyone..." he trailed off.

    "Well, why don't we just pass ourselves off as just, people?" Rixie suggested. Her answer from Tike was just a stare. "Oh fuck, never mind," Rixie growled, "let's hear your idea then." There was another long silence.

    "Wait, I know!" Trav chimed up. "Rixie, hit me."

    "What?"

    "Hit me."

    "Trav-?"

    "Hit me already!"

    Rixie smiled a mean grin and cracked one fist's worth of knuckles in her palm. Trav could tell she had wanted to do this for quite a long time. Rixie wound her arm back and then let Trav's chin meet her fist at quickly and rudely as possible. "Lord Trav!" Tike gasped.

    "No no, it's okay Tike," Trav mumbled, rubbing his chin. There was no more than just a small bruise from Rixie's punch. "Hit me again."

    "Whatever, Your Highness!" Rixie smirked as she punched Trav on the chin once more. Trav was hardly shaken this time.

    "You call that a hit?" Trav grumbled, rubbing his new bruise along with his old. Rixie's face scrunched up into a snarl, and wildly swung another punch at Trav, this time catching his right eye. "Oww, fuck!! Trav grimaced, covering up his eye, "Okay okay, that's enough!"

    "Damn," Rixie grumbled.

    "Just what are you doing, Lord Trav?" Tike asked.

    "Just watch me," Trav smiled, taking off his sword holster sash and carrying it by the strap in his hand. Putting on an odd fake limp, Trav ambled out from behind the boulder and approached the guards.

    "Stop there!" one of the guards exclaimed, "Who are you?"

    "Ouch," Trav moaned, "I... I can't remember..."

    "What?"

    "I... I really can't say..."

    "Why not?" asked the second.

    "I was... I was traveling..." Trav began, keeping a voice that seemed plagued with pain ever constant.

    "I knew that the Prince's dramatic theater classes would have paid off," Tike smirked to himself quietly, "it seems as though those guards are buying it. I see what he's doing."

    "Crazy bastard," Rixie muttered.

    "And so, you say that this branch fell from that tree, hit you on your head, and you lost your recent memory?" the guard asked Trav. Trav weakly nodded.

    "When I woke up, I found my leg trapped under that same log," Trav groaned, "I guess that's why it hurts to walk on it."

    "And your family is in Namerik?"

    "Yes. I need to see them."

    "Come on then. We'll see your injuries tended to then. Come with me.

    The soldier took Trav gently by the arm and led him inside the walls of the country. "You keep watch 'till I get back. Okay?" the soldier asked the other guard. The guard nodded in response.

    But before Trav and the guard disappeared behind the wall, Tike saw Trav flash him some signal with his two fingers on his left hand. "The center?" Tike muttered.

    "What? What center?" Rixie asked.

    "That signal, I taught that to Lord Trav. It's a military signal meaning 'we'll attack the center'."

    "So?"

    "So", Trav must want us to do something like he did, and meet him at Namerik's capital city's center- the Royal Courtyard."


    ***************

    "Okay, so we're at the Royal Courtyard," the soldier said to Trav, "Where did you say your residence was?"

    "Umm, yeah," Trav fumbled for words, "I think it's, err, thataway."

    "That way?" the guard asked, "that's where the junkyard is. You live in a junkyard?"

    "No, of course not," Trav quickly covered his lies up, "Umm, maybe it was-"

    "Hey, what are you doing here?" a voice called out to the duo of Trav and the guard form behind them. It belonged to another guard, who escorted both Rixie and Tike in either arm.

    "This guy got hit on the head and can't remember who he is. He wants to get back to his family somewhere in here," the guard replied.

    "Hey, that's funny, these two have the same-"

    Suddenly, Tike, put his hand on his soldier's shoulder. "Yeah, we're relatives. We, err, got separated. I'm his father," Tike quickly blurted out.

    "Oh, I get it," the soldier murmured.

    "Yeah, we live in some apartment. Right down there" Tike said, pointing into some westward direction. "Well, I should thank you for your assistance," Tike said to both soldiers.

    "Bah, it was nothing." The guards replied in unison.

    "No, come now. I insist," Tike said.

    "Sure. What the hell," one guard whispered to the other.

    As the party of five walked down the narrow streets of a residential block, Trav got as close as he could to Tike and whispered "Tike! What the hell are you doing?"

    "Relax, Your Highness," Tike replied in a whisper.

    Suddenly, Tike stopped the party. "Our apartment is right down there," he said pointing down a dark back alley.

    "Down there?" one soldier asked in disbelief.

    "Yeah, it's the only way to our section," Tike replied, bidding both guards to venture ahead of them. As Trav and Rixie were about to follow, Tike halted both of them. "Wait here," Tike breathed quietly to them.

    "Hey, there's nothing here but a dead end!" One soldier said aloud. Unbeknownst to the soldiers, Tike had flipped up both his switchblades, and was slowly advancing on them. "What the hell are you trying to pull-?"

    The soldier never got to finish his words. Tike suddenly stepped between both of them and shot both arms out sideways from him, letting both of his large switchblades skewer themselves into one guard's skull respectively. A large stream of red flew from the back of each guard's head and spattered the adjacent walls.

    "Tike! Why'd you do that?" Trav gasped.

    "Rule one of guerilla warfare, Your Highness, 'Never let anyone who knows you form the other side live. Ever.'" Tike replied sternly as he let the guard's limp bodies slide off his switchblades. "Come now, we have a meeting with the King to arrange," Tike said, brushing past Rixie and Trav. Trav bit his lip, looked at the guard's corpses one last time, shut his eyes tightly and followed Tike.

    "Eewww," Rixie groaned, looking at the pool of blood that the guards now bathed in before running off to catch up with Tike and Trav.

  8. #8
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    Episode VII - Enter the Inferno

    "You called, Ryle?"

    "Yes."

    "Huh, what now?"

    Ryle sighed. "Get into West Namerik and wipe out that little pest," he said to a small holographic figure projected from a device on his wrist.

    "What pest?" the hologram asked.

    "You bloody well know what pest, Pyram," Ryle growled.

    "What? Oriss is still alive?" Pyram asked.

    Ryle nodded. "I'll be arriving in Tartarus in an hour or so. I want my cousin dead in twenty-four hours from when I arrive at the capital."

    "Oh, the prince," Pyram muttered.

    "Pyram, where are you now?" Ryle asked.

    "My troop is at Gate. I s'pose I'll be in Kapitala in about, umm, two hours or so," Pyram said.

    "Good," Ryle muttered, "And I don't have to remind you about any witnesses.?"

    "Nope!" Pyram cheered, "Kill 'em all!"

    ***********************

    Trav sighed. His broadsword lay on the bed beside him in its sheath just itching to be plunged into someone. Trav's mind was no different than his sword. All his brain could envision was him slicing through enemy lines and fighting his way back to his homeland. Although Trav himself never wanted to kill others for sport, he felt like the only way to heal his mental wound was to wash it out with another man's blood.

    Trav had to admit, it was awfully nice of San to let Tike, Rixie and himself to stay at the palace hotel until they were ready to leave West Namerik.

    Just then, a knocking at Trav's door snapped him out of his daydreaming. "Your highness," Tike's voice called through the door, "It's time to go."

    Trav groaned. "I'm coming Tike."

    "Hey Tike," Trav said as he came out of his room to greet Tike in the hallway, "Where's Rixie?"

    "I dunno," Tike said, "Why?"

    "I thought-" Trav began sheepishly, "I thought she was coming with us to Hammet?"

    Tike looked at Trav strangely. "You want her to come with us?" he asked.

    Trav gulped. He had painted himself into a corner now. "Um, no. I just thought- errr- she was," he began.

    Tike smirked. "Oh, I think I get it," he chuckled to himself. "I think her room is somewhere down there," he said pointing down the corridor.

    Trav knocked on Rixie's door. "Who is it?" her voice asked through the closed door.

    "Trav," Trav said, "C'mon, it's time to go."

    "Screw off!" she shouted, "I'm staying here!"

    Trav groaned. "Rixie, you only got to stay here because you were with us," Trav reminded her.

    "If anyone asks, I'm a queen from overseas," Rixie shot back.

    "They'll never buy it," Trav said.

    "Yeah, and you're a prince," she growled sarcastically.

    Trav sighed. "Why am I even.?" he asked himself. "Look Rixie, you can stay here if you want-"

    "Okay. See you!"

    Trav gritted his teeth. For a servant-girl she sure was irritating. "-But if Ryle does come here looking for us-"

    "What's that? A scare tactic?"

    Trav had had just about enough. Just as he placed his hand on the doorknob Rixie's voice shouted at him, "And don't even think of opening that!"

    "Look Rixie," Trav breathed, "I'm just trying to help you-"

    "Well I don't want help. Especially from you, your highness."

    Trav sighed. "Oh, I give up," he groaned.

    But just as he was walking away, something in his memory tweaked. "You know, if Ryle does come here, if he doesn't find us he'll come after you," he said again through Rixie's door."

    "Oh goody," Rixie grumbled, "If he can find me."

    "Believe me Rixie, I know Ryle. He is my cousin after all," Trav said. "He always won Hide and go Seek when we were kids." Trav could hear Rixie groan through the door. "And which reminds me," Trav said, "Ryle had a collection of squirrel skeletons that belonged to once-squirrels when we played 'prisioner'." There was no answer from Rixie. "Yeah, first he'd cut out their muscles from their little arms and then hack off their joints," Trav said. He could almost hear Rixie grimace. "And then, he'd cut out their eyes." Trav snickered, just beginning to make up a story, "and then he'd cut off their little tongues-"

    Trav had to jump out of the way as Rixie's door swung open. "You've got one sick cousin," Rixie moaned.

    ****************

    The ashes of the small village they just left were still burning. Pyram's twisted humor got quite a tickle when he and his troop incinerated the whole dwelling. His arm-mounted flamethrower was still smoking on his wrist. The long tubes that connected the large ring around his left forearm to the propane tank he carried on his back had just stopped their hissing of the flammable gas a few minutes ago. "And the royal brat will be next," he snickered to himself. Rubbing his Ranadiam scar on his left cheek, Pyram ruffled his wildly uncontrolled black hair- it had turned from blonde to black a long time ago due to the ashes and heat from his incredibly powerful flamethrower weapon on his wrist. Even his once light skin was now a dark tan.

    Suddenly, Pyram heard a small beeping noise coming from the device on his other wrist. Pyram pressed the glowing blue button on the noisy device and another miniature holographic image of Ryle appeared before him. "What's up, Ryle?" he asked.

    "I'm in Tartarus now. The prince?" Ryle asked coldy.

    "Nope," Pyram responded. "We thought he was in some old village, but once we burned the thing down we found out we were wrong." Pyram gave a perverse chuckle.

    "Pyram," Ryle growled, "How many times must I tell you to only attack towns only if-"

    "Yeah yeah," Pyram sighed, "'only if there's someone in there we need gone."

    "Please try to control yourself next time Commander," Ryle groaned.

    "Aww, but we had a good reason to believe that they were-"

    "Just because you think that Trav is in there isn't a good enough reason." Pyram whimpered. "I know how much you like to burn things Commander," Ryle growled, "but there's a time and a place."

    "Oh, all right," Pyram sighed.

    "Good, don't make the same mistake again. You're one of my best men, Pyram. Don't fuck up," Ryle said as his hologram faded from sight.

    "So, where to now Commander?" One soldier asked Pyram as they continued their march.

    "Hammet."

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    Episode VIII- Bleak Horizon

    And to think, I'm a prince.

    Trav found himself wandering down the dirt streets of Hammet, a small town near the east border of West Namerik. East Namerik was right beside it, just south of Ranadiam. Trav half-mindedly kicked a stone along his path, sending it skipping across the ground a few feet away. I wanted a life outside the palace, Trav thought to himself, But not like this.

    Crude wooden houses of log and nails sparsely lined the sides of the roads. His sword, jingling in its sheath on his back every time Trav took a step, could easily cut through the material with little effort. The conditions of these peasants who lived here were nearly sickening to a royal person like Trav. Trav tugged at his worn old gloves. They were nearly the same shade as his ratted tan vest. "From riches to rags," he muttered to himself.

    "Tike, are we going back to Kanadiam?"

    Rixie's question caught Tike off guard. "If there is a Kanadiam left, yes," he muttered. The smell of cooked roast and other food fare filled the air of the run-down diner they took shelter at. The booth's table that they sat at had seen its share of spills and knife fights. "All we have to do is get an army first," said Tike grimly.

    "So, if San won't help us, who will?" Rixie asked.

    "I can't say," Tike said. "All I do know is that the only other charted route to other countries with armies would be through East Namerik."

    "East Namer- you mean with all those-"

    "Yes. Savages. Bandits. East Namerik is not a friendly place, to say the least."

    "Couldn't we just go south? To... South Namerik?" Rixie asked.

    "What of South Namerik?" Tike responded. "It could be another country like East Namerik for all we know. Or worse."

    "So? Possible death is better than certain," Rixie said.

    "It's also possible that we won't get killed in East Namerik either."

    Rixie was about to say something, but she kept her mouth shut.

    "We go to East Namerik tomorrow. Hopefully Trav will have come back then."

    "Just where did he go anyway?" Rixie asked, looking out the window by their seats.

