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-=BCN=-; Who am I to disagree?
Topic Started: Mar 2 2009, 09:12 AM (244 Views)
Liveman Ieb
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Something bad happened in Paxia? I did it.

Battleon, the city of the future.

Hah.

More like Battleoff.

Here from the balcony, I could see much. The street buzzing with people of all genders and races, a myriad of languages that all mix together in my ears to nothing but jargon. Humans, Drakels, the few Undead that dare settle among the living, a Necromanceress with her pet ghoul in leash, it's lower jaw surgically removed along with its hands, as required by the law. I wonder how it was fed, a faint memory told of nutrient mass that was pushed in small pieces down its throat.

Above, a few rich boys race their dragons, probably bought by their daddies. Punks. The police, with their own dragons, are soon after them for illegal aerial activity above city streets, Dragon races are only allowed out of city limits these days. The few incidents with duels in the sky, and the slain beasts falling on buildings and people forced the goverment to impose that law. Thank gods for that, I say.

...

When did it all go so wrong?

I remember the stories my dad used to tell me, of what Battleon used to be. A simple town with very little to offer, only a few buildings where humble people kept their stores, and offered goods, materials and equipment to the Adventurers of the days of old.

But now, those simple people are gone. Yul-Mart across the block was a gigantic monstrosity of a store, hundreds, thousands of goods were at sale there with insanely low prices, allowing it to keep a monopoly position over all smaller stores, which had either been forced out of business, or expertise into something that was not found in Yul-Mart. And there was not that many things that Yul-Mart didn't have.

Warlic's Spell-a-rama. Of course, Warlic was long gone and dead, but his legacy lived on, as did his family who exploited the Archmage's fame to the last cent. They did not sell real spells anymore, of course, the goverment had banned them afraid because any nutjob could just walk in there, buy a spell, and go to the most dense crowd and let them have it. These days, it was more of a novelty store. If you wanted to dazzle party guests with a very small sun, that was your place.

All this, and more, was within eyesight. Drakel restaurants, clubs, a real estate agent, Battleon had it all.

Far from where I was, away from eyesight and hearing, were the factories. It had been over three decades since the first one was built, and began operation full-speed, for "a better future". Sure, we had made our lives better, but it came with a price.

I took a huff of my cigarette, and breathed in deep. I gazed high up, the murky gray sky, and blew out my own smoke that drifted towards that above the city. The city governor knew of the issue, the highly polluted air above us, but had come to the sad conclusion that we had two choices.

First was to shut down the factories, and greatly decrease our production, moving back to simpler methods of making the goods.

Second was to sacrifice the sky.

They chose the latter.

Battleon had simply grew too large for the factories to be shut down. This small town which had lasted many raids and wars in the past, had become the largest place of commerce, travelling and diplomatic encounters over a short amount of time, and had grown immensely, and it still kept on growing. Leaving the farmlands towards Lolosia alone, the city grew each year, devouring everything on its path. Forests were cut down, hills were leveled by true magic. It was the first metropolis on the entire continent now, a melting pot of all races and religions.

It was the most horrible thing I knew.


Ark: Are you spacing out again?
Ieb: Huh? *huff*
Ark: God dang it man, you always do this to me!?
Ieb: *exhale* Huh.
Ark: Huh? That's all you have to say!?
Ieb: Err, yeah? *huff, huff*
Ark: I- You-

The man speaking to me was my colleague. Ark Googel, he was a good guy but had a real bad habit of losing it all together at random times. I guessed this was one of those times.

Ieb: What is it this time?
Ark:You know well what it is. The new guy!
Ieb: ...oh yeah, him. He's here already?
Ark: Yeah man, he's just seeing the boss!
Ieb: Is he any good?
Ark: How should I know? I haven't even seen him!
Ieb: Then why are you freaking out?
Ark: HE. HAS. MY. NAME.
Ieb: ...what?

The office of the boss was the largest room of the building. He sat behind a fine mahogany table, on a expensive chair that was said to be made of the preserved skin of his enemies. No wait, that is a mistake. The skins of his father's enemies.

TRR: So, Ark...
Ark: Ark, Ark Shien. I'm glad to meet you in person, Mr. R-
TRR: Don't mister me just yet, you punk. You aren't worth it.
Ark: ...oh.

The boss was a strict man, one could even call him sadistic and cruel, but it was those factors that had saved the company's collective behinds plenty of times in the past when things looked bad. He was the perfect man for the job.

Theodore(friends(very few) call him Teddy) Roosevelt Rottermore was his name, and running the newspaper was his game.

He stood from his chair, smoking a fine rich cigar, and walked up to a picture frame, one taken decades ago.


TRR: So, you think you have what it takes to be a Reporter?
Ark: Y- yes sir.
TRR: Why?
Ark: Well... Well sir, it's because I-
TRR: You want to serve the people? You want to spread the word to everyone willing to listen? You wish to educate the masses of the world beyond their mundane lives, that there is a bigger picture?
Ark: ...yes?
TRR: NO.

The boss slammed the table with one fist, his drinking glass rolled off and shattered on the floor. He muttered to himself for a second, and then turned back to the picture frame..

TRR: That's not what working for us is about. You know what it is about?
Ark: ...well, I guess not, sir.
TRR: Power. Knowledge is power.

It was a motto for the newspaper, and it had been driving them forward for a long time now.Even before the boss had been born or inherited the family business from his father.

TRR: If you work for us, you will find yourself knowing a lot of things. Some things that you maybe wouldn't want to know. Some things that you know must be hidden even if it means that some people would lose their lives. Some things that may very well be about someone you know, or even your family. But that's what our newspaper is all about!

The boss walked to the panorama window in his office, and gazed out of it, across the city.

TRR: We are the largest source of news in this city. ****, in this whole god accursed continent. Everyone buys our paper to stay in touch what is really happening, every city and town outside is getting our paper even if it is never there where things take place. Many other groups have tried to do the same what we do, even goverment ran programs, but they didn't succeed. You know why?
Ark: No sir.
TRR: Because we know. We know how this business is run, we know the in's and out's of the job. We know the right people, we know the right places. We know everything. No greenhorn group of snotty little kids can even dare to outdo us.

The boss picked up the picture frame, and took a good look at it. It had started to deteriorate from age, but the people in it could still be identified. The original creators of the company.

TRR: Even the forefathers of our company, simple as they were, knew where they had to go to get the stories. It was in their blood, and that same blood has kept our company going for years after they passed. And now here we are, at the top of the foodchain. You still think you have what it takes?
Ark: ...
TRR: Well?
Ark: Yes sir.
TRR: Hmph. Fine. I'll give you a month to prove that you are right. And for gods sake, and yours, you better be worth it, because if you aren't, I'll make sure you won't work in this business ever again.
Ark: T-thank you sir, really, thanks!
TRR: Just get out of my office, and go find my secretary. She will give you the papers that you need to fill before you can really be our employee.

Ark opened the door as he made his exit, thanking the boss one last time before stepping out of his office. He was giddy about making it to the company. So giddy in fact, that he didn't notice the other people walking towards him before he bumped into them.

