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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 ]
Total Votes:[ 46 ]
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sailoranimecode's avatar

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Keep going, Berry! And I loved the part that was the new "lancer ring thingy".
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Winged Abomination

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Hey everyone. Still working on Chapter 12, but as I was writing I decided to make a concept sketch of one the characters. Not giving you any more details about him other than what he sort of looks like. Hope you enjoy.

***DISCLAIMER*** I am not good at the whole art thing.

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sailoranimecode's avatar

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Cool! That's pretty good in my book, Berry! smile
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Winged Abomination

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Working on chapter 12 still. Hoping to have it out by Christmas. Introducing 6 new characters as well as some more interesting plot points.
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Winged Abomination

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Just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Hope everyone is enjoying the holidays. Inspired by some recent events was a rewrite of the original chapter planned. Hope everyone enjoys this chapter, and keep your eyes open I might be hosting two contests soon.

Chapter 12: Gnoman is an Island

“Beep! Beep! BEEP! BEEP!” He groggily sat up as he smacked his alarm clock. 6:30 AM, Mikey found it hard to believe he had already been back in the real world for two days. Swarf’s couch was hardly comfortable but it was that was available given the circumstances, Swarf wouldn’t be up for another hour. Mikey changed his clothes and decided to go for a jog around the neighborhood. Everything seemed so quiet and peaceful in the morning mist as Mikey replayed the last two days in his head.

………………………………………………………………………………………………..

“What happened? Where am I?” He repeated as Swarf looked at him.

“You’re back at Gaia HQ, we don’t know why but your interface blew sky high.”

“The others are they…?” Mikey trailed off.

“For a while there their vitals were unstable. They’ve leveled off now. We lost contact as soon as you entered the Phazian Wastes. What happened there Michael?” Mikey tried standing up but vertigo got the better of him. “Careful, you’ve been in a coma-like state for nearly two weeks and you haven’t had a proper meal in that time. Come on.” Swarf helped Mikey to a break room, where he grabbed a bagel and some coffee for Mikey. He placed them on the table in front of Mikey’s seat. “It’ll help. Tell me what happened.”

“Forgive my wariness, but the last time I woke up in the real world it was one of KJ’s illusions.” His nose curled up at the coffee. “I don’t drink that stuff.” He sat down and split open the bagel.

“We both know that Michael. You prefer a black tea with one sugar, half a cream, and just a hint of honey. The coffee was just a check to make sure it was you.” Swarf placed another cup in front of Mikey, he seemed to relax at the familiar scent of tea with honey. The steam from opening the lid fogged up his glasses as he took a few sips.

“The Phantom, whoever he is, knew right where and when to expect us. We were ambushed before we even had our bearings.” He tore off some of the bagel and took a few bites as Swarf caught up scribbling notes. “I bent the physics of the game again, this time to create a barrier against The Phantom’s minions. John mentioned a ring that did something similar. That’d be a nice to have.” He took a few more bites in a similar fashion as he let Swarf speak.

“If we could have we would have outfitted you with a full set of all the rings we added. We also would have given you all the orbs needed to take them to the max charge level. Believe me, we want you to beat him.” Sward nodded that he was ready to continue as Mikey took a large gulp of tea.

“So there we were, hiding behind the barrier. The Phantom gave us the chance to join him and save ourselves. We all refused. He then turned to Kamila and he said to make our deaths as slow and painful as possible. We fought as best we could, but we were severely outmatched. The barrier shattered and the others crumpled into heaps on the ground one by one. I still was conscious somehow. I futilely tried resisting but Kamila began to drain the life out of me with her clawed blood-goo hand.” Mikey tried to imitate the action as he chewed another piece of bagel.

“That was why your vitals became unstable. The way you interface, it interconnects your virtual body and your real body much more intimately than everybody else.” Mikey stared at the half eaten bagel as Swarf spoke. “Your unstable vitals caused a kind of feedback on the interface which led to it crashing and exploding.”

“The others, I could barely see but they were mutating their arms seemed to harden and sprout strange growths. Then the whole world went dark and then I woke up here.” He quickly gulped down the last of the tea as he crammed the bagel into his mouth. “When do I go back in?”

“I’m afraid we can’t get you back in until Saturday.” Came Swarf’s response.

“That’s a whole six days! They need me in there now!”

“We are aware of that, but half the circuits and relays to your interface were fried. And before you ask there are no backups. We only ever had the six interfaces.” Swarf looked back through a window that opened to the interface room.

“So I’m stuck here while god knows what’s happening to my friends?” He looked through the window back into the interface room.

“We’re pulling triple shifts to fix it, but Saturday is the earliest estimate. For now, wherever they are, they’re safe.”

Mikey stood up and gazed out the window. He placed his hand on it before echoing Swarf’s last word, “Safe.”

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

His route he was jogging on was still quiet. His watch read 7:00 AM, time to go back and get ready he thought. Mikey wondered what it would be like to be able to use fleet feet in the real world. Suddenly, as if someone had hit fast forward, he was running at an incredible speed. “Okay that’s not normal.” He approached a bush nearby and thought about using fire rain, suddenly, the bush had erupted in flames. He quickly tried to put it out to avoid any suspicious eyes, but it wasn’t going too well. The thought crossed his mind about heavy water ballooning the bush and suddenly it was drenched. The bush was lifeless and blackened but no longer on fire. 7:15 AM, just enough time to shower and dress. He had insisted on staying at Gaia HQ in case the repairs were completed early. Given there was nowhere else for him to stay, Swarf had offered his couch.

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

The sound of a nearby river greeted her as Kerri began to stir. She could not believe she was alive, much less anywhere but the Phazian Wastes.

“Aha so after two days you’re finally coming around. Good, good.” A hunched over figure who seemed to be patterned after a short humanoid crossed with an Outlaw Wolf approached her. Kerri guessed the creature before her eyes was a she. The creature carried a staff as tall as her hunched form, the staff appeared to be made of ice and was adorned with snowflake and crystal patterns. “Oh yes introductions are in order. I am Deanna, one of the Anari, and I happen to be the Guardian of Ice.”

Kerri sat up and held out her hand, “I’m Kerri, a player.” She quickly noticed the claw her hand had become, “Or at least I used to be.”

“Hmm, come with me. The others will be glad you are awake.” Deanna led Kerri from a small hut in a walled in garden to a cottage in the middle of the garden. “You may thank McCoy later for use of his Gnoman’s Land home.” As they moved into the cottage they were in a small living room type area with a table. Seated around the table were Henry, Jeremy, Penelope and John. As she looked at each of them Kerri noticed they had also undergone a similar transformation to her own.

“Aren’t we missing someone?” Kerri asked as the others all looked around.

“When we found you there were only five. We searched for a sixth but none was found.” Another of the Anari spoke. This one resembled a humanoid hybrid with a Mask of Death and Rebirth, he carried a staff that seemed dedicated to metal.

“Where are my manners?” Deanna sat Kerri at the table, “Please allow us to introduce ourselves.”

“I am Sisko, Guardian of Metal.” Said the Anari who looked like one of the Otami masks.

“I am Hoshi, Guardian of Lightning.” Said an Anari resembling a Kokeshi Doll-humanoid hybrid. Her staff was adorned with lightning bolts.

“I am Miles, Guardian of the Green.” An Anari with blades jutting out from his wrists, elbows, and knees stepped forward. Kerri could only assume he was a Buzz Saw hybrid. His staff was made of a heavy looking wood and wrapped in vines.

“I am Archer, Guardian of Stone.” An Anari resembling an OMG stepped forward. His staff seemed to be carved from solid rock.

A chill breeze ran through the air as the last Anari stepped forward. He wore a black cloak to hide his features but he pulled it back as he stepped toward the crew. As the hood dropped a Robofish’s lantern hung between his ears, his face on the other hand seemed to be stitched together from a Night Fright and a Big Dog. His necklace resembled the lower jaw of a Robofish and his body and arms seemed to be Night Fright in origin. His legs were those of a Big Dog and he had the tail of a Robofish. As he held a browned staff that seemed to be adorned with bones, the key feature seemed to be a skull at the top with a snake eye in one socket and a red eye in the other. His voice was barely a whisper as he spoke, “I am McCoy. I am the Guardian of Souls.” He took a long rattling breath as Deanna stepped forward.

“And for those who haven’t met me yet, I am Deanna, Guardian of Ice.”

“Tell me, where is Michael Berth? For I much desire to speak with him about the visions I sent to him.” McCoy’s whispering voice seemed to echo off of the walls.