    "Said he was going to see if there were any messengers from San," Tike said. "Judging by the sun, I'd say it's maybe seven o'clock. If only there were a hint of technology in this town..."

    Suddenly, Trav was standing over Tike, breathing heavily as he collapsed to a seat beside Rixie. "Tike! They- they're here," Trav groaned, gasping for breath.

    "Who?" asked Tike.

    "Them!" Trav burst out. Trav's voice rang all over the empty diner. The barkeeper looked sideways at Trav from his post.

    "Ranadians? Here?" Rixie gasped.

    "Yeah. Big ugly guy for a leader too," Trav said in an undertone, just regaining his breath.

    "Big, ugly," Tike mused. "Did you get a good look at him?"

    "Think so. But he got a good look at me," Trav said.

    "Did you-!" Tike gasped, shooting up from his seat.

    "He did. He knows we're here!" Trav said.

    "Keep it down, you!" the bartender ordered.

    "Listen," said Tike, as he and Trav sat back down, "was he about as tall as me, black hair, dark skin-"

    "Yeah," said Trav.

    "Then this whole town is going to burn." Tike muttered.

    "What? What do you mean?" Rixie asked, worried.

    Tike turned to Rixie. "From what Trav told us, the guy he ran into was Pyram, and old 'friend' of mine. He loved to set things on fire."

    Tike did not have to go any further. "We've gotta' get out of here," Rixie whispered.

    ************

    "Hold up!"

    Trav had stopped in his tracks and spoke almost as soon as they exited the diner. Rixie and Tike stopped too, and looked at Trav. "What is it, Lord Trav?" Tike asked.

    "Shouldn't we at least warn these people that this place is going to be burned to the ground?"

    "No," Tike responded solemnly. "Believe me, my Lord, I know Pyram. He'll make sure that everyone here burns alive. We've got to get out of here as quickly as we-"

    "Tike!" Trav gasped with shock and disgust, "We just can't-!"

    "Listen, Lord Trav," Tike said, "What matters is we've got to-"

    "We can't just let them die! Because of us!" Trav was almost at the point of screaming in horror.

    Rixie looked back and forth between Tike and Trav. "I think... maybe we shouldn't," Rixie murmured.

    "Fine then!" Trav declared. "Run if you two want to. It's me they want, not the people of Hammet." Trav drew his sword from his shoulder and activated the EXO panel. Globs of liquid Steetanium exploded out of his shoulder and covered his body. Trav turbed his back at Tike and Rixie, and looked at them over his shoulder through his helmet visor. "I don't want anyone killed because of us!"

    Tike strode up to Trav and put his hand on his shoulder. Tike was a mountain compared to Trav. "Lord Trav, there's only three of us. And I'm betting there'll be at least seventeen of them, Pyram making eighteen. It's suicide!"

    Suddenly, a blast of fireballs erupted from the distance. The outskirts of Hammet were soon ablaze in an unholy inferno. Black smoke poured into the sky, faint screams of agony echoed through the air. Trav forcefully wrenched his shoulder free from Tike's paw. "You have no heart," Trav growled. Trav began to walk forward. "I'll kill them or be killed trying!"

    Tike did not move. "Trav! He'll burn the town even if he has killed you!" Tike called after him.

    "Then let him!" Trav shouted back at Tike angrily, still keeping his march to death, "I won't let these people die for nothing! And if we run, he'll kill even more! I'll end this here!"

    Trav soon disappeared down an alleyway. Rixie walked up to tike and murmured, "The idiot."

    Tike looked down at Rixie. Even through Rixie was maybe three inches taller than Trav, Tike still towered over both of them. "Rixie, we've got to find him."

    ************

    Trav looked over his shoulder. He saw Tike and Rixie, both EXO clad, running towards him. Flames and smoke filled the streets like a gauntlet of darkness. The heat seared at Trav's nose. "Come on," Trav said aloud, "They might just be around this corn-"

    As soon as Tike and Rixie caught up to Trav, Rixie shoved open a door to a nearby storehouse building. Clasping his large metal hand over Trav's mouth, Tike pulled the prince into the storehouse. Even though he struggled as much as he could, Trav could not writhe free of Tike's iron-tough grip. Before he knew it, Tike had shoved him into a large cellar room. Tike quickly boarded up the door, Trav pounded on the door demanding, "Tike! What are you doing?"

    "I'm sorry, Lord Trav," Tike sighed, "but you'll be safe in here."

    Tike began to ignore Trav's yells of protest. Rixie, he said to Rixie as she walked beside him, "Remember the plan?"

    Rixie nodded. "You fight them and die. They'll think Trav's dead then too," she murmured glumly.

    "And you stay here, and make sure he doesn't escape," Tike instructed Rixie, "No matter what. Leave when you think I've done my part."

    "Tike!" Trav screamed through the door, "What the fuck are you doing?"

    Tike grimly nodded. He took one last look at the cellar door, shaking from Trav's pounding fists. "Goodbye, Lord Trav."

    "Tike!" Trav screamed after him, as Tike turned on his heel and left the storehouse.

  10. #10
    Hogwash ---> iNFeCTED's Avatar
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    Sorry for the lack of updates, I've been working religiously on my Mainpage. Double update to make up.

    Episode IX- Trav Orriss- The Frayed Ends of his Mind have Snapped!

    Rixie, are you there?" Trav asked through the blockaded cellar door.

    "Sorry Trav, Tike said not to let you out," she replied.

    "Rixie! Come on!" Trav yelled.

    "Sorry," replied Rixie.

    "Rixie, I gotta' go help Tike!"

    "No."

    Rixie heard the unmistakable clink of a sword being unsheathed. Soon a large broadsword blade sliced through the cellar door. The sword pulled back through the wooden wall, and came down again with another penetrating swipe.

    "Trav, please!" Rixie pleaded, "Tike told you not to-!"

    "Fuck Tike!" Trav screamed, pulling his sword back through the door. With one last swish of his sword, the wooden door exploded in a sea of splinters. Within moments, Trav had come through the door, his sliver broadsword in his armor's gigantic hand. "Where's he go?" Trav asked the shivering Rixie.

    "Th-that way." she weakly answered, pointing out the door of the storeroom.

    Trav did not even say goodbye to Rixie as he dashed off in the designated direction.

    *************

    The nighttime stars above Hammet were vastly dimmed from the heat and flames of the burning town. Pyram, in the middle of an infernal street and clad in his dull red EXO armor, aimed his wrist-mounted flamethrower at an untouched building, setting it alight instantly. He cackled maniacally as he watched his own handmade hell burned around him. "Burn!" he screamed with demented glee, "Burn! Burn!"

    "Let's see how you like to burn."

    The voice that came from behind him spun Pyram round. Through his shaded visor he saw a figure encased in a white EXO, holding a large sword in his right hand. The long flowing red cape attached to his wing-like shoulder armor blended in perfectly with the flames. "The prince!" Pyram gasped, "You're supposed to be dead!"

    "Supposed to be," Trav answered, glaring holes through Pyram underneath his visor. "I told Tike that I'll kill you whether he liked it or not."

    "But he's dead!" Pyram protested, "I sent my whole platoon after him!"

    "Not yet," Trav corrected Pyram, "I met up with him. He's leading all your men on a wild goose chase. It's just you and me!"

    "Oh well," Pyram said with a sadistic chuckle, "You can burn in hell too then!"

    Pyram aimed his flamethrower device at Trav, and let out a blazing stream of fire at him. Trav barely found time to throw himself out of the path of the flames before Pyram moved in for the kill. Trav gripped his sword harder, and when Pyram came within striking distance, Trav wildly swung his sword upwards with a war cry equally as fierce. Pyram almost did not halt his charge soon enough to avoid Trav's swooshing blade. Before Trav could recover from his wild attack, Pyram grasped Trav by the wrist and swatted his sword out of his hand.

    Trav was still caught in the iron grip of Pyram's paw, and tried in futility to free himself. "Royal roast," Pyram giggled with a grin, pressing the barrel of his small flamethrower into Trav's armored head. With his free hand, Trav drove his Steetanium-clad fist into Pyram's wrist mounted weapon. Pyram groaned as the damaged unit sparked, releasing Trav from his grip. As soon as he was free, Trav moved for his sword, which was lying on the ground beside him. However, Pyram quickly raised his metal foot and smashed it onto Trav's hand. Trav yelped in pain as Pyram dug his heel further into Trav's hand. With a swift motion from his hip, Pyram delivered and unforgiving kick to Trav's midsection, sending the young prince rolling over the ground.

    Pyram quickly adjusted his helmet, and let the module at the center of the helmet's crest glow a white hue. When Trav got back to his feet, he barely had time to dodge a blazing energy blast that soared by his body, and incinerated half of his cape. In response, Trav let his own module on his head unleash a blast of energy at Pyram. Pyram effortlessly dodged the assault by tilting his head to the left. "You're gonna' burn now, Orriss!" Pyram chuckled. Pyram aimed his left arm's flamethrower at Trav, and willed it to unleash another blast of flames. Instead, it gave him a buzzing noise and a shower of sparks and liquid propane. "Crap," Pyram whined.

    "You sicken me, Pyram," Trav growled, picking up his sword in his shaking injured hand. "How can you even live with wanting to kill innocent people?"

    Pyram let out a loud guffaw. "Because it's fun!" he laughed. "You have no idea how fun it is to watch things burn!"

    "But people-!" Trav gasped in a mix of shock and anger.

    "Even more fun!" Pyram laughed. "And you helped me too!"

    "What?" Trav exclaimed.

    "Don't you see, Trav?" Pyram chuckled with a sadistic grin, "These people are burning because of you!"

    "No!" Trav shot back instantly. He gripped his sword tighter and raised it into a striking position on his left shoulder.

    "Yes!" Pyram put his hads at his hips and roared with laughter. "Yes! You led us here! I've had so much fun burning everything in sight looking for you!"

    Trav was about to scream a denying word, but found he could not. Something in him tweaked. "I. am to blame." Trav muttered in shock.

    "They're burning because of you, Trav!" Pyram giggled. "Burning burning burning! Hee hee hee!" He squealed with laugher.

    "Please. don't say that," Trav weakly sobbed, letting go of his sword and letting it fall to the ground.

    "Burning! Burning! Burning!" Pyram continued his singsong.

    "I'm sorry. Dad..."

    "Burning!"

    "...Mom."

    "I especially like it when they scream before they die!"

    "I- I-"

    Suddenly, something else leapt into Trav's mind. It floated across his brain, past his eyes, and into his ears. Something, or someone, was screaming. A scream filled with pain and angst. "Who-?" Trav gasped, swinging his head from side to side.

    "Burning!" The voice screamed aloud.

    "Burning!" Yelled another.

    "Burning!" Came a third.

    "Who's there?" Trav roared his question, filled with panic and fear.

    "Burning!" All three cried in disharmony. Again they screamed their chanting, all out of tune and order.

    "Trav!" One suddenly screamed.

    "Who-!"

    "Trav!" another one hollered with agony.

    Trav looked around him. The street now was a miniature hell. Not one single space in the area was unscathed by the flames. The heat was unbearable. Trav clutched his head with his hands and slumped to his knees. "Who are you?" He screamed.

    "Burning! Trav!" They all cried.

    Trav threw his head back and screamed, "Get out of my head!"

    "Whoa," Pyram murmured, "This kid's fucking lost it."

    Trav buried his nose to the dirt and sobbed.

    "May as well put the kid out of his misery," Pyram snickered to himself.

    Pyram look slow steps towards Trav, who was still crying and hiding himself from the demons in his mind. Pyram was at Trav's head before he stopped to raise his foot. He positioned it just above Trav's neck bone, ready to crush it in one single smash.

    Suddenly, with an agonized screech, Trav grabbed his sword again, used his legs as a springboard, and took a savage blind swipe at Pyram. Pryam sprung backwards, but not quickly enough to avoid Trav's sword to slice through his armor and cut his left hand clear off his wrist, slicing the flamethrower unit in two. Pryam screamed in agony and held his wrist stub, a river of redness gushed out of the new spout of his arm. Trav was breathing wildly and snarling savagely, clutching his sword so tightly it would crush a stone. Pyram staggered backwards, screaming profanities and he pampered his bloody vacant wrist. Trav slumped back down to his knees.

    The voices were getting louder- louder with every second and scream. "Burning!" They cried. "Trav!" They screamed.

    "My hand!" Pryam screamed.

    "Shut up!" Trav yelled at the voices.

    "Sparks-! My flamethrower's fuel tanks-!"

    Trav barely noticed Pyram's agonized scream as his flamethrower detonated.

    "Burning!"

    "Trav!"

    "My arm!"

    "Shut! Up!"

    "Burning!"

    "Trav!"

    "Hand!"

    With a scream that would shatter the heavens, Trav jumped to his feet and dashed at Pyram. With one swift chop of his shoulder, Trav sent his sword into Pyram's neck, taking his head off his shoulders with an explosion of hot blood. Pyram's head and body hit the ground at the same time, both spraying their redness all over the dirt road.

    Hammet was still an inferno. Flames now fully engulfed the town. Trav fell to his knees, and then to his belly. His mind was still and quiet. He could only hear his tears and sobs running off his face and spattering to the ground.

