Kihaku: Part 5

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CHAPTER 13: MARCUS GOES SOLO


“It is about time!” Joey said happily as he unraveled the cast on his arm. When he finally got the bandages off, he examined the wound to find only a scar there, with one parallel to it on the other side.

“Yes, well, however healed it may be, you must still take caution when raising it,” Felix warned him.

“Wait, what? Why?” he asked.

“Because, in your last fight, you strained the severed muscles, causing the wound to open again. Therefore, you must take caution, however limited, to avoid doing that again,” Felix said to him.

“Okay, well, as long as I can fight again, I’m not complaining,” Joey said, waiting for Felix to tell them where to go next.

“Your next target is in Monson, Maine,” Felix told them.

“Monson?” Marcus said, his eyes widening.

“You know it?” Joey asked him.

“Yeah, it’s one of the smallest towns in the country. It’s only about three-thousand feet long,” he answered.

“Oh…wow,” Joey said.

“Well, Marcus, since you seem to know it so well, I think you should be the one to take this mission. Alone,” Felix suggested.

“Alright, then, I’ll see you two later,” he said as Felix opened up the portal.

He went through the portal and came out to the tiny town of Monson. He looked around and saw everyone going about their business, with no sign of anything suspicious. He jumped down from the rooftop and started his search. He examined every person he saw, but saw no signs of a Host. He was on the edge of the town when he heard a gust of wind blowing above him. Marcus looked up and his eyes widened as he saw a gigantic bird, the size of a human, diving right down on top of him. He was in too much shock to register what was going on, until it was right on top of him. He dived out of the way and the bird flew past, then flew back up into the air. Marcus looked up at it, and then realized it was a human; this was the Host. Marcus got on all fours and bounded over to a building, ran up it, and leaped off the top at the Host.

He flew at him with his claws out, but the Host saw him coming and raised both legs. His bare feet were tipped with clawed toenails, which he used to block Marcus’s attack. He tried to force the Host back, but he knocked Marcus’s claws away and let him drop past him. Marcus hit the ground on his back in order to keep from splattering on impact, and when he straightened up, the Host was coming back down at him. Marcus fired a blast up at him, but the Host flew out of the way and continued his dive. Marcus rolled out of the way, and the Host flew past, leaving Marcus unable to get him. Marcus fired a barrage of blasts up at the Host, and he flew out of the way, but almost all of the blasts followed him through the air. He flipped through the air, allowing several more blasts to fly past him, and then shot straight up into the air. About six blasts remained following him, and he reached about seventy feet in the air, then did a complete one-eighty and shot straight down at the ground. He shot straight through the blasts, not one of them hitting him, and instead all crashing into each other.

“Oh, this guy’s good,” Marcus said as the Host came down on top of him at full speed. Marcus revealed his claws and thrusted his arm at the Host, knowing he was going to hit him head-on, but when the Host came within reach, the claws passed right through him. “What!?” Marcus said, unable to register what had just happened.

The Host passed completely through Marcus’s body without sustaining a scratch from his claws. When the Host’s clawed foot came across Marcus’s face, the claws tore through his flesh, forcing his head back and sending blood spattering back. The Host flew off while Marcus fell to the ground, blood dripping from the gashes on his face. He couldn’t help but feel he was lucky his eye hadn’t been cut out. He slowly got back to his feet and turned around to look up at the Host, who was still hovering in the air.

“Wh-Who are you?” Marcus asked, half-blinded by blood.

“My name is Kaleb Garrett,” he answered. He looked to be about thirteen-years-old, but he had a hardened look, like he had seen some serious fighting.

“Okay, and what’s your deal? Why did you just attack me from out of the blue?” Marcus asked.

“Because, I know why you’re here,” he answered.

“I’m pretty sure you don’t, because if you did, you wouldn’t be attacking me,” Marcus informed him.

“Oh, trust me, I know,” he assured him. “You’re here to kill me, just like everyone else.”

