Kihaku

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CHAPTER 4: MARCUS VS. LANCE


Marcus braced himself to dodge whatever Lance had coming, but instead of throwing something at him, Lance charged Marcus head-on with his fist raised. Marcus jumped in an arc over him, and Lance charged past, his feet leaving tiny craters in the ground. Marcus landed at the edge of the ravine, looking down to see how Stacy and Joey were doing. Joey was still unconscious, and Stacy was in no condition to be moving, let alone fighting. That suited Marcus just fine. He didn’t want anyone intervening in this fight; it was true that Lance was way stronger than him, but this was the perfect chance to awaken his Spirit Beast.

When you were born, you were granted a mere taste of the Beast’s power, but when you awoke the Beast, you had full access to its powers, making you unimaginably strong. No one on record had ever awoken their Beast, so if Marcus managed it, he would be the first. Lance landed his fist in the ground and sent a shockwave through it at Marcus that tore the ground apart, which would have broken several bones in his body. Marcus leaped out of the way and the shockwave hit the edge of the ravine, blasting rubble down onto Stacy and Joey, making Stacy squeal again. Lance charged Marcus again with his fist raised, but he leaped over him, bombarded him with a half-dozen blasts, and landed behind him.

The accumulation of blasts put Lance on his knees, and when Marcus landed, he sent three more that landed in his back, knocking him forward and landing on his stomach. Marcus waited for him to get back to his feet, but it took him a while, so by the time he was finally on his knees, Marcus was starting to get bored. Lance shot to his feet and threw a rock at Marcus, which he had not seen coming, so he just barely got his face out of the way, and the rock landed in his arm. The force of the impact knocked Marcus back and he skidded across the ground, blood dripping from his arm. The pain kept him from getting back on his feet, and before he knew it, Lance was lingering over him with his fist raised, ready to smash Marcus into the ground. Marcus spat a barrage of blasts at Lance, sending him stumbling back, and dropping to the ground.

Marcus forced himself back to his feet despite the pain in his arm, and leaped back before Lance could catch him off guard again. Lance got back to his feet as well, but was kneeled to the ground with one hand helping him keep his balance. Marcus fired three blasts at Lance, but he sidestepped them and charged Marcus with his fist raised. Marcus fired a few more blasts in an attempt to stop him, but Lance just charged through them and kept on coming. Marcus rolled to the side and let Lance storm past, then fired a few more blasts at him. They all made contact, but Lance was only forced to bend down a little bit, and immediately recovered. It didn’t hit Marcus until now that he had fired probably thirty blasts at Lance, and he wasn’t even slowing down. This complicated things, as Marcus’s only other option was melee attacks, which were one hundred-percent-guaranteed to get him killed.

Lance folded his hands and raised them both over his head, built up strength, and before Marcus could realize what he was doing, he slammed both hands onto the ground. His strength caused a massive shockwave that tore the ground apart and sent Marcus flying through the air and smashing into the wall of the ravine containing Joey and Stacy. The wall nearest the shockwave crumbled and collapsed to the bottom of the ravine, right next to Joey. Marcus was embedded in the wall and almost knocked out, barely able to keep his eyes open. Lance walked over to the now-widened edge of the ravine, and looked down at the three of them. Stacy crawled over to Joey and held him close in an effort to protect him.

In a last-ditch effort to keep Lance away from his comrades, Marcus fired a blast up at him, which hit him in the chest, and drew his glare onto him. Lance picked up a rock and bounced it up and down in his hand, preparing to finish Marcus with it. Stacy fired a fireball up at him, making him readjust his aim back to her, and Marcus immediately busted out of the wall. He dropped to the ground and landed on his side, still barely able to move, but got back to his feet nonetheless, ready to fight some more. Lance knew Marcus would blow up the rock if he threw it at Stacy or Joey, so he decided to throw it at Marcus instead. Marcus blasted it to pieces, and Lance jumped down and landed between him and the others, his fist ready to swing. Marcus summoned the strength to leap backwards out of the ravine and to the edge, looking down and waiting for Lance to follow.

