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GOLDEN EMPIRE MYTHOS

ALTERED HISTORIES ERA
??? | Ghosts of Time | ??? | ??? | ??? | ??? | ??? |

VOICE ERA
Rise of The Voice | Attack of The Voice | Kindle:- Nightfall | Warcry | Destroyer | Project 9 | War on Peace | Omniwar | Judgement Day | Shadow of Death - Uprising (Part 1) | Shadow of Death - Uprising (Part 2) | Shadow of Death - Uprising (Part 3) | Shadow of Death - Uprising (Part 4) | Shadow of Death - Uprising (Part 5) | Humanity | Incarnates - Part I | Incarnates - Part II | Incarnates - Part III | Incarnates - Part IV | Incarnates - Part V |

POWER GAMES ERA
??? | ??? | ??? | ??? | ??? | ??? | ??? | ??? |


It had been some time since the events known as War-Cry devastated the world, in that time Earth had recovered and many of its defenders had moved on to greater battles across the vast expanses of space and time.. Yet the shadows of the past never truly leave and deep beneath the streets of a world once ravaged by war lays a terrible relic of those dark times, waiting to be unleashed..

Prologue

The scene begins deep underground in what has become known as one of several "hidden cities" - ruins of once proud city states now laying like ghost towns deep below the currentc ities, which had been built on top of the ruins as part of a massive global project known as "Operation: Rebirth".

For the most part these "hidden cities" were left alone and became almost mythical amongst the young and old, despite the relatively short time-scale the idea of these dark, mysterious places sparked the imagination of a population where many still remembered the horrors of war.

Today however this particular "hidden city" was being explored by a small team of men and women, their flash-lights shining amidst the ruins and casting ghostly images wherever they went - each footstep crunched under debris and one of the explorers had to stop as her foot caught on something, kneeling down she picked up a broken backpack which looked small enough to fit a child.

"..I hate this place.. let's get out of here.." one of the team complained.

"No, our sources said it would be here.." another voice replied sternly.

"..and what exactly is "it"? this is insane! we're chasing a legend -" one of the team snaps only to grow silent.

"Look!"

The team stop and aim their flashlights towards a large capsule that has been laying in the middle of the long abandoned street - as the light shines against it they are amazed to see a humanoid figure laying within, as if asleep: jet black hair combed back, the figure completely naked yet connected to the device with many wires.

"..my God.. it's him! I.." one of the team yells out, pulling out a gun only to fall down as the sound of gunfire rings in the air, the others watching as their victim fell to the floor - blood slowly running down the streets as they turned back towards the figure in the capsule.

"Prepare the capsule for immediate departure to our faculty and have our top scientists at hand to awaken the master.." one of the figures states.

"..what about him?" another enquires, nodding towards the dead body.

"He served his purpose - I shall ensure he is rewarded.." the other figure notes.

The figures nod and head over to the capsule, beginning the task of moving the heavy object as the lone figure stands over the dead body and pulls out a small rag and a lighter.

"..humanity has grown weak - however, thanks to you, we shall have a second chance at redemption.. and so I cast you from this world, yet never from our memory.. OBEY!" - with that he lights the rag and tosses it on the figure, then walks away to join the others as the darkness once again returns to the area - save for the burning of the body..

Chapter 1 - Coming Storm

The next day began in a rather unusual way - instead of sunshine the city was experiencing a severe rainstorm that had been going on for several days, the rain was already a cause of concern for many as it had disrupted traffic and closed down several schools and offices as emergency services had to deal with the occassional flooding and damage to building the torrential rain caused.

Yet one figure did not seem to care for the rain, standing alone on a rooftop and looking down at the streets below the figure - dressed in military gear - did not seem to fear the slippy surface which could easily send him to his doom below nor did he flinch at the howling winds all around him.