Ark: Hey man, watch it!
Ark: Oh, umm... I'm sorry, I really am.
Ieb: ...hey, are you the new guy?
Ark: Y-yes I am. Ark Shien, nice to meet you.
Ieb: *handshake* Call me Ieb. This is Ark.
Ark: ..huh, we have the same-
Ark: -name yadda yadda yadda. Googel, Ark Googel.
Ieb: I think I'll call you Ark...
Ark: Err, okay.
Ieb: And I'll call you Ark Two.
Ark Two: What!? But, but, why am I #2 if he's the new guy!?
Ieb: God, chill out already man. You take everything too seriously.
Ark Two: Screw you man, this is not funny!
Ieb: Whatever. *digs up a box of cigarrettes and picks one* ...you smoke?
Ark: Erm, no, I don't.
Ieb: Good, you shouldn't. It's bad for you. *lights a cig* So, what did the boss say?
Ark: Well, to find his secretary and fill some papers..
Ieb: Right. Well, follow me. We can show you around the place at the same time anyway.
Ark Two: What? Screw that man, I'm out of here.

Ark Two stormed off in a hurry, leaving Ieb and Ark behind.

Ark: ..is he always like that?
Ieb: Pretty much. You get used to it after a while. That, or you quit.
Ark: ...huh.
Ieb: Come on, lets go grab something to eat before we find that secretary.
Ark: Right.
Ieb: Oh, but before that.

Ieb turned around and offered his hand again, which Ark carefully grabbed with his. The handshake was even more formal than before.

Ieb: Welcome to Battleon City News.
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Liveman Ieb
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Something bad happened in Paxia? I did it.
Chapter 1: Shades of gray.

Palice: Here's the last of the paperwork on the McCormick case, sir.
Richie: Thank you, you can go now.

In the Palice headquarters, the enforcers of law and order were busy as always. Robbery, muggers, gang fights, rape, murder, they had it all. Their hands were already full dealing with all of it, yet it seemed that each passing day the number of incidents just rose. Many wondered where did all the hatred brew in the city, but not this man.

His name was Richie Krieger, head of the Palice Force. And he had finally finished his paperwork. He deserved a break, too many dead bodies for one day.




He stepped out into the cold air outside, standing next to the entrance. On both sides, stood massive statues of the most famous of leaders of the Paladin's, Artix Krieger. Dead for centuries, but what he had aspired for still was true and just.

Richie lighted a cigarrette and took a deep breath, looking at the statue to his left.

"Keep the Darkness at bay, for Light will save the day."

If only it was that simple.

Richie often thought of it when taking a break. It seemed that back then, when Artix was alive, things were much simpler.

Good and evil.
Justice and chaos.
Light and Dark.

But not anymore. There was no Darkness to fight anymore. Just different shades of gray. And it made things so hard sometimes.

A shuffle from his left caught his attention, and turning his head over he saw a familiar face approaching.


Demento: Hey.
Richie: Hey.
Demento: Mind if I join you?
Richie: Not at all.

Demento stood next to him, and lighted a cigarrette as well. Richie had known him for ages, had attended the same school as he had, even had applied as Palice's together. Yet now years later, at the prime of his life, Richie had risen through the ranks to the commander of the Palice Force, while Demeno had been stuck as a patrol officer.

Richie knew well why. Despite the name that his family had given him, there was not a trail of the fabled hero which was Demento. Unlike his ancestor, this Demento was loud, annoying, even worse, he was extremely biased about a lot of things. And worst of all, he was Richie's closest friend.


Richie: So, what's up?
Demento: Why do you ask?
Richie: Come on, every time you take a break the same time I do, you have something to tell me. What is it this time?
Demento: Heh. I guess that's true.
Richie: So, what is it?
Demento: Bad news.
Richie: Like what?
Demento: The Brotherhood and Pales. Lately they've been getting more and more tense towards each other. Real bad, man. They could explode any moment, and it won't be pretty.
Richie: ...crap.

The Pales and the Brotherhood. Names which everyone knew, yet never talked about. They were not just some underground groups, they were the underground.

The Brotherhood had come to Battleon first, and in a quick swoop, claimed a lot of turf from the original crime groups, which were more like bunch of thugs, and it was not a nice takeover either. The bodies that were left behind had to be carried out in small pound pieces.

The Pale's had not been in Battleon but for a decade, twelve years after the Brotherhood came, but their entrance was a complete surprise. No one could even say for sure when did they arrive, they had been masterfully discreet about it. They worked their way around with more subtle methods than the Brotherhood, promises were made, deals, and in a few years, the two groups had came to a stalemate. The city's darkside was divided between the two. Yet, they did not go to full-out war. They knew better.

Simply put, the city's power was divided in three. The Brotherhood, the Pales and the Palice Force. If one side would attack another, the third one would be given an easy victory over the winner, and the city would belong to them. A decade ago it might have been possible for the Palice Force to deal with both of the groups before they became too rooted, but they were afraid of the casualties. Only a few years passed, and it became impossible to drive both of them out. There just were too many of them.

At the same time however, they helped keep the city under control by their part. No gangs dared cause trouble in either Brotherhood or Pale territory, crime rates were significantly lower in those parts of the city as well. Savage with their methods as they may be, both sides honored the deals they had made with the people living in their territory.

For the Brotherhood it was a simple money deal. You paid a small amount of money depending on your wealth, and the Brotherhood offered your home and business protection. However, the number of poor in the Brotherhood territory was among the city's highest. They could barely pay the Brotherhood the amount of money they had to, not to mention food and rent.

The Pale's however handled their business well compared to the Brotherhood. It was a simple offering that they asked for, and plenty of people gladly obliged knowing what the Brotherhood asked.

What the Pales wanted, was blood. Not much, just a few liters per month, and after that was all done with, your home, business and life was assured protection.

And the Pale's always kept their word. As such, even the "poor" living in their territory had more than enough money to pay for the bare necessities for life. It was probably not as financially profiting as the method the Brotherhood used, but they actually won over people, where as the only thing keeping people with the Brotherhood was fear. Maybe it was their way of showing the Brotherhood that they were supposed to be better.

After all, they had a long history with each other, one with many bloody battles and wars over territory, and under the watchful eyes of the Palice, they kept their differences to a minimum. Meaning that only a few bodies from either side showed up each week, usually as a result of a drunken fight, or something similar, that made no difference to either group, the one who had suffered the loss, or the one responsible for the kill.

In the past, these two groups had gone under a different name, but both had kept their leaders through the centuries. They were the definate names which meant eternal power.

The Pale's were led by the Queen, while the Brotherhood was led by the King. And they ruled over their territories as such.

Both of them hated light, but for a while now, Battleon had not seen much of it. The thick filthy clouds above aided even the Pale's, who were known to walk during daytime, with the only effect being described as slight irritation.


Demento: You know, we probably wouldn't be in this mess if we hadn't made those factories.
Richie: Yeah. I'd take a wooden crapper over those things any day.
Demento: Heh. Too bad someone had too sensitive of an behind-

There was a loud explosion, and a fireball erupted from one of the buildings across the street. Richie ducked out of instinct and took cover behind one of the statues, he had been in way too many situations like this. Demento fell right down on his back from surprise. Waiting a few seconds for the debris to fall down, Richie carefully got up, and threw away his cigarrette.

