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"This shit is honestly just getting completely ridiculous. You'd think that after we destroyed R.3.M's clone and his minions that everything might have started to return back to normal but noooooo, of course freaking not!!!" Vandiken spat on the ground and dragged his maroon, crimson and light red Nike sneaker through it, sighing before he rubbed his forehead. The place looked like a disaster area from a movie about the end of the world. There were countless fires burning, destroyed buildings, streets, hell...there were entire areas that had been decimated by the energy released from the seal being broken. "Not to mention all these shyt strong static. They've got to be S-rank or better?!?!?!" Vandiken stalked off, more like floated off, his feet barely dragging over the cracked pavement. Of course the soles of his shoes were red, it was easier to use his powers to cheat, rather than to use natural sources all the time.
Vandiken took a sharp breath of air. He definitely didn't like the taste but his main concern was finding out where the others had disappeared too. It had seemed like 5 minutes had passed while Vandiken had taken on a horde of A-rank, lightning breathing super static but by the time he'd finished them off, Tav, Rien, Rhys and Sync had all vanished...He pouted, scowling at the smoky horizon in the distance that he noticed looked NOTHING like the Enix City he recalled from hours earlier. Time almost seemed to have sped up and then stopped altogether. The sunset that loomed in the distance didn't even look real. It was like a Van Gough painting or something out of a dream.
"I bet this is a set up. So sick of this shyt!!! Where are you!?!?! Rhys?? Tav?? Anybody...what is this??"
Rhys clasped his hands together. He was twitching, more so than he'd ever twitched, that happy-go-lucky had been beaten to a point nearing insanity. This was already enough, too much of really anything was just a bad thing in his mind. The memories, these collector's, getting the wool pulled over there eyes by R.3.M. and the travesty of the real reason they were even here. He wandered around the buildings, as if stuck in a labyrinth of some kind, at this point this Game they were playing forcibly split the remainder of their group.
As if he shouted loud enough that his lungs were on the verge of bursting. The last thing he could remember was the red light from Vandiken's hands putting it to the pavement of a higher end static. Their group ranked them based on size and durability, namely how hard they were to erase. The tougher the static, ironically, the less noise they constantly emitted, silent but deadly monicker for those really tough bastards.
"Ok...calm down Rhys...what am I saying...just look around? Is this even Enix-City anymore??"
He threw up his hands, feeling a cool purple glow radiate at his feet. Walking on air was a lot more covenant as the ground was shuffling and rumbling under him, making it unsafe to traverse completely on ground. His feet appeared like a purple haze, and he surfed through the street with the ground shaking relentlessly. Rhys could hear it, the sound of wings beating high above his head. He breezed easily enough along, but the sound of wings was accompanied by a roar-filled static sound that split his ears.
"You can't be serious...now?? Tch."
His right hand burned with a brightly colored lilac disc, spinning furiously to wear it was ripping the air. His other hand in the same fashion boasted the same amount of power and turning speed. He jumped and wall hiked, to turn around to throw both heavy hitting attacks into the bird static, which took both on the chest, greatly disorienting it enough for Rhys to quickly break line of sight. His body shifted into a purple mist and he jettisoned to what looked like an open plaza.
There was an eyeball, sets of them appearing all over the concrete. Springing up what looked like duplicates of both himself and...Vandiken? Weird, why Vandiken, Rhys thought. Gripping his fist, they were attributing mimic abilities, maybe this was the work of a static perhaps? Either way, this was a large enough open space that no one could miss for miles. With a grit in his teeth, Rhys staved to hold his ground as the alarming number of doubles, were continuing to multiply.
When nobody responded to Vandiken's yelling, he floated down the street toward and area of the unknown city-scape, that seemed to be a bit less damaged. There was still quite a bit of debris, mainly cars that had been thrown from a gigantic trailer that was flipped onto it's side. The ground there was split open where the truck had smashed into it, leaving Vandiken to question just what had happened. There was nothing in sight and no signs of damage from any recognizable type of energy that Van had witnessed so far during the game.