Kindle was actually quite relieved to feel the rain, he remembered a world where rain never fell and even when it did it was black as coal and just as acidic - the howling winds were nothing compared to the toxic clouds he had endurance as a child, living in the slums of a world where only the most brutal survived past their third birthday.

"..come on.. come on.. I know you're here somewhere.." he mutters, looking through a pair of advanced binoculars at the streets below - the faint sound of mechanical gears can be heard as the device zooms in and out.

On a rooftop opposite stands Ruichi and Nebula, with the latter chattering nonstop.

"Aw... I hate rainy days, they make me so sad, I wish it was all nice and sunny outside, then I'd be really happy! Yeah, you know what this rain reminds me of?"

"...I like clouds and rain." Ruichi said quietly.

"But why?" Nebula protested. "They are so grey and colorless! It's all dark and depressing... kinda like you, sometimes..." she smirked. "Oh. I see..."

"...I feel more secure with clouds." Ruichi muttered.

Kindle continues looking down at the ground from his position on the rooftop, stopping once he sees a black truck pulling into a nearby alley - "..gotcha.." he exclaims - then climbs off the rooftop and heads into the alleyway just as several figures come out of the truck, carrying several large crates.

Nebula catches sight of Kindle leaving. "Where's he going?" she wonders aloud, floating down through the air after him.

"Nebula, not our business..." Ruichi said. No response. Ruichi sighed, stood up, and followed her.

The figures enter a nearby warehouse, still carrying several large crates - Kindle waits until the figures have entered before he makes his way over to the truck and hops inside: looking around at a few of the remaining crates he crouches down and breaks on of the crates open, revealing a collection of guns and ammo that are of military-grade quality.

"..so.. this is the place.. okay.. time to finish this.." Kindle says with a grim determination, digging into his pocket and pulling out a device that looks like a mix between a knife and a small firearm.

Suddenly, a loud, explosive voice shouts out from behind Kindle, from Nebula who is hovering about three feet above him;

"HEY! WHATCHA DOING?" she shouted happily.

Kindle turns around rapidly and points the device towards Nebula, narrowing his eyes "..you!" - suddenly the doors of the warehouse burst open and Kindle quickly changes position - leaping in an effort to knock Nebula out of the truck as a rain of bullets suddenly pelt the side of the truck, a gang of uniformed gunmen opening fire.

"Dammit, Nebula!" Ruichi hollers. "I told you that this wasn't our business!" He summons his trademark scythe into his hands and hides behind the truck.

The gunmen continue opening fire until the truck begins to smoke, Kindle gets up and makes a run for it as the gunmen also retreat into the warehouse - fully aware of the imminent explosion as the smoke gets thicker and flames begin to sprout from the truck.

"Let's go!" Ruichi hollers, grabbing Nebula's wrist and darting away as fast as he could.

The truck proceeds to explode, bathing the area in fire and smoke as Kindle gets up and runs towards the warehouse again, yelling out at Ruichi and Nebula: "you stay away unless you want to end up dead, you hear me!? I can't let them get away!".

"...we're experienced... despite the antic that my friend pulled back there." Ruichi said.

"I'm sorry!" Nebula said. "We'll help you!"

Kindle doesn't turn back as he smashes the door down, "..fine, get yourselves killed if you must - I'm really past caring.. I have to stop them!".

No sooner had Kindle entered the warehouse than he found himself rushed at by several uniformed thugs, armed with batons and clubs - the gunmen having mysteriously vanished as the inside of the warehouse is revealed to be a large metal maze full of advanced technologies that have obviously been stitched together from varied sources.

Nebula steps forth, releasing her power in a fiery explosion. Ruichi darts forth and attacks not with his scythe, but with a well-aimed kick at a thug's face.

Kindle swerves between the thugs as they are in turn defeated by the combination of fiery explosions and kicks - as they fall it is quite obvious that many of them are little more than common street-thugs dressed in black uniforms with the image of a golden-fist being the only type of identification.