“What gives you that idea?” Marcus asked him.

“Didn’t you just here me?” he answered. “I’ve been attacked more times than I can count, and I know you’re no different. You just want to slaughter me for your own benefit. Well, I won’t let you. Your life ends now!”

He flew down at Marcus with a look of rage on his face. Marcus fired a barrage of blasts up at him, but he flew out of the way, then circled him like a vulture.

“We gonna keep playing Dodgeball all day, or are you actually gonna come down and attack me?” Marcus said.

“You might want to be careful what you wish for!” Kaleb said as he dived down on top of him.

I’ve got you now, Marcus said to himself as he prepared to stab him with his claws. Once again, the moment Marcus’s claws came within range, they passed right through Kaleb’s flesh without leaving a scratch. This time, Marcus was ready, so he dived out of the way before Kaleb’s claws could get him. Unfortunately, he couldn’t dodge it all the way, so Kaleb’s claws slashed the edge of his ear, making small amounts of blood spatter back. Kaleb flew back up into the air and looked down at him.

Okay, Marcus thought to myself, so his powers consist of being able to become transparent to avoid my attacks. As long as he has that power, he has me beat. However, in order for him to attack me, he has to become solid. And that’s what I have to aim for.

Kaleb dived back down at him, and Marcus prepared to put his theory to the test. Marcus attacked him with his claws, which once more passed right through him. When Kaleb was getting ready to cut Marcus with his own claws, he put his in the way. The clanging of metal rang through the air as Kaleb’s claws ricocheted off of Marcus’s, and Kaleb went tumbling through the air behind Marcus. Marcus spun around and fired a blast at Kaleb, but it flew right through him and smashed into the ground. Kaleb hit the ground himself and almost immediately recovered, just in time to see Marcus charging him. Marcus’s claws passed right through him, and Kaleb thrusted his own at Marcus’s gut. Marcus blocked them with his other hand, and then tried to slash Kaleb in the chest with them. He jumped back, but Marcus just barely got a glimpse of the tip of his claws pass through him without leaving a scratch.

Marcus fired a blast at him, which went right through him, and Kaleb landed on the ground.

“Have you figured it out yet?” he asked Marcus. “You have no chance of beating me. Why don’t you just give up now and walk away with your life?” he suggested.

“Look, I never had any intention of fighting you,” Marcus told him. “My mission was to bring you back with me to try and give you a new life.”

“Oh, is that so?” Kaleb said, seeming entirely unconvinced. “And why should I believe you?” he asked.

“Because, it would save the both of us a lot of trouble,” Marcus answered irritably.

“Yes, well, without a legitimate reason, you’ll forgive me if I don’t take your word for it,” Kaleb said as he took a fighting stance.

“Tch, figured as much,” Marcus said as he took a fighting stance of his own. Kaleb flew straight up into the air again, and then dive-bombed Marcus, making him dive out of the way as he flew by, then went straight back up into the air. Marcus fired a barrage of blasts at him, but they all passed through him as if he was an illusion. Great! Marcus thought to himself. I have no way of beating him! Whenever I try to fight back, he just goes transparent and my attacks pass right through him! There’s only one type of Spirit Beast that can beat this guy, but even if I were to go back to Spirit Village, I doubt we could find anyone who is even experienced enough to fight him!

Kaleb seemed to be enjoying himself, as he looked down at Marcus with a superior smile etched on his face.

“Wipe that grin off your face, kid, I’m nowhere near finished with you yet!” Marcus said, although, in reality, he was really curious about what he was going to do to beat Kaleb.

“Just admit it,” Kaleb said to him. “Just admit that you can’t get me, and maybe I’ll make your death merciful!”

“Don’t go acting like a big-shot, you little punk! I’ll rip you to pieces!” Marcus yelled angrily, and he finally got on all fours and bounded towards one of the buildings.