The building which just had exploded was a Drakel restaurant.


Richie: Oh no. Not again.

He heard people scream, cry, and yell over what happened. He was quickly on his feet, and took first steps towards the scene.

Demento: What the **** do you think you are doing?

Demento was getting back up from his slump, and inspected his smoke carefully.

Demento: Good, still intact.
Richie: To help them, of course!
Demento: What? For gods sake Richie, they're only Drakel.
Richie: They're still our citizens!

With that, Richie was off. Demento shook his head as he got up, and finished his smoke.

Demento: Help your own kind, man. ...frigging newts.

Demento flicked his cigarrette to the ground and stomped on it, then walked back indoors, against the stream of people who were flowing out of the building to see what had happened.




Ark: Gods!
Ieb: This looks like a good way for a first day in the job.

Ieb and Ark had been walking down the street where the explosion had happened. Ieb had led him there after a possible story. Ark still cowering, his senior just shook off some dust from his clothes without a care in the world.

Ark: Did- did you know about this?
Ieb: Sort of.
Ark: Shouldn't you have told the palice then!?
Ieb: I said sort of. There is a difference between that and knowing for sure.

Ieb walked forward, and Ark was forced to follow. They were getting closer to the incident site, where a some spectators were already gathering. Across the street were wounded people, and in front of the restaurants remains, was a Drakel woman laying on a mix of broken glass and blood, her clothes on fire, completely still.

Ieb: We heard that some of the pro-human groups were planning a move against the minorities living in Battleon. We just didn't know where, and when. This was just a random patrol,and it looks like we got lucky. The Palice have known for long that the Pro-Humans are going wild and gaining support. Without a definite target to tell them of, it would be a waste of time.
Ark: ...so what are we supposed to do then!?
Ieb: What we are supposed to do.

Ieb dug a notebook and a pencil from his pocket.

Ieb: We make news.

He then threw both of them to Ark, as he began walking towards the scene again, by now, a lot of people had appeared, civilians who were divided in two, those who stood still and watched, and those who came to the aid of the hurt. Someone suddenly began shouting orders, it took a while to recognize him as the respected leader of the Palice.

Ark: What- what are you going to do!?
Ieb: I'm going to lend them a hand.
Ark: Shouldn't I come too?
Ieb: No. You stay there and write.
Ark: What!? There's people hurt there, I can't just-
Ieb: You are the new guy. I'm the old guy. I tell you to write down what happened, you do as I say, get it?
Ark: I-
Ieb: When you're a bit older, you can come and play.
Ark: But-
Ieb: Just do your god accursed job.

It seemed that the matter was discussed, as Ieb left Ark behind, and dragged himself across the street to a broken wall. Someone was shouting for help from under it, and a few people already had gathered around the debris, meaning to lift it aside, or at least raise it a bit to get the person under it to safety.

Ark stood there helpless, notepad in one hand, pencil in other, bit his lip, cursed, and began writing furiously.



The bombing had made headlines easily.

"Pro-Human strikes again! Bomb in downtown leaves twentyone dead, and fourteen wounded!"

Rottermore glared at the headline menacefully, then at Ark and Ieb, both standing in his office after being called there.


TRR: Fine work, frigging fine work! You got everything down from the first seconds of the blazing fire, to the final moment they dug the last survivor out. Good job Ieb, this is why we are number one and will always be!
Ark: Sir-
Ieb: It wasn't me who wrote that.
TRR: What? Then where in blazes were you!?
Ieb: Taking a wizz in the alley. I heard the explosion, but got tied up with my pants. Took a while to fix them, as I didn't want go out there with my privates flapping all over.
TRR: Then who wrote this **** thing?
Ieb: He did.
TRR: The new guy?
Ark: Y-yes sir.
TRR: ...huh. Gods **** it Ieb, this better be the last time you screw up like that.
Ieb: Yeah yeah, I won't do it again.
TRR: You better. Dismissed!



Ark: Umm, thanks.
Ieb: Don't mention it.
Ark: But, why?
Ieb: I figured you needed a small bump for the boss to notice you.
Ark: I can understand that, but why?
Ieb: *takes a cig from his pocket and lits it* Because I read what you wrote before it even got to the presses. And I liked it. It had soul, really got to the reader, it wasn't too sappy, yet at the same time, it told all the facts. It was poetry for the newsreader.
Ark: ...oh.
Ieb: You should be proud, you'll make a great newsreporter one day.
Ark: You really think so?
Ieb: If you live that long.

They entered the cafeteria, and both placed their orders. Ieb took a cup of coffee and went to sit down to a table, where Ark Two was, looking miserable.

Ieb: What's up, sunshine?
Ark Two: It's over. It's all over man.
Ieb: *sip* What is it this time?
Ark Two: It's these newcomers, everywhere man.
Ieb: ...oh right, there were more than Ark here.
Ark: There are?
Ieb: Yeah. These two actually got recommended by some old associate of the boss.
Ark: Two?
Ieb: Yeah. Woman and man. You seen them, Ark Two?
Ark Two: Ye- Stop calling me that!
Ieb: Fine, whatever.
Ark Two: Yeah, I've seen them. In fact, I have to work with them.
Ieb: ...huh. Isn't that nice?
Ark Two: No it isn't!
Ieb: Why?
Ark Two: Look for yourself.

Ark Two pointed to the line of the cafeteria, and there she was. Blond flowing hair, legs that wouldn't quit, and if the rumours were true, she had been gifted with brains as well.

Ark: She looks nice.
Ark Two: You'd think so.
Ieb: You mean she's really a guy?
Ark Two: Wha- no! She's not a guy!
Ieb: Then I fail to see a problem.
Ark Two: There he comes now.

A Drakel stepped to the line. Ark Two glared at him, it, and then leaned on the table, muttering something to himself.

Ieb: Oh.
Ark: What, you don't like Drakels?
Ieb: Drakels killed his father, and raped his mother.
Ark Two: Oh shut up already!
Ark: What, seriously?
Ieb: No, but it sounds more of a reason than "I'm afraid of anything that is different", doesn't it?

SUDDEN CHAPTER END
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Liveman Ieb
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Something bad happened in Paxia? I did it.
Chapter 2: First steps.

Googel twiddled his thumbs to ease his nervousness. He was in the waiting room along with her, but... thing has not gone as planned.

It all started to go wrong right from the start, from that morning.


TRR: Googel, we need someone to interview the city governor about the factories still building war-machines.
Ark Two: ..they're still doing that?
TRR: Yes. We got these pictures last night, Fan went undercover and took a number of them.

Googel picked up the pictures from the table, and checked them out. Armored vehicles in the works, shells for artillery, and a few pictures of the largest ground-unit that the world had seen so far. A fully grown Salamander, all of which had been removed from the wild and placed under government custody for the use of war. The beast had been tamed, and turned into a weapon. Massive cannons, along with a machinegun on the top, were mounted on the beasts back which was more than able to handle their weight.