“It was you sending him visions when he was near death?” John seemed shocked.

“I can only send visions to those who are on the brink of entering my domain, or those that have been there and returned. Now, where is he?” The eyes on McCoy’s staff seemed to begin spinning.

Deanna gazed from one member of the crew to the next as if she was reading their minds. “He fell. He fell to Kamila.” Her eyes widened as she stared at Jeremy, “She slowly tortured him and then he vanished. Michael Berth no longer walks among us.” She turned away as the Anari all huddled together and began chattering in a language Kerri did not understand.

“Turang da toop!”

“Nag doro stein.”

“Barooth!” At this McCoy stamped his staff in the ground. “We have to make do with the five we have. The Gnoman’s Land Guard will not hold up much longer.” McCoy ran to Henry and grabbed his mutated arm, “Even numbering five they can fend off Tridra.”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………..

“Are you serious? You’re able to use ring powers here? It’s got to be your altered brainwaves, your father, Michael Berth senior, theorized it was possible given how you interfaced.” Mikey had spent the car ride to the office explaining to Swarf what had happened on his morning jog. As they stepped from the dark parking garage to the elevator Mikey spoke.

“Swarf there’s got to be something I can do besides sitting on my hands.”

“Well there is the test server and the interface for it. We just can’t get it to connect to The Phantom’s server. You could test out some of the newer rings to get a feel for them.” Swarf led Mikey to a plane room with only a pair of terminals. “This one controls the server side settings, the other is your seat.” He hooked Mikey into an older model neural interface, Mikey felt back at home as he felt the connections through the interface being made.

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

“What exactly is a Tridra?” Henry asked as the Anari led the crew through rugged hills. For the Anari it was as simple as short bursts from propeller like appendages on their backs to hop around. Henry was reminded of his scouting days when he would go on backpacking trips in the Colorado foothills as they traversed the terrain.

Archer stopped and met Henry’s gaze, “Tridra is a most ruthless boss tier enemy. He… it is a massive three headed dragon. His scales are jet black and he has electric blue claws when they aren’t bloodstained. His center head is presumed to be the thought center, the other two have shown some intelligence.”

“Why is he such a threat?” Jeremy puffed.

Sisko stopped this time, “Tridra commands the Blade Corps, an army of animated medieval weapons. Our Mushroom Cannons and gnome garrisons at the gates of Gnoman’s Land cannot hold long against them.”

“So we’re in Gnoman’s Land?” Penelope asked.

“Yes, if it wasn’t already obvious. And at this pace it will take us a week to reach the gates. Come on humans!” Hoshi said in an annoyed tone.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………

“Some of those rings were awesome Swarf. I liked the Echo Ring especially.” Mikey looked around and found himself alone in the room, “Swarf?” He went to one of the doors and pressed against it. Mikey fell over from the door opening unexpectedly. As he got up and brushed off his knees he saw the room he was in resembled a hospital ward. There were beds lining both walls with at least thirty unconscious victims. He walked up to one he recognized as Syit.

“Amazing, isn’t it?” Mikey turned around shocked to see Qixter standing in the door with his hands in his pockets. As if he read Mikey’s questioning look with his hollow eyes, “Swarf got called away, something about code tests.”

“Who are these people?” Mikey took a more defensive stance as Qixter came into the room. He looked down at three who seemed far worse than the others.

Qixter looked down, but his eyes seemed to remain focused on Mikey, “These are the people Gaia HQ in their divine intelligence sent in before your crew. They’re all lost somewhere in Chapter Two. Those three are the worst though”

“What happened to them Qix?” Mikey shook his head as he had a sudden flash of Qixter strangling him.

“Oh those three? Yes, yes, you know them as Fortunes Fool, YANCY, and Azazes. They say they were the first to meet The Phantom. While the rest of their crew fled, they tried to fight him. Rumor has it he ripped their minds apart.”

“I think, I’m going to be sick.” Mikey ran through the door he had entered through and ran for a restroom. The sensation to puke was overwhelming. He sat there huddled over the toilet bowl just staring into the pool of water for a minute before he spewed out the breakfast bagel he had.

Swarf returned to the rom and gave Qixter a foul look, “He and his crew weren’t supposed to know.”

“I merely answered that which he asked.” Swarf and Qixter found Mikey huddled over the toilet after he had flushed from his initial reaction. “My apologies Mr. Berth, I seem to overstepped the bounds of what was permissible for you to know.”

Mikey wiped the last few chunks off his mouth before answering, “It’s alright, probably would have found out eventually.” Mikey’s memories drifted to the first time he’d used the neural interface.

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

“Come forth zOMGaians and join the raffle today! One lucky winner will go head to head against a crowd favorite in zOMG’s first ever PvP match! The zOMG staff is proud to unveil the PvP system testing the new Berthanc Engineering Neural Interface.”

The developers had picked Fortunes Fool as the ‘crowd favorite’ and were raffling off the opponent spot. Mikey waited anxiously as Panagrammic drew the winning ticket number “B64007” Mikey pulled up the PM with his ticket number, B64007. He’d won the spot to compete in zOMG’s first PvP match. He soon realized he was a no-name player competing against someone who always bragged of being first.

“Remember the key to beating someone just as strong as you is to outsmart them. If you can control their actions and your own, you’ll win.” Someone Mikey had asked advice was giving a lecture. Mikey’s codename for him was ‘The Thinker’

“Also remember you’ve got to keep your distance. I know Fool, he’ll want to get in close and smack you around with a good DPS set.” The other friend he had asked advice spoke up, his codename for her was ‘The Fighter.’ Mikey had asked two of his closest friends who went by Berry and Unity for advice before the match.

“Thanks guys.” Mikey took a few deep breaths. It was the day of the match and the devs had expanded it to anyone with a neural interface could watch the PvP match live from the stands. His two friends had left him in the locker room to take their seats in the crowd.

“Hmm control my enemy…” Mikey equipped Iron Will, Scaredy Cat and Divinity. “Keep my distance…” He then equipped Hot Foot, “Defenses and health are musts…” He equipped Meat, Rock Armor, and Bandage. He looked through the ring box for anything else useful before deciding on Hunter’s Bow. He leaned against the heavy wooden door into the Coliseum, he could hear the crowd already cheering loudly. “Here we go.” He whispered to himself as he opened the door.

As he stepped into the Coliseum he could see Fool already waving and shaking his arms as if he’d already won. The thunderous cheering nearly deafened him as the crowd stomped and hollered. “FOOL! FOOL! FOOL FOR-TUNES!” He could barely hear the two people in the front row cheering, “MIKEY! MIKEY! MIKEY!” There was a screen like a jumbo-tron from a sports stadium. On it was readout of character information on both combatants. True to the prediction, Fool was going close range DPS. He had equipped Slash, Mantis, Bump, Hack, Divinity, Meat, Bandage, and Mikey could not believe the insult, Kamila’s Curse.

“At the blue gate our crowd choice Fortunes Fool! And the challenger, the winner of the raffle drawing, in the red corner Mikeswrath007!” Came Swarf’s voice over the announcement system. “May the best zOMGain win!”

“I intend to.” Mikey could hear Fool say.

He took a deep breath as he heard the bell sound to begin. Mikey shot his bow to slow Fool even further as he charged. Mikey took the extra few seconds to buff himself. Just as Fool got close to him, Mikey used Scaredy Cat. It hit its mark and sent Fool into a panic running around the Coliseum. Mikey alternated between hot foot, hunter’s bow and scaredy cat to keep Fool from getting close.

The crowd went silent as scaredy cat missed and Fool chased Mikey. Finally, after a recharge he used a raged cat on Fool. The crowd was deathly quiet as Fool’s health dipped below 200, “Your arrogance is your weakness.”

“I am Fool the first and the best! I can’t… I won’t be beaten by a n00b.” He charged Mikey as his health continued dropping. Mikey merely stood his ground and unleashed a raged hot foot. He waited as Fool continued his approach. Fool’s health had dropped below 50 when Mikey finally spoke.

“You are Fool, the elitist, arrogant b*****d and you are the first… to lose a PvP match. And you can take that to your grave for all I care.” Fool hit Mikey with a single mantis strike before he collapsed dazed. Mikey had won zOMG’s first PvP match. The crowd was speechless a few seconds before erupting in thunderous applause and cheering.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………..