Kaleb dived after him, but Marcus hit the building and leaped up at him, his claws out. Kaleb swung his arm forward, his fingers tipped with claws, and the clanging of metal rang through the air, and they both flew in opposite directions. Marcus flipped upside-down and fired a barrage of blasts at Kaleb, which all went right through him. Kaleb landed on a building and flew up at Marcus while he was still in the air, his claws ready to tear him in half. Marcus prepared to block him, but Kaleb passed right through him, and left him to drop to the ground. Kaleb stopped short and came back around, coming in for another shot. Marcus fired a barrage of blasts at him, but they all passed through, and he kept on coming. Marcus blocked his slash and passed through him, but Marcus didn’t think about his foot claws, which Kaleb tore across his side.

“Gah!” Marcus hit the ground rolling, allowing Kaleb to come back around and slash him in the back, making him stop cold, pain wrenching at his body.

“Just face it,” Kaleb said happily. “You can’t beat me, no matter how hard you try.”

“Shut up,” Marcus said in a quiet, evil tone.

Kaleb’s grin faded, and he looked down at Marcus with a curious, interested look. Marcus was on his fours, his pincers exposed, a circuit of electricity running through them. He was sent sliding back with the recoil of the palm-sized blast he fired up at Kaleb. Kaleb was momentarily surprised, but quickly got over it as he flew out of the way and let the blast fly past him. The blast came back around and homed in on him, but he let it pass through him and smash into a building. The blast sent dust flying out of every window of the three-story building, until the building collapsed to the ground. Kaleb looked at the wreckage in shock, clearly having not known Marcus could do that. Marcus flew up at him, and Kaleb noticed him the instant before he tore his claws through his side.

Kaleb was in complete shock as his own blood spattered to the ground this time, and he dropped, slamming hard. Marcus flew over and landed on the building next to the one that had been destroyed, and looked down at Kaleb. He was on one knee, looking up at Marcus, gasping with pain. “What was that you were saying?” Marcus asked in the same deadly tone. “Something about me being unable to beat you no matter how hard I tried? Well, I think I’ve just done a good job of proving you wrong.”

“Wh-What do you want?” Kaleb asked him, still kneeling to the ground.

“It’s like I told you,” Marcus said, “I want to bring you back to my home, where you can be safe from other Hosts.”

“A-And how do I know you’re telling the truth?” Kaleb asked him.

“Because if I just wanted to kill you, I would’ve backed off by now,” Marcus told him.

Kaleb seemed to be considering this, but it also seemed he wasn’t entirely convinced.

“Look, you’re perfectly capable of getting yourself out of any situation, so even if I am trying to double-cross you, you can get out of it no problem,” Marcus told him.

This seemed to really get his mind working.

“Okay…” he said finally. “Fine. I’ll come. But if you’re trying to set me up, I’ll kill you without hesitation.”

“Deal,” Marcus said as a portal opened up behind him.

CHAPTER 14: OVERWHELMING STRENGTH


“So this time, he’s in Hill City, Kansas?” Joey asked.

“Yes, he’s just a child, however, no older than Max, so I can’t see him being hard to convince,” Felix explained to them.

“Okay, then this should be easy,” Joey said, ready to go get this kid.

“Yes, well, the catch with this is that he’s under attack.”

“Oh great,” Marcus said, which Joey agreed with.

“Yes, this might not be as easy as you thought,” Felix said with a sly smile.

“Well, we might as well get this over with,” Joey said as Felix opened up a portal for them. The three of them stepped through the portal and came out in a battle-ruined alley that had incisions all over the walls and ground.

“Um…I think the Hosts have been here,” Joey deducted, which got an annoyed humph from Marcus.

“Alright, let’s split up and look for them,” Stacy said, and they all exited the alley and ran, hopped, and flew off in different directions.