TRR: Go talk with him and get some answers. They've told for months that they would slow down the production, but apparently they've just increased it. That factory used to produce only machineguns and other light weaponry. Take the new girl and the Drakel with you.
Ark Two: ...excuse me?
TRR: The two need to learn the way we work, and seeing a veteran like you at it, they should figure it all out. The other new kid is learning the ropes already and fast, so should they if they intend to stay hired for us.

The appointment to meet with the city governor was already booked, only a few hours after Googel had been given his assigment. He didn’t like it. Not the assignment, that was okay and interesting in its own worth, but working with a Drakel? Still, he kept his cool as he went to pick up the two newbies.

Ark Two: Hi, you're the new guys, right?
Woman: Yep.
Ark Two: Well, I'm Ark, Ark Googel.
Woman: I'm Tazzy. This is Terekele.
Terekele: Nice to meet you.
Ark shaked the Drakel’s hand carefully. Almost as if those claws(sharpened dull, of course) of his contained some deadly poison and it was just looking for a moment to use it.
Ark Two: ..yeah, hello. So, you ready to go?
Tazzy: All ready.
Ark Two: Good. The thing is though... I don't have a license, so wait here while I go ask for someone who can drive us to-
Terekele: Oh, I have a license.
Ark Two: ...what?
Terekele: I have a license. Both light and heavy vehicles.
Ark Two: ..well good, then I guess we can get going.

It didn’t take long for them to get all their equipment in the car, and for Terekele to drive the car out, a white compact van with a big BCN logo on the sides. The trip was a quiet one. All that Googel had said, was where the keys were. There was only one occasion when he spoke to the Drakel, and that was when the street they were on turned unfamiliar.

Ark Two: Hey, hey man!
Terekele: What?
Ark Two: You're going the wrong way!
Terekele: No, this is a shortcut.
Ark Two: ...are you sure?
Tazzy: Trust me, Terekele knows this city like the back of his pockets.
Terekele: Heh, I just know my way around.
Ark Two: Well good for you.

They reached their destination earlier than Ark had expected, there was half a hour to spare before they could show up early, like they usually did. Tazzy suggested a small break to spend time, suggesting a nearby café as the place to go. He had nothing against the idea, even when the Drakel agreed as well.

At this time of the day, the café was mostly empty, only a few other people along them. They sat down on the closest table to the entrance.


Tazzy: Could you get some coffee, Ter?
Terekele: Sure, the same as always, right?
Tazzy: Yeah.
Terekele: Would you like anything?
Ark Two: …what, me?
Terekele: Yes.
Ark Two: No, no, I’m fine.

The Drakel left for the counter to order their drinks. Finally alone with her, Ark let out a relieved sigh.

Ark Two: So.
Tazzy: Hmm?`
Ark Two: What do you think of BCN so far?
Tazzy: Well… it’s nice.
Ark Two: Good, good.

There was a pause in their discussion.

Ark Two: So, you been in news-business before?
Tazzy: Yeah. I’ve worked in a lot of smaller papers, but the pay wasn’t that good so…
Ark Two: Right. So, why are you working with that?
Tazzy: ..with what?
Ark Two: You know.

He nodded his head towards Terekele a few times.

Tazzy: Oh, Ter. He’s a friend.
Ark Two: …friend? He’s your friend?
Tazzy: Yeah. …what’s the matter?
Ark Two: Nothing. Nothing is the matter.
Terekele: Here’s your coffee.
Tazzy: Thanks.

Tazzy and Terekele both drank their coffee and chatted, leaving Ark completely out of the conversation. Of course, he was not feeling like participating it anyway. She had a Drakel as a friend. Unbelievable.

How could a woman like her associate with a Drakel? It was all that he could think about. With only that in his mind, he finished his coffee along the other two, followed them into the city office and before he knew it, they had been interviewing the city governor for over twenty minutes already. He looked nervous, like he didn’t know what he should say and what not to the questions. It was only when Tazzy spoke to her that Ark snapped out of his inner monologue.


Tazzy: Do you have any questions?
Ark Two: …well, erm.

He had been caught completely by surprise. He hadn’t even paid any attention to what had been asked, and what the city governor had answered. In the end, he could only blurt out a single question, one which he regretted immediately after.

Ark Two: How.. How are you?



“Army officials suspecting Chaos to launch a massive attack, war preparations going stronger than ever despite city official’s promises!”
The frontpage was as striking as ever when it was about the war.


TRR: Good work, you three. You got the old sod to spill out everything we wanted to know.
Tazzy: Thank you sir.
Terekele: Thank you.
TRR: Now get out of here, go get some coffee or something.

Relieved from the meeting with the boss, Ark had went and gotten a coffee from the cafeteria, and promptly walked over and crashed on the table where Ieb and the other Ark were at enjoying their own break. Ieb glanced over at Ark Two and knew exactly what to say.

Ieb: What is it this time?
Ark Two: It’s all over man, I can’t work like this.
Ieb: Like what?
Ark Two: All these newcomers. Gods curse it man, I’ve worked my butt off to get where I am, and they show up and one-up me.
Ieb: Mhm.
Ark Two: It’s impossible, I can’t make anything now that would be better than what they do.
Ieb: You complain too much. Just write your stuff like always, you’ll do fine.
Ark Two: YOU JUST DON’T GET IT! IT’S OVER MAN, GAME OVER!

Ark’s sudden outburst was only mildly noticed by the older employees, and he stormed out of the cafeteria.

Ark: …is he always like that?
Ieb: Yeah. He’ll get over it sooner or later. He just needs some good scoop to write on.
Ark: Huh.
Ieb: And I think it will be sooner than you’d think.
Ark: How so?
Ieb: Just a hunch.

In the outskirts of the town, in a very boring spot of the city, was an office. It never saw much business; it was more of a lookout than a legitimate business. The lights were dim, and huddled around a table, were three men playing cards.

Man 1: I raise 20 bucks.
Man 2: …I’m out.
Man 3: I call.

The first man laid down his cards, all hearts.

Man 1: Flush!
Man 3: So it is.

The man who had called laid down his cards as well. Three Queens and two Kings.

Man 3: Full House.

The second man bursted out laughing as the winner of the game pocketed his money. They began to shuffle the cards again, when there was a knock on the door.

Man 1: Must be the shift. Early for once.
Man 2: I’ll get it.

The floor boards creaked as the man walked to the door, and reached for the handle. Suddenly the door was kicked open, and a gunshot was heard. The body of the man who went to open the door fell to the floor with a gaping hole in his chest, and it was not closing as it should. The other two jumped up and growled at the figure that entered the room. It smiled, and bared sharp fangs.

An hour later Richie shook his head as he walked around the wrecked office. Five bodies, now in body-bags, were laying on the floor, one torn in half from the waist down. Blood had been splattered across the walls and floor from gunshots, and from very sharp claws.

Demento: It’s a frigging mess.
Richie: Yeah. What do we have?
Demento: Three dead Brotherhood guys, and then these two.