“So I wasn’t meant to ever see that room, huh?” Mikey had walked back to the break room with Swarf and Qixter. “How soon will the interface be fixed?” He asked.

“Estimates are hopeful that we can test it after lunch.” Swarf said.

“I’ll be back then.” Mikey said as he went for the elevator.

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

Kerri and John reached the top of a high hilltop as Deanna landed beside them. “Just ahead is the gnome encampment. Tridra and the Blade Corps already attack them.” As she looked towards the base of the hill she could see trenches dug into the ground. The trenches were filled with lawn gnomes firing primitive looking firearms. Moving toward the trenches was a wall made of animated tower shields, they bore a coat of arms depicting a black crystal upon a field of red. Behind the shield were ranks of great swords and battle axes. Kerri felt a shiver run down her spine as a shadow overhead blocked out the sun for a moment. As she looked up a black dragon with three heads flew back over the medieval assortment.

“That must be Tridra?” She gulped.

“Indeed.” Came John’s simple response. A group of Mushroom Cannons pointed skyward and began shooting at the dragon. It let out a roar before one head shot lightning at the cannons. “CL 12.5 Mushroom Cannons no match for CL 13 Tridra. When we originally programmed him the middle head with the red eyes was to breath fire, the left head with blue eyes breaths ice, and the right head with yellow eyes breaths electricity.” John shrugged as he looked at Kerri.

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

Mikey had just dug into his pizza when a short, balding, grey haired man sat across from him at the table. Mikey’s face took on a sour look as the old man took off a pair of rectangular glasses and began cleaning them. “I know we haven’t seen each other in nearly eight years, but there’s a lot to talk about son.”

Mikey put his slice of pizza down before slamming the table with his fists, “You lost the right to call me that after the accident eight years ago!” He glared at the man sitting across from him before adding sarcastically, “Dad.”

“I know I messed up, but I want to make things right.” He tried reaching across the table for Mikey’s hands as Mikey pulled away repulsed.

“What you did, what you said, it’s unforgivable.” Mikey stood up to leave, “I’ve said everything I need to already.”

“Look this phantom thing you’ve got yourself into is bigger than both of us. Like it or not you need my expertise for those interfaces you use. I’m going back to work now.” The old man got up and was approaching the front of the restaurant they were at. Mikey sat back down muttering to himself as he took a bite of the pizza.

“Go back to work! It was all you ever did. Work. Time for Maria or me? Nope, work. Time for mom? Nope, work. So just go back to all you ever had time for, work.”

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

“Guys those shields have health regeneration.” Even as Jeremy had singed a shield it seemed to heal the damage he had done.

“Alright new plan…dammit I miss Mikey’s penchant for this… Kerri, John, Jeremy start at the far left of the shield line. Penelope you and I will start at the far right. Break them down one by one.” Henry began barking orders.

A gnome wearing the rank insignia of a general turned to Henry and nodded, “Right then, we’ll go up the middle and try to punch a hole in that line.” Jeremy tried to hold back a snicker, Kerri tilted her head the voice was somehow familiar to her.

“General Mayhem?” She asked the gnome general.

“Nay lassie, his brother, General Disarray.” A Lawn Gnome column began to advance on the middle of the shield line. Kerri, Jeremy and John ran down the trenches to the left as Henry and Penelope ran down the trenches on the right.

“We’ll give you some air support as best we can.” Archer was hovering in the air next to Henry as he spoke. The Anari took to the skies on their propellers. Their staffs glowed as they fired bursts of their elements from them. McCoy seemed uninterested in aerial combat as he landed behind the shield lines and spun his staff before slamming it against the ground. The action created a quake that rattled the nearby ranks of Gr8-swords and created gaps in the Rayz Shields line.

As Tridra saw the Anari buzzing around he moved to try and engage them. Deanna and Hoshi seemed able to hold him back combining their powers until he began spewing fire. “Ahh! He’s tough!” The two Anari began plummeting to the ground. They barely regained control of their propellers before crashing. A line of B@le-Axis approached the two crashed Anari before pillars of stone and metal tore apart the approaching axes.

“We got your backs.” Sisko said as he and Archer zoomed past overhead. He and Archer were caught off guard as Tridra knocked them both into the ground with his massive claws.

“Be gone!” Miles planted his staff into the ground as a web of vines grew from the ground ensnaring Tridra’s legs. The dragon looked down with all three heads before flapping its wings. The force of the updraft freed it from the snare and knocked Miles off his feet. Tridra began inhaling with all three heads as McCoy landed next to his comrades. He pointed his staff at Tridra as it fired a vortex of silvery energy. Tridra exhaled with all three breaths and the forces of the breaths and the vortex seemed to be equal. McCoy however, seemed to be becoming fatigued from the effort as he collapsed. The vortex vanished and Tridra began inhaling again. Lines of blue, purple and green energy struck Tridra’s back and as he turned around the crew had reassembled. The shield line had been broken and the gnomes were fighting the swords and axes with little to no difficulty. The Anari were getting back on their feet as the dragon looked around. Tridra was soon surrounded by the six Anari and five humans. It let off a roar before taking to the sky.

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

Mikey ran the entire distance from the restaurant to Gaia HQ, Swarf’s call said he was needed urgently. His lungs were on fire as he slid through the lobby doors. He didn’t stop his mad pace until he had made it to the elevator to the lower levels.

“Michael I see you hurried back.” Swarf said as Mikey stood there huffing and puffing. “We’ve been able to load two items into your inventory that will be able to get through The Phantom’s server filters. One of them is a guide book detailing all of our production notes on Chapter Two material from enemies to elements. The other is a locator, with it you’ll be able to track down where the others are.”

“Swarf, that’s all well and good, but can I get back in there yet?” Mikey looked at where his interface was as he wiped the sweat from his face.

“We wanted to try getting you connected. Mind you we’re still working on parts of it, but we managed to get it up and running.” Swarf led Mikey to the seat. “It might not be as smooth a ride as it was before.”

“Doesn’t matter, get me in there.” Mikey began performing all the pre-connect checks before he turned to Swarf, “What happened to the earliest being Saturday?”

“Your father pulled some strings and got a rush delivery of the essential parts we needed about an hour ago.” Swarf smiled as Mikey looked dumbfounded. “Lean back, ready to connect. Godspeed Mikey.”

As he closed his eyes Mikey felt the surge of energy as his mind began to process information. He was able to connect into the digitalscape of zOMG. As he opened his eyes he found himself lying in the sand of the Phazian Wastes. He looked around, there was no sight of the battle that had happened here previously. He pulled his cloak up as the sand began to blow violently. He ran and found the blue-black crystals which marked an entrance to a Chapter Two Null Chamber. He went into the chamber. As he looked through his count of Shadow Orbs he decided to try upgrading his rings. 30 Shadow Orbs for each 0.1 of charge for each ring, but he was able to upgrade the seven he had equipped to 13.0. He stepped out of the chamber, the sandstorm had become worse. As he brushed sand from his face he pulled up the scarf he wore and covered his eyes with the goggles he had. He reached into a bag that had appeared on his belt and found an odd device that looked like a handheld radar screen. As it made a pinging sound an arrow appeared on the screen pointing him in a direction to his left. The sand was too thick to see anything but he followed the arrow without hesitation.

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

All of their attacks seemed useless. Tridra either avoided them altogether with some aerial maneuvers or they bounced harmlessly off of the scales. “Any bright ideas?” Henry shouted as he ducked under Tridra swooping low.

“We’ve got to clip his wings. They should have a separate targeting icon. At least then it will be a ground battle.” John shouted as he avoided being frozen.

“We’re on the Gnoman’s Land – Phazian Wastes border. That sandstorm coming doesn’t look like it will be too friendly.” Hoshi called.

Tridra as if sensing something else sniffed the air. All three heads shook and seemed to argue with one another before the massive dragon flew away further into the Phazian Wastes. “We must give chase. We need to bring down Tridra, he’s one of the twelve generals of The Phantom.” The crew followed as best they could on foot as the Anari flew overhead.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………

As he stared at the radar screen on the device Swarf had given him it began to cut in and out with static. “Why do I get the feeling that this is something bad?” He tapped the screen a few times before it completely filled with static. He heard something big coming through the sandstorm, his eyes went wide as he saw the shadow against the bright beige sand. He barely had time to throw himself to the ground as a black, three headed dragon swooped overhead. As it passed him it landed and slowly turned around, the yellow horns protruding from each head seemed to have different formations to distinguish the heads. The center head’s mouth opened.

