Kihaku: Part 4

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CHAPTER 10: STACY’S PAST


“Ow! Is this really necessary?” Joey asked, as Stacy put a band-aid on his cheek.

“Well, it wouldn’t be if you two idiots hadn’t gotten so beaten up,” she answered angrily as she put some disinfectant on one of the various cuts going across Joey’s torso.

His arm was in a sling, and it felt like it had been amputated from the pain caused by Craig running it through. Marcus was in much better shape than Joey, but Stacy had not spared him. He was covered in bandages as well, and looked about as pleased about it as Joey was.

“Okay,” Stacy sighed finally, after she wrapped some more bandages around Joey’s abdomen. “You two are finally done. Now go get some rest,” she said sternly, and Joey and Marcus both decided not to argue, and got up and walked away.

Stacy sighed as she watched them walk off, unbelieving of how beaten up they managed to get themselves. She was especially worried about that arm of Joey’s; normally, he would be in the hospital for a week or more, but being a Host, that wasn’t necessary. Felix walked up behind her, and she said to him, “I hope one of these days, those two will learn some self-control. If they don’t watch it, they’re going to find themselves dead.”

“Yes, well, they’re much more concerned with winning a fight than you or I,” he said. “But in the meantime, I have a job for you.”

Stacy turned around in surprise, this being the first time Felix had ever asked her to go on a solo mission.

“There’s a Host in Salem, Oregon,” Felix explained to her, and her eyes widened.

“Salem? But that’s my hometown!” Stacy informed him, to which he nodded.

“Yes it is. However, you are not the only Host in the town. But, there is a problem,” he added.

“What is it?” Stacy asked forebodingly.

“Well…I have no idea where this Host is. I haven’t managed to pinpoint his exact location.”

“Wait, what? But Salem’s a pretty big town. It could take days, or even weeks to search it for just one person,” Stacy said, hoping Felix had a better solution.

He smiled, and said, “And that is why you will be having some assistance.” He nodded behind her, and she turned around.

“You called, Lord Morio?” He was a kid in his mid-teens, about the same age as Stacy, and he was looking at her with interest in his eyes. He had medium-length, brown-spiky hair, and wore a blue t-shirt and denim shorts.

“Yes,” Felix said with a smile. “Stacy, this is Chris Johnson. He lives in Spirit Village, however, he possesses a very unique talent. He is able to locate and pinpoint a Host’s location.”

Stacy looked at him with wide eyes, having never heard of anyone with this power.

“Yep, it’s really no big deal,” he said casually, and she raised an eyebrow. She couldn’t tell rather this guy was being modest, or sarcastically cocky. Regardless, his power was going to come in handy here. Stacy just hoped the Host they were after wasn’t too strong.

“Good luck to the both of you,” Felix said as he opened up a portal.

Stacy and Chris both stepped out of it into a big city, bustling with cars and people. Stacy looked at Chris, and he closed his eyes and focused. After a few seconds, he said, “The Host is about three miles north of here.”

“Alright, let’s get going,” Stacy said, but Chris grabbed her arm.

“Hey, when we’re done, how about you and me go grab some dinner later? Whaddaya say?”

“Sorry, taken,” Stacy said, wrenching her arm out of his grasp. He didn’t look remotely disappointed by her rejection, in fact, his creepy smile made it look like he thought of it as a game.

They began to walk north, Chris keeping a constant check on the Host’s location. After about a half-hour of walking, they came by an alleyway, which contained a group of four people. They saw them, and they all grew smiles as they got up and walked over.

“Now, now, what’s a little lady like yourself doing in a place like this?” one of them asked Stacy, holding her chin aloft. She smacked his hand away and backed up into another one. She looked up at him, and he raised his arms to grab her.

“Ooh, we gots ourselves a fighter here,” he said, as he advanced towards her.

“Leave her alone,” Chris said angrily, and when Stacy saw his look, she was startled. She had only ever seen Marcus look that deadly whenever she got into danger.

“Get outta here kid, before you get hurt,” one of them said as the four of them surrounded Stacy.

She waited for someone to come and help, but they all just walked idly by, as if she wasn’t there. And then she flashed back to the day she left home.

Stacy was ten years old, and currently at recess in school.

“Ow!”

She dropped to the ground, and looked back up at the three boys looking down at her with evil grins.

“Get away from me,” she said bravely, but deep down, she was very afraid.