Demento opened one of the bodybags, revealing a face which had been de-scalped before death. He carefully lifted the upperlip of the corpse, showing what everyone had hoped not to be there. Fangs.

Richie: Pales.
Demento: Looks like they caught these sods by surprise.
Richie: Any motive?
Demento: Don’t ask me. Revenge, a personal vendetta of the attackers? The Pale’s wouldn’t be so stupid to go in open war with the Brotherhood.
Richie: I agree. It doesn’t make sense.
Demento: I don’t think that we’ve seen the tip of this iceberg though.
Richie: What makes you think that?
Demento A few minutes ago, I heard over the radio that there had been an explosion in the other side of the town. Another restaurant, just like few days ago.
Richie: And?
Demento: It was owned by Pale’s. They say that a few Brotherhood punks had been seen near the place before it blew up.
Richie: Great. Just great. Are either of them making any moves?
Demento: Not yet. Might be that they’re preparing on both sides.
Richie: Looks like we have a war in our hands pretty soon.
Demento: Soon? We’re already knee-deep in it, man.


News of the attack on both sides of Pales and the Brotherhood had reached BCN even faster than it did reach the Palice. Only five minutes after the hit on the Brotherhood office, TRR called over Googel, who had already gotten over his recent outburst.

TRR: This just got in, looks like a few Pale grunts iced some Brotherhood guys.
Ark Two: What, seriously?
TRR: Yes. I want you to go down there and meet our informant, he’ll be able to tell everything that happened. Since it’s on the other side of the town, get Ieb to drive you down there.
Ark Two: Sure, you got it.

The phone rang, and TRR was quick to answer it. That phone only rang when there was something urgent to inform him of. Before Googel could leave the room, TRR ordered him to stay, he finished his call and turned attention back on him.

TRR: Change of plans, a Pale restaurant just got blown up on the other side of town. Ieb’s going on that case along the new guy, you’ll have someone else driving you to the Brotherhood case. Write it good, because you’ll be making a joint article with Ieb once you both are back here.
Ark Two: …so who’s driving me?



He could have guessed how it would work out from there. Bad, just like the whole day. While Googel just leaned on his palm and stared out the window, Terekele tapped impatiently on the drivers wheel as they stood in the traffic lights.

Terekele: You don’t like me, do you?
Ark Two: No, not really.
Terekele: Heh. I knew it from the moment we first spoke. Oh, the light’s green.

The car started to move again, Googel noticed the smoke cloud rising from the other side of the city. It had to be the Pale restaurant,

Terekele: You know, I used to be like you.
Ark Two: Sure.
Terekele: No, seriously. Worse actually.

The Drakel let out a hissing curse as the traffic light turned red before his eyes, and he had to bring the car to a stop. Cars on the lanes in front of him told that they’d be standing there for a while.

Terekele: My family lost members in war, you know. They were killed by Adventurers and Guardians. Back when our races were really hostile towards one another. I learned to hate you humans because of the things I read in history books. Even with the peace treaty between our nations decades old, I still couldn’t stop hating you. I didn’t see humans, I saw murderous beasts, unpredictable and dangerous.

Googel didn’t say anything, he didn’t have anything to say, but something made him listen to the Drakel. A small part of him which despite the oppression of the rest of his being, wished to understand.

Terekele: And then… I met Tazzy. I was working for a news-company in a Drakel city back then, and a human working for us was the first time anything like that had happened. She managed to fit in well though and was liked, but I… I didn’t treat her well. I hated her, wished that she would go away. I’m still ashamed of it to this day. I wronged her based on history. It took me two years working with her for me to even start learning that you humans… You aren’t so bad as I had read. If you were, we would have never been able to defeat The’Galin in the past. So I thought, “if my ancestors could put aside their differences with the humans, why can’t I?” And I did.

The traffic light was still red.

Terekele: Look, I’m not saying this just to make you like me or anything like that. I just want you to know that I know how it is, to dislike others because they’re from some other race. I’m just saying this to make things work out a little better between us. We’re going to be working together, do you really want us to stay distant to each other?
Ark Two: …I don’t know.
Terekele: Just give me a chance. Get to know me, if you still won’t like working with me, then I won’t try anymore. I gave your kind a chance, and that’s something I will never regret doing.

Terekele offered his hand towards Googel, who turned to face him. Suspicious and wary as ever, but he was finally able to say something to the Drakel without forcing himself to.

Ark Two: The light’s green.
Terekele: Oh.


“Tension between the Pale and Brotherhood? Read all about the attacks on both sides in today’s special issue!”

In a rich part of the city, on a well-known outside café, a woman in a blood-red dress was reading the latest paper from BCN. It was as accurate as ever telling the events described. Down to the last bullet-ridden body. Small black wings on her back moved according the wind, she paused reading her paper as a car drove to the parking lot.

Five men exited the car, wearing black clothing, one of them opened the passenger side door with a bow. Out stepped a man taller and wider than any of the others. They gave him way as he walked from the car towards the table the woman was reading the newspaper without a care in the world.
The man finally stopped in front of her, who in turn placed down the newspaper. Her smile to him was the same a noble would give to a peasant who dives after gold coins thrown down on the ground.


Man: Safiria.
Safiria: King, how pleasant to see that you answered my call. Please, sit down. I’ll have something brought for us to drink.

As she snapped her fingers, getting the attention of a nearby waiter, King sat down on a chair pulled for him by one of his escorts. The two made an odd pair, while Safiria was as if any woman, King looked like he was able to tear men apart with his bare hands. And he had.
The waiter rushed over a bottle, which Safiria grasped to examine.


Safiria: Ah, my favorite. Excellent.
Waiter: Thank you, my Lady.

The waiter placed down two glasses that he had brought along the wine, and with haste, popped up the bottle, and pouring both of the glasses full, then excusing himself to serve the other customers. Both Safiria and King took their own glass, and eyed each other.

Safiria: How many years has it been since we last talked?
King: Twelve.

King emptied his glass in one go, growling as he put down the glass. He was surprised how hard of stuff she drank. She was obviously amused of his reaction.

Safiria: Oh yes. So it has. Excuse me, as you get as old I am, you tend to forget recent, minor events.
King: Cut the crap already. I’m here to talk about the situation, not hear you lecture.
Safiria: Of course, I apologize. *puts down the glass after taking a small sip* Why did your people decide to destroy one of our establishments?
King: The same reason your lackeys killed three of my boys!
Safiria: Oh yes, that. I have already talked with the person involved in that unpleasant incident, and what he said was that your… Boys, had murdered a friend of theirs.
King: She had killed two of our men last week, for no reason either!
Safiria: King, I am sure that we could debate for the rest of this fine day of who had killed who and why, but we both know that would take us nowhere. I have already made it perfectly clear that random attacks like the one yesterday are not acceptable. I am simply asking for you to tell the same for your side. The Palice are watching us closely, King. If you wish to go to war with us over these past few days, we accept your challenge. But we know that will end badly for both sides. The Palice will simply move in and destroy the side still standing.

King snarled at her, the calm and cold logic was as true as ever. But it was one that he had to agree with. They could not go to war with the Pales, and they could not do the same with them.

