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

Mikey 0.15217391304348 15.2% [ 7 ]
John 0.1304347826087 13.0% [ 6 ]
Fluffs (post which one) 0.34782608695652 34.8% [ 16 ]
Father Garghoul 0.08695652173913 8.7% [ 4 ]
Malevobear 0.21739130434783 21.7% [ 10 ]
Other: Please post 0.065217391304348 6.5% [ 3 ]
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Winged Abomination

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anguls kushinoda
so when do we get to see part 2 of chapter 10, cause its a good story -mew

As soon as I finish writing and editing it. RL obligations have left me with not a lot of writing time, but it's coming along rather well.
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Shadowy Shapeshifter

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anguls kushinoda
so when do we get to see part 2 of chapter 10, cause its a good story -mew

As soon as I finish writing and editing it. RL obligations have left me with not a lot of writing time, but it's coming along rather well.
damn, RL always has to get in the way when your haveing fun doing things, rather its a game, write/read stories or what not, lol take ya time man -mew
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Winged Abomination

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After trials and tribulations it is finally ready. I hope you guys enjoy the next part as our heroes move closer to completing their mission. ^^

Chapter 10: The Sealab X Factor: Part 2

“Don’t say your goodbyes yet.”

“Whoo hoo!”

“Bombs away!”

“Sorry we took so long getting here” Kerri helped Mikey get to his feet.

“Better late than never. Just glad you made it. Help Jeremy, he needs it more.” Mikey shook as he stood back up. Henry, John and Penelope had taken positions between the collapsed warriors and the seacycles. “Look Jeremy, help at last.”

“So 24 versus 6? Let’s get this party going.” Henry, Penelope and John dove into battle as Kerri hung back alternating between sniping the cycles and mending Jeremy and Mikey. As soon as he had a sizable chunk of health and stamina, Mikey dove in to help the others. With five people attacking the tide seemed to be turning in their favor. Already 3 cycles succumbed to the combined power of their slashes.

What felt like hours later, but in actuality was only twenty minutes, everyone stood over the broken shells of the seacycles and husks of the labtechs, everyone, except Jeremy. Mikey rushed to the side of his friend who still sat against the stone wall. “Jeremy? Jeremy don’t you leave us now. Jeremy!” He patted the side of Jeremy’s face a few times before looking down. Salt stung his eyes as he sniffled a bit.

“We did everything we could. I guess our best wasn’t enough. I’m sorry Mikey. We have to keep going or else it will be for nothing.” She put a hand on Mikey’s shoulder.

“Poor kid, he was only 14, and yet he had the biggest fighting spirit of us all. Mikey, are you going to be okay handling this switch on your own?” John put a hand on Mikey’s other shoulder as he still knelt next to Jeremy.

“If it isn’t too much to ask, can I trade switches with you and Penelope? I don’t think I can stand to be here right now.” He brushed some of the hair out of Jeremy’s eyes before adding in a whisper, “Goodbye old friend.”

“I’m sorry that we can’t afford the weight of carrying him, or at least getting him out of this hell. But we have to go on.” Henry looked at the crew. “Alright, John and Penelope are on switch three, myself and Kerri on switch two, Mikey you’ve got switch one. Let’s make this one count.”

The march was slow for Mikey, he felt it was taking an eternity even with his mimicked fleet feet. “Jeremy trusted me, and I let him down. What’s worse I don’t know if we can do this now. Maybe we can’t save the world. Who am I kidding I was never meant for this.”

Henry looked at Mikey as they marched, “He’s beating himself up about it. It wasn’t his fault, any one of us could have been in that fight and had it happen. What if Mikey never recovers his confidence?

Kerri tried to feign even a labored smile as she walked on the other side of Mikey, “His reaction is almost as if something like this has happened before. I think it would be a miracle if he recovers his composure in time to face The Phantom again, or even Sealab X for that matter. So mysterious, one minute he’s a cold, emotionless leader the next he’s the most emotional of us all it’s like he’s two people, one is a battle hardened warrior beaten down by the tides of life, and the other is almost like a kid or teenager just being exposed to the world.”

“Alright Mikey, switch one. You sure you’ll be okay here alone?” Henry stared as Mikey didn’t meet his gaze.

“Yes, I’ll be fine. We have to keep going otherwise the loss of Jeremy will be meaningless.” His voice was choked almost as if he was holding back a flood of emotion.

“Alright, good luck then.” Henry and Kerri continued on to their switch.

“John, I’ve only ever seen Mikey like this once before and it didn’t end well. In fact it was whatever happened all those years ago that caused his personality to become what it was when we all got together. If something like that were to happen now…” Penelope began.

“I know, we could end up losing Mikey to his own grief. We have to hope he can manage it this time. Especially now that he has friends like us to help.” John finished Penelope’s thought.

“Everyone ready? Kerri begin the countdown once everyone is set.” Came Henry’s voice over the earpiece.

“Ready on one.” Mikey sounded.

“Ready on two.” Henry responded.

“Ready on three.” Penelope called.

“Alright pull on 0.” She took a deep breath. “3…2…1…0 PULL!” There was a pause as the everything seemed to freeze. The light over the switches turned green as the switch in front of the lair door hummed to life.

“Alright guys rally in front of the EB door.” After a few minutes of walking the remaining five found themselves in front of the EB door. Waiting for them was NeXus, six seacycles, ten labtech jumpers, and twelve labtechs.