    Episode X- Epilogue of a Massacre

    The town of Hammet had finally died down. Everything to one's eye was nothing but burnt heaps of smoldering ashes. Day had finally come; the sun was blood red with all the bleak smoke of death in the air.

    "We are in trouble," Rixie hummed to herself, standing in the middle of a dirt road amongst the smoking rubble of Hammet. The town was completely leveled and black.

    Tike, bloody battered and bruised, limped to her side. "You and I aren't the only ones," he mumbled.

    Tike looked at the unEXO'd Trav. He was kneeling beside the remains of a burnt straw hatch, with a slim tree branch stuck upright into the ground beside it. "Rest in peace," Trav cringed.

    "Poor guy," Rixie sighed, looking at Trav.

    Suddenly, Tike turned on his heel and left. "Poor Trav indeed," Tike muttered to himself. He knew of King Troid's personality traits very well. Every so often, under conditions of extreme pressure and stress, he would go into a brief insanity snap. "And like father, like son," Tike muttered bitterly.

    "Tike, where are you going?" Rixie asked her scar-faced companion.

    "I'm waiting for Lord Trav," Tike replied, looking over his shoulder at Rixie. "We head East to East Namerik today." Tike breathed, and leaned up against a nearby skeletal rod, that once supported a building of some sort. "When he's ready, we'll go."

    Trav was still kneeling, trying to fight back his sniffles and tears. Rixie looked around Trav. Wherever there were visible remains of burned dwellings, there was a tree-branch tombstone planted into them. Rixie knelt down beside Trav.

    "Trav, come on," she said softly, "It's time to go."

    Trav controlled his watery eyes, and rubbed away the sorrowful wetness. "No," he weakly whispered.

    "Trav?" Rixe asked, confused.

    "I can't kill them anymore," Trav began to weakly cry again. "I can't be anywhere else to let Ryle kill them."

    "Kill who-?" Rixie asked. "Oh," she murmured soon after. "But Trav, it wasn't your fault. That Pyram guy leveled Hammet-"

    Trav stood up, and began to walk away in the opposite direction from Tike. "Don't you get it?" Trav whimpered meekly, "I led them all here. They burned alive because of me."

    Rixie jumped to her feet and quickly caught up with Trav. "Trav, listen to yourself! You're not making sense! No one could have prevented this!"

    Rixie put her hands on Trav's shoulders, but Trav quickly shrugged them off. "If I didn't come here they wouldn't have died," Trav groaned. "I should have let Ryle kill me," he sobbed, burying his blonde-haired head in his hands.

    Rixie now forcefully grasped Trav by his shoulders. "Trav, listen to me!" she said assertively. "No matter where we went, Ryle would have followed us! Look, I'm sad too that these people died, but it's not our fault- it's not your fault!"

    "No, I am to blame," Trav sniffled, raising his head out of his palms, "Because of me, I let more people die- burning alive." Trav picked up another tree branch lying on the ground, raised it above his head, and stuck it into the ground around another incinerated hut. "I'm sorry I brought death to you," Trav whimpered at the grave.

    "Trav, snap out of it," Rixie quickly said, her hazel eyes sparking. "It's not because of you-"

    "Rixie! I led them here! I led Pyram here to kill them all! I should have nev-"

    Rixie had heard just about enough. Trav's words were cut dramatically short as Rixie, with a snarl, forcefully kicked her foot up between Trav's legs. Trav whinced, and sowly sunk to the ground.

    "Look Trav, you can either feel bad about it, or end it!" Rixie spat out sharply. Trav weakly got back to his feet.

    "You- you're right Rixie. I will end it." Trav groaned, and weakly hobbled back to Tike with an odd limp. "Although I killed them, I won't let it happen again," he vowed.

    Rixie groaned. "Why did I even bother...?"

  11. #11
    Hogwash ---> iNFeCTED's Avatar
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    Boring crap ahead. Feel free to ignore.

    Episode XI- Through the Storm

    Trav was looking glumly as he, Tike and Rixie traversed the last few miles of West Namerik. He never looked ahead of him, he always dropped his sight slightly to the ground. “Trav?” Rixie asked the prince, “You okay?”

    Trav did not answer, he only shook his head sorrowfully. Tike was in the lead of their three-member group, while Trav and Rixie lagged behind. Tike was oblivious to any conversation that Trav and Rixie had, and was much more focused on surviving and arriving at East Namerik quickly.

    “Come on Trav,” Said Rixie soothingly, “You can’t possibly blame it all on yourself.”

    “No, I can’t,” Trav finally sighed. “I could have prevented it though.”

    “You can’t keep beating yourself up over it Trav,” Said Rixie sharply, “You’ll make yourself sick.”

    “I could have saved them,” Trav muttered, “I could have saved Dad too,” Trav mumbled.

    Rixie suddenly looked depressed as well. “Saving your parents,” she muttered quietly to herself. “At least your parents cared about you,” she said quietly with bitterness.

    “Huh?” Trav murmured, sharply turning his head to look at Rixie.

    “They sent me off to servant work when I was twelve,” she growled to herself. “Seven years and I’ve never heard from them since.”

    “Why’d they do it?” Trav asked innocently.

    “Couldn’t afford life with me,” Rixie jutted in, “We were poor. Or at least that’s what they said.” Rixie began to walk a bit faster now, almost side by side with Tike.

    “We’re here,” said Tike suddenly as they continued to walk, pointing to a nearby sign on the plain, “East Namerik.”

    Rixie sighed and began to slow down, dropping back to Trav’s level.

    “I haven’t seen my brother since I was ten,” Trav said to Rixie from out of the blue. “Dad said he was exiled for some crime,” Said Trav, “Never told me what crime though.”

    “He never told anyone,” Rixie muttered. “He was exiled just like that,” she said, snapping her fingers.

    “Six years since he left,” Trav muttered to himself. “Did you have any sisters?” Trav asked Rixie.

    “No,” she said, “Or brothers either. It was just me, Mom and Dad.”

    “You should treasure your family, Rixie,” came the sudden gruff voice of Tike, “I had to leave mine behind.”

    Trav’s memory flashed a few years backwards, when Tike brought his wife and his young son to the Castle Courtyards. “You think they’re all right?” Trav asked.

    “I don’t know,” Tike muttered as he rubbed what remained of his left ear.

    They kept on walking for half an hour in silence.

    “I’ve always envied you Trav,” said Rixie quietly afer a while, “You always looked so happy with your Dad- even when the Queen…” Rixie suddenly cut her words short. Trav looked glum once more. “I’m sorry I mentioned her,” Rixie said quietly.

    “Don’t be,” Trav muttered, “Anyone who kills themselves is more dead than dead.”

    Trav, Rixie and Tike continued the rest of their march into East Namerik in silence.

    **************

    “L-l-lord R-Ryle?”

    Ryle shivered. “What is it now, Gills?” he groaned in the War room of Ranadiama City, the capital of Ranadiam.

    Ryle’s solitary presence in the small dim room was broken when Gills slipped into through the doors of the War room and scurried up to Ryle’s side. “It’s Pyram sir,” Gills squeaked.

    “What about him?” Ryle asked apathetically his his growl for a voice.

    “He’s dead sir,” Gills quickly blurted out, “We found his body along with the rest of his platoon in Hammet.”

    Ryle turned, and looked at a large golden-framed portrait on the wall of himself.

    Episode XII- The Twelfth Chapter

    Trav, Tike and Rixie sat in the seat by the window of the small inn's lobby. "So, what're we doing here?" Rixie asked Tike from across the circular table as Trav sucked at a drink through a straw.

    "We're going to try what we did in Kapitala," Tike gruffly replied.

    "Again?" Rixie complained. "What makes you think that this country, of all countries, will help us?"

    Tike sighed bitterly. "Quite frankly, if they don't want to help, no one will."

    Just then, Trav noisily finished his drink. "So then, if they won't help us, we're screwed?" he asked bluntly.

    "Pretty much, yes," Tike muttered.

    Rixie groaned. "I'm getting something to eat," she sighed, getting up from the table and walking away.

    *****************

    Rixie lay back into the large plush armchair in the lobby to the throne room. The large, empty hall looked cheerful but extremely dull to Rixie, and it looked even moreso after she had nothing else to set her gaze upon for the last hour. Finally, Trav and Tike emerged from the chamber. "Well?" she asked, "How'd it go?"

    Tike muttered and shook his head. "He just kicked us out," Trav grumbled.

    "Just like that?" Rixie asked in surprise, "You've barley been in there for ten minutes!"

    "And he still hasn't stopped laughing at us," Tike grumbled. "Come on, let's go."

    ************

    Ryle lay back on his monstrosly large bed, polishing his sword. His room was a small palace inside itself, brandished with riches and other priceless belongings. Suddenly, the wristwatch on his bedside counter bleeped. Ryle set his sword and polish down and picked up the watch. Pressing a small button on the side of the watch, a beam of light shot from the middle and materialized into the holographic figure of his cloaked father. "There you are, Ryle," came his father's raspy voice.

    "What's new?" Ryle asked in his grave monotone.

    "You are aware that Trav is still alive, aren't you?"

    "I thought Pyram was capable of silencing him," Ryle muttered.

    "Well, obviously he wasn't."

    Ryle sighed. "Who do you recommend I should sic after Trav?" Ryle asked, "Pyram was my right-hand man."

    "What about the old war veteran, Rog Russ?"

    Ryle rubbed his chin. "Russ," he murmured, "You know, I think he'd do just fine."

    "Excellent. Send for him immediatley."

    Just before Ryle could move another inch, his father said, "Oh, and Ryle, you haven't found his brother yet, have you?"

    Ryle slowly shook his head. "No. It's like the needle in the haystack. Finding him could take years."

    Ryle's father sighed. "Don't give up, Ryle. Today we have Kanadiam and West Namerik. Tomorrow we'll have the entire continent."

    Episode XIII- They are Found in What They Do

    "So how far away are we from South Namerik?" Rixie asked Tike, as the three continued their march southwards.

    "Three hours," Tike replied gruffly, "Three if we keep walking."

    "But we've already been walking for five hours," Rixie groaned, "Can't we stop and rest anytime soon?" she asked.

    "If we stop," Tike replied calmly, "We'll be an easier target for Ryle. Who knows where else he has his armies on this continent."

    "Aren't you at least getting one bit tired?" Trav asked as Rixie gave a breathless sigh.

    "I've marched for eleven hours straight before, Lord Trav," Tike replied, "Every day in the army."

    Trav drew his sword and jabbed the tip into the ground, using it as a walking stick. "Well I haven't," he weakly groaned.

    "Well, you'll learn how to," Tike said bluntly, keeping his sights set ahead of him. "We keep on walking until we get there, unless-"

    Suddenly, Rixie yelped and fell to the ground. Trav and Tike spun around to see Rixie sitting down on the ground, wincing as he held her ankle. "You okay?" Trav asked, kneeling down beside Rixie and resheathing his sword.

    "Fine," Rixie grumbled, rubbing her foot.

    "Can you still walk on it?" Tike asked, still standing up.

    Rixie went to stand on her feet, when Trav offered her his shoulder. His reply was Rixie pushing him away as she wobbled on one leg before lightly touching the toes of her injured foot on the ground. "I think so," she said.

    "Good," said Tike, turning around again and walking, "We've got to keep moving."

    Trav blinked in disbelief at the same time as Rixie. Trav thought of giving his shoulder to Rixie for support, but Rixie, as if she read Trav's thoughts, only shot him a quick glare. "I don't need your help," Rixie said quickly, hopping her good left leg forward, and gingerly placing her right foot in front again. Trav watched as Rixie slowly limped by him, the distance between her and Tike slowly growing.

    "I think you do need my help," Trav said, walking beside Rixie and leaning his shoulder to her.

    Rixie's response was a low snarl. "I told you, I don't need your help."

    Suddenly, Tike stopped from up ahead. "Rixie, the prince is being very considerate to you," he said, "I think it would be very rude for you to snarl at him like that," said Tike, flexing his arms, letting the sun's rays glimmer off of his giant switchblades.

    Rixie shivered slightly as she reluctantly rested her elbow on Trav's shoulder.

    Even with Trav's support, Rixie and Trav still lagged far behind Tike. "You've got to hurry up," Tike said to them as he continued walking, "The sooner we get to South Namerik, the better."

    "Maybe you'd like to have a sprained ankle instead of me," Rixie snarled back, limping along with Trav.

    Tike turned his head to Rixie over his shoulder. "We used to march for hours on end with or without injuries in the army," Tike said sternly, "And we never slowed a bit."

    "But we're not in the army any more, are we?" Rixie quickly shot back.

    Tike stopped and turned around. "You'll stop talking back to me," he said in a low voice, "Or else you'll find yourself easy prey for Ryle."

    Before Rixie could retort, Trav said, "Look, Tike, Rixie isn't in any military shape. Look at her," Trav said, looking at Rixie's thin frame, "She's a toothpick!" He said as Rixie angrily hissed in Trav's ear. "You don't expect her to last as long as you can, do you?"

    "We don't have to keep her with us," Tike said, "What matters to me is your survival, my survival, and Kanadiam," said Tike bluntly.

    Trav looked sideways at Rixie. The look of utter shock on her face was staggering. Her jaw was dropped wide open in sudden disgust, leaving her completely speechless. "She saved our lives once, remember, Tike?" Trav said, a tone of despearation in his voice.