“Sorry, little girl, not gonna happen,” one of them said as they all inched closer to her.

Finally, she let out a scream, which only antagonized them more. She thought she was going to die, until her mouth, down her throat and into her stomach began to heat up. It rapidly rose to the point where she thought she was on fire, and something shot out of her mouth and landed in one of the guys’ face. He was knocked clear off his feet and hit the ground screaming and crying, while the other two guys looked at Stacy in fear. Finally, after a few moments of shock, they finally regained themselves and turned around and ran. The boy Stacy had hit was still on the ground screaming, until one of the teachers ran over and bent down next to him to see if he was okay. He rose to a sitting position, and when Stacy saw his face, she became scared. His face was covered in burns and blood, and the teacher looked at Stacy in shock.

She was escorted to the principal’s office, where she explained what had happened, but the Principal didn’t seem to be buying it. Stacy knew it was a crazy story, but she told it exactly as it had gone. Despite this, she still got expelled that very day. She explained the whole story once more to her parents, begging them both to understand, but when she did, they didn’t seem disbelieving, or even angry at the expulsion. In fact, they actually looked shocked, and maybe a little afraid.

“G-Get out,” her mom said in a frightened tone.

Stacy’s eyes widened, not entirely sure she had heard correctly, and she said, “Wh-What?”

“Get out!” her mother repeated, clearly terrified. “You have no place here! Get out before we throw you out!”

Stacy couldn’t believe what was happening. She looked to her father, who had always been there for her through everything, and saw that he seemed just as terrified as her mother. As soon as she realized this, Stacy realized that she was in deed being kicked out of her own house for good, by her own family.

Stacy came back to reality to see the four boys looming over her, evil grins across their faces. Well…if no one was going to help her, it looked like she had to do it herself. She looked into the face of one, and her jaw dropped. He was the one she had hit in elementary school, all those years ago. He didn’t really look all that bad; there were some scars here and there, but other than that, he looked perfectly normal.

“Yeah, that’s right, Stacy, I’m the kid you nearly killed,” he said in a deadly tone, “And now, I’m gonna get my revenge.”

Before he even moved, Stacy fired a fireball right into his face, knocking him off his feet, and sent him crashing to the ground. It was déjà vu; he had burns and blood all over him, just like that time six years ago, but instead of looking shocked and confused, he looked very, very angry.

“Aargh! Kill her!” The three boys with him both pulled out switchblades and crept towards Stacy, unafraid of the fact that she had just blasted their friend off his feet.

“Huaagh!” Chris leaped up from out of nowhere and landed on one of them, wrapping his arms around his throat and pulling back. The guy he was strangling started gagging, and finally, he fell backwards and crashed to the ground. The last two guys went to go help their friend, but Stacy fired a fireball right into each of their faces, knocking them both off their feet and sending him crashing to the ground.

Chris was looking down at the four of them with a disgusted expression, and they all got up and ran away.

“Well…that takes care of that,” Chris said, looking after them with the same disgusted look.

“Yeah…thanks,” Stacy said, impressed with his ability to bring down someone bigger than him.

“No problem,” he said. “Now let’s get moving.”

“Yeah. Where’s the Host? Do you still have a lock on him?” Stacy asked.

He closed his eyes and focused, and after a few seconds said, “Got him. He’s about two-and-a-half hours’ walk away, and on the move, so we’re going to have to move quickly.”

“Ugh, if only you could fly, we could be there in fifteen minutes,” Stacy said as she prepared for the long walk.

He thought for a moment, then walked over and grabbed a map of Salem out of a dispenser.

“You got a pen?” he asked her.

She rummaged around in her pockets, and pulled one out and handed it to him. He leaned the map against a wall and drew a circle around a three inch area, then an oval going down and to the left from the center point to the edge of the first circle.

He walked back over to Stacy, and said, “If you go now, and he keeps a steady pace, he’ll wind up somewhere in this area.” He gestured to the bigger circle, then said, “Now, if he keeps the direction he’s going, he’ll wind up somewhere around this point.” He traced the pen around a tiny area where the oval met with the edge of the circle. “When you get to this area, you’ll wanna search this point, then go back towards the center of the circle, and after that, search the rest of the circle, and if you still can’t find him, make a fine sweep outside of the circle until you find him,” he explained to her.

“Oh…okay,” Stacy said, astonished by Chris’s intelligence. “But, wait, what about you?” she asked him.