“I probably should have mentioned we have to beat them before the door switch will unlock for pulling.” John stared at the force.

“It doesn’t matter they’re getting trashed either way.” His voice sounded menacing as he clenched his fist. “For Jeremy.” He looked at the crew as he said it. He turned back towards the enemy force and charged, his yell echoed off of the tower and stones as he fought in a frenzied state.

“For Jeremy!” The others called in unison as they advanced. Each of them had a faint blue aura around them as they seemed to dance between their targets. As the cycles and jumpers collapsed NeXus pushed the labtechs who seemed to want to run away up.

“Stand your ground maggots! There’s only five of them, stand your ground.” NeXus pushed the labtechs into fighting. Soon it was just NeXus as he found himself surrounded.

“No mercy for the merciless.” Mikey used his slash and separated NeXus’ head from the rest of him. It settled gently on the seafloor as the rest of NeXus lay in a crumpled heap.

“Michael, are you sure you’re okay to keep fighting? That wasn’t like you at all.” Kerri approached Mikey and put a hand on his shoulder as he cleaned his blade.

“I couldn’t save him. I couldn’t save them before, and now Jeremy’s gone. How can we save the world when we can’t even save each other?” He turned to face Kerri before he collapsed to the ground. He was twitching as it sounded like he was crying. “How can we save the world Kerri?”

Kerri knelt down and put her arms around Mikey and held him as he cried. “Mikey you once told me that we are a team. Even without Jeremy this is still true. You also told me, for better or worse we’re stuck together, and we’re the only ones who can save this place. It may not seem like we can but even some of the best warriors in history fought battles they didn’t believe they could win and yet some of them did. We need you Mikey, you are our captain, our leader, Jeremy gave himself up to save you so that we could still have a hope. Don’t put out that hope that he worked to keep going.” She was surprised that he had become still.

“But what if we can’t save the world?” He poked his head up, his eyes were swollen and red as he sniffled loudly.

“You can't save the whole world Mikey, the whole world is just too big to save. One person, now one person is doable. Jeremy knew that and he saved you. Now let’s go in there and kick Sealab X’s tail.” Henry held out his arm to Mikey. Mikey looked a moment at the hand before taking it. Mikey and Kerri both stood up as the five of them circled together.

“For better or worse we’re stuck together.” Penelope put her hand out.

“We’ve come too far to give up and go home now.” John put his hand on top of Penelope’s.

“Let’s pull it together now and blaze forward.” Henry placed his hand on top of John’s.

“We can’t do this without any one of us.” Kerri put her hand on top of Henry’s.

“I guess this is the part where I should make some speech to motivate us. But to be honest I don’t think that I have one.” Mikey placed his hand on top of Kerri’s.

“I’m glad you don’t. Because, being honest here, I don’t think I could take another heartfelt speech right now.” Jeremy smirked as he put his hand on top of Mikey’s. “But it is nice to know you guys give me more credit then I deserve.”

“You’re ALIVE!” Mikey lunged at Jeremy. “I don’t know whether to hug you for being back or whether I want to hurt you for making us go through all that.”

“Neither please. I’m still very sore from a near death experience. I just want to kick some Sealab. And I’m guessing we’re using the tried and true top left corner for the tail and body, then the lower left for the head.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Mikey smiled.

“Well then, what are we waiting for?” Jeremy pulled the switch in front of the chamber door. There was a cracking sound as the door unsealed. I sounded like it hadn’t been opened in some time. They ventured into the lab between the opened massive doors. As John brought up the rear the doors began to close behind them. As they closed it sounded as if they sealed shut. There was a large brightly lit room ahead of them and darkness behind them as they ventured further.

“Who is it?” A voice echoed from the chamber ahead.

“Who am I? Who are you?” Jeremy responded as they entered the chamber, it took a few seconds for their eyes to adjust but once they had adjust they almost wished that they hadn’t. Suspended from the roof by a system of catwalks and cables was the massive form of a mechanical scorpion.

“I was plunged over a cliff into the sea by the Gambino fission, falling to what seemed certain doom...utterly ignored by my own father, whose only thought was for Gino...with no thought for the fate of a *REPLACEABLE* clone. Mock me not! For while the Gambinos were distracted by the Zurg invasion, and everyone else thought I had perished, I summoned to my side those Labtechs I had suborned over the years, solidifying my power base from assets I had hidden while I ran *his* businesses.” The voice had an odd British accent to it.

“Umm does anyone know what he’s talking about?” Kerri facepalmed at Jeremy’s question.

“Do you not follow the story or read the manga?”

“Umm raise your hand if you have time for it?” Mikey butted in. Kerri was the only one to raise her hand, she looked at the crew astonished.

“My ultimate purpose is now nearly complete. This laboratory houses my gargantuan Sealab X prototype, and in mere moments, I will infuse it with Ghi energy and force it to fully Animate! That's right, I have learned much since that fateful day on the ocean cliffs. Soon, the unattached Ghi energy in the area will copy my prototype, as is the way of the Animated everywhere, and a whole host of them will come into existence!”

“You know his voice almost reminds me of that old America Idol judge. What was his name? Scowl? Crowl? Mark?” Henry remarked.

“Simon Cowell?” Penelope chimed in.

“Yeah that’s the one.”

“Oh the condescending Brit? We sort of planned it. Kuz’s idea.” John said matter-of-factly.