Stacy shot a fireball at Lance from behind, making him turn on her, and Marcus fired a blast down at him, making him turn back on him. Lance slammed his fist into the ground and sent a shockwave through it that crumbled the ground in a line to the wall of the ravine. When it hit, a five-foot line up the entire wall was blasted apart, knocking Marcus backwards and on the ground. Stacy hugged Joey closer to her, willing to do whatever it took to protect him, while Lance walked over, not even remotely scared. Stacy knew no amount of fireballs would keep him away, so she braced for impact as Lance raised his fist. From out of nowhere, Marcus appeared right in front of Stacy, facing Lance.

Lance’s eyes were opened wide as he looked down at Marcus’s hand, with two-inch-long claws, that were embedded in his stomach. Marcus wrenched his hand out of Lance and watched as he stumbled back, his hands over his bleeding gut, which pooled blood on the ground. Marcus checked to make sure Stacy was okay, and she was looking up at him with a confident smile, giving him the strength to finish this guy. Lance was still distracted with his gut, leaving Marcus open to charge and stab him again. Unfortunately, Lance wasn’t as distracted as Marcus had thought, as he caught Marcus’s wrist, lifted him into the air, and slammed him back into the ground, making him bounce across the entire ravine and slam into the wall, then drop to the ground. Marcus got to his knees and looked up, making sure he wasn’t attacking Stacy. Luckily, his eyes were still on Marcus.

Marcus slowly got back to his feet, ready to finish this quickly before he passed out, and Lance seemed only too willing to accommodate. He clapped his hands together and sent a shockwave at Marcus that blew him back and smacked him into the wall of the ravine. After everything this guy had put him through, Marcus thought to himself, if he honestly thought that would do anything at all, he had a whole lot more brawn than he did brain. Marcus put himself back on balance and dived out of the way as Lance’s fist landed in the wall where his face had been and brought a portion of it down on top of himself. Marcus fired a barrage of blasts at Lance, but they didn’t do anymore than the last thirty, and he spun around and landed his fist in the ground. He caused a shockwave that tore apart the ground in a line towards Marcus, but not quickly enough as he had plenty of time to jump out of the way and land on top of the ravine.

Lance made a spectacular leap clear over Marcus’s head and landed twenty feet away, then turned around to face him. Marcus got on all fours and charged, hoping to trick Lance and get him open to stab him again, but he seemed ready for it. Marcus zigzagged towards him, but Lance kept his eyes firmly on him. When Marcus tried to leap over him, Lance grabbed his leg and slammed him into the ground. Lance slammed him so hard he tore the ground apart on impact, and spat out blood onto his shirt. Before he could do anything about it, Lance landed his foot in Marcus’s stomach, sending him flying across the ground, clear over the ravine, through the rubble of the demolished building, and into another house that collapsed on top of him.

So…perhaps it should be explained how any of them are still alive. The power of the Spirit Beasts inside of them strengthens their endurance beyond all recognition compared to a regular human. This is to the point where they could get stabbed several times over and still be able to register the fact that they were in pain. Marcus had no strength left to get back to his feet, which wasn’t a problem, considering Lance was about a hundred yards away. That was when he realized he would probably go after Stacy. “Oh, Jesus,” he said as he forced himself back to his feet and galloped back to the ravine.

Stacy didn’t know what had happened to Lance or to Marcus, but she didn’t hear anything from above, so she figured the fight must be over. She looked down at Joey to see if he was awake yet, and was surprised to see him stirring. She let go of him and gave him some room to breathe as he got up and rubbed his head, surprised to see blood on his hand. He looked around him and said, “Whoa, what happened while I was out?”

“Lance, the Host we were fighting, opened up this ravine and we dropped into it. I watched over you while Marcus fought him, but it seems like the fight is over now, so--oh no.”

