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Which character/creature would you like to see art of next?

Mikey 0.14705882352941 14.7% [ 5 ]
John 0.14705882352941 14.7% [ 5 ]
Fluffs (post which one) 0.23529411764706 23.5% [ 8 ]
Father Garghoul 0.088235294117647 8.8% [ 3 ]
Malevobear 0.29411764705882 29.4% [ 10 ]
Other: Please post 0.088235294117647 8.8% [ 3 ]
Total Votes:[ 34 ]
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Berryfarmer
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My favorite -- and in a way, least favorite -- aspect is actually what we hear about the lost crews. It's both chilling and tragic. (Hence the "in a way, least favorite"...it makes me have so much feelings crying Mage's journal omg I died.)

Part of this next chapter is about some survivors from lost crews. And it's going to lead to something eerie in the final chapters, when I get there.


Ooh. eek I think it's been eerie already, so this should be really good.

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I also want to see more about the backgrounds of the crew, all of them, and on a related note I love what you do with flashbacks.

I'm going to try and give each character at least one chapter where they get their history told before the end.


Yay! biggrin I love character development. This crew came straight from the dysfunction junction. I wonder if that's why they've gotten so far when all the other crews, composed of ostensibly some of the top players in the game, have failed. Maybe they're just more resilient from it all. (Then again, Mikey did curbstomp Lux in single combat. So maybe they're just a bunch of undiscovered talents. razz And they do have a dev with them...)

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And KJ, I actually didn't expect her to join the good guys -- I did think she would betray the Phantom, but only to continue the quest for domination her own way. Her of all people...but it works out.

Who says she isn't still a villain? Perhaps she's using the heroes to eliminate The Phantom for her.


I thought about that -- it would certainly be in character, and it's probably more likely than her switching sides all at once, but from what she says to the Phantom in her nightmare scenario, I get the feeling she'll eventually become the mask.

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I'm just wondering though, what happened to the claw hands they mysteriously grew after arriving in Chapter 12? Also, what was with Penelope and that sickness? It disappeared as soon as they beat Frosti and somehow seemed to make her more powerful near the end.

Oh, if I told you the answers right now it would spoil the plot for another chapter, but I'll give you something to think about for the claws... It has to do with Ghi, both channeling it and the infusion process that causes things to become animated. The sickness, it made her more reckless and was caused by Frosti's evil. One mean snowman, right? But what's to say it won't resurface as a future plot point, The Phantom intends to take over the world by enslaving people in zOMG! and making them spread a disease in the real world, the plague of Thenedrana could have been a prototype.


Ahh, I always make the mistake of forgetting to assume the author has everything planned out. xd Then again, I've heard the old "this will all be explained later" line so many times it must have lost its meaning to me. Heh, just a little jab at the author of the other story I mentioned, don't mind me~

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Also also, epic shock factor throughout chapter twelve. I hit the wham line and literally was just like, holy s**t. (I'm so glad I don't have a roommate to yell at me for bursting out like that at four in the morning.) Although I'm surprised they aren't/weren't more bothered by the revelation; if I were in their shoes, and found out that the enemy I was fighting wasn't just programming but other players, other people who had tried and failed to save the world before me...even if they were irrevocably corrupted, and even if I didn't know or like them personally...I'd be pretty shaken.

Oh they were bothered, that's actually something they get a chance to stop and talk about, writing that dialog as I type this response actually. But they were more focused on the mission, and given the urgency they pushed down the feelings until later.


I see, I see. One thing I think you forgot in that chapter was Mikey explaining the situation to the rest of the crew; Penelope asked which head was which right after the battle was over, even though up until that point Mikey was the only one who knew about the other crews, let alone who Tridra really was. Would have been interesting to see the initial shock, too.

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(Get used to this; I get really excited about stories sometimes. Aelious can attest to that. Three years down the line and I haven't let him forget it. xd I am the quintessential obsessive fan...and you're stuck with me for life now.)

Again, glad you enjoy it. I hope you continue to enjoy it as I'm able to get more material out.


No problem! I'm just glad this exists. biggrin
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Shadowy Demon

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Survivors from lost crews, hm? This sounds... excellent. I can't wait, Berry. :3
Just as a side note, I've been working on a hypothetical TV Tropes page for this fic for the last hour or so and I've already managed to list 65 tropes (or 71, depending how you look at it). I don't even have that many on my own profile. I just counted and my profile has 66, but they were accumulated over the last two or three years. I think my point stands. xd
I'm lovin this story, On chapter 10 and slowly but surely catching up!
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Winged Abomination

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This chapter is not yet finished. However, I figured with the patience being shown I should give you all something. This is part 1 of:

Chapter 16: Light on the Horizon
“You’re just like your mother, head always in the sky trying to hold on to tomorrow. I got news for you son we live in today.” As his father fades away the scene shifts to a hospital room. A girl is vaguely seen through the observation window of the operating room.

“We’re losing her.”

“She’s bleeding out.”

“Dammit where’s the suction.”

“No good she’s crashing.” The surgical team tries in vain to stabilize her vital functions, but nothing is working.

“We already lost the mother. Now we’re losing the daughter too? I hate this job sometimes.” The doctor pulls off his mask and turns off the machines as they scribble down the time and day on their ledger.

“If you hadn’t been so careless your mother and sister would both still be here.” He glared at his father from across the table at the burger place they went too after the funeral. The well of emotions keeps him from speaking.

The scenery changes to a young man, no older than 16, leaving home with a dingy suitcase under his arm. The contents are no more than few changes of clothes, some food, a laptop, and the most precious possession to the young man a picture of his younger self smiling with his now deceased mom and sister. “Yeah get out of here. As far as I care I have no son.” His father yells as the door slams shut.

The scene changes to that of a university registration office. The young man seems worn by two years of roughing it in the world alone, his figure is only a shadow of what he used to be. He still clutches the handle of a dingy suitcase. “And you said your name was what?” The person interviewing him asks. The man stares down at the name he wrote on his application, before replying.

“Crier, Michael J. Crier.” He had used his mother’s name to apply trying to leave behind the memory of his father.

“Hmm records show a Michael J. Berth Jr., born to a Cassandra Crier and a Michael Berth Sr. would that happen to be you?” The interviewer asks. Mikey looks down before nodding, he hadn’t been able to escape his father’s name, no matter where he went in the two years people knew of his father. He was forced to hear another boring story about how the guy sitting across from him had met his father at a convention and about how nice he was. Mikey gritted his teeth because he knew better.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Startled by dreaming about his past, Mikey bolted upright in the bunk he was sleeping in. It was night four of the five day journey from Durem to Tlauixcalpantecuhtliopolis, he had been dreaming about his past for the last three nights and waking up in a cold sweat much like tonight. He climbed down from the top bunk, sliding past Henry and John on his way down. He made a beeline to the clay jar full of water and poured himself a cup. The air was cool as he went outside. He leaned against the rail of the airship as at gently rocked in the night air. The last four days he and the others, when not defending the convoy from errant animated gargoyles, devoted their time to practicing the skills Guardus had taught them. Mikey had mastered them all except the Ghi Burst, it frustrated him because everyone else now could burst on command and he knew his burst was probably the most powerful.

“Still having those bad dreams?” John emerged from the room he, Mikey, Jeremy and Henry all shared.

“John, I didn’t hear you get up.” He knew he shouldn’t be surprised, the last three nights John had always woken up from Mikey’s rummaging around, why would tonight be any different?

“I read the bit of information that was put together about you before we took the dive. I have a feeling I know what’s on your mind and why. Guardus and Tyres knew what the stakes were, they understood the battle was much bigger than that moment. It wasn’t your fault Mikey.” John leaned against the rail next to Mikey.

“If I hadn’t been such a hothead about being tough and taking on The Phantom, they might still be alive. It’s my fault they’re gone John. It’s all my fault. And that blade they left me, it will never unlock in my hands, I’m no hero. I shouldn’t even be alive.” He stared off into the abyss of stars. The clouds below them swirled like waves in the ocean.

“Michael, if you hadn’t done what you did this convoy wouldn’t be around and Durem would be a crater full of corpses. Your actions allowed many to survive, and Guardus and Tyres made sure you would survive to save the world.” John put a hand on Mikey’s shoulder, but he only pulled away.

“I’m leaving once we get to Tlauixcalpantecuhtliopolis. I need to clear my head and being around all of you isn’t helping. I want you to look after them John, Henry’s strong but he needs to work on his planning, Jeremy is smart but not quick on thinking, you’ve got enough of both traits to lead this bunch, and don’t worry Kerri will be right there supporting you and Penelope well she always made me smile.” Mikey looked down, it hurt him to try and look John in the face.

John could only shrug, “Are you sure that is wise? You’re our leader Mikey, we need you.”

“Don’t you get it? I need to be alone for a while!” This was the first time Mikey had raised his voice to John in normal conversation.

“Alright, I won’t try to stop you if you’re so set on it. Just promise you’ll be safe, alright?”

“You know that’s one promise I’ll have trouble keeping, but I’ll try.” Mikey gulped down the last of his water before he and John turned to go back to bed.

The next day passed silently until the airship arrived in dock at Tlauixcalpantecuhtliopolis. It was then that anyone noticed Mikey was missing, on his bunk sat Guardus’ sword, the amulet that he had carried around his neck since the battle with Tridra and a hastily written note. The amulet had dulled in color and was no longer giving off any kind of glow. “Where is he? Kerri picked up the blade and amulet.

“Hey, he left a note.” Jeremy snatched up the piece of paper as everyone crowded around, John stood with his back against the door and his arms crossed, he could sense what was written. As Jeremy opened it up he tilted the paper trying to read the letters, “I can’t read his handwriting.”

Penelope made a sound as she took the note and she cleared her throat, “Dear friends, I have left for personal reasons. Please don’t take it personal but I need some time alone to think, I don’t know if I shall be returning but in my absence I want you to listen to John. I wish I could say more but I’m not sure of things right now. I know you guys will continue being the stuff people write stories about, even without me. Farewell for now, Michael J. Berth Jr.” Penelope turned the note over hoping there was more or even some kind of post script message but there wasn’t one.

“Anyone have any ideas where he would go?” Henry looked around.

“I think we need to let him go on this one. He spoke with me last night about it.” John finally uncrossed his arms.

“And that’s supposed to make things better?” Henry glared at John.

“Stop it! I know him, he wouldn’t leave unless it was something really bothering him.” Kerri squeaked.

“You barely know him. You two only met when this whole thing started.” Jeremy sneered.

“What Kerri says is correct. I’ve known him for nearly eight or ten years now, it was before zOMG went public when we met, and he’d never act like this unless it was something he felt he needed to resolve. We’ll just have to go on without him for now.” Penelope put a hand on Kerri’s shoulder.

“So what’s the plan boss?” KJ had one eye open as she stared across the room at John.

“According to the Anari’s advanced scouting of the area and information from Bianca, there’s an amulet somewhere around here. Given the reports of a Garghoul of ridiculous proportions that are spreading around the inhabitants here I’d say that’s likely the general carrying the amulet we need to find and defeat. Any objections?” He looked around. He had a new appreciation for the effort it must have taken Mikey to stare down the crew with a plan when all he had to go on was so limited.

“So the news Deanna brought to us was correct.” Sisko had come from the airship he was watching over. “I could not believe it when she told us, but he really did leave.” The team began moving out in the suburban area around the dock.

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“Those humans have defeated nearly half of my generals. First it was Tridra, my abomination of human ego with zOMG’s animated. Then it was Frosti and He-Wolf, my ice lords melted beneath their strength. Then their powers overcame the Quantum Gemerald and Caterkiller. And while I had to destroy him myself they turned Tyres Rode against me. They have defeated half my generals. There’s still Father Garghoul in Tlauixcalpantecuhtliopolis, Registered Offender and Mobster Lobster in Isle de Gambino, Doppelord in the Otami Underworld, and a few others.” He threw a stone he had been holding back into the pile of rubble that was once the Durem Library.