“I’ll catch up to you, now get going,” he said to her, and Stacy took the map, sprouted her wings, and took off. As she flew, she flashed back once more to her past.

It had been a few days since Stacy had been kicked out of her home. She was in some woods, and was sitting on a tree stump, remembering what had happened. She still had trouble believing that this was all real, and that it wasn’t all some sort of nightmare. She finally wiped the tears from her eyes, and got to her feet, deciding that crying wasn’t going to get her anywhere.

She remembered back to that day, and how she had felt just before she had fired that thing out of her mouth. She didn’t even see what it was, so she had no way of knowing how to describe it. She remembered the pure terror she was in, the instant before she felt the sensation of her entire body heating up. She focused solely on that terror and nothing else, remembered every little detail of what she had gone through, until her stomach started to heat up.

The heat wave moved up her esophagus and into her throat, and she opened her mouth, making way for something to shoot out of it. It flew over and crashed into a tree, snapping it in two and sending it crashing into the ground. Stacy was filled with minor shock at what she had just done, but she had seen what she had fired. It was a fireball. A small fireball, as big around as her mouth.

“So, you’re one too, huh?” Stacy looked around and saw a kid standing there, who appeared to be a couple years younger than her.

“Wh-Who are you?” she asked timidly.

“I’m the same as you,” he answered with an interested smile.

“And…what am I?” Stacy asked, hoping for answers.

His smile faded at this as he said, “Well…I can’t really answer that, but I can tell you I have powers, just like you,” he informed her, “You wanna see?”

“Uh…okay,” she said, not entirely sure about this.

Then, from out of nowhere, he opened up his mouth and fired a wave of flame at her. She squealed and dived out of the way, making the fire crash into a tree and blast it apart.

“Wh-What are you doing!?” Stacy said in a frightened squeal as she looked up at him.

“Hah! I’m doing what’s natural. You’re gonna have to toughen up if you want to survive!” he informed her as he walked over. Stacy could only lie there in horror as he walked over to her and prepared to fire another wave down at her.

Stacy quickly came back to reality as she came over the spot where Chris said she should be, and she looked down and saw a kid sitting in an alleyway. She flew down and landed in front of him, which he didn’t even seem remotely scared, or even startled by.

“You here to do me in too?” he asked calmly.

“No,” Stacy answered, “I’m here to rescue you.”

He considered this for a moment, then said, “Well, I guess even if you do kill me, it’s better than this.” He got up and walked over to her, and a portal opened up in the alley. They both walked through it and came out at Spirit Mountain.

Felix was there waiting for them, along with Joey, Marcus, and Chris, and Felix introduced himself, and whisked the boy off to explain to him everything about Spirit Mountain.

“Looks like a job well done to me,” Marcus said proudly, and they all walked off in different directions.

Stacy went outside and behind the building, for her favorite view of the village, and she heard a noise and saw Chris walking over. “Oh, hey Chris,” she said with a smile.

“Shut up,” he said with an evil grin as he grabbed Stacy’s arms and pinned her to the wall.

“Hey! Let go! What are you doing!?” she said angrily, trying to fight him off. She looked in his eyes and immediately saw his intent, and Stacy’s eyes widened in horror. He started to do it, but then a splatter of blood met Stacy’s eyes, and she saw four white blades sticking out of Chris’s chest. The blades retracted, and Chris dropped to the ground, Marcus watching him with cold disgust.

“You okay?” he asked her, and she nodded. She then flashed back to the day that she had gotten into a fight with that other Host.

The kid prepared to fire one final blast down at her, but someone yelled, “Hey!” making him jump in surprise. They both looked over and saw someone running over, and he landed his fist in the kid’s face, knocking him off his feet.

He offered Stacy his hand and helped her up, then said, “Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” she answered, brushing the dirt off of her.

“What’s your name?” the boy asked her.

“Stacy, and yours?”

“Marcus,” he answered. “Why don’t you come with me?”

“Oh…okay,” she said, trusting him fully.

CHAPTER 11: TWO ON ONE


Joey growled indignantly at Marcus, who was looking down at him with a smug smile.

“Come on, do I really have to wait here while you two have all the fun?” Joey growled, unbelieving of his luck.

“Yep. Sorry, kid, but that’s just the way it goes,” Marcus told him, still with that smug smile.

Joey looked at Stacy, who said, “Sorry, Joey.”

He then turned around and looked at Felix, silently begging him to say something that would help.