“So Mikeswrath007, we meet again.”

“He doesn’t recognize you.” Said the blue eyed head.

“Of course he wouldn’t, he last saw you when you were still human.” Said the yellow eyed head.

“I’m afraid I don’t remember meeting any three headed dragons.” Mikey stood back up and took a defensive stance. The dragon he faced flapped its red and black wings and dispelled the sandstorm. Mikey slid his goggles off and stared, his gaze traveled from the clawed feet up to the three heads. The dragon laughed from all three heads.

“We were once humans, weak and limited. But even still we were the gods of zOMG.” Said the red eyed head.

“Yes, elitist some called us but they were jealous.” Said the yellow eyed head.

“But no longer, now we have real power!” Said the blue eyed head.

“Power given to us by the Lord Phantom.” Said the red eyed head.

Mikey looked in shock as he heard the heads speak he began piecing together what really happened to Fool, Azazes and YANCY that caused their real world bodies to be brain dead. “He didn’t tear your minds apart. You took his offer of joining him and he turned you into this!”

“Yes, he made us more than mere humans. Now we are truly gods in the mighty Tridra!” Said the blue eyed head.

“Now, you will meet your end.” Said the yellow eyed head.

“I will rectify the defeat I suffered at your hands all those years ago.” Said the red eyed head.

“You…”

“…cannot…”

“…win!” The red eyed head let loose a stream of fire from its mouth as Tridra began chasing Mikey. Even as he ran the mighty Tridra took to the skies and began to pursue him, each head took turns trying to hit Mikey with its breath. Mikey could see a canyon ahead as he dodged a burst of ice. The ground to his left became a glassy ice patch.

“Nowhere left to run, whelp.” Said the red eyed head as Mikey reached the edge of the canyon. He looked over the edge and it was black as far down as he could see. He looked to his left, all three heads breathed to his left and blew up the cliff side to his left. Before he could even look they did the same to his right. He stood his ground as he turned to face Tridra.

“So it’s like that huh? No retreat, no escape.” He noticed the ground holding his narrow outcropping of rock to the rest of the cliff side was cracking under the weight of Tridra. As Tridra raised one of its monstrous legs to step forward Mikey dashed. He slid like many a baseball player sliding for home plate. As he bent his head back he saw he was behind the massive Tridra. Without getting up he pointed his hand at the beast and fired a mimicked Duct Tape. Silver strands danced up from the rock as they wrapped the dragon’s legs up, upward they climbed binding the arms and heads. Mikey flipped over onto his stomach and mimicked one of the rings Swarf let him test, it was called Bash’n’Smash, his hand enlarged into a massive muscular fist. It was as large as a boulder before he slammed it into the rock outcropping. There was a loud snap as the rock broke apart, down into the black it fell. He laughed and smiled at his luck as he collapsed back on the sand. He heard voices coming from nearby.

“MIKEY!!”

“Oh my god he’s alive!

“Michael!” John took a few steps towards Mikey before stopping and shouting, “Look out!” There was a low bellowing sound as Tridra came flying back up from the depths of the canyon. Mikey couldn’t react before he was encased in a globe of ice. Tridra landed between the rest of the crew, the Anari and Mikey.

“One down, eleven to go.” Tridra lunged at Henry trying to snap him up in the center head’s mouth. Henry seizing the opportunity hacked at the dragon’s snout. The dragon pulled back and snarled as the blade had left a pink mark across the black scales. As the middle head straightened back up, the other two heads snapped at Henry. He managed to hack the yellow eyed head while Penelope slashed at the blue eyed ones, their blades left pink gashes across the skins of the heads as they both recoiled in pain. The globe of ice began to shake and crack as Tridra dueled the Anari and the remaining crew. Jeremy and John who had gone unnoticed began targeting Tridra’s wings. Their attacks were gradually poking holes in the wings rendering Tridra incapable of flight.

“Jeremy we should cut the tail to throw his balance off.” John said to Jeremy as he cut a hole in Tridra’s left wing.

“Right let’s do this.” Jeremy and John began their attack as the ice globe completely exploded.

“You might want to make that twelve again.” Mikey blew away some steam from his Lancer Ring, before jumping on Tridra’s back. As each head tried to reach back to snap at him, Mikey took the chance to slash at the necks. The Anari, Henry, Penelope and Kerri took the opportunity to attack the exposed underbelly.

Tridra began to stumble as Jeremy and John ran out from behind it. A few feet away was the chopped off tail of Tridra. “We cannot…”

“We shall not…”

“We must not…”

“Lose…

“Ahh…” The ice breathing, blue eyed head fell silent as Mikey and Henry were able to sever it from the body.

“Doing good, keep hanging on Mikey.” Henry was slashing at the yellow eyed head as it tried to shoot him with lightning.

“Oh I’m hanging. I’m hanging!” Mikey held on tight to the spines running down the necks and back of Tridra. Mikey plunged his blade into the neck of the yellow eyed head as he was bucked off of the massive dragon’s back, the blade had already begun to vanish as Henry rammed his into the neck from the other side. There was a popping sound followed by a crack as the yellow eyed, lightning breathing head was dismembered.

“I won’t…be…stopped…” Tridra was struggling to stay on his feet as he noticed Mikey lying in the sand nearby. “If…must go…I…take you with me!” The massive creature dashed at Mikey.

“Now or never Echo Ring.” He stood up and began running towards Tridra,. Suddenly four more Mikeys appeared from thin air and spread out. The confused beast let out a roar as its claw disintegrated one of the duplicates. It snapped its head at another and it too became dust. To a third copy Tridra spat a fireball and charred the copy. Two left standing. Tridra picked one up in its massive claws and began squeezing. The Mikey it held merely smiled and waved at the dragon mockingly as it too became dust. Tridra looked down as both Mikey and Henry plunged their blades into its heart. “Hey Fool here’s another first for you, first chapter two boss to be taken down.” As the dragon collapsed Mikey felt a surge of energy in his arm. He stared in horror as it too underwent a similar transformation into a hardened claw.

“So which head was which?” Penelope looked at what remained of the dragon, its green blood had already begun to stain the pale desert sand.

“The center one was Fool. As for the other two, I haven’t the slightest idea.” Mikey walked over to McCoy before bowing his head.

“Ah Michael Berth junior, we meet at last.” Came the simple reply.

“Guardian of Souls we have much to discuss.” A strange glowing came from the hole in Tridra that had been carved by Mikey and Henry’s blades. An object gold in color and adorned with a strange symbol hovered through the air towards Mikey. It seemed to stop in front of him as everyone stared.

“One of the six Great Elemental Amulets! This one calls to you Mikey, take it. It has marked you its bearer.” Deanna walked over to Mikey as he put his hands under the amulet. It hovered a moment before settling into his hands.

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

“They did what?!” The Phantom slammed his fists into his crystal throne, as KJ and Kamila stood in front of him.

“The boy walks among the game again, my lord.” Kamila said hesitantly.

“They were all supposed to be dead by now!” The Phantom rose from his throne and began pacing, “Not only did they defeat Tridra but they acquired one of the Great Element Amulets in the process. I must stop them before they learn to use its powers.” He closed his fist as he spoke.

“My lord, why do you trust such a task to an obviously inferior servant of your will. Please allow me the honor of dispensing with the humans. I promise you won’t regret it.” KJ had risen from her kneeling position.

“Yes, I suppose you should get a turn at it given Kamila’s incompetence. Very well, stop them in the Thenedrana Mountains or don’t bother returning here with the stench of failure.”
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Whee!!! Love it! Found only one mistake.

Sward (instead of Swarf). Sentence found: Sward nodded that he was ready to continue as Mikey took a large gulp of tea.
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sailoranimecode
Whee!!! Love it! Found only one mistake.

Sward (instead of Swarf). Sentence found: Sward nodded that he was ready to continue as Mikey took a large gulp of tea.


Thanks. Found and fixed. Must've been getting sleepy as I ran it through editing.
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You're welcome. I'm enjoying the story!
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Damn, Berry. Been reading since Chapter 1, and I must say this Chapter is the best you've done yet! Nice addition with the Wonder Three. xD
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damn you just keep it comeing dont you berry, well keep it up cause its a good story an im sure the devs might like your ideas
O: I started reading, and now I can't stop! D:
It's great!! <3
cooool must have taken a while to do this haha
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Berryfarmer


ERR0RZ! *_*
You just tipped this post. Try later. wink
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Such a great story!!! Love it!!!
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A note to the readers: This work is purely fictional. I've spelled that out many times in the course of this work. That being said it is not a fan-fiction to any particular person or group of people. If you want to see it as a fan-fic, it's a fan-fic to [ JK ] more than anyone seeing as he is one of the main characters.