"Except that...." Vandiken spoke aloud to himself, "Now this isn't the same game, sooooooo." Either the rules had changed or everything else had. "Where is this??" Vandiken remembered Topsy saying something about how important it was in the later game to stay together as a group. Now Vandiken was starting to wonder if the very bond between the fragments kept them bonded to the same Enix City reality. "Geez, here I go again making wild theories about things that make no sense anyway." If only for a moment the ground stopped its rumbling in that area and a chill ran down Van's spine.
He looked on in disbelief for a second before dropping several inches to the ground. "Kael?? Is that you?? I thought that..." Vandiken stopped short, peering at Kael, one of his fallen comrades that Blaster had taken out 2 stages before. "What's going on here, why are you..." Van jumped back, his hand glowing with a red light.
Even though Vandiken had sworn that it was his friend, when he inched neared the cross-legged clone of Kael, it was immediately obvious that it wasn't really him. "Ugh, da fuq!?!?!" Kael's eyes were stitched shut with small static rivulets that basically were draining all the color from the former fragments face. Van looked at the creature and groaned. Before he had a chance to fire off his shot, Kael exploded in a glare of black light. "What the helll..." Copies?? Vandiken rubbed the side of his face. This was all a bit much, maybe he'd lost it. Up ahead there was more debris, rumbling earth and best of all..."Copies."
Van was in the parking lot of some mall by the looks of it, parked cars and normalcy graced his eyes, that and duplicates of both himself and apparently Rhys too. "I can't believe this crap, here TAKE THIS!!!" Vandiken tossed an energy grenade toward a small group of Rhys' that detonated, razing them over with red crystal. "Hmm, well they're DEFINITELY clones or copies or static fusions. If they were the real thing, Rhys would have easily dodged such an attack."
"Shit." Vandiken watched as copies of him started popping from the ground and splitting apart into more. "Rhys!!!!! Are any of these copies you!?!?!" The parking lot was larger than Vandiken originally thought it was. Much larger. "Really??"
"A little warning next time maybe?" Rhys said swatting the dust away walking forward coughing.
Vandiken was typically calm from what Rhys gathered, even now in his current state and what he remembered boy did it suck. The giant bird from before came crashing down, and the copies were springing up out of it's back. It let out a heinous rumble-noise of static splitting Rhys ears. Kit, Dee Jay, Some unknown, Rien, etc. It was like this place was in the sentiment of mocking them. Rhys clutched his hand, feeling the purple nebula swirl up his neck.
His vapor surrounded him, it was growing thicker and thicker, creating nothing but a massive haze of purple. Spreading it far enough to completely blot out the surrounding light from a 15 meter vertical height. Like a demon he moved through the haze, tackling what he felt to be something of a threat. A Vandiken double maybe? Gripping his shoulders, he spun and threw it straight through the haze, and in the direction of the giant static.
"Not sure where everyone else is, but can't let this waste of tattered memories run amok!"
Raising both of his hands, he set forth a focused burst of blunt forth, leaving his palms in a stream just missing the Vandiken that was thrown, and hitting the S-Class static directly in the chest, same as before where his sharpened blade cut earlier.
Vandiken rushed forward, running as fast as he could through the ever spawning copies. When the crowd seemed to be too thick, he avoided trying to run through and emitted a blast of the re luminous to gain some space. Here and there he'd let off a 3-4 stage hit combination attack, causing some of the copies to caused stacked damage to other duplicates that spawned as bodies Van hit bounced off one another. While he moved forward, a peculiar sound tore through the air. Van looked up and saw some creature descending from the sky slowly.
It was hideous, "What the fuq??" It was closer to the Garuda species than anything that Van could recall seeing before but the tell-tale copies were spawning right from the thing's back. Vandiken just gawked up at it, beating down random copies of himself the most but other random faces also showed. He impaled a clone copy of Raito with a red crystal that grew directly off his pinky nail, then turned his attention back to the Garuda Static that was getting closer.