Joey looked to where Stacy was looking and saw Lance glaring down at them. It looked like Marcus had lost. What was his deal, Joey asked himself. Taking on Lance all by himself? He had to have known he didn’t stand a chance. It appeared he put up one unholy Jesus of a fight as Joey looked at all of the burns and blood all over Lance’s body. Joey could only hope Marcus wasn’t dead as he got to his feet and conjured some black fireballs to hopefully hold Lance off with. Thankfully, he didn’t need to as a barrage of blasts came from somewhere outside the ravine and hit Lance’s side, making him raise his arm to protect his face. Marcus shot at him and bashed him to the ground, and all Joey heard was Lance’s screams of pain.

He climbed out of the ravine to help Marcus finish Lance, but it didn’t look like he needed it. He had Lance pinned to the ground, his nails enlarged into huge claws that were embedded in Lance’s chest. Joey figured Marcus had it covered until Lance’s arm shot up and sent Marcus flying off of him, smacking into the wall of the ravine, and dropping to the bottom. Joey conjured black flames in both hands and prepared to fight, but Marcus jumped out and said, “Don’t, Joey!”

He said it with such firmness that Joey released the fire and left it to him. Marcus opened his mouth and his pincers came out, once again making him resemble a bug, and looked straight up into the air. His pincers became engulfed in electricity, which formed a circuit between them, and formed a tiny yellow ball. The ball grew bigger and bigger until it was the size of a basketball, and packed to bursting with destructive energy. Lance wasted no time in trying to dodge it, and when he was a hundred feet away, Marcus fired the ball. The moment he did, a huge shockwave blasted him back like the recoil of a gun. The huge ball flew through the air at Lance, who had made a last-ditch effort of dodging it by leaping into the air, but to no avail. The ball hit him and exploded, engulfing a seventy-foot radius in the explosion, and Joey and Marcus were almost blown off their feet by the shockwave. They both had to shield their eyes from the light, but not daring to turn away in case Lance came charging out.

The explosion cleared and left a colossal cloud of smoke which drifted towards them, making them cover their mouths and noses. The two of them traveled through the smoke, and when it cleared, they saw Lance’s body laying in the center of a gigantic crater. They walked over to him and saw that he was bleeding everywhere, his eyes wide open and staring blankly. Joey had never been more happy to see someone dead in his entire life, and it seemed Marcus shared his feelings. Stacy flew over and landed next to Marcus, and they exchanged triumphant looks. A vortex opened up in midair, and they walked through it back to Spirit Mountain.

“So, Lance is dead, then?” Felix asked Marcus.

“You got it,” he replied happily, although Joey couldn’t help but feel he wasn’t showing nearly as much enthusiasm as he himself would have.

“Okay, then, good, you all may take a rest, and I suggest a trip to the medical ward while you’re at it,” Felix told them.

The three of them walked off, and Stacy went off to her room while Marcus followed Joey.

“You did good today, kid,” Marcus said to Joey. Joey almost tripped in surprise, not believing his ears.

“Thanks,” he said, still in utter shock.

“But that doesn’t change anything between us,” Marcus added, leaving Joey with absolutely zero surprise. Marcus turned around and walked off towards his room.

CHAPTER 5: BONE WARRIOR


Joey was looking over the mountain at the forest, still unable to get out of his head everything that had happened. He went over in his mind every event that had led to now; everything to when he had agreed to live with Rachel, to finding out he was a Host, to the fight with Lance that had destroyed St. Charles. It had been a week, and the town was still recovering from their brawl. Joey then began to wonder what other kinds of Spirit Beasts were out there, when Stacy ran over to him.

“What’s up?” he said, having a pretty good idea what she was about to say.

“We’ve located another Host, but he’s not endangering anyone. Felix wants us to go to him and bring him back to the Mountain.”

“Alright, let’s go,” Joey said, following her back to the building.

When they got to the Operations Control room, Felix and Marcus were in there waiting for them.