    "We were careless that time," Tike gruffly replied, turning around and walking on. "And we already repaid her by letting her live. Now come on, we've got to keep moving."

    Trav looked at Rixie, who met his gaze for only a second before hers dropped to the ground. "You are going to leave me here, aren't you?" Rixie grumbled. Trav found himself tongue-tied. "Well, please kill him for me," Rixie muttered, looking up at Tike ahead.

    "I'm not going to leave you here."

    Trav's solemn reply struck Rixie. "What?"

    "I'm not leaving you here," Trav repeated himself.

    Before Rixie knew it, Trav held her by her shoulders and knees, whisking her off of her feet and carrying her in his arms. Rixie was about to protest, until she felt relieved that the pressure on her ankle was lifted. "We couldn't have gotten this far without you," Trav said, beginning to walk forwards with Rixie across his chest like a barrel. Rixie was too wrapped up in the moment to reply. "And even if we could have, I wouldn't leave anyone alone and injured behind."

    Rixie's insides melted. She suddenly felt herself relax in Trav's arms, finding his body surprisingly strong and muscular. Even though she was half a foot taller than him, he still managed to carry her as if she were a sack of feathers. She suddenly thought of thanking Trav, but her words came out as, "Who said you could pick me up anyway?"

    *****

    Heavy footsteps trodded along the ground. Boots of iron and heavy as lead trudged across the barren field. Thick mechanical legs groaned and squeaked as the two-legged machine continued to march across the land. Its arms, wide as tree trunks each, swayed by the machine's sides continually. The small head, composed only of a camera encased in a small armored dome, remained still as the mechanical beast walked.

    "Ryle," came a voice from within the machine, "I'm coming closer and closer to them..."

  12. #12
    Hogwash ---> iNFeCTED's Avatar
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    Things pick up. Finally.

    Episode XIV- The Titan

    Benwait was another version of Hammet, quiet, small, and nearly devoid of advanced technology. "Looks 17th century to me," Tike said more to himself, "Of course," said Tike, turning his head to see Trav, still carrying Rixie, behind him, "we would have gotten here earlier if it wasn't for-"

    "I'm not leaving her behind and that's final," Trav snorted.

    Tike grimaced. "Yes, we couldn't have, now that I think about it," Tike muttered.

    "Because you've realized that no one likes cold and callous people, huh?" Rixie interjected.

    "Because if Ryle got his hands on you, he could use you against us," Tike replied calmly. "So that's we're dragging you along with us."

    "Nothing like making you feel wanted," Rixie muttered bitterly under her breath.

    "Don't mind him," Trav whispered to Rixie so that Tike would not hear, "he left his family back in Kanadiam, you know."

    "He did?" Rixie said, in sudden guilt.

    "He's venting, I suppose," Trav said, then grimly changing his expression, "I knew I would if I were him."

    Rixie looked at the back of Tike's broad shoulders, and found herself wondering if there could be a soft spot underneath Tike's rock-solid bulk.

    Tike stopped suddenly, and poked his head into a doorless wooden hut. "Nobody home," Tike said to Trav and Rixie, "And it looks like they won't be coming back."

    "How do you know?" Trav asked.

    "It's vacant," Tike said, "Completely empty. We'll stay here for the night."

    Tike edged his way into the shelter, followed by Trav and Rixie. Once inside, Trav knelt down and let Rixie slide off of his arms, leaning her on the ground against the wall of the hut. "We'll need to get some food," Tike said, moving to the door, "So you stay here with her while I hunt down something," he said, looking at Trav.

    Trav was about to insist that he join Tike, until he looked at Rixie, seeing that she needed him more. "Don't be too long," Trav said, still kneeling at Rixie's side. Tike nodded once before disappearing out of the hut.

    A minute passed in silence before Trav looked at Rixie again. "How's your ankle feeling?"

    Rixie groaned as she weakly rolled around her foot in the air. "Still hurts," she said, "but it's feeling a lot better."

    Trav shifted to Rixie's foot and put his hands on her boot. "Mind if I take a look at it?" he asked. Rixie blinked twice at him, and then shrugged. Gingerly, Trav unlaced Rixie's boot, slid it off of her injured foot, and then dropped it beside him. Curling his fingertips around the inside of Rixie's sock, Trav soon let it join the boot on the floor, leaving just Rixie's bare foot. "Looks swollen," Trav said without hardly taking a glance at Rixie's ankle.

    "I thought my boot felt tighter," Rixie said, "And I guess my boot wasn't helping it at all, either."

    Trav racked his brain. Was he supposed to put pressure on swellings or not? Suddenly wishing he had paid more attention in school, Trav asked, "Aren't you supposed to put pressure on swellings?"

    "You're the one who went to school," Rixie said tonelessly, "I was just a servant."

    Trav looked at Rixie's puffy ankle, worried in lack of knowledge. "I think maybe we should let it sit," Trav finally said. Rixie shrugged a reply.

    Suddenly, a faint boom echoed throughout the hut. Even though the sound itself was low, Trav and Rixie felt the ground tremble briefly underneath them. "What was that?" Rixie asked.

    Another boom. This time, it was slightly louder. Trav looked at Rixie, who looked at him at the same time. After a third rumbling, Rixie asked, "You think Tike knows what it is?"

    Trav bit his upper lip. "If you mean he's dealing with it now, I hope so."

    Another rumble, this time louder, shook the ground beneath them again. "Sounds like footsteps," Rixie whispered.

    "Heavy ones," Trav grimly replied. "Very heavy ones.

    Another boom echoed though the air, this time, so close that it made them both shiver. "What do you think it is?" Rixie asked.

    Another rumble. "It's coming this way." Trav stood up and drew his sword. Pressing the panel on the guard of his sword, Trav winced slightly as his EXO's steetanium wrapped around his body, forming his armor once again. "I'm going out," Trav said, looking at Rixie though his shaded visor once before turning around and slipping out of the hut.

    "Be careful," Rixie wanted to quietly say, but somehow, the words caught in her throat.

    *************

    Trav scanned the empty streets. The other huts, scattered all over the land, were as lifeless as stones. The rumbling grew louder and heavier with every thud on the ground. When Trav swore that the cause was only an eye's glimpse away, he quickly panned the area again. Nothing but the same huts as there had always been. Quietly, Trav ventured beside a shelter beside him, pressed himself flat against its wall, and peeked around the corner. He could see nothing out of the ordinary, even when another rumble and boom shook the ground. Making a quick dash, Trav slipped behind another shelter and poked his nose around the corner. Another rumble and still nothing. Gripping his sword tighter in his armored hand, Trav boldly stepped out into the middle of the wide, empty street and began to walk, further and further away from Rixie's hut. Suddenly, just after Trav walked only ten paces, the rumbling stopped. Trav looked ahead of him, then to the left, then right.

    Nothing. Trav gritted his teeth, wondering where the rumblings had come from. When he turned around to walk back to Rixie's hut, he turned into a steel mountain.

    "Hello, boy," the steel mountain greeted him.

    Immediately, Trav drew his sword and leapt backwards, locking his eyes onto the top of the steel beast. A camera lens flashed at him from the small armor dome at the top of the metal, mounted upon a gigantic body of human shape. The metal monstrosity towered well above Trav, possibly twice his size. The armor's large hands flexed open and closed slightly and rhythmically, as if waiting to crush something in them. "Who- what are you?" Trav growled, holding his sword to his shoulder, ready to strike at any moment.

    "I am a fighter, like you," replied the giant. "And I've been sent to collect you and Mallar."

    Trav snarled. "You're a Ranadiam soldier, aren't you?"

    The iron tower laughed. "Clever, prince. Very clever."

    Trav needed no further incentive to take a wild slash at the metal beast's shoulder. The sword rang noisily upon the steel shoulder, jarring Trav's arms up to his elbows. The metal soldier quietly chuckled sinisterly, without moving an inch. With another snarl, Trav slashed his sword upon the behemoth again and again, only getting the same reply clang off of the armor of the metal giant. Realising that his strikes were futile, Trav stepped backwards, increasing the distance between him and the steel soldier, breathing heavily.

    Suddenly, the armored warrior pointed one massive finger at Trav. The digit shot out a quick burst of energy, to fast for Trav to react in time. The blast smashed upon Trav's chest, knocking him onto his knee. A second blast, equally quick as the first, had Trav reeling on his knee, leaving him struggling to maintain his balance. The armored beast sluggishly took one giant step towards Trav, raising the other foot above the ground behind it, ready to kick Trav straight in the face. The soldier swung its heavy foot, but the slow strike gave Trav time to quickly roll out of the way. The soldier stumbled forward after its boot hit the air, the momentum in its foot carrying the large beast forward awkwardly. Quickly springing to his feet, Trav swung his sword above his head and dashed to the metal monster, slashing down his sword across the beast's shoulder blade with all of his strength. The slash was s fierce that, instead of the familiar clang, the sword sunk into the shoulder with an eerie screech. But to Trav's surprise, the soldier was not even stunned by his strike. Instead, the giant turned around to face Trav, now with Trav's sword sticking out of its back. Just as the warrior raised his fingertips again, Trav snuck underneath the warrior's legs, slipped up behind it, and leapt for the hilt of his sword. Try as he might, Trav could not manage to pull the sword out of the back of the armored giant. Suddenly, the giant swung its torso quickly to the right, throwing Trav off of its back. Trav tumbled along the ground, landing awkwardly on his stomach. Just as the beast turned to face Trav again, Trav looked up to the chest of the beast and locked his eyes on its midsection. And with a short roar, the module on Trav's helmet shot a thick beam of energy straight at the middle of the armored soldier's belly. To Trav's dismay, the warrior tilted its body to one side, letting the beam hit the warrior in the same shoulder that Trav's sword was stuck in instead. Then, with a high pitched whine, the top of its damaged shoulder exploded in a flash of shrapnel and flame. Even though Trav had to shield his face with his arm, the many bits of flaming scrap metal bouncing off his armor, the living armor hardly seemed to wince. "What the hell is this thing?" Trav weakly snarled to himself. Immediately, he thought of robotics.

    "Am I a robot, you ask?" the armor snickered, as if reading Trav's thoughts. "Well, maybe I am," the warrior answered its own question, not even minding the thick plume of smoke that billowed from its damaged shoulder.

    "Robotics were wiped out during the war," Trav quickly growled.

    "Maybe," the giant warrior replied. "But hardly anyone knows what exactly happened those fifty years ago. So I could very well be a robot."

    Suddenly, Trav looked by the ankle of the steel soldier and saw his sword, lying on the ground with its hilt pointed towards him. Trav clenched his fists. "I guess I'll have to kill you to find out."

    Without further delay, Trav dashed towards the iron beast and quickly slid under the soldier's legs again, managing to pick up the hilt of his sword as he skidded by. With the blocky giant sluggishly turning around, Trav quickly rolled onto his feet and gripped his sword handle tightly, even though he was holding it upside-down like a stabbing knife. Just as the giant had fully turned towards Trav, Trav roared and sped towards the beast, raising the tip of his sword high above his head. Slashing his sword downward upon the armor like a scythe, Trav buried his sword up to the middle of the blade into the soldier's smoking shoulder. With another blast of fire, the arm burst off from the body of the armor, knocking Trav onto the ground and landing stiffly on his back.

    When Trav sat up, his jaw dropped when he saw the giant had barely flinched despite it's severed arm. It was just now that Trav felt two streams of blood leak from his forehead and dribble down his cheek. Shutting one eye closed after a stream tickled his eyelash, Trav willed his visor to open. The shaded visor slid back into the brow of his helmet, and the world around him suddenly seemed much brighter. Wiping away the blood on his face with his hand, Trav blinked his eye just as another trickle of red laced itself down the middle of his face.

    Before the warrior could move, and even before Trav took another breath, Trav was on his feet again, sword still clenched like a knife in his hands, and dashed madly towards the iron monster. Just as Trav came within a few seconds of the beast, the armor raised its other fingertips and let a shower of short energy pulses shoot from them, all aimed at Trav. Now that he was expecting the ranged assault from the metal monster, Trav leapt from side to side, weaving in and out of the blasts as they hit the ground behind him. And once he was within a sword's reach of his enemy, Trav leapt up into the air as high as he could, rightened his sword, and buried it into the head of the beast, shattering it upon impact.

    The beast staggered backwards with Trav still clinging to the giant's vacant shoulder. With another quick pitch of is body, the warrior sent Trav to the ground again, this time landing harshly on his side, breaking off most of Trav's large shoulder armor with a snap, shattering it along the ground. Just as Trav climbed back to his feet again, he noticed that the warrior had collapsed to its knee, and stood motionless. Trav breathed a heavy sigh of relief as he took off his helmet. The sweat in his ruffled-up hair felt like ice as the gentle breeze of the day blew through it. Trav touched the small cut on his forehead, unintentionally rubbing a band of red across the brow. Patting his face off to rub of the rest of his spilled blood, Trav took another look at the armored giant.

    And when the beast began to rise to its feet again, Trav muttered in disbelief, "What the fuck does it take to kill it?" Tearing off the part of his limp cape that the broken shoulder armor still clung to, Trav glared at the iron titan as it clumsily clambered back upright.