Kindle looks ready to continue moving when he freezes in his tracks, his eyes growing wide as a lone figure stands in the hallway - looking towards him, resembling a middle-aged man with short black hair and brown eyes: he is dressed in the same style as the uniformed thugs yet his face shows a complete lack of emotion as he simply stands in place.

Ruichi follows Kindle's gaze to the figure. "Who is that?" he asked.

Kindle continues to stare as the figure turns away, a wall suddenly slamming down where the figure once stood - another wall slamming down behind the group.

"..oh shit.." Kindle says, as he does so the walls suddenly begin to close in, the surface of each wall sparking as volts of electricity are pumped into them.

"Crap!" Ruichi yells aloud. "Nebula! Teleport us out of here!"

"But, I-" Nebula whimpers. "I don't know where!"

"Forward or back! Either way!"

Kindle flips open on of his pockets and pulls out a small gun "..forward! take us forward!" he declares.

With a flash of pink light, Nebula, Ruichi, and Kindle disappear, reappearing on the other side of the moving wall deeper in the warehouse.

Upon escaping Kindle instantly races down the hallway again, "..come on! we can't let him get away! we have to -!" he begins, only to come to a halt as a pair of red eyes appear from the darkness at the end of the hallway and the sound of mechanical footfalls echo across the hallway as a large bipedal robot resembling a bulky humanoid with black armor walks into view.

Nebula screams. Ruichi twirls his scythe in his hands, preparing for combat.

The robot's eyes glow brighter and a wave of red light scans over Kindle, Ruichi and Nebula before the robot drones out <<you have entered a restricted area - state your purpose and registration or face immediate termination>>

Kindle fires the gun in response, causing sparks to fly as the bullets bounce off the armor - totally ineffective - "..damn this stone age technology.." he curses, opening the gun as he digs into a pocket and pulls out strange glowing capsules which he starts putting into the gun.

Ruichi, like a madman, darts up to the robot and, leaping into the air, swings his scythe at it's head- although Ruichi's scythe is built of denser metal than normal, he doesn't expect it to do much...

The robot unleashes a shield of electricity that shocks the scythe as it hits the armor, scraping the surface - barely.. meanwhile Kindle loads the gun and fires a glowing bullet at the robot which explodes on impact and leaves a glowing green liquid where it hits, slowly burning into the armor like acid.

Ruichi recovers surprisingly fast from the shock. Taking a step back, he puckers his mouth and breathes a stream of flames at the machine.

The robot shrugs the flames off as it held out a hand - the palm of which began to glow with an ominous green light, small holes in its armor revealing small sparks as Kindle's special bullets seemed to at least weaken the machine's defence somewhat.

Nebula holds her palms out toward the robot, and icy mist appears on the ground, solidifying around the machine's legs in an attempt to slow it down.

The robot is slowed down by the ice but soon unleashes a wave of green energy from its palm which fires across the room like a battering-ram of force: causing Kindle to leap to one side as he tears off a piece of metal from a nearby wall and runs forward: using the metal as a shield, which deflects the beam of energy back towards the robot.

Ruichi leaps forth and breathes a burst of flames at the robot; Nebula waves her hands and creates a firey explosion that consumes the machine.

The robot falls apart in a fiery heap as the group's combined attack finally overpower it, Kindle tossing the burning metal shield away as he comments:

"..damn it.. well.. at least it was a small-time drone.. they must have limited resources if they are producing things as primitive as that.. which means we still have a chance.. come on..".

Without bothering to tell either Ruichi and Nebula what he meant Kindle runs down the hall again, opening a door nearby rather quickly - not seeming to register that another robot or similar death-trap could be waiting for him on the other side..

Ruichi darted after him, followed by Nebula, who cried out: "Wait up!"

Kindle doesn't listen as he steps into the room, however as soon as he does so he freezes in his tracks as his eyes grow wide in horror..