“Where is he?” Joey asked Felix, and he gestured to Marcus, who started typing on the computer. A map of the world showed up on the humongous screen, and Marcus continued typing, the map zooming in all the while. It finally came to a stop in Ames, Iowa.

“Remember, don’t engage, just bring him back here,” Felix said as he opened up a portal. The three of them walked through it and came out in the an alley of a medium-sized city with cars going in every direction, several-story-tall buildings, and people clogging up the sidewalks everywhere you looked.

“This is going to be a lot harder than I thought,” Joey said, looking around at all the people.

“Yeah, especially if he has no defining Spirit Beast characteristics,” Stacy added, looking around as well.

Joey looked at Marcus, and saw his eyes squint at something across the street. Joey looked over and saw what he was looking at. It was another alley in which hid a kid a little younger than them, and attached to his shoulders were what looked like curved spikes.

“That’s him,” Marcus said as he got on all fours and hopped across the street, landing on cars so as not to get hit. A bunch of cars crashed into each other, and, acting as if nothing was wrong, Stacy sprouted her wings and flew across the street, landing next to Marcus. Joey looked to make sure all the cars were crashed, and casually crossed the street as if he wasn’t with a guy who hopped like a grasshopper and a girl who could sprout wings and fly. He walked up next to them and saw the kid, who was looking extremely scared. He was just a regular kid, except with huge curved spikes on his shoulders that looked suspiciously to Joey like bone.

“It’s okay, we won’t hurt--” Stacy began, but the kid screamed and ran off.

“Hey, get back here!” Marcus said, and he galloped over, leaped clear over the kid, and landed on all fours in front of him, blocking his path. The kid tried to turn around, but saw Joey and Stacy, and knew he was trapped.

“Calm down, let us explain,” Stacy said, but the kid wouldn’t listen. The kid grabbed the spikes on his shoulders, pulled them clean off, and threw them at Joey, Marcus, and Stacy like boomerangs.

“Whoaaa!” Joey said, ducking down to avoid the boomerangs. They flew past the three of them and out to the city streets.

“They’re coming back!” Stacy said, and Joey turned around and formed a wall of black fire to block it. The bone shattered on impact, but since Stacy couldn’t create shields, the one coming at her caught her across the shoulder and knocked her off her feet.

“Hey!” Marcus yelled, but the kid didn’t listen. He caught the bone that hadn’t been destroyed and reattached it back to his shoulder, and a new one immediately grew into place on the other shoulder. He turned around and charged Marcus head-on, his spikes pointing straight out. Marcus dived aside and let the kid pass by, charging to the end of the alley.

Joey ran after him, quickly followed by Marcus, and Stacy keeping up the rear. “Be easy, he’s obviously scared, going all out won’t gain his trust any quicker,” Joey said to Marcus. Marcus didn’t respond, and Joey could only hope that that meant he agreed.

The kid was already across the street and heading down the next alley. If he kept up like this, they would lose him.

“I’m going ahead,” Marcus said, and he turned and galloped up the wall (as in he literally galloped up the wall), he got to the top and hopped over to the next building, then dived down into the alley. Joey made it into the alley and saw that both Marcus and the kid were gone.

“I’ll find them,” Stacy said, and she sprouted her wings and flew up into the air, flying around in circles to search for them. She spotted something and flew directly ahead, with Joey following quickly behind. He got to where she was and saw that she, along with Marcus and the kid, were in a small courtyard, Marcus blocking one exit, Stacy blocking the other.

“Slow down, kid, we just wanna talk to you!” Marcus shouted, but the kid didn’t look even remotely reassured.

“Yeah, right! You just wanna kill me, like all those other guys!” he said, and he grabbed his shoulder spikes and prepared to launch.

So, he had come up against other Hosts as well, and as a result, he had become scared, and was now on his own, Joey deducted to himself.

“No, that’s not true!” Joey said, walking forward to try and explain their story.