Joey kept his eyes and ears open for anything suspicious, and after about fifteen minutes of nothing, a huge explosion brought three buildings to the ground. Joey immediately ran over to the explosion and saw two people in the wreckage. One was on the ground, looking like he had just been hit hard, while the other was standing twenty feet away. The second guy’s arms were crossed and a black aura was surrounding him, making Joey realize that this guy was no one to take lightly. He was wearing a black trench coat, a black shirt under it, black jeans, and black fingerless gloves. He had long, dark-brown hair down to his upper-back, but unlike the kid in Modesto, whose hair was raggedy and completely unkempt, this guy’s was spiked downward, probably with the help of some hair gel.

His appearance contributed to his scary demeanor every bit as much as his aura did. Joey ran over to the kid on the ground and saw that he indeed looked to be about the same age as Max.

“Are you okay?” Joey asked him.

“Yeah,” he answered, and Joey realized by his voice that he also seemed to be much braver than Max.

“What’s your name, kid?” Joey asked.

“Ritchie. Ritchie Hanford,” he answered.

“So, Ritchie, what’s the story on this guy?” Joey asked, looking at the guy with a little bit of fear.

“Uhm, well, I guess you’ve already figured out he’s a Host,” Ritchie told him, and Joey was kind of impressed that he knew what he was.

“Is he strong?” Joey asked, getting back to his feet and preparing to find out personally.

“Incredibly. Of all the Hosts I’ve fought, I’ve only ever seen one even remotely as powerful as him,” Ritchie answered, which made Joey even more scared to fight this guy.

Joey faced him and engulfed both hands in black fire, and said, “Alright, I don’t know who you are, or why your after this kid, but you’re done now. I’m gonna make sure you never hunt anyone ever again!”

“Hunt? What are you talking about? I’m not hunting anyone, I was just cruising through before this kid got in my way and wanted to fight me. I only granted his wish, and it turned out to be too much for him,” he said.

“Oh…is that true?” Joey asked Ritchie, who looked very guilty.

“Uh, well, um…”

Joey took that as a yes, and said to the other Host, “Okay, well, it’s pretty obvious that you’ve beaten this kid, so if we all just go our separate ways, can we forget this ever happened?”

The Host smiled and said, “The kid can go, but you, you may not.”

“And why’s that?” Joey asked, preparing to fire.

“Because, kid, I can sense a lot of talent in you, and I wanna put it to the test,” he said, which Joey didn’t know rather to take as a good thing or a bad thing.

“Okay then, bring it on, I guess,” he said, not as willing to test his metal against this guy as he seemed to be against him.

“Hold on!” Joey looked over and saw Marcus and Stacy on one of the remaining rooftops, Marcus ready to dive down on top of this guy.

“Get out of here! This is between me and him!” the Host said, and Ritchie took the hint and immediately backed up.

“Not today!” Marcus said, and he fired a barrage of blasts down at him.

The Host raised his hand and a black shield appeared in front of the blasts, blocking every single one of them without putting a scratch in the shield. He shot his hand out and the shield dispersed into black waves that shot up at Marcus and Stacy. When the waves connected, they blew the top off the building and sent the both of them flying off the other side and out of sight.

“Hey!” Joey yelled, powering up the black fire in his hands.

“It’s like I said, kid, this fight is between us,” and the Host relaxed his posture and waited for Joey to come.

Marcus and Stacy both landed on the other side of the building, followed by a rain of rubble, and neither of them could move. “Okay, what is with all these people using black energy powers?” Stacy asked Marcus irritably.

“Shadow Wielders,” he answered. “They’re among the most common types of Spirit Beasts in existence. We’ll probably confront about half a dozen more of them before the end of the month.”

Joey fired a wave of black fire at the Host, but he conjured another shield and blocked it. He then did exactly what Joey expected him to, and dispersed his shield into a barrage of waves that shot straight at him. Joey conjured a wall of black fire in front of him to block them, but the waves busted right through the shield and sent Joey flying back and smacking into the building behind him. He got to his knees, panting in pain, and the Host simply stood there and waited for him to attack. Joey fired a wave of black fire at him, but he conjured another shield to block it, and sent another barrage of waves at him. Joey rolled out of the way of them, and they smashed into the wall, bringing a huge chunk of it to the ground. Joey fired a barrage of fireballs at the Host, but he conjured another shield to block them, and before he could send waves after him, Joey was already charging at him with his fist raised.