Chapter 2 - Sleepers (Encounter)

It doesn't take long to see why as the room is revealed to contain many tubes filled with green liquid and housing near identical human figures - floating in the tubes and kept alive via an assortment of wires, each figure resembling the man the group had encountered in the hallway.

Nebula whimpered a little and clutches Ruichi's arm in fear; Ruichi however, was horrified for an entirely different reason than the Wisp...

He was 4 years of age. He looked up the stairs, past the white-coated men sitting in front of their monitors, typing away at keyboards, and saw a giant tube filled with green liquid. Inside the tube floated the naked figure of a woman, hooked up to numerous wires, with her very entrails floating out of her stomach. But he could also see her eyes; the eyes that he recognized since birth, the eyes that had always watched him in the bare cell that they were kept in, as subjects for a number of insane experiments...

"Mommy!" cried out the four-year old Ruichi, before a gunshot rang out, and he screamed and collapsed to the cold floor...

Ruichi snapped out of the memory, suddenly feeling cold. "What the Hell is this?!" he wondered aloud, gripping his scythe angrily.

Kindle rushed forward and begin typing madly on a nearby computer, "..fucking maniacs! we have to stop this-!" - however Kindle is soon sent flying back as a uniformed figure leaps into view, throwing him away from the computer and pulling a gun out on the group.

The uniformed figure was a male, clearly human and bald - yet his muscle-mass suggested either extensive training or steroid misuse, the look in his eyes seeming to suggest the latter as he kept the gun pointed at the group and looked ready to attack at any point.

"you aren't stopping anything, you traitor..".

Nebula cries out in fear, and Ruichi steps forth, holding out his scythe protectively.

"..who the hell are you?" Kindle began, only to look around as two other figures appear - one a skinny male with spiked brown hair and a scar over his left eye and the other a tall woman with blonde hair which draped over her shoulders.

"..Apex.. relax.. give the kid some credit: he's brave.. I like that.. what's your name?" the skinny man says, ignoring Ruichi and Nebula as he steps forward and addresses Kindle.

Ruichi growls, stepping back but keeping his tight grip on the scythe.

"fuck you.." Kindle said bluntly, causing Apex to lunge forward as he opened fire - Kindle leaping to one side as the brute goes on a rampage, tossing the gun aside as he throws himself at Kindle, fists flaring.

The skinny man sighs and shakes his head, then looks to Ruichi "..I suppose you are going to be stupid as well? play the hero or some such travesty? ..Delilah.. if you would be so kind.." he says, motioning towards Nebula.

The woman nods and steps towards Nebula, as she does so she reveals a pair of glowing metallic gloves which fasten onto her hands.

But before Delilah could move a step closer to Nebula, Ruichi charged toward her, raising his scythe. "Leave her alone, you bitch!" he roared. His eyes flashed pitch black for a split second.

Delilah charges at Ruichi and begins to swing her arms and legs at him in an impressive display of martial arts, the style hard to pin-point but seeming to be rather similar to Kung Fu - the gloves spark as she moves: looking particularly dangerous.

As this occurs Kindle and Apex continue to fight, Kindle avoiding the brute as he slams himself like a wild gorilla at his target and failing each time - swearing loudly as he tears across the room.

The skinny man simply watches all of this and looks to Nebula with disgust, "..I suppose you think he can save you, sub-human? well, you're wrong.. this world has no place for creatures like you.. Earth was made for humanity and it is about time we kept it that way..".

"Sub-human?" Nebula asks, seeming to momentarily forget the gravity of the situation. "I'm not human at all- I'm a Wisp! I'm a magical and beautiful creature!"

Ruichi swings his scythe horizontally as Delilah enters the range of his blade, snarling like a rabid wolf.

The skinny man snorts audibly as he turns away, typing a few passwords into a device nearby as Apex and Delilah continue to fight - each managing to avoid damage yet also failing to inflict much in turn.

"Apex, Delilah.. we're leaving.." the skinny man says.

"..But Warren.. they aren't ready.." Delilah begins.