    Just as Trav was about to strike again, a pair of short, thick blades struck the behemoth from behind, slicing into the back of it's knee. The beast staggered shortly as it tried to recover from the sudden strike, but the blades again took one last hacking slash at the giant's knee, this time managing to sever it completely. Now without a leg, The giant fell to the ground, creating a thunderous boom that echoed throughout the air, shaking the ground so violently that Trav nearly lost his footing. The owner of the blades was standing behind the fallen titan, his wrist-mounted blades attached firmly to the forearms of his dull gray EXO. "Needed some help?" the EXO'd soldier asked through his outdated face mask.

    "Tike!" Trav happily gasped.

    Tike slid the face cover of his helmet over top of his head, looking at the fallen giant, lying on the ground face-down. "He's not getting up," Tike said calmly, "Those types would never get up once they're on the ground."

    Trav blinked. "So it's a robot?" Trav asked.

    "Not really," Tike said, stepping onto the back of the fallen armor. Kneeling down upon its back, Tike dug a switchblade into the back of the beast, and then dragged it along the armor, tearing a neat, human-sized square in the back. Then, jabbing the tip of his blade into the middle of his torn-out patch, Tike removed the panel of armor from the beast and tossed it to the ground on the side. Folding away one blade back onto the rest position on his forearm, Tike reached into the inside of the metal monstrosity and pulled out a human arm. Folding his other blade back, Tike reached in with both hands, and then violently tore the owner of the arm out of the metal suit and onto the ground beside him.

    "He's not a robot!" Trav gasped.

    The man from inside the armor, his thin hair streaked with an aging grey, tried to pick himself up to his feet on his own. Tike quickly leapt off the armor's back and had the scar-faced soldier by the wrists, viciously twisting them behind his back. "Hello dirtbag," Tike growled a whisper into the soldier's ear.

    "So he was inside that thing, controlling it all along?" Trav said in a question, hardly believing it himself.

    "Yup," Tike replied, wrenching the soldier's arms tighter, collapsing the soldier to his knees. "This 'Titan' model EXO was designed during the war, but never met production. Too costly, supposedly."

    "Then how'd he get one?" Trav asked Tike, pointing the tip of his sword at the captured soldier.

    "The prince asked you a question," Tike snarled quietly into the soldier's ear again. "Answer him!" he barked.

    "Go to hell," the aged soldier muttered in defiance.

    "Oh, you think this hurts right now?" Tike snorted in a chuckle, "Wait until I do this." With that, Tike violently jerked the soldier's arm, driving a horrendous shriek of agony from his throat. "I can snap your elbow apart whenever I want," Tike said, "And an old man such as yourself doesn't have the bones he used to. So you better talk."

    The old soldier muttered bitterly. "Maybe if you answer me," Trav said, his sword still pointed at the defeated foe, "Just maybe I'll let you live."

    The old soldier grumbled. "What do you want?"

    "Where'd you get that EXO from?" Trav asked.

    "Ranadiam," the soldier quickly replied.

    "Who made it?" Tike asked just as quickly.

    "Ranadiam engineers," said the soldier.

    "But the technology needed to build this thing was obliterated," Tike rebuffed.

    "That's what everyone else thinks," the soldier swiftly said.

    Trav's and Tike's hearts simultaneously skipped a beat.

    "Yes, that's right," the soldier muttered. "Before the war, there was this nation called Canada. Kanadiam was the west half, Ranadiam was the east. Both the east and west were vital to Canada's survival," said the soldier. "The west produced food, and the east developed technology. The west was a practical prairie, the east was a technological jungle."

    Trav and Tike looked at each other in sudden horror. "You mean that Ryle can get his hands on technology like that?" Tike asked, desperately wanting to hear no, pointing to the fallen armor.

    "Yes," came the simple reply.

    "Let him go," Trav said abruptly. Tike did, and the soldier weakly climbed to his feet. "Go back to Ranadiam and tell Ryle his days are numbered." The soldier nodded once in disgruntled regret, and then turned away and walked off.

    Suddenly, Tike dashed towards Trav and snatched away his sword. Raising his arm high above his head, Tike roared as he hurled the sword like a javelin at the retreating soldier. The soldier could not even utter a cry of surprise and sudden pain as the sword entered his back and stuck out through his chest. As soon as the soldier hit the ground, Trav's blood ran cold.

    "Tike!" was all Trav could manage to gasp in disgust.

    Tike only shot Trav a short glare before he fixed his eyes on the dead soldier. "Remember rule number one, Trav?" Tike said impassionately. When Trav, his stomach beginning to knot, still glared at Trav in horror and anger, Tike turned towards the direction of Rixie's hut. "Come on, we've got to eat."

  13. #13
    Hogwash ---> iNFeCTED's Avatar
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    WAR GAMES

    Episode XV- On the Rocks

    She swivelled around in her office chair endlessly, spinning her short purple-dyed hair up into the air. Taking glances of her desk and the large window that let her see the stunningly immense Nuclear Mountains outside as she spun, she could not help but let her mind begin to complain how bored she was. Normally, life living up in the mountain range that was a product of the nuclear apocalypse half a year ago was not so slow and uninteresting, but today was just one of those days where nothing seemed to satisfy. When she joined the Ranadiam army and cut the thin scar on her right cheek, she had no idea that Ryle would send her and her underlings to the barren wasteland that was the middle of East Namerik. Worse, her station was stuck in the middle of the Nuclear Mountains, where the only thing that posed a threat to her station, even if it was an insignificantly pathetic threat, was the occasional bandit or two out of the hundreds that roamed East Namerik. Finally, after just ending three straight hours of spinning herself into a daze, she pulled open the top drawer of her desk and took out the glossy magazine that she had kept in perfect condition for years. The large bold letters, "For Her Adult Fun," never failed to tickle her fancy as she gingerly opened up to the page where she left off, unaware that she held the cover page to the screen of her beaten-up computer.

    "Lura, I've got an assignment for you."

    The sudden gruff voice from her computer made her jolt. Hastily stuffing away the naughty magazine back into her desk, Lura put on an innocent smile and looked at the stern face of her commander displayed upon the screen. "Yes, sir?" She asked.

    "Have you gotten that fax machine working yet?" The blonde-haired, scar-faced man asked.

    "More or less, lord Ryle," Lura said.

    "Good. I'm sending you something," Ryle replied blandly.

    A soft whirr of machinery filled the air as a small box on the floor beside Lura's desk sprung to life. Within seconds, a tiny slot on top of the machine produced a small, rectangular piece of paper which Lura quickly snatched up. On it was the face of Trav Orriss. "Oh, he's a pretty one," Lura said, "He's prince Trav, right?"

    "Yes," Ryle replied. "And I believe that he's headed your way."

    "My way?" Lura asked, "Why would he be coming to East Namerik- the Nuclear Mountains of all places?"

    Ryle muttered to himself. "I don't know," Ryle said, "But I think he's not just trying to run and hide from us," Ryle said calmly, "I think he and Mallar are up to something, something that involves coming through the Nuclear Mountains."

    Lura swivelled about in her chair again, looking at the print-out of Trav. "He's a cute one," Lura thought to herself.

    "Lura."

    The spat-out bark from Ryle jarred Lura back to reality again. "So you want me to capture him?" Lura asked.

    "Kill him," Ryle muttered coldly. "I don't care how you do it, kill him. Kill him, Mallar, and that slave-girl they're dragging around with them."

    At the mention of a female in Trav's presence, Lura looked at Trav's face again on the paper. "Then he's probably already taken," she inwardly sighed.

    "Lura!"

    Lura could tell Ryle's patience was wearing thin when he raised his voice, something that hardly anyone ever saw him do. "Sorry lord Ryle!" Lura quickly squeaked.

    Ryle groaned inwardly. "When you kill him, contact me immediately," Ryle ordered just before his presence vanished from the screen.

    Lura studied Trav's face again as soon as Ryle left the screen. Flipping open her magazine to the page she left off on, she compared the photograph to a page in the magazine. After a long, drawn out debate with herself, she said to herself with a giggle, "Yes, he looks close enough..."

    **********

    Rixie was able to walk without pain on her ankle after a few weeks since she injured it, and as soon as she could walk normally a few days later, the three picked off from where they left off.

    "Are these the Nuclear Mountains?" Trav asked Tike as he, Tike and Rixie hiked along the rocky mountain path.

    "These are them," Tike gruffly replied. "The only mountains in the world that we know of that were caused by the rupturing of the continental plates by the nuclear war."

    "What about earthquakes?" Rixie asked. "If that war broke apart a plate, shouldn't there be a few earthquakes every now and then?"

    "Should be, yes," Tike said, "But the last one was thirty years ago. I think the area is finally becoming stable."

    The last word out of Tike's mouth caught Trav and Rixie's attention. It sounded like Tike was winded. And a sudden growl from Tike's stomach made the large general weeze. Stopping abuptly, Tike took a deep breath and leaned against the wall of a rock face, breathing heavily. "Tike, you feeling okay?" Trav asked as he and Rixie stopped with him.

    "Fine, lord Trav," Tike muttered, gritting his teeth gently.

    Trav looked at Rixie, who looked at Tike. "You don't look fine," Rixie said curtly.

    Trav caught Rixie grinning to herself ever so slightly out of the corner of his eye. Trav looked at Tike again. "I think it's best we stop for awhile," he said.

    Just as Trav walked towards a wide patch of level terrain in front of him, Tike said, "No, we've got to keep moving."

    "Okay, let's go," Rixie hummed unusually loudly to Tike, whistling a tuneless melody with odd cheerfulness as she waltzed effortlessly past him and Trav. After she was a few meters ahead of them, she turned her head over her shoulder and asked with a cruel grin, "Oh come on, we've got to keep moving, don't we?"

    Trav could hear Tike grinding his teeth in anger, watching him glare viciously at Rixie, still trying to catch his breath. "Rixie, come back here," Trav said.

    Rixie stopped, shrugged casually, and took her time striding back to Trav and Tike. "Well, when I couldn't walk," Rixie sneered towards Tike, "guess what Tike said you should have done with me?"

    Trav could see Tike getting more irate by the second. He could almost feel whatever pain Tike was feeling in his body, and the searing rage that was now swelling from Rixie's subtle attacks. "Rixie," Trav said, "I think that you've made your point-"

    "Well let's go, Trav," Rixie said, jerking a thumb over her shoulder into the path ahead, "let's follow slowpoke's example that he set for me and leave him for the wolv-"

    The sudden flash of metal that flew up between Tike and Rixie's face nearly frightened Rixie to death. "I'm sorry," Tike weezed with a growl, folding his wristblade back down onto his forearm, "I must have slipped."

    Trav rolled his eyes. "Can't you two at least try to get along?"

    Rixie shot Trav a snarl. And then Tike shot Rixie another snarl. And then Rixe backed away biting her lip.

    "Come to think of it," Trav said, almost as irritated as Tike at Rixie's snappiness and nearly as frustrated as Rixie with Tike's bluntness, "I'm feeling a little tired as well." Trav rested his back against the rock face opposite of Tike and sunk to the ground. Then he said with solid resolute, "We're stopping for a while."

    ***********

    With a thin, large section of a long-dead tree branch in hand, Trav brought it upon the two short branches from the same tree fastened to Tike's wrists. The faster Trav struck with quick jabs or slashes, the more he grew frustrated with Tike's ability to block or reverse his strikes with his own branches. Suddenly, with a quick jerk of his shoulder, Tike poked Trav in the stomach with the butt of the branch on his left arm, poking the prince right beneath the soft spot of his sternum. "You've got to learn to keep your cool, lord Trav," Tike instructed, still holding the branch to Trav, "Otherwise you get reckless."

    "Too late for that," Rixie muttered under her breath, sitting on the ground at the other side of the trail, poking her hatchet around on the rocks with her toe.

    "Oh, let's see you do better," Trav shot back.

    "No," Rixie bluntly replied, turning her back on Trav.

    "Wuss," Trav snorted. Rixie quietly growled in anger.

    "Weakling is more like it," Tike added. Trav heard Rixie grate her teeth.

    "A weaking with all mouth and no spine," Trav spat out.

    With a sudden snarl, Rixie clambered to her feet. With strides fuelled by rage, Rixie stormed over her hatchet on the ground and towards Tike, grabbing the branch stub on his right arm and tearing it off of its loose fastening. Holding the branch to Trav's face, Rixie snarled, "I'm going to make you eat this!"

    Trav grinned haughtily, taking two steps back from Rixie. "Try."

    With a wild swing, Rixie brought the short branch down at Trav, which was blocked easily by Trav's mock-sword. Then, with an underhand-driven upward slash, Trav knocked the branch from Rixie's hand. Rixie fell to her knee with a yelp, rubbing her hand. "Was that it?" Trav snorted a chuckle, sounding disappointed.

    Rixie snatched Tike's other branch stub from his arm as she got back to her feet. "Lucky shot," she snarled.

    Trav rolled his eyes and held his branch in a swordplay stance. Letting Rixie take the first strike, Trav bounced Rixie's branch off of his own with a quick swing along his side, and with another quick jab out to his side, Trav skillfully pinned Rixie's branch to the rock face with his own.

    Rixie grew increasingly angered when she saw Trav struggling to hold back a laugh. "Want to keep going?" Trav asked, rubbing his second victory under Rixie's skin.