Felix shrugged and said, “I’m sorry, Joey, but it just wouldn’t be in your best interests for you to go out into battle. Not with that arm.”

Joey looked down at his arm, which was in a cast, but able to move freely, and cursed himself for not being able to dodge Craig’s attack.

“Okay, fine, just don’t make it too fun without me,” Joey told them, still mad because he couldn’t go.

“Oh, don’t worry, kid, it’ll probably just be some pushover who thinks he’s bad, when he’s really not,” Marcus assured him as a portal opened up behind him. He and Stacy both walked through it, and left Joey pouting.

Marcus and Stacy came out of the portal on the roof of a house in Aurora, Utah, which was by no means a busy town. In fact, there was hardly a moving car anywhere they looked.

“Well…this shouldn’t be too hard,” Marcus said as Stacy walked forward to jump off the building they came out on. “Look out!” Marcus jumped forward and pushed Stacy off her feet as a wave of black energy came down and smashed into the house, tearing it apart and sending it collapsing to the ground. They both kept their heads down as the rubble fell down on top of them. When it was all clear, they both looked up, searching for the cause of the attack. Marcus looked across the street, past a herd of people gasping at the collapsed building, and saw a man wearing a hood covering his eyes. He rose his head about an inch and looked straight into Marcus’s eyes, and he immediately knew who had attacked them. A car drove by, and when it passed, the mystery guy was gone.

Marcus wiped blood from his forehead and got to his feet, then helped Stacy up, who said, “What the heck was that?”

“I don’t know…” Marcus confessed. “But what I do know is that this guy has some serious power.”

The two of them decided it would be best to clear out of there before the police arrived to find two kids having survived a collapsing building. They ran down an alleyway, the sounds of sirens blaring in their ears, and they came out at a completely deserted street; it seemed everyone was at the site of the building collapse. They started to head up the street, but stopped cold as they saw a man standing there, looking at them from under a hood. It was the same guy Marcus had seen at the collapse site.

“Who are you?” Stacy asked him suspiciously.

“He’s the one we’re looking for,” Marcus answered, getting down on all fours.

“What are other Hosts doing here?” the mystery person asked them.

“Well, we were originally here to bring you back with us, but now our mission is to bring you in or bring you down,” Marcus answered.

“Well, I wish you both the best of luck,” he said to them. He then pointed his arm at them, and his hand became engulfed in black energy, with small amounts of white lightning outlining it.

“Stay back,” Marcus said to Stacy, and he bounded at him.

The Host fired a beam of black energy at Marcus that he ran out of the way of, and then continued charging. The Host bent down and planted his palm on the ground, and fired a wave of black energy across it. Marcus leaped at him, letting the black energy move past under him, and came at the Host with his claws aimed at his chest. The Host stretched his arms out to either side of him, and a wave of black energy erupted from his body, forming a wall between him and Marcus that blasted the latter back to Stacy.

“Are you okay?” she asked, bending down next to him.

“I’m fine,” Marcus said, getting to his feet and looking towards the Host. The Host was inside a spherical shield that was inky black with white electricity flailing lightly on the outside. “Let me handle this guy. You stay put and out of danger,” Marcus told Stacy, preparing to charge the Host again as the shield disappeared.

“Not a chance!” she told him. “I’m not that scared, timid little girl you rescued six years ago! I can fight too! You don’t have to protect me anymore, Marcus.”

Marcus was only mildly surprised by her reaction, but that didn’t mean he liked it. If anything happened to her, he knew it would be his fault. “Alright, back me up,” he said, and he charged.

At first, he charged on his legs, but then, he bent down and bounded at the Host on all fours. About ten feet away from him, Marcus ducked, and Stacy fired a fireball that flew over him and headed for the Host. The Host conjured a shield to block the fireball, which he then shot at Marcus. Marcus managed to barrel-roll out of the way of the wave, but the Host fired a beam of energy that landed in his stomach and blasted him back again. Stacy fired a barrage of fireballs at him, but the Host formed a shield around his entire body, which blocked all of the fireballs. He then clapped his hands together and sent the shield at Stacy in a pulse, that blew her off her feet and sent her tumbling across the ground. Marcus got back to his feet and fired a barrage of blasts at the Host, but instead of conjuring a shield, he jumped out of the way and let them fly by.