“Enough! Your choices are over! The infusion is complete and I leave you now to control my Sealab. You shall be the first to feel its full might, but certainly not the last. I regret that you shall not survive the encounter.” Labtech X disappeared from where he had been behind a glass. Mikey looked at the ceiling and saw Labtech X walking across the catwalks. That’s when he saw it, the last key fragment hanging out of the mad scientist’s pocket.

“Heads up guys. Here comes the tail!” Mikey mimicked fleet feet as everyone made for the predetermined corner. At first just a metallic tail came down. As it reached the floor it clicked and the blades erupted from the end. Another click and the spines began to protrude along its length. “This is it guys no holding back. No, retreat. No, surrender.” Mikey’s shurikens dug into the metal plating on the tail as the crew attacked. The tail wasn’t actually hitting them but its strikes on the ground near them caused quakes that rattled their footing.

“Don’t just hide you radioactive rabbits. Help me!” Labtech X cried out as grunny subs began approaching from side corridors and closing in.

“Jeremy, Kerri, John handle the grunnies. Henry, Penelope with me on the tail.” Mikey jumped back as one of the spines fell off and crashed into the ground.

“Got it boss. Come on.” Kerri took Jeremy and John with her as they drew the grunnies away from the others. The fight carried on for a few fevered minutes as the heroes valiantly struggled against their foes.

“Look out!” He paused a second before dragging Henry and Penelope back. The tail had cracked and fallen off of the body. As he pulled them back the tail crashed into the ground where Penelope and Henry had stood only seconds earlier.

“You may have destroyed its tail, but you will never defeat me or my Sealab X.” Mikey and the crew looked up as several clamps opened up. There were several hissing sounds as the lines that once fed ghi energy into the Sealab X popped out. There was a sound of grinding gears and scraping metal as the body freed itself from the cradle it was kept in. The joint where the tail had formerly been attached to sparked as wires and control mechanisms were exposed to salty ocean water.

“Muahahahaha prepare to face the might of this fully armed and operational battle armor.”

“We haven’t come all this way just to fail now.” Henry smiled as Mikey nodded. They both eyed the descending body. It fired twin missiles from both claws as it descended. They were moving slowly enough to easily dodge.

“I will destroy you all. The world will be mine!” Labtech X yelled down from his cockpit.

“Yeah, yeah, we got places to go and people to see, phantoms to destroy, and you’re in our way.” Rings flashed and flared as the crew fearlessly fought on. They never once realized they each had faint blue auras about them as they fought or that their rings flickered with a radiance far surpassing the normal glitter. Even the massive laser that would normally induce sleep seemed to be ineffective as the crew defied Labtech X.

“How is it that you keep fighting? Why not give up?” Labtech X almost sounded angry as he spoke.

“We believe in our cause.”

“We can’t surrender.”

“We won’t back down. Not from you.” Their auras flashed a brighter blue for a moment as Sealab X’s body began to collapse and fall apart.

“No! This cannot be happening! Eject the head module!” Labtech X was desperate now. “The force fields should be nullifying the damage! Why aren’t they working?” He began smacking his control panel hoping desperately that doing so would fix the shields. An evil smile crept across Mikey’s face.

“Time to release everything I’ve been holding back data wise guys. Cover your ears.” The whole area seemed to fall silent as energy and it seemed the very water around them rushed in towards him. In a large bright flash he unleashed a wave of stored data, even dampened by the water the sound was deafening as hundreds of harpoons, lasers, fans, saws, spears and half a dozen other attacks associated with the animated exploded into existence and were hurled at the head module. Mikey fell to a kneeling position on the ground from the strain, but he smiled as he saw the head’s health drop from full to half in the massive volley. Mikey’s stamina however was completely drained.

“Oh how lovely, is that all you’ve got?” Labtech X had resumed his condescending attitude as Mikey backed away. “I’ve been punched harder by Japanese school girls to be quite honest.” With Mikey’s massive strike the rest of the crew seemed to have an easy time dealing with the head. Though it did burn each time it shot Mikey.

“Guys keep Mikey conscious!” Kerri frantically tried to remain ahead of the damage Mikey was taking. In a desperate bid to defeat them Labtech X had begun spawning the deathmines two at a time.

“I got ‘em! Keep your focus on the head guys.” Mikey quickly intercepted the nearest deathmines and pulled them away from the crew. Cracks began forming across the head’s windshield and the laser cannon was beginning to smoke.

“No, I cannot…will not be defeated! I am Labtech X the ultimate genius….” His voice trailed off as the head began glowing white. Everyone was knocked off their feet from the shockwave of the explosion it created. Glittering dust particles seemed to be hovering in the water around the crew members as they looked at one another.

Mikey’s lip was broken open and bleeding as was part of his left arm where a deathmine spike had stuck but even he managed a labored smile. He limped a little as he pulled from the debris the final key fragment. He had barely turned around to show it to the others before Kerri had lunged at him. As her lips touched his he turned right, before she suddenly pulled away and slapped him across the face. “What’d I do?” Kerri gave no answer as everyone else chuckled. “Guess women aren’t meant to be understood.” Mikey laughed as one by one the members of his crew were teleported away in bright shafts of white light. He was the last one left looking around at the empty lab until he too was teleported. As his vision cleared he could see they were at the fountain in Barton Town.