    Rixie took a deep breath, and was suddenly calm. "You know, Trav," she said, "You may have my stick pinned to the wall, but that doesn't mean you've won."

    Trav blinked twice. "Oh?"

    Without saying another word, Rixie's right fist smashed into Trav's jaw. Even though Rixie put all of her strength behind it, it barely managed to make Trav stumble backwards. Immediately, Tike had Rixie by the wrists behind her. "No one likes a sore loser," Tike said to her, "And no one hits lord Trav. Especially you."

    Trav rubbed the new bruise on his jaw. "Tike, let her go," he said. Tike grudgingly released Rixie, leaving Rixie muttering in contempt. "Tike," said Trav, "Next time Rixie does something stupid like that, don't get ready to kill her, okay?"

    Tike glared at Rixie, who glared at him back. "Yes, lord Trav," Tike muttered.

    "Yes, Rixie won that time," Trav said, much to the delight of Rixie. "but if it's a fistfight she wants," Trav said, glaring eye-to-eye with Rixie, "She'd never stand a chance."

    "Oh, now your whining that you lost?" Rixie sneered. Tike had to bite his lip to keep himself from tearing Rixie's head off of her thin neck.

    "Oh, you want to try one?" Trav retorted, irritated at Rixie's sneidness.

    "I'll give you another black eye if you want it," Rixie shot back.

    "You couldn't."

    "You want to see me do it again?"

    "Just try."

    Rixie's fist shot out at Trav in a wide swing, a swing so fierce that it made her stumble into Trav, with her knuckles catching Trav on the cheekbone. Almost on a response instinct, Trav wound back his shoulder and unloaded a powerful jab like a freight train into Rixie's stomach.

    When Rixie began to sputter uncontrollably and slump onto Trav's shoulder, Trav knew he had gone too far. With an agonized weeze, Rixie spilled off of Trav and onto her knees, coughing and weezing madly, wrapping her arms around her waist. Even though Trav and Tike had once wished that they could put an end to Rixie's snarkiness with a quick jab, they watched Rixie roll onto her hands and knees in horror as Rixie coughed wildly. Tike looked at Trav with dismay, glanicng back at Rixie with sudden pity. Trav kept his eyes locked on Rixie, emotionally unable to even look at Tike.

    Rixie groaned and shakily rose to her knees, moaning and snarling in a mix of pain, anger, and a sudden sadness. "Rixie, are you-?" Trav stammered, "I- I'm sorry-!"

    "Go to hell, you son of a bitch," Rixie snarled angrily, trying in vain to force back tears. Trav reached down his hand to Rixie's side, only to have Rixie viciously swat it away. Barely able to stagger to her feet, Rixie stumbled against the rock face of the trail, and began rubbing along the rocks towards her hatchet. Carefully picking up her small axe, Rixie gripped it tightly and began to stagger along further down the trail, continuing without Trav or Tike.

    "Where are you going?" Trav asked.

    "I don't know where I'm going," Rixie weezed a snarl, "But you can fucking go to hell!"

    With that, Rixie vanished down the winding mountain path. Trav was about to follow her when Tike clamped his hand on Trav's shoulder, anchoring him firmly to the spot. "Leave her alone for awhile," Tike said.

    "But Tike," Trav weakly protested, "we can't leave her alone!"

    Tike sighed. "She'll come back, don't worry. She'll have to. She knows she'll only get lost without me in these mountains. And to protect her if she runs into the bandits that roam these parts."

    Trav looked worriedly down the path that Rixie had vanished down with a sudden hatred for himself. "I sure hope so..."
    Last edited by iNFeCTED; 3rd July 2005 at 12:10 AM.

  14. #14
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    double uppy. Yay.

    Episode XVI- A Mountain of Trouble

    Three hours had past since Rixie had left them. The sun was beginning to set and the shadows of the Nuclear Mountains cast Trav and Tike's clearing into near-darkness. "I think we should go look for her now," Trav said to Tike as they sat on opposite sides of the trail's edges.

    "She ought to be back soon," Tike reasoned. "I think it would be best if we let her cool off and come back on her own."

    "But Tike, it's almost dark," Trav said worriedly, "what if she's gotten lost? What if she's injured herself? What if she ran into those bandits you were telling us about?"

    Tike gazed down the trail where Rixie had gone. "She does have an EXO of her own, lord Trav," said Tike. "If she could kill those two trained Ranadiam soldiers, even if it was by surprise, then I don't think some lowlife thieves would be able to harm her."

    Trav bit his lip anxiously. "I feel so horrible..."

    *******

    Her footsteps were not as thunderously angry as they were before. Now being alone by herself for the first time in weeks, Rixie was left with just herself and her thoughts as she travelled the mountain path by herself. Her stomach felt much better since she left, in fact, it felt like her fight with Trav never happened. But somehow, Rixie knew deep inside of her that if Trav really wanted to hurt her, she would not have gotten up and walked away. Rixie sighed as the sun began to hide behind the peaks of the Nuclear Mountains and the shadows began to envelop her, suddenly making her shiver from the cold just as she walked out of the enclosed trail and beside a large ledge, overlooking a deep valley. Stopping her march, Rixie looked over into the valley, watching the sun set below the hoizon.

    Wrapping her arms around herself, Rixie backed up and leaned up against the rock face behind her. As what remained of the sun warmed her again, Rixie's thoughts again turned to Trav and Tike. Recounting the events before and leading up to her departure, Rixie began to question herself. Was she really so irritating as she thought Trav and Tike thought she was? Were the years of pent up anger and bitterness since her parents sent her into servitude the fuel that she ran upon? Grimacing at the memory of her last glimpse at her mother and father vanishing from the Kanadiam courtyard with her on the other side, inside the castle, never to see them again, Rixie decided it was time for a change. Beginning to feel that she had brought the shot to her stomach on herself, Rixie turned around slowly, took one last gaze at the setting sun, pondering the best way to apologize to Trav and Tike, and went back down the trail.

    Just before she could set foot down the enclosed trail, a row of black-EXO'd soldiers suddenly encircled her. On impulse, Rixie's thumb pressed the small heat panel on the hilt of her hatchet, and she was immediately covered in her red EXO armor. The circle of soldiers tightened on her, and once Rixie saw that each of them wore the familiar cross-like scar on their right cheeks, she knew that they were Ranadiam soldiers, and she was in for the fight of her life. As the Ranadians each brandished their own weapons and continued to advance on her, Rixie gripped her hatchet tighter, ready to let the blood fly.

    "I'll take care of this one."

    A sudden command from outside the circle made the soliders halt. A gap in the wall of soldiers opened up in front of Rixie and from it stepped a short, purple-EXO'd woman. The yellow scarf she wore around her neck waved camly in the slight breeze as she walked towards Rixie. "Hello, servant," The woman adressed Rixie.

    Rixie snarled and held her hatchet beside her shoulder, ready to strike. "Who are you?" She growled.

    "Lura," the scarved soldier replied. "You?"

    "I"m not telling you," Rixie spat back.

    Lura willed her EXO's visor to retract, showing Rixie her clear blue eyes. "Why so hostile?" She asked. When all Lura recieved in response was a snarl from Rixie, Lura said, "If you tell me, maybe I won't kill you."

    Rixie quickly glanced around at the soldiers that surrounded her. "Rixie," she said, "Rixie Rezze."

    "Rixie Rezze, huh?" Lura spoke aloud so that the circle of soldiers could hear. "You don't suppose we could find Trav Orriss around here, do you?"

    "If you want to kill him," Rixie snarled, gritting her teeth and preparing to strike with her hatchet, "You'll have to kill me first."

    Lura only grinned and stepped back from Rixie. She held out her arm to her side, held out her armored hand, and opened it wide to the air. Immediately, as flash shot from the ranks of the soldiers and into Lura's open palm. And just as they made contact, Lura swung her arm by Rixie's face with the flash, knocking Rixie onto the ground. When Rixie's vision uncrossed, she saw Lura twirling a nunchuck in her hand. "Oh, I'm not going to kill him," she said as Rixie staggered to her feet, "Yet."

    Before Rixie could completely recover, Lura battered her nunchuck against Rixie's temples twice with lightning speed. Rixie was taken back, stunned from the rapid assault. Then Rixie quickly swung her hatchet at Lura's shoulder, only to have Lura nimbly skip out to her left. Rixie's efforts were rewarded with a quick nunchuck strike to the back of her neck, just centimeters away from the unprotected part of her neck. Rixie gagged and stumbled forward, trying in vain to clear her scrambled vision. With a quick pivot of her heel, Lura brought the nunchuck into Rixie's nose, flooring her with a crunch. Rixie recovered her senses just in time to see Lura swing her nunchuck to the ground at her face. Narrowly rolling out of the way in time, Rixie spun to her feet and took a wild swipe with her hatchet at Lura's neck. Lura just managed to use the chain of her nunchuck as a shield before the blade could sever her head. Almost as soon as the axe hit the chain, Lura twisted it around Rixie's hatchet and tugged on it. Rixie was sent skidding forward into Lura, who brought her knee up into Rixie's gut seconds later. Rixie felt all the air in her stomach suddenly escape, leaving her to collapse to her knees, weezing for breath. Swinging around her nunchuck some more, Lura took one last glance at Rixie before she swung the weight square on Rixie's nose, knocking her helmet clear off of her head. Rixie collapsed onto her back, only breathing shallowly.

    Lura gave a heavy breath and took off her helmet. Ruffling her heat-matted hair in the breeze, Lura looked over her shoulder. "We've got the bait," she told the ring of soldiers, "Now we set the trap."

    Episode XVII- War Games Begin

    The sun was now lying low upon the peaks of the mountains, and just as the shadows covered the clearing and the temperature rapidly chilled, Trav suddenly stood up and drew his sword. "I'm going to look for her, and there's nothing you can do to stop me!" Trav firmly declared, storming past Tike.

    Tike only rose behind Trav. "I'm not going to stop you," he said, "I'm coming with you." Trav stopped and looked at Tike over his shoulder, confused. "You're right, lord Trav," said Tike, "She has been gone for too long."

    The winding mountain path only made Trav more uneasy as they travelled. "What if she did really mean she was leaving?" Trav asked.

    Tike grimaced. "I doubt she would," Tike muttered, "She knows that she'd be safer in East Namerik with us. But knowing how headstrong that girl is..." Tike trailed off.

    "No, you're right, Tike," said Trav, "She wouldn't have left alone," he said, "I hope."

    The two soon came to a cliff overlooking a valley, just in time to see a sliver of the sun setting in the horizon, painting the sky in warmth. "She could have stopped here to watch the sunset," Tike suggested, looking at the diminishing sun.

    Tike was expecting Trav to answer, but instead got no reply. Tike looked behind him to see Trav knelt down, looking at the ground. "I could be wrong, Tike," said Trav, "But I think this is blood."

    Tike curiously walked over to Trav and kneeled down beside him. On the ground in front of Trav was a thin red stain in the dust, only a few inches long. Tike pressed a bit on his finger and examined it more closely. "It's blood all right," Tike said.

    "D'you think it could be Rixie's?" Trav asked worriedly. Standing up, Trav looked into the valley below. "What if she has hurt herself? What if she's lying injured somewhere near here?"

    "I doubt it," Tike said, "This blood seems fairly stale. It's been here for quite a long time." Just as Trav looked further into the valley, Tike said, "You know, for someone who hates Rixie as much as I do, you certainly do seem quite concerned about her."

    Trav suddenly felt a flash of weakness come over him. "I-I just don't want to see anyone get injured, alright?" Trav replied. "She may be irritating, but I can't just let her kill herself," he murmured, "Not after what I did to her..."

    Tike looked back into the sunset. "Empathy can be a good thing to have, lord Trav," he said, "But it can also be your weakness."

    Trav spun to his feet and glared at Tike. "Are you saying I shouldn't feel bad for anything wrong I've done?" Trav snarled. Trav's sudden anger startled Tike. "You want me to become as cold-blooded as you are?"

    "Settle down, lord Trav," Tike said, still trying to calm his shaken nerves. "I'm just saying that there's a time and place for sadness, and now isn't the time or the place." Tike's steady words forced Trav's mouth shut. "If you care so much about Rixie's safety, then concentrate on that now, not trying to reconsile with your own guilt."

    Trav bit his lip and growled inwardly. He knew Tike was right, he just did not want to flush his action with Rixie out of his head so easily. "Then I'll find her, or die trying."

    "Can we help you?"

    A sudden jeering snicker of a voice from above them made Trav and Tike whirl around and look at the peak of the cliff face behind them, immediately locking eyes with two black-EXO'd figures. "Ranadians!" Trav and Tike gasped together, simultaneously activating their EXOs.

    The shorter soldier on the left only sniggerd and glanced briefly at the larger soldier on the right. "Hey, we're not going to fight you," he said, "We just came to give you a message from Lura."

    "Lura," Tike muttered, "I've heard that name before..."

    "Lura wants you both to know that we've just caught a friend of yours."

    Trav's blood ran cold. "Rixie!" he blurted out.

    The large soldier looked at the shorter one. "That was her name, right?" he asked, as if recalling trivia.

    "Yeah, Rixie Rezze-something," replied the shorter one, "I didn't really catch her last name."

    Trav was just about ready to climb up to them and scatter their limbs across the whole mountain range. "If you've hurt her-!"