“You forgot me in your list sir, and that traitorous KJ.” Kamila approached, “We’ve sifted through the rubble and there are no signs of any of the Duremites or those humans or the Anari or even KJ.”

“No, there wouldn’t be any sign of them. They all fled to Tlauixcalpantecuhtliopolis, they are in Father Garghoul’s domain now. Still something bothers me.”

“Bothers you my lord?”

“That human was able to match me blow for blow until I knocked him out of his burst mode. I can’t afford to have them match or beat me in the future. I must study more information on him. I am returning to their world for now to collect more data. Until I return, you are in command.”

“Yes master.” Kamila disappeared into a pool of blood as The Phantom shimmered and vanished.

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“Hey there guy, it looks like you stumbled into the wrong part of town.” A small Garghoul stood in front of Mikey.

“Oh yeah? Who’s going to make me leave, you?” Mikey stared down the Garghoul.

“Oh not just him you’ve got to worry about.” Two more Garghouls landed on either side of the alley he was in.

“Just try it.” Mikey shot the closest Garghoul, but his attack fizzled out before reaching it reached the Garghoul.

“Seems your power is taking a break.”

“We told you to leave but now you’ve gone and upset us.” One of the Garghouls began to flap his stone wings rapidly kicking up a dust storm. The dust was blinding as Mikey reached for his goggles he felt a claw sink into the ground before him. The force of it knocked him off balance and the third fired an energy bolt from its mouth.

As Mikey hit the ground with a thud he said to himself, “Guess teamwork works even for the bad guys.” Mikey dove to one side as a Garghoul lunged with its claw outstretched. Mikey tried to use his hack ring but it wasn’t responding. He carefully backed himself up until he realized he was at the edge of the floating island he was on.

“Time for you to take the plunge.” The Garghoul spat another bolt of energy knocking Mikey over the edge.

So this is how it ends? Mikey thought as he felt the air rushing by him. He could see the ocean rushing up to meet him as he fell.

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“Tlauixcalpantecuhtliopolis is divided into several floating islands. Each are named for a shape they most resemble.” Deanna began.

“We’re here on Sun Island. From what information we’ve gathered, a large Garghoul named Father Garghoul controls an area from Moon Island all the way to his cathedral fortress on Star Island.” Hoshi unfurled a rough map showing most of the major islands of Tlauixcalpantecuhtliopolis.

“Most of the major islands are named after what they resemble. There’s Burger Island, Ring Island, Disc Island, Puzzle Island, Eye Island, and Fish Island which are all still controlled by free Gaians.” Miles pointed to the southern islands on the map.

Archer began pointing to another set of islands, “Moon Island, Cat Face Island, Spectacles Island, Snake Island, Fluff Island, Crystal Island, Syringe Island, Cross Island, Tear Island, Heart Island, Question Island, Ninja Island and Star Island all are controlled by Father Garghoul and his minions. The bridges to these islands and between these islands have been destroyed in an attempt to prevent Father Garghoul’s forces from spreading further. His forces still attack the northern stretches of Ring Island, Puzzle Island, Eye Island and Fish Island.”

“The main trouble we shall have is that in order to enter the cathedral on Star Island we need 18 keys. One is hidden on each island. Quite the scavenger hunt indeed.” McCoy pulled out a small jeweled key, “I have already located the one for Sun Island. And I believe that Sisko has tracked down the keys from Disc and Burger Islands.”

Sisko buzzed in the door, “That is correct my friend. I have also gathered clues from the last member surviving of the group that hid the keys. I promised the Garghoul a painless death in exchange for it.” He brandished his staff.

John examined the map tracing a path, “Ring, then Puzzle, Eye and finally Fish Island before we get into Garghoul territory. Are there any objections to that course of action?” John looked around at his team and when none of them objected he led them out the door of the eatery they were at.

“Please be safe Jeremy.” Bianca said as she kissed his cheek.

“I will be. Before this is over I’ll come back for you.” Jeremy waved as they left her at the eatery.

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The sun was blisteringly hot as she walked along the beach. “I know I saw it crash down around here. It should have drifted in to about here.” As she looked further down she saw seagulls and crabs crowded around something. “Hey! Hey get away from him! Shoo!” She chased the gulls and crabs off of the washed up man.

“Well he fits the description. Maybe it’s him.” She began dragging Mikey out of the sand where he had washed up. As he looked up he only caught a glance of her blonde hair and the Bloodstone Amulet around her neck before losing consciousness again.

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“Nice one Henry!” John commented as Henry doused a Sun Fluff. The bright orange body quickly turned dark before the fluff vanished entirely. They stood surrounded by a mob of the fluffs on Puzzle Island. The Garghoul who led the group of fluffs was still flying out of range for them to attack.

“Come down here and fight like a man!” Henry yelled as Kerri and Penelope each took down Sun Fluffs.

“Ahh leave him, probably thinks he’ll live longer that way. Father Garghoul is unforgiving of failure so it’s a matter of death by us or death by him.” KJ knocked out another Sun Fluff.

“Not out of my range.” Kerri hit one of the Garghoul’s wings with her hunter’s bow. He teetered a moment before finally landing on the ground.

“Spitfire blast!” The Garghoul fired a burst of energy from its mouth.

“So they’re calling their attacks now?” Penelope jumped back as the ground that was at her feet vaporized.

“Take it out fast, night is coming and their power increases at night.” John burned off one of the wings. As the sun began to set some of the stone in the Garghoul began to glitter.

“Gotcha!” Jeremy melted the Garghoul’s head with a precision lancer shot.

“I hope the Anari are faring better than us.” John said as they set up camp.

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“Ugghhh where am I?” Mikey stared up at the ceiling. It appeared to be made of bamboo as a nearby fireplace cast an orange glow on it.

“You’re safe don’t worry.” The voice was soft but reassuring, “You had quite a fall but by the grace of Marshall you ended up here. We could really use a hero about now.”

“What makes you think I’m a hero? I washed up on the shore of wherever we are.” He tried sitting up but twitched with pain and lied back down.

“Easy there, you’re in no shape to fight yet. I recognize your description from some of the information we’ve been able to get in the underground. Your name is Mikey Berth isn’t it?” The blonde haired woman handed Mikey a bowl of soup. “There were a few of us wondering if the stories we heard about you and your crew were real.”

When he finally saw her blue eyes he recognized her, “Long time no see. You’re Sailoranimecode aren’t you? What are you doing in this world?” Mikey stared at the blonde haired woman before him, the fire light twinkled in her blue eyes.

“Yes, that’s me. I was on a crew to stop The Phantom, but we came apart and the seams around Gnomeman’s Land. I wandered around lost and in need of shelter when I was taken in around the docks here.” She began in a calm measured tone.

“Where is here?” Mikey tested his toes to his surprise he was only left in his underpants.

“I almost forgot, these are yours.” Sailoranimecode unclipped his clothes from a line hanging over the fire before handing them back. “As I was saying I was taken in by a group of people. We were a group of misfits, mismatched in levels and rings, all from different crews that tried and failed to stop The Phantom. There used to be fifteen of us, but we decided our efforts would work best if we spread out to try and rally more support, some even tried making a way to communicate with the outside. There are only five us left here on Isle de Gambino, and the fighting here is at a crucial point.”

“Could you please turn around, I’m kind of shy about getting dressed.” Mikey waited until Sailor had turned around before he rose to dress himself, “You mentioned fighting. What’s that about?”

“Well there have been two factions among The Phantom’s generals fighting here. Mostly over area since they’re both residents of the isle.” She begins still turned away.

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“So this area has heat breathing Sun Fluffs during the day and blue frost breathing Moon Fluffs by night. Mark was sure having fun when he programmed the animated for here.” John sidestepped as a patch of ground near him became coated in a thin ice.

“I don’t know which is worse the fluffs or Larry, Curly and Moe up there.” Jeremy pointed to the three Garghouls flapping overhead.

“We dealt with your friend easy enough.”

“We’ll deal with you just as easily.” Kerri wondered what they meant until she saw the scrap of fabric stuck to one of their claws. It was the same darkened blue of Mikey’s sleave.

“Jeremy, Henry they’re made of stone.” John didn’t have to say anymore as Jeremy created a cyclone around the Garghoul. John then nodded to Henry who sent a torrent of water into the cyclone, as it got swept up it created a waterspout in the sky. The three Garghouls crashed into the ground as their wings broke against the crashing water. With the remaining fluffs dispatched, Penelope was the first to them, her blade resting against one of the Garghoul’s necks.

“Tell us what you and I’ll make your journey to the void more expedient.” The Garghoul only smiled a toothy smile before outstretching his claw which held the shred of fabric.

“He took a little tumble over the edge. Too bad the poor lad didn’t have wings.” The Garghoul’s laughter gurgled as if fluid filled as he dissolved, leaving behind only the fabric shred. Henry was the first to bend down and pick it up. As he took a few seconds to examine it before he spoke.

“I can’t and won’t believe it. He has a strong fighting spirit, he wouldn’t lose to a bunch of peons.” Henry looks around to see not everyone is convinced.

“It’s a long way down if he did fall, I don’t see how anyone would survive if they did fall from here.” John looked over the edge. The shapes of clouds were barely distinguishable in the night sky.

“You forget, we’re in the world of zOMG where people get dazed.” Henry still wasn’t cheering anyone up.

“What if The Phantom changed that mechanic and we can die here?” Jeremy began to look a little panicked.

“We can’t and won’t think of that possibility, we need to keep fighting and pushing and trying. Even if he is dead we can’t let it be in vain.” As KJ spoke that one phrase everyone’s resolve seemed to change from one of mourning to one of continuing on, and even vengeance as she met Kerri’s gaze.

“So how do we bridge the gap between Cat Face Island and here?” Her eyes are fixed on the visible tree line of Cat Face Island they can see from the tip of Fish Island.

“We could always ask the Anari to carry us across when they rendezvous with us from their own scouting run, in about an hour.” John’s answer seems satisfying to Kerri as she backs away from the edge.

“So when are they do back?” She sat down next to KJ as she asked.

“Not for some time. We should probably wait for morning anyway. The Garghouls are nocturnal for the most part. During the day we have the much easier to fight Bandstands.” John was beginning to see why Mikey chose him to lead in his absence.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

“They all should be back by now. I’d like the introduce you to the Isle de Gambino chapter of the zOMGaians United Resistance.” Sailor was leading Mikey down a set of hallways until he was in a formal living room with a roaring fire.

“There are only five of you, what happened?” Mikey counted the number of occupied seats.

“Well we used to be six until our leader went homicidal. She took revenge on the animated, something about a boyfriend The Phantom killed. Any ways, she destroyed an entire manufacturing facility that was making parts for a modified Sealab X. She managed to hold a team of Juggernauts at bay while we escaped. But we have no idea what happened since she never returned.” Another woman spoke in a soft voice as she pet the wolf beside her. He couldn’t see who it was.

“So you left your leader behind?”

“She didn’t give us much of a choice. She told us to go so that the resistance would survive. Something about if we stayed it would be more damage than if we went.” This voice was a man’s but the pitch was definitely high. As he stared at the chair it turned so that the voices owner could be visible

“Wait, you’re Upward_Frown, aren’t you?” Mikey said to the black haired man. The man nodded indicating his guess was correct.

“Alright introductions,” Sailor led Mikey around, “We have the slightly insane miss Shinju, lady Owlie, Upward_Frown the warrior, and jonjon the brave.”

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

“Hmm so he went over the edge? A temporary loss I hope.” McCoy looked over the edge indicated by Jeremy.