"They'll have to do, now come on.." the skinny man snaps, leaving the room.

"come on Apex!" Delilah yells, fleeing in turn.

"NO!" Kindle yells out, attempting to stop Apex but ending up knocked aside as the brute reluctantly follows the others: the doors slamming shut after them as sirens suddenly blare out and red lights flash across the room: the tubes suddenly shattering, the liquid pouring out onto the floor as wires snap and figures fall to the ground lifelessly..

"EEP!" Nebula cries. "Ruichi, what's happening?"

Ruichi leaps back, stepping in front of Nebula protectively.

"Oh.. shit.." Kindle gasps, looking around as the sirens continue to blare and the red lights flash on and off - the lifeless figures jerk around on the ground for a few moments before suddenly rising to their feet, cracking their necks into place as they straighten up and look to the group with emotionless dark brown eyes.

Chapter 3 (Architect Clones <Battle>)

The figures surround the group as the sirens blare and red lights flash on and off, the entire room sealed shut - preventing escape as they find themselves facing an inevitable confrontation..

Ruichi was the first to charge forth, leaping forward to plunge his blade into one of the figures.

The blade sinks into the figure, who reacts by grabbing said blade and literally tugging it out before tossing Ruichi aside with great force - the wound slowly healing as the other figures strike out at Ruichi, Kindle and Nebula: each one hitting like a truck and being as agile as a trained hand-to-hand veteran despite having just awakened from their inactivity.

Ruichi was struck, crashing into the ground from the blow and dropping his scythe; Nebula, with a squeal, managed to fly into the air, hovering like a phantom, to avoid the attack.

The figures quickly home in on Ruichi as Kindle tries to hold them back only to be swiftly beaten to the ground - the figures gathering around him and continuing the beating to the point they could of easily killed him: their eyes completely devoid of human emotion as they continued their attack as if they were machines.

Nebula squeaked in fear; as if she had willed it, thick vines began to sprout up from the earth like living ropes trying to ensnare the zombie-like figures. "EEK! GET AWAY!"

The figures are ensnared for a few moments, allowing Ruichi and Kindle to find a safe spot - however the vines soon snap as the figures flex and begin advancing once more on the group.

Ruichi takes a step forward; puckering his lips, he breathes a stream of searing flames at the zombies.

The figures continue to advance even as they are set on fire, some falling to the ground while others simply walk over them - Kindle digs into his pocket and pulls out what looks like a small tub of putty and runs towards the sealed door: "here goes nothing!".

"Ooh, what is that?" Nebula asks, becoming momentarily distracted; a notion quite typical of her.

"Nebula!" Ruichi yells out.

Kindle sticks to stuff to the door and runs back, as he does so several of the figures leap at Nebula and Ruichi - Kindle rolling onto the ground as the door suddenly explodes violently, creating an exit from the room.

Ruichi grabs Nebula's hand and half-pulls, half-throws her out of the way, snatching up his scythe from the floor as well to block his attackers.

Kindle gets to his feet and runs out of the exit, motioning Ruichi and Nebula - "hey - you can control fire, right? well - now's a good time to use it" he says, pointing at the exit - sure enough the figures are already following the group towards said exit.

As the figures close in, Ruichi snaps; with a battle-cry akin to a feral roar, he emits a burst of dark fire from his body akin to pure, incinerating force towards his attackers before turning tail and running out of the room after Nebula and Kindle.

The figures are blocked by the flames as Kindle leads Ruichi and Nebula out of the room and into a hallway, opening a nearby door and motioning - "come on! hurry!".

Without even looking back, Ruichi and Nebula flee the burning room.

Kindle waits for Ruichi and Nebula to enter the room before pressing a monitor - sealing the door behind them as they stand in a large room, a truck filled with cargo stands in a corner while familar figures stand to attention as a new figure appears, resembling the clones but slightly taller and dressed in a black uniform.