Vandiken looked to his left to randomly see an aura field of color that rapidly expanded, turning from visible color on the spectrum by itself to a thick miasma that radiated outward. "Shyt!!! These things even stole Rhys' powers!?!?! Shyt...shyt!!!" The purple mist spread before Vandiken had time to regain his bearings and in that short timr, he felt a pair of hands grab him by the shoulders. His hand shot up, aiming in the purple mist and fired a thin beam of red but to no avail..."Shyt!!!!" Vandiken was tossed like a rag-doll in the next second, his body hurtling through the mist.
Before Van even formed a plan, he saw that he was racing toward the Garuda Static. He turned, grabbing his legs and pulled his bod down into the fetal position but the momentum was too much to gauge in such a short time. The angle was way off and instead of tucking into a complete roll-dodge maneuver, Vandiken dropped forward, smashing his face into the pavement."Oh my God. What the hell!?!?!?!" Vandiken lifted his face from the ground, red crystal covered several areas of his face where the red luminous had hardened to defend him during the crash but blood still trickled from a small gash across Vandiken's forehead. It looked bad but Van rubbed his hand over the wound, basically molding an exact fit piece of crystal flesh over the wound which restored lost plasma. "Super scab much?? Rhys!!! Did they end you already too?? Better pay gooood attention damn it!!!"
The Garuda squawked and reared back, gaining enough speed in an instant to rush Vandiken with a ferocious charge. "Snap." Chunks of pavement tore upwards from the ground as Vandiken strained his powers. Only a small bit of blood had been sprinkled from his forehead onto the ground but it was enough that Van could heft, lift and slam the stone and rock together in a makeshift wall that the Garuda smashed into. VANDIKEN DUG HIS HEELS INTO THE GROUND AND STILL GOT PUSHED BACK. "Definitely an S-rank." At such close range, Van didn't waste a chance to counter attack. He'd seen Rhys' attack hit before so there was no reason not to try one of his own.
"Bloody Buster!!!!" Vandiken dropped back and dodged an incoming blow to the side, then materialized a large red crystal blade which he used to slash/twack at the Garuda. He attacked with blinding speed, delivering several hits which all shrunk the crystal until it exploded in a flash of bright red light, glazing over the static with a thick shell of red crystal. "Tch, it won't last though...SOMEBODY?? That means YOU Rhys!!! Get in here bruh."
Rhys was already at work, all the duplicates, most likely some of combination of their memories used to create nearly hallow versions of their team. With no sign of what appeared to be the real Kit, Dee jay, Rien, Vandiken, or Sync he wouldn't regret what he was about to do. If this is what Topsy wanted him to do, so be it.
The miasma thickened and saturated all the surrounding dopplegangers. Rhys waved his now glowing dark purple hand, like a puppeteer and was taking control of multiple targets at once. All of them suddenly, as they resisted, came to fall in line and reared them in easily. This effectively diminished the shroud of haze that he create and their eyes were all purple, just like Rhys were. Turning, each of them held up their hands, even the Vandiken duplicates were charging a red glow from their hands, now he was convinced they were nearly perfect duplicates. The ground lit up with violet and red colored beams of light, zipping up at the large static as brutally colored beams of light. Crashing into the red crystalized static, seemingly taking blows from the Vandiken thrown...wait.
"Hold on a second...theres no way. NO. WAY! SHIT!!! STOP!"
They'd already released these brilliant beams of light circulating and smashing into the static. It shrieked and cried out in pain, staggering immensely before finally disintegrating. He stood slightly off center in the crowd of duplicates, before doing some convoluted mess. Stripping not only control from the duplicates, but a bit of stamina and dexterity to empower himself. His acid wind, was pulling the mass of purple haze/liquid into his palms and all of the duplicates dropped save for him.