Miles snorted before finally speaking, “The floating islands are constantly moving above various areas throughout the rest of Gaia. At this time of the month it hovers over the oceans between Buccaneer Boardwalk and Isle de Gambino. If he survived the fall chances are he’s in one of those places probably trying to rejoin us somehow.”

“So we should be relieved that he is alive somewhere and keep going.” She put her arm on Kerri’s shoulder.

Henry and Hoshi had been whispering to each other, “It is settled, we can each carry one of you across the distance to Cat Face Island, but we have to be careful. Once across the gap we will be in terrain that is patrolled by the Airshark.”

“Lights off. No need to attract everything by broadcasting our locations.” Archer lifted Penelope off the ground. The group hopped from island to island in silence. As they landed on Cat Face Island they heard clanging of metal against stone. Sparks were flying from a nearby line of trees.

“Come on, let’s check it out. Somebody might need our help.” John took off sprinting.

“What if they aren’t friendly?” Jeremy ran after.

Henry was panting as he caught up but he managed to say, “Hey we pick a side, we might make some friends willing to help us against Father Garghoul.”

“Fair enough.” As they cleared the tree line they saw winged and armored humans fighting Garghouls.

“Call it sir.” Henry looked to John.

“Help the humans, pound the Garghouls.”

“Got it.” The team split up and each of them went to the aid of different people fighting Garghouls.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Kamila’s heels echoed against the obsidian stone in part of The Phantom’s castle. He was standing over a device casting an eerie blue glow, and he was turned away from her. “Yes the plan is proceeding. But I require more information on those whom I fight. I must venture to the real world to gather data on them. It shouldn’t be too long. Besides nobody will suspect my cover, I’ve been operating under their noses for months now.” The glow faded as he turned to face Kamila, “You’re early. What news from the fronts?”

Kamila gulped as she began her report, “Father Garghoul reports his minions have seen the humans and the Anari in Tlauixcalpantecuhtliopolis. He also said a team of his minions dispatched one of the humans, something about his rings not functioning and sending him over the cliff.”

“Did they find the body?”

“No, but they were over the ocean. By now he’s Landshark and Crabman food.”

“Even if it’s desiccated remains, I want his body found. I need it for a modification I am making. And I must know how he was able to fend me off by himself.”

“Who were you talking to?”

“That is unimportant. I am venturing into the human world to collect information. I will be gone a few days.”

“Can’t I come too?” Kamila asked eagerly.

“In time my pet. But I must find one able to house your mind first, or find how to materialize information into matter. Another reason I need that body, rumor from the real world is he was able to manifest ring effects in the real world.” The Phantom stepped onto the platform as it began glowing and humming again. He appeared to dissolve and the device was once again quiet.

“Well, if the waves caught him and carried him he likely ended up in Isle de Gambino. The west side is controlled by Mobster Lobster and his Crabman gang, the east is controlled by Registered Offender and his Pirate Fluff crew. They shall find his corpse.” Kamila walked back to the throne room in the castle and gingerly sat on the throne, “If I wasn’t so confident in Father Garghoul’s abilities I’d be going to his realm to deal with the humans myself, but for now I need to find Labtech X and Dr. Pennyworth.”

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

The last of the Garghouls howled in pain as one of the winged people ran a spear through its chest. As it turned to face the assembled group it removed its helmet and long thin blonde hair caught in the breeze and spread out. “Well met humans, and Anari. I am Ilara of the Valkyrian Guard.”

McCoy bowed his head, “Well met Valkyrian, we are but travelers in your realm. And we are in need of assistance.”

“I would gladly offer it after that show against the Garghouls, but unfortunately I need all my Valkyrian Guards for defending and retaking Tlauicalpantecuhtiopolis. But if you’d like you may stay with us for tonight. Come let us discuss what your band of travelers is doing in the sky city.” The warrior led the group into a large tent. There was a long wooden table with 30 chairs around it. On the table a large map of Tlauicalpantecuhtiopolis, there were red and green lines depicting where each side in a war controlled territory, as well as several dots around the lines. John speculated these were battle sites. “A proper greeting, I am Ilara, Matriarch of the Valkyrian Guards, protectors of Tlauicalpantecuhtiopolis. And I already know much about all of you from the stories coming in the aftermath of Durem. Six humans and six Anari guided by a former servant of evil, rallying the free peoples to fight the evil and save both your world and ours. Tell me, has it been difficult venturing this far into the sky realm? I only ask because I notice you do not possess wings.”

“Yes, that does make transport difficult. But what we’re looking for are the key fragments to Father Garghoul’s cathedral.” Before John could finish Ilara had turned and replied in a combative tone.

“You intend to enter the cathedral? For what purpose? We lost many a guard to seal the beast within it, and you seek to break that seal!” Her blade was leveled to John’s throat, “Speak your reason or I’ll run you through for even thinking of entering the cathedral.”

“He has a medallion we need. He is also one of The Phantom’s generals. Destroying him would be a crippling blow for his forces in the area. It would help us both in our goals if we could get to the cathedral and destroy him.” John trembled as he felt the cold steel against his throat.

“And if you fail, I’ll have aided the greatest enemy of my people. Father Garghoul would once again be free to terrorize us. I’m sorry I cannot help you. You are welcome to spend the night in camp with us, but we are moving out in the morning.” A pair of blue armored guards escorted the group out of the large tent and to several smaller tents; each had four cots within them.

“Well that was productive.” KJ pulled her cot outside the tent to act as a bench as they sat around a campfire Henry made.

“At least we have safe lodging for the night.” Kerri said. She added in a whisper, “Please be safe Mikey, wherever you are.” KJ looked reluctantly at the girl sitting next her before putting an arm around Kerri’s shoulders.

KJ whispered softly, “Your lover boy is fine. He’s one tough guy to take down. He’s alive wherever he ended up.”

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

“You must all hide quickly.” An animated accordion entered the room where Mikey and the resistance group were talking. “The Crabmen are searching for something and they mustn’t find you. Quickly, quickly.” The Bandstand Acc lead them to a bookshelf and reached for a statue on the table. As he pulled the statue, the bookshelf cracked open revealing a hidden stairwell descending below the house. “I shall fetch you when it is safe. Please try not to make any sounds.” After everyone was on the stairwell the bookshelf swung close leaving the group in darkness. As they waited in the basement room they could hear voices in the room above.

“Hey listen Schrammel, we know you’re a human sympathizer. So we’ll make this easy pally.” It was deep voice that reminded Mikey of a bad Sylvester Stallone impersonation.

“Yeah, we don’t have to cap ya. Or take you before da boss if ya just give us dem humans. Der nothin’ but trouble ya know.” It was a higher pitched more nasal tone Mikey could just imagine as Bugs Bunny with a cold.

“I do not what you two crabs are thinking about; I am but a humble musician. I make a living playing songs on the promenade, why would I ever entangle myself with such ghastly affairs as humans?” He heard the Bandstand from before speak.

“Eh, what you tink Trilo?” It was the Stallone voice

“Dunno Bite. Someting tells me Schrammel here is hidin’ someting but do we really want to toss his house?” The Bugs voice.

“Well honestly, I been itching to toss a house. I just sharpened my claws dis morning and haven’t got to use ‘em yet.”

“Dat would be a sad waste to sharpen ‘em for nutting. Let’s toss the house.”

“Toss my house? This is absurd!”

“Stay out of dis pal or we’ll take you to the boss.” It was Trilo speaking. There were sounds of things being smashed and flipped over.

“Oh heavens no, that’s a priceless sculpture.” There was a sound of breaking ceramic. Mikey and the others with him remained quiet as they listened. Then there was a sound of a phone ringing.

“Hello?” It was Trilo, “Yes, I see. We’re on our way den.” There was a click as he hung up the phone. “Hey Bite!”

“Uh yeah Trilo?”

“Pack it up we’re done here for now. Dunge and Ness spotted some humans heading for Fluff Town, and we’re supposed to go help take care of dem. You lucked out for now Schrammel, but we’ll be back in a couple of days to finish. You best keep your nose clean.”

“Oh heavens help me.” Schrammel said as the door slammed closed. There was an eerie silence as the house was still for a few moments. Suddenly, the door flew open as if smashed open.

“Oh we almost forgot. We still gotta deal with you.” There were sounds of an explosion as Trilo spoke. Mikey put his hand over Sailor’s mouth as he thought she was on the verge of screaming. He felt a tingle of pain as she bit his hand. Mikey sunk back into the corner of the room they were hidden in. All he could do to fight back a wave of tears was burying his face in his knees.

I’m a goddamn black widow. Everyone who gets near me, and gives a damn, dies. And I’m seriously expected to save people. I can’t do this, I can’t go on. He pressed his face further into his knees. Both people who mentored me, an entire town, Guardus, Tyres Rodes, now Schrammel, not to mention having to hear about several people I called friends being lost. Why did we even think we stood a chance in this fracked up world?

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

“John do you know why Mikey left?” The Anari had left the group alone by the campfire while they went to discuss matters with Ilari. John stared into the dancing flames. He felt a knot in his stomach as he opened his mouth to answer Kerri’s question.

“I think… I think he finally cracked. He had a troubled past and being thrust into leading us on what everyone thought was going to be a quick thing. You were never meant to learn of any of the other crews that came before you.”

“But we do. So what were we bottom of the barrel misfits you turn to when all your regular choices are used up?” Henry glared at John from across the flames.

“When The Phantom presented himself as a credible threat we started polling players’ information. We made decisions based on times faced enemy x, kills of monster y, we even went back through years of statistics on play styles to distill a list of 38 names. Naturally, we contacted everyone on that list. Some of them were natural fits to work together, others had many past successes together. So we organized them into crews based on that.”

“Correct my math if I’m wrong but 38 isn’t evenly divisible by six, John.” Penelope interjected.

“Yeah, you’d need four more people for a whole number of crews.”

“Four of the crews had developers on them. We lost Mark, Ben, Frederic and Veronica.” John’s face turned grim, “You would know them as mlos, halzy, flajeu, and Loie respectively. I watched as we sent people I loved and counted among my best friends into this twisted world. My own wife we had to tear apart in a previous battle. I can understand if he needed to get away from the stress of it.”

“John… John I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you.” Kerri sunk into her seat.

“Guess this is the first time we’ve been able to stop and let things catch up. I knew Mikey before this whole mess, he was already messed up in the head having to fight other people. Or learn that some before us met horrific ends… Well I don’t have his stresses and I want to just stop here and just let things play out.” Jeremy began pulling blades of grass from the ground.

“You forgot to mention those that have sacrificed for us to keep going, Tyres and Guardus to name two. Even if they are NPCs they didn’t deserve those fates.”

“That’s why we can’t just lie down and let the world play out. Those people gave themselves up in the hope that we could save the world. They put their faith in us when they laid down their lives. We can’t let their sacrifices be in vain. They believed there was something worth fighting for.” Henry looked around as everyone seemed to be sinking into turmoil.

“What are we fighting for Henry?”

“Hope.”

“You’re so naïve sometimes. How can there be any hope in a world where everyone seems to die or be evil. What kind of hope are we holding onto Henry, really?”

Henry sunk back from Penelope’s sting for a moment before he remembered something he read, he hoped it would work in this case, “I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, the ones that really mattered; full of darkness and danger. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think now I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.”

“If we find Mikey, you’re taking over as speech writer Samwise.” Jeremy shifted a little. “I think we’ve only made it this far because we weren’t an established group of friends before this. I mean one or two of us might have known each other, but we weren’t in regular groups together. We’ve each developed differing skillsets and can be self-reliant, where those other crews had got into routines with each other. Like Mage was the brain, Omni a tank, Aseres was a healer, the list goes on, but us we never developed that level of interdependence, our leader pretty much made stuff up as he went based on the wide diversity of skills and experiences we’d developed over time.”