“No! Stay back!” the kid said, and he threw both shoulder spikes at Joey. He conjured a shield that blew both spikes away, and more immediately grew on the kid’s shoulders. The fact that Joey was able to block the kid’s attacks wasn’t helping matters either, as he backed up, not even arming himself. He tripped over a branch and fell back, landing on the ground, but still staring at them with a horrified expression.

“G-Get back! Get back!” he stuttered, looking like he was about to pass out. Stacy looked like she was trying to figure out what to do, while Marcus looked like he was ready to leave. Joey was siding with Marcus. The three of them all exchanged glances, and when they looked back at the kid, he was gone. They looked down another alley and saw him running as fast as he could, screaming his head off the whole way.

“Okay, this is getting old,” Marcus said, and he got on all fours and charged. He galloped up the wall and landed in the kid’s path, making him stop cold. Stacy tried to stop Joey, but he was too quick for her, and ran over to block his other exit.

“Guys, calm down! Can’t you see he’s just scared? Coming at him like we’re going to kill him isn’t going to help any!” Stacy yelled. Neither Joey nor Marcus really listened to her, but it seemed the kid did. He looked slightly past Joey at her, seeming to catch on that at least she wasn’t going to hurt him, even if he wasn’t entirely sure about Joey or Marcus.

“Wh-What do you guys want with me?” he asked, seeming to have calmed down somewhat.

“We just want to help you,” Stacy said, walking past Joey and kneeling down next to him. “We’re the same as you. If you come with us, we can explain everything,” she told him soothingly, helping him to his feet.

He considered this for a moment, then said, “Wait…how do I know you’re telling the truth?” Marcus groaned in impatience, and Stacy gave him a scolding look.

“What’s your name?” Stacy asked the kid.

“Max Prior,” he answered, still seeming nervous.

“I’m Stacy,” she said, “and this is Marcus, and Joey.” She gestured to both of them at their names. Max focused on Marcus more than Stacy or Joey, probably because Marcus had been the most aggressive.

“May I ask you something? What happened to you? What made you so afraid of us?” Stacy asked

The kid looked down at his feet, like he was reliving some terrible memories, and said, “Well, it’s just that, everywhere I went, I was always attacked by these super-powered guys, and they went all out to try and kill me. I couldn’t go anywhere. No matter where I went, they always found me. I could never figure out why, until my spikes grew into place.”

“So, wait, you haven’t always had those spikes?” Joey asked, finding this surprising.

“I haven’t always had pincers or claws,” Marcus informed him.

“And I haven’t always had wings,” Stacy added.

“If you inherit some of the physical traits of your Spirit Beast like that, you don’t get them until you reach about nine or ten years old,” Marcus explained.

“So how old are you?” Stacy asked Max.

“Twelve,” Max answered.

“How long have you been on the streets?” Marcus asked.

“Mmm, about five years,” he answered, which made Joey’s mouth drop.

“Well, where are your parents?” he asked, unbelieving that anyone would just abandon their seven-year-old kid.

He looked down at his feet again and said, “Since I always put my family in danger…they told me to leave and never come back.” Stacy gasped, and Joey’s eyes widened even further. Even Marcus seemed disturbed by this. I guess I couldn’t say my mother wouldn’t have done the same thing if I had been repeatedly attacked, Joey thought to himself. But still, Joey thought…he was fifteen. This kid was seven when he was kicked out. Not even old enough to have a proper life, and all of that was taken away from him through no fault of his own.

“Well, like I said, we’re the same as you. We’ve all had hard lives too, been betrayed by our families. If you come with us, we can give you a home and a family,” Stacy told him.

He seemed to still be mistrusting of the three, as he looked at each of them suspiciously, and said, “Well…how do I know I can trust you?” Marcus rolled his eyes, his previous impatience having returned, but Stacy hadn’t noticed anything.

“Listen, I understand your suspicion, I do, but…think about it this way: would you rather stay out here and be attacked for the rest of your life?” Max considered this for a moment, then gave her a look that clearly confirmed his cooperation.