This chapter is dedicated to two people. Both of them have encouraged me to continue writing despite things going on. And one of them has forced me to take time away from the pen when I spent entire days writing.

Chapter 13: Frosti the Snowman was a Very Murderous Fellow

Penelope shivered as she took a few breaths. She saw the air expelled from her lungs hang in the air as a thick fog as she stared at the blank white ceiling of the ice hut that the crew had left her in. It had been four days since the accident that caused her sickness. Jeremy who had been left to keep an eye on her walked over and touched her forehead.

“It’s been three days and her fever still hasn’t broken. How much longer will it be?” He seemed to be talking to himself more than anyone else as he grimaced and paced. The ice hut was small, barely large enough to fit the six humans and six Anari. But he had room to pace because he was alone with Penelope.

“Jeremy..” She said weakly as the youthful teen hurried back to her side. “Water please… so hot.” She sat up slowly as he brought a bottle of water, it was nearly empty but he tilted it up so that she could drink what little was left. Her breathing became shallower as she sat up, each breath felt like icicles digging into her already labored lungs. She laid back and closed her eyes as she drifted back to sleep. Jeremy walked to the other side of the hut and sat against the wall. He sat with his arms around his knees as he hoped the others would return with good news.

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

Four days ago…

“So this is Thenedrana Mountains?” Mikey said as the snow crunched under his feet. The black mountains in the distance were blanketed in layers of snow and ice. The mountain range was punctuated with chunks of glacial ice. It had been decided based on the information in the guidebook that Mikey gave to Jeremy that Frosti the Snowman was to be their next target in the effort to find their way to The Phantom. The sandy beige of the Phazian Wastes had slowly given way to the delicate white powder of the snowy hills. Even as they pressed forward the weather seemed to turn against them. The warm peaceful winds had become sharp and dagger-like as the cold began to set in.

“Not too late to turn around Mikey, that guide book and the Anari both say there are other areas to combat and knock down The Phantom, including Deadman’s Shadow and Gnoman’s Land.” Henry’s nose had reddened as they trudged through the snow single file. The Anari had been quiet and taken turns with three walking and three flying around overhead.

“Henry you saw the specs on some of those other locations and bosses. The only two we’re even close to being able to fight are Kamila and Frosti who dwells here.” It was at that point Kerri and Penelope had chosen to speak up.

“And we all know Kam is either going to be well guarded and hard to get to, or will draw us too close to The Phantom. That leaves only Frosti that we can challenge until we level up more.” The crew pushed ahead even as their breath became a thick fog.

For what seemed like hours the crew trudged ahead in the near blindness caused by the blowing snow. McCoy had taken apart the tracking device Mikey had been given by Swarf and had recalibrated it to home in on the nearest boss level enemy. But even as the arrow indicating direction jumped across the screen the cold or blowing snow caused the screen to fill with static intermittently. The crew had to stop every few minutes as they were harassed by fluffs of a crystal blue color. These fluffs identified as Snowflake Fluffs had a very cold breath that seemed to freeze the crew members where they stood. To make matters worse the fluffs were almost never alone. Packs of four to six fluffs would appear as if from the very snow around them and assault the crew. As the last of the fluffs dissolved from the combined assault of six lancer rings a howl rang across the snow covered hills. It sent a shiver through Jeremy’s spine as he looked up to see wolves on the ridge.

“A scouting party of White Outlaw Wolves!” Hoshi called over the wolves’ howling. They did resemble the Outlaw Wolves of Bassken Lake but they were noticeably larger and bore a distinctive white color separate from their lake dwelling brethren. Jeremy counted eight as his eyes widened.

“I recommend running. In the open like this even eight are dangerous to us.” Sisko pointed his staff at the ground and made a short metal wall between the wolves and the group as they ran. The wolves didn’t take much time to jump the short wall as they gave chase to the group.

Jeremy’s feet slipped as they found themselves crossing a frozen pond. “Whoa!” Mikey called out as everyone slipped to a stop. “Here’s where we make our stand. Hopefully the ice hurts them like it does us.” Everyone nodded as they readied their attacks. The small band of eight White Outlaw Wolves had grown to two dozen in the time they had been giving chase. It seemed the entire pack had come out to play.

“Watch those fire rains and any other heat based ring, with the added elemental workings you might just thaw the lake right out from under us with them.” John added as he aimed his Lancer at the nearest wolf.

The world seemed to slow down as Penelope watched the wolves come running down the hill towards the lake, she was counting them as they came. Half of them had disappeared, but where to she wondered. As if to answer her she heard a snarl coming from the other side of the lake. Trapped, between two groups of the wolves, and they were closing in. “Mikey that smasher ring you can copy. We need a moat to block them.” She pointed at the second group of wolves. Mikey nodded as he saw them and ran a distance away so as not to catch anyone else in the breaking he was going to do. Her idea worked, the breaks in the ice acted to deter the second group of wolves from crossing. Instead they back tracked and made a second wave to support their brethren already on the move. It was eerily silent as the six beams from their Lancer Rings shot across the gap. Even at range the sustained beam shaved the wolves they struck. As they saw their friends bathed in the colored lights some of the untouched wolves considered running.

“I don’t think so.” Deanna said as herself, Archer and Sisko created walls of ice, stone and metal respectively to box in the wolves.

“Alright stagger beams. Henry, you, me and Jeremy got first pass. John, Penelope, and Kerri you got second pass, hold your fire until Henry, Jeremy, and I stop.” Mikey called over the howling snow and wolves. The first six wolves had been charred from the combined beams. Green, blue and red beams danced across the glassy ice as they struck the next bunch of wolves. After a ten seconds another three wolves joined their brothers. “Okay second wave show time. McCoy, can you guys back us up on a third wave?” The beams from Mikey, Henry and Jeremy stopped. The wolves noticed this and decided to try another charge.

“It will be our pleasure.” McCoy replied as the purple, pink and gold beams shot across the mirror like ice. Three more wolves down, the rest decided to make a mad charge for the assembled bounty in front of them. Twelve down, twelve more to go.

“Third wave get ready… And fire!” Even as the beams from Penelope, Kerri and John stopped six more beams shot from the Anari’s staffs to replace them. Six more wolves were entangled, the other six considered themselves fortunate to make it through the barrage. They began to attack the humans in a fervent fury.

“Bad doggies.” John said as silvery strands jumped up from the ground enveloping three of the wolves. “Sit, stay, good boy.” John teased the taped down wolves, he moved to help Jeremy deal with the wolf clamped down on his arm. There was a crack followed by a pop as the force from his dervish dislodged a lifeless wolf. As he looked around John could see the other two free wolves were bogged down. Mikey and Penelope took turns hacking and slashing one, Henry and Kerri were bumping and bowing the other. As the last of the White Outlaw Wolves fell there was another howl. Unlike the others it was lower and more menacing.

Penelope squinted her eyes through the blowing snow and saw to her horror a wolf that dwarfed the others. This wolf was large and had a crystal blue coat as it glared down from the top of the hill at the team on the lake below. “Jeremy doesn’t that guide say something about a He-Wolf living around here?” Penelope swallowed hard as the massive wolf began to slowly approach them.

“Yeah, guess we found him. He-Wolf: Sub-boss tier enemy, his bite causes a severe bleed effect and his pounce attack can leave you temporarily rooted. But his most dangerous attack is a sweep with his razor sharp claws, capable of tearing through even the most hardened of armors.” Jeremy hated remembering the book’s entry on this approaching monstrosity.

“Thanks for the pep talk. Any ideas schemer?” He looked at Mikey who only grimaced and shrugged his shoulders.

“If anyone’s asking, I got one. The Anari are capable of carrying us for some distance in the air. We could break the ice under He-Wolf and send him plunging into the frozen depths below. But we need someone to distract him and someone to punch that hole.” John began.

“I’ll punch the hole, I have a few more tricks up my sleeve if he gets too close for comfort.” Mikey and McCoy nodded. Despite his Frankenstein appearance Mikey had taken to liking McCoy. They both seemed to know what the other was thinking without having to speak.

“I’ll distract him.” Penelope piped up.

“Are you certain lass?” Miles looked as he began hovering over Jeremy.