“So John where do we use this?” As Mikey placed the last fragment of the key into where it fit the whole thing lit up with a brilliant golden light. As it hummed it seemed to be giving off golden sparkles.

“We need to place it in the Master Null Crystal. You guys know what it looks like, the big one in the middle of the Null Chamber. But to get the key hole to open we need to defeat Fred L. Gnower in the Coliseum.” John’s gaze was drawn to the golden key as it glowed, he had never before seen all of the pieces fully assembled accept for when he created the digital model for it.

“So once more into the breach?” Jeremy began moving toward the coliseum.

“Survival hard should do it right?” Henry looked at John.

“So we kill the mower and it opens the Master Null Crystal for use?”

“And I suppose it just grows out of the ground here at the fountain?”

It was quiet a moment before he responded, the dripping of the fountain was the only sound until John opened his mouth, “Yes, survival hard draws out the needed mower. And Kerri you’re standing right where the crystal should grow from.” Kerri was standing at the edge of the fountain as he replied.

Mikey put the key away and pulled on his gloves to make sure they were tight on his hands. “What are we waiting for? The only thing between us and Chapter Two is a pesky lawnmower. I hardly think he’ll be much of a challenge for us given what we’ve been through.”

“John how can you tell when someone is going to Ghi Burst?” Penelope was looking at her rings which seemed to have faint scratches around the bands.

“Some kind of aura, or their rings glow, or both.” John answered.

As they entered the massive stone structure the force of the crowd’s cheers pressed them against the gates until they were used to it. “No stopping until that Fred L. Gnower gets here.” After dealing with the other bosses and their minions clawing through screamskeeters and spirit lanterns wasn’t that hard, within minutes they waited in the middle of the field for Fred to come through the raised gate they faced. From within they could hear the sounds of an engine being shifted into gear.

“Ye kids’ll be mulch soon enough for daring to face the might of Fred L. Gnower!” The monstrous yellow mount peeled out of the holding cell and nearly ran over Henry had he not jumped aside.

“Alright guys let’s crack this gnome.” As they attacked the mower it began to crack and pieces began chipping off.

“R.I.P. Fred L. Gnower,” John said as the broken mower and gnome collapsed on the ground. Henry and Mikey had been particularly aggressive.

As they were tossed from the Coliseum they heard a crunching sound as a massive Null Crystal poked through the tiles and rock at the fountain. “Now, we truly step into the unknown team.” Mikey and the crew disappeared into the Null Chamber as The Phantom reached the crystal in Barton Town.

“Damn, I was too late to wish them luck surviving the guardians.” He stared as the blue-purple crystal pulsed brightly.
sailoranimecode's avatar

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Interesting! And you had me going there with Jeremy! Can't wait to find out what happens next! wink
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Winged Abomination

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Interesting! And you had me going there with Jeremy! Can't wait to find out what happens next! wink

Hehe that was what I intended with that.
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Shadowy Shapeshifter

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very nice man, i look forward to the next part, keep it up -mew
heart heart heart

Lol. Took me long enough to finally finish catching up on this. ^^;;

I think you've done a great job on this so far, Berry! :3 In fact, there were several scenes that inspired me so much, that I would love to illustrate them. ( or see them illustrated by someone with more practice than me... ^^;; ) Of course, I would need to finish the rest of my requests... but... I can do this! T:

If you ever get the time, I think it would do you and your readers some good if you could go through and change the color coding on some of the first chapters / posts. ^^;; ( I'm going to be honest here, and say that, personally, I think darker, toned-down colors would be better and easier on the eyes along with the black. X: It would also make the transition from speech to descriptions a bit easier on the eyes and you wouldn't be attracted to all those pretty colors. Again, just my opinion. ) That and while reading, I did happen across a few words that made it through the spell check process but still didn't quite make sense in the sentence, so to speak. Honestly, I'm a bit lazy to go through and find them again right at this very moment, but I thought I would mention it as something to improve on. ^^;; Then again, this is completely on your own free time and of your own free will. =P Plus, I'm not exactly a Written English buff. XD

I have got to say, though, you've got me hooked! I can't wait for the next part! :3 Keep up the great work, Berry!! ^-^
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Winged Abomination

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Color schemes have been fixed so character colors from earlier chapters match later chapters.
On another note adding a new poll for the readers about the title for Chapter 11.
Also of note post 69
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I voted for the top one. The second one reminds me of a book title by Huxley.
my hairy and d**k post got deleted rofl
dont these mods and nooblets understand the little jokes? xp

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looks like Journey Through the Shadow is winning for the title of the next chapter. (:
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To the readers: I hope you've enjoyed the story so far. You are always welcome to post thoughts and ideas. I would always appreciate any criticisms you may have to.

This chapter is dedicated to everyone who has read this far and enjoyed the story, though I don't get to see the smiles it brings I am happy to provide them.

Chapter 11: Journey Through Shadow

Mikey stared at the hole that had appeared on the pulsing center crystal of the Null Chamber. He looked down at the key he held firmly in his grip. “So we just put this key in there and the way to chapter two opens up?” He swallowed nervously as he looked back at the hole.