    The two soldiers suddenly burst with a laugh. "We're not going to hurt her," said the smaller one, "Yet."

    "Like we said," said the taller soldier, "Our commander Lura's got a message for you. You've got two days to surrender, or your friend gets dissected and killed, in that order."

    Trav would not hear any more. With a roar of anger, a wide blast of energy shot from the module above his visor quick a bolt of lightning, melting half of the larger Ranadian. The smaller soldier yelped as he waved his hands in the air like a windmill, trying in futility to maintain his balance. Just before the soldier could hit the ground in front of Trav, the prince had already rushed forward and speared the falling soldier in the back, pinning him onto the rock face. Trav waited motionless until the fallen soldier's hand stopped twitching and the blood had stoped squirting all over his sword. Slowly withdrawing his sword from the Ranadian's back, Trav spun around and let his blade slice into the soldier's neck as the body fell, coating the ground red. For a moment, Trav glared at the bloody body, wondering if he would feel better if he planted his sword deep into the soldier's chest. Eventually deciding it would do him no good, Trav slid his sword back into its sheath on his back, deactivating his EXO.

    "What do you want to do, lord Trav?" Tike asked, disarming his own EXO. "I know we can't surrender, but you don't want her killed."

    "We'll have to try and rescue her, Tike," Trav said, "I'm not going to let her die, and I'm sure not going to give up."

    Tike groaned. "Lord Trav, there's only two of us and hundreds of them," Tike said, "We're in no better position than what we were in Kanadiam," Tike muttered, "And now we're playing on their field. We'll lose if we fight them this outnumbered."

    "Then would you care for some more numbers?" a voice from behind them asked. Trav and Tike spun around to see a mass of armed men in the trail behind them, each looking at Tike. "Lord Mallar," said the man at the head of the army, "King San sends you his best."

  15. #15
    Hogwash ---> iNFeCTED's Avatar
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    'Nother doubleuppy. Warning though, Episode 18 is short, but 19 is a very long read. And very violent and bloody too.

    Episode XVIII: The Other Art of War

    The metal cuffs that fastened her to the cold stone wall grew more and more unbearable by the hour. The dark dungeon was as frigid as a block of ice, and Rixie found herself shivering nonstop. Her lip had swollen and puffed, and the blood that had once dribbled from her nose was now a red crust. The back of her head ached when she rolled her neck, however much she could with her wrists and ankles clamped to the freezing wall. Last time she heard from the guards from behind the door, she had just finished her tenth hour on the wall, with only thirty-eight hours until her execution. Even though she had never felt this level of agony in her life, the pain was worse on the inside. She could never stop thinking about Trav and Tike, more often Trav, and all the times she snapped at them, even when Trav had saved her life twice. Rixie wimpered when she could just see Trav leaving her to die this time, and she could not blame him. She could hear the guards on the other side of the door laugh at her plight. "Wonder what crybaby's cryin' about?" she heard a gruff voice snicker.

    Suddenly, Rixie heard faint footsteps approach the door. With the shuffling of many feet, the door was opened just enough for her captor to slip in and close the door behind her. Lura steadily descended the short staircase, taking a glance at Rixie before she reached Rixie's level. "Good morning," Lura said with odd cheerfulness. Rixie only scowled as Lura approached her. "Hope you weren't too cold."

    "Go to hell," Rixie muttered bitterly.

    Lura rolled her eyes. "Do you really have to be so hostile?" She asked. When Lura only got another weak snarl from Rixie in reply, she said, "Hey, it could be worse. You could be ending up like him," she said, jerking her thumb to the opposite wall. A yellowed, decaying skeleton lay slumped against the wall, previously unnoticed by Rixie. "He didn't last too long," Lura muttered.

    Rixie's eyes were now glued to the remains. "You're sick," she growled under her breath.

    Lura shrugged. "Hey, it's what I'm paid do," she said. "In fact, I really don't want to have you in here," she said, leaning up against Rixie's wall, "It must really suck to be you right now." Rixie's upper lip arched into a snarl. "Of course," Lura said, "I've got to keep you here like this because Ryle told me to, and just in case one of Ryle's inspectors comes for a surprise visit like they did last time. Did I mention I got his job after the last visit?" Lura asked, pointing to the skeleton again. Rixie shivered. "Yeah, it kinda' creeps me out too," Lura hummed.

    "Does that mean you're going to kill me too?" Rixie murmured.

    "If Mallar and Trav don't give up," she said. "Of course, Ryle's just going to have me kill them both anyway. It'd make my job a lot easier if they just surrendered now."

    "Do you honestly think Trav would give in that easily?" Rixie muttered.

    "No," Lura hummed. "I'm not expecting him to. He'll probably come here looking to rescue you, because I know surrendering is the last thing on his mind."

    Rixie hung her head down. "That's Trav, alright," she muttered silently.

    "But I didn't just come down here to chat," said Lura. When Rixie looked at her inquizitively, Lura said, "There's a saying that goes along the lines of 'Ryle is the worst enemy you can have, but he is also the best ally.'"

    "What?" Rixie murmured.

    "If you were to, say, tell me where Trav and Mallar were when you last saw them, perhaps when we kill them, I could convince Ryle to let you off the hook completely, and maybe coerce him into," Lura paused to clear her throat, "sharing his wealth a bit."

    "So you're asking me to sell Trav and Tike out to you," Rixie muttered.

    "In other words," Lura replied, "yes."

    "Go fuck yourself."

    Lura frowned. Seconds later, she fiercely swatted Rixie's cheek. "Maybe you'll be a bit more coopertative tomorrow," she said as Rixie wimpered silently. Climbing the short stairs to the door, Lura took one last look at Rixie before she knocked on the door to be opened. "By the way," she said, "Hope you sleep well."

    ******

    It was a warm day, so warm that Trav's helmet felt like an oven. He, Tike, and the new army behind them looked over the massive, jagged outcropping, with a Ranadiam station just within their view. Suddenly, an image of a roaring flame raced past Trav's mind. Trav grunted as he held his forehead with the heel of his hand. "Something wrong, lord Trav?" Tike asked.

    "Nothing," Trav murmured, regaining his composure.

    "Nervous?" Tike suggested.

    "A little, I suppose."

    "You'll get used to it," Tike said, "Raids like these can get pretty bloody pretty quick."

    "There! They're switching!" A soldier beside Trav looking through binoculars over the rocks suddenly exclaimed.

    The tall, dark-haired leader of the army took the binoculars and took a look for himself. "They're open. Lord Tike, all you need is to give us the order."

    Just before Tike could open his mouth, Trav drew his sword and declared, "Attack!"

    Episode XIX- Trav versus Lura

    Just as Trav feared, Tike was right. The raid was even more brutal up close, worse than anything he could ever have imagined. The frontlines of Trav's unexpected army pushed the surprised Ranadians back into thier fortress, and then the bloody battle raged even fiercer than before. Trav had to take his eyes off of the battle every so often to avoid stepping on the severed limbs of ally and enemy alike as he slipped further into the fortress alone. Now with the dim noises of war far behind him, Trav dashed through the hallways, not even bothering to remember the way back, with his footsteps clanking loudly from his EXO, keeping only one thing on his mind.

    "Rixie!"

    Trav shouted out Rixie's name in every hallway he ran down, and with every empty reply he got, he was further infuriated and terrified; terrified over Rixie, infuriated at himself. Dashing up and down corridors and staircases alike, Trav kept running through the halls, calling out Rixie's name. Even though it lasted for only a split-second, something caught Trav's eye that made him come to an immediate stop. A wide open door, too wide open to be normal, led into a small room with a desk and a beaten-up computer, with the opposite wall nothing but a large window overlooking the caps of the Nuclear Mountains behind a large plateau, and on the desk lay what Trav nearly wept for joy once he saw again. "Rixie!"

    Rixie's head lolled towards him as Trav dashed to her side. Looking over her, Trav was thankful that she looked all right. When Trav looked back into Rixie's eyes, he saw her own eyes, glazed over and half-stunned, gaze back at him, and Rixie managed a weak smile. "Rixie, thank God you're alive!" Trav sniffled, holding Rixie's shoulders to his own. Rixie welcomed Trav's embrace, clinging to his shoulders as well.

    Suddenly, Rixie lost her smile. She looked over Trav's shoulder, looked back at Trav and murmured, "Behind..."

    Trav pulled himself and Rixie away from the desk just as a bolt of energy shot from behind him, smashing through the large window. Using his own body as a shield for Rixie, Trav looked over his shoulder, and saw the purple-EXO'd figure of Lura. "Lucky boy," she said.

    Trav gripped his sword tightly, stood up, and faced Lura. "Who are you?" He snarled.

    "The name's Lura," she relied, brushing her yellow scarf loosely draped around her shoulders, "And you must be prince Trav."

    Trav took a quick glance at Rixie, now slumped up against the leg of the desk, watching Trav and Lura intently. "Is that how you fight your battles?" Trav snarled at Lura, "Picking on those who can't defend themselves?"

    Lura only grinned. "No, I pick at people's weak spots," She said, glancing at Rixie, "And yours is left wide open."

    Trav barely managed to pull Rixie up to her feet in time to avoid her being skewered by another energy bolt shot from Lura's helmet module. Rixie let her arms dangle over Trav's shoulders, barely able to stand on her own. "If it's me you want, then leave her out of this!" Trav snarled.

    "I suppose," Lura shrugged. "She's served her purpose anyway." Lura walked towards the broken window and stepped outside of the windowsill, onto the hard ground below. Trav glared at her angrily with Rixie still slumped on his chest as Lura beckoned him from outside. "Coming?" She invited.

    Trav looked at Rixie, who had her chin resting on Trav's armored right shoulder. "I'll be back soon, Rixie," Trav said as he set Rixie down and leaned her against the wall. Trav followed Lura to the plateau, calling up every fighting tactic he could remember as he stepped through the window.

    The wind blew gently through the rock-hard field, blowing past Trav and Lura as they glared at each other. "Don't you have any weapons?" Trav asked Lura, raising his sword to his shoulder.

    Lura flexed her open hands. "You'll see if you come and get me," she challenged. When Trav did not budge, Lura said, "Or maybe I'll just go back and kill your friend anyway."

    Something within Trav exploded in flames. Anger-fuelled agression surged through him as he suddenly dashed towards Lura, ready to slash away wildly with his sword. Just before he could swing his shoulders, a flash of metal flew into Lura's open hand, whipping Trav in the cheek as soon as Lura caught it. Trav was sent to his knee as Lura chuckled. Raising her hands in front of her, Lura showed Trav her two nunchucks, one in each hand. "Magnetic grip," she said, opening her hands completely. The nunchucks defied gravity, staying firm in her palm. "Cool, huh?"

    Trav roared a reply as he slashed at Lura again, only to have her quickly block Trav's sword with the handles of her nunchucks. Trav glared at Lura though his visor and Lura's, and he could see Lura silently laughing at him. Trav pulled his sword away and struck again at Lura's ribs, but once again she blocked Trav's blade with the nunchucks. Trav pulled back his sword again and thrust the tip at Lura's face, but Lura quickly weaved to her left and wrapped the chain of her nunchuck around Trav's blade. With a roar, Lura yanked the sword out of Trav's hands, and jammed her knee into Trav's gut when he stumbled forwards. Now with Trav doubled over, Lura gripped the handle of Trav's sword and swung it over her head, bringing it downward at Trav's neck. Trav barely pulled himself back in time, letting the blade sail by his face. Seconds later, Trav had the blade of his sword wrapped in his arms, and shot Lura a quick glare before smashing his elbow into her nose. Losing her grip on Trav's sword, Lura staggered backwards, rubbing her nose and sniffling as Trav began to regain his breath. "Not bad for a kid," Lura smirked, spraying a bit of blood down her lips with a short snort.

    Trav wiped his lip with the back of his hand. "Is that what you think of me?" Trav growled. "Then I'll be glad to show you what I'm really capable of."

    It only took a mocking grin from Lura to set Trav on the attack again, slashing viciously at Lura with his sword. Every time he brought his blade upon her, Lura swiftly blocked and countered it with the chains of her nunchucks. After blocking a wild swipe from Trav, Lura wrapped her chain around Trav's sword again and held it taut, immobilizing Trav's arm. Struggle as he might, Trav could not free his blade from Lura's grip. Suddenly, Trav rushed at Lura and buried his shoulder into Lura's gut with all the strength his legs could muster. Lura let out a gasp of surprise and pain as Trav hoisted her up by her stomach on his shoulder, and dashed towards anything large that first caught his eye. Trav had seen a large boulder that was lodged into the ground of the plateau, and soon he had used Lura's spine as a battering ram on it. Lura let out a scream of agony as she jolted between Trav's shoulders and the rock. Just a Trav backed up to smash her into the boulder again, Lura kicked her legs up onto the boulder and grabbed Trav firmly by the sides of his hemlet. With whatever strength she could find within a split-second, Lura yanked Trav's head forward and thrust her knee upwards, smashing the two together. Trav was sent to the ground immediately as Lura collapsed beside him on her knee. Trav clambered to his feet and quickly staggered away, still clutching his sword tightly. Lura rose to her feet and rubbed the small of her back, moaning loudly. Rubbing his bloodied lip, Trav ran his tongue over his teeth, relieved to find that they were all there. The sudden taste of blood on his gums, however, made him wince once he felt it trickle into his mouth and out again. Trav felt a thin, wide cut on the top of his gums, feeling more and more of his own blood paint his mouth chin red. Rubbing his lips again, Trav glared angrily at Lura, who returned his glare with equal hatred. Only taking a quick glance at her bright yellow scarf, Lura snarled at Trav, "Great, you've got your blood in it. You know how long it'll take to get that out?"