"You there Van?? Where the hell is everyone else??"
"Idiot. Of course I'm here." Vandiken was reeling at this point, when had Rhys' powers evolved so much?? Maybe Vandiken was overthinking the situation and he could've wasted all the copies himself. He doubted it however, especially with the speed Rhys did it. Van had a secondary guess that once the S-rank static was killed all the clones easily fell with it. He couldn't linger on the thought with the situation still being completely unknown. "No, I don't know where any of the others are. To be honest I'm starting to thinK that they've gotten to US already." Van pointed at Rhys, "Can you explain to me why its only the two of here and we somehow managed to meet at the same spot?? Tad suspect broski..."
Vandiken really didn't want to point fingers but Rhys had been the strangest member of the group from the start. "Dude, I dunno, this is completely beyond what we've been through already." Vandiken looked bored at the vastness of the parking lot and then to the mall which was even bigger than the parking lot. It all seemed so familiar to Vandiken but he had no idea how to explain why. Even with his memories virtually restored with each stage of the game, Vandiken lacked the ability to remember where he'd come from and what had really all happened before Enix City.
"Okay, I feel like we actually have several options but most of them are boring," Vandiken waved his hand aimlessly in the direction of the mall. "We could go and explore that place. It might give us answers." From what he'd seen around this desolate place so far, there were no people and the mall was the only intact structure that could be seen for miles. "Strange..."
Vandiken pouted, his skull face paint illuminated when he grinned at Rhy, showing that red light was literally seeping out from within him. "You're definitely lit bro, we could just fight and waste time instead." He laughed, "Time...pfft does that shyt even exist here??" Wherever 'HERE' was...
A brilliant color of violet permeated his hands. This was definitely the real one, and now that he was charged up, he put it away. Rhys was already on edge, they were apparently put to sleep and split up somewhere. There was enough trauma tied with drama in his own memories, he couldn't deal with all of this extra anymore. It was more tempting to run away than to continue to play this game, maybe whoever was pulling strings...would screw them over at the end of all of this finicking through districts.
"Fine. Lets see what's the deal with this mall. I'm already on edge and none of our comrades are anywhere in sight."
Rhys rolled his eyes and started for the complex. This was definitely a pretty topsy-turvy world they found themselves in. The bleak sky however begged to differ, just what was it with this district? The fragment couldn't put his finger on it, it was already aggravating as hell.
The ceiling was rather tall, made of glass naturally. 4 floors max and a base level, naturally there was no sign of life here either, not even the sounds of potential footsteps from other collectors or even their missing teammates. Rhys sighed, this was becoming piss annoying, he had a strange feeling there would be yet another static stashed away somewhere, one's bad enough. He didn't have the resources on hand to be as dextrous as he was with an overabundance of copies just laying around.
"Something you needed out of one of these stores Van?"
"Geez." A memory of a place called the Mall of America slipped into Van's mind. Even after entering, this mall, the disassociated memory showed that there were places in real life which were mirrored within this strange district and the other previous ones they'd been to before. After a short spell of walking about the base floor of the mall where Vandiken and Rhys passed numerous stores, no words were exchanged between them. Vandiken had noticed that upon a bit of closer inspection, many of the stores were copies. The labels were undercut with unrecognizable language that Vandiken couldn't read, but even so the store names were mostly identical.
His gaze averted at hearing Rhys speak to him. Vandiken pointed to the elevator that would lead to the upper floors. "Yes. I think I can be a lot of help here. Peep." There was a lot of red around the mall that Van had actually noticed and of course, there was always something strange going on. There was a shoe store by the elevator that was open. A simple tug using the force generated by the Red Luminous hefted four battery like cores from their positions at the rear of the store.