“I’ll be fine. And if I need to get grabbed fast I got lightning fast Archer here to bail my a** out.” She smiled. Henry had grabbed a hold of Hoshi’s legs and gave a long look at Penelope before he was carried off. Sisko had carried John away, Miles had Jeremy, and Deanna had Kerri safely holding on.

McCoy hovered with his arms around Mikey’s waist as they moved along the glassy surface. They stopped every few feet to allow Mikey to punch new cracks in the ice. He-Wolf seemed intent on following the carriers until Penelope and Archer started yelling at him.

“Hey He-Wolf I hear your mom was a real dog!”

“Oh yes I remember her. She gave me a bone and I gave it right back. Arf arf.” Archer added to the taunting and hollering at the hulking wolf.

He-Wolf raised his lip revealing long fang-like teeth which were stained red and yellow as he let out a long low snarl at Penelope. “Hey you know what the difference between you and my ex-boyfriend Roy is? Roy took me out for dinner before he growled and tried to bite me.” Penelope’s taunts were attracting the attention of He-Wolf as Mikey and McCoy circled behind him. He-Wolf let out another snarl as he broke into a full sprint towards her. His eyes gleamed yellow as Penelope fired her lancer at the mongrel. If it hurt him, he didn’t show it as he continued charging. As he closed in he raised a paw to slash at Penelope, Archer darted in the way and his staff took the brunt of the attack. The Anari knocked back by the force of the blow lay unconscious. There were cracking sounds as the ice below He-Wolf began to crack.

“McCoy get Archer, I got Penelope.” The human and the Anari each ran toward their target. McCoy easily scooped up his fallen friend, staff and all and hauled him back to the others. Even as the ice cracked beneath his feet Mikey ran at a full sprint to Penelope, he dove and tackled her to the ground. The momentum caused them to slide across the ice even as the chunk below He-Wolf cracked, dropping the distracted wolf into frigid black water.

“Well Mikey, you got further than most guys do on a first date.” Penelope laughed as she and Mikey sat up. When he tackled her and slid he had wound up with his face somewhere between her belt and her neck. “So much for He-Wolf eh?” The pool of black water he had fallen into hadn’t settled yet. Even as she looked over the icy edge into the blackness a claw reached up and caught her by the legs. Mikey barely had time to grab her arm before Penelope was plunged into the frigid water. The water was moving as if being pulled by some under-ice river. It was becoming harder to hang on and Mikey was on the verge of being pulled under as well when Penelope’s arm slipped through his grip.

“Penelope!” Mikey ran along the surface trying to follow what little pink of her he could see through the ice. McCoy had flown back and hovered close to the ice’s surface as his eyes became a crystal blue in color.

“Over here!” He called as he moved to hover over an untouched patch of ice. Mikey darted over, as he saw the pink approaching he knew he’s only get one chance to smash the ice and grab her before she drifted too far away to be rescued. He waited until she was just about to him before he plunged a large fist through the ice. A miracle! He was able to catch her and pull her up from the water. She’d already been under for thirty seconds and she had gashes across her ankles from where she’d been grabbed. Jeremy and Kerri rushed out to help Mikey as he tried pressing her chest to get her breathing. Her lips were blue and her face pale, either from the cold or lack of oxygen, it didn’t matter. Even as Jeremy administered first aid like his father had taught him there was a crashing sound in the ice a few feet away.

He-Wolf emerged from the ice, wet but relatively unscratched. It was at this Henry charged forward. Energy seemed to swirl around him as all his rings began to glow. “You monster!” The beam from his Lancer Ring seemed to be larger as he walked towards He-Wolf. He looked as if he was crying as he plunged a blade deep into He-Wolf’s leg. The beast howled in pain as Henry let loose with a Ghi Burst. Even the increase in power didn’t do the beast in as it limped away from the group. Its crimson blood marked a trail in the pitter patter of droplets.

“She’s breathing but guys I don’t like this, she’s frozen stiff. We need to warm her up.” Jeremy and Mikey carried Penelope, as Kerri helped Henry back to his feet. John and the Anari scouted ahead as they tried desperately to find somewhere they could warm her up. At the foot of the tallest black mountain, nearly thirty minutes from the lake they found an abandoned ice house. It looked like an igloo, but it was out of the snow and in a position that could readily be defended should something have followed them.

“McCoy, I need your cloak, we need to get Penelope out of her frozen, wet clothes and under something warm.” The Anari complied and handed Jeremy the cloak. Mikey and Miles had set to work making a fire from quickly grown plants. Kerri had leaned Henry against one of the walls as she helped Deanna and Jeremy get Penelope out of her wet clothes. Her skin was cold and a very pale white as they got her bundled in the cloak. By the time she was bundled Mikey and Miles had a roaring fire to warm the entire hut.

“What’s the prognosis Doc?” Mikey nodded to Jeremy as he rubbed his hands.

“Not good. She’s barely breathing. And those cuts across her ankles don’t look healthy.” Jeremy wiped some sweat from his brow as he flopped down on the ground.

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

Present…

Jeremy shook his head as Penelope began coughing. He broke a few more pieces of the wood being used to keep the fire burning. She was still asleep thankfully but he was beginning to wonder if the others would succeed in their search.

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

“Here it is! This way!” Henry was following the crimson droplets of blood on the snow. The gashes on Penelope’s legs had become infected and Jeremy said they needed to bring him He-Wolf’s claws before he could figure out what the infection was much less make a cure for it. Henry had started two days ago back at the frozen lake. He had found the original pool from where he first stabbed the beast.

“Henry we’ve been trying to find the trail for two days now. You sure you’ve found it this time?” Mikey was shouting over the howling wind as they moved toward Henry, four humans and six Anari searching the snow for a beast. Mikey saw the crimson droplets on the snow even through the tinted lenses of his goggles. The trail they followed wound its way up into the mountains. The crunching of snow gave way to the clicking of ice and stone as they followed the trail of blood. How old was it? Where did it go? Henry ventured ahead as the cold bit against his nose.

“Jeremy said we need He-Wolf’s claw correct? The trail goes to that cave and ends.” McCoy pointed to a cave on the mesa they reached. A roar greeted them as they stood at the mouth of the cave. A warm breeze seemed to blow out from the cave. The air was stagnant and stale with an odor that could only be described as a dirty locker room. There was dripping as water dribbled from the cavern ceiling drop by drop.

“Guess this is the place.” Kerri said. There was a rumbling sound coming from all around.

John and McCoy looked around before nodding to each other. The Anari’s eyes were crystal blue. “We aren’t alone. At least four White Outlaw Wolves and the He-Wolf himself.”

“Alright, Hoshi, Sisko, McCoy and Deanna make like nothing’s wrong and go back to the entryway wait for me to signal before you come in. Miles try to snare then, Archer stone fists. As for us humans take them as they come. If He-Wolf comes the Anari can handle the small wolves while we take him on. Henry, I know you want to lose your temper and just let him have it, but right now we need you to keep that in check.” Mikey whispered as the group split up to their assignments.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………….

“Penelope take it easy. Lie back down.” Jeremy tried getting Penelope to calm down. She had woken up crying in pain. The gashes in her ankles were glowing red and pulsing.

“He’s close… the cave is a trap… he’s found us… must fight!” She was thrashing and threw Jeremy against the wall of the hut. He looked bewildered until he heard howling outside.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………….

“We walked into the setup, what do we do?” Henry flipped a White Outlaw Wolf over his head. They had been swarmed the moment they split up with no He-Wolf in sight.

“Henry get the others and get the Anari taking you back to the hut. I’ll be right behind you.” Four more Mikeys split apart as he spoke drawing the wolves’ attention. The echoes held the wolves long enough for the team to escape. Mikey was about to grab onto McCoy when he felt something smack across the back of his head. As he looked back all McCoy saw was Mikey being dragged back into the cave.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………..

“I hope it’s harder for him to traverse this terrain than us.” Jeremy was carrying Penelope as they made their way up a gravelly slope on the mountainside. He knew it wasn’t safe to move her but if He-Wolf had found them alone he didn’t have much of a choice. He could hear the snarling and howling below as the monster approached the base of the mountain. For him to catch them he’d have to climb up nearly 50 vertical feet and traverse another ridge of the gravel. “Sometimes I wish I was luckier. First the girls at school, then being sucked into this save the world crap, now running for my life from a monster dead set on tearing me apart.”