King: Fine. I’ll tell my boys to not retaliate over the last time. But I swear, if you make any wrong move, we will be on your throats before you know it.
Safiria: I would not expect anything less of you, dear King. Would you wish for another glass?
King: I don’t have time for your games. We’re done talking.
Safiria: How unfortunate. Until next time, then.

King’s men followed him just like wolves in the wild followed their leader. After they had all stepped in their car and drove off, a female stepped forth from the shadows, approaching Safiria.

Woman: My Lady, I wish you would not act so boldly. What if he had attacked you?
Safiria: King is a man of passion. While he loves violence, he knows better than to take me on even with backup. We have fought each other so many times in the past that we know better.
Woman: …do you think he will keep his word? To keep the attacks from occurring again?
Safiria: I am sure of it. And no one will question him of it. However, there is something that is bothering me.
Woman: What is it, my Lady?
Safiria: I am not sure. There is something about these recent events between us that makes me think that there’s something more than simple hatred between our members.
Woman: …could someone be trying to rally support among us to work against your wishes?
Safiria: Maybe. I will have to look into this deeper.


King stepped out of the car as it stopped outside their headquarters. The moment he did, he smelled the same as the other men with him. Something was wrong. There was a scent in the air that none of them liked.

It was the scent of death.

He nodded to the other men, who pulled out revolvers from their holsters, hidden under their jackets. With him in the lead, they kicked open the door and saw something horrible. Bodies of their brothers and sisters, strewn across the hall, blood stains that went from the walls to other rooms. And worst of all, to greet them was a dead Pale, both her limbs had been torn off and tossed aside.
King cursed Safiria, that meeting had been a trap, to keep him from his kin and launch a surprise attack! His hands moved as he gave signals for the other men, two to check the upper floors, and two to check the lower floor with him. They separated, and began inspecting the rest of the building.

After the hall, the casualties became 50/50 for both sides. They had just been caught by surprise there, from there on it had been an even battle. King became more furious with each dead body of his followers. He swore to each of them that the Pale would pay ten times over. No, a hundred times over!

Suddenly he and his men stopped, hearing gunshots and screams from the floor above. Two gunshots, three. Then nothing. They stood still, waiting for something to happen, from the men from above shout what they had found, if they were even alive anymore. The two men looked expectantly at King, who finally decided that they would have to go see the upper floor by themselves.

That’s when the floor above fell down. Dust and debris blinding them, the three covered themselves, and in the next second, they were under attack. With two quick attacks, King was alone. The men following him fell dead, knives made of silver jammed between their eyes down to the handle.

Now that the enemy was this close, King could smell the scent that he had hidden so well. He let a loud growl, he knew this stench all too well.


King: You.
Man: King, I am so glad that you have not forgotten me!
The man in front of King was even larger than he was, a true achievement, a head taller and with wider body.
Man: Are you shocked to see me?
King: Shocked? Oh, no, far from it.
King’s features morphed from human to beast, teeth turned to fangs, nails to claws. Muscles began to tear at the clothing as they forged way.
King: I am glad. I’ve longed for a chance like this, but feared that it may never come. I will kill you, right here, right now.
Man: How appropriate.

The man took off his red jacket, tossed it aside, and took a stance much like a boxer.

Man: I was thinking the same thing about you.

And so began the fiercest battle that Lore had seen to that day.
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Liveman Ieb
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Something bad happened in Paxia? I did it.
Chapter Three: Chaos.

Ark: So why are we out here again?
Ieb: We’re here while we still can.
Ark: Why? Has something happened?
Ieb: You could say that.

There was a strange atmosphere in that part of the city. No people at all on the street, giving Ieb ample space and chance to drive the car to its limit. Finally at their destination, he stepped on the brakes and slid the car sideways on the road. Ark ushered a prayer from what he saw. Ieb stepped out of the car, looking for his pack of cigarettes. Halfway however, he stopped his search. Better have some respect for the dead.

Ieb: You don’t see that every day.

On the roof of the building the Brotherhood used as its main headquarters, was the mangled body of King. He had been impaled on a silver spike, of all things. Ark’s camera made a small click as it immortalized the sight on paper.

“The King is dead.”

News had travelled fast among his pack, only a hour and all of the Brotherhood knew of it. The Pack leaders went mad with rage, sending out their members to investigate, things only went downhill when they found the dead Pales within their HQ. The situation quickly came to be noticed by the Palice, moments after the Pale’s got hit by the first Brotherhood attacks. Their phonelines were full of people reporting attacks of the two groups fighting in broad daylight in the middle of the city, reports of civilians getting caught in the crossfire came in by the dozens.


Demento: Richie, Richie!
Richie: What?!
Demento: We just got reports that the fighting has spread!
Richie: Where to?
Demento: Everywhere!

The first sirens began to whine across the city, it was an evacuation order for the civilians to leave their homes and head for the underground bunkers.

Demento: Seriously, every gods cursed Pale and Brotherhood member is out killing each other!
Richie: How the hell did this happen?!
Demento: We’ve had people who saw King skewered, king-sized. Don’t look at me like that, it’s for real. Someone got him bad, and impaled the jerk on a spike, just like old times.
Richie: What’s the situation around the city and the civilians?
Demento: People are trying to get out of the way where they can.
Richie: Good. Steven!
Steven: Yes sir?
Richie: Get in contact with everyone off-duty, vacation’s over. I want everyone in the station within thirty minutes!
Steven: Yes sir!
Demento: What’s the plan?
Richie: We can’t go and get caught between those two ourselves. However…

Richie pointed at the city map on the wall, drawing a circle around the station and the surrounding 2 mile area.

Richie: This area includes all the underground bunkers. Our first step is to secure the perimeter, to make sure the civilians can get to safety.
Demento: And what then? We just stand there and guard?
Richie: No. After we have secured the perimeter and leave a safeguard, the rest of our force will slowly spread out, that way we can help any trapped people away from the fighting, and push the two sides slowly back.
Demento: I don’t know, man. What if they attack our people?
Richie: I’m afraid that’s a risk we have to take. This is our city. It’s about time we take it back from them. Okay people, I want only the office-workers left here, everyone able, come with me and gear up!

The first Palice troops rolled out ten minutes after Richie told his plan to push out the Pale’s and Brotherhood from the civilian areas. Massive doors opened and dozens of lights within flashed to life, engines roared as the machines began to move. Armored vans, each carrying six people within, and a seventh on the turret mounted on top of the vehicle, a chain-gun fitted with incendiary bullets. Strapping on their helmets, the Palice now looked more like an army than law enforcers.



TRR: -and pretty much, all hell has broke loose.

In BCN, TRR had placed a city map on the wall after calling every employee over to the cafeteria for an emergency meeting, a large number of red dots on it indicated areas where reports of fighting between the Pales and Brotherhood were happening. It covered entire city blocks.

Ieb: Just like old days.
TRR: Exactly like then. Ieb.
Ieb: Yeah boss?
TRR: Here’s the keys.

Teddy tossed a chain of keys through the air, which Ieb caught with one hand. He inspected it briefly, as if to check that it was what he expected.