"What?! No Way!" Apex growls as he sees the group, preparing to attack but stopping as the figure in black makes a motion with his hand - stepping forward.

"Enough - take the weapons and leave, I shall deal with this..".

"Sir.." Warren begins, only to stop as the figure stares - the stare is enough and the group climb into the truck, which begins to drive off - a space opening to reveal a long tunnel.

Chapter 4 (Architect Battle)

Kindle blinks as he stares at the figure, who simply stands in place and looks over the group with emotionless eyes - "..You have proven yourselves to be strong warriors - perhaps there is room for you in the Golden Empire: what do you say? We have much to do if we are to ready this world for the second coming of The Voice..".

"Go to Hell," Ruichi spat.

"You tried to kill us and now you expect us to join your doomsday cult? You guys spend so much time trying to "purify" the world that you can't even see the disease you've become.." Kindle replies, looking to the figure before he turns slightly to Ruichi and Nebula.

"..these two are more human than you are, now - move aside.. we're going after those weapons.. in all honesty I kind of hope you are stupid enough to fight us.." Kindle continues.

The figure simply stares at Kindle, then looks at Ruichi and Nebula - "..what about you, Wisp? - we've been investigating your world for some time now and I imagine if you co-operate now you may save your people the prospect of war.. wouldn't that be the "right thing" to do?" he says, talking directly to Nebula.

The little wisp was taken aback. "You... you LIAR!"

The figure frowns slightly and takes out a small syringe filled with glowing red liquid - "..you know the weaponry the Sleepers are taking to the streets? it's not guns or bombs.. it is Raid Serum: developed several years ago for use in battle but banned under your planet's current outdated laws..".

Kindle reaches to his pocket for his gun instinctively only to find he had misplaced it during the last battle, clenching his fists he braced himself "You're going to flood the street with berseker-drugs..".

The figure nods quite simply before he injects himself in the neck with the serum, "..you were wrong though, this was no doomsday cult - this was the beginning of a new era for mankind.. I am the Architect, one of the Ten Golden Keepers.. you could of been my disciples.. instead you will be purged and forgotten while I shall become the new ruler of this world, waiting for the day the Voice returns to claim what has and always shall be his alone..".

"I've heard enough," Ruichi snarled. "This is nothing but the ravings of a madman..." He suddenly sprung at the Architect, baring his scythe like the claw of an animal.

The Architect suddenly mutates violently, his muscles expanding unnaturally as he swings his arms out - deflecting Ruichi's attack before charging over to a nearby wall and ripping a large section of a nearby machine out, causing sparks to fly everywhere as he begins slamming the chunk of gnarled debris around like a rabid animal.

Kindle leaps out of the way "..hey Ruichi.. now is NOT the time to be pissing the super-powered terrorist off!" he shouts, grabbing a piece of sharp metal from the ground and brandishing it like a knife.

"You'll leave my world and my people ALONE!" Nebula exclaims, suddenly angry as her hair begins to wave on an invisible wind, before stretching out and sharpening into blade-like tendrils that lash at the Architect.

The Architect reacts quickly as he gabs the blade-like tendrils between his hands, uncaring of any obvious pain or damage as he proceeds to spin on the spot, keeping a grip on the tendrils as his muscles continue to grow, to an inhuman degree.

Nebula was slammed against a wall as the Architect whipped her around; crying out slightly, she fell to the ground on all fours.

Kindle's eyes widen slightly and keeps the sharp piece of metal handy as he watches this, "..shit.. to think.. that truck is filled with this stuff.. the entire street could be flooded with this.. I think I'm going to be sick..".

"LET HER GO!" Ruichi roared, leaping into the air and raising his scythe above his head to deal a blow to the Architect.

The Architect proceeds to toss Nebula aside as he reacts to Ruichi's attack by leaping up and trying to headbutt him, Kindle leaps forward at the same time and manages to stab him in the shoulder with the shard of metal, however he is slammed hard against a broken machine in the process and goes limp as sparks fly.