“Well there’s nothing for it. We go back or we go forward. We’ve come this far.” Henry looked on as Mikey carefully placed the key into the hole. As it locked in place the crystal began to rumble. The entire Null Chamber shook as large crystal moved back into the chamber, it revealed a hole underneath it was ink black as they looked down. They could hear the sliding of stones against each other, there were thuds at regular intervals among the sliding. The thuds seemed to be getting closer as they could see stairs rising out of the blackness. The growing stairs finally reached the top of the hole. They seemed to spiral down into a pit of glowing crystals. As Mikey stepped on the first step it seemed to hum and began to glow faintly. He looked back before continuing down the spiral stairs. Each step began to hum and glow as they ventured down. The only light in the entire chamber came from the nearby purple crystals and the faint blue of the stairs. The stairs seemed to stretch hundreds of feet as they descended further and further down into the darkness. As they went further down they seemed to pass through a layer of crystals, Jeremy reached out and touched one it seemed to glow a bright pink before dimming back to its dullness.

“Guys I think I can see the bottom from here.” Kerri was looking over Mikey and Henry’s shoulders. As she walked down she could hear someone behind her trip and fall over. She barely had time to move to the side as Penelope came tumbling down the stairs. Mikey and Henry tried to grab her but she was falling too fast for them to stop.

“Ahhhh….ooof. OUCH!” Penelope let out a sigh as she closed her eyes. Her entire body was aching as she lay back on the rocky floor. “I think I found the bottom.” She tried to move but soreness held her stiff.

“Hang on Penelope, we’re coming.” Everyone picked up the pace as they continued down the stairs. At the bottom they found themselves in the middle of a large round chamber. Two crystals on the far side from the stairs seemed to mark the entrance to a tunnel. Kerri and Henry knelt down next to Penelope and examined her. Mikey looked down the tunnel ahead of them.

“John, that tunnel, where does it go?” Jeremy stood next to Mikey as they both looked down the tunnel. There was a shuffling sound from the tunnel and it seemed to coming towards them.

“That tunnel leads to the Null Chamber of Chapter Two, and it is guarded by a group of animated that will only ever be found here or at dev spawns. Alright deep breath Penelope.” He knelt down and help Henry lift her to her feet.

“Penelope can you walk?” Mikey kept his gaze fixed on the tunnel. Dozens of lights began to twinkle in the shadows, dozens of purple lights all coming closer.

“I could tap dance if you need me too.” She smiled as she took a few labored steps. Mikey returned the smile, his lip was still swollen from the cuts fighting Sealab X.

“Thankfully, I don’t think we need you to dance, though that would make an interesting sight someday. Just using rings is enough, we’re about to have glowing company. Jeremy let’s get back, they’re coming.” Mikey grabbed Jeremy as they regrouped with the others at the base of the stairs. Blackness seemed to come from the tunnel entrance, blackness littered with what appeared to be crystal fragments embedded poured into the chamber.

“Crystal Fluffs! We’ve waited a long time for these guys!” Kerri’s voice was a high pitched gasp as she ran towards the nearest fluff. As he spread himself in a warrior’s stance, Mikey suddenly felt his shuriken ring go dead. It wasn’t responding to any of his mental commands, and as he peered around he could see everyone else was having similar problems with rings of their own.

“Let me guess, they can randomly disable rings given their null crystal composition?” He stared at John.

“Are you certain you should be an engineer or even a checkout clerk? It sounds like you may have missed your calling as a detective.” John replied as he punted away a crystal fluff.

“You and I both know that a detective doesn’t get paid as well as either of those two jobs. Quick we must go while the tunnel is open.” Mikey lead the charge as they ran through the empty tunnel. They could hear shuffling and chattering in the side chambers as more fluffs were beginning to move through the cracks and recesses. The only illumination was the crystal piece Mikey held as he ran ahead. The tunnel seemed to stretch forever every turn they took seemed to lead to a longer tunnel. Every time they paused even for a few seconds a band of crystal fluffs would catch up to them.

“We can’t keep going like this. Eventually they are going to overwhelm us.” Henry gasped to catch his breath, everyone was nearly drained of their stamina fending off the aggressive fluffs.

“They may not have to, even if we were to reach the chamber on the other end of this tunnel network we still have a major enemy to fight against.” Jeremy had just run around the corner and saw something that caused him to freeze with fright.

“I don’t think we have to run much further to find out what that enemy is.” Jeremy came scrambling back. He was out of breath as he rejoined the crew, he panted as he tried to speak, “Crystal fluffs….hund….hundreds of them. And…..and there’s….there’s something else.”

“We can’t fight hundreds. Not even that egocentric bunch, what were they called, Helpers, Santa’s? I don’t remember, but even in their organized days they couldn’t do hundreds. Can’t imagine now, especially being a mindless rabble these days. But that at least explains why they aren’t chasing us anymore.” Penelope looked around the corner.

“Seems they’ll just wait us out then. How do we proceed with this one? And I think you meant MLH.” She looked back at Mikey who was stroking his chin.

“When wasn’t MLH just a mindless rabble of competing egos?” Henry turned from the tunnel ahead to look at Mikey, “What’s the plan schemer?”

“I wish you wouldn’t call me that.” Mikey said calmly without opening his closed eyes as he continued to stroke his chin.

“Well that is all you do. Scheming and plotting and planning, well now we need one.”

“You forgot saving your sorry asses.”

“My apologies, I didn’t know we were going to list things off now. How about the number of times you’ve got us into trouble?”

“You’re one to talk Henry. Why don’t you come up with an idea of your own for once? I’m tired of being the brains of this crew. Always counting on me, I’m tired of it. Especially, when you call me schemer. Consider this the last warning, after this I go my own way.” Mikey’s normally calm demeanor seemed rattled as he stood up to his full height.