    Remembering what Tike had told him when they first entered the Nuclear Mountains, Trav had to bite his lip to keep him from charging at Lura again, knowing she was trying to coerce him into losing his cool. "Then you'd better take it off before I get yours on it too," Trav grinned.

    Lura unwraveled her scarf around her shoulders and tossed it to the ground. "I'm through playing around with you," Lura growled, holding her nunchucks out from her sides, "Let's see how good you really are."

    "Gladly," Trav snorted back, poising his shoulders and sword.

    Immedately, Trav and Lura charged at each other. Trav swung his blade at Lura's head, with Lura quickly blocking it with the chains of her nunchucks. Just before Trav could pull his sword back, Lura again entangled his blade in her chains, and yanked on his sword. Trav stumbled forwards a tiny bit, but kept a firm grip on his sword. Lura tugged again and again on Trav's sword, only getting Trav to budge not more than an inch each time. Suddenly, Trav danced backwards and viciously ripped his shoulder across his chest, flinging Lura off her feet and flying past Trav. With a wail of surprise, Lura fell face-first onto the rocky ground, still clutching her nunchucks with Trav's sword still wrapped in them. Trav began to thrash his arm about, trying to shake Lura off of his blade, but Lura doggedly kept hold as she was dragged all over the ground. Finally managing to struggle to her feet, Lura rubbed her cut and bruised jaw with her free hand. "I'll stop if you want," Trav offered, spitting out more blood onto his chin from his broken gums, "Then maybe I won't kill you."

    Trav only got a snarl for a reply as Lura suddenly tugged on her nunchuck, staggering Trav forward. As soon as the two were toe-to-toe, Lura swatted Trav across the cheek with her free nunchuck, driving Trav to his knee. And then, with all the power her shoulder could pull, Lura tore her arm across her chest, smashing Trav's ear with her nunchuck so fiercely that it knocked Trav's helmet off of his head. Trav gasped as he hit the ground on his side, rubbing his ear and wishing away the loud ringing inside of it. Trav rolled onto his stomach before shakily getting to one knee, unaware of a stream of blood from underneath his visor was dribbling a wide streak of red down his face, and that Lura was right behind him, breathing quietly. Just as Trav planted his sword into the ground to use as a support, Lura stretched the chain of her nunchuck wide and threw her arms over Trav's head. Before Trav could realize what had happened, Lura pulled her arms back, pulling the chain of her nunchuck into Trav's throat. Trav gagged as Lura crossed her arms and uncrossed them, wrapping the chain tightly under Trav's neck just after Trav slipped the tips of his fingers underneath the chain. Lura pulled the chain as far apart as she could, leaving Trav kicking his feet frantically when she arched herself backward. Trav choked and gagged wildly, struggling as he felt whatever air left in him squeeze out of his throat. Lura snickered to herself as she listened to Trav's gagging, tightening the chain's chokehold on Trav. "Why don't you just be a good boy and die quietly?" Lura suggested as Trav continued to thrash, writhing weaker and weaker by the second, "Then I can kill Mallar and your girlfriend sooner!"

    It was the instant that Trav heard Lura laughing at him when a sudden flame raced across his mind. Every noise from the world around him was suddenly drowned out by the quiet crackling sound of burning embers echoing inside of his ears. His mouth suddenly went dry as his throat felt like it had been set alight. As soon as Trav thought the words "My throat feels like it's burning," a flame shot past his mind's eyes. Trav winced as he felt himself collase to his knees, and he thought that everything around him turned to a deep, endless, black void. Suddenly, a ring of flames encircled and raged around him. For a moment, Trav nearly forgot that he was being strangled to death as his ears were suddenly filled with an eerie wailing.

    "Burning!"

    Trav's heart nearly stopped when he heard that familiar cry.

    His mind was now an imagined bonfire. Trav shivered uncontrollably once he heard screams and howls infest his ears, coming from all around him. He thought for a moment that he saw a severed hand and head roll at his feet, but when he thought twice, all that he saw around him was heaps of rubble and smoke, and the silence around him made his heart beat weakly and his throat sieze up completely. And just when Trav thought he screamed for the spirits to leave him, his mind suddenly snapped back to the rocky plateau, with Lura still behind him, still trying to choke him to death.

    With a sudden roar, Trav kicked his feet up one last time, and his foot hit the hilt of his sword, still lodged in the ground in front of him. With whatever little strength he had left in his oxygen-deprived body, Trav springboarded off of his sword and right over Lura's head. Lura squealed in surprise as Trav's whole weight suddenly pressed against her, and Lura could only hold him for two seconds before she collapsed onto her back, and having Trav crush her between the ground and his body. The air in Lura's lungs was forcefully blasted out of her mouth and her helmet rolled off her head as she gasped for air, releasing her stranglehold on Trav. Just as Trav rolled off of her, he jabbed his elbow into Lura's face as hard as his extremely weakened body could for him. Trav crawled to his feet, thankful that air once again flowed inside of him. Lura struggled to her feet as well, spitting up blot after blot of blood onto her jaw, rubbing her mouth and moaning. Her bloodied lower lip began to puff up as she spread blood on her chin every time she breathed. The blood that drenched Trav's forehead began to cool, dribbling slowly down his jawlines and between his eyes. Lura spat out a tooth and hissed at Trav. Trav glared back at Lura in return, his upper lip curling into a feral snarl. Now that both of them had their weapons gripped tightly in their hands, they glared at each other savagely, eating the other alive with their eyes. And as soon as their eyes locked, they lunged together. Trav slashed at Lura again, and Lura again caught his blade in her chain. Trav never noticed that they were so close to the edge of the plateau until Lura suddeny dove forward and smashed her shoulder into Trav's chest, sending him teetering on the edge of the cliff. And just before he lost his balance, Trav tugged his shoulder back, sending a surprised Lura crashing into him, and both were sent falling helplessly.

    The next few seconds felt like it was all in slow-motion to Trav, tumbling head over heels in the air as he and Lura fell to the plateau below. They both hit the bottom at the same time, and when Trav landed on his side, he heard a blood-curdling scream come from Lura. And when Trav lay on his back, he took a look at his right shoulder, suddenly aware of an immese pain tearing through his arm. And when he realized he no longer felt his arm, twisted unnaturally around, attached to the rest of his body, Trav let out the most deafening scream of his life.

    For hours, Trav roared in agony, unable to move or even feel his right arm. Finally finding the strength to bear the pain ripping through his body, Trav staggered to his feet. Trav looked around for his sword, but all he could see though his hazing red vision was reddish brown rocks and another empty cliff. Still able to walk, Trav staggered around, looking for his sword. A sudden groan of pain made Trav look behind him, and he saw Lura limping on one leg behind him, with her left leg grotesquely twisted outward at the knee, dragging behind her. A wide cut above her right eye painted the right side of her face a dark red. Trav had to shut his left eye to stop blood from dribbling into it, keeping his right locked on Lura, swearing to kill her at all costs, knowing that Lura had sworn the same for him.

    "You still want to fight me, do you?" Trav roared.

    "I won't fight you, I'll rip your fucking throat out!" Lura snarled.

    "Let's see you try it, bitch!" Trav viciously snarled back as Lura limped towards him.

    As soon as they were toe-to-toe again, Lura threw a wide-swung fist at Trav's temple. Even though the weak punch would hardly make anyone stumble, it nearly floored the battered Trav. Trav responed with a weak punch of his own, almost sending both Lura and himself to the ground. Lura suddenly meshed both fists together and smashed her fists on top of Trav's limp shoulder. Trav screamed in agony upon impact, stumbling backwards and cradling his shoulder. Just before Lura could strike again, Trav arched his leg into the air and thrust his foot down upon Lura's twisted knee with all the power he had left. Lura's scream made Trav's blood curdle as she fell to the ground, holding her knee with her mangled leg sticking up in the air. With a snarl, Trav wound back his leg and kicked Lura on the inside of her injured knee so fiercely that it spun Lura around on the ground. Lura howled in agony as Trav fell to his knee, completely exhausted by the raging pain in his mangled shoulder. With the last of his strength, Trav grasped the ankle of Lura's wounded leg and viciously yanked on it, again hearing her horrifying scream. Just as Trav was about to tug on her foot again, a metal object struck him square on the head, flooring him immediately. When his head cleared and his vision uncrossed, Trav saw Lura hobbling to her good leg, holding one of her blood-drenched nunchucks in her hand.

    Trav could feel himself beginning to lose consiousness, knowing that he had already lost a lot of blood from the wide gashes on his face. Staggering back to his feet, Trav stumbled towards Lura and wrapped his arms around her waist, lifting her into the air and squeezing as hard as he could. He knew Lura's back was still feeling sore when she yowled as Trav began to crush her body against his. It only took a few strikes with a nunchuck that Trav had completely forgotten about to the head to get Trav to release Lura, sending both crashing to the ground. Now with his face a mask of blood and losing more and more of it quickly, Trav could do little to stop Lura from limping behind him and yanking on his twisted shoulder. Trav felt like his body was going to tear itself apart from pain before his shoulder tore away from the rest of him. Trav screamed in intense agony as Lura continued to wrench on Trav's arm, soon sending Trav onto his stomach and writhing on the ground, howling in agony. When he could bear the pain no longer, Trav lashed out blindly with his right leg, and it swept Lura's out from underneath her. As soon as Lura let go of Trav and hit the ground, Trav was on top of her and with her left knee in hand. Rolling to Lura's left, Trav yanked on Lura's knee, and her scream next to his ear nearly deafened him. Trav held on to Lura's leg as Lura continued to thrash beside him, with his right arm clumsily draped over her chest. Lura quickly took notice of this through her pain as she grabbed Trav's right hand and pulled it way from her across her body, driving a scream from Trav in return. They both kept pulling each other's twisted joints for what seemed like hours, and both felt their throats begin to go so dry from their screams of agony that they both began to sputter up blood. Nearly choking on the blood in their throats, both Trav and Lura let each other go, and both stumbled back to thier feet. No sooner had Trav locked his eyes back on Lura, she had already wound her arm back with nunchuck in hand, and she swung it wildly at Trav's limp shoulder. Trav caught it with his good hand just before the nunchuck hit him, and he held on to the other end, entering a tug-of-war against Lura. With only one hand, Trav found himself slowly losing to both of Lura's, and Trav saw a cruel grin on Lura's face, and she soon began to cackle at him plottingly. It wasn't until Trav looked over Lura's shoulder that he decided to suddenly let go. Surprised, Lura hopped backwards on her good leg, reeling from the sudden release of her own momentum. And when she looked over her shoulder, she tried as hard as she could to steady herself as quickly as she could as Trav dashed towards her with a clenched fist. Lura's heart nearly stopped once Trav threw one last punch on her cheek, sending her stumbling backwards, and soon she was screaming when she fell from the ledge of the plateau that she and Trav had come so dangerously close to. Trav landed on the edge of the cliff, his arms draped over the edge, watching Lura's tumbling body kick up a cloud of dust and debris on the cliff face and roll into the forest below. A faint but booming crack echoed throughout the air once Lura vanished into the forest and a flock of birds came shooting out of the trees, screeching wildly like ravens. A tree fell over in the forest, and once the birds vanished into the sky, all was silent except for Trav's heavy but quiet breathing and a loud throbbing in his head. Trav could feel his grip on consciousness fade as the blood from his forehead dripped down the cliff face, and he was powerless to stop himself from slowly sliding further and further over the edge, just seconds away from joining Lura. His waist passed over the cliff next, and his legs and the rest of his body slipped over and down.

    Trav suddenly felt a pair of large hands snatch his ankles, and within moments, he was dragged back on the plateau. Trav felt the hands roll him over onto his back, and there Trav's blurry and doubling vision saw a crowd of soldiers around him, and one familiar face, its owner kneeled at his side, looking directly at him. "Lord Trav, are you alright?" The face asked frantically.

    "Tike," was all Trav could manage to murmur. The face breathed a heavy sigh of relief as Trav's glassy eyes began to swim about. "Rixie," Trav murmured, "Rixie... where's Rixie...?"

    "Trav!"

    A sudden shreik from beside him made his head turn towards it, and another figure crashed to the ground beside his head. "Trav! You're alive!" Trav heard the figure weep with joy.

    A pair of thin hands grasped him by either side of his head, and Trav's head soon rested on the lap of another familiar face. "Rixie, you're... all right," Trav weakly murmured, not even finding the strength to smile.

    Rixie wrapped her arms around Trav's chin and pressed her cheek against his. "Trav! Oh God, I nearly got you killed!" Rixie sobbed, her tears mixing with Trav's bloody wounds.

    Trav tried to speak, but before he knew it, a mass of hands picked him from Rixie's lap and stood him upright, wrapping a bandage around his head and steadying his mangled shoulder, and that was all Trav could remember before his consciousness faded...

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