Van rolled his eyes, scratching under his nose where he'd gotten an itch from his skull face paint. Using only a small hand gesture, Vandiken then moved all four battery cores into the elevator apparatus on the floor.. It whirred to life after several seconds, beeping and then, "Sweet. But then again..." The elevator car itself wasn't on the ground floor. It was at the top level where as it came closer into view, Vandiken could see there was some device that looked much like the battery cores but larger. Whatever the thing was, it pulsed with a pale orange light. The further it came down from the upper levels, grotesque, Prime-ape static started to materialize in front of Rhys and Vandiken.
There were five in total, each of them had a jagged maroon horn and matching scythed tail. "Hmm, strong I see, Gotta be A-rank, I can feel the power. Just what the hell are these things??" As the bodies fully formed, Van led two of them off away from Rhys, while a red automaton crystal formed from Van's hand started 'harassing' a third one.
Rhys dug both hands in his pockets and leaned backwards a bit, cracking his back. A spit off to the right left his mouth, and just as Vandiken did before him, he rolled his eyes in annoyance. For a shopping complex, this mall was staggeringly larger than his memories of them in the real world that he knew. This R.3.M could really escalate things to a new height, he started to wonder if it was a jigsaw puzzle of a reality taking pieces from all forms of architecture like a studio ghibil film. Regardless, it seemed like copy and paste for some stores with recognizable brands, but written in an incomprehensible language to Rhys, he was almost surprised Van didn't comment, as neither did he.
His eyes moved up as Van broke the silence, pointing to the elevator fairly close the shoe store. Working his magic, he restored what looked to be power to the machine, taking advantage of the area mostly being covered in red. With a squint, the car was moving it's way down, and already his heart was in his throat.
Static seemed to emerge as if they'd triggered a trap. The strange reverberations from the moving cart were probably the cause, an orange light peered down bright as hell. Five of the bastards at that, Rhys was already growing agitated as they'd likely have the mobility of apes, so they'd need some sick counter play to escape this bind they'd found themselves in. Here he just wanted to do some shopping...
"Oh damn...we can't dod-" Vandiken already made a break for it, leading two away, "Hey!! thanks for the warning!"
A purple clone budded off of him and jumped vertically straight upward. This successfully attracted one of them as Rhys bolted in the opposite direction Van ran to further divide the numbers. A single powerful static was fine, multiple just 1 class under was a no go in any 2v5 situation. They'd have better odds going for taking separate 1v1s or whittling them down. Rhys legs were moving like a track star as he darted into what looked like the food establishments. A shit ton of tables were everywhere in here, he slid under one, as the static toppled over the top and completely knocked it over.
"Fuuuuckkkk!!!" he shouted in a panic, getting up and bolting over the long ones heading towards the merry-go-round in the middle of the food area.
The son of a bitches were every bit as agile as real gorillas, and they traversed the food hall easily with giant leaps. Thankfully they were large, and any small crawlspace Rhys could send his body through would slow them down dramatically, as they were bulky and would slam into each other. Rhys threw one of his clones into one of the two pursuers, as it caught it in something of a headlock. It wouldn't hold it for very long, but it would stall one of the two that would give chase. Luring it to an open area, Rhys turned around and purged his fist throwing out a barrage of purple pellets hitting the static's bare skin, painting it in his color.
"Call me Ghepetto motherfucker! Now go attack the other one!"
The beast raged, the orange light from the other side was heralding over it. It's eyes reflected the same color, and it completely broke the veil and lunged the fragment.
"WHAT?!" Rhys was surprised, it was like it was already being controlled by something else, his possession wasn't worth shit. He rolled under it's dive and started back towards the open area where the elevator was. The only problem was he got pinched in between the gorilla he'd left and the one that was chasing him. "Ugh...fuck me right?"
He spun around as they both lunged, quickly created a massive shroud of purple haze expanding it across the entire base floor within mere seconds, reaching back to the elevator. Even if he possessed the static under the haze, they're control would just go back the second they left the fog of acid wind. So he made them kill each other while possessed.