“We make it out of this… I’ll teach you about those girls…Jeremy the people we meet and our actions… we make our own luck.” Her voice was barely a whisper and she kept fading in and out. Penelope raised her arm trying to point out a rock formation to Jeremy. There was a loose boulder in it and a shot from the right angle might send it careening into He-Wolf. Jeremy climbed up the slope and pushed against the boulder. As his face turned purple from the pushing the piece of mountainside began rolling down. Direct hit! He-Wolf’s face was met with solid rock and the blow sent him tumbling back down to the base of the mountain. Jeremy let out a sigh of relief.

“So that bought us another what, five minutes? I can’t climb much higher Penelope.” Jeremy slung her back over his shoulder as the slope gave way to another vertical climb. He-Wolf was already getting up and making ready to climb once more.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………..

“Where am I? What have you done?” the world around him was pitch black and yet Mikey had the odd sensation he was being watched.

“Welcome back Michael. Allow me to turn the lights back up, how impolite of me.” KJ spoke in her airy tone. As the light level increased Mikey found himself in the same chamber KJ had held him in prior, except this time he wasn’t restrained.

“So I guess this is where you elaborate more on your plan?” Mikey looked around as he tucked his hands behind his back. The hideout of KJ’s had taken on a more robust offering of technology, Mikey felt as if he’d stepped into one of those highly advanced government labs he’d always read about in spy novels.

“In case it wasn’t obvious The Phantom wants you dead, he’s not icky about who does it only that it gets done. But he’s also looking for something. He calls it the Time Axis, it was something that was programmed to be an ultimate weapon, but it was deleted from zOMG for fear of its power to break the game. The code for it still exists somewhere and he is looking for it. His entire plan hinges upon being able to bring its powers into the real world. You’ve thrown a wrench into his plans. The elemental amulets, one of which you have around your neck, are the key to breaking the seal on the Time Axis. Until you retrieved that one, The Phantom had all six under his control.” KJ turned to observe Mikey’s reaction. If he was surprised he didn’t show it.

“So I suppose you want us on a scavenger hunt to find the other five. We’re already doing that. The Anari filled us in that they held great power and could infuse our rings with elemental energy corresponding to the amulet.” Mikey continued looking around as if he wasn’t fazed by anything he saw.

“Six of his twelve generals are carrying an amulet. If we control them all then we hold the keys to ultimate power. You’re close to another in Thenedrana, just be wary of Frosti’s frigid breath and that bone club he carries.” a smile crept across KJ’s thin lips. She gave Mikey a soft kiss on the cheek before the room shimmered and faded. He found himself part way up a mountainside and he could hear something coming up.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………….

“There they are! Miles, Hoshi, McCoy, Archer, Deanna adjust heading ten degrees down angle.” Sisko flying ahead of the others had spotted He-Wolf. As Henry had thought He-Wolf had found the hut. Jeremy in a stroke of bravery or perhaps foolishness had taken the girl up the side of the mountain. He-Wolf was climbing up the side of the mountain trying to pursue the two.

“Okay let’s open up on that wolf and maybe we can knock him off before we have to get anywhere close to him.” The others nodded as Henry barked orders. Being carried by the Anari allowed them to strike from the air and Henry’s idea took advantage of it. Three beams of light shot from their hands as John, Henry and Kerri took shots at He-Wolf. The wolf struggled to keep his grip but continued to climb.

Jeremy could hear the wolf’s claws against the rocks. He continued to carry Penelope up the side of the mountain as he saw the lights striking He-Wolf. He about slipped when someone caught his arm, he looked up and saw Mikey holding his arm. “How?” Jeremy wondered.

“I’ll explain later. For now, it’s time we join this fight.” Mikey fired his lancer at He-Wolf below. Jeremy nodded and followed suit. He-Wolf already beat up from the falling rock and Henry at the lake quickly succumbed as he hung from the rocks. His body now lifeless and smelling of burned hair fell off the rock face and sizzled on the snow at the foot of the mountain. Jeremy and Mikey waved as McCoy, Deanna and Miles landed next to them. The three Anari picked the three humans up and carried them down the mountain, as they took off Mikey saw something on the mountaintop. It resembled a castle but it was run down and in shambles from what he could see at his distance.

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

“So the scavenger hunt for the amulets ends in this Time Axis contraption? That’s just great.” Mikey had shared the news of his meeting with KJ as Jeremy examined He-Wolf’s claws. Kerri was looking around as Jeremy brought a bowl of soup to Penelope.

“That should do it. It might take some time to work though. According to the guidebook, Frosti, the boss for this area, lives in a ruined castle on top of one of these mountains. Which one is the question.”

“This one. We’re at the foot of the mountain we need to find. I saw it as we were coming down.” Henry seemed to be leaning against the wall stroking his chin quietly as Mikey spoke. “What are your two cents?” Mikey asked looking at Henry.

“Even if Penelope was alright it would be a dangerous fight, without her it seems perilous. The wind and snow prevent the Anari from flying us all the way up so we’ll need to climb it too. That being said, we can’t afford another day given we only have,” Henry looked at a nonexistent watch, “Just over 60 days to defeat The Phantom. We’ll have to risk the fight with Frosti. I’d leave one of the Anari with her this time, we need our big guns in the fight.”

“I’ll stay with the little lass. You all go ahead, plant manipulation above the tree line won’t be much help.” Miles had volunteered himself. Jeremy nodded to him as he went over instructions with the Anari. “Good luck all of you.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………..

“Looks like we have about a quarter of the mountain left. Step lightly humans, long way to drop, heehee.” They had been climbing for about an hour.

“You know Hoshi, that laugh scares me. Maybe we should have programmed it out.” John climbed up further.

“You know better than anyone just how impossible that would have been John.” Archer was trying to make handholds by occasionally pointing his staff at the mountain and growing stone.

“What does he mean by that?” Mikey said as he continued climbing. John remained quiet as they continued climbing. His facial expression conveyed the message of later. Mikey shook his head and continued climbing. After another fifteen minutes of silence they were standing at the summit of the mountain. There was a stone pathway that glowed in the twilight. It led to the castle ruins. As if they were sentries on some guard detail snowmen stood on either side of the path. Mikey couldn’t shake the feeling of being watched even as he was greeted by the silence of the mountaintop.

“It has to do with the programming of the Anari and The Phantom, I’ll tell you after we deal with Frosti.” John huffed as he stood up.

“John if there is something I… we should know you better tell us.” Mikey’s tone suggested annoyance.

“Nothing we need shared right now, it can wait.” John spoke through gritted teeth. He didn’t want to give up this secret just yet.

“Keep your secrets. But if it’s something that could have prevented all this you won’t have Mikey to worry about.” Henry growled.

“Henry, he means well.” Mikey tried pulling Henry up.

“Sod off!” Henry smacked Mikey’s hand away as he pulled himself up.

“Guys knock it off, we need to hold it together for this fight.”

“Cram it kid. How many more of us are going to get hurt before you see it. The Phantom is going to take us one at a time.”

“With that attitude he won’t have to take us out, we’ll do it ourselves. Fear is a luxury we cannot afford Henry.” Kerri tried to calm Henry down.

“Penelope nearly died, Kerri. What more will it take?” Henry was almost yelling. Hoshi was going to approach him before Sisko held his arm out to stop her and shook his head.

“She’s healing nicely Henry. Don’t worry. We have to stay focused.” Jeremy pushed past Henry and began walking down the pathway. Almost immediately the snowmen jumped to life. As he targeted the nearest one Jeremy remembered the guidebook entry: “Snomen- These frosty gnomes sat too long in the wintery weather and became buried in snow. As the layers piled on the lawn gnome underneath became a frozen warrior.” A carrot nose exploded next to Jeremy as the Snomen began sliding across the smooth stones. As Jeremy spun around from unleashing dervish, the heads of six of the twelve Snomen were swept off. Even without their heads the Snomen continued fighting. Their coal buttons were launched as projectiles and their branch arms made sweeping actions. A few more well placed shots from Hot Foots and Fire Rains melted the Snomen.

“Well seeing as those are dealt with. Shall we enter the ruins?” The oaken door was old and looked like it’d seen better days. It was barely hanging on its hinges as John pushed it open. There was a crash and a thud as the door gave way entirely and fell on the ground in front of the team. The air was cold but still as they wandered into the courtyard. Their feet clicked against the stone and ice as the silence swallowed all other sounds.