“Calm it down you two. We need to do this.” She stood between the two crew members as they stared each other down.

“We’re pulling a dev spawn attack pattern. Specifically, one like a Night Fright spawning.” Mikey and Henry glared at one another across Kerri’s arms.

“Guys we need to stay focused. We’re here to fight The Phantom, not each other. Now Mikey you said something about fright spawn strategy, I’m unfamiliar with that.” Kerri kept herself between the two as their staring match continued.

“One of us runs in and attracts everything into what can best be described as a conga line. The rest of you pick one and pick it off. Rinse and repeat the process until they’re all dead. Simple enough?” Mikey stared at Henry, he was angered that someone would dare question his leadership ability. He had been leading crews for nearly four years now, and before that he had spent two years learning how to lead by being in numerous crews for all sorts of challenges. Who was Henry who only began playing two years ago to question him?

As if he had read Mikey’s mind about who was to be the lure John spoke up, “Be careful Mikey, there’s more than just crystal fluffs out there.” He placed his hand on Mikey’s shoulder, “Good luck.”

“Hey Mikey that strategy, sounds like it came from a guy I remember named Jonjon.” Jeremy looked confused.

“Can’t say for certain where it came from but I can trace it from Jonjon back to a ryry Kenny McCormick fellow and further back to an OMFG Tay person, but the origin of such things is lost in the mists of time.” Mikey clenched his fists a few times while taking a few breaths. “FOR zOMG!” He shouted as he charged into the large round chamber. He was immediately swarmed by hundreds of crystal fluffs as he began his circling pattern.

Moments later the rest of the crew came bursting through the entry way. They eyed the fluffs a moment before Penelope pointed to one. As their attacks made contact it moved away from the mob to engage the crew, too late! As the fluff readied an attack the crystals on it lit up and were extinguished in a heap of cinders. “Good start guys. I could use some health if you can spare it.” Mikey said as he dragged his conga line through. Already some of the fluffs seemed scorched from his hands, some of their crystal tops were already partially melted. Some of the fluffs scattered as John let loose a scaredy cat at them, but there were still at least three dozen in pursuit of Mikey. Time seemed to pass slowly as what felt like hours to him and his feet was only minutes.

“You’re doing awesome man, keep it up!” Jeremy said as two fluffs next to him disintegrated.

“Keep it up and we may just win this one.” Penelope jested as she and Henry double teamed a fluff.

After what felt like hours the flock of fluffs chasing Mikey had dwindled from a few hundred to about six. Mikey looked exhausted as he came to a halt behind Kerri. “I…I…I can’t… so… so tired.” He gasped as he fell to his knees.

“Don’t worry we got this now. You did good.” Henry said as he smacked a fluff away from Mikey. The field was now a five versus six in favor of the heroes. They stood side by side as they gazed at the line of fluffs before them, Mikey pointed to one and it was immediately surrounded. Within minutes of repeating this there remained only one fluff. “Boo! Hehehe.” Henry said to the fluff. It bounced away to the center of the chamber.

“CRIIII YAAAA!” The fluff let out a deafening screech as it reached the center. The crew struggled to cover their ears as it echoed around the chamber. How could something so small yell so loud, they wondered as they struggled to stay on their feet. The fluff seemed to dissolve into a pitch black goo as it began pulling the fragments of its fallen comrades to it. Beams of light began to shoot across the chamber from the surrounding crystals each struck the goo and the crystals they fired from seemed to wink out as their light was absorbed.

“John?” Mikey turned to face him still covering his ears. He yelled trying to be heard over the still echoing screech. “What’s it doing”

“It’s growing!” Came the worried developer’s response.

“Into what?” Jeremy asked. The screeching stopped as the goo, now a huge droplet bounced into the air. As it fell back down it seemed to be transforming into a purple-white fluff. It had pink and white speckles as they saw in horror the face that had appeared on the monster which now towered over them.

“It’s huge. It’s has to be at least twice our height.” Kerri said in disbelief.

“N….n….null fluff?” Penelope stammered out.

“Scatter now!” Mikey shouted as it began to inhale. The rush of air past him, it was hard not to be pulled towards the mouth, he thought to himself as he found his footing and stopped thank god for density. As it gulped down the last of its breath it shook a few seconds before unleashing a stream of pink powder. As the powder struck him it felt like a thousand tiny daggers digging into his skin. “Don’t hold anything back.”

“Non-energy based rings and non-energy infused rings have a fifty-fifty chance of missing it.” John shouted as they spread out around the monster fluff.

“Energy based?” Jeremy stared at John confused.

“Energy infused?” Henry looked strangely.

“Did you use elemental mechanics in chapter two?” Kerri asked.

“I’m guessing elements of fire, water, air, earth, light and shadow were implemented? And energy based rings would be hot foot, fire rain, heavy water balloon, and that nifty lancer ring?” Mikey spoke calmly and loudly as the Null Fluff began inhaling again. The feeling of pointed daggers began again as the powder that had struck them seemed to resonate with the fluff. Mikey felt lighter, like it was harder to resist the inhaling fluff. Magnets! The powder and the fluff are magnets for one another! The fluff exhaled again spewing more of the pink dust.