The Host figured his waves wouldn’t work, so he converted his shield into a pair of gauntlets that formed around his hands and arms. Joey formed an aura around his hand, and tried to bust his way through the Host’s guard, but the Host knocked his fist aside and landed his own in Joey’s stomach, making him drop to his knees. The Host then picked him up by the scruff of his neck, swung him around, and threw him back the way he came, landing him in the crater that the Host had formed in the building. Joey’s weight busted out the only chunk of the building keeping it standing and sent the entire thing collapsing down on top of him. The weight of the building made Joey amazed that he hadn’t been killed instantly upon impact, but regardless, he was alive, and still able to fight.

He blasted my way out of the rubble and rose to a kneeling position to try and think of a counterattack. The Host was looking down at him with an expressionless look that made Joey wonder what he was thinking. Joey conjured black fire in his hands and prepared to fire it at the Host, but he pointed his hand at him and fired a black beam that Joey barrel-rolled out of the way of. The beam hit the demolished building and blew it away, sending rubble flying back twenty feet. By now, Joey knew full well that his powers were having no effect on him, but that left him at a lost as to what to do next.

“Well, kid? Is that really all you’ve got?” the Host asked him.

“Not even close,” Joey said, getting back to his feet. In all honesty, he had long since used up all his ideas. The only way to get this guy was to break through his shield, but Joey didn’t know if he had enough power to do that. He formed a ball of condensed fire in his hand and prepared to charge, and the Host formed some of that same black, transparent energy his powers stemmed from around his fists. Joey fired another wave of black fire at him, but the Host formed a shield to block it, but didn’t send another round of waves back. Joey charged with his black fireball in his hand, hoping this would be enough to bust through that shield. The Host smiled and held out his hands to intercept him, which Joey knew couldn’t stand up to his attack. Joey leaped at him and landed his attack into both the Host’s hands, which actually managed to hold out after all.

The Host put more power into his hands, which formed a ball around the both of them, and Joey’s hand. The ball grew bigger and bigger until it was about a yard in diameter, and the Host sent it at Joey in the form of a huge wave that sent him flying back at the speed of a bullet and smashing right through the rubble of the building that had been previously destroyed. He bounced across the ground and smashed into another building, nearly sending that one collapsing down on top of him. Whoever this guy was, he was definitely strong, and just like Ritchie, Joey could only think of one person he had ever met as strong as him…Lance. He then began to wonder if Ritchie had come up against Lance, but didn’t have time to ask. The adult Host, the one that was tossing Joey around like a rag doll, stood on top of the pile of rubble and looked down at him with an expressionless look.

“Okay, okay, you’ve beaten me, can I go now?” Joey asked.

The Host smiled and said, “No, because I know that’s not the best you can do, now get back up, and come at me with everything you have.”

“He said he surrenders, now back off!” The Host looked behind him and saw Marcus and Stacy, Marcus looking like he was about ready to tackle this guy, Stacy looking like she was going to give spiritual support and stay out of it.

“Okay then, kid,” the Host said to Marcus, who was the one who had spoken, “how ’bout you and I go a few rounds while this kid recovers…Whaddaya say?”

“I say bring it on!” Marcus said as he got down on all fours. The Host grew an amused smile as he charged up energy in his hands. Marcus fired a single blast at him, probably just to see what he’d do, and the Host put his hand out to intercept it, which left him completely unharmed. While he had been distracted with that, Marcus charged him head-on, and leaped at him, trying to pin him to the ground. The Host saw him coming a mile away, and wrapped his hand around his throat, holding him in the air, choking him.

“No, let him go!” Stacy yelled, tears glistening in her eyes.

“Gladly,” the Host responded, and he threw him at Stacy, who caught him, but was knocked off her feet by his weight.