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

Penelope turned a few times in her sleep. The ‘soup’ as Jeremy called it was revolting and she could barely move. Her body stung all over from infection. Since her exposure to the environment the gashes in her leg had turned green. The discoloration had spread across her body, her face was mottled green and her left eye had become yellow and red. Her tossing stopped as she sat straight up. Her eyes panned around the hut until they fell on the door. “Miles we need to get up there and help them.” She closed her eyes and gritted her teeth, the green tinged skin rippled and bubbled as she got up and opened the door.

“Are you sure that is wise? The others were adamant about you healing and getting well.” Miles hurried to catch Penelope but she had begun climbing up the mountainside. Her eye seemed to be bouncing up and down as she climbed. Her motions were rapid but deliberate, Miles swore she was navigating the mountain like she had climbed it before.

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

“Look out!” Mikey pushed Henry out of the way as a massive stone crashed into the ground, it blocked the door they had come through. Mikey and the rest of the team stared back to see a massive creature climbing down from the tower across the courtyard. The blue furred giant stopped as it found another loose chunk of stone.

“Grawww!” Another stone came hurtling through the sky.

“I’m guessing that’s Frosti?” The creature looked to Henry like one of those crackpot theory big foot creatures. He swore this monster had different sized feet as it flipped off of the tower and onto the icy stone courtyard. The ground shook as John nodded.

“Open fire.” Even as they tried shooting Frosti bounced around. He landed on all four limbs before jumping back onto one of the walls. The errant beams missed him entirely. Frosti let out a roar as his horns shook. More Snomen shot out of the ice and began firing their buttons and noses at the team. “Henry, John, Kerri try to get him off the walls. Jeremy you and I got the Snomen. Anari use your best judgment.” Mikey jumped back as a boomerang shaped bone bounced off of the surface in front of him. Frosti was definitely the frost breathing monster he remembered seeing in the desert his first chapter two experience.

Henry’s lancer struck the wall only to bounce off the glossy surface, it reflected off of the walls a few more times before dissipating. The Snomen seemed to keep coming, no matter how many they knocked down two more seemed to reform in its place. “Mikey look out!” Jeremy pushed Mikey back as the bone boomerang sailed through where his head had been seconds before.

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

“Penelope you climb as if possessed. And you look somewhat like that is true. It’s not too late to turn around. The others would prefer you healthy than dead.” Miles hovered next to Penelope as she continued climbing. Her fingers moved quickly from one handhold to the next as she ignored the Anari. “Please be reasonable, you’d be lucky to reach the summit while they’re still fighting, and you risk getting yourself hurt.”

“Don’t worry about me. Whether I’m needed or not I’d worry less being right there with everyone.” She looked up and saw break of where the summit was. She had taken only half the time of the rest of the team climbing the mountain.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………….

“Mikey I’ve got an idea. The walls are highly reflective.” Kerri had to duck as a reflected lancer from Jeremy shot past her.

“Right everyone pick a wall and get down.” Everyone ducked down as their Lancers bounced all across the walls. The Snomen were vaporized and Frosti was knocked off the wall.

“Huuue monss” Frosti spoke in a deep throaty voice as he rose to his full height.

“Scatter!” The team split up as Frosti brought his bone boomerang down against the ground. The massive yeti jumped around flinging his boomerang. It was hard to get a clear shot.

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

“Come on Miles I need your help. It looks like a rock blocks our way in.” Penelope looked down the shining path to the ruins. She took a labored breath as the mottled green skin of her face rippled again.

“What would you have me do?” He looked her in the eyes The blades on his elbows and knees prickled with anticipation.

“Plants break stone. You can accelerate the growth of plants and I can weaken the stone. We’re going to break that rock and join the fight. Hopefully, before whatever this illness is kills me.” She pointed her rings at the rock as a beam of energy shot from the rings at the rock. Miles landed and pointed his staff at the rock. It began disintegrating as stems began growing from the softened stone. Penelope waited for the rock to be nearly disintegrated before she charged forward.

“Eeeeeeyah!” She kicked the stone as she reached it. The combination of plant growth and her lancer had left it the size of a soccer ball, something Penelope had much experience kicking. The rock sailed through the air and hung a few seconds before it found its mark. The thud of the stone against his chest was enough to knock Frosti out of the air mid leap. A smile crept across her lips as she charged forward.

“Penelope?” Henry watched as she charged after Frosti like she was possessed.

“Alright let’s do this. And let’s find out this amulet’s power.” Mikey turned to Miles, Archer, and Sisko. “Pin him down.”

“Here..”

“We…”

”Go…” The three Anari landed and channel their powers into the ground. Living rock and metal and vines erupted from below Frosti even as he stood up. Stone and metal swirled together and engulfed the yeti’s legs as vines reached up to restrict his arms.

“Graooo!” Frosti tried to freeze Penelope with his ice breath but Deanna leapt between the two of them and absorbed the ice attack into her staff. McCoy and Hoshi both fired energy from their staffs and as the beams raced across the expanse they interlaced to create a snake made of lightning as it pierced Frosti, looped back around, pierced him again, and continued to loop and coil around the monster. As he struggled against his bindings the players came together in front of him. Mikey’s amulet glowed as they placed their hands together. As the combined beam shot from them towards Frosti it took on a golden sheen and lit up the entire castle in the darkness. As the light died down and Frosti slumped over Penelope collapsed.

“Penelope?” Even as Henry worried about the green creeping across her skin it seemed to fade and she returned to her usual pink toned cheeks.

“I’m fine. Did we get him.” She tried standing back up.

“Yes, we got him killer.” Miles hesitated when he said killer like it was something foreign for him to say.

“I’m guessing from the glow it cast my amulet has to with light. We’re lucky Penelope came along or we might have been trying to shoot that jumpy yeti all night.” Mikey poked the still sizzling remains of Frosti.

“Ha! We make our own luck. You’ve got your plans, I just happen to be more endowed on the physical side.” She mocked flexing her muscles as everyone laughed. There was a small pop from the corpse as a red colored amulet emerged. It hovered a moment in front of her before Penelope plucked it from the air.

“Ahh another amulet and this one chose you Penelope. Use it wisely.” Archer smiled and patted her back as he watched her turn it over a few times.

“Not to nitpick, but this does seem as good a place as any to bunk for the night and hear what John has to tell us. Agreed?” There was nodding all around as they got a fire going.

“So John, what did you want to tell us about the programming of the Anari?” Jeremy cut right to the question once everyone was seated around the campfire.

John took some deep breaths whatever was on his mind was troubling him from what Penelope could read. “It started two years ago when we started building the environments using the neural interfaces. Whether it was some bug in the system or some random fluke the developers who first used the interfaces left behind imprints of themselves. These imprints were incomplete and so took on personalities of their own.”

“Wait these imprints, who were they of?” Penelope butted in.

“The developers who were to work on chapter two: Myself, Swarf, Qixter, Mavdoc, Kuzuan, Panagrammic and Bronstahd. After a time they became fully fledged identities of their own. It was remarkable we couldn’t believe it when we finally saw what they had become.” John continued.

“Wait slow down are you saying that the initial building was done by interface then abandoned? How was the rest of it done? And how long are we looking at?” Mikey interrupted.

“Months. After the initial groundwork we decided to build the rest of it the good old fashioned computer screen way. But we encountered random anomalies with each build. We didn’t know what they were until we came back in months later to test some of the new controls. That’s when we met them. They had called themselves Anari and said they were guardians, all seven of them.” John kept going.

“Quickstop, seven? There are only six Anari.” This time Jeremy interrupted.

“We tried working with the Anari to make this world better, but there was one who wanted to control every little piece of it. His name before he left the others was Kirk. But he became increasingly bitter and demanding control. He left and took on a new identity as he changed himself.” John seemed saddened at this part of the story.

“So Kirk became The Phantom?” Henry spoke up.

“Yes, he did. The worry even grew that he had found a way to cross into our world and bring things from the virtual one with him. Those worries were confirmed when he launched his campaign against the world. You aren’t the first team put together to try and stop him. But you certainly have come farther than any of the past ones, as far as we know. I am sorry you were not told that part sooner.” John looked down at the ground.

“John we’ve only come so far because we can work as a team, yourself included.” Mikey put a hand on John’s shoulder.

“So what about the other teams?” Kerri asked.

“Does it matter? We’re here now, and we’re getting the job done.” Penelope shrugged.

“We lost contact with most of the players and they are all lost somewhere in this chapter. If we can beat The Phantom we have a way of sending everyone home.” John paused.

“So our mission remains the same. Stop The Phantom.”

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