“You forgot solar rays and a few others, but that’s the idea. Unless you’re standing right next to it as it inhales rage four density should protect you from five maybe six round of its breath. After that it’s a battle of wills. Technically, we’re still in a null chamber so ring changing is possible.”

“You heard the man, energy based rings.” Mikey quickly swapped his shuriken and slash for solar rays and hot foot, and began his assault on the fluff menace. He signaled everyone to spread out around the fluff to draw its attention. He took the position directly in front of it as he faced it down. The eyes glistened blue as the fluff began inhaling again. The pull between the dagger dust and the fluff’s innards was much stronger than the last two times. Mikey felt himself slipping until finally it let out an exhale, spewing more dust. “Jeremy quick math, will we kill it before another three rounds of that?”

“Multiply by six…. Carry the one… minus a quarter for stamina regen…” He was muttering to himself as he attacked, “We’ll be cutting it close. Photo finish close.”

“Got it!” Mikey shouted back. The fluff began to inhale again, the pull felt stronger than before. That’s three we got two more at most before something bad happens. The fluff’s health had just dropped below a third when suddenly sixth growths sprouted from the body. As they grew they began to flail around. It felt like solid rock as it smacked into Mikey’s chest. As they flailed each tendril seemed to be going after a different crewmate.

“That’s going to slow things down.” Jeremy muttered as the tendrils burrowed into the ground. The fluff swayed but remained anchored as it began to inhale again. The strain of resisting nearly brought everyone to their knees. As it exhaled the tendrils erupted from the ground and began to flail around again.

“We aren’t going to last much more than another one of those. All of you get behind it, I’ll keep its attention drawn this way!” Mikey shouted as he climbed back to his feet.

“But that makes us a bigger target for the tendrils!” Henry called back.

“The tendrils are not our worry, we can shrug off their damage with wish and bandage. If it breathes again and swallows one of us, then we have a big problem.” Kerri dragged Henry into the cluster. Mikey stayed in front of the Null Fluff drawing the massive monster’s attention away from his crew. As they huddled behind it the tendrils smashed the ground around them. As the fluff’s health fell below a fourth it began to inhale again. The rest of the crew fell to their knees unable to move. Mikey struggled to stay on his feet, but even he fell. The pull was strongest for him standing right in front of it. He slid across the ground towards its mouth as it continued inhaling. Just as his shoes were about to be swallowed up the fluff exhaled. As Mikey was blown back against the ground he was on the verge of passing out. He snapped awake as one of the tendrils came towards him, he rolled to the side as it smashed the ground where he had been. The remaining five tendrils seemed focused on him as he continued to roll left and right to avoid the tendrils smashing him.

1000….900….800….its health was dropping rapidly as its tendril attacks became more frequent. As its health hit 700 it began to inhale again. The rest of the crew fell flat to the ground from the pull it exerted; Mikey was pulled in faster than before. His screams were muted as he found himself engulfed in the Null Fluff’s innards. He felt his health ebb away as the fluff began digesting him. As the fluff’s mouth snapped shut it began to turn around to face the rest of the crew.

“One final push, for Mikey!” Penelope cried.

“For Mikey!” John cried as they began to attack. Mikey couldn’t tell who’s health was dropping faster, his or the fluff’s. He couldn’t see or hear is crew, for all he knew their mangled corpses could be hanging from the chamber walls.

“Guess this is the end for me.” The white around him was blinding as he closed his eyes. He felt himself thud into the ground and suddenly the world around him was dark.

“Phew we finished the fluff before it finished you.” Mikey opened his eyes and as they came back into focus he found himself staring up into Kerri’s, “We got it just as you fell to 10 hp.” Kerri helped Mikey to his feet as Henry patted his shoulders.

“Hey Berth, gutsy strategy. How’d you know it would work?” Henry said as he changed his rings back.

“To be honest, I didn’t know it would work. Just a hunch.” Mikey looked up as a crystal staircase descended. He changed his rings back to his usual set as he began to climb the steps. Henry stared a moment before following.

“Good job, anyway.” As they reached the top of the stairs their rings seemed to tingle and pulse with a blue energy. As he looked down Mikey realized what it was. But before he could open his mouth Penelope spoke.

“Our shadow orb upgraded rings! They’re back to whatever they were upgraded to.” They each smiled, the diligent farmers that they were this meant they all had full sets of charge level 12.0 rings.

“John, Penelope, Jeremy want to swap wish for healing wish and upgrade it. We might need some stamina regeneration out there.” The new null chamber had black crystals just like the shadow orbs restored to their inventories. The crew members nodded as they changed their rings.

“I don’t know what we can expect out there with The Phantom twisting and warping things. But we will have to face it together.” John took them to the only attuned crystal aside from the large one in the center of the chamber. The information imprinted into the crystal indicated it went to an area called Phazian Wastes.

Compared to the darkness of the Null Chamber the Phazian Wastes were blinding. The sun was painfully bright as it beat down on the sand all around them. The wind kicked up small vortexes which did minor damage easily shrugged off but still annoying. Their eyes took some time adjusting but it was a sandy desert that stretched around them for miles and miles. “John we need some directions here.” Mikey said as he turned to the developer.

“If my bearings are correct, Deadman’s Shadow is that way,” John pointed in one direction, “Durem should be that way, and Thenedrana Drifts should be that way.” He pointed in other directions and continued. But that wasn’t what drew Mikey’s attention. In the distance Mikey could make out The Phantom and what looked like twelve hideous monsters with him, one of them he could see was Kamila. From across the sand and wind The Phantom’s voice echoed.