Ruichi took the attack and flipped backwards, landing on his feet. Taking another leap back, he proceeded to breathe a jet of flames towards the Architect.

The Architect's muscles expand to their absolute limits as he groans in pain and anger, his eyes rolling back in their sockets as he finally passes out - the drug's unnatural mutation of his body taking its toll when combined with the fighting: resulting in the hulking Architect slamming onto the ground, smouldering slightly.

Nebula had moved over towards Kindle, trying to shake him awake and cast healing spells over him. Ruichi meanwhile stood still in thought for a moment, before spreading his wings and taking to the air.

"Ruichi!" Nebula called out. "What-"

"The raid-serum!" Ruichi called back. "I'm going after that truck!"

Kindle slowly revived and rubbed at his head, looking to Nebula "..w-what happened? is he dead? where's Ruichi?" - he looks around, suddenly getting to his feet.

"He flew after the truck!" Nebula exclaimed. "We've gotta catch him!"

"You fly as fast as you can - I think I'll opt for another mode of transport.." Kindle states, looking towards a hover-bike which sat at one corner of the room, relatively untouched by the battle.

Chapter 5 - Rage

Meanwhile the truck continues its way across a stretch of road in the inner-city, the Sleepers conversing amongst themselves:

"We should of stayed with the boss and crushed those losers!" Apex protested.

"Our orders were clear, Apex - obedience or death, that is the rule of the Empire.." Warren noted.

"Both of you stop worrying, we're nearing the destination.. the Architect managed to get the city's local gang-lords to gather at the docks to test the new wares.. should be interesting to see them fight under the effects of the Raid Serum.." Delilah responded.

"Survival of the fittest.. when only the strong survive only the strongest of the strong get to rule.." Warren explained.

"Exactly.." Delilah smirked.

From a distance about 50 meters ahead, Ruichi landed on the street, stretching his wings and baring his scythe.

"What's that freak doing here!?" Apex exclaimed.

"Doesn't matter, he came to die.." Delilah replied as he increased the speed of the truck and drove straight towards Ruichi.

Ruichi breathed another a stream of flames at the truck before recklessly sprinting forward at the vehicle and raising his scythe for a blow.

The truck swerved at the stream of flames, causing it to crash onto its side as it slides across the road, eventually coming to a stop - looking as if it is about to explode any moment: several crates burst out from the vehicle and spill their contents across the road, which are soon consumed by the growing flames.

Ruichi stepped forward warily, baring his scythe defensively.

Suddenly Warren and Delilah roll out of the truck and charge at Ruichi while Apex outright tears the door off as he leaps out and runs towards the crates, yelling out in rage as he tries to save the contents which are already burning.

Warren and Delilah attack Ruichi, working as a team - neither armed with weapons but seeming to know basic hand-to-hand combat as they rush him.

Ruichi leapt back, dodging the first few strikes but soon took a nasty blow to the face that caused him to stagger back. He retaliated by swinging his scythe in a horizontal arc at his attackers.

Delilah and Warren are held back as Ruichi retaliates, the pair soon distracted as Apex continues to tear at the crates, breaking several apart as the flames begin to surround him - Warren finally yells out:

"Apex! Get out of there!".

"No way! We've come to far! I ain't giving up! I ain't -!" Apex begins, only to stumble as an explosion knocks him off his feet and he falls right into the open crate.

Despite Ruichi's attack Delilah and Warren stop completely, looking shocked as Apex emerges - his fall having riddled his body with syringes, glowing red liquid pouring into him as he swells up into a monstrous mass of muscle and rage.

"AAAAAAAAAAAARGHHH!! YOU LITTLE PUNK! LOOK WHAT YOU DID!! I'LL KILL YOU!! AAAAAAAAAAARGH!"

"HOLD ON!" Kindle's voice calls out as he races onto the scene on his "borrowed" hover-bike.