“Who’s next?” the Host said, waiting for someone else to step forth. A barrage of needles came at him from behind, nearly knocking him off his feet, and when he looked, he saw Ritchie standing there, looking scared, but determined.

“Okay, so the brat wants a rematch, huh? Well I hope for your sake you can do better than last time, otherwise this is gonna be a quick one,” the Host said to Ritchie.

Ritchie fired another wave of needles at the Host from his hand, which the Host conjured a shield to block.

“Look out!” Joey shouted, but Ritchie was more than ready for the waves the Host shot at him. He dived out of the way and fired another wave of needles at the Host, who couldn’t conjure a shield fast enough and was forced to jump out of the way. He fired a black beam down at Ritchie, but he dived out of the way of it and fired another wave of needles at the Host. The Host conjured a shield in his hands to block it, then fired the shield down at Ritchie. Ritchie dived out of the way, but just before the shield hit the ground, the Host rose his arm up, and the shield exploded, sending Ritchie flying and rolling across the ground. The Host landed on the ground and fired a black beam at Ritchie, blowing him twenty feet away and making sure he stayed down.

The Host walked over to him and picked him up by the collar of his shirt, and said, “Do you get it now, kid? You’re out of your league here! Go home and fight someone your own size!”

Two black fireballs flew around behind him and blasted him in the back, making him grunt in pain and drop Ritchie. Joey was back on his feet and ready to fight, his confidence renewed by his treatment of Ritchie. The Host turned to him with an excited smile and said, “Bring it on.”

CHAPTER 15: SHADOW FIGHT


Joey charged up black fire in his hands and fired it at the Host, but he conjured up a shield to block it. Joey was waiting for him to fire a set of waves at him, but the Host seemed to realize that wasn’t working, so he just got rid of the shield. Joey charged him head-on with his hands engulfed in black flame, and the Host surrounded his own hands in black energy to intercept him with. Joey tried to break through his guard, but the Host caught his wrist and landed his other fist in his stomach. He then lifted Joey up, swung him around, and threw him back the way he had come. Joey rolled across the ground and came out facing the opposite direction of the Host, severely shaken up from his attack. He considered just staying down, and maybe the Host would walk off, but finally, he said, “That’s it,” and got up.

The Host had been waiting for him, and when he got up, he fired a black beam at him. Joey conjured a shield to block it, and fired a wave of black fire at the Host. The Host conjured a shield to block it, but Joey kept the wave going, pouring everything he had into it to try and bust that shield. At first, the Host was amused by Joey’s returned strength, but then it seemed he was having trouble defending against his attack. “Haaah!” Joey poured all of his strength into the fire, making it come out in a huge burst, which the Host managed to hold out against at first, but then his shield began to crack.

“Oh, wow,” the Host said, as he tried is all to reinforce his shield. Finally, the shield shattered and he was engulfed in black fire, which Joey was hoping did some serious damage.

The fire cleared and it was revealed the Host had conjured a small shield across his arms, which were crossed, in a last-ditch effort to defend himself. It had worked for the most part; there was hardly a scratch on him. His trench coat had been burnt away to reveal a black tank-top, and huge arms. This guy was an animal; Joey didn’t know how much he worked out, or how vigorously, but he had to imagine whatever he did would put Joey himself on the ground. The Host’s arms were also scarred in several places, and Joey deducted that this was probably from fights with other Hosts. All of that fire had really taken it out of Joey; he was now kneeling on the ground, waiting for the Host to attack him. The Host, however, was catching his breath, panting heavily from trying to block Joey’s attack.

“I was right; you are good, kid. I’m glad I got to fight you,” the Host said to Joey.

“Thanks, you’re good too, but I can’t say I’m really happy to be able to fight you,” Joey admitted, panting heavily as well.

The Host smiled and said, “You obviously haven’t been fighting for long. In this world, kid, you have to fight. It’s the only way to survive. Otherwise, you’ll be killed.”
“Yeah, I figured that,” Joey told him, flashing back to the fight with Lance.