Marcus jumped up onto the roof of one of the buildings and flew up after the Host with his claws out. The Host formed an aura of black energy around his hand and used it to parry Marcus’s slash, and he then kicked Marcus in the stomach and sent him crashing to the ground. Marcus rose to a sitting position, and the Host landed on the ground, looking down at him with a triumphant expression.

“I’ll take him!” Stacy said, and she rushed past Marcus.

“No, don’t!” Marcus yelled, getting up to go after her.

The Host fired a beam at her, but she dodged it and kept running. Stacy fired a fireball at the Host, who blocked it with his energy-enhanced hand, and allowed Stacy to run around behind him. She fired another fireball at him, but he formed a dome of energy to block it, saying, “Is that really the best you have?”

The shield exploded, sending Stacy flying back and rolling across the ground.

“Huaah!” Marcus came down on top of him with his claws out, but the Host blocked him with his hand. He then grabbed Marcus’s wrist with his other hand, kneed him in the stomach, then threw him through the air. The Host turned around and blocked Stacy’s fireballs, then grabbed her wrist as she charged in and bent it, making her drop to her knees. She tried to wrench her arm out of his grasp, but he kicked her in the stomach with all of his strength, making her spit out blood and fall motionless. The Host then lifted her into the air, swung her around, and threw her into Marcus, sending them both sliding back. Marcus got back to his feet while Stacy stayed down, and fired a barrage of blasts at the Host, all of which he blocked with a shield. Marcus charged him, and the Host swung his arm to block his slash, and Marcus ran past him, but then stopped cold and spun around, trying once more to hit him with his claws.

The Host blocked him, then forced his hand back, and fired a beam right into his stomach that sent him flying back. Marcus tried to get back to his feet, but this time he couldn’t. He was so beaten up, he could barely move. He was squatted on the ground, panting heavily, when Stacy rose to her feet. “Marcus, you stay here, and let me handle this,” she said to him.

“Not a chance! there’s no way you can beat this guy!” Marcus said, trying to get up, but only managing to wince in pain.

“I’ll keep him busy while you sit here and rest. When you’re able, then you can come help. But not a moment before,” she told him.

Marcus wanted with all his heart to stop her, to make her go home, but right now, it was impossible. He could barely move, and every time he tried, he would just get knocked back down with pain. It looked like the only thing he could do was hope for a miracle. Maybe it wasn’t such a great idea to leave Joey behind after all, Marcus thought to himself. Stacy fired a barrage of fireballs at the Host, but he blocked them all with his shield, and she charged. “No, what are you thinking!” Marcus yelled, thinking his girlfriend was about to die. The Host pointed his arm at her and charged up some energy, but just before he fired, Stacy sprouted her wings and flew straight up into the air.

She fired a barrage of fireballs down at him, but he blocked them all with a shield. He then fired a beam up at her, but she flew out of the way, then dive-bombed him. As she dropped, she fired dozens of fireballs, but the Host blocked them all, and when she was within arm’s reach, he grabbed her leg and threw her down, smashing her into the ground.

“No!” Marcus screamed, trying his hardest to get back to his feet.

“Shut up!” the Host said angrily. He fired a beam at Marcus that hit him in the stomach and sent him sliding back, smashing into a building and sending it collapsing down on top of him. When the dust cleared, he was unconscious. Stacy could only watch as the Host blasted her boyfriend, and hope he was still alive.

“You’re next,” the Host said to her as he prepared to fire down.

Stacy spat a fireball right at his face, which he blocked, but she managed to get away from him, then fly up into the air to avoid him. The Host fired several small blasts up at her, but she flew out of the way of them, and returned fire. He blocked them all, and Stacy flew into the sun, which made the Host shield his eyes. She fired about half a dozen fireballs down at him, but he didn’t see them coming until they were right on top of him, and engulfed him in a cloud of smoke.

When the smoke cleared, he was perfectly unharmed, and one of his hands was held out, engulfed in black energy. He fired a beam up at her, but she flew out of the way, and once more returned fire. The Host ran out of the way, and the fireballs hit the ground, bringing up more smoke. Stacy dive-bombed him, trying to catch him off guard, but he turned around and blocked all of her fireballs, then fired the shield up at her. She hadn’t seen it coming, so she was hit head-on and sent flying through the air. She smashed into the ground and rolled into a tree, slamming against it and almost uprooting it. She opened her eyes and looked over at the Host, who was looking down at her, but she couldn’t see his eyes from underneath his hood. She tried to get back to her feet, but Marcus stumbled past her, looking at the Host with a deadly glare.