She smiled soothingly, and a portal opened up next to them. The sudden appearance of the portal startled the kid, and he seemed to be going back on his decision, but Stacy grabbed his hand and slowly led him into the portal. They went through, followed by Marcus, and Joey bringing up the rear.

They came out on top of Spirit Mountain, with Felix standing there looking at them, waiting for a situation report.

“Well, this is the Host, his name is Max,” Stacy said, standing behind the kid with her arms over his shoulders.

Felix smiled sweetly and said, “Good to meet you, Max. my name is Felix.”

“Uh…hi,” Max said nervously, looking like he wanted nothing more than to run and hide.

“I’ll take over from here, Stacy, you can let him go,” Felix said to her, and she did so.

Max walked nervously over to Felix, who led him across the mountain, explaining to him what Spirit Beasts and Hosts were. Stacy looked after him with a happy smile at the fact that she had managed to rescue such a young child from an inevitably horrible fate. Meanwhile, Marcus and Joey walked back into the building, leaving Stacy behind. It was well into the night before Felix came back, and he looked very happy.

“He is now fully convinced that we are here to help him,” he announced happily. “He’ll be staying in the village surrounding the mountain, going to school to control his powers.”

He gestured at the tiny village surrounding the mountain full of other Hosts who had been rescued and were now living normal lives. Felix left the room and Joey laid back, smiling up at the ceiling and feeling satisfied with the events of the day.

CHAPTER 6: JOEY PLAYS VIGILANTE


“There’s a Host wreaking havoc in Modesto, California, and someone needs to stop him,” Felix said, and he opened up a portal.

“Alright, let’s go,” Joey said, preparing to step into the portal.

“Actually, there’s really no need to make quite the mess of Modesto as we did St. Charles. I think just Joey will be more than sufficient to subdue this adversary,” Felix said with a sly smile.

Joey flashed back to the fight with Lance again, and all the damage they did to the town. Stacy looked a little concerned at him going to fight a Host on his own while Marcus turned around and walked off. Even if he wasn’t quite used to his cold and distant nature, Joey had to appreciate the man’s style; he was going to fight a Host on his own and Marcus’s way of showing that he agreed that he was ready was walking off.

Joey looked after him with a smile on his face, and then stepped into he portal. He came out at Modesto, and the instant he did, he saw three police cars racing down the road to some unknown source. When they were about fifty feet away, they all exploded, sending clouds of fire ten feet into the air, and the cars skidding to the side of the road. Joey immediately saw the source and was a little disappointed. He was a raggedy kid, about seventeen, with long, brown hair to his shoulders, black sweats and wife-beater.

The Host saw him and said, “Hm? What do you want, kid? Go back to your mommy before you get hurt by Lynn Remus!”

Without speaking, Joey fired a wave of black fire at him, that made him stumble back and trip over his own feet. The wave flew past him and crashed into a car, blowing it apart and sending shrapnel everywhere. Lynn got back to his feet, looking very ticked off, and screamed, sending a wave of sonic at Joey that made him cover his ears, and then sent him flying back. He smashed into a tree and dropped to the ground, then got back to his feet and sent a ball of fire at Lynn that he rolled out of the way of. Joey then fired about half a dozen more fireballs at him, but Lynn simply screamed, and another wave of sonic blew them away. Joey dived out of the way of the sonic, and it uprooted the tree, making it smash to the ground behind him.

Lynn took the chance to blow another wave of sonic down at Joey, blasting up dust and sending him sliding across the street into a parked car. While still on the ground, Joey fired another wave of black fire at Lynn, but he screamed and blew it away, blowing Joey and the car next to the building behind him at the same time. Joey got back to his feet and engulfed his fists in black fire, ready to go melee on him, but Lynn had other ideas. He screamed at Joey, blowing him through the air, and through the window of the building. Lynn then blew another wave of sonic at Joey, burying him in rubble. Joey had a small peep hole through the wreckage and saw him walk away, and Joey figured he probably going to destroy the city some more. He waited until Lynn was gone and blasted the rubble off of him, then got back to his feet and walked outside.