“Yeah, badge hunting made me find the most efficient ringsets to deal with the wide variety of animated.”

“Being an always late Casanova, made me develop skills for the most expedient ways to kill things.”

“Like he said, we each bring our unique skillsets. I think we need to rest now though if we’re going to be able to handle fighting through the day.” KJ had been silent the entire discussion. Each of the others shrugged as they retreated to their cots. It seemed they didn’t want to share more of what troubled them to each other.

Kerri was in the cot next to Penelope and waited a few minutes before asking, “Penelope, Jeremy mentioned stresses Mikey had. What did he mean?”

Penelope replied in a half sleepy tone, “Mikey has some past demons with family things, centered around his little sister and mother. Now go to sleep.” Penelope rolled over to cut off further conversation.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

They waited in the cellar for what felt like hours. They couldn’t tell if it was safe or not to leave their hiding spot, when they heard footsteps on the wood floor above. There was a soft quiet voice as they heard the bookshelf slide again. “It is safe humans. If I was an enemy you would be dead by now. We must hurry while my associates keep those Crabmen busy.”

“Can we trust them?” Shinju asked as they looked from one to another.

“What choice do we have?” Owlie’s black eyes glittered in shadows.

Upward peeked up the stair before saying, “I don’t think we have much of a choice. I’d take the chance versus waiting around.”

“Well, even if it is trouble it’s six against one.” Jonjon added.

“Alright let’s go.” Sailor led the group up the stairs, where they were greeted by a tall figure wearing dark robes.

“Put these on quickly.” The robed figure handed out similar robes to each of them. “Follow close and show your faces to no one.” The voice betrayed the figure as being female, and her step gave away that she wore some kind of boot. She led them carefully down a series of alleys. They stopped a moment while some Crabmen crossed the alley in front of them. Now that he got a better look at them he could see they had enormous pincer hands and four spindly legs. Their eyes were on stalks that were able to pivot around, and their shells were a rusty orange.

“Shoot I forgot about this patrol. Umm. This way.” The robed figure led them to another series of alleys until at last they reached a metallic building. By the size it looked like a rundown warehouse right at the shoreline. The robed figure knocked on the door.

“Who is shark bait?” Came a voice from inside the building.

“Swabbies.” The robed figure answered. There was a click of a bolt being unlocked and the door slid open. The figure quickly ushered the group inside and closed the door behind her. “Look Lei, we found more of your kind. This might be a good sign indeed.”

A figure that was a tiger-man hybrid jumped down from a stack of wooden crates. “Just in time Z, your crew was beginning to get on my nerves.”

“Wait you’re Lei_Trigar aren’t you?” Owlie stammered out.

“The one and only.” Lei answered.

“Didn’t you have a bolster sword?” Upward remarked.

“Hehe let’s just say those nutty crabs owe me a new one.” Lei replied as he shook hands with each of the others, “Finally, good to have some human faces.”

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

The sky had just begun to turn pink, but already John had been awake for an hour. He sat trying to recall any scrap of information he could. Tlauixcalpantecuhtliopolis was Mavdoc and Swarf’s child as far as new areas went. He remembered that Mavdoc had said something about being able to choose sides in a war, and the boss you fight would depend on your side, though with The Phantom’s influence it seems they could only side with the Valkyrian Guard. He was trying to formulate a plan of getting around considering wings were a necessary accessory here, when suddenly he noticed rustling in a nearby bush. As he approached a small Garghoul and a small winged child rolled out. They both looked startled as John stood over them.

“P-p-please don’t tell Ilari. A-Kul and I were just playing.” The Valkyrian boy said.

“What’s your name kid?” John smiled as he knelt down. The two children looked at each other before John added, “Whatever secret is going on here is safe with me.” The two boys finally nodded to each other.

“I am A-Kul, Tristan and I were playing tag when we fell out of the sky. Neither of us has fully developed wings yet you see.” The young Garghoul answered.

“So you two aren’t fighting?” John sat down because his knees ached.

“Fighting is for grown-ups.” Tristan answered.

“We just want to have fun. Even though our parents say we aren’t supposed to play together.” A-Kul added.

“I see.” John shifted himself to a more comfortable position, “So why are the grown-ups fighting?”

“Father Garghoul says it’s because the Valkyrians don’t tolerate the bat winged animated-natural hybrids.” A-Kul replied.

“Matriarch Ilari says it’s because the bat wings are an abomination that must be cleansed to maintain the purity of the feathery skies.” Tristan said.

“But both groups are citizens of Tlauixcalpantecuhtliopolis, why do you not put your differences aside for the betterment of the land.” Both children scratched their heads as he asked this question.

“I don’t know, but there’s not going to be much of a land left with how the grown-ups keep fighting.” Tristan said matter of factly.

“Yeah, Tristan and I already go hungry because of the food being so limited.” A-Kul looked a moment at Tristan. “Should we show him our treasure?”

“It looks him and his friends could use it more than we could. Besides they look tough enough, maybe they can get the grown-ups to stop fighting so we can play together more.” Tristan replied to A-Kul.

“Treasure?”
eek There be more fic! And there be more worldbuildy stuffs that I swear I'll never be able to imagine any prospective Chapter Two without (which also applies to the neural interface, sooo tough luck for me, huh?) and more character pasty stuffs (*wibble* Mikey you can use rings in the real world now try defibbing your family it's worth a shot!...stop looking at me like that...you never know... crying ) and more other crew stuffs where they're actually alive and not dead or evil or all alone. I know it's kinda silly but sometimes I just lie around and imagine what I'd do if I were one of the players in the story. Once I mold my "personal bio" so that the Kestin in that world is more of an interpretation-based character rather than a full transplant (which is of course what happened with all the other real people used in this fic in order to suspend disbelief and make the story work better so I figured it was okay), it's an entertaining fantasy. 3nodding

Hmm. I have a theory on why Mikey couldn't use his power. I recall that
Ghi availability gradually depletes when a player is alone...


Also...I know how late this is, but as far as the title goes, I think the word you might be looking for is "proportions", not "portions". ^^;
Environmental Unity's avatar

Big Noob

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Chapter 16 being worked on as we speak. ninja
Yay for more zOMC.
anguls kushinoda's avatar

Shadowy Shapeshifter

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ok i so cant wait for part 2 now, keep going berry -mew
Zealand_Aquarius's avatar

Barton Sweetheart

I don't know if I've ever commented on here about this but here goes.

I love this story, I can see all the new areas and characters ( NPC and animated) been in chapter 2 of zOMG and would be heavily disappointed if we ever got a chapter 2 they didn't use your ideas in someway. The chatacters you have in your crews come across as realistic and I find myself re-reading each chapter every so often which is something I never normally do on a story ( fanfic?)

Kudos to you and keep up the good work Berry
Berryfarmer's avatar

Winged Abomination

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Sorry for the long wait. Had a variety of things needing my attention, and there were a few times I got writer's block. But I've got the rest of chapter 16 and hints to the next two chapters. Also how would people feel if I did a side story type chapter based on The Phantom?

Chapter 16: Part 2
“Yeah come on you’re going to like it.” The two children dragged John to his feet and led him around a few trees before coming to one with a large hole in it. The two kids slipped through no problem, but John had to hold his breath to squeeze into the tree.

“We like shiny things. We made a map of where all the shiny things we hid from grown-ups are.”

“They look like pieces to a puzzle.”

“Yeah. But there are also these.” The two boys pulled out seven potions ranging in color from white to black and varying shades of blue and grey.

“Yeah, when they reach the age of ascension both Valkyrians and Garghouls are given a potion to grow their wings.”

“You and your friends can have these. Our friends died in crossfires so their potions remained unused.”

“You boys are generous. Thank you.” He put the potions and map he was handed into a bag as they led him back to the camp.

“Just remember.”

“You didn’t see us.” Both of the boys took off, John could hear the others starting to wake up as he watched the two dots on the horizon rise and fall.

“So do we have a plan, or are we going to roam and hope for the best?” Henry and the others had begun to sleepily approached John.

“We have a map, and we have these which should give us wings.” John pulled out the potions and map.

“Where’d you get those?” Jeremy looked at the bottles.

“I promised I wouldn’t say.”

“Can they be trusted?” Penelope was looking at the map.

“I don’t think John would give them out if he didn’t.” KJ leaned against a tree eying John with one eye open. A smile crept across her face.

“Bottoms up then.” Each of them held a potion and began gulping them down. The seventh, John saved in case they ever found Mikey.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

As they entered further into the warehouse the band of pirates disappeared. The group looked at their robed guide for an answer. “They were shadows conjured from a memory. I made them to keep Lei entertained while I searched for you.”

“And just who are you?” Upward asked.

“For the time being that is irrelevant. The powers of the isle are at a critical level. The rivalry between Registered Offender and Mobster Lobster is ready to explode, and to defeat them both we need them to fight each other. That’s where you seven come in.”

“So I’m leading this bunch of misfits Queen Z?” Lei looked at the group, “Hey wait your face is everywhere. You’re the wanted man Mikey.” He pointed at Mikey. Who only shrugged his shoulders.

“All I’ve done is lead a group into one disaster after the next.” He said flatly.

“You must be joking!” Both Owlie and Shinju said.

“Your team has put up the biggest fight against The Phantom.” Owlie continued.

“Your team has actually broken some of his generals. And that has inspired the free peoples of this world to finally fight. I call bologna on the one disaster after the next.” Sailor said.

Mikey closed his eyes as he crossed his arms, “From the very beginning it’s been a disaster. Landshark should have killed us, Sealab Compound nearly claimed a friend, we’ve had to kill enemies that were once our fellow zOMGaians, we’ve had to trek back along the path of someone who a friend and is probably dead, I watched helpless as a great teacher gave himself for me to live. No, I believe my team has been one disaster after another.”

“Pleasant one isn’t he?” Jonjon whispered to Shinju, “Disaster or not, we need you. We need every fighter we can get. We were planning on attacking a Pirate Fluff warehouse and make it look like the Crabmen did it.”

“And how did you plan on doing that?” Mikey replied in a low growl.

“We’ve secured a small supply of Crab-bombs and have been keeping them in a vacant building in town. We were going to plant them and detonate them at an opportune moment.” Jonjon shot back.

“How simple you think. Merely destroying a warehouse won’t rally them to fight one another. We need to draw Registered Offender and Mobster Lobster into a fight. And I think I know just how to do that.” The robed figure interjected. As everyone stared at her bewildered she continued, “Your bombs will draw them out, yes. But to make them fight you’ll need to continue a fraudulent attack from one side on the other. I have secured some rings that may just do that.” She handed out some odd looking rings to each of the group, stopping before she reached Mikey, “You already have an enhanced version of what this ring can do, I doubt you’ll need it but in case you find your friends I’ve packed a few to take with you when you rejoin them.”

“Ectoplasm Ring… I thought they removed this one during testing.” Sailor said as she examined the ring.

Owlie looked the green band and purple ghost-shaped jewel on it, “This ring can mimic the effects of enemy attacks can’t it? But if I remember it can only mimic one at a time and you have to have fought that enemy recently.”

“Yes, the capture target data allows you to select a non-boss level target and copy it. However, the imprint fades with time or is overwritten when another target’s data is captured.” The robed figure answered. She moved to another section of the warehouse before the lights illuminated the area. There in a cage were a handful of Crabmen. “I anticipated a need for these and captured a few of them.”

The fight with the already weakened Crabmen was short, but it gave enough opportunity for the group to acquire the necessary information for mimicking the Crabmen’s attacks.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

“The sensation of flight is a little disconcerting. Like I’m going to be sick.” Henry flapped his leathery black wings.