“So…he’s back on his feet and ready for more,” the Host said as he looked at Marcus.

“Yeah…and this time, I’m gonna kill you,” he said as he got down on all fours.

The Host fired a beam at him, but Marcus dodged it and charged the Host. Marcus leaped at him, but the Host jumped out of the way, and let Marcus hit the ground and slide past. He spun around and fired several blasts up at the Host, but he blocked them all, and sent another beam down at him. Marcus jumped back and let the blast hit the ground, and the Host landed and waited for him to come. Marcus got to his feet and charged, claws on both hands out. He slashed at the Host, who backed out of the way, and then Marcus spun around, slashing at the Host twice more, only to be blocked, and then brought his arm up and down on top of him. The Host managed to block Marcus’s attack, then threw his arms out, generating a pulse of energy that sent Marcus flying back and smashing into a building.

Marcus laid there in the rubble of the building, completely unable to move, as he looked up at the Host, who was preparing to finish them. Just before he fired his blast at Marcus, a wave of black fire smashed into him, completely obscuring him. He flew out of the back of the dust cloud and landed on his feet, looking over to where the blast came from. Marcus looked over as well, and wasn’t remotely surprised.

Standing there, on top of a roof top, looking down at the Host with anger, was Joey Claden.

CHAPTER 12: JOEY ARRIVES


Joey looked down at the Host with anger in his eyes, who looked back up at him with interest.

“And who might you be?” the Host asked.

“The name’s Joey Claden, and you hurt my friends, which means I can’t let you walk away from here,” he answered.

“Kid…you’re not cool,” Marcus told him with an irritated tone.

Joey’s shoulders sagged, and he looked back down at him and said, “Oh, so that’s the thanks I get for saving you, huh!? Well maybe next time I’ll just let you die!”

“Oh, shut up. You’re lucky I can’t move,” Marcus added in an undertone as he relaxed and let Joey handle it.

Joey gave Marcus one last angry glare before he looked over at the Host, who fired a beam of black energy at him. Joey conjured a shield of black fire to block it, but only barely managed to do so. This guy was a lot stronger than he had thought. When the beam finally ceased, Joey fired a wave of fire down at him, but he jumped out of the way and let it hit the ground. The Host landed on the ground and charged Joey with his hand engulfed in black energy, even though Joey was still on top of a building. The Host came to the base of the building and rammed it with his ball of energy, which shook the entire building, and sent dust smashing out of the other side.

The building began to collapse to the ground, and Joey jumped off, diving into the cloud of dust that was obscuring the Host. A huge explosion of black energy and fire blew the smoke away, along with the rubble of the building, and blasted a crater into the ground. Joey was suspended in the air by the pressure of their attacks, and the Host’s hands were surrounded in black energy, which was combating Joey’s fire.

Finally, they both poured all of their energy into it, and a huge explosion tore the air apart, caused a huge cloud of smoke and dust to fill the air, and made Joey lose all sense of what had happened. The Host skidded out of the dust cloud, using his energy to keep him on his feet, while Joey was sent flying out the other end, hitting twenty-five feet in the air. He landed and rolled across the ground, and when he stopped, he was completely unable to move. He looked over into the dust cloud, and saw the dark image of the Host walking through it. Joey couldn’t move his arms, and neither of them were at angles where he could fire at the Host. The Host exited the cloud, and within twenty seconds, was looming over Joey.

“Who are you?” Joey asked through glazed eyes as he looked up at the Host.

“My name is Jamison Stuart, and know that it is the last name you will ever hear,” he told him, and he prepared to fire a final blast down at him.

A barrage of tiny yellow blasts came out of nowhere and bombarded Jamison, who was engulfed in smoke, and dropped to the ground. Marcus came over and slung Joey over his shoulder, then leaped off as Jamison began to get back to his feet. Just before he could manage it, several fireballs hit him, engulfing him in more smoke and putting him back on the ground. Marcus laid Joey down on the ground and got down on all fours to go after Jamison, who was still busy getting back to his feet. Stacy hovered in midair, waiting to intercept Jamison should he get the better of Marcus. All Joey could do now was lay there and watch as they took over.