TRR: Get everyone ready. Heavy gear. You’ll need it.
Ieb: You got it. Okay people, let’s get a move on!

The employees all shuffled their own way, to get their personal equipment while Ieb headed for the basement. Ark was right after him, because he was the new guy. He caught up to him when he stopped in front of a heavy locked door and began fiddling with the lock.

Ark: What’s going on?
Ieb: You remember how I said you’d become a great reporter if you’d live that long?
Ark: Yeah.
Ieb: This is what I mean.

The lock clicked open, and after removing it, Ieb pushed the heavy door open, pushing the light button on the wall as he stepped in, Ark right after him. He muttered under his breath as Ieb watched over the items in the basement.

Ieb: Take whatever feels right. We’ve got more than enough for everyone.



Woman: My Lady, the Brotherhood is intensifying their attacks on all fronts!
Safiria: Gods, is every single one of them on the move?
Woman: It may be so.
Safiria: …is it true? Is King really dead?
Woman: Our bats in the area have confirmed seeing a body and identifying it as his.
Safiria: I don’t understand it. Who could have killed him? It couldn’t have been the Palice, they don’t have the guts, and not certainly the manpower.

With the situation so out of control, Safiria herself was planning to join the fray. Exiting their underground headquarters, the entrance behind a hidden door in an abandoned subway tunnel, their ride, a functional train, was waiting for them.

As soon as Safiria stepped outside, she glanced over to the right. Her assistant right behind her, she was confused of her masters sudden behavior, until she heard the footsteps. Heavy footsteps, coming right towards them.


Woman: My Lady-
Safiria: Get behind me. That’s an order.

She did as told, and finally the person approaching came under a flickering light on the wall. A tall man in a red outfit, the trousers stained with blood. It was a face that she recognized immediately.

Safiria: Balius.
Balius: My dear Safiria, you look as well as ever
.
The assistant was shocked beyond words. It couldn’t be Balius, it just could not be!

Balius: You look just as unsurprised as King did. Are both of you really that paranoid that you expected me to be alive?
Safiria: I would call it being cautious. I did wish, just like everyone else, that Wolfwing would have succeeded in killing you with the cost of his life.
Balius: I’m afraid the rumors of our mutual defeat were slightly exaggerated. Only the old man died.
Safiria: So it was you. You were the one who attacked King.
Balius: Correction, killed King.
Safiria: Am I safe to assume the incidents leading to the Brotherhood attacking us were orchestrated by you as well?
Balius: Who knows. I wouldn’t tell you even if they were.
Safiria: …Stella.
Stella: Y-yes, my Lady?
Safiria: Leave this place. Inform my lieutenants of the situation. There is still a chance to stop the fighting.
Stella: But my La-
Safiria : THAT IS AN ORDER!
Stella: [/b]Yes, r-right away!
The assistant stepped into the shadows and began to vanish, teleporting from one dark to another.
Balius: You really think I’m just going to allow you do that?

Balius’ speed caught her by surprise, in an instant he had covered the ground between the light bulb, and the shadows which she was using as her gateway. What caught Balius by surprise, was Safiria’s right fist which sank in his face, crushed his nose, and sent the man flying right back where he came from. That was the last thing Stella saw before she had teleported to the area with Safiria’s lieutenants.

Safiria: And did you just think I would let you kill my servants as you pleased?

Balius spat blood and smirked as he wiped the blood off his face. His injuries had healed already.

Balius: No, I guess not. But that was surprising. I don’t remember you having moves that fast the last time we fought. Or maybe I’ve just gotten older. Haha.

Balius’ laugh was cut short when darkness shot from Safiria, and engulfed him. The lights died out completely, he could not see anything at all. From the depths of the dark, a guttural voice bellowed out to him.

Safiria: Did you honestly think only you had gotten stronger during the centuries?


Around the city, the Palice Force were successful in claiming the perimeter around the underground bunkers, and began to move outwards, pushing the Pale’s and Brotherhood members fighting to either move out of the way and head further from them to settle their score, or die. The streets burned with the bodies of Pale and Brotherhood alike, set aflame by the incendiary fire from the Palice weapons. While Richie was commanding the force responsible for claiming more ground for the civilians to use safely, he had ordered Demento and a few squads to head for the industrial district. If either side would get the idea to take control of what was within the factories and storage halls, the results would be disastrous.


Meanwhile, the center of the city burst open from an explosive force from underneath. After the dust settled, two figures leaped from the hole aboveground. On one side, was Balius, slightly worse for the wear, his clothing torn, and a few marks where Safiria had scored blood, the wounds having closed already. The Queen was unharmed for now, and the two simply glared at each other for the moment.


Safiria: This timing, right under the army suspecting that Chaos is attempting to break through the line, is this all some masterplan which you are following?
Balius: I won’t tell you that either. Maybe I’m just doing this for my own amusement. It’s been so long since I last saw you two.
Safiria: Lies. You aren’t the kind of man who would fool around without getting any results.
Balius: Then what is it that you think I am doing this for?
Safiria: You want to see our nations burn. Wreck havoc, spread lies, have us fight one another… It’s just like during the last time Chaos waged war on Lore with full force.
Balius: Maybe you’re right, maybe you are wrong. Maybe I just want to cause Chaos.
Safiria: You know that you were defeated once already. Lore has only gotten stronger from then, you will be defeated again no matter you do.
Balius: Oh, I don’t know about that.

Balius dug a small object from his pocket, it was a remote control with a single button on top. With a smile, he pressed down on it with his finger. Around the city, dozens of small bombs exploded, some within the areas only Pales and Brotherhood resided and fought upon, others within the perimeter that the Palice Force had made. Hundreds of people were caught on them instantly.

Killing hundreds was not their purpose however. They were a signal, one which everyone intended around the city understood. The first were among the Pales and Brotherhood, members of both sides suddenly turning on their brethren, their normal figures morphed by something new. Draconic features, claws and spines which grew from their bodies. The second, and most numerous, were spread among the civilians. The poor of the Brotherhood’s turf. By now, they huddled forward in groups at the other civilians, and in one swoop, they grew the same extensions which the Pales and Brotherhood members had. Claws and teeth soon began tearing and biting into tender flesh, and panic spread among the civilians like wildfire.

Safiria’s eyes narrowed for a second as she felt the change among so many of her children.


Safiria: Just like in the old days, you have converted some of my kin to your side.
Balius: Preach as much as you want about defeating Chaos once before, the feelings which lead to it will not disappear no matter how many centuries pass. They wanted change, they wanted power, and I gave them that. It was just as easy as back then.
Safiria: And you are just as stupid as you were back then.
Balius: Hmm?
Safiria: You underestimate humans. That’s what led to your downfall the last time. They will not be defeated by something like this.
Balius: I don’t think so, my dear Safiria. You are simply saying that because you are afraid. True, you have become strong over the years, perhaps even my equal, but with just you, and the only other person able to take me on dead-
King: You wish.

The two immediately glanced over where the voice came from, but only Balius was shocked to see that it indeed was King. He had dragged himself all the way from his headquarters, and the spike he had been impaled on. All the blood he was covered had long since stopped flowing, the entirety of his wounds had been healed.