Apex finally stops mutating and grabs the burning truck, lifting the structure up with frigthening ease - parts of the truck breaking off as he hurls it at Kindle, who swerves madly to avoid it as it explodes into a fiery inferno.

With a look of disgust, Ruichi leapt up to swing his scythe at Apex's hulking figure.

Apex proceeds to smack Ruichi away with great force, despite using a scythe Apex is in a state of rage and his body heals incredibly fast, in fact after a while it becomes clear his body has adapted to the drug - a crazed look in his eyes as a horrible truth suddenly hits home.. Apex has managed to control his new form.

"Fuck.." Warren began as he and Delilah move back, Apex proceeding to attack Ruichi as Kindle runs forward and joins the fight.

"..How is he doing this!?" Delilah asked, looking at Apex.

"He's a regenerative - I never thought he was this good though.. come on.. we got to go.." Warren explains rather quickly as he continues moving back.

Despite the crushing blows rushing at him Ruichi was not deterred; he leapt and dodged, looking for a single opening until a solid strike from Apex caught him, sending him crashing into a wall.

"Ruichi!" Nebula calls out, floating overhead and finally appearing on the scene.

Apex's eyes flare up with uncontrollable rage as he leaps up at Nebula and yells "DEATH TO THE WEAK!! FOR THE GLORY OF THE VOICE!!".

Yet just as Apex leapt he was tackled by Kindle, who leapt onto the monster's back armed with a combat-knife and tries his best to cling on - though is like fighting a raging bull: "..they aren't weak, you dumb sack of crap - they are heroes.. they fight for those who can't defend themselves.. they protect the world from maniacs like you..".

"Nebula!" Ruichi called out. "Magic... use your magic! Try throwing him off-balance!"

Nebula willed a current of air into a ball of wind within her hand, which she hurled towards Apex. The sphere exploded into a wall of wind that slammed Apex like a speeding truck. Bits of debris and rubble were hurled many meters into the air, flying back with the air blast, some headed for Apex.

Apex lets out a roar of rage as he grabs Kindle and puts him in a vicious bearhug, cracking bones as Kindle's eyes grow wide - Apex grinning maliciously as he snarls: "..WE ARE THE FUTURE.. WE LIVE.. YOU DIE.. FOR THE GLORY OF THE ONE TRUE EARTH!".

Apex's speech is cut short as Nebula's attack hits and he releases Kindle, stumbling as the wind knocks him back - the debris and rubble slamming into him further as he wobbles over the edge of the road: a large drop awaiting him on the other side.

"This is what I think of your future," said Ruichi as he leapt towards Apex. Propelled forward by his wings, he aimed a kick square on Apex's chest.

Apex roars in rage as his final act, falling into the abyss below - where he lands is unclear but the drop is large enough that even Apex is unlikely to have survived: the other members of the group had long since left the scene, leaving Ruichi, Nebula and Kindle in the devastated battlefield which was once a road.

Ruichi stared down the abyss with narrowed eyes, before turning and walking back towards Kindle and Nebula.

Kindle stands up, holding his ribs and frowning slightly before his expression changes to a faint smile, turning away as he begins to walk away from the pair, staggering slightly: "..you know something funny? even after all the shit that just happened.. I'm just getting started.. been fun, kids.. I'll call you someday.. maybe..".

"Hey, wait!" Nebula cried, catching up. Weaving a magic spell, she held out her palms, now glowing with green light, towards Kindle. His wounds slowly began to heal, and his bones slowly slid back into place.

Kindle stops, turning for a brief moment as he looks to Nebula - then to Ruichi "..you two are impulsive, dangerous fools and you know something? I'm glad.. because you'll need all that drive when the war finally comes.. I'm going after the others, you two do what you have to do..".

With that Kindle turns around again and thanks to Nebula's magic runs off, as he does so the sound of sirens echo across the area as emergency-vehicles begin to arrive on the scene..

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