“Alright, well, let’s finish this,” the Host said, surrounding his hands in black energy.

“Well, hey, it’s not like I’ve got anything better to do,” Joey said, getting back to his feet.

“Hold on!” Marcus was on his feet, ready for a rematch.

“Stay back, Marcus, you’ve had your time in the spotlight, now it’s my turn,” Joey told him, true to his word.

He wanted to take this guy on his own, mainly because he wanted to see just how strong he was, but also because the Host had challenged him; not Marcus. Marcus looked like he didn’t like it, but finally, he backed down.

“Go, and bring Ritchie back to Spirit Mountain, I’ll handle things here,” Joey told him, and Marcus and Stacy both immediately ran over to Ritchie on the ground a few feet from the Host. They managed to get him back to his feet, and a portal opened up, through which the three of them stepped through.

“Okay, now that we don’t have any distractions, let’s finish this,” the Host said, charging up black energy in his hands.

“Bring it on,” Joey said, charging up black fire in his hands.

The Host shot a black beam at him from both hands, but Joey dived out of the way and fired a wave of black fire at him. Instead of conjuring a shield, the Host jumped out of the way and let it fly by, then fired another black beam down at Joey. Joey conjured a shield to block it, but the Host’s attack punched right through it and hit him in the stomach, sending him flying and landing fifteen feet away. Joey got back to his feet and saw the Host standing there, looking at him with an amused smile. Joey wanted to tell him to wipe that grin off his face, but he really didn’t want to make him mad. After all the times they had failed, Joey finally figured out that his powers weren’t going to do much against him, and since he didn’t have anything else to hit him with, he was in trouble.

“God, who are you?” Joey asked, trying to stall time while he figured out a way out of this mess.

“I’m like most Hosts, no home, no family; however, I think I’ll save my name for later. In the meantime, you ready to get back to the fight?”

Joey wanted to say, “Uh, no, I’d kinda like to go home now,” but somehow, he figured that wouldn’t blow over too well.

Joey got back to his feet and ran, not at the Host, but around him, firing a continuous stream of fireballs at him from his hands. The Host conjured a shield to block them, and did so perfectly, but eventually, Joey stopped cold and focused all of his energy into a wave of fire that he shot at him, hoping to break his shield once more. The wave did so a lot easier than Joey had expected, and all of his flame caused a huge explosion that rose up ten feet into the air. Joey smiled to himself, knowing he had finally gotten him, although he hoped he hadn’t killed him. He turned around and nearly had a heart attack, as the Host was there, not a scratch on him, his hands engulfed in black energy.

“It’s called teleportation, kid,” the Host said to him, which cleared it up, and calmed Joey down.

Joey engulfed his fist in black fire and leaped at him, but the Host sidestepped him and let him fly by, landing five feet away. Joey spun around and fired a wave of black fire at him, but the Host fired a beam of black energy at it, piercing it and dispersing it, and hitting Joey in the stomach and sending him flying back. This was very aggravating. Nothing Joey did had any effect on this guy; it was like this Host was born for the sole purpose of fighting him. He wondered if even Marcus could get through to him.

“Well? I know that’s not all you got, kid. Come on, I expected a fight. Get off the ground and give me everything you’ve got!”

What made him so sure that Joey had more to give, he asked himself. Whatever it was, the Host was mistaken. Joey had done everything he could think of, and they all bore the same results. Maybe if he used his power in a new way, a way that he hadn’t done before, maybe that would help in getting past him. Now if he had that teleportation technique of his, Joey thought to himself, that would be a definite plus. Joey placed his palm on the ground and focused his energy into it, then fired a wave of black fire that traveled across the ground, traveling towards the Host.

“Now that’s more like it,” the Host said, and he jumped out of the way, letting the wave run past.