“Yes, we do make look easy don’t we?” Hoshi replied as she buzzed past Henry.

“I remember now why the Valkyrians and the Garghoul fight and what I was told of the backstory.” John said as his brown feathery wings flapped.

“Well don’t keep it to yourself.” The wind rushed through Jeremy’s black feathery wings.

“The original story was that it was a holy war between the Garghouls and Valkyrians about which was the superior animated-natural hybrid. You see the Valkyrians were made by combining birds with beautiful sculptures, while Garghouls were crafted from bats and more menacing works of art. They lived peacefully until Magnus, better known as Father Garghoul, and Ilara began to lead their respective sides. They instigated a war to cleanse the skies of the other. I can imagine Father Garghoul sided with The Phantom because of some offer of power.” They landed on an island resembling a needle.

“According to these maps we should be standing right on top of the next key fragment.” Kerri had her nose buried in looking at two maps while her red leathery wings retracted into her body. There was a low buzzing sound as a purple colored music note shot past her face.

“Looks like we got hostile Bandstands. And that one is using a key fragment like a bow.” Penelope flapped pink leathery wings to stay airborne.

“A harp and violin type, interesting.” KJ’s feathery yellow wings flapped a few times as she dropped to the ground.

“You missed her Sharp.” The harp said to the violin.

“Allow me to rectify that Flat.” The violin retorted.

“None shall pass the Composer Brothers!”

“Oi right Flat, Ilara tasked us with keeping this key fragment safe.” The instruments shot more musical notes.

“Are these two serious? Look at their charge levels. Trying to fight us is like a gnome going up against a Night Fright.”

“Hey composer brains. All we want is that key fragment. You give it to us and we don’t have to scrap you.” A whirlwind Jeremy made swept up the two Bandstands off the ground.

“You know Sharp, with all those Garghouls out there why did we get the key fragment?”

“I don’t know, but I don’t want to die.”

“So give them the key fragment?”

“Why not? I just want to go home and make more music.” The two instruments dropped their key fragment and ran into the trees. Henry scooped up the fragment from the ground.

“Why would Ilara give a key fragment to a pair of obviously under powered minions?” He looked at the others.

“No, it wouldn’t make sense unless she meant it to be found. But if it seals away Father Garghoul why leave it where it can be found?” She looked over Kerri’s shoulder as she crossed another fragment off the map. Only two fragments remained.

“Interesting.”

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

“They look pretty mad.” Shinju said as she looked into the burning warehouse.

“No matter we have to keep using the Crabman’s attack to rile them up even more.” Upward used the Ectoplasm Ring to mimic the Crabmen’s Crab Hammer attack. Even as he held out his arm trying to use an attack, Mikey’s rings didn’t respond again.

“Damn it. Not again.” Mikey fell back, as he looked at them his rings were all a dull grey.

“Fall back!” Lei ordered as the Pirate Fluffs came hopping out the burning warehouse.

“Arrrr those Crabmen will pay for this!”

“Yarr to Davy Jones’ Locker with them.”

“Why is the rum gone?” The Pirate Fluffs began hopping down the street to another building.

“Come on we’ve got to make sure they start a large fight.” Owlie said as they followed the growing fluff crowd from the alleys.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

“Just a little further the last key piece is here.” Javelins and stone spears flew overhead as John led the team through the battleground. The Valkyrians had campaigned hard and managed to push the Garghouls back to their last stronghold on Star Island. The battle raged in the sky overhead as the final key fragment they needed began to glow in pulses.

“So after this we open up the cathedral on this island and then what, ask Father Garghoul to kindly surrender?” Jeremy got knocked off of his feet by the force of a javelin exploding into lightning on the ground nearby.

“Do not let the humans claim that key fragment!” Ilara rushed overhead, dropping more javelins between the group and the key fragment. “If they release Father Garghoul our war is lost!” The Valkyrians had pulled back to fight the crew.

“I don’t think so. Jeremy ready to try the thunderstorm combination?” Henry called.

“Guess now’s as good a time as any. Hope we don’t kill ourselves with it.” Jeremy and Henry fired their elemental Lancers, the two streams merged in midair and the force of both water and wind caused a funnel shaped cloud to form from the energy. As it raced towards the Valkyrians it shot out bolts of lightning and geysers of water. “Henry I think that’s enough energy, any bigger and we might get ourselves swept up into it.” Henry nodded as both their rings cut out.

“Hmm fellow Garghouls these humans seek entry to the cathedral where our master is imprisoned, we must ensure they get the key so that he may be released into this world once again!” There was a battle cry amongst the Garghouls before they gave chase to the Valkyrians.

“Times like this I can’t tell if we’re good guys or if I’m still one of the bad guys. What if Father Garghoul’s imprisonment is for the better?” KJ barely avoided the shrapnel from a stone spear and a lightning javelin colliding midair.

“Father Garghoul works for The Phantom. The Phantom is bad guy numero uno. Therefor any action that destroys him is good guy.”

“You forgot to mention that in order to destroy him, we have to free him. Which means, if we fail, we’ll have helped The Phantom.”

“We can’t afford to lose. We also need the amulet that Father Garghoul holds. Without it we don’t have a prayer of stopping The Phantom. I hope the Anari are having a better time than we are.” John looked back.

“Oh yes brilliant idea having them hold the cathedral door for us until we return. They’re only having to fight off both pissed off Garghouls and pissed off Valkyrians while being unable to leave, what could go wrong?” There was a deafening peel of thunder and chunks of rock were thrown into the air nearby the cathedral doors as he finished, “Forget I asked.”

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“McCoy we can’t keep up, there are just too many from both sides to hold back.” Deanna looked exhausted as she let out one last burst of frigid air.

“This is suicide trying to hold this position.” A Valkyrian crashed into Hoshi’s feet as the lightning from her staff ceased.

“The humans trusted us to do this we can’t let ‘em down. We must keep trying.” Miles shot vines from his arms that whipped a pair of Garghouls out of the skies above them.

Sisko fell back to the ground gasping, “Sir, I’ve nearly exhausted my metal powers. Too many targets their bound to get through.”

“I have an idea to make a temporary wall, I need Hoshi’s help.” Archer looked to McCoy.

“Make it so.” A Garghoul fell to the ground as a grey beam shot from McCoy’s staff. Archer and Hoshi moved off chattering as McCoy stared down a line of approaching Valkyrians. “Gaia protect us.”

A wall of ice, blocked off the approaching group, while frenzied vines erupted from the ground to assault them. “That’s it McCoy. I…I’m drained.” Deanna fell backwards as McCoy struggled to support her weight.

“Sir, I’m about out of energy.” The vines became limp as Miles lost his coloring. He slumped back as the Valkyrians began to brush aside the now lifeless plants and break chunks from the ice wall.

“My turn now.” The ground beneath the Valkyrians shook and rumbled as blade-like protrusions erupted and shot out. “The Dancing Blades, will use up the last of my energies, sir.”

“Hoshi, Archer are you two ready?” McCoy yelled.

“McCoy you might want to make one of your Spirit Shields, the boom is going to be huge.” Hoshi and Archer landed next to the other Anari. She fired a small bolt of lightning from her staff and slumped back. McCoy planted his staff in the ground as a grey-purple energy shield formed around the Anari. Even behind the bubble it formed the ground rocked and lurched from the force of a lightning and rock explosion.

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“Should we stay back here or watch the fluffs and crabs go at each other?” Owlie peered over the hot dog cart they’d taken shelter behind.

“Strategically, we want to let them exhaust each other, then pick off any survivors.” The huddled group watched as Pirate Fluffs and Crabmen attacked each other.

“We have to do something.” Upward readied a shot.

“No, leave them be.” Lei pushed Upward’s arm down.

“Look there’s Mobster Lobster.” Jonjon pointed out.

Sailor pointed elsewhere, “And Registered Offender.”

“Who dares intrude into our territory?” Mobster Lobster bellowed.

There was a sound of a cash register ringing up a purchase before Registered Offender answered, “Your peons were the ones tried to rob mine. Put up your claws.”

“Heyo, you know your gold is no match for my diamondite.” Mobster Lobster rapidly flexed his claws rapidly.

“Ah ah, you be walking the plank when I finish with you.” Registered Offender burped up a few gold coins. The two bosses began trying to circle each other.

“So we just let these two duke it out and watch from here?” Shinju looked nervous as she eyed the fight going on between the animated cash register and the massive lobster.

“Yes, we watch them. And wait.”

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

“I got the key piece. Let’s go!” Jeremy clutched the key fragment tightly as they ran towards the cathedral door.

“It’s blocked off. It looks like a rockslide.”

“That must have been the explosion we heard.”

“I hope the Anari are alright.”

“Penelope how about you and I put the key pieces together, and the others can dig out the door.”

“Hold it right there humans!” Ilara stood in front of the rock pile.

“I got her, you guys dig out the Anari and the door.” Penelope mimicked a karate stance she saw on TV.

“Bring it on human filth.” Ilara locked blades with Penelope as the others moved past to the stone pile.

John and Henry started moving stones, while KJ and Jeremy began putting together the key, Kerri kept lookout and shot any Valkyrians or Garghouls getting close. The pile began to rumble as several stones loosed themselves. “Worry not humans, the break in the action has given us some time to recharge.” The Anari emerged from the rock pile and began helping uncover the door.

Their swords sparked as they crossed. As Penelope held her own against the matriarch she let her gaze wander only the slightest bit to check on her friends’ progress. “Human, why do you fight me? I seek to keep a great evil imprisoned and you want to release it. What gives you the right?” Ilara glared at Penelope.

“We’re trying to stop a much greater evil. And in order to we must retrieve a power that lies with this evil. We must stop this evil so we can stop The Phantom.” The blades squealed as they ground against each other. “Guys I can’t hold her much longer.”

“We got it!” KJ and Jeremy held up a massive key.

“Go! Open the door, we’ll hold here until everyone is in.” John and McCoy kept everyone else covered as they gathered around the doorway. The door cracked open as the key slid into place. “Go go go!” Jeremy knocked Ilara off balance with a cyclone before disappearing into the darkness of the cathedral.

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Winged Abomination

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Chapter 16: Part 3
“You fight well for an eight legged, cash carrying freak Offender, but it’s time for you to sleep with the fishes.” Mobster Lobster flung his hat at the massive cash register.

“Well I say, thar must be plenty of booty of yours for me to plunder once I deal with you and your gang Lobster.” A beam shot from Registered Offender’s eyes and turned the hat flying through the air into solid gold. It crashed into the wooden planks below with a thud.

“You’ll pay for that you ruffian.”

“Ahhh!”

“Sailor!” Mikey lunged to break her fall as she slipped from her rooftop hiding place.

“What in the?”

“Humans!”

“Hmm heya Lobster how ‘bout we put our grievances aside and deliver these humans to the boss?” Registered Offender turned to Mobster Lobster.

“It sounds like a deal I can’t refuse Offender.” Mobster Lobster moved up beside Registered Offender.

“You alright?” Mikey groaned as Sailor landed on his back.

“Yes, I think so.” She said as she sat up. “I’m sorry.” She stood up as Lei, Owlie, Jonjon, Shinju and Upward emerged to join them.

“We were going to have to come out of hiding eventually. Might as well be now.” Mikey nodded to Lei.

“Alright let’s give them hell.”

“We got these leftover goons.” Jonjon and Shinju went after the remaining Crabmen and Pirate Fluffs.

“Hey Lei let’s boil us some lobster” Upward called.

“Guess that leaves us with the gold spitter.” Owlie helped Mikey to his feet.