“Why yes John your bearings are indeed correct. Unfortunately, none of you will be seeing any of those places.” The groups were separated by enough distance that they couldn’t attack one another. Mikey raised his arm into the air as his hand glowed blue and white. In his mind he envisioned a combination of the effects of a turtle ring and the Stone Coatl’s energy shield. He closed his eyes as white pulses of energy shot from his hand, creating a large bubble around himself and the crew. Every few seconds a new pulse would come out and strengthen the barrier he was making.

“If we had the ring called Shield Infinatum we could all help you with that. It was designed to create an impenetrable barrier around a designated target. The user can use rage to make it bigger or make it more durable, however multiple users working in tandem can create large and resilient barriers.” John began rambling as he readied himself.

“John,” Mikey stopped him, “I need my focus, each pulse strengthens the makeshift barrier and focusing a pulse is taxing.”

“So what’s the plan? We can’t hold off in this dome indefinitely. He’ll eventually break through.”

“Domine sancte, serva me a facie mali quod ego diabolum.” Penelope muttered a prayer as one of the monsters clearly seen resembled a massive red worm wreathed in flame. As the continued their approach a frost covered yeti could be seen, despite the heat of the desert it still seemed to breathe a foggy breath.

“Make for whatever area is that way. Let nothing stay your feet.” Mikey pointed in the direction opposite of the approaching hoard. “I’ll hold them off as best I can, as long as I can.”

“We’re a team Mikey.” Kerri replied.

“Yeah we were all chosen and volunteered for this.” Jeremy said.

“I think I speak for everyone here when I say, no lone gunslinger this time. We’ll all fight and probably die together.”

“Alright you can stay.” Mikey smiled as he used the last of his stamina. He knelt wondering how long this barrier would hold. He remembered how hard Kamila alone was, now facing her and eleven other monsters and The Phantom. As they reached close enough to attack The Phantom raised his hand signaling his monsters to halt.

“You can end this. Join me and together we can bring order to the world. Join me and we shall rule it all. Seven of us to divide it between, nobody has to die.” He held out his arm as if to take theirs if they came.

“Keep your false promises! We were sent here to stop you, and we will!” Mikey stood up brandishing his Lancer Ring where his shuriken had been previously.

“Pity then that you all must die.” The Phantom lowered his hand, a tone of disgust rang in his voice. He then turned to Kamila who seemed to be leading his monsters, “Kill them. Make it as long and as painful as you can.” She smiled evilly as The Phantom faded away.

A dozen bright lights sparkled across the bubble as the monsters launched their attacks, to his amazement the first barrage didn’t destroy it. “Still not too late to run.” Mikey muttered. The rest of them shook their heads in disapproval. Those with ranged attacks were able to use them through the barrier as twin beams of red and blue, an arrow, and a few bullets impacted Kamila.

“Great minds think alike, huh?” Henry showed that he’d replaced his mantis ring with a new lancer ring. The bosses and heroes traded volleys; somehow his barrier withstood another round. This time Mikey and Henry used sustained beams on Kamila. She folded her arms inward before expelling a wave of energy that disrupted their beams. The crash against the barrier from Kamila’s wave sent vibrations through it. A small fissure appeared right in front of Mikey’s eyes. It began spreading into cracks across the entire structure.

“Did you think your toys could stand up to Lord Phantom’s generals?” Kamila said as she sneered at the crew. The barrier began to collapse and disintegrate as it was it with another barrage of attacks. Kamila absorbed the combined attacks of the crew into her arm as they tried to assault her again. Another volley, without the shielding offered by the barrier the impact of so many attacks knocked the crew apart, Mikey watched in horror as his teammates collapsed on the sand. “Now you will die.” She launched a bloody, gooey arm at Mikey as he shot a red beam from his lancer ring. The beam was swallowed up in the blood the hand had turned into a large ferocious claw by the time it reached him. He felt intense pain as it dug into his chest. She wasn’t killing him, just causing excruciating pain, letting his health drain away slowly as he watched each of his crewmates mutate. He couldn’t see clearly but it looked like just their arms were mutating. They all seemed to be crumpled heaps as his world began to black from the pain. Mikey passed out. Kamila pulled her arm back and pulled out a knife, as she readied to plunge it down into Mikey’s chest he vanished.

There was the sound of something like helicopter blades as five short figures flew past the assembly of monsters. Each one landed next to a member of the fallen crew and scooped them up. Before Kamila or her monsters could react the figures made off with the crew members. They flew far from the Phazian Wastes. Where they landed seemed to be a peaceful mountain village with running streams.

Mikey felt himself coming around; there was still a burning feeling in his chest. As the world came back into focus he saw himself staring up at a grey ceiling. He looked down and saw he was in his red t-shirt and jeans again. He looked at where the neural interface he was connected to should be; it was blackened and burned like an electrical fire had happened. “What happened? Where am I?” He looked up and saw the man behind Swarf approach him.

“We were kind of hoping you could tell us what happened Michael.”
pj444's avatar

Wheezing Prophet

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Berry. Keep going. Or. I. Will. Cry.

Oh and you should totally have a zurg in there too!
Zzyli's avatar

Rainbow Angel

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“When wasn’t MLH just a mindless rabble of competing egos?”

So true.

I'm loving the story Berry! It's so exciting.

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