Marcus charged Jamison head-on, who waited for him to come, but Marcus fired a barrage of blasts at him to keep him occupied. While Jamison was still shrouded in smoke, Marcus jumped over him and landed behind him, and when the smoke cleared, Jamison looked around for him. By the time he finally found him, Marcus’s arm was already in mid-thrust, and he landed his claws in Jamison’s upper arm, sinking them deep in, almost running through. Blood spattered to the ground around them, and Jamison stood there, grunting in pain, Marcus’s claws stuck in his arm. Finally, he surrounded his injured arm in black energy, and wrenched his arm back, forcing Marcus’s claws out of it, and making his own arm swing back. Marcus managed to regain his balance and charge back in, but Jamison formed a shield to block him, which he then converted to a pulse that sent Marcus flying back.

A hailstorm of fireballs rained down on top of him, nearly knocking him off his feet, but he managed to hold as he looked up at Stacy, who was flying overhead. He turned around and formed a shield to block Marcus’s claws, then forced him back with it, sending him skidding across the ground. Marcus immediately charged back in, but Jamison grabbed his wrist and swung him around. He threw Marcus as hard as he could, but only managed to send him skidding across the ground again. A barrage of fireballs hit Jamison from behind, and Marcus followed through with a barrage of blasts, all of which shrouded Jamison in a cloud of smoke. Stacy landed on the ground behind Jamison, waiting for him to make his move. When the smoke cleared, he was perfectly fine, although he looked a little angrier than before.

“I’ll admit, I kind of underestimated you at first,” Marcus said to him, “but now, we’re going all out.”

He and Stacy both fired a barrage of their respective projectiles at him, but Jamison formed a shield on both hands and blocked them both, then fired beams at them that sent them both flying. Marcus had no idea where Stacy had gone, but he was sent flying through the air, and when he hit the ground, he went rolling twenty feet away. When he came out, he couldn’t move at all, so he finally just fell unconscious. Stacy flew over and smashed through a tree, then went rolling across the ground. She looked over at Jamison, struggling to keep conscious. Jamison was looking in the other direction, and she looked in that direction as well. What she saw made her want to cry. Marcus was spread out across the ground, and from her angle, she couldn’t see much, but from what she could tell, Marcus was unconscious. She wanted to run over and help him, but she could barely move. Finally, she decided to leave it to Joey and fell unconscious.

Joey was on his feet, hunched over from residing pain, but he had witnessed Jamison trash both Marcus and Stacy, so he knew he was the only one who was able to beat him. He had meant to take Jamison while his back was turned, but he was too slow, and Jamison turned and saw Joey on his feet. “Alright, you ready to get the real fight started?” Joey said in a soft voice, still barely able to move properly.

“If you really think you stand a chance against me, bring it on,” Jamison told him. He fired a beam at Joey, but he managed to sidestep it, and fired a wave of black fire at Jamison. Jamison formed a shield to block the fire, and when it cleared, he charged Joey with both his hands engulfed in black energy. Joey finally got his senses back on track and ducked a swipe from Jamison’s hand. Joey immediately followed through with a wave of black fire that knocked Jamison off his feet and sent him floating through the air. When the fire cleared, Jamison was already back on his feet, and ready to go. Joey charged him with his fists engulfed in black fire, but when he was within two feet of him, Jamison formed a shield to block him, and Joey ran right into it.

Jamison then fired the shield, sending Joey flying back, and when he got back to his feet, Jamison just stood there.

“Okay, while we’re not getting anywhere, why don’t you tell me why you’re doing this?” Joey asked.

“Because. My goal is to destroy every Host in the world. I was in fact searching for a hidden Host in this area, until I ran into you guys,” he explained.

“Wait a minute…you mean there’s another Host somewhere around here?” Marcus asked. He was on his feet, but slouched over as if he was barely holding on. His head was cracked open, and he was stemming more blood flow on his shoulder.

“Oh, yeah. I forgot to tell you guys,” Joey said, suddenly remembering. “This guy isn’t the one you were sent out to find. There’s another Host in the town, whose Beast Energy is a lot stronger than this guy’s.”

“And you didn’t think that might’ve been useful to know from the start!?” Marcus said angrily.

“Hey! It’s like I said, I forgot!” Joey yelled back, ready to forget about Jamison and get into it with Marcus instead. Before he could even move, Marcus was blasted with a beam of black energy, and was sent flying back. Joey looked back at Jamison, who was aiming at him next.

“Now that the distraction’s out of the way, may we please get back to the fight?” he said in an annoyed tone.