“Guess so.” Mikey hung back as Owlie and Sailor attacked Registered Offender. He was worried his rings were still misfiring.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

“Anyone else hear that creepy organ music?” The inside of the cathedral was dark like all the windows had been covered, and the candles replaced with globes that drained even the most minute of light sources. Still the area possessed a faint purple glow along the floor and in patterns engraved on the walls. It almost seemed to Kerri like the stonework had null crystals embedded in it.

“Now that you mention it. It is kind of creepy. How is this cathedral laid out John?” Jeremy shivered a bit.

“What about that guidebook we have Jeremy doesn’t it say anything about this place?” Henry felt as if he was being watched by the birds engraved into the walls.

“I hope this isn’t how the place appears when it’s purified otherwise the people who use it as a cathedral have some warped worship practices.” Penelope tilted her head as it looked like the glowing stones in the wall pulsed.

“The guardians of this holy place are aware of our presence now. If I remember this place was designed to become lighter as the floors were ascended, until we came to the main assembly on the top floor.” John held out his hands as if he were feeling around for something.

“Crystal Cathedral, where the residents of Tlauixcalpantecuhtliopolis come to pay their respects to Spirits of Gaia. The bottom floor contains many prayer shrines along the walls each honoring a deity of Gaia: such deities include Sentinel, Overseer, Meili, Peath, and Hephaes. Below the cathedral is a mausoleum where many warriors of Gaia are interred. To find the spiral stairs to the second floor one must let the guardians guide them.” Jeremy took a breath, “Wonder what that means.”

“It means we must let these guardians that we can’t see yet point us to a set of stairs that may or may not already be in front of us.” There was a scraping sound that interrupted KJ.

“Who dares enter this sacred ground?” It sounded like many voices speaking in unison coming from all around the group.

“Pity we had to leave the Anari to mind the door for us, this place is right up McCoy’s alley.”

“You know the Anari McCoy? He used to be our caretaker here. We miss him greatly. Only those worthy may ascend to the temple.” Six of the shrines along the walls began to glow a bright pink as figures shaped from purple crystal emerged from them.

“That one looks like Sentinel.” Kerri pointed to one.

“That must make this guy Hephaes.” Henry pointed to a large robotic looking one.

“Anyone want to bet each of them is a representation of a Gaian deity?”

“Prepare yourself for the tests of spirit.” Each of the crystal creature fired beams of light from their hands. Penelope tried hitting the nearest one with fire, but it seemed to absorb the flames. As it sucked up the last of the flames the Meili figure glowed bright pink before shooting flames back at Penelope.

Henry tried drenching the Hephaes figure with water only for it to absorb the torrent, glow brightly and then unleash a tidal from its hands. “These guys absorb and reflect anything energy based. We’re going to have to break them with brute force.”

“How great is your resolve human?” The Sentinel figure stared down Kerri before she tried firing her bow. The crystal creature flew apart as the arrow passed harmlessly threw, then reassembled itself. John tried taping down the massive Peath crystal but it ripped through the tape as fast as he could summon it.

“Bring out the blades guys, melee is going to be our only chance.” John could only watch as Jeremy hacked at the Peath figure. The blade left a deep gash in the crystal face, but began to rapidly heal. John could see that the Overseer figure was behind the others and he was feeding an energy beam into the Peath figure. “Jeremy, Henry, Penelope go after Seer. Kerri, KJ with me drawing the others.” There was a dazzling light show as KJ, Kerri and John fired lances of energy between the different crystal demi-gods. They demi-gods were unamused with the show and gave chase to the three. Henry, Jeremy and Penelope went to work hacking and slashing at the Overseer. Without the other five to defend him the fragile crystal soon succumbed to the blades’ might. As the five continued chasing John and Kerri, KJ was shouting orders.

“Peath then Hephaes, bring down their big guns quick!” Kerri and John kept throwing beams past the lumbering crystal masses. Without the ability to heal the crystalline creatures were easily shattered by the three blades assaulting them.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

“Thankfully, the Valkyrians and Garghouls seem more interested in fighting each other than us.” A line of vines attacked a group of Garghouls and Valkyrians that were already absorbed with fighting each other.

“Let’s hope it stays that way Miles.” Deanna coated the door into the cathedral with a thick layer of ice.

“Let us hope the humans are having just as much luck inside as we are out here.” Hoshi zapped a line of Garghouls out of the sky as they tried flying overhead.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

“Punch it! Punch it!” Up yelled as Lei was riding Mobster Lobster’s back. He had managed to climb up the crustacean’s shell during the attack and now it was trying to buck him off. As the massive monster waved his pincers around he knocked Up across the pier, and with a heave Lei was thrown next to Up.

“Oww. Remind me not to fly Air Lobster again, they have pretty rough landings.” Lei joked as he grabbed his head.

“Yerr all just as worthless as these gold tokens I spit.” A Registered Offender let loose a shower of gold tokens from his mouth. The force of the impact blew Owlie and Sailor into a heap next to Lei and Up.

“Shinju watch out!” Jonjon threw himself in the way of Mobster Lobster’s hat as it exploded. The impact landed him next Lei.

“Jonjon!” A bunch of gold tokens pelted Shinju knocking her into the heap with the others.

“Guess it’s up to me now.” Mikey stood between the two beasts and the others, “Come on!” It looked as if Registered Offender and Mobster Lobster were charging energy up for another attack. “Hope this works.” Mikey muttered to himself as the dual attack came. He tried throwing up a defensive shield, it was barely the size of a Spartan shield and it was flimsy, each token blasted small holes into the glowing hexagons. As the shield faded to a mere disk an explosive top hat hit it. Mikey was launched clear into a back alley, his world was spinning as he tried sitting up. He could see someone looking down at him.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

“That’s the last of them John.” Henry’s hack lobbed off the last bits of the Meili crystal. As the figure dissolved a stairwell on the far end of the room lit up.

“Looks like we go up.” As the approached the stairs, John took point. The stairs spun around as the room lit up to a candlelit glow.

“We must be entering the sanctuary. Look at all the pews and candles.” The organ music was louder but the source was still not visible.

“Sure is one strange place to hold a mass.”

“Keep in mind the kind of creatures that worship here.” Kerri looked down at her hand. She had pulled out the amulet that used to be Mikey’s for a bit of comfort in the dark area. She felt as long as she held it, he was right there with her.

As they reached the center of the sanctuary the candlelight vanished. And six points of light began glowing crimson along the walls. There were two at the front of the room and two on either side of the stairwell they came up. As the KJ stepped off the last stair a trap door slid over the stairwell blocking their retreat. “Guess we’re stuck here.”

“Who dares enter this sacred ground?”

“Trespassers into the holy land will be dealt with.”

“You will not make it out of here alive.” The glowing points of light became brighter and began moving. The candlelight returned to a faint glow but it was bright enough for the group to see they were staring down three massive Garghouls.

“Garghoul Zealots! Run!” They barely had time to react before the hulking stone goliaths shot lasers from their eyes.

“Garghoul Zealots, if I remember the notes correctly they are the strongest Garghouls under Father Garghoul. They are his personal bodyguards and have combat abilities and skills to match.” The pew behind Jeremy burst into flames as a zealot leapt over to glare at Jeremy and Penelope.

“Try to focus on one and bring it down.” Henry tried firing at one of the zealots as it rushed past him. The sweep of its claws knocked him to the ground.

“Think again!” The three Garghoul Zealots landed together, “Trinity berserker!” They each fired their lasers at a central point. As the beams merged, the result was a massive energy beam that threw off waves of heat. The team was thrown back against the altar.

“Divide and conquer. We got to break them up.” John tried coordinating an attack.

“Hah you think you five can really stop us?” The Garghoul Zealots hadn’t noticed that KJ wasn’t with the team, John tried not to react as he saw KJ sneaking behind one of the zealots.

“Aww how touching. You forgot all about me.” KJ delivered a spinning kick into the side of one the Garghoul’s faces. The mass of stone fell to the ground stunned from the blow as the other two tried reacting they were met with a volley of lancer fire. KJ ducked as she ran back to the rest of the team. “Won’t keep him out long, but I figured two versus six are better odds.” John, Jeremy and Henry rushed at one of the Garghoul Zealots while Kerri, Penelope and KJ rushed at the other.

“Reminds me of bashing Mama Saws in the Saw Mill.” Kerri, Penelope and KJ chuckled as their zealot crumpled and fell apart while John, Jeremy and Henry were still attacking theirs.

“So much for macho men.”

“Hah!” The zealot KJ had knocked down was up again and a sweep of his talons caught the women off guard.

“One versus six now.” The second Garghoul Zealot crumpled to the ground. The team was about to charge when there was a blinding flash of golden light.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

“Come Michael Berth, you must get up the others need you.” It was the robed figure she pulled Mikey up as his head spun.

“I’m useless, my rings won’t work at all.” He held up his hands and showed his rings had taken on a dull grey appearance.

“Hmm, you took more of Guardus’ Ghirate teachings to heart than you thought. Your Ghi energy has become fused to your emotional state. While you lack the will or focus to use your energy you will not be able to use your rings. In that case I must save our friends.” The robed figure had looked Mikey’s rings over before turning to go.

“You can’t face down Mobster Lobster and Registered Offender on your own.” Mikey called after her.

“If I lose hope because of the fear of loss this world will never be rid of the evil that corrupts it. If I fight there is hope still.” She threw back her cloak revealing a figure in an armored skirt and bikini top. She wore tanned knee high pirate boots, a sheathed cutlass hung off her belt and her gauntlets were affixed with eight rings on the fingers. Her flowing red hair caught the breeze as the sunlight glinted off of a jeweled headpiece. Her battle worn green eyes showed that she’d seen much in her time, even if the rest of her appearance didn’t suggest it. She stood between the fallen six warriors and the two bosses. “You took my crew, you will not take my friends. Prepare yourselves for Zelda the Pirate Queen!” She drew her cutlass as she spoke and held it firmly to her side as she stared down the two.

“Heya, Registered Offender does this dame look familiar to you?”

“Why yes she does, I remember slaughtering her crew on the high seas. I always wondered why we never found her corpse.”

“Well we’ll rectify that mistake soon enough.” The two bosses split up so that Zelda was in between them. Two of her rings glowed as a crystalline shield formed in her other hand and her blade became charged with Ghi energy. As she fought the two monsters, her shield deflected the golden tokens of Registered Offender as she cut into Mobster Lobster. As she tried digging deeper the lobster threw her back.

“How ‘bout that double trouble blow? Worked on the high seas against her shipmates.” Mobster Lobster and Registered Offender crossed their claws as they fired a shower of exploding gold tokens. The force of the tokens was too much for Zelda’s shield. Deep cuts appeared across her body as she was thrown back from the explosions. Mikey rushed to her side as she lay coughing on the ground.

“Z… Zelda hang on. I’m going to get you out of here. Going to get you well again.” As Mikey knelt next to her she only shook her head and tried laughing.

“Afraid I’m already on my way out Michael. So long as those I defend are safe that’s what matters.” The others had managed to get back on their feet while Zelda had stalled the bosses.

“But… but why?” Mikey stared down.

“There comes a time when a person must be willing to lay down their life for those they care about. By my sacrifice I hope that this world can be saved for my daughter. If you…see her……please tell her…..tell her I am sorry for not always being there……. Tell my daughter Blaze that I….” She heaved one last breath before she collapsed onto the ground. Mikey clenched his fist as he felt emotions welling up within him. His breathing was ragged as he narrowed his eyes.

“You two… are monsters. I cannot allow the evil you have become to persist.” His fists clenched as his teeth gritted. His rings began lighting up from the dull grey into a brilliant golden glow. “I can’t afford to feel sorry for myself. Not anymore. Nobody else is going to perish for me.” With his last words he became bathed in a golden glow. It was blinding as it burst out of him the entire world seemed to flash between gold and white. When everyone’s vision had cleared, Mikey held in his hand the blade Guardus had left him, in the other his amulet which now hummed and vibrated.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

“Everyone okay?” John looked around as everyone blinked a few times to regain their eyesight.