Lynn was blowing sonic all over the place, blasting holes in buildings, uprooting trees and light-posts, and destroying cars. Joey charged up black fire in both hands, and after about five seconds, fired it all at Lynn. It hit him with all its power, blasting a huge crater in the ground, blowing out windows, and sending rubble crashing to the ground. Joey ran over to see if Lynn was still alive. He immediately regretted doing so, as Lynn leaped out of the smoke and dust, pounded Joey in the chest with his hands, and landed him on the ground on his back. Lynn was standing on top of Joey on all fours, and his teeth were bared, all of them sharp fangs, and he was growling like a wolf.

He reminded Joey a lot of Marcus; a projectile-type power emanating from his mouth, and instincts like an animal. Lynn tried to rip Joey’s face off, but he blasted him with black fire and sent him flying, smashing through the window of a building and landing inside. Joey got back to his feet, charged up fire in his hands, and fired it down on top of Lynn, blowing half the store apart and sending the roof caving down on top of him. Joey lowered his arms, figuring the job was done, but Lynn burst out of the rubble and landed on top of Joey again, knocking him back to the ground. He blasted sonic right into Joey’s face, making him dizzy and barely able to keep conscious.

Joey could just barely hear Lynn growling, getting ready to finish him, and he realized that he was getting his butt handed to him by some common, destruction-happy villain. Joey snapped back to his senses, blasted Lynn off of him, and got back to his feet to finish this quickly. Lynn got back on all fours and growled at Joey, then fired a wave of sonic at him. Joey intercepted it with a wave of fire, but the sonic blew the fire out like a candle and sent Joey flying across the street. He landed on the ground hard, groaned in pain, and spat up when Lynn landed on him, growling at him and spitting on him.

“Come on, don’t you know by now that that’s not gonna work?” Joey said, and he blasted Lynn off him, sending him twenty feet into the air and smashing to the ground twenty feet away. Joey got back to his feet and sent a barrage of black fireballs at him, tearing up the ground and shrouding Lynn in smoke. A wave of sonic blew the smoke away and collided into Joey, blowing him back and sending him sliding across the ground. He tried to get back to his feet, but Lynn blasted him with another wave of sonic, sending him sliding across the street and into a car. Lynn waited for him to get back to his feet, but Joey knew if he did, Lynn would just blast him right back down again, and if he didn’t, Lynn would blast him anyways.

Joey started to get back to his feet, and Lynn did exactly as Joey thought he would and sent a wave of sonic at him. Joey rolled out of the way, letting the sonic trash the car behind him and send it sliding into the building. Joey got back to his feet and charged Lynn head-on, his hand engulfed in black fire, but Lynn was more than ready for him. He fired another wave of sonic at him, but Joey sent a huge wave of black fire at it from his hand that was blown away just as easily as the last wave. This one, however, was so big that it formed a huge wall between the two of them that blew back on top of Joey, and when it cleared, Joey was gone. He landed behind Lynn with his hand still engulfed in black flame, and landed it in his back, making him cough up blood as black fire ran him through, making him fall backwards and drop to the ground. His entire chest was burnt black, blood was trailing from his mouth, and his eyes were staring blankly.

Joey knew he was dead, so he turned around and walked off. He waited for Felix to open up the portal, when he was blasted in the back by sonic, and sent flying across the street. He rolled across the ground and slammed into a light post, unable to believe that Lynn was still alive. He looked over and saw that he was, just barely, by the looks of it, but still able to fight.

“I don’t know…who you are, kid…but…I won’t be killed by the likes of you!” Lynn stuttered, and he sent another wave of sonic at Joey, that he was too surprised to dodge.