“Alright, fine, let’s do it,” Joey concurred, charging up black fire in his hands.

They both fired at the same time, and their attacks held out against each other for about five seconds, until Joey’s gave out. Jamison’s blast hit him in the stomach and sent him rolling across the ground. He slowly got to his knees, but Jamison blasted the ground below him, sending him into the air, and then back down hard. Finally, he got back to his feet, and instantly conjured a shield to block Jamison’s attack. The moment that was done, Joey fired a wave of fire at Jamison, making him jump out of the way. Now, Joey had him. He fired another, bigger wave up at Jamison while he was still in the air, but Jamison conjured a shield to block it. Joey poured all of his power into the attack, but Jamison’s momentum in the air allowed him to fly out of the way and dodge the attack.

Jamison landed on the ground five feet away from Joey, and Joey leaped at him with his fists engulfed in black fire. A black shield burst forth in front of him, knocking Joey back, and then slamming into him. Joey rolled across the ground twenty feet away, and when he got back to his feet, Jamison burst out of the dust with his fist engulfed in black energy.

Joey tried to conjure a shield to block him, but Jamison’s fist punched right through it, causing an explosion that sent Joey flying across the ground. He quickly got back to his feet and fired a wave of fire at Jamison, but he ran out of the way and fired a single wave of energy at Joey from both hands. Joey tried to duck it, but the energy emanating from it still managed to knock him to the ground, and Jamison brought the wave down on top of him, causing a huge explosion that made him lose all sense. When he came to, Joey was flying through the air, still shrouded in smoke. About a second later, he came out, and his heart almost stopped as he realized he was at least thirty feet in the air. He dropped towards the ground, knowing he was going to splatter on impact, until another beam of black energy hit him in the side, sending him into a building. He crashed through three floors, smashing into the ground floor, and sent dust all across the building, and the air outside. The building then lost all of its support, and crashed down on top of him, sending more dust through the air.

“Oh no!” Stacy watched the building crumble on top of Joey, knowing that there was no way he could ever survive. Marcus was still out from being attacked by Jamison, and Stacy knew she could never match against him. Jamison himself was examining the destruction he had caused with his last attack, and then turned around to face Stacy. Stacy got back to her feet, blood dripping to the ground from her knee, and prepared to go down fighting. She watched Jamison closely, and saw that he was panting heavily with exhaustion. She didn’t know what this could have possibly been from, but it didn’t matter. She now had a slight advantage in this match, and she was going to take it.

“H-Hold…on.” Stacy looked over and saw Marcus stumbling over, his eyes glazed over from pain. “D-Don’t fight him, Stacy. Leave him to me, wh-while you…r-run.” he said to her.

“No way,” she said in a soft voice. “I could never do that, you’re weaker than me, Marcus, there’s no way you can beat him!” She had raised her voice now, begging him to back off.

“Don’t worry, you two,” Jamison interjected, “neither of you will be in this world for very long.”

A flash of light met Stacy’s eyes, but almost instantly faded, and when she looked back at Jamison, her eyes widened. His hood had fallen off his head to reveal short brown hair and green eyes. Both of his eyes were the size of eggs, and blood was dripping from his mouth. Before Stacy could even fully register what had happened, he dropped to the ground. Blood pooled around him, and it was unmistakable. He was dead. “Wait…what just happened?” she said in a high-pitched voice, and she looked at Marcus for answers. He seemed to be just as surprised as she was, but he was too exhausted to really question it.

They both looked up and over to the roof of a building, where someone was standing, looking down at them. They couldn’t tell if they were a boy or a girl, as their face was masked, and they were wearing entirely black. They then heard rumbling, and all three of them looked over to the pile of rubble that Joey was buried in. A huge explosion of black fire blasted the pile of rubble apart, and when the fire cleared, Joey was on one knee, panting, with blood all over him. He looked up at the mystery person on the building, who seemed to be very interested in him. Joey was looking up at them with just as much interest, but before anything was said, the mystery Host disappeared. Joey looked at the spot the Host had been standing, and began walking over to Marcus and Stacy.

He got over to them, and said, “So, what do we do? Go after him?” The moment the last words left his mouth, a portal opened up behind them.

“No…” Marcus said as he saw the portal. “As far as the Old Man is concerned, our job is done, which means we go back to Spirit Mountain.” Joey looked back up at the spot where the Host had disappeared, wondering who and what were they?
To be continued...





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