“The amulet’s gone!” Kerri felt her pocket where she had been keeping Mikey’s amulet.

“So is Guardus’ blade.” Henry felt along his belt where he had kept the blade.

“Either TP is able to freeze time or they’ve returned to the one who can wield them.”

“Toilet paper can freeze time?”

“Weren’t you ever taught about the magical place the bathroom is?”

“She means The Phantom you dorks. But if it isn’t him, that means…”

“He’s alive and somewhere he needs use of them. We need to continue on our task.” Kerri breathed a sigh of relief.

“That blinding flash melted the last of that zealot and revealed the stairwell to the belfry. Let’s go, Father Garghoul is up there.” As John lead the charge up the stairs they found themselves in a room with stain glass windows on all sides. High up in the vaulted roof were several bells of assorted sizes. They could clearly hear the organ now as it appeared in the middle of the room.

“I don’t get it, shouldn’t Father Garghoul be here.” Jeremy and the others looked at each other as they found themselves alone in the room.

“Maybe explore a bit? Maybe he’s triggered like Papa Saw?” As they spread out to search the room the organ continued to play its haunting tune.

“He he he, such foolish children you are.” The voice came from the stairwell as someone else reached the top. “Do you really think the Master of Tlauixcalpantecuhtliopolis would make himself so easily assaulted?”

John was the first to turn around to face the newcomer, “Ilara! How did you-“

“Get past your pet Anari? It’s rather easy when you’ve spent so long confined within these walls. Hahaha.” She interrupted John’s question as she approached the organ.

“Confined within these walls? I thought this was Father Garghoul’s prison.” Henry and the others moved to rejoin John.

“Are all of your kind so… what’s the word… unintelligent? Yes, I believe that is the one. I must thank you for undoing the lock though. It held my full powers sealed. I could not regain my full form while that accursed seal was in place.”

“Wait if you’re Father Garghoul where’s the Matriarch?” Kerri trembled a bit.

“Really now you can’t solve puzzles can you? There was no Matriarch Ilara, nor was there a true Father Garghoul. My master wanted this land in turmoil so I invented both identities to plunge it into that glorious chaos. And now that you’ve undone the seal the Valkyrians placed on my power I am free now to unleash my full wrath on this land. I am Caracarapticus, and I am the ultimate ruler of the skies, and now you must all be destroyed.” As she spoke Ilara’s hands transformed from the graceful humanlike hands of the Valkyrians into much more sinister claws that were much larger and longer versions than those of the Garghoul, her knees bent backward as hooked talons replaced the gentler bird feet. Her chest bubbled and expanded as her entire form grew from a six foot tall Valkyrian into an eighteen foot tall monster. Her face grew a curved golden beak as her eyes became crimson orbs set in a vaguely human head. As she flapped her wings white feathers were cast off like a reptile shedding a skin. The feathers burned as they hit the crew. Replacing the white feathery wings was one large white leathery bat wing and a black feathered wing. The organ fell to pieces as the tremors its flapping wings gave off shook the entire cathedral. Caracarapticus let out a deafening screech as it plunged through one of the stained glass windows. The cathedral shook so hard the crossbeams struggled to hold the bells as they violently shook.

“We need to get out of here, the whole place is coming down!” John shouted as he ran to the broken window.

“How do we do that? The stairs are blocked off!” Penelope had to shout to be heard over the clanging bells.

“Umm we fly out. We were given wings by those potions, let’s put them to use again.” Jeremy jumped from the broken window, his wings sprouted as he beat them a few times level himself.

“Go go go!” John motioned each of them out of the window Penelope was the last one to approach the jagged edge.

“I’m not so sure about this.” As she spoke one of the bells fell from its perch and crashed into the ground beside her.

“Would you rather stay here?”

Penelope took one look at another bell that was coming loose before jumping out the broken window, John followed right behind her. It was sunset as they regrouped in the air. The fight between Garghouls and Valkyrians below had paused itself as they watched the lances of energy cross the sky as the crew gave chase across the clouds to Caracarapticus.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

“Lei, Mobster’s left claw. Up, his right. Owlie, Sailor, Shinju mob the offender. Jonjon, mop up any remaining baddies. Ready? Go!” Mikey barked out orders as Ghi energy rushed into the blade he held.

“On it boss.” Shinju shot back as she bumped one of Registered Offender’s legs. It threw the hulking menace off balance as Owlie approached another leg.

“Now this is more like it.” She said as she slashed at the leg. The beast howled in pain as Sailor shot its face.

“This is for Pandexx and Kenny and all the others I knew.” Her gunfire broke part of the glass his eyes were contained in.

“These fluffs are running and the Crabmen are gone. I don’t think they want to mess with us. Change of target?” Jonjon chased off the last of the Pirate Fluffs.

“We got a pretty good lead on Mobster here, help the others with Offender?” Up cut into Mobster Lobster’s claw on one side, while Lei did the same on the other. Mikey had disappeared beneath the mass of its body and could only be heard hacking bits of the crustacean’s shell off.

“These humans are more annoying than a Symbion colony while molting.” Mobster Lobster tried swinging Lei and Up off of his claws to no success.

“We’re just getting started.” Lei said as he tried climbing up the claw.

“I think we broke the bank.” Shinju smiled as Registered Offender crashed into the ground. He twitched a few times before she plunged a blade through the buttons on his face. The behemoth spat one last wave of tokens before he broke into thousands of fragments and gears.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

“John, you got a feather bomb on your tail pull up so I can get a clear shot.”

“Negative Henry, stay on the big bird. Take him out, he’s the more important target.” Caracarapticus had shown its deadly arsenal of attacks when the crew had managed to catch up to him. The massive creature had turned to greet them with a scream that created stunning shockwaves in the air. As it flew off, large feathers fell out and proceeded to chase after members of the crew as if guided by a malevolent intelligence. They had learned the hard way the feathers explode violently if they get close enough to their target. Henry’s vision swirled a moment as he followed John’s order and began to gain altitude. He could make out Caracarapticus’ silhouette against the clouds in the haze of twilight.

John’s wings beat frantically as he tried to outrun the six feather bombs pursuing him. He tilted his head and out of the corner of his eye he could see Penelope diving and weaving as she shot flames at the monster above and avoided his sonic screams. Instead of trying to attack the beast, Jeremy had decided to use his amulet to create violent winds opposing the monster whenever it tried to fly away from the assault. Kerri was having trouble freeing herself after she had been snatched up into one of the large talons. She felt the crushing against her ribs as every breath was a struggle to hold on. KJ had flown down trying to attack the talon to free Kerri. John got an idea he thought might be crazy but worth attempting, “I always wondered how he came up with those crazy plans,” He muttered to himself. He began flying in a straight line towards Caracarapticus. The beast barely had time to react as John did a few loops around him. As he had anticipated the feather bombs exploded and hurt Caracarapticus. The impact jarred Kerri loose from the talon, but her crushed wings were too damaged to flap.

“Not like this. Anything but this.” She spiraled down towards the ground. She panicked and covered her face as she saw the ground rushing towards her only to feel a sudden jerking around her waist.

“I got you. But next time I have to save you can you drop a few pounds first?” KJ had caught Kerri by the waist and was struggling to stay airborne. It wasn’t a soft landing but it wasn’t crashing into the ground.

“Thanks KJ. Now move!” Kerri shoved KJ as Caracarapticus crashed into the ground next to them. Dirt and turf and small mounds of earth were kicked into the air as the beast spun around trying to regain its footing. A crowd of Garghouls and Valkyrians had gathered around to watch the fight. As it tried standing up Caracarapticus shifted between its appearances as Ilara and Father Garghoul before melting into some form halfway between them. As it tried to rise again it was met with another assault of lancer fire.

“Nooooo……. I’ll not be beaten by… humanssss.” It began to melt into a pool of black and white goo with and angel statue at its center. Kerri and KJ joined the attack as they stood up. As the statue cracked the goo began to sizzle and smoke. It tried reaching out a tendril towards John but was met with a tendril of water from Henry. The statue was a smoldering heap of rocks by the time anyone let up their assault. “I will haunt you humanssss…… You haven’t seen the last of me. My master will raise me ceaselessly to destroy you…..” There was a loud boom as the rock chunks exploded.

There was a brown glow from within the cathedral’s rubble before a beam shot from it towards John. As the glow died a brown-green amulet hovered in the air before him. As he reached out his hand and gripped it the amulet let out another flash of light. “Ahh that is the Amulet of Earth. Very wonderful, you have reclaimed five of the six amulets.” The Anari approached the aftermath of the fight. McCoy was conversing with a large Garghoul and a heavily armored Valkyrian.

“The residents of Tlauixcalpantecuhtliopolis have decided to put aside their differences and forge a new peace in light of the truths of their leaderships being revealed. This is quite wonderful that you have brought peace to this region. As airships can travel quite rapidly from here to elsewhere given the wind currents. The chiefs Aiden of the Garghoul and Gabriel of the Valkyrians have recommended we tackle a very potent well of Ghi energy that has been corrupted. Allies of our enemy control the Otami Underworld, if we can cleanse the place and restore the Otami tribe to power we’ll have gained a very valuable resource in our fight.” Both the Garghoul and Valkyrian with McCoy nodded.

“What about Isle de Gambino? Don’t we have business to take care of there?” Jeremy wiped some of the sweat and dirt from his brow.

“Nay both the Garghoul and Valkyrian intelligence networks confirm that the situation there is well under control. The journey to Otami should not be considered lightly though. After Aekea, the Otami Underworld is the largest source of The Phantom’s power.” Miles leaned against his staff.

“Speaking of Aekea I have business to attend to there. I’m afraid I will not be able to the Otami Underworld, but certain preparations must be made there if our quest to stop The Phantom is to succeed.”

“Aww KJ, but you were just starting to really fit in like one of the team. Be safe okay.” Kerri hugged KJ, the suddenness caught KJ entirely off guard.

“Uhh hmm. I’ll be safe. Don’t worry, or anything like that.” KJ hid her blushing as she struggled to free herself from Kerri’s grip.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

“Work Lei, ride that son of a Landshark!” Shinju cheered Lei on as Mobster Lobster tried to shake him off. Up with help from Owlie and Sailor had dismembered Mobster Lobster’s left claw, while Jonjon and Shinju were cutting into his right.

“Oh I’m hanging.” Lei, grabbed onto one of the antenna stalks under the black and white hat and held on for dear life.

“Second claw’s away!” Jonjon called as he and Shinju removed the other claw.

“KYYYEEAAAAAAAAH!” The lobster howled in pain as blue blood began to squirt from the stumps where his claws used to be. His eye began to glitter golden color before a golden glowing blade pushed up through the thorax.

“Holy Marshall nuggets! You almost nailed Lei there!” Jonjon commented as Lei sat shocked, the blade pointed up just between his legs.

“Well it’s not like there’s a sign that says stab here.” Mikey emerged from the collapsing Mobster Lobster’s mouth. Mikey wiped off the lobster meat and blood from his sword as Lei slid off the head onto the tail.

“Stabby, stabby, stab, stab, stab.” Lei made several cuts along the body as he slid down. Shinju pointed to the tail as she rushed to Lei’s side. He stuck his blade into the tail and sunk it down into the wood planks below.

“Now for Shinju’s super-secret finishing bash attack of doom.” Shinju said as she bent over and began to shake her a** at Mobster Lobster. After a few seconds of this she unleashed a large bump attack onto the lobsters body, but because of the blade in the tail it could not absorb the entire shock of the blow and the tail was torn off.