A new idea came to Joey, and he pointed his arm at the wave on the ground, then wrenched it back, making the wave explode and send about a dozen fireballs flying at the Host. The Host was still in the air, so he conjured a shield to block it, but when he landed, he got rid of the shield, giving Joey his opening. He fired a wave of black fire at the Host from behind, catching him off guard and igniting him. This time, Joey knew he had gotten him. This time, he was right. However, the Host had a way out of it. He became completely surrounded in black energy, and then immediately disappeared, leaving the fire behind.

“Great,” Joey said, as the Host reappeared right behind him with his fist raised. Joey tried to catch it, not having enough reaction time to think to put up a shield, but the Host’s strength forced him back, sliding across the ground. He didn’t have time to get back to his feet, so the Host blasted him with a beam of energy, forcing him back even further and slamming him into a building.

“Alright, kid, since you’ve decided to get serious, so have I!” The Host waved his arms around, sending waves of black energy all around Joey, smashing into the building and making it collapse on top of him.

“Joey!” The Host turned around and saw Marcus, looking at the pile of fallen rubble with horror on his face.

“How many times do I have to tell you, kid, this is between the two of us!” the Host said to him, firing a beam of energy at him from both hands. Marcus jumped off the building he was standing on, letting the beam fly into the sky, and he landed on the ground and charged the Host on all fours. He leaped at him, pointing his fingers at him with his nails enlarged into claws, ready to run him through. Unfortunately for him, the Host was too strong for that; he conjured a shield between the two of them, stopping him in his tracks, and shattering Marcus’s claws. The Host poured some energy into the shield, making it erupt, and send Marcus flying back, smashing into a building.

“Hey, you’re fight’s over here.” The Host turned and saw Joey had made his way out of the rubble, and was looking at him with hate in his eyes. The Host hoped the trashing of his friend would increase Joey’s powers further. All Joey had witnessed was the Host sending Marcus flying into a building, but that was enough to make him ready to go a few more rounds. He poured all of his strength into his powers, ready to break the Host’s guard and blow him away.

“Ooh, he’s getting mad,” the Host taunted him. “Perhaps he’s finally going to play for real?”

Yeah, Joey thought to himself, he was going to play for real now, and the Host was going to regret it. He had figured out how to manipulate his fire, even after it had left his body, which was going to be a big asset to him. Joey fired a huge wave of black fire at the Host, but he conjured a shield to block it. Joey noticed that this shield seemed much more solid than the previous ones, which meant it was far stronger than any of the previous ones. Joey spread his arms out and the flame separated into two waves, which traveled to either side of the Host, past his shield, and ready to obliterate him. The Host seemed much more amused than afraid, as he jumped out of the way just before Joey’s flame had hit him, which caused a huge explosion that blasted a crater into the ground and sent rubble flying.

The Host sent a beam of energy down at Joey, but he conjured a shield to block it, and this time, he succeeded. He then converted the shield into a wave that he fired up at the Host, which he conjured a shield of his own to block. He was completely hidden behind the black fire, so Joey couldn’t see him, but he was hoping he had broken his shield. The Host appeared behind him with his fist raised, but Joey came up with another new move and formed a three-hundred-sixty-degree shield of black fire, stopping him in his tracks. In an instant, Joey converted the shield into a ball about a foot in diameter, and bursting with energy. Before the Host could react, Joey hit him with the ball, which was a bit of a mistake.

The ball exploded on contact, making an explosion almost as big as the one Marcus had made to finish Lance, and since Joey was so close, he was sent flying out of the fire, his clothes in shreds. The explosion had devastated the area, leaving the buildings around the courtyard they had been fighting in in ruins. Joey was just barely conscious, so he couldn’t see very well, but he could see just enough to realize that the Host was still on his feet. He walked slowly over to Joey, who realized that he wasn’t much better than himself. His clothes were shredded, his body was bruised, burnt, and bloody, and he was barely conscious. He dropped to his knees, panting from exhaustion.

“Y-You’re good,” Joey said to him, hoping the fight was over.

“So are you…Little Brother.”





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