It hit him head-on, and he was blasted right through the light post and into a building, rendering him unable to move. Joey looked out of the building and saw that Lynn was making no attempts to ensure that he was dead, probably because he was in too much pain. He just stood there, waiting for Joey to come out, and Joey knew he probably had the perfect counterattack already devised. Joey raised one hand and fired two fireballs at Lynn that he blew away, and Joey then got back to his feet to try and figure something out. Lynn fired another sonic wave at Joey, but he ran out of the way and it demolished the building he had been in, bringing the ceiling caving down onto the ground. Joey ran around him, firing fireball after fireball at him, and Lynn managed to keep up with them at first, but he eventually had to start dodging them instead of blowing them away.

He was eventually forced to dive onto the ground, and Joey knew he had him. He raised his other hand and fired a barrage of fireballs down at Lynn, which engulfed him in smoke, dust, and black fire, and burnt the biggest majority of his clothes away. Regardless of the undoubtedly horrible pain he was in, he still managed to get back to his feet, and blew a wave of sonic at Joey. The wave missed Joey completely, and traveled past him and crashed into a building, blowing out several windows and cracking the wall. Joey conjured up an enormous wave of flame in his hands and threw it at Lynn, but he was able to blow this one away no problem, leaving him wide open for the second wave Joey had coming. The wave hit him head-on and blew him into the building behind him, and he dropped back to the ground with rubble falling on top of him.

Lynn got to his knees, but didn’t seem to be able to do anything else for being in so much pain. Joey walked over and conjured a black fireball, then pointed it down at Lynn, ready to finish him. Lynn looked at the fireball that was right next to his eye, and didn’t even try to defend himself. Joey was about to fire it, but then realized that Lynn was just a kid; sure he had messed up Modesto a little bit, but the town would heal. It wasn’t like St. Charles, which had been completely devastated. The culprit also wasn’t Lance: a purely evil, maniacal killer, who was hunting down Hosts just because of their power. This was just a kid who had gone out for a little bit of fun, however legally questionable. Joey redirected the fireball to the ground below Lynn and blew him into the air, smacking him into the building, and he fell to the ground in a sitting position.

Blood was trailing from his mouth and the back of his head, which had been cracked open from the impact, which had also knocked him unconscious. A portal opened up behind Joey, and he walked into it, leaving Lynn for the police to handle. He would pay for his crimes, but not with his life. Joey came out back at Spirit Mountain to find Marcus, Stacy, and Felix waiting there for him.

“So it’s done?” Felix asked.

“Yeah,” Joey answered, pretty proud of himself for taking a Host down all by himself. Stacy sighed in relief that he was okay, and Joey found it rather offensive that she didn’t think he could do it.

“Well, now that we can all sleep easier,” Marcus said, “some light’s been shed on Lance.”

“Yeah? What is it?” Joey asked, having a hard time guessing what this could be about.

“You weren’t the only one he was hunting; it turns out he was hunting child Hosts all over the planet. Max Prior, the kid we rescued the other day, ran into him as well, and that was how we found out. While you were gone, we researched the sight where the fight had taken place and found all the evidence of Lance’s presence. The place looked like a tornado had blown through; it was completely destroyed. We also looked through the history of Amber Alerts put into effect, and cross-referenced them with the base’s data log of known Hosts. It turns out that nearly thirty-five percent of the missing kids were Hosts, and we also did some research on Lance himself and found his hideout. When we went there, there they were. Every single one of them. Every single child Host ever reported missing was there…and all of them were slaughtered.”

Joey’s eyes widened and his jaw dropped. How could one person callously kill so many kids? If he had known that sooner, Joey would have made sure Lance’s death had been slow and painful.

“And that’s not all,” Marcus continued, “we did some research into his Spirit Beast, and saw that…super-strength wasn’t his only power. He was also…immortal.”

Max Prior was running home from school to his adoptive family’s home in Spirit Village, when his path was suddenly blocked by some stranger. He was wearing a long trench coat that covered his entire body and a hat that shrouded his face in shadows. Max looked into his eyes and immediately knew who he was.
To be continued...





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