“Phhew Mikey you stink man.” Up took a whiff of the still lobster innards soaked Mikey, everyone else laughed at the commentary as both hulking bosses laid on the pier.

“Say what you want, but he looks ready for a lobster boil now,” Owlie said.

“Guys, look at them. They’re all fading.” Sailor commented as Zelda, Registered Offender and Mobster Lobster seemed to be dissolving into a black dust and blowing into the wind. All that remained of Zelda was her black hooded robe and the cutlass she had wielded into battle. “Where do you think they are going?”

“I heard stories from one of the developers that spirits of the dead in the new zOMG! chapter end up in one of three places based on their qualities.” Jonjon watched as the last of the dust floated away.

“You are indeed correct young one there are actually six places where the flow of Ghi creates strong wells. One of them lies in ruins, one of them is very far away, one is deep beneath the waves, and the others are within reach of here.” An old gentleman in a white coat emerged from behind a stack of boxes. “Yes, your fighting was brilliant. I didn’t expect such tactics to be used against these two. Some of my strongest creations corrupted by that evil meddling phantom character.” He shook his head as he leaned over a cane.

“And you are?” Up hesitantly held a blade to the newcomer.

“Wayne Pennyworth, I presume? Or would you prefer your alias as ‘The Deadman?’” Mikey had begun washing himself with water from a nearby pump.

“Ahh you are most correct lad. You must be this Michael I keep hearing about who keeps destroying my corrupted children. I can tell you where you must go next if you are to stop that bothersome phantom.” Pennyworth stared at Mikey expecting an immediate response.

“First I want to hear about these Ghi wells. Where are they and how strong are they and who controls each of them?” Mikey shook his arm trying to dry it a bit before picking up the black robe and cutlass.

“Of course, of course, but not here. Come you seven are coming to my lab with me.” He turned to lead the group down another walkway.

“Can we trust this guy?” Owlie looked at Mikey.

“We don’t have a choice. We need the information he has.” Mikey led the group as they followed Pennyworth’s zigzagging through the streets of the Isle de Gambino. Finally as the sun was setting they came to a large metal building. The door appeared to have several kinds of locks including a key, combination, palm scan, and something Mikey thought was a microphone.

Pennyworth hunched over as he twisted a silver key in the lock. Once it clicked and vanished he proceeded to enter an eight digit combination on the next keypad. Following the keypad he placed his hand on part of the door, as it was scanning he turned to the group, “Can’t be too careful with my research. Not after what my last assistant did.” He turned to face the microphone before speaking again, “This is Wayne Pennyworth the Third I am accompanied by seven guests. May the golden voice grant me entry.” There was a rattling sound as the door opened itself. As they followed him into the lab the door closed itself behind them. There were various objects each showing different stages between inanimate and animated. There was an OMG in one terrarium that sprouted legs but had not grown an underbelly.

“Alright, we came to your lab now talk.” Lei and Up pressured Pennyworth to speak.

“About the Ghi wells, there are six major wells scattered throughout this world. The one far away lies in the Barton Town fountain, the one buried in the rubble was within the Durem Library which your leader there witnessed the destruction of.” Pennyworth pointed to Mikey as if to mark him in disgrace for causing the destruction.

“And the others?” Jonjon asked.

“Deep below the seas where the first major rift occurred. It was where you fought my old pupil Labtech X. The student thought he’d surpassed me and tried to harness a Ghi well to create his own army. I warned him even I had trouble creating compliant animated, and I’ve been infusing creatures and objects with Ghi energy for decades now, but that’s beside the point. One well resides deep in the shadows where my first lab used to be. An abyssal creature called Kamila rules that region now. One well is in the industrial center of Gaia, Aekea. It is what has imbued some of the artificial lifeforms there with their sentience. But the strongest well of Ghi energy I know of lies in a much more dangerous area. Deep below the jungles of Otami is a sort of shadow world, merely setting foot there without proper protection can cause ones soul to separate from them. The locals call it the Underworld, maybe it is with all that Ghi energy collecting and creating twisted lifeforms.”

“Aekea, Durem, Barton, Otami, Deadman’s Shadow, Sealab Complex, are you sure there aren’t other Ghi wells?” Sailor looked curiously at Pennyworth as he handled a beaker that bore a strikingly similar appearance to a supercharger with both its shape and the color of its contents.

“You mentioned the soul stealing of the Otami Underworld. Is there any way to protect against it?” Mikey was getting an idea of where he was going next.

“Well if you don’t protect yourself from it, it will cause that mutation you have there to speed up exponentially.” He motioned at Mikey’s clawed arm. “That’s a rare form of Ghi mutation that happens when already living creatures become infused with more Ghi than their body can tolerate. It has its advantages, increased strength, agility and speed, an improved recovery time but it’s at the cost of slowly turning you into a golem-like animated creature. Once that happens there’s no going back to your world and rings, phew don’t count on being able to use them. But I digress. This armband when worn should provide the necessary protection from the environment in the Otami Underworld.” He ran what looked like a Ghi amp over the band a few times before handing it to Mikey.

“Those look like powerups,” Shinju said pointing to various objects scattered around the lab.

“Why how observant you are. I realized once my pupil had decided to try and create his own monsters people fighting him might need tools to give them an edge against the animated. Each of them is a concentrated and distilled version of Ghi. Even the Bloodstone Amulets and gems used to enter into Deadman’s Shadow are forms of concentrated Ghi. Without the amulet or gem’s form of Ghi you would not be able pass through the gate there without severely depleting your energy. This armband functions much in the same way. I shall call it hmm… The Bloodstone Bracelet. Yes, it has a ring to it. You must hurry to the path to the underworld Mr. Berth.”

“What about these six?” Mikey looked the silver armband over a few times before noticing the red bloodstone set in the band.

“I must go to Aekea for a very important rendezvous. Though, the area is controlled by The Phantom, I may require an escort to make it.” Pennyworth looked at each of the players before him.

“Jonjon, I want you to take the crew and make sure Pennyworth makes his rendezvous. I have a feeling I’ll cross paths with my group on the way to the Otami Underworld.” Mikey looked Jonjon in the eyes as he spoke.

“You sure?” The words Jonjon spoke were echoed on the faces of the others.

“We have the same goal, but we must take different roads to get there. I must find my original team. I have no doubt our paths will cross again.” Mikey, the crew and Pennyworth began to somber march to where the ferries had been docked. As he prepared to follow the crew onto the ferry heading to Aekea, Pennyworth stopped.

“Give one to each member of your team. You already possess yours, but there are six bracelets in this box. Godspeed Michael Berth.” He handed Mikey a wooden box before boarding the ferry.

“Here’s hoping for a reunion soon.” Mikey said as he boarded his ferry.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

“Don’t worry, once I’m finished in Aekea I’ll find you guys. It’s an important meeting that will hopefully gain us a powerful ally.” KJ stood at the gangplank onto an airship bound for the outlying region around Aekea.

“Alright. Just be careful, we’d hate to lose you.”

“Yeah, good luck KJ.”

“Just don’t get in over your head alright.”

“It was an honor fighting by your side.” Henry held out his hand to shake hers.

“Believe me Henry, the honor was all mine.” She shook his hand before saluting John, “Good luck my better half.”

“We’re both going to need a bit of it.” KJ turned and boarded her airship. As it began floating away from the dock, John lead the crew to another dock with an airship bound for the Otami region.

“Think we’ll ever see her or Mikey again?” Kerri asked.

“I hope so Kerri. I hope so. Come on let’s get below, McCoy said he and the other Anari were ready to ship off.” Kerri lingered a moment to watch the sun dip below the horizon before following John into the ship’s hold.
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Shadowy Shapeshifter

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damn good as always berry, i look forward to the next chapter -mew
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Winged Abomination

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anguls kushinoda
damn good as always berry, i look forward to the next chapter -mew

What's your opinion about doing a villain side chapter as sort of an "explore the mind of evil" kind of thing?
...*looks suspiciously at toilet paper* If my bathroom items start plotting world domination, you'll be one of the first to know.

Love it. A few random thoughts I have...the little kids at the beginning had incongruously adult speech patterns, in my opinion. Also, are the LoZ references intentional? That's at least three so far, not counting the pirate queen (I feel like her name was canon, stated somewhere in the game, but I could be wrong). Also also, is it my imagination or is there something between John and KJ? Or would that just be so wrong that the mere suggestion is offensive? If so, don't worry, I just have my shipping goggles on too tight most of the time. >.>; Anyway, I like the idea of a villain chapter, particularly because what we've heard about his background doesn't seem to line up with your original hints. (On that point, I've noticed a lot of character background evolution, and it's not a problem, but you might want to update the bios.) Also I want to know more about his mysterious activities involving the real world (buuut I won't hold out for any big answers...)

Err...I probably had more to say but this is disjointed enough already. I do have a couple major questions but I'm too tired to articulate 'em properly right now, so maybe later on.

Also, fun fact: I'm pretty sure the moment I fell in love with this fic was when I saw the word "loosing", did a double take, and realized it was correct in context. I don't think I've ever seen that before; it's usually a failed attempt to spell "losing". I don't remember what chapter that was in though. Of course, that's not the main reason. One of the main reasons is because no other zOMG fic I've encountered has gotten as far as chapter two (lolol like the game u c wat i did thar *shot*), and the other is because, well, as far as genre goes, this is waaay up my alley. So now you know!
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Winged Abomination

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LabTech Kestin
...*looks suspiciously at toilet paper* If my bathroom items start plotting world domination, you'll be one of the first to know.

Love it. A few random thoughts I have...the little kids at the beginning had incongruously adult speech patterns, in my opinion. Also, are the LoZ references intentional? That's at least three so far, not counting the pirate queen (I feel like her name was canon, stated somewhere in the game, but I could be wrong). Also also, is it my imagination or is there something between John and KJ? Or would that just be so wrong that the mere suggestion is offensive? If so, don't worry, I just have my shipping goggles on too tight most of the time. >.>; Anyway, I like the idea of a villain chapter, particularly because what we've heard about his background doesn't seem to line up with your original hints. (On that point, I've noticed a lot of character background evolution, and it's not a problem, but you might want to update the bios.) Also I want to know more about his mysterious activities involving the real world (buuut I won't hold out for any big answers...)

Err...I probably had more to say but this is disjointed enough already. I do have a couple major questions but I'm too tired to articulate 'em properly right now, so maybe later on.

Also, fun fact: I'm pretty sure the moment I fell in love with this fic was when I saw the word "loosing", did a double take, and realized it was correct in context. I don't think I've ever seen that before; it's usually a failed attempt to spell "losing". I don't remember what chapter that was in though. Of course, that's not the main reason. One of the main reasons is because no other zOMG fic I've encountered has gotten as far as chapter two (lolol like the game u c wat i did thar *shot*), and the other is because, well, as far as genre goes, this is waaay up my alley. So now you know!


Well little fact that failed to make the chapter due to space constraints and it being something that wasn't easy to fit in anywhere in the story. Garghouls and Valkyrians are both partially animated, and as such "spawn" in their adult form. Children for them would be suspicious even among their culture. Yes, the LoZ references were intentional, I've been dropping references to many things I enjoy throughout the story, I think this one is the first one someone picked up on. I did ask around and dig through material to see if there was a name for the pirate queen, all I found was the hint that Blaze was her daughter but not much else. Keep adjusting those shipping goggles, there's still at least five chapters for people to do the partner shuffle. Keep in mind KJ was originally a piece of John that The Phantom tore out and turned into an individual lifeform, could be admiring a different side of himself in a living mirror. Though, I'm surprised you didn't catch the Kerri x KJ undertones towards the end.

I wish I had waterproof paper, I have all the best ideas for a villain chapter in the shower. Glad to hear you enjoy it.

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