Safiria: I would have been surprised had you actually managed to kill him.
Balius: This…
King: Kill… Kill you. I WILL KILL YOU! BALIUS!

What clothing had not been torn away, now shredded into pieces as King transformed completely. A huge wolfman now stood there, and his snarl was heard many blocks over. As King prepared to attack, Safiria’s petite wings grew much larger as she summoned the Dark around her once again. Ground shook as King leaped forth, and Balius evaded to the best of his ability. Despite that, King’s claws tore at his face, removing skin and flesh where they hit. Out of the way from a continued attack from King, Balius soon found that Safiria had moved behind him, lightning fast.

Balius: This is…

A blast of magic from Safiria propelled Balius forward as his spine was horribly disfigured from within. King was there to greet him, and cloth lined him with one extended arm. Not giving him any time not spent in agony from attacks, King kicked him up from the ground, and smashing his fist into his gut, sent Balius flying through the air, and slam directly into a street light which snapped in two from the impact.

The King and Queen stood there, waiting.


Balius: THIS IS HOW IT SHOULD BE!

Balius let loose a laugh, fell and horrible as he transformed into the figure he was better known as. Wings which might have as well be claws bursted from his back as his body turned from man to the most horrible of beasts that Lore had known. Nightbane was once more.


Richie and the rest of the Palice Force were now being pushed back, shocked of the sudden change of civilians to monstrosities. Hiding behind a turned over car, Richie was providing cover fire for his comrades who were retreating behind their heavy vehicles which had been parked and turned into gunnery stations. One of the beasts reached his car and jumped from one side to the other, mouth full of sharp teeth ready to bite into his throat.

Richie let the man take a taste of the pipe of his gun, and shot the back of the man’s head away with a single bullet. Letting the man fall dead, he shot another man jumping like the first one, three times in the chest, and as he fell down on the ground on his face, shot another bullet through his head. He turned over, a revolver unsheathed and shot a woman in the face before she got the chance to attack. He emptied his pistol clip on the man who had just jumped on top of the car from one of the buildings, and braced against the car again with his assault rifle, shooting at the dozens of horrors running towards them without fear.

With him as the last one behind the line, he began a retreat as well, facing forward to shoot at the enemy, when he suddenly was yanked to one of the alleys to his side. He felt a blade press to his throat and a hissing voice speaking to him.


Stella: Richie Krieger, stay your weapon and listen to what I have to say.
Richie: You know, a simple “hello” would be a better conversation starter than a knife with me.
Stella: Funny. You see those monsters out there?
Richie: It’s hard not to see them.
Stella: What I am about to tell you is the truth. No matter how hard you may find it to believe, you must, if you wish for this city to survive this battle.
Richie: …I’m listening.
Stella: Those monsters which used to be people, are the work of Balius.
Richie: I’m not familiar with the nam-
Stella: Nightbane.
Richie: Nightbane?! Didn’t Wolfwing kill him?
Stella: Believe me when I say I am just as surprised as you are. But it is the truth. Balius is behind this all.
Richie: What are we supposed to do then?
Stella: Take care of these monsters. We have gotten word out among our people already of the traitors; hopefully the Brotherhood will realize our words are the truth. As for Balius, leave him for my Lady and King.
Richie: King? Isn’t he supposed to be dead as well?
Stella: As much as I’d like that, he is still very much alive, and both of them are fighting Balius in the center of the city. It is better to leave them undisturbed, and give them as much room as possible for them to fight on. I have told you what you need to know. I must go now and join the battle myself.

And with that, the pressure on his neck was gone, along the person who had caught him just before. It all seemed unbelievable, but as soon as he stared at the people who looked as if they were half-draconic, the doubt of her words began to fade.


Demento: You’ve got to be kidding me.
Richie: I wish I was. At least we now know what we are up against.
Demento: So what are we supposed to do!?
Richie: Just make sure that no one gets to the factories. It’s just as important as being down here.

Demento thought about it all. Balius, the legendary general of Chaos turning out to be alive, and having planned this entire onslaught in his city, his home. And now he was fighting Safiria and King in the middle of the city.

Palice 1: Sir, what should we do?
Demento: …you and you, come with me!
Palice 2: To where, sir?
Demento: To the storage halls!

Demento had led his men inside despite the objections of the actual guards for the storage halls, simply saying that it was Palice business and they would take charge of the things within the hall for the interest of public safety. The guards still resisted, and refused to open the doors for them, resulting in Demento open them instead. The doors began turning hot red, and melt with a blast of fire bursting forth from within. With the hole in the door, something massive rammed what remained and broke what remained. It was a Salamander, fitted for war with heavy armor plating, two cannons hanging on both sides. With the three of them they were able to control all of the weapons the Salamander had.

Palice 1: Sir, are you sure about this?
Demento: I am certain! I’m not going to let any lizard or dragon or whatever mess around my city and get away with it! We just might be able to kill Safiria and King as well!
Palice 2: Whatever you say, sir.
Demento: Just make sure that cannon is loaded!

The salamander roared as Demento pulled on switches, that sent instructions down the instruments which were connected straight to the animals central nerve system. It began a stampede, heading towards the center of the town, where buildings were collapsing and massive dust clouds rose into the air.


A group of Balius’ followers among the Brotherhood raced the streets, chasing after a family of four who they barely let stay ahead of them, before they would decide they had enough fun and would move in for the kill. They followed them carefully, but came to a stop after they turned to the left on a street. The family kept on running, right past a large group of people who stood there, as if waiting for them. The pack leader, tallest of them, snarled and stepped forth.


Man: Who the **** are you!?
Ieb: Oh, we’re BCN. I’m sure you’ve heard of us.

Ark’s camera let a small click as it took a photo of the pack in front of them.

Man: What do you want here then!? You’re looking for a place to die?

The other men of the pack laughed and nodded, truly, their leader was a man of great wit.

Ieb: Oh, we’re not looking for anything.

There was a loud blast, and the pack leader fell without the top of his head. A man on the far left had raised a blastgun and even at that range, hit perfectly on his target. Some of them soon began loading their cameras, while even more loaded their guns. Ieb smiled at the remaining members of the melee-preferring pack, who were having second thoughts about attacking, as he raised a weapon of his own, a revolver-model single-barreled blastgun, clip full of incendiary ammo like everyone else’s.

Ieb: We’re here to make news.


In one part of the city, were the Palice Force who desperately fought against the Poor who had easily fallen for the promises of Balius and Chaos. In the other, the Pales and Brotherhood had ceased attacking each other, and had changed their attention to their traitorous kin instead. And in the center of it all, the battle between Balius, Safiria and King raged on. The three destroyed everything within their path as they aimed to destroy their enemy.

The salamander of Demento was getting ever closer to the city, stopping only to set fire on the large numbers of Poor that they encountered, the massive cannonballs engulfing the mutated in fire or burying them under rubble of collapsing, empty buildings.

All this and more, was being recorded by BCN, down to the every single delicious, horrible detail.

The city held its breath, it could only wait to see who would triumph in